By Kelly Baughman

Few things in life bring me joy like the sweet revenge of pettiness. This week, I came across an example of petty in all its glory that brought up the age old issue of property boundaries, the golden rule, and banding together for injustice.
While on one of my many daily Facebook scrolls, I came across a page called ‘Fish Joyce’s Dock’. It caught my eye due to the headline, “Stick it to the meanest lady in town”.
It all started last week in Vero Beach when Jose Ortiz was fishing while wading in the shallow waters near homeowner, Joyce Khatibi’s, dock. Khatibi confronted Ortiz about fishing “her property” while yelling obscenities and racial slurs at the man. Ortiz filmed the ordeal, asking, “Why can’t I be here? I’m not touching the dock, and you don’t own the water.”
Khatibi replied, “I own the dock and the water. You are trespassing on my property.” She then proceeded to spray Ortiz with the hose while telling him, “I’m a very rich woman. You’re lucky my son isn’t here. He’d beat your….”. You get the picture. Ortiz uploaded the video to his Facebook page, which quickly went viral.
Now here’s where the story gets good.
Ortiz wasn’t going to take this behavior lying down, so he hatched a plan. He started an event page called ‘Fish Joyce’s Dock’ where he invited anyone and everyone to gather by boat, kayak, or any other means to give Khatibi the headache of a lifetime by anchoring up around her dock to fish for the day.
Over 60 boats and 150 people came out to show their support for Ortiz and to turn up the heat on Khatibi. Vero Beach Police and Florida Marine Patrol were on hand to make sure the situation was under control, and according to reporter Andy Hodges, who was on the scene, everyone “behaved well and obeyed the law”.
I myself love to watch drama unfold, so long as it doesn’t involve me, (I know I should be old enough to know better by now, and should seek professional help), and The Fish Joyce’s Dock Facebook page gives hilarious “reviews” that are sarcastic, funny, and lighthearted for the most part.
One person wrote a “Yelp” style review, saying, “Great atmosphere with great staff! Top shelf service with every visit. You get hot, they cool you down, your boat gets dirty, they hose it off, excellent knowledge of local waterways!”
Another said, “VERY accommodating staff, pay the VIP rate and get a shower with Joyce on the champagne dock. Best boat washing services south of Sebastian Inlet, highly recommend. Open 24 hours. A real throwback to 1950s Florida.”
And while there was no sign of Khatibi that day, the presence of the Fish Joyce’s Dock “movement” brings up a relevant question that we have asked here in our area as well. Does money really buy you more privilege than the law allows?
While Khatibi was claiming to own the water surrounding her dock and was willing to take on assault charges to defend it, our area has experienced backlash over condo and homeowners making the beaches behind their properties “private” and inaccessible to the public. Many people have been asked to leave the beach or have been threatened with trespassing charges for simply setting up a chair in an area deemed “owned”.
I see both sides of the fence. If I personally had the wealth and privilege to own beach front property, I probably wouldn’t want every degenerate with a fishing pole in my “yard” either. However, seeing as how I live on the other side, I love the beach and want to enjoy it like everyone else. Shouldn’t I have the right to do so, even though I’m not rich?
To me, it’s not a matter of the “haves” and the “have nots”. It’s a case of being a decent human. If Joyce was peeved at Ortiz’s presence that day, maybe she could’ve approached the situation a little nicer, or better yet…not at all. After all, she’s the “rich” one who gets to enjoy the beauty of the water every day, and as long as he wasn’t on her dock, she could’ve let him enjoy the day.
And I’m not letting Ortiz off the hook either. It probably would’ve been simple to just let the whole thing go, but instead, he organized an entire event to spite Joyce. His efforts, while impressive and hilarious, would’ve been better served doing something real in the community like feeding the homeless or helping animals at the shelter.
Bottom line, whether you’re rich or not so rich, be good to one another. Neither Khatibi nor Ortiz know what life is like for the other. We are all fighting our own battles, and a little kindness goes a long way…even to people who annoy you, hurt you, ridicule you, or make you public enemy number one in town. Rise above, and be the change you want to see in your community.
But if you can’t do that, give me a call. I’ll bring the popcorn.