Snowbirds heading for Florida – pack ammo and condoms 

Our latest column from William Thomas

Right about now you’re getting ready for your annual migration to the Sunshine State. Maybe you’re still packing. Please understand, you can’t possibly be packing the way residents of Florida are packing.

Case in point, behave yourself in movie theatres. Earlier this year, 43-year-old Chad Olson was looking at his cell phone at the Dade City Cinema and the illuminated screen annoyed Curtis Reeves who was sitting behind him. Words were exchanged after which Olson grabbed Reeves’ box of popcorn and threw it at him. That really, really annoyed the 74-year-old retired Tampa cop. So he pulled a .380 semi-automatic pistol from his pants and shot Olson dead. Dead. His last words to his wife were: “I can’t believe he shot me.” The movie he’d gone to see was Lone Survivor. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law allows a person to use deadly force on anyone he/she feels threatened by.

So, in a state where more people carry guns than wear socks, be on your best behaviour in public places. Talk during a movie and those words could be your last. Also, swimming with sharks without a cage is a better option than getting into a road rage incident in the Sunshine State.

Should you find yourself in need of a police officer in Florida, first ask to see his badge and then ask to see his rap sheet. Earlier this year, Deputy Frankie Bybee of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office was charged with attempted murder, identity theft and prostitution. Pimp or patrolman, it’s important you establish who you’re dealing with at the outset.

And should you be in the market for sex, understand that in Florida you may not take a hit on your weaker Canadian dollars. In fact you may not need to put out (sorry) much money at all. Last year in Manatee County, 22-year-old Alex Direeno was charged with prostitution after offering a specific act to an undercover cop for $25 and a box of chicken McNuggets. (No telling what you get for a Big Mac with fries?!?)

And if you plan to attend church in Florida, first ask the minister to see his credentials and then ask to see his rap sheet. In Tallahassee earlier this year, Pastor O. Jermaine was caught bare-handed (And a lot more than that!) with one of his parishioners in the middle of the afternoon by her jealous husband. O. had to make a run for it, naked as a blue jay and was found much later hiding behind a nearby fence. The husband refused to return the pastor’s clothes, wallet and car keys leaving the clergy man vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays. An online video shows Pastor Simmons asking forgiveness from his congregation, saying: “You cannot defend sin.” No, but you can protect your private parts with sunscreen.

Lest we forget, it was Florida that a man told the judge that his cat had downloaded child pornography … not himself! And … another guy claimed in court that the cocaine discovered in his buttocks … was not his!

And just when you though things in Florida (Was that the Sunshine State? Or the Moonshine State?!?) could not get any whackier … Lawyer Stephen Gutierrez was addressing jurors in a

crowded Miami courtroom when – and nobody’s saying he was lying through his teeth, when very inopportunely, his pants caught on fire. (Wait, it gets better.) Gutierrez was defending a man accused of setting fire to his own car for the insurance money. The lawyer’s defense strategy was that the vehicle caught fire due to spontaneous combustion! Gutierrez’s client walked out of the courtroom a free man, with the entire jury on the floor laughing nobody could deliver a verdict to the judge.

Having just begun his closing arguments, witnesses said Gutierrez suddenly started fiddling with his pocket and ran to the washroom to self-extinguish his bum with water. A faulty electronic cigarette battery is thought to be the source of this fire.

It’s not clear if Stephen Gutierrez will continue his career as a U.S. attorney or change his name to “Bubbles” and join the circus.

So yeah, have yourself a grand ol’ time in Florida. Shut your cell phone off in the cinema and mind your own box of popcorn. Don’t get involved in any sort of sex scenario with a police officer, a member of the clergy or a hungry woman outside of McDonald’s.

And should you have to meet with a lawyer for whatever reason, please wear fire-retardant clothes. Also keep in mind that in Florida “The Early Bird Special” is made by Smith & Wesson. Have fun.

For comments, ideas and copies of The Legend of Zippy Chippy, go to



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