No Longer Weird

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

No Longer Weird: Burglar/intruder falls through ceiling, or gets stuck in a chimney or vent and begs for help from the victims. (Or, sometimes, not being found stuck in a roof vent for weeks, months, or even years.) This is a freeze frame from the “Cops” series (November 22, 2014), with 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, They’ll be added here with a brief description, usually with a link to an example — though they’re removed if the story goes offline. (Let me know if you find a bad link, please! Just click on the “True Help” button that should be floating in the lower right.)

Exceptions? Yes, now and then: if there’s a story with a new twist that’s worth the space.

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

No Longer Weird: the List

  1. 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.
  2. Someone trying to pass (or deposit at a bank) a “million-dollar bill” (which have never existed as legal currency).  [Example link bad: removed]
  3. Carjacker can’t drive away in the car he just stole because he doesn’t know how drive a manual transmission. Here’s a great example from Alabama.
  4. Drunk driver is caught because he fell asleep at a red light, and is still snoring when the cops arrive. The photo below is an example from Portland, Oregon, where officers boxed the driver in because sometimes, when they wake up the drunk, they floor it to move on and cause nasty crashes.
  5. 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.
  6. Faking your own kidnaping to either get away from your spouse for a bit, or to get money for drugs; naturally, the scammed family member calls the cops. Here’s an example from Plymouth, Minn.
  7. People robbing a gas station and fleeing, only to run out of gas, such as this one in Memphis.
  8. Government aid hotline (or Dial-a-Prayer number) is printed wrong, and callers instead reach a phone sex hot-hot-hotline, such as FEMA screwing up the “Blue Roof Project” after a hurricane in Florida.
  9. People who had their illegal drugs stolen, so they call the police to report the theft. An example from Indiana.
  10. Drug dealers setting up a meeting with a customer, but get the phone number wrong and accidentally call/text a cop instead of the customer.  [Example link bad: removed]
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Finding someone else when looking into a family member’s casket at the memorial, such as this family in Tennessee.
  14. Firefighters who set fires so they have something to do, or sometimes to give other firefighters some excitement. It was a former fire chief in this Utah example.
  15. 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 this case in Wisconsin.
  16. Someone hires a hitman …who turns out to be an undercover cop. Like this obliviot in Virginia.
  17. Dog steps on gun’s trigger, and shoots its owner. More on that in this post.
  18. Criminal jumps into a taxi …but it’s actually a police car. Which even happens in Denmark.
  19. People — sometimes even instructors — who accidentally shoot themselves while demonstrating the supposedly safe handling of firearms. [Example link bad: removed]
  20. Drunk drivers ordered by the judge to go to some sort of class, but they’re turned away because they arrived drunk. [Example link bad: removed]
  21. Car thieves having to go to court, so they drive themselves there in a stolen car, like these brainiacs in Connecticut.
  22. Arrestees who jump over into the driver’s seat and steal the police car they’re in. [Example link bad: removed]
  23. 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.
  24. 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 of those from Houston.
Happens too often to be weird.Toddlers (almost always boys) who climb into a “claw machine” attracted by a toy inside — who then can’t get out without rescue crews’ help. (Example from Alabama; social media photo by his mother.)
  1. People showing up in court to face drug charges who not only bring drugs with them, they accidentally drop their stash on the floor of the courtroom in front of the judge. Even this woman in Ohio who needed a backpack to carry all of hers.
  2. Fake cop makes a traffic stop …of a real cop. You wouldn’t believe how often this happens, even to the feds (e.g., in the San Francisco Bay Area).
  3. Someone gets a gigantic utility bill, such as Queens Man Gets $38 million Electric Bill after Con Ed Error. Just happens too much to be weird.
  4. Someone embezzles money to pay restitution to their previous embezzlement victim(s). Example: this case in Pennsylvania.
  5. Schoolteacher finds a (real) gun in a young student’s backpack or lunchbox, such as this example in Michigan. Sadly this happens too much to be weird, unless there are other details in the story to make it particularly unusual.
  6. The obliviot who believes small-town America crime statistics are at their highest rate ever (they’re not), so he (it’s almost always a he) sets up booby traps to “safeguard” his home and accidentally sets one off, killing himself like this guy in Maine.
  7. Think the cops’ll notice? Yeah. Yeah I do.

    People who make their own car license plates because, for instance, a court has prohibited them from driving, etc. It even happens in Canada. Obliviotic, sure, but no longer weird.

  8. Doing one of these awhile back was cute, but so many others tried it too it’s no longer weird: cops fake-arrest old lady because she had a “bucket list” desire to be jailed …for 5 minutes, like this example in June 2021.
  9. School bus drivers busted for DUI with students aboard. Very sadly, it happens so often these days that there needs to be something really weird about the story before it can make it in. This example from Michigan in December 2021 is nowhere near weird enough.

Moremany more! — to come.

More Stupid than Those?!

Portland Police Bureau photo (click to see larger).

Yes, every week there are even bigger obliviots than those who hold themselves up for public display.

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What About Zero Tolerance?

Why aren’t ZT stories “no longer weird”? In some ways they are, but in other ways they’re not. I do in fact pass on most ZT stories because they’re “no longer weird.” But now and then there’s some bizarre new twist that catches my attention and it will be included to 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.

These days, like with most of the examples above, ZT stories are only included in the mix when they’re illustrative of a point.

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4 Comments 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! But more often, I’ll be adding more to this list…. -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

  3. I guess you’re finding a better class of Obliviots instead of reporting on these pedestrian level ones. Oh, I’m curious, is death by taking selfie just before falling off a cliff or stepping into traffic been downgraded to commonplace?

    Hmmm… good question. I’ll have to ponder that, since there have been a few of those in the lineup! -rc

  4. I would ask you stash the ZT stories under your ZT page/blog. That way, we have ammo to shoot down the obliviates in our lives.

    ZT needs to be stamped out.

    It does, but it would be a huge job to collect them, summarize them, link to them, and then deal with the inevitable broken links that result when foolish news companies dump their archives, rather than leave them online to collect a little more ad revenue, etc. (Smart news companies are digitizing older stuff, not getting rid of it!) So, while I understand your thought, I have more important things to do with my already limited time. -rc


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