It’s almost that time of year again when our national feathered flock hears the words “chance of flurries”. And on that given signal, which only they can hear, our Snowbirds take off for sunny climes in Florida.
Right about now these heat-seeking Canadians are loading up the car. But trust me, with “carry” and “concealed carry”, “open carry” and “no permit carry” these Canadians are not packing the way their American hosts are packing.
A few tips for those of you headed south for the winter. Remember, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law allows a resident to shoot anybody who makes him or her feel threatened. So don’t be wagging a finger at anybody down there even if they’re breaking into your car. Talk in a cinema and those could be your last words. Get into a road rage incident and chances are you won’t be leaving the scene of the crime, but the other guy will likely walk. Failure to applaud anything ‘Trump’ and you’ve just been identified as a potential enemy.
And if “stand your ground” doesn’t work for a Florida shooter, there’s always the “My dog did it” defense. After walking his dog Diesel one night in Jacksonville, 25-year-old Brian Murphy returned home where he claims to have seen a bright flash and heard a loud bang. Later Murphy would tell police he believed Diesel ran into the bedroom, jumped up on the nightstand where he kept his gun and accidently shot his girlfriend who was asleep in bed at the time. It was February when Murphy’s girlfriend, Summer Miracle took a bullet in her right leg. Miracle claims she doesn’t know who shot her. Murphy swears it was his “mischievous pup”. And Diesel the dog is pleading the “stand on your two back feet” defense. Some good advice? If you do take your dog on your winter getaway, do not let Sparky play with the local dogs because in Florida they could be armed and dangerous.
Also, don’t let your grandchildren play with kids in Florida. Gun-rights advocate, Jamie Gilt encouraged her four-year-old son to shoot anyone he saw as a threat. She offered this advice on her blog: Jamie Gilt for Gun Sense. So little Jimmy grabbed a .45 semi-automatic off the floor of his Mom’s truck and shot her. When interviewed later by police, Jimmy denied shooting his mother and instead claimed he saw a dog named Diesel leaving the scene of the shooting driving his mother’s truck.
I’m sure many Canadians have made long-lasting friendships with Americans on their winter sojourns and that’s fine, but don’t become a pest. After house guests in Bay County became rowdy and overstayed their welcomed, the host instructed his girlfriend to open fire on them. Which she did, wounding two people … a guest and the boyfriend. (Apparently he felt yawning and looking at his watch a lot might seem rude!)
Look, I’m not saying every citizen of Florida who owns a gun is a crazy-ass paranoid trigger-happy near-do-well. Not at all. I mean when Escambia County Sheriff’s Deputy, Michael Wohler was flirting with Stephanie Byron at her workplace and the whole thing went south, he did not pull out his gun even though he had one and is authorized to use it. Instead, he gave his would-be sweetheart 50,000 volts with his taser. And although the policeman later baked her a cake that read: “Sorry I tased you”, Stephanie is still spending more time with her lawyer than with Michael.
And let’s remember, not everybody in Florida has a gun. Certainly not the guy who tried to rob a Walmart brandishing a lobster. The woman at the cash register was completely confused, never before having seen … wait for it … a semi-automatic crustacean. And the guy who stopped at the take-out order at Wendy’s in Jupiter did not have a gun. Otherwise he might have used it instead of brandishing … wait for it … a 3-foot alligator which he threw through the window by way of payment.
And if you play shuffleboard and you’re good at it, don’t play in Florida. After losing a match at the Pinellas Park Senior Center, 81-year-old Herbert Hayden evened the score when he beat the crap out of his opponent, James Sutton with a shuffleboard cue. A sore loser, yes. But not as sore as the winner. Maybe anger management should be added to the centre’s Sunday’s activity schedule between canasta and four-corner bingo.
Also be aware of Florida’s “food entrapment” scam. Recently, 22 year-old Alex Direeno was charged with prostitution after she offered to do a specific sex act for an undercover Manatee County officer in exchange for $25 and a box of Chicken McNuggets. Laugh if you like, but in Florida you could be walking along, minding your own business when a woman clad in spandex yells “Hey sailor, wanna split a pizza?” And the next thing you know you’re mug shot is on the Internet next to Nick Nolte’s and damn – you’re wearing that same Hawaiian shirt!
So have fun in Florida and to guarantee yourself a safe stay, sit in the corner of your living room and do crossword puzzles until it is time to come home to Canada.
For comments, ideas and copies of The Legend of Zippy Chippy,
go to www.williamthomas.ca