Friends in Florida

In a certain strange way, March of 1999 has turned out to be one of the most difficult times. One year ago, on March 24 1998, I received my NAFTA papers allowing me to come down for a 12-month contract at IMI in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The experience has been exactly that -- quite the experience!

However, a combination of events, all occurring within weeks of each other, have had quite the effect. It is no secret that IMI isn't doing very well financially; from 130+ employees, we're now down to just less than 60 people. (One month after leaving, there are now less than 10 people left at the company, and some of them are now in the process of leaving.) And the INS (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services) has refused to renew my NAFTA papers, which I would require to stay an additional 12 months. There is an appeal process, but it entails expensive immigration lawyer fees and time, neither of which IMI nor myself are capable of investing at this point.

Thus, in a certain way, my options have been decided for me. On Friday March 19, I gave IMI my resignation. Kat and I find ourselves saying good-bye for now to great weather, palm trees, and many good friends. Before we dive into our great packing adventure, Kat and I decided to spend one last weekend in Florida. In a matter of days, we'll be heading back to Vancouver, Canada.

Dave, Kat, and I all went skydiving one last time before we left Florida. After her missed/delayed/re-routed flight fiasco last December, Kathie can say her second time being in a plane was quite a trip! This being my second jump, they gave me permission to pull the ripcord at 5000 feet. The jump was from 15000 feet, with a 60 second free-fall, and a few gratuitous rolls as we left the plane, courtesy of my tandem instructor.

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Stéphane Charette, 08 May, 1999