Scuba diving in the Arctic Circle.

“Okay, guys, we’re nearing the dive site. Time to get ready.”

The captain’s announcement unleashed a flurry of activity onboard the dive boat. Weight belts snapped on as the divers slid into their buoyancy jackets bearing the scuba tanks to fuel the dive ahead, myself being one of them. Even though I was already wearing a dry suit, I was nervous as this was my first time diving in the Arctic Circle. I silently joined the other divers as they secured their final preparations, knowing full well they were just minutes away from diving in some very frigid waters. Some of the divers aboard were seasoned veterans clearly looking forward to the dive while others like myself were nervous and reluctant.

The dive boat slowed down to a crawl, signaling that the dive was about to start. All the divers stood up and lined up towards the stern as one of the crew members dropped the dive platform as the boat inched ever closer to the site. My heart began racing with anticipation of leaping into that ice-cold water without giving my body time to adjust to the sudden temperature change. I kept assuring myself that I was wearing the dry suit that would continue keeping me warm but that did nothing to calm me down.

“Dive, dive, dive!” yelled the captain as the divers began jumping off the boat one by one. Some of the divers were seated along the port and starboard and simply leaned backwards to allow themselves to fall overboard.

That’s when I noticed something strange.

I didn’t hear any splashing of the water, only thuds followed by an eerie silence. And it wasn’t until it was my turn to jump did I realize what was happening.

I too made my jump into the water but only landed on solid ice instead. I looked around and saw everyone else in my dive group just lying on the ice and looking up at the sky.

“Have a nice dive!” the captain shouted.

“What dive?” I asked out loud. “What’s going on?”

“They forgot to clear the ice again,” muttered one of the nearby divers.

Statement regarding the incident of May 4, 2020.

On May 4, 2020, just before leaving for the day, I walked into the restroom with the intent of disposing of the rubber gloves I was wearing during my shift at Home Improvement Megastore. However, I have a tendency to inflate the gloves to the size of beach balls before popping them with my box cutter. The resulting bang does wonders for relieving my stress and giving me a much-needed laugh. I admit I could have done without the enhanced theatrics including screaming “BOMB IN THE MEN’S ROOM!” before running out of the restroom while screaming at the top of my lungs. I sincerely apologize for the chaos that ensued and am willing to pay for the damage it caused to our store.

Losing one’s whoopee cushion.

I don’t know how it started but it didn’t matter. My wife and I were arguing with a couple whom we’d never seen before. Come to think of it, I didn’t even know what we were arguing about, yet the words came out more and more heated as tempers grew shorter and shorter. Suddenly the man reached out and grabbed my wife’s whoopee cushion. That was the low blow. That was the last straw.

As you may know, possessing a whoopee cushion is a rare privilege in today’s society. It gives one the upper hand, the much-needed confidence booster. It permits one to demonstrate superiority and sufficient bragging rights regarding how much better off he is compared to someone else of similar stature.

However, should one lose possession of their whoopee cushion, they lose all the superiority attached to it, including their job. Hence the expression, “losing one’s whoopee cushion”. It is an allusion similar to one’s fall from grace, to be forever disgraced by the absence of the said whoopee cushion.

And here we were, my wife having had her whoopee cushion unwillfully siezed and her life instantly thrown into turmoil. She looked at me with pleading eyes, but what was I to do? I was just as helpless as she was, trying to formulate a strategy to recover her whoopee cushion that would clear as few legal hurdles as possible. Then the woman’s voice interrupted my thoughts.

“We’re going to sue you,” she hissed in anger.

“Can’t wait,” I shot back. Just before we went our separate ways for now, I looked back at the woman, trying to hurl her one last insult to remind her this fight was far from over. Then I caught a glimpse of what helped me come up with the appropriate words.

“NICE UNDERBOOBS, LADY!”

Hidden Lake Key.

My journey through the New Keys led me to Hidden Lake Key, a quaint little island that had every appearance of paradise with its usual arrangement of palm trees, palmettos and hibiscus plants throughout. However, in the middle of it all was a small lake on which the town here was built. Here I stopped at a nearby gas station to fill up, and it was here I got a good glimpse of the local scenery. Then I noticed something unusual.

I could see people walking, others riding their bikes, others peddling their wares from their booths along the road overlooking the lake, yet everyone seemed to avoid looking at the lake altogether. In fact, those walking were wearing special glasses with side shields to keep them from glancing sideways. I asked the gas station attendant about this and he explained, “This is Hidden Lake Key, right? The lake here is what gives it its name, but everyone here thinks it’s hidden only if you don’t see it. Have a nice day and please, don’t look at the lake.”

