Alibi V.13 No.4 • Jan 22-28, 2004 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Germany—Police have arrested a shopper who tried to get a refund on two computers after allegedly replacing the working parts with potatoes. The man arrived at a department store in Kaiserslautern and complained that a machine he'd purchased several hours previous did not work. Employees opened up the computer and found it stuffed full of potatoes. According to the British newspaper The Guardian, bemused shop assistants gave the man a new machine free of charge. Store employees became suspicious, however, when the man returned a short time later complaining that his new machine was also filled with potatoes. A company spokesman told The Guardian, “The second time he said he didn't need a computer anymore and asked for his money back in cash.” Staff at the store called detectives and the man was arrested on suspicion of fraud. “It is hard to imagine how the potatoes could get into a computer's casing,” said computer technician Roman Zukoan. “When computers leave the factory, they are packed in plastic to prevent damage from condensation.”

Dateline: India—Hey, if it worked for Magnum, PI. ... Policemen in the central district of Jhabua are being offered 30 rupees (84 cents) extra per month on their paychecks if they agree to grow moustaches. According to Mayank Jain, superintendent of police in India's Madhya Pradesh state, research shows that policemen with moustaches were taken more seriously by the public. Hair adds to the overall authority, the superintendent told Asian Age newspaper. On an average, a constable—the lowest-ranking policeman—gets a monthly salary of about 5,000 rupees ($142) per month. Jain said the shape of the moustaches would be monitored to prevent them from looking “mean” or “vulgar.”

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Minnesota—Marcel Mager, 55, is suing his church in a bid to get back a $126,000 donation he made. Mager admits he gave the money to the Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle in 1998, but says it was nothing more than a misguided attempt to ease the pain two weeks after his wife, Debbie, moved out of the home they shared. Five months later, Mr. Mager asked the church to return the money. The church, however, had already used the anonymous donation to build new family ministry space. Mager has now filed a lawsuit in an effort to prove that he was not mentally sound when he made the donation. “I was really confused at the time,” the now unemployed optometrist told the Duluth News Tribune. The church's Reverend Richard Doebler responded, saying, “At the time, we were taking it on good faith that this is what he wanted. It was hard to know what we were dealing with since it was anonymous.” Mager has now made his story public in the hopes that the church would do what he feels is the right thing.

Dateline: Poland—Three divers are facing a police probe for possible illegal fishing and animal abuse after a newspaper ran a photo showing the trio plying a freshly caught pike with champagne at an outdoor New Year's party. “They may have committed offences of poaching and maltreating a fish,” said Maria Niedziolka of the National Fishing Authority, which notified police of the incident. One of the frogmen, seeing in the New Year with a dip in a popular resort lake near the city of Opole, told news agency PAP that the three divers had found the pike half-dead and wanted to “restore it to consciousness by treating it with champagne.”

Dateline: Wisconsin—Tim Dumouchel, 48, of West Bend has withdrawn his threat to sue Charter Communications because he says the cable television provider made him “addicted” to cable TV, causing him to become dependent on alcohol and cigarettes, making his wife fat and his kids lazy. Dumouchel made local and national headlines last week when he blamed Charter Communications, headquartered in Fond du Lac, for his so-called addiction to cable TV as well as to cigarettes and alcohol. During a recent press conference in his basement, Dumouchel said that many television shows include cigarette and alcohol use and he found that temptation too overwhelming. He said the impetus to sue the cable company came when he broke off a wooden railing on his basement stairs trying to climb up the railing while drunk. According to the Fond du Lac Reporter, journalists at Dumouchel's press conference asked why he didn't just turn off the TV, cut the cord or disconnect the cable box himself. Dumouchel responded that he didn't want to break any laws by tampering with the cable box. He also said his wife was angry at him over his comment about her weight.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.