2010 Odds & Ends Awards: The Year In Weird News

The Year In Weird News

Devin D. O'Leary
14 min read
2010 Odds & Ends Awards
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Another year, another year’s worth of our “Odds & Ends” column down the drain. As usual, citizens wasted the time of 911 operators, stoners called police looking for help finding lost weed, bank robbers volunteered an astonishing amount of personal information and drunk drivers crashed into many, many things. England led the world of weird with an amazing 24 “Odds & Ends” stories in 2010. Stateside, Florida scored 14 mentions, thanks largely to those industrious drunkards along the Sunshine State’s Treasure Coast. So who were the strangest standouts?

Quotes of the Year

“It ain’t a nice road, but you don’t expect anybody to nick your snowman.”

—An unnamed woman calling emergency services operators in Kent, England, to complain about the snowman stolen from her front yard.

“He smelled like alcohol. So we knew it wasn’t the real Santa, because Santa doesn’t drink alcohol.”

—9-year-old Katie Dockerty talking to reporters for WEAU-TV in Eu Clair, after an intoxicated 55-year-old Thomas Arnold stumbled into the Dockerty family yard wearing a red suit and beard and looking for his “lost reindeer.”

“I just need a hug and a warm cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows in it."

—Homeless man Mark Eskelsen calling 911 with a request after breaking into a Beaverton, Ore., house and spending 10 hours in a hot tub.

“Tonight I want to ask you to join me in a prayer for peace, that these attacks between the Chinas do not make our situation worse.”

—Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado of Venezuela presumably sharing concerns over the conflict between North and South Korea with her Twitter followers.

“I have a lot of psychopaths on the account, and it’s best I start another one, kisses."

—Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, closing down her Twitter account after being inundated with messages pointing out there’s no such thing place as “The Chinas.”

“I think he’s a complete fumbling idiot. He’s just a complete asshole.”

—New York art collector Kristyn Trudgeon after her sales agent, James Haggerty, misplaced a $1.35 million painting following a night of drinking at The Mark hotel in Manhattan.

“I was very surprised to get done for drink-driving, but I was a twit to say the least.”

—Paul Hutton, 40, of Essex, England, who was arrested for driving drunk behind the wheel of a two-foot-high pink plastic Barbie Jeep.

“Common sense didn’t play into their decision-making today.”

—Portland Police spokesperson Sgt. Pete Simpson describing two men who tried to shoplift from a Fred Myer superstore during the annual “Shop With a Cop” back-to-school event. More than 60 officers were in the store at the time.

“You can’t teach stupid.”—New Jersey Police Det. Sgt. William Covert after 25-year-old shoplifting suspect Ronald T. White paid off his $400 bail with counterfeit bills.

“I am obviously being targeted by extraterrestrials. I don’t know what I have done to annoy them, but there is no other explanation that makes sense.”

—Bosnian resident Radivoje Lajic, whose house has been struck six times by meteorites since 2007.

“Everyone was laughing, but docs said if any more skin had gone, one of my crown jewels would’ve come out.”

—24-year-old Joe Cooper of Birstall, Leicester, who raised money for his local hospital’s children’s ward by giving bidders at The Trees pub an opportunity to rip the hair off his groin with hot wax.

“I should have joined a club and got lessons. But I was trying to teach myself and learn from bits I had seen on YouTube.”

—First-time paraglider Roy Dixon, speaking from Newcastle General Hospital after breaking his back in two places trying to fly a machine he bought for 300 pounds (about $440) on eBay.

“It’s not every day you see a giant cartoon dog going on a rampage after trying to break into a prison.”

—A prison service spokesperson at Her Majesty’s Prison at Isle of Wight’s Albany facility after a man dressed in a Snoopy costume tried to free a relative at gunpoint.

“As I was flinging the poo all over her yard, it felt really good, and I just kept doing it.”

—Melinda Hofmann, owner of The Bomb Squad dog waste pick-up service in Bend, Ore., after dumping 30 gallons of animal feces in the yard of a deadbeat client who refused to cough up an overdue payment of $150.

“I did have my mouth in the area of the animal’s mouth, I guess.”

—Donald Wolf, 55, who was arrested by state troopers for public drunkenness after witnesses said they saw him trying to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a dead possum on a highway northeast of Pittsburgh.

“Hunting werewolves and C.H.U.D.s.”

