Now for something completely different. We humans are an incredibly inventive species. By that I don’t mean we’re great at devising new machines or developing abstruse scientific theories about the universe. I’m talking about our amazing talent for getting ourselves into all sorts of trouble. The Darwin Awards pay tribute to the ability of humans to remove themselves permanently from the gene pool in ways that leave us in profound awe and deeply grateful we didn’t do anything that dumb.
Of course the Darwin Awards only acknowledge those whose actions lead to their premature demise. There are of course numerous incidents of humans performing acts of remarkable blithering idiocy, abominable dumbness and just plain unadulterated mallet-headedness without getting themselves killed in the process. The vast majority of these incidents go mercifully unnoticed but a few manage to make it into the news and leave us scratching our heads in wonder.
First place in my book goes to a nameless individual who made his way into the local news a few decades ago. The event took place in the White Mountain National Forest, in the area known as the Kancamagus Highway. The main draw of this particular strip of highway is the spectacular display of foliage color which occurs in the fall, attracting many tourists to view nature’s beauty. There’s no distracting tourist traps or other eye-sore businesses to mar the scenery. There are a few rest stops for those who need to answer Nature’s call. They are rustic affairs, resembling cabins with toilets that don’t flush but empty instead into cesspits that are cleaned out by a company hired to handle these matters (nice work if you can get it…).
The particular incident I have in mind occurred when a family of tourists was driving through admiring the foliage when their teenage daughter indicated she had to ‘go’. They pulled into the next rest stop where the young lady went into the women’s facility. As she was preparing to make use of the toilet, she happened to look down into it when lo and behold she saw a man was down inside the cesspit looking back up at her. Those of you with teenage daughters can no doubt imagine the reaction this got. The New Hampshire State police were summoned (not local cops as this is a state park) and sure enough there was indeed a real live man down inside the cesspit.
Now, here’s the thing. In order to get him out, they had to call the business that cleans out the pit as the door leading into it was still locked from the outside. Which of course means there was only one way he could have gotten into the cesspit. Yes…
At any rate once the fellow was extracted from the cesspit, the question naturally arose as to why he was down there in the first place. His story went something like this (my apologies to anyone reading this who happens to be gay). He wanted to use the facilities but had heard those salacious stories about men of a certain gender preference who liked to use rest stops for their romantic trysts. Not wanting to be accosted, he retreated to the presumed safety of the ladies rest room. While changing his clothing, he inadvertently dropped his wedding ring down the toilet so there was nothing for it, he just had to go after it. That was his story.
There were several problems with his account. For one thing when the cesspit company did a search, no ring turned up. When the police did a background check on this fellow, not only did they find he was not married, they also found he was already very well known to the Maine police having been nabbed by them on numerous occasions as a habitual window peeper. So in reality our toilet diver was a sex offender (albeit a minor one). So off to jail he went.
The local New Hampshire WMUR news station (actually our only news station) reported at some length on this story, mainly obsessing about how incredible filthy he was when they got him out and how the police had to put plastic coverings in the squad car to protect the seats (I imagine it was a while before they got the car aired out…). Mostly the reporters seemed to be just plain gobsmacked that anyone would do something like this just to get a peek at naked rear ends.
A more recent story popped up in the news that very nearly edged this one out. That involved a rather dim lady from Colebrook New Hampshire who with the assistance of some equally dim minions went out in the wee hours of the morning and dug up her father’s grave. Why did she do this? Well, she was searching for the ‘real will’ which she had come to believe was buried with him (along with a bottle of vodka). Happens all the time, right? Apparently she felt she didn’t get what she thought she should have gotten for an inheritance. So there just had to be a ‘real will’ somewhere and it must have been buried with dear old Dad. So that justified the night-time cemetery visit.
It did no good for her to insist she had done this in a ‘respectful manner’ and her dad would have been ‘ok’ with this. The New Hampshire court system didn’t see it that way and, no surprise, she was sent to prison. These hijinks didn’t quite have the icky-poo quality of the guy in the toilet story but it did achieve a very close second place. However, the toilet diver may yet be shoved into second place as the grave-digging daughter has since gotten herself in trouble again. It’s becoming pretty apparent why Dad cut her out of the will. As it looks as if the story hasn’t fully played itself out, she may yet outdo herself and win top billing for weird news. Until someone comes along and tops even her….
“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” – Albert Einstein