It hasn't been well publicized, but Florida is fast becoming the most protected state in the union. Every community development is now an armed fort with uniformed guards at gatehouses checking on anyone trying to get in.
I didn't realize how dangerous it was to visit someone in a development until I went to see my sister Doris at Salt Lick Creek.
Unfortunately she failed to leave word at the main gate that I was coming. I was sitting in the back of a taxi when the uniformed guard wearing a Marine Corps drill instructor's hat and Royal Canadian knee-length riding boots peered in. I decided to get out of the cab when he screamed at me, "Don't get out! if you do, we'll shoot."
I've had difficulty visiting my sister before, but this was ridiculous.
"You don't understand," I said.
He took his baton out of his belt. "Keep your hands where I can see them."
I was getting nervous. "I haven't done anything, Sergeant. I just came to see my sister. Look, I've brought her an apple crumble cake."
"Don't open that box. Lay it out in the driveway and return to the back of the cab and put your head down."
I set the box out. Then I noticed the police dog in the gatehouse. "Please don't let the dog eat the cake," I begged. "My sister gets very upset when I don't bring her something sweet."
By now the guard was marching up and down inspecting the underside of the car and hitting the doors with his baton.
My taxi driver said, "Don't say anything. These guys never got to fight in Desert Storm, and they're trying to make up for it."
The next thing I noticed was that the guard was in the gatehouse on the phone. I could hear him giving a description of me to my sister.
He called out, "How did you get that scar over your eye?"
"In an automobile accident when we lived in Brooklyn," I yelled back.
He said, "On which side of your buttocks do you have a birthmark?"
I pulled down my pants.
He screamed, "Don't get out of the car."
Finally he said, "She thinks that it's you, but don't forget to check in with me when you leave or I'll set the dog on you."
When I got into my sister's place I told her what had happened to me and how humiliated I felt.
She replied, "Isn't it wonderful! I wouldn't live here if getting in to see me was easy."