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The Cardboard Plunge, Joe Triggs-Smith Florida Plunge Story

I had tripped over a cardboard box. This was curious, since, when I had left the house that morning, there wasn’t one particularly in that location. When I returned, it wasn’t there at all that I could remember. Now tripping over things isn’t particularly new, I was always destined to be klutz with my huge feet; we have a small dogs as well. Surely, the experience itself wasn’t overtly shocking. But, well, a cardboard box? Folded neatly, ready to be prepped? It had slid into the middle of the foyer, as if requesting immediate attention.

“Honey? Did you bring home….boxes?”

From the basement computer, the voice echoed back, “That I did!”

The message was clear. We were going to move and I better get working on it.

Three days before, the Monday before Thanksgiving in 2008, I had gone ahead and applied for a teacher’s license. Work was still fulfilling there in Colorado, my family and friends were all about me. However, money was getting tighter and we had elected to not visit our Florida contingent and forgo the bi annual Disney field trip. Such things are normal for all families during any kind of budget issues. Of course, dreams were always in the forefront of our minds. The casual, yet repeated, comments from both my husband and myself about wanting to retire to Florida had seemingly escalated over the years in to some kind of mantra. Every time something yucky hit us, like a bad day at work, we’d hold our heads up and say to ourselves, “when I live in Florida, this will be in the past.”  So when a lull in activities presented itself, I went ahead and applied for that teacher’s license.

My expectation was that I’d be rejected. Having only ever really experienced the Colorado Department of Education’s manner of handling licensure, I knew what it was like to jump through hoops. Leap through hoops. I figured, if started the process now, in 2008, would get my license in about 2015. See, in Colorado, it took a full TEN YEARS of my teaching before I was ever even granted a license. Hopes were not high at all. I figured they’d tell me I’m in need of this course and that course and it’s time to get started on going back to school.

Once I had that list in my hand-I could start up the coursework needed to truly take the plunge into Florida.

Did I say years?

It took two days.

Two days.

Not to be rejected, but to be accepted. They granted me my license immediately and sent me a link to where to apply in Florida. (Sidenote: your license doesn’t begin until you start teaching, that way your due dates are aligned with the school year-so they say you’re accepted, but it doesn’t start until you find that teacher position.) I wasn’t ecstatic.  I had a decent teaching position, I wasn’t in any hurry to get things floating along at too fast of a pace. So? I sent a quick text to him, letting know that I didn’t need any classes to teach in Florida.

And the boxes arrived home.

As a moonlighting ghostwriter, I knew a thing or two about symbolism. And this symbol, those boxes, were about a subtle as a sledgehammer on fire.

I’m not going to lie here, it was still a long road. That took two years to get my way down here.  I have family down here, but I also wished to be closer to the activity that Central Florida had to offer. Florida is more of a down-upwards kinda place, so I had to manually contact each application at each school for several schools and counties. I didn’t mind, but the fact was, not many wanted to risk hiring someone from out of state. Interviews over the phone do not always work either. You are unable to read the body language of the individuals and pick up further cues on what they’re looking for.

Then there was the house needing to be sold.

I sent out my first application over spring break of 2009.  We blanketed a larger area, incorporating South Florida as well.

When I did get a teaching position, we elected to allow Fate to play her decent hand. We ended up in Lake County.

But that wasn’t until 2010. See? That dive into the waters that are Florida took the longest bleeping time.

With several boxes brought from Colorado.

And haven’t looked back since.

~Joe Triggs-Smith


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