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Shell Shocked: A man for all seasons

November 15, 2018
By ART STEVENS , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

"Hi, Art. How are things in Sanibel?" a friend asks.

"I don't know. I'm not there at the moment."

"But I thought you lived in Sanibel."

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Art Stevens

"I live there during the winter months only. I'm up north the rest of the year," I reply.

"Oh. For some reason I thought you were a permanent resident of Sanibel."

"I am. I'm a resident of Florida but I happen to live up north the rest of the year."

A lot of my friends don't seem to get this. They think I live in Sanibel all year round and can't quite grasp the fact that I don't. I don't think I'm purposely trying to mislead anyone, particularly the state of New Jersey. New Jersey would like to collect a state income tax from me but I'd need to live in New Jersey for at least six months of the year. I don't.

Besides, I like the change of seasons. It's too hot in Sanibel during the summer months and too cold in New Jersey during the winter months. Thus I join a legion of snowbirds that have the best of all worlds.

Then I call my voice mail in Sanibel. I have a week old message. It's from another friend. "I've been trying to reach you. Why don't you return my calls?"

I call him back and tell him that I'm not in Sanibel but in New Jersey. He promptly said, "I thought you live in Sanibel all the time." And I go through my litany again explaining how I move back and forth with the change of seasons. I thought he got the message until the next time I called my Sanibel voice mail and got the exact same message from him.

I was on a business conference call a few weeks ago and one of the participants started the conversation by asking me what the weather is like in Sanibel and if I was sitting by my pool taking part in the call. I politely told him that I was taking the call in New Jersey and not in Sanibel.

He said, "Oh, I thought you lived in Sanibel all year long."

And the reverse happens as well. I might just be sitting by my pool in Sanibel when the phone rings. The person says "I just tried your number in New Jersey. I thought you'd be there. Don't you live in New Jersey and get to Sanibel here and there?"

I explained to him that it was January and was clearly my time to be in Sanibel. "Oh, so you're there during the winter and up north the rest of the year?"

"Duh," I wanted to say but didn't want to lose a friendship. "Yes, I think you've got it. You've really got it," I said instead. But he persisted. "Does that mean you have two different addresses? One for Sanibel and one for New Jersey?"

Is being a snowbird that difficult to understand? "Yes, "I said. "I have two different addresses. I'll be happy to give you all my contact information for Sanibel and New Jersey as well as the exact dates I'm in each area."

"Yes, that would be very helpful," he agreed.

So when I was in Sanibel last January he called me in New Jersey. When I returned his call he said "Are you in Sanibel now?"

If I had had possession of a snowball in Sanibel I would have launched it and thrown a 201-mile per hour fast ball right through his scalp and directly into his brain. Instead I said, "Yes, I'm in Sanibel now."

Do I need to write up an itinerary as to when I'm in Sanibel and New Jersey for my friends to understand? Don't they get it that I'm in Sanibel primarily during the winter months and up north the rest of the time? I suppose I can do call forwarding to make sure all calls come in to me wherever I am. And I suppose that I can direct all callers to use my cell phone and not the landlines which cause confusion.

Yes, I could make use of modern technology to allow people to reach me instantly no matter where I am. So why don't I? Because I wouldn't have a subject to write a column about, that's why.



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