And you thought you had it rough ...


A fierce gust of wind blew 45-year-old Vittorio Luise's car into a river near Naples, Italy, in 1983. He managed to break a window, climb out and swim to shore -- where a tree blew over and killed him.

Mike Stewart, 31, of Dallas was filming a movie in 1983 on the dangers of low-level bridges when the truck he was standing on passed under a low-level bridge -- killing him.

Walter Hallas, a 26-year-old store clerk in Leeds, England, was so afraid of dentists that in 1979 he asked a fellow worker to try to cure his toothache by punching him in the jaw. The punch caused Hallas to fall down, hitting his head, and he died of a fractured skull.

George Schwartz, owner of a factory in Providence, R.I., narrowly escaped death when a 1983 blast flattened his factory except for one wall. After treatment for minor injuries, he returned to the scene to search for files. The remaining wall then collapsed on him, killing him.

Depressed since he could not find a job, 42-year-old Romolo Ribolla sat in his kitchen near Pisa, Italy, with a gun in his hand threatening to kill himself in 1981. His wife pleaded for him not to do it, and after about an hour he burst into tears and threw the gun to the floor. It went off killed his wife.

In 1983, a Mrs. Carson of Lake Kushaqua, N.Y., was laid out in her coffin, presumed dead of heart disease. As mourners watched, she suddenly sat up. Her daughter dropped dead of fright.

A man hit by a car in New York in 1977 got up uninjured, but lay back down in front of the car when a bystander told him to pretend he was hurt so he could collect insurance money. The car rolled forward and crushed him to death.

Surprised while burgling a house in Antwerp, Belgium, a thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine-foot wall, dropped down and found himself in the city prison.

In 1976 a twenty-two-year-old Irishman, Bob Finnegan, was crossing the busy Falls Road in Belfast, when he was struck by a taxi and flung over its roof. The taxi drove away and, as Finnegan lay stunned in the road, another car ran into him, rolling him into the gutter. It too drove on. As a knot of gawkers gathered to examine the magnetic Irishman, a delivery van plowed through the crowd, leaving in its wake three injured bystanders and an even more battered Bob Finnegan. When a fourth vehicle came along, the crowd wisely scattered and only one person was hit, Bob Finnegan. In the space of two minutes Finnegan suffered a fractured skull, broken pelvis, broken leg, and other assorted injuries. Hospital officials said he would recover.

While motorcycling through the Hungarian countryside, Cristo Falatti came up to a railway line just as the crossing gates were coming down. While he sat idling, he was joined by a farmer with a goat, which the farmer tehered to the crossing gate. A few moments later a horse and cart drew up behind Falatti, followed in short order by a man in a sports car. When the train roared through the crossing, the horse startled and bit Falatti on the arm. Not a man to be trifled with, Falatti responded by punching the horse in the head. In consequence the horse's owner jumped down from his cart and began scuffling with the motorcyclist. The horse, which was not up to this sort of excitement, backed away briskly, smashing the cart into the sports-car. At this, the sports-car driver leaped out of his car and joined the fray. The farmer came forward to try to pacify the three flailing men. As he did so, the crossing gates rose and his goat was strangled. At last report the insurance companies were still trying to sort out the claims.

Two West German motorists had an all-too-literal head-on collision in heavy fog near the small town of Guetersloh. Each was guiding his car at a snail's pace near the center of the road. At the moment of impact their heads were both out of the windows when they smacked together. Both men were hospitalized with severe head injuries. Their cars weren't scratched.

In a classic case of one thing leading to another, seven men aged eighteen to twenty-nine received jail sentences of three to four years in Kingston-on-Thames, England, in 1979 after a fight that started when one of the men threw a french fry at another while they stood waiting for a train.

Hitting on the novel idea that he could end his wife's incessant nagging by giving her a good scare, Hungarian Jake Fen built an elaborate harness to make it look as if he had hanged himself. When his wife came home and saw him she fainted. Hearing a disturbance a neighbor came over and, finding what she thought were two corpses, seized the opportunity to loot the place. As she was leaving the room, her arms laden, the outraged and suspended Mr Fen kicked her stoutly in the backside. This so surprised the lady that she dropped dead of a heart attack. Happily, Mr Fen was acquitted of manslaughter and he and his wife were reconciled.

An unidentified English woman, according to the London Sunday Express was climbing into the bathtub one afternoon when she remembered she had left some muffins in the oven. Naked, she dashed downstairs and was removing the muffins when she heard a noise at the door. Thinking it was the baker, and knowing he would come in and leave a loaf of bread on the kitchen table if she didn't answer his knock, the woman darted into the broom cupboard. A few moments later she heard the back door open and, to her eternal mortification, the sound of footsteps coming toward the cupboard. It was the man from the gas company, come to read the meter. "Oh," stammered the woman, "I was expecting the baker." The gas man blinked, excused himself and departed.



