25 Things People in Florida Are Tired of Hearing


For those of us who only travel to Florida about once a year for a few blissful days of R&R, we have a tendency to think of the state as a sunny, citrus-filled haven of beaches, theme parks, and piña coladas—with the occasional alligator thrown into the mix. But just like any other state, Florida is much more nuanced than our vacation-tinged presumptions—and you simply can't jump to conclusions about the people you meet who call this spring break destination home.

The truth is, Florida isn't all sunshine, swamps, gators and magical mice named Mickey. To that end, we've compiled some of the most over-used questions and phrases that you should steer clear of when encountering a Floridian—unless you want them to send their gator after you. (Kidding, of course!)

"Wow, you live in Florida? You must go to the beach every day!"

Contrary to popular belief, not every Floridian lives in a beach house, with a view of the crashing waves just outside their window. For the average Floridian who lives in an urban or suburban zip code, like in every other state, the chances that they carve out time every day to stop by the beach are pretty slim. Even the seaside cities don't necessarily have guaranteed beachfront access! (Exhibit A: This St. Petersburg suburb, above.)

"Do you own any clothes besides flip-flops and swimsuits?"

C'mon, think about this one. How could everyone in Florida go to work dressed in their swimsuits and cover-ups? They might own more beach-appropriate apparel than you do—but that definitely doesn't mean their closets are solely stocked with bikinis and thong sandals.

"Don't you wonder what a real winter would be like?"

And deal with having to plow through snow and risk hypothermia? No, thanks! Chances are that the Floridian you're accosting has already carefully weighed their seasonal preferences, and they don't need to explain them to you. They'll take their winter holiday celebrations with a side of sunshine, thank you.

"Have you ever been bitten by a shark?"

First of all, if anyone has actually gone head-to-head with a shark, that's bound to be a traumatic experience, and you should let that person decide whether or not to bring that up in discussion. Secondly, the odds that the average Floridian you come across will have been bitten by a shark are statistically slim. In 2018, there were only 16 unprovoked shark attacks in Florida, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

"Do you go to Disney World every weekend?"

Not everyone is a fan of the "Most Magical Place on Earth." Sometimes even the people who live right next door are less than enamored with the flocks of tourists who crowd into the Orlando theme park every day.

"If you're from Florida, where do you go on vacation?"

Though the blue water and white sand beaches might seem irresistible to you, the fact of the matter is, when you're looking for a vacation, you're often in search of someplace different from your norm—so don't judge if your Floridian friend says their family enjoys booking it to the snowcaps for vacation!

"Wait, how far is that from Miami?"

Crazy, we know, but there are other hot spots (quite literally) in Florida besides Miami. People seem to forget that, although an incredibly popular vacation destination, Miami isn't the only bustling place in the Sunshine State.

"I thought Florida was only for retirees!"

Of course, Florida is known for its high population of retirees. (According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20 percent of the state is made up of people 65 and older.) They don't need you to remind them! Similarly, you should also avoid asking…

"So, if you're from Florida, where will you retire?"

Yes, Floridian cities rank disproportionately high among the best U.S. cities for retirement. But if you're talking to someone in their 20s, 30s, or 40s, they'll probably roll their eyes if you ask this question. At that stage, the last thing on your mind is where you're planning to retire!

"I thought you would have a better tan!"

First of all: Stereotyping much? Second of all: Rude. Way to really bolster your new acquaintance's self-esteem!

"What kind of sunscreen do you recommend?"

What sunscreen you choose is really up to your personal discretion, and just because a Floridian lives in the Sunshine State, doesn't make them the authority on which product you should choose to keep your skin protected from the sun. With all the different SPF options available—not to mention the overwhelming variety in sprays, lotions, face-only, kid-friendly, etc.—there's unlikely to be any consensus among Floridians as to the ideal sunscreen. As with all things, do your research.

"Is there a gator in your backyard?"

Sure, Floridians have acquired a bit of a reputation for their swamp-lurking alligators. With at least 1.3 million gators roaming around the state, it's inevitable that some Floridians have encountered a sunbathing reptile on their property. Still, that doesn't mean that you should assume that every person in Florida has an alligator residing in their backyard.

