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Shell Shocked: Being a snowbird is a full-time job

August 29, 2018
By ART STEVENS , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

If you're a snowbird, your house or condo needs you more than ever when you're back north. You just don't leave Sanibel without the full weight of your residence on your back. In fact, owning property is a full-time job.

The phone rings.

House inspector: Sorry to bother you but your heater just exploded, your phone is dead, four ceiling lights are out, the toilet over flooded, the pool is leaking and the food in the freezer smells because someone pulled the electric plug from the outlet.

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Art Stevens

And that's just the opening salvo.

Gardener: You have weeds up the wazoo, one of your trees collapsed, there are a thousand rabbits in your backyard, the mulch has dried up, and the sprinklers are broken. Your property is now a desert and there's a camel living on it.

Computer geek: The computer crashed, all your files are gone, and someone hacked into your computer and stole your identity. There's someone walking around Sanibel posing as you. He used your credit card to buy a Rolls Royce and has opened a gambling casino. You need to turn yourself in.

Pool guy: The water in your pool is showing red tide, the geckos have colonized your spa, the filter is on the blink, a massive leak is rushing into your basement, the pool temperature reached 110 yesterday and our service to you is suspended because we hate you, your pool and your lifestyle.

Pest control guy: I'm sorry to have to tell you this but there are bats flying around your living room. Yes, I'm aware that there are no bats elsewhere in Sanibel but it appears that your house was singled out by a renegade group of bats. And ants have gotten inside your desk and are chewing on your check books. You'd better call your bank. But the worst discovery I made is that there are a group of frogs living in your microwave oven. Please don't turn the microwave on when you arrive unless you like frog's legs.

Comcast service rep: Do you realize that a group of alligators has been charging your account for twenty Netflix movies a day since you left Sanibel? They seem to love watching movies about other animals. They love Disney movies especially and get chuckles from Bugs Bunny cartoons. Plus they ate your couch.

Sanibel police: Your security alarm has gone off ten times in the past twenty-four hours and we need to fine you $5,000 for the inconvenience you have caused us. A bank robber ran off with $50,000 from one of our local banks because we were at your house investigating a possible break in. We've decided to condemn your house for flagrant violations of environmental laws.

Cleaning people: Clean this house? You've got to be kidding. We didn't bring our bulldozer with us today to make sure no other living person goes through the punishment of walking into your house. Are you sure that the TV series "The Walking Dead" wasn't filmed in your house?

Real estate broker: I'm afraid you're going to have to pay a buyer to take this house off your hands. Your house would make for a good zoo in Sanibel if we can get the City Council to amend the zoning laws.

Air conditioning guy: Sir, you're not supposed to keep your thermostat at 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It's snowing in your living room. There's an ice skating rink in your basement and an Eskimo family living in your kitchen. We respectfully ask you not to call us again. We thank you for your past business.

Professional arsonist: You called the right guy. For the right price I can burn your house down so it looks like an accident. Then you can rebuild - in Iraq.

Like I said, there's not a moment's peace for a snowbird.



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