Conduct and Customs
Florida is considerably less courteous than its Southern neighbors to the north. Unsolicited greetings are usually frowned upon, and smiles are seldom yielded without provocation. People here drive like they’re the only person on the road, and the odds are pretty low that someone will voluntarily hold the door open for anyone beyond a fragile elderly person or a pregnant woman with three bags of groceries and two children in her arms.
However, “less courteous” doesn’t necessarily equal “rude.” Floridians tend to have a laissez-faire approach to most everything, and that extends to their interactions with other people, resulting in a seemingly blinkered unawareness that falls away as soon as someone actually needs assistance. Otherwise, they’re going to stay out of your business and would hope that you do the same for them. Keep in mind, none of this applies to the Panhandle. That part of Florida is far more like the rest of the South than it is like Florida, and you’re likely to get into a 10-minute conversation about your day with the checkout girl at the drugstore.
Florida is generally very laid-back. Most restaurants don’t have dress codes, and people tend to leave the house dressed as casually as they can get away with. Of course, business meetings, formal gatherings, and a handful of top-notch five-star restaurants require getting dressed up, but beyond that, a clean shirt, some sort of pants or shorts, and a pair of shoes is about all you need to gain admittance to most places. At the beach, flip-flops and shorts are fine just about anywhere, and anywhere else, slacks and a collared shirt would be considered getting cleaned up to go out.
Smoking in restaurants and public buildings is prohibited, and in private outdoor spaces like Orlando’s theme parks, it’s highly restricted. The only indoor spaces where you’re able to light up legally is in a bar or nightclub, although more and more have begun enacting no-smoking policies.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition