We took our Thanksgiving break with my wife’s family in Gulf Shores this year, where my in-laws own a condo. It was a large group and two more condos were needed. One of them, the one my crew stayed in, belonged to a friend of the family and was in the same building as the one my in-laws have on the fifth floor. This borrowed unit was on the fourteenth floor. I will be the first to admit I can get a little squeamish with heights. As long as I look toward the broad expanse of water it doesn’t bother me. But if I look down while standing at the rail, I’m in trouble. The fourteenth floor only amplified my unsteadiness. The views from within, like the unit I had been in many times below, were unbelievable. And even on the balcony I was good, as long as I didn’t get too close to the rail.
Strangely enough, once we were up there, heights or not, I felt safe. Like I had my little family in a bunker in the sky.
So we did the family event and my sister-in-law downloaded some sketchy virus on her computer and blamed it on me but other than that the time went too fast and too easily.
On the final morning I loaded the car, got everyone downstairs, then make one last sweep of the condo. The view caused me to hesitate. As I was standing there, fourteen floors up, I thought, what if we didn’t leave? What if we squatted in this guy’s condo? How long, legally, would it take him to get us out?
Sure, you could say that doesn’t sound real charitable of me. The guy has let me stay in his condo and I choose to repay him by locking my family in there and not coming out. But, on the other hand, was it really the nicest thing he could have done? Exposing my family to his wonderful place and then expecting us to voluntarily vacate? So, I thought, what would happen if I made a quick run for supplies, barricaded the door with some heavy furniture and set a watch on the balcony? How long could we make it as squatters in paradise?
You don’t hear about this happening much along the Gulf Coast. Most of the time when you see these squatting situations on the news it involves a ranch and some guys in unfortunate combinations of flannel, not a bathing suit and a hot tub. But why is that so?
I began to imagine how it would shake out once we barricaded ourselves inside the condo. Would the authorities be forced to set up a command post in the parking lot far below? Maybe one of them would yell up at us with a bull horn: “Come down with your hands up.” And we would look over the rail while holding a margarita and yell “no thank you”.
For that matter, which child would I let deal to the negotiator when they called? Wayne is so stubborn he will say no just because you said yes, so he would be no good. Beth would be perfect except she doesn’t do old fashioned communications like a phone so unless the negotiator reached out to us through Snap Chat or Instagram she’s out. Jacks seems like the logical choice but he has a sly, devious side so I wouldn’t trust him to keep the flash bang grenades at bay. Maybe Wilkins would be the best, since he talks at length about anything and has a pretty cheery disposition. Yes, he would probably buy us the most time before the SWAT team made their forced entry into our bunker in the sky.
And then I shook myself out of it.
Yes, I voluntarily left the fourteenth floor without any drama. Well, except for the chaos that typically travels in our car. But on the way home I thought about those rancher types with their boots in manure and their compounds and their guns and crazy anti-government rhetoric and decided they have it all wrong. Condos high above the Gulf are where this type of dissent should be going on. A little sun-block and some Vienna Sausages will go a long way. And even now I’m there in my mind. Safely barricaded away with my little brood on the fourteenth floor, my problems and a crazy, scary world looking awfully small far down below.