A few weeks ago I made my annual pilgrimage to the Florida Keys for some “r and r” (rest and research). I picked up a book while I was there, a how-to titled “Quit Your Job and Move to Key West,” by Christopher Schultz and David L. Sloan. This self-published best seller is available at a few hundred gift shops along the Keys and I suspect that it sells for the same reason I bought a copy – to see if it could really be done.
This book is filled with interesting facts and lore about the southernmost point in the U.S. The authors don’t try to persuade the reader one way or the other, but present the pros and cons. Like many who visit the Keys I’ve had the daydream that begins with “If I could lie in the sand under a palm tree with my laptop, banging out stories while sipping a Pina Colada…” Fortunately for my sanity and life savings, this book may have altered that dream.
I learned a lot about one of my favorite vacation destinations, but not all of it was pretty. For example, I didn’t know that the beautiful blue water at the white sandy beaches contains enough bacteria to kill a hundred healthy lab rats. Probably explains why everybody drinks so much down there, because Key West serves more alcohol per capita than any other U.S. city. Did you know that in the event of a mandatory hurricane evacuation, you can’t get back onto the Keys unless you have a valid Florida driver’s license? I also learned that panhandlers make an average of $100.00-plus per day. The gay community comprises 25% of Key West, and once a year local drag queens have a sprint down Duval Street – in stiletto heels.
Among the famous people who moved to KW are Ernest Hemingway, Jimmy Buffett, Harry Truman, Hunter S. Thompson, Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost, Betty Page, Thomas Edison, Roy Scheider, Truman Capote, and Calvin Klein. If I ever sell the movie rights to my books, you can add my name to the list.
The whole thing is written in a lighthearted manner, and the book is sprinkled with reasons why you should quit your job in the first place. Here are some of them.
#62 – My boss is a mental midget who treats me like swill. (I can relate to that one).
#23 – I have to wear a tie to work everyday, but I prefer Hawaiian shirts. (Only because my boss told me I couldn’t wear a Speedo and flip-flops on casual Fridays).
#3 – I spend more time in traffic than I do at home. (This only works if you have a jealous spouse).
#81 – One more memo and I’ll go postal. (Especially if it tells me how I can dress on casual Fridays).
#69 – I’ve slept with everyone I work with. (Umm…I plead the fifth on this one).
#6 - Everybody stares at me when I drink margaritas at meetings. (Geez, you take one to go after lunch and suddenly you’re an outcast).
#42 – The alarm clock is evil; it must be punished.
#73 – I’m surrounded by idiots. (Reference reason #81).
#27 – I’m starting to laugh at Al Roker’s jokes. (Although he is funnier than Kathie Lee and Hoda…barely).
#28 – Though I studied hard, I don’t think I’ll pass the drug test. (You mean I wasted an all-nighter?)
#16 – If it’s good enough for Buffett and Hemingway, it’s good enough for me, damn it!
I hope that none of the above discourages anyone from visiting the Conch Republic, as the locals call it. I also learned that you can’t refer to Key West by that name unless you were born there. That would make you a bona fide Conch. It makes the rest of us half-Conchs. See you on the beach!
Tim Smith is an award-winning bestselling author whose books range from romantic mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.