Heading for home began looking like a viable option at this point, but soon my curiosity about the rest of the New Keys got the best of me and I was back on the road on this strange journey that was set to get even stranger…

To be continued…

Sinking Key.

After my bizarre meal at Potato Key I drove back on Highway 1.5 to see where it would take me next. The highway crossed miles and miles of the pristine waters that sparkled under the midday sun. It was a perfect day for driving and exploring the New Keys.

A half hour later I arrived at Sinking Key, a rather curious name for such a beautiful island. It presented itself well with palm trees lined up alongside the road overlooking the beach along with trees with colorful orchids blooming from its branches lined up along the median of the highway that passed by countless souvenir shops and restaurants. Yet there was no traffic here, no cars to be seen anywhere. I drove on a few minutes more when I spotted the city hall with its parking lot overflowing with cars. Apparently there was something going on, and my curiosity got the best of me to find out what it was.

I walked into the city hall to join what was a meeting in progress. The room was so full that there were people standing because all the chairs were taken, yet they stood in silence to focus their attention on the man at the podium.

“Who knows how much longer we have,” the man said, “but we need to get moving soon. All of us.”

“But where?” asked someone in the audience.

“Who knows where, but as I speak we may be headed to our respective dooms.”

“Respective dooms,” chortled another attendee. “All because we live on Sinking Key.”

There was murmuring throughout the room upon this revelation.

“Yes, just as the name implies, we’re slowly sinking into the ocean, and we need to find ourselves new homes and fast.” the man at the podium announced.

“But I’ve lived here 20 years and I see no signs of us sinking!” an old man spoke up.

“That’s because it’s a very gradual sinking we’re going through. It may not be obvious now, but in 20 years we’re most likely going to be knee deep in water!”

More concerned mumbling. I decided to speak up.

“Excuse me, I know I’m a mere visitor but there’s something I’d like to point out,” I said.

“Oh, please do,” the man at the podium invited me on stage. “Anything to put our troubled minds at ease.”

“Thank you,” I took my place at the podium. “As I was driving into Sinking Key, I couldn’t help notice a corroded sign along Highway 1.5. I took a closer look and saw this inscription:”

Welcome to Sinking Key

In the name of Britain I so claim this island. Deal with it.

Captain James Sinking
July 1841

There was a hushed silence as everyone stared at me in disbelief. I waited a few minutes before sensing my time was up, so I left City Hall and returned to my car. I looked back at City Hall one last time and heard nothing but silence. Even the ocean was quiet. Shrugging, I got in my car and drove on to continue my journey.

To be continued…

Strange Florida: The New Keys.

Recently I read that there is far more to Florida’s Keys than ever imagined. Additional archipelago formations not far from the well-known chain of islands connecting Florida to Key West have appeared, which were quickly inhabited and claimed by businesses and eccentric individuals seeking to literally putting themselves on the map. I got curious about these New Keys and decided to embark on a journey that would forever change my perceptions of the world.

After packing my bags and loading my car, I headed south to Key Largo, which had an exit to Highway 1.5 that branched west to offer a passageway connecting the newly discovered archipelago formations that made up the New Keys. I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see.

After a half hour of driving on Highway 1.5 and admiring the scenic sights of the ocean, I arrived at Potato Key, known for having the perfect soil for growing endless bounties of potatoes. I was hungry so I pulled into a roadside diner aptly named The Potato Pit.

“Welcome!” the waitress greeted me as I entered to take a seat at the counter. She handed me a menu and stood patiently nearby as I decided what to order.

Potato pancakes, potato salad, potato soup, baked potato, french fries, potato chips, mashed potatoes, potato pie, hash browns, tater tots, potato bread, potato doughnuts, potato skins, potato waffles, potato wedges, poutine, gnocchi, potato casserole, latkes, potato pizza, potato rolls, potato pretzels, potato potatoes, popped potatoes, frosted potato flakes, potato ice cream, potato milkshakes…

I opted for a baked potato while I waited for my order decided to strike up a conversation with the waitress, whose name was Sue.

“It seems strange that there’s soil this far south that’s ideal for growing potatoes,” I said. Curiously, there was no response. Sue stood there, her face locked in a grimace as she struggled to maintain her composure.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!” She screamed. “That’s all I ever hear! It’s always potato this, potato that. I haven’t heard one sentence without the word ‘potato’! People always coming in here and saying hi, I’ll have a baked potato. I’ll have some mashed potatoes. Gimme a potato beer! Every day, it’s potato this, potato that! Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes! I’m SICK of that word!”

“But this is Potato Key,” I offered.

“AAARGH!” I heard a scream from the kitchen as the cook suddenly appeared. “YOU THINK YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE SICK OF THAT WORD?” he screamed at Sue before he fled the diner.

After taking several deep breaths, Sue placed a plate in front of me.

“Here’s your baked…” she stammered. “Your baked…your baked…your baked…”

“Potato,” I said.

“AAARGH!” Sue screamed before she too fled the diner, leaving me the only one there. I finished my meal, left enough cash to cover the check and tip and left to resume my trip.

And yet it was only getting started…

To be continued…

My extremely miserable, horrible bad day.

The customer was extremely irate. She had a right to be, since it was 11 o’clock at night and I was still at her house trying to install her I-World service.

“Four hours, you said,” she said with her voice trembling with anger, “it’ll be all set up in four hours, you said. You’ve been here 14 hours and I still have no Internet service, no TV and no phone. I can’t believe I passed up playing cards with my friends so I could stay home and watch you fumble around. Are you sure you’re from WGT? What’s that stand for, anyway? World Global Telecom? Isn’t that redundant?”

In the meantime I was struggling to get her service up and running but was trying to resolve the multitude of issues that stood in my way, such as antiquated phone lines in her neighborhood and the distance from the source of the I-World service she had ordered. Add the fact that I hadn’t been working this job very long and that set the stage for one very miserable day. And now this customer was berating me, her mouth rambling nonstop and pushing me to the very edge of my sanity.

After trying once more to reattach the coaxial cable to its outlet on the wall, I decided to try once more to reboot the modem in the next room to see if the TV service worked yet. Of course, the customer followed me with her metal cane scraping the floor as she let loose yet another barrage of insults.

“I can’t believe I fell for this scam,” the customer ranted, “WGT makes billions of dollars a day yet it can’t even provide decent service for its customers. I knew I should’ve stayed with Adelphia Cable, but then I would’ve paid much more for Internet. But at least they have technicians who know what they’re doing instead of drunk monkeys like you-”

Suddenly her speech was cut off by a short, piercing dial tone that swiftly darkened the room. Immediately afterwards there were two bright flashes of light followed by the sound of something falling to the floor. Finally the room began to fill with the sickening smell of burning flesh. I nervously reached for my toolbelt and switched on the flashlight and the truth was illuminated in an instant.

The customer’s metal cane had touched the stripped phone line on the floor, creating a short circuit that sent the dial tone shooting out of her mouth before the electrical current reduced her to a smoldering pile of ashes on the floor.

Then my work phone rang. I knew who it was without looking at the screen.

“Hey, Mike,” my boss shouted, “I’m still waiting for you. I can’t lock up the yard without your truck back over here. Are you done yet?”

Your bad day doesn’t seem so bad anymore, does it?

In memory of Maximillian.


As Hurricane Irma raged through Palm Beach County, I was with my family at my mother-in-law’s house, monitoring the progress of the storm and witnessing the nasty weather unfolding outside. Then I was faced with the unspeakable task of taking her dog Maximillian for his afternoon walk. I borrowed a raincoat and braced myself for one soggy walk. The weather outside was horrific with the rain and very strong winds leaving leaves and small branches all over the street. Needless to say, I was quite miserable, but Maximillian on the other hand loved it. He had always enjoyed the water and this time was no different. He didn’t seem to mind the nasty weather in the least. I think there’s a lesson here somewhere, something about your attitude defining the experience. You can either be miserable because of the weather or you can exalt in it.

Maximillian passed away earlier this week, leaving behind a treasure trove of memories of good times and a life lived to the fullest. That walk during Hurricane Irma is my favorite memory of our time together. I will miss him.

The peanut butter circle in the sky.

Amid the bickering on the ground
Differences unravel
That which cannot be combed
Friendships discombobulated
Opinions separating us all
We stare at the ground
Grunting at the shadows of discontent
Disregarding the sight above
The peanut butter circle in the sky
Out of nowhere
Seeking to unify us all
At least those who believe
While clinging to many roofs of mouths
Of those too stubborn to ponder
What it is that defies all logic
No one knows how it got there
But it matters not to those who understand
And choose not to revel in its revelation
To avoid upsetting those
Who prefer the company
Of their shadows blocking the light
Forever concealing
The true beauty of the world