The great State of Florida has a solid reputation as the retirement center of the world.
About that there can be little discussion. The Miami area is a well-known senior center and the huge retirement center called The Villages over in the center of the state is unmatched.
Locally we now have a budding one of our own in Latitude Margaritaville west of Daytona Beach, but I live in a pretty good one myself. Ormond-by-the-Sea is a bedroom community of around 10,000 souls with most of them over 60 years of age.
When I moved here I was the kid on the block, but now have moved comfortably into senior living. I like it. Sure being surrounded by so many senior citizens takes some getting used to, but I have now learned the rhythms that move the area, if ever so slowly.
First off, you have to know you cannot do any business just after the first of the month. The retirement checks all arrive between the first and third of the month and that prompts the seniors to get out and pay the bills. You have to remember this is not the computer generation and local oldsters prefer to pay in person. No use trying to go to the bank anytime before the 10th of the month. All the old folks are in the banks doing God knows what. Just know that they will be there and in the post office as well.
As you may have guessed, the seniors are early risers. Don't be so naive as to think you can go to the quick market for gas or coffee early in the morning. If you do, you will find a line of old guys trying to figure out their lottery ticket purchase. They do this before sunrise, because they are up and there is little else to do at that hour.
Eating out around the first of the month is also tricky. The only way to beat them is to wait until about 6:30 p.m. to head for the restaurant. Seniors like to eat around 4:30 p.m. If you time it right, they will be leaving when you are just getting there.
Don't even think about going to a coffee shop. The senior citizens with little to do, like to sit around there and tell tales of World War II (The Big One) or compare their recent bloodwork.
In a senior-oriented bar, happy hour begins about 3 p.m., so you can't let any grass grow under your feet if you want to get a drink bargain.
Driving in Ormond-by-the Sea takes some practice. When you see a car driving so very slowly with two wheels on the shoulder and a turn signal blinking, all you can do is stay alert. The car is most likely not turning, but is trying to navigate down to the Publix. Same thing if you see a driverless car. Little old ladies often shrink up as they age and some are so small they must look through the steering wheel to drive.
At times I overtake a car going so slowly I think it must be a runaway. Seemingly coasting along A1A without a driver, closer inspection reveals an 80-pound driver doing her best to pilot the thing to the Walgreens.
Conversely you may see a driverless car that has a fedora sitting atop the driver's seat. Peering into the '82 Buick from any angle will only reveal the Frank Sinatra style hat; not a driver. When either of these happen, take great caution and stay as far back as possible.
A few of my neighbors drove until they were well into their 90s and I can tell you it was an adventure to meet them on the street. As with other things, you need to wait until after 6 p.m. to go out. The seniors will be mostly in bed by then.
As I said I am now a senior citizen myself, but I am not typical. Sometimes I get up as late as 5 a.m. and often go to bed as late as 6:30.
Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, “The World’s Greatest Beach” and “I Swear the Snook Drowned.” Email questions and comments to email@example.com or call (386) 441-7793.