Coming from a very cold climate, I always looked at Florida with mixed feelings.
On the one hand, I would view its beautiful beaches and perfect weather with envy. Especially when I was trying to calculate tomorrow’s wind chill factor.
On the other hand, I was slightly concerned about traveling there because of what has become to be known as “Florida Man: The World’s Worst Superhero.”
If you are not familiar with “Florida Man” it was a popular internet meme that developed based on the publication of funny media reports from mostly rural parts of Florida.
It is a huge diverse state, so some shenanigans are to be expected somewhere, right? Anyway, it made for some funny headlines:
Florida Man Steals $33,000 Worth of Rare Coins, Cashes Them in CoinStar Machine for $29.30
Florida Man Tries to Steal Half a Million Dollars’ Worth of Tequila on New Year’s Eve
And my personal favorite…
Florida Man Eats Police Car
Given these two views of the state, it was never a sure thing that my wife, Sonia, and I would even visit Florida. If truth be told, the only reason we went there the first time was because of a Rich Dad Education conference that I was helping to run.
Once we got there on the ground we started to fall in love with the place.
But a small secret fear of “Florida Man” was always buried in my subconscious. It made me hesitate to move from Toronto to the Sunshine state full-time.
That was until Sonia and I met Eli.
When we were on our “exploratory business trip” in Orlando, we had to return to Canada to submit our visa application to the U.S. embassy in downtown Toronto (that’s a whole ‘nother story), for an indefinite amount of time.
I did not want to park our car at the airport for an indefinite amount of time and have to pay an indefinite amount of parking fees. That would’ve been crazy.
I knew Eli because he had painted our first condo and was referred to us by our tub reglazer (yes that is a thing, and you would be shocked how many off-market deals can come from a reglazer).
I off-handedly asked him if he could give us a ride to the airport. Not only did he agree to do so, but he also agreed to let us park our car at his house and he would watch it for us.
“Wow!” I thought.
On the way to the airport, I tried to offer him money for the ride, but he refused. I had only met him a few times when he was painting our condo, so I was a bit confused by all the generosity.
“I really appreciate you helping us out,” I said.
He just smiled.
As Canadian as I could possibly be, I said “Sorry, but can I ask why you won’t let me pay you?”
In his very understandable but broken English, he replied, “Because you are family.”
It was at that moment I realized that everyone we had been dealing with in Orlando was some version of Eli.
It was then I knew even though I would always be a Canadian (ex-pat), we would move to the Sunshine State full-time (the relocation and visa adventure is a long story all its own).
I have not yet met a truly wacky “Florida Man,” but I have met a lot of “Eli’s” here.
Once I decided to surround myself with as many Eli’s as possible, we never looked back. It’s why you and I are talking now.
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