Would you rather have every stoplight you ever come to for the rest of your life be red when you first get there, or turn into a loaf of bread for 24 hours every year?

Yes, that’s a serious question.

A few weeks ago, the Keys Weekly Media Group held its annual company retreat out on Pigeon Key. After a fantastic day of swimming, jet skiing and absolutely no alcoholic beverages**, six of us found ourselves at the end of the island’s dock late into the night.

I had brought along a game I used to play with my old coworkers, but part of me was hesitant to break it out. For context, this is a card game we used to play in our spare time that poses absurd hypothetical questions to its players. 

I have watched it inspire hysterical screaming matches among friends over questions like the one that began this article.

At the risk of blatantly advertising a risqué – that’s putting it lightly – product, let’s just say the card game is perfectly summarized by its tagline: “Questions as (expletive) up as you are.” Let me be abundantly clear: the scenarios posed by this game are *wildly* inappropriate – I could only print about 10% of them, at best, in this magazine – and violate all social conventions about equality, political correctness and the like. I am NOT officially endorsing them.

But as the six of us on that dock with filthy senses of humor could tell you, they were also hilarious. You know you’ve got something good on your hands when two grown adults get out of bed on their nearby boat to rejoin the group after overhearing a few spirited debates.

For the next few hours, we laughed until we could barely breathe as we took turns commenting on ridiculous propositions, ranging from crimes we’d commit if we knew we’d never get caught, to our willingness to belittle fellow humans publicly for sums of money. We even found out which of us was the least opposed to bestiality, specifically with a goat.

It was irreverent, it was hysterical, and it was just plain fun. For the first time in I can’t even remember how long, the six of us sat together and barely touched our phones. And let me tell you, that does NOT happen for six media people. That one night alone sparked a group text thread that kept the camaraderie going to this day, and in the strangest of ways I feel like I know my coworkers so much better just from those few hours.

Nights like those remind me of the importance of taking the time to unplug, spend time in nature, and share genuine laughs with the people you share your life with. In a results-oriented world, sometimes our relationships with fantastic people in our lives can be constrained to narrow one-dimensional entities, and it’s on us to broaden those channels – even in the most ridiculous of ways.

It’s something I would encourage everyone reading this to do. Grab a friend and try an activity you’ve never done before. Invite that coworker or classmate to an after-hours event. Do something, anything, out of the box. No phones, just human connection.

I guarantee you won’t regret it.

**this is a load of crap

Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.