—An unidentified 35-year-old man, explaining to police what he was doing shirtless and stabbing objects with a large sword in the parking lot of a ProBuild hardware store in Bainbridge Island, Wash.

“About 10 years ago, I stopped a guy in the exact same spot who had three or four syringes sticking out of his arm. It was just surreal and I thought, Nothing will ever beat this. Well, this takes it.”

—Florida State Trooper Gary Dunick, responding to an accident in which a female motorist crashed her 1995 Thunderbird into the back of a pickup truck while attempting to shave her bikini area.

“The Devil told me to do it at 2 a.m. God told me not to. That’s why I did it during the day.”

—George Johnstone, 58, explaining to the High Court in Glasgow why he firebombed a Lanarkshire house in broad daylight

“Apparently, he has this sledding party every year, and he always does outrageous things at it. But he’s never blown himself up before.”

—Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe explaining how a 62-year-old Independence Township resident’s rocket-powered backpack—consisting of gunpowder, match heads and gasoline stuffed into a motorcycle muffler—exploded during a downhill ride.

“I haven’t noticed too many bubbles coming from George yet; but hopefully now the water levels have been adjusted, flatulence won’t be a problem.”

—Senior marine biologist Darren Gook after a gassy turtle tripped the water overflow sensors in the turtle tank at the Great Yarmouth Sea Life Centre in Norfolk, England.

Lawsuit of the Year

Dateline: Florida— A court in Archuleta County refused a man’s request for restraining orders against President Barack Obama, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and Jesus Christ. John Gilliand filed papers in November, claiming he felt “threatened” by the three famous figures. Gilliand’s filings also made reference to the three men being in a gang together and making “gang symbols” in his direction, the Orlando Sentinel reported. “I personally hate any type of exercise although I feel Billy Blanks has a wonderful video,” Gilliand wrote in his petition, referencing the Hollywood actor / martial artist / Tae Bo workout creator, from whom he was not seeking protection. Not surprisingly, the petitions were rejected the same day they were filed. Undaunted, Gilliand filed a supplemental affidavit, dropping Jesus Christ and naming only Obama and Tebow.

Dumb Stoner of the Year

Dateline: Pennsylvania— The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that a 21-year-old Uniontown man called police to report that the weed he purchased tasted “nasty.” Police were summoned to the man’s apartment at around 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 20. The man told them he had just bought a small amount of what he thought was marijuana. It did not, however, taste good, so he called police to come check it for him. They did. Using a field test kit, officers discovering that the green, leafy substance sitting on the man’s coffee table was not, in fact, marijuana. The man was not immediately arrested and police declined to release his name. He could still be charged with possessing a counterfeit controlled substance.

Stupid Job Applicant of the Year (Tie)

Dateline: Florida— Authorities in Broward County arrested a man after he openly admitted to collecting child pornography during a job interview with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Sun Sentinel newspaper reported that 27-year-old Miramar resident Efe Moniedafe was arrested in September and charged with seven counts of possession of child pornography. Moniedafe told U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials about his illegal collection during a routine polygraph test that all prospective employees must take. Moniedafe allegedly told investigators that collecting child porn was his “hobby” and that he found it “fun.” Unsurprisingly, Moniedafe did not land the job with U.S. Customs.

Dateline: Florida— According to the Pensacola News Journal , a 26-year-old man applying for a job at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office admitted during his job interview to having child pornography on his computer. He was not hired. Instead, he was arrested. Clarence W. Burnette, 25, was booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail and charged with one count of possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony, state Attorney General Bill McCollum said in a press release. Burnette, who lives in Sellersville in northern Santa Rosa County, told deputies during his pre-employment polygraph test that he possessed images of child pornography. CyberCrime investigators seized a computer at Burnette’s home and confirmed that it did contain child porn.

Idiotic Bankrobber of the Year

Dateline: California— A man was arrested for trying to rob a bank in Watsonville after a quick-thinking bank manager suggested he fill out a loan application instead. Police say 59-year-old Mark Smith walked into the bank, announced that he had a bomb in his backpack and demanded $2,000 so he could pay a friend’s rent. The bank manager suggested his better option would be to fill out a loan application. She had him sit down and said she was going to get the loan paperwork for him to fill out. Instead, she called 911. Police responded shortly and arrested Smith, a Watsonville resident, on suspicion of attempted robbery, making criminal threats and making a false bomb report. Smith did not have a bomb in his backpack and no injuries were reported. His loan application was probably rejected as well.

Crimefighters of the Year

D ateline: Texas— Police in Corpus Christi spent hours digging up and destroying what was described to local news by law enforcement officials as “one of the largest marijuana plant seizures in the police department’s history”—only to discover they were simply weeding a local park of a fairly common prairie flower. Texas officers tagged and removed up to 400 “marijuana” plants after a teenage bike rider reported seeing the suspicious greens growing in Waldron Park in the Corpus Christi suburb of Flour Bluff. After burning several daylight hours removing the plants—and touting their crime-fighting efforts to local reporters—police knocked off their efforts with the intention of returning in the morning to remove more of the offending shrubbery. Unfortunately, testing at the downtown police department proved that the “weed” was an actual weed, commonly known as horse mint—a plant that bears little resemblance to cannabis.

A Blast From the Past

Dateline: Germany— An elderly couple were shot at by a burning log as they enjoyed a nice warm fire in their home. Bielefeld Police in Western Germany believe a discarded bullet from World War II was lodged in one of the flaming pieces of wood inside the couple’s fireplace. The live round apparently became embedded in the growing tree over the last 70 years and remained inside the cut firewood. When the locked-and-loaded log burned down, the cartridge exploded, smashing glass in the surrounding parlor and causing damage to the room. The 84-year-old wife suffered cuts to the face from flying glass, while her 85-year-old husband was struck in his hand. Local police said the bullet casing proved it was a type used in the 1939-45 war.

Grossest Act of Heroism

Dateline: Michigan— Jerry Douthett, 48, was passed out in a drunken stupor when his dog chewed his big toe off—an act the pet owner credits with saving his life. The Rockford resident woke up on a Saturday night late in July to discover Kiko, a Jack Russell terrier, gnawing on his right foot. Douthett said he had been out that evening with his wife and consumed “six or seven beers” and a couple of Margaritas “big enough to put goldfish in.” Thoroughly intoxicated, Douthett stumbled home and passed out on his bed. His wife, Rosie, was in another room. “I woke up and looked down at my foot, and it was wet,” Douthett said. “When I looked, it was blood, and there was the dog looking at me with a blood mustache.” Douthett’s wife rushed him to the hospital where doctors discovered he was suffering from type 2 diabetes and a severe infection. Mrs. Douthett, a gerontology nurse, had been urging her husband to get the infected toe examined for weeks, but he refused. Doctors cleaned up Douthett’s wound and amputated what was left of the bone. Fortunately, the toe-chomping pooch “pretty much just ate the infection,” Mr. Douthett told WOOD-TV News 8 in Grand Rapids. “So he saved my life.” Kiko is still with the Douthett family but is being kept under observation. Since his diagnosis of diabetes, Douthett says he has given up drinking.

Labor Dispute of the Year

Dateline: Denmark— Warehouse staff at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen staged a series of walkouts in protest of a new company policy limiting beer-drinking at work to just lunch breaks. On April 1, beers were removed from all refrigerators at the brewery. In response, 800 workers went on strike. By the next day, at least 250 remained off the job. The Confederation of Danish Industry and trade union 3F agreed the strike was illegal and would impose fines on workers. Although warehouse staff is now on the wagon, drivers for the brewery are still allowed “up to three” beers a day outside of lunch hours.

Cultural Misunderstanding of the Year

Dateline: Australia— In April, a restaurant in a suburb of Adelaide was ordered to write an apology letter and pay a blind customer $1,500 restitution after refusing the man entry under the misguided impression that his guide dog was a “gay” dog. Adelaide’s The Advertiser reported that Ian Jolly, 57, was barred from dining at Thai Spice restaurant in May 2009 after a staff member mistook his guide dog Nudge for a homosexual canine. Restaurant owners Hong Hoa Thi To and Ahn Hoang Le said in an official statement to the Equal Opportunity Tribunal that Thai Spice waiters understood Mr. Jolly’s partner, Ms. Chris Lawrence, “to be saying she wanted to bring a gay dog into the restaurant.” Although the restaurant is required by law to accept guide dogs and even displays a sign to that effect, there is no government policy on gay dogs. “The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog,” the owners’ statement went on to say.

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