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Welcome to Miami: Four Local Customs That Outsiders Just Don't Understand

As the world's-only claustrophobe/agoraphobe combo, I considered Miami to be a geographic nightmare when I moved here two months ago. Being down here means being down here -- it would take double-digit hours of high-risk driving for me to escape from Florida's trenches. If I took I-75, I would have to traverse the terrifyingly named Alligator Alley, and if I took I-95, I'd be whiteknuckling it through the most dangerous stretch of Interstate in the country. Excepting like, the bottom of the Grand Canyon or some places in Alaska only accessible by helicopter, South Florida is probably the hardest place to escape from in the United States.

So, forget civilization. Now that I've ended up in the Magic City, it's probably best to embrace its magic, which means accepting geographic isolation and its effect on native Miamians. As Mark Twain once wrote, "Customs don't concern themselves with right or wrong or reason." That's more true here than anywhere else. Here are the four customs I've found the hardest to adjust to as an outsider:

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.