The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

The Darwin Awards are given to people who remove themselves from the gene pool in rewardingly stupid ways. Here are some of them.

Sidney Zelaya Gonzalez, 20, was pinning a king-size mattress to top of a van with the weight of her body, intent on claiming the free curb-side find, when her luck ran out. Perhaps the young woman was testing a physics theory and betting that friction would keep the two fixed in place. Alas, both of them slipped off the moving vehicle and, unfortunately, one of them did not bounce back. 

The young woman was nominated for the notorious Darwin Award when it became apparent that she was suffering from a terminal case of bed-head. 

The poor judgment of the dearly departed was confirmed when a police spokesman stated that the van was driven by an unlicensed driver. Police also shared the opinion that “the women were not trying to pull off some kind of stunt,” which was true enough. 

18-year-old Chance had recently graduated from high school and early on Sunday morning he was at the lake celebrating with friends by playing the Shopping Cart Game. Lake Allatoona is a large reservoir created by damming the Etowah River in 1949. The shoreline is lined with vacation rentals and campgrounds, as well as two yacht clubs and a sailing club. 

The Shopping Cart Game is evidently popular. News reports state that the cart is usually anchored to a pole or tree at the dock. The cart is poised on the dock, someone climbs in, and friends launch the shopping cart off the dock and into the water. Ha! The soggy rider climbs out of the water, the cart is reeled back in, and the game begins again. 

In the wee hours of between Saturday night and Sunday morning—the timing hints at an evening spent partying at the lake—chance inexplicably decided to be the tree and tie the cart to his belt. Chance took a chance that did not stand a chance! He was dragged into the water and drowned. Several hours later his body was recovered from nine meters of water, still tied to the shopping cart. 

Although Chance was a young man who had only just graduated from high school, the editors voted to give him a Darwin Award because—as his family says—the tragedy contains an important message they wish to share about thinking before you act. “We have all done stupid things. Not one person thought that this was not a good game to play.” People of Earth! This is not a good game to play. Leave that shopping cart at the mall, lest you find yourself in the hereafter swapping stories with Chance. 

(Singapore) If you ever find yourself with a leaking fuel tank on your motorbike, be sure to heed this lesson from a 39-year-old man from the Bukit Panjang neighborhood. He removed the leaky tank from the bike and carried it to his sixth-floor flat, where he drained the gasoline into a pail in his toilet. Considering what happened next, it was fortunate that nobody else was in the flat, and that nobody was standing on manhole covers a block away. 

He lit a propane torch, planning to solder the hole in the tank. Unfortunately, gasoline that had spilled on his hand caught fire. Frantically trying to extinguish the flames by plunging his hand into the toilet, he ignited the gasoline fumes coming from the pail. The toilet was engulfed in a ball of fire, and the explosion “shook the block.” Smoke poured out of the bathroom window. 

That was just the beginning. Some of the burning gasoline spilled down a floor drain and into the sewer system, where it mingled with sewer gas and set off a massive underground explosion. Startled residents watched in amazement as one manhole cover was “blown to pieces,” and two others popped open. People fled their homes, fearing disaster. 

The man survived all of this chaos with minor burns on his left hand, for which he refused treatment. 

Obviously, since he survived, he doesn’t qualify for the Darwin Award. He gets a high rating as a “contender” nonetheless.