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The Darwin Awards are presented to those people who, by their own stupidity, remove themselves from the gene pool, thus increasing the level of human development.


At Daytona Beach International Airport, a Cessna 152 light aircraft hit a telephone pole and crashed, killing the pilot. It was later found that the pilot was smoking at the time, a violation of FARs. His cigarette fell and caught on fire with his checklist. He unhooked his safety belt (another violation) to put the fire out, which he succeeded. He never bothered to fasten himself back into his seat. By that time, the aircraft was in a nosedive and in a steep turn. It was too late at that point. He hit the telephone pole and went flying out of the cockpit. Whether he got chopped up by the propeller is uncertain.


Mike Stewart, 31, of Dallas was filming a movie in 1983 on the dangers of low-level bridges when the truck he was standing on passed under a low-level bridge - killing him.


George Schwartz, owner of a factory in Providence, Rhode Island, narrowly escaped death when a 1983 blast flattened his factory except for one wall. After treatment for minor injuries, he returned to the scene to search for files. The remaining wall then collapsed on him, killing him.


A man hit by a car in New York in 1977 got up uninjured, but lay back down in front of the car when a bystander told him to pretend he was hurt so he could collect insurance money. The car rolled forward and crushed him to death.


A youth minister wanted to drive home this message to the youth of his church: Sin was like playing Russian roulette and running with the wrong crowd, using drugs and carrying a gun would catch up with you.

At the end of the sermon before 250 youngsters and their parents, Melvyn Nurse put a .357 calibre pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. A blank inside flew apart and shattered his skull. He collapsed in the pulpit Sept. 24 and died Thursday at University Medical Centre. He was 35.

"I didn't know he was going to dramatise it in that way," said Michael Cooper, an associate pastor at the Livingway Christian Fellowship Church International.


The story goes that German police investigated the life insurance claim of Holger Keist (aged 28) after he claimed that burglars burst into his home, castrated him with a breadknife and then flushed his testicles down the toilet. However the police suspected that Keist did it himself for the equivalent of 12,000 insurance money. The article stated that he didn't have any children. So as a Darwin nominee, he isn't dead, but certainly infertile!


In Paderborn, Germany, overzealous zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt fed his constipated elephant Stefan 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let fly - and suffocated the keeper under 200 pounds of dung!

Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive-oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded on him like a dump truck full of mud. "The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Riesfeldt to the ground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him," said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective Erik Dern. "With no one there to help him, he lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along and during that time, he suffocated. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that happen sometimes - a billion-to-one shot, at least."


A Delaware woman had a bit too much to drink and decided it was time to get rid of the corns on her feet. She figured the best way to remove them would be with a shotgun. Needless to say, she did remove the corns but took both feet with them.


In Oregon, the cops were called to a Recreational Vehicle campground because a teenager had been sighted using a hose to siphon gas out of the parked RVs. When the cops arrived, an elderly gent was quietly puffing on his pipe under a tree while a nearby teenager, on hands and knees, was in the throes of vomiting up most of his internal organs. It seems that, instead of putting his siphon hose into the gas tank, the would-be gas thief had inadvertently put his siphon hose into the RV's sewage tank! The elderly gent, the owner of the RV, declined to press charges.


Iraqi terrorist, Khay Rahnajet, didn't pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with "Return To Sender" stamped on it. You guessed it, he opened it and said a fond farewell to his face.


A man was crushed to death by a Coke machine from which he was attempting to yank a free soda. So why is this so unique? Apparently, according to police and coroner's report, is that the gentlemen in question had about $3.00 in change and about $25.00 in bills in his pocket, with which he could have easily purchased the drink.


Police said that a lawyer demonstrating the safety of windows in a downtown Toronto skyscraper crashed through a pane with his shoulder and plunged 24 floors to his death. A police spokesman said that Garry Hoy, 39, fell into the courtyard of the Toronto Dominion Bank Tower as he was explaining the strength of the building's windows to visiting law students.

Hoy had previously conducted demonstrations of window strength according to police reports. Peter Lauwers, managing partner of the firm Holden Day Wilson, said that Hoy was "one of the best and brightest" members of the 200-man association. Heaven only knows how stupid the other 199 members were.


Robert Puelo, 32, was apparently being disorderly in a St Louis market. When the clerk threatened to call police, Puelo grabbed a hot dog, shoved it in his mouth and walked out without paying for it. Police found him lying in front of the store and paramedics then removed the six-inch wiener from his throat, where it had choked him to death.