(Of course, it doesn't help Florida's case that some people have adopted alligators as "pets," like the couple who used an alligator to help with their baby's gender reveal announcement.)

"What does alligator taste like?"

As Food & Wine reports, it has a "similar texture to dark meat chicken, but with a faint fishiness to it." Next question!

"You must be an expert swimmer!"

According to a survey conducted by the Red Cross, more than half of all Americans "either can't swim or don't have all of the basic swimming skills." But if you're in that majority, don't go asking your local Floridian for lessons! Not every person born and raised in the Sunshine State is a pro in the water. After all, can every Californian surf? Can every Texan lasso? (The answers are no and no.)

"Were you ever a lifeguard?"

Similarly, not everyone from Florida was a lifeguard as their summer job in high school or college. Actually, in some Floridian locales, being a lifeguard is a career choice. In Miami Beach, for example, the Ocean Rescue team is actually a division of the city's Fire Department.

"Oh, so you're a pro at beach volleyball, right?"

Here we go with the assumptions again. There are an infinite number of activities available to beachgoers, from the more active (like boogie boarding or beach volleyball) to the more passive (sitting in a folding chair and watching the waves roll in). For all you know, maybe the Floridian you're talking to prefers to just lounge on a beach towel with a good book!

"How many times a week do you go fishing?"

Unless you've stumbled across a Floridian who is a fisher by trade, chances are, they often go fishing throughout the week about as often as you do.

"Do you eat fish every day?"

Because no one would ever get tired of eating solely seafood, right? Wrong. Floridians like their beef and chicken, too (and iguana, apparently)—or, for the vegetarians and vegans in the state, their greens and tofu.

"Is it true that you should pee on a jellyfish sting?"

Honestly, that's a question you should be asking a medical professional—not someone who just happens to live within a few miles of the ocean. For what it's worth, the Cleveland Clinic warns that you should not urinate on a jellyfish sting, as studies have shown that urine either has zero effect, or can worsen the situation.

"You only have palm trees, right?"

Any Floridian with a tendency toward the sarcastic is bound to respond with, "Yeah, it's just crazy how we manage to be the nation's leading producer of oranges (by a long shot) with only palm trees growing in our state."

"How often do you make fresh-squeezed orange juice?"

Provided you realize that Florida does, indeed, have vegetation beyond palm trees, you are not wrong to assume that most people have an orange tree growing in the nearby vicinity of where they live. (There are about 74 million citrus trees in the state, according to Florida's tourism website.) But while a Floridian might have gone through the effort to hand-squeeze enough oranges to make a full pitcher of fresh orange juice at least once, you can't assume that this is a frequent task for everyone.

"What's the difference between UF and FSU?"

Besides the fact that the University of Florida is located in Gainesville and Florida State is stationed in Tallahassee, you mean? Well, when it comes to football, a Floridian will have no qualms about telling you that there is all the difference between the University of Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles.

"Florida's not even that good at football." 

Any self-respecting Florida football fan might welcome the chance to engage in a spirited debate about the strengths and weaknesses of the rosters, strategies, and other technical aspects that football fans nationwide love to discuss. But if you're dead set on being obstinate about California's or Texas' dominance when it comes to the nation's favorite sport, no Florida fan is going to take too kindly to you.

"What's your plan for hurricane season?"

This is a sore spot, folks, and for good reason—as just one example, FEMA estimated that Hurricane Irma destroyed 25 percent of homes in the Florida Keys in 2017, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. You probably shouldn't delve into this topic without doing some research first to determine whether recent hurricanes might have personally affected that Floridian—making your flippant question about a touchy subject not just ignorant, but potentially insensitive. And for more insight into these fierce storms, here are 18 Hurricane Facts to Put You in Awe of Mother Nature.

"Why would you ever want to leave?"

Sometimes, Floridans need a breath of fresh air to get out of the place where all the spring breakers and wintertime vacationers seem to flock to! Of course, there are other practical considerations that might cause a Floridian to seriously weigh the benefits of living somewhere else—see the information about hurricanes, for starters. But everyone's decision to call a place home is personal and unless you know this particular Floridian well, it's best to leave this question off the table. And for a look at some seriously surprising vacation spots, see these 50 Destinations So Magical You Won't Believe They're in the U.S.

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