Subject: taco hell
On my way home from the second job I've taken for the extra holiday cash I need, I stopped at Taco Bell for a quick bite to eat. In my billfold is a $50 bill and a $2 bill. That is all of the cash I have on my person. I figure that with a $2 bill, I can get something to eat and not have to worry about people getting pissed at me.

ME: "Hi, I'd like one seven layer burrito please, to go."
IT: "Is that it?"
ME: "Yep."
IT: "That'll be $1.04, eat here?"
ME: "No, it's to go." [I hate effort duplication.]

At his point I open my billfold and hand him the $2 bill. He looks at it kind of funny and

IT: "Uh, hang on a sec, I'll be right back."

He goes to talk to his manager, who is still within earshot. The following conversation occurs between the two of them.

IT: "Hey, you ever see a $2 bill?"
MG: "No. A what?"
IT: "A $2 bill. This guy just gave it to me."
MG: "Ask for something else, THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A $2 BILL." [my emp]
IT: "Yeah, thought so."

He comes back to me and says

IT: "We don't take these. Do you have anything else?"
ME: "Just this fifty. You don't take $2 bills? Why?"
IT: "I don't know."
ME: "See here where it says legal tender?"
IT: "Yeah."
ME: "So, shouldn't you take it?"
IT: "Well, hang on a sec."

He goes back to his manager who is watching me like I'm going to shoplift, and

IT: "He says I have to take it."
MG: "Doesn't he have anything else?"
IT: "Yeah, a fifty. I'll get it and you can open the safe and get change."

MG: "I'M NOT OPENING THE SAFE WITH HIM IN HERE." [my emp]
IT: "What should I do?"
MG: "Tell him to come back later when he has REAL money."
IT: "I can't tell him that, you tell him."
MG: "Just tell him."
IT: "No way, this is weird, I'm going in back."

The manager approaches me and says

MG: "Sorry, we don't take big bills this time of night." [it was 8pm and this particular Taco Bell is in a well lighted indoor mall with 100 other stores.]
ME: "Well, here's a two."
MG: "We don't take those either."
ME: "Why the hell not?"
MG: "I think you know why."
ME: "No really, tell me, why?"
MG: "Please leave before I call mall security."
ME: "Excuse me?"
MG: "Please leave before I call mall security."
ME: "What the hell for?"
MG: "Please, sir."
ME: "Uh, go ahead, call them."
MG: "Would you please just leave?"
ME: "No."
MG: "Fine, have it your way then."
ME: "No, that's Burger King, isn't it?"

At this point he BACKS away from me and calls mall security on the phone around the corner. I have two people STARING at me from the dining area, and I begin laughing out loud, just for effect. A few minutes later this 45 year oldish guy comes in and says [at the other end of counter, in a whisper]

SG: "Yeah, Mike, what's up?"
MG: "This guy is trying to give me some [pause] funny money."
SG: "Really? What?"
MG: "Get this, a two dollar bill."
SG: "Why would a guy fake a $2 bill?" [incredulous]
MG: "I don't know? He's kinda weird. Says the only other thing he has is a fifty."
SG: "So, the fifty's fake?"
MG: "NO, the $2 is."
SG: "Why would he fake a $2 bill?"
MG: "I don't know. Can you talk to him, and get him out of here?"
SG: "Yeah..."

Security guard walks over to me and says

SG: "Mike here tells me you have some fake bills you're trying to use."
ME: "Uh, no."
SG: "Lemme see 'em."
ME: "Why?"
SG: "Do you want me to get the cops in here?"

At this point I was ready to say, "SURE, PLEASE," but I wanted to eat, so I said

ME: "I'm just trying to buy a burrito and pay for it with this $2 bill."

I put the bill up near his face, and he flinches like I was taking a swing at him. He takes the bill, turns it over a few times in his hands, and says

SG: "Mike, what's wrong with this bill?"
MG: "It's fake."
SG: "It doesn't look fake to me."
MG: "But it's a $2 bill."
SG: "Yeah?"
MG: "Well, there's no such thing, is there?"

The security guard and I both looked at him like he was an idiot, and it dawned on the guy that he had no clue.

My burrito was free and he threw in a small drink and those cinnamon things, too. Makes me want to get a whole stack of $2 bills just to see what happens when I try to buy stuff. If I got the right group of people, I could probably end up in jail. At least you get free food.




Last modified: November 26, 1997