Calcutta, India - A tiger killed one man and mauled another at the Calcutta zoo when they tried to put a marigold garland around its neck in a New Year's greeting. Prakesh Tiwari, the dead man and Suresh Rai had been drinking before they bought the floral garlands and crossed the moat around the tiger's enclosure.

"I was shocked to see the two young men weaving about in front of a tiger with garlands in their hands," said Rakesh Banerjee, who witnessed the attack that triggered panic and a near stampede in the zoo. The men, both in their 20's, were trying to put the garland on a 13-year old male Royal Bengal tiger named Shiva, after the Hindu god of destruction. When Rai threw the garland around Shiva's neck, the tiger attacked him. His friend Tiwari intervened, kicking the tiger in the face. The tiger released Rai and attacked and killed Tiwari. "I saw it all; the tiger turned and jumped on the other young man and put its head on the man's neck and within moments, the man was apparently dead, his head dangling," Banerjee said.


Dumb Amateurs!

On February 3, 1990, a Renton (Seattle area) man tried to commit a robbery. This was probably his first attempt, as suggested by his lack of a record of violent crime and by his terminally stupid choice. The target was H and J Leather and Firearms, a gunshop.

The shop was full of customers, in a state where a substantial fraction of the adult population is licensed to carry concealed handguns in public places.

To enter the shop, he had to step around a marked King County Police patrol car parked at the front door.

An officer in uniform was standing next to the counter, having coffee before reporting to duty.

Upon seeing the officer, the would-be robber announced a holdup and fired a few wild shots. The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, removing him from the gene pool. Several other customers also drew their guns, but didn't fire. No one else was hurt.


Binky 2, Humans 0

Alaska -- Back in the summer of 1992 at the Anchorage Zoo, an Australian tourist decided that she wanted to get a picture taken of her right next to the cage of the polar bear, Binky. The bear struck out and grabbed her, mauling the tourist's leg and capturing her tennis shoes. But the incident that happened shortly after that did not get publicised as much. And qualifies for the Darwin Awards.

Within a couple of weeks afterwards, two boys, who lived in the Hilltop area of Anchorage near the zoo, decided to take a swim in Binky's pool. They squeezed through the two fences around Binky's cage, climbed over the bars and stripped down, too inebriated to notice that the safety doors to Binky's lair were open. Binky heard splashing. Binky woke up. Binky took a chomp out of one not-too-bright teen. In the process of being mauled, the teenager's penis was detached. It was never found. Reconstructive surgery was required for urinary functions.


"What is the modern world coming to when a gang of thieves arrive at the place they are going to rob in a taxi?" Justice Morris asked the defendants in a robbery case at the Auckland High court. "I despair of the future for our country when a group of louts like you lack the intelligence to take even basic precautions to avoid detection."

Before sentencing Singeli Senivuga and Veileba Jobesa (two illegal Fijian immigrants) for their part in the robbery of 5 protective helmets and 400 puncture repair kits from a Mt Eden bicycle shop, Justice Morris continued: "It has been put to me that the reason you were so easily apprehended after the robbery was that you had no getaway car. According to your defence counsel, that is because you forgot to ask the taxi to wait for you while you committed the crime. But even more stupidly, you had telephoned the taxi service in the first place and asked to be picked up at your home, so even if you had got away it would have been a simple matter to locate and arrest you later."

The judge then added: "Why couldn't you steal a car beforehand, like everybody else? You tell me it's because you don't have licences, but I preside daily over case involving professional criminals who don't care about such trivial matters. You are imbeciles. I hereby sentence you both to five years imprisonment."


In Virginia Beach, Florida, Police searched for an embarrassed bank robber who was hurt after a dye pack exploded in his pants and burned a hole through his fly. Witnesses last saw the man strip to his boxer shorts on Pacific Avenue and run away, leaving the money and his smouldering pants behind. Police spokesman Mike Carey said this is what happened:

The man gave a bank teller a plastic Food Lion grocery bag and demanded "all the money in the bank." The teller filled the bag with money and an explosive dye pack that burns at about 400 degrees when activated. The robber stuffed the bag down the front of his pants and ran from the bank. Witnesses then saw an explosion taking place inside his pants. He was seen hopping and jumping around. The hot dye pack seared through the crotch of the robber's jeans. At the time of writing police had not yet caught the robber.

"He's probably sitting around with an ice pack in his lap," Carey said. "That is, if he hasn't sought medical attention" Police alerted area hospitals to be on the lookout for a man complaining of crotch burns. Investigators also asked the public's help in finding the robber. The suspect may be stained with bright red dye. "If he has the on his, uh, shall we say, 'person', it will be there for several days," Carey said.


In 1984, Larry Walters performed a stunt of such extraordinary proportions, it became the stuff of which legends were made. In fact, a legend was made, that Larry Walters became the first survivor to win the Darwin Awards. By the very nature of the awards, this was impossible.

In 1982, Walters floated three miles above Southern California in a lawn chair rigged with 42 helium-filled weather balloons. Walters, then a 33-year-old North Hollywood truck driver, had no aviation experience but had always wanted to fly. Armed with a two-way radio, a parachute, a pellet gun and some jugs of water for ballast, he expected to rise gracefully into the sky from his girlfriend's backyard in San Pedro, California, then shoot the balloons down to make a gentle landing.

However when the mooring was cut, Walters shot up into the sky unexpectedly, soon reaching the 16,000-foot level. He passed a few private planes on the way up and was spotted by baffled jetliner pilots. The dizzy balloonist managed to shoot out about 10 of the weather balloons before his gun fell overboard 90 minutes into the flight. His craft then drifted back toward earth. The balloons eventually became entangled in power lines near Long Beach Airport and Walters was able to hop down from the lawn chair into the waiting arms of the law.

Walters had to pay $1,500 in a settlement with the Federal Aviation Administration, which accused him of flying in a reckless manner, operating too close to the airport and failing to maintain contact with the control tower.

He parlayed the stunt into a brief moment of fame, including late-night talk-show appearances and a Timex watch commercial. But fortune eluded him and within months he had declared bankruptcy. Thus began a long string of disappointments. By 1993 he was working only sporadically as a security guard and did volunteer work for the US Forest Service. In October of that year he hiked into a remote canyon of the Angeles National Forest and shot himself in the heart.


Actual dialogue of a former WordPerfect Customer Support employee:

"Ridge Hill computer assistance; may I help you?"

"Yes, well, I'm having trouble with WordPerfect."

"What sort of trouble?"

"Well, I was just typing along and all of a sudden the words went away."

"Went away?"

"They disappeared."

"Hmm. So what does your screen look like now?"



"It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type."

"Are you still in WordPerfect, or did you get out?"

"How do I tell?"

"Can you see the C: prompt on the screen?"

"What's a sea-prompt?"

"Never mind. Can you move the cursor around on the screen?"

"There isn't any cursor: I told you, it won't accept anything I type."

"Does your monitor have a power indicator?"

"What's a monitor?"

"It's the thing with a screen on it that looks like a TV. Does it have a little light that tells you when it's on?"

"I don't know."

"Well, then look on the back of the monitor and find where the power cord goes into it. Can you see that?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Great. Follow the cord to the plug and tell me if it's plugged into the wall."

"......Yes, it is."

"When you were behind the monitor, did you notice that there were two cables plugged into the back of it, not just one?"


"Well, there are. I need you to look back there again and find the other cable."

"......Okay, here it is."

"Follow it for me and tell me if it's plugged securely into the back of your computer."

"I can't reach."

"Uh huh. Well, can you see if it is?"


"Even if you maybe put your knee on something and lean way over?"

"Oh, it's not because I don't have the right angle - it's because it's dark."


"Yes- the office light is off and the only light I have is coming in from the window."

"Well, turn on the office light then."

"I can't."

"No? Why not?"

"Because there's a power outage."

"A power... A power outage? Aha! OK, we've got it licked now. Do you still have the boxes and manuals and packing stuff your computer came in?"

"Well, yes, I keep them in the closet."

"Good. Go get them and unplug your system and pack it up just like it was when you got it. Then take it back to the store you bought it from."

"Really? Is it that bad?"

"Yes, I'm afraid it is."

"Well, all right then, I suppose. What do I tell them?"



At 3:37am on a Sunday, I had just looked at the clock to determine my annoyance level, when I received a frantic phone call from a new user of a Macintosh Plus. She had gotten her entire family out of the house and was calling from her neighbour's. She had just received her first system error and interpreted the picture of the bomb on the screen as a warning that the computer was going to blow up.


Tech Support: "I need you to right-click on the Open Desktop."

Customer: "OK."

Tech Support: "Did you get a pop-up menu?"

Customer: "No."

Tech Support: "Right click again. Do you see a pop-up menu?"

Customer: "No."

Tech Support: "Sir. Can you tell me what you have done up until this point?"

Customer: "Sure, you told me to write 'click' and I wrote click.'" (At this point I had to put the caller on hold to tell the rest of the tech support staff what had happened. I couldn't, however, stop from giggling when I got back to the call.)

Tech Support: "OK, did you type 'click' with the keyboard?"

Customer: "I have done something dumb, right?"


One woman called Dell's toll-free line to ask how to install the batteries in her laptop. When told that the directions were on the first page of the manual the woman replied angrily, "I just paid $2,000 for this damn thing and I'm not going to read the book."


Customer: "I received the software update you sent, but I am still getting the same error message."

Tech Support: "Did you install the update?"

Customer: "No. Oh, am I supposed to install it to get it to work?"


Customer: "I'm having trouble installing Microsoft Word."

Tech Support: "Tell me what you've done."

Customer: "I typed 'A:SETUP'."

Tech Support: "Madam, remove the disk and tell me what it says."

Customer: "It says '[PC manufacturer] Restore and Recovery disk.'"

Tech Support: "Insert the MS Word setup disk."

Customer: "What?"

Tech Support: "Did you buy MS word?"

Customer: "No . . . ."


Tech Support: "In the bottom left hand side of the screen, can you see the 'OK' button displayed?"

Customer: "Wow! How can you see my screen from there?"


Customer: "Uhh...I need help unpacking my new PC."

Tech Support: "What exactly is the problem?"

Customer: "I can't open the box."

Tech Support: "Well, I'd remove the tape holding the box closed and go from there."

Customer: "Uhhhh...OK, thanks..."


Customer: "I'm having a problem installing your software. I've got fairly old computer and when I type 'INSTALL,' all it says is 'Bad command or file name.'"

Tech Support: "OK, check the directory of the A: drive. Go to A:\ and type 'dir'."

Customer: reads off a list of file names, including 'INSTALL.EXE'.

Tech Support: "All right, the correct file is there. Type 'INSTALL' again."

Customer: "OK." (pause) "Still says 'Bad command or file name.'"

Tech Support: "Hmmm. The file's there in the correct place. It can't help but do something. Are you sure you're typing I-N-S-T-A-L-L and hitting the Enter key?"

Customer: "Yes, let me try it again." (pause) "Nope, still 'Bad command or file name.'"

Tech Support: (now really confused) "Are you sure you're typing I-N-S-T-A-L-L and hitting the key that says 'Enter'?"

Customer: "Well, yeah. Although my 'N' key is stuck, so I'm using the 'M' key...does that matter?


At our company we have asset numbers on the front of everything. They give the location, name and everything else just by scanning the computer's asset barcode or using the number beneath the bars.

Customer: "Hello. I can't get on the network."

Tech Support: "All right, just read me your asset number so we can open an outage."

Customer: "What is that?"

Tech Support: "That little barcode on the front of your computer."

Customer: "OK. Big bar, little bar, big bar, big bar . . ."


Customer: "I got this problem. You people sent me this install disk and now my A: drive won't work."

Tech Support: "Your A drive won't work?"

Customer: "That's what I said. You sent me a bad disk, it got stuck in my drive, now it won't work at all."

Tech Support: "Did it not install properly? What kind of error messages did you get?"

Customer: "I didn't get any error message. The disk got stuck in the drive and wouldn't come out. So I got these pliers and tried to get it out. That didn't work either."

Tech Support: "You did what sir?"

Customer: "I got these pliers and tried to get the disk out, but it wouldn't budge. I just ended up cracking the plastic stuff a bit."

Tech Support: "I don't understand sir, did you push the eject button?"

Customer: "No, so then I got a stick of butter and melted it and used a turkey baster and put the butter in the drive, around the disk and that got it loose. I can't believe you would send me a disk that was broke and defective."

Tech Support: "Let me get this clear. You put melted butter in your A: drive and used pliers to pull the disk out?" (At this point, I put the call on the speakerphone and motioned at the other techs to listen in).

Tech Support: "Just so I am absolutely clear on this, