The Conformity Police
When we first started spending winters in Florida, we were much surprised by people whom we have since come to label as “The Comformity Police.” This might bring to mind an image of a jack-booted, aviator sunglass wearing and leather-clad, law-enforcement official who has been designated by the local government to insure peace and harmony amidst the local residents.
In reality, it might be the guy across the street that is wearing sandals, a flowered shirt and cut off jeans. At another time, it could be the older dude in the spiffy golf threads and expensive golf shoes. Or it could be the harmless and charming older woman in the flowered print sundress.
They all look innocuous enough in the bright sunshine. Their benign appearances belie the burning zeal that lies within, to enforce the unwritten “conformity laws.” What are they you ask? That is a good question. Most of us have no idea, but “They know.”
Plant the wrong kind of flowers in front of your home, or worse plant them on the wrongly designated patch of ground and these “cops” will be on you like flies on doo doo. They don’t run up and chastise you personally, but they do scurry inside to call the homeowner’s association or complex manager’s office, to report an egregious violation of the rules. You can almost imagine the breathless conversation.
“They have lilies planted out-front,” the conformist constable gasped indignantly into the phone.
“Lilies! And they are planted six inches over their home footprint as well. What are you going to do about it?” They ask in outrage.
On another occasion we were actually confronted by a smiling older gentleman who stopped his blue van, with Florida plates, and told us that we were “walking on the wrong side of the street.” We at first thought he was one of the addled ones, perhaps some gentleman in the early onset stages of Alzheimer’s. But upon inquiry, we were advised that “no, he just does that kind of stuff. He is one of them”
The conformist police are legion. Usually they look through their tightly drawn living room blinds and scan the homes of the neighbors looking for some unauthorized bit of color or minor infraction that they can report. On most days, they strike out and have to go back to watching several hours of games shows and old “I Love Lucy” episodes. But in their heart of hearts the hope is that the next day they will catch someone parking several inches over their assigned spot or maybe even the big gorilla, catching an unattended dog or child doing something that the “rules” don’t allow for. That thought is enough to comfort them and carry them through their troubled night dreams tormented by shadows of trespassers and illegal flower growers.
How did they get that way? Who knows? But we have decided that rather than let them draw our ire, we can smile and laugh at them for the intolerant, nothing else to do poor schmucks that they have become. And we occasionally plant illegally, walk on the wrong side of the street and even walk on forbidden grass just to remind ourselves of our inherent rebellious nature.