Alibi V.29 No.1 • Jan 2-8, 2020 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: New Jersey

A family received a special holiday note this year that criticized their Christmas lights display for not being festive enough. Courier Post reports that the Beatty family found the note on their front doorstep on Christmas Eve. The note carried a header proclaiming the “2019 S&V Awards.” The note said it was evaluating the family's “Christmas efforts” and was signed by the “S&V Panel.” It is unclear what the abbreviation stands for. “To review,” they wrote, “you have received this notice because of Christmas Violation(s) committed against the S&V Panel.” According to the writers, the Beattys were being chastised for their “lack of neat, organized and/or classy Christmas lighting and for displaying “light shows, projectors, star lights and/or any other fake and lazy Christmas decorations.” The family was instructed to “reflect on your flaws this offseason and correct them for next year.” Along with the note, a box of white lights had also been left by the panel. “It was the rudest and most ignorant award from my neighbors,” said Angela Beatty. “I’ve had an awful year, so getting this letter hit a nerve.” She said the family was recently involved in a car accident, suffered the loss of a pet and has been caring for an ailing relative. Beatty said she was too depressed to decorate this year.

Dateline: Arkansas

A 911 dispatcher who told a drowning woman to “shut up” right before she died has been cleared of all wrongdoing. New York Daily News reports that Debbie Stevens was delivering newspapers on Aug. 24 when flash flooding caused by torrential rainfall swept her car into a flooded creek. Stevens reportedly made two calls from her cell phone before drowning. The first was to her mother-in-law. The second was to 911. Dispatcher Donna Reneau received Stevens' panicked call on what was reportedly her last day at work after previously turning in her two-week notice. During the course of the 20-minute call—which was made public—Reneau told Stevens that her car had stopped running, but her lights were still on inside the vehicle. Stevens repeatedly said that she was frightened and couldn't swim. At one point during the call, Reneau said, “Am I not on the phone with you trying to get you some help? So stop. You’re not going to die. I don’t know why you’re freaking out.” When asked when emergency responders would arrive, the dispatcher answered, “As soon as they get there.” At one point during the call, Stevens told Reneau that she could see people at a nearby apartment building. “Don't think nobody's just sitting there. They're not going to get themselves in danger because you put yourself in danger … This will teach you next time, don’t drive in the water,” Reneau told Stevens. “I don’t see how you didn’t see it. You had to go right over it, so.” The call was disconnected at 5am, as Stevens was screaming that the water was up to her neck. When rescuers reached her car at 5:58am, they attempted CPR, but she had drowned. According to Newsweek, an investigation by the Fort Smith Police Department concluded last week that Reneau committed no wrongdoing in how she dispatched first responders. “She regretted telling her she was not going to die most of all, but she also regretted not being more kind and understanding,” the report stated. “Reneau said she realized she should not have said some of the things she did but much of it was necessary to get Debbie's attention so that she could get important information from her.” Investigators also found that although the dispatcher acted rudely, she bumped the call up in order of importance after receiving it.

Dateline: Spain

A Spanish TV reporter quit her job live on air after mistakenly thinking she'd won a lottery jackpot. According to Sky News, Natalia Escudero, a reporter for public broadcaster RTVE in Spain, screamed and jumped up and down while on live television after she was announced the winner of the Spanish lottery. “I’m not coming to work tomorrow!” she repeatedly yelled into the camera. The Spanish lottery is one of the largest in the world. This year's total prize pot equaled €2.24 billion. Escudero's celebrating was cut short, however, when she realized that she hadn't won the entire jackpot. A number of other winners were also announced, and it was revealed that she had only won about €5,000 ($5,539). Escudero apologised for her initial reaction on Twitter. She said she hadn't meant to mislead viewers and that she'd been going through a “difficult” time. It's unclear if she is still employed at RTVE.

Dateline: United Kingdom

A British company has developed slanted toilets to discourage workers from taking long restroom breaks. According to The Guardian, startup company StandardToilet estimates that nearly £4 billion is lost every year in England due to employees using the restroom. The company is now offering a toilet seat that forces users to sit at a 13 degree angle—the optimal angle to cause discomfort without also causing lasting pain. According to Standard Toilet, employees spend an average of 10 minutes on the toilet every day. They claim that their product can reduce that time by 25 percent.The toilets cost £150 to £500 ($196 to $654).

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.