We live and work in a very strange place, but some days are stranger than others.
A few years ago Miami cracked down on the number of chickens running free on city streets. A special squad was formed that spread out across mainly ethnic neighborhoods to round up errant poultry and hand out tickets, since it’s illegal to raise fowl within city limits.
The natural question once a bird was spotted in someone’s yard was, “Is that your chicken?” The almost universal answer, in English, Spanish and Creole, was, “What chicken?”
A similar kind of only-in-Miami story occurred downtown Wednesday as two men carried a 90-pound nurse shark around the streets, at one point boarding the Metromover, a free monorail that circulates downtown — while the fish was still alive. You can read the Miami Herald coverage here, but I wanted to focus on highlights of the story that are characteristically Miami.
For instance, the quotes of the shark’s fellow Metromover passengers:
“The door opened and the shark was sitting by the front of the door,” said Mae Singerman, a 24-year-old musician who was practicing for a show on the Metromover platform. “I didn’t see a reason to call police,” Singerman said. “It’s Miami. Stranger things have happened. The doors shut, and then we forgot about it.”
“We looked at him; he didn’t really say anything,” Sandy Goodrich, a Miami legal secretary, said of the man clutching the shark. “I was just so freaked out about the shark on the floor.”
The two men were seen carrying the shark in the direction of the Miami River, apparently with the intention of selling it to a fish market for the recession-era sum of $10.
Casablanca Fish Market owner Jorge Sanchez was unimpressed with the walk-in offering. “It was full of flies,” he said. “It was still alive. It was dry.”
“I do buy shark,” Sanchez said, “not this kind of crazy stuff.”
Unable to sell the fish, the men simply dumped it on a downtown street and left. The next morning workers at a nearby auto body shop tried to get sanitation workers to dispose of the now extremely dead shark:
“When the garbage is coming, we tell them, pick it up,” said Eduardo Perez, who works at the shop. “They tell me no. All day long the shark was there …. This was only in Miami.”
Finally, someone called the police, who arrived at about 9 p.m. and took crime scene photos, since what those guys did to that shark constituted misdemeanor animal cruelty.
Then the cops took the corpse and consigned it to a watery grave in Biscayne Bay.
Only in Miami.