I nearly jumped out of my skin on instinct when I saw a shark while swimming in Key West, Florida. It was five, maybe six feet long and hunting the sandy sea bottom along the buoy line of the beach.
I was wearing swim goggles and could clearly see the torpedo shape and the white tip of the dorsal fin. I am from Kansas so I don’t generally go swimming with sharks. My biggest exposure to the ocean is watching shark week on TV. So it had to be complete instinct that took over.
It took one-tenth of a second to register that shape as a shark and I instinctively flinched and turned towards the shore. It took only half a second to realize I was not in danger, but by the time I turned around, the shark was gone.
You hear stories of people lifting cars off babies and doing other superhuman feats in a fight-or-flight situation fueled by adrenaline. At that moment, I could have beaten Michael Phelps in an all-out sprint to shore. In fact, I would have been ashore, dried off, and putting on sunscreen by the time Michael Phelps put down his bong. I had to swim a half mile to work off the gallon of pure adrenaline dumped into my body when I saw that shark.
This morning I stopped for breakfast on my way to work as usual. I walked in the door of the café and I swear I saw Dick Cheney sitting there drinking coffee.
Exact same feeling.