No Longer Weird

There are quite a few topics that maybe have been covered in True in the past, but unless there’s a major, interesting, and/or funny twist to them, I skip over them lately because they happen too often. I’ve rarely if ever announced that I’m no longer covering such stories; it’s just an internal (to my head) rule.

No Longer Weird: Burglar/intruder falls out of ceiling, surprising victims below, or getting stuck in the ceiling, chimney, or vent and begging for help from the victims. (Or, sometimes, not being found stuck in a restaurant stove vent for weeks, months, or even years.) This one is a freeze frame from the “Cops” series (November 22, 2014), and shows a suspect being held at gunpoint by (I’m pretty sure) Omaha, Neb., officers (click to see larger).

In fact, there are so many such items on my mental list that I couldn’t possibly rattle them all off if asked to — but I certainly know them when I see one in the news!

As I run across Yet Another Such Story, I’ll be adding a brief description of it on this page, usually with a link to an example (though that will be removed if the story goes offline: let me know if you find a bad link, please!

And, from time to time, I’ll mention updates in the email newsletter.

No Longer Weird: the List

  • Burning your house down while trying to kill insects or rodents with fire or flammable chemicals. The straw that broke the camel’s back came from Michigan.
  • Someone trying to pass (or deposit at a bank) a “million-dollar bill” (which have never existed as legal currency). An example is here.
  • Carjacker can’t drive away the car he just stole because he can’t drive a manual transmission. Here’s a great example from Alabama.
  • Portland Police Bureau photo (click to see larger).

    Drunk driver is caught because he fell asleep at a red light, and is still snoring when the cops arrive. The photo here is an example from Portland, Oregon, where officers boxed the driver in because sometimes, when they wake them up, they floor it to move on, and cause nasty crashes.

  • Burglars falling through the ceiling, or trying to break in via the chimney or stove vent. Especially in the run-up to the winter holidays! An example from Georgia.
  • Faking your own kidnaping to either get away from your wife for a bit, or to get money for drugs. Here’s an example from Plymouth, Minn.
  • Gasoline station robbers who flee and are quickly caught …because they ran out of gas.
  • Government aid hotline (or Dial-a-Prayer number) is printed wrong, and callers instead reach phone sex hot-hot-hotline, such as FEMA screwing up the “Blue Roof Project” after a hurricane in Florida.
  • People who had their illegal drugs stolen, so they call the police to report the theft. An example from Indiana.
  • Drug dealers setting up a meeting with a customer, getting the phone number wrong, and accidentally texting a cop instead of the customer. Here’s one from Florida.
  • People making movies or videos with toy guns, and of course the police show up thinking there’s a real robbery in progress. For an example, head back to Indiana.
  • Police dispatchers being fooled by threatening sounds during a 911 call which actually turn out to be …someone playing a video game. An example from Huntington, W.V.
  • Finding someone else when looking into a family member’s casket, such as this family in Tennessee.
  • Firefighters who set fires so they have something to do, or sometimes to give other firefighters some excitement. (Example from Utah)
  • After a drunk driver is arrested, then released by police, they call someone to come pick them up — but that person is also arrested because they drove drunk to the police station, like in Wisconsin.
  • An obliviot hires a hitman …who turns out to be an undercover cop. Like this obliviot in Missouri.
  • Criminal jumps into a taxi …but it’s actually a police car. Which even happens in Sweden.
  • People who accidentally shoot themselves while demonstrating the supposedly safe handling of firearms.
  • Drunk drivers ordered by the judge to go to some sort of class, but they’re turned away because they arrived drunk. (Example)
  • Car thieves having to go to court, so they drive themselves there in a stolen car, like these brainiacs.
  • Arrestees who jump over into the driver’s seat and steal the police car they’re in. An example from Oklahoma.
  • People “hiding” their guns in an oven thinking it’s a safe place …until (duh!) someone turns on the oven. Here’s one from Ohio.
  • Someone steals an ambulance, especially when they are released from a hospital and need a ride home. Even when the thief is injured by crashing the ambulance, and needs to be taken to the hospital. Here’s one from Houston.
  • Moremany more! — to come.

What About Zero Tolerance?

Why aren’t ZT stories “no longer weird”? In some ways they are, but in other ways they’re not. As discussed in Podcast 10: “I do in fact pass on a lot of ZT stories as ‘no longer weird.’ I probably let about ten times as many just go by as I use as stories in This is True. But now and then, there’s some bizarre new twist that catches my attention, and will demonstrate to readers that yes, the outrageously weird phenomenon of zero tolerance is still alive and well not just in schools, not just in American schools, but guess what: kids grow up and zero tolerance is spreading out into the real world in the U.S. and other places. So that’s not ‘no longer weird,’ but extremely weird indeed.”

It’s probably much worse than that: I likely pass on 99 percent of the ZT stories I see in the news. In other words, I probably could find and write up a zero tolerance story just about every week — but don’t. These days, I only include them in the mix when I find they’re illustrative of a point.

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2 thoughts on “No Longer Weird

  1. Nice! Additional instances will probably be equally WTF & funny-as-hell.

    Yep, these are (or at least were!) worthy stories for True, and definitely funny; their only sin is that they just happen too often to be thought of as “weird” anymore, unless there’s a significant extra detail that makes it really stand out. I expect that to happen now and then! And I have a backlog of subjects so I can continue to dole them out in the podcast. -rc

  2. Thank you for publishing the list so that at least you are on the record that the reduction in being featured is not a result of a reduction in their frequency of occurrence.

    The downside of things becoming ‘no longer weird’ and therefore no longer worthy of being featured in This is True is that it gives the impression to the casual observer that obliviots have stopped doing them when just the opposite is the case. This is especially apropos of ZT stories.

    One can only hope that the reason for all the things on the list becoming so common that they are no longer weird is that it is not your readers who have resorted to being copy cats for the purpose of being featured in This is True. For the record, I do not believe that it is the case.

    A lesser person might become disheartened to find that his mission to promote more thinking in the world appears to be failing. Keep up the good work.

    You raise a good point, but remember that even if listed here, such a story could still be featured if something about it raises it above the norm. The bottom line, though, is even by taking these stories out of the mix, I still get more nominated stories than I could even possibly write. There’s no shortage of human ingenuity, especially when it comes to obliviocy…. -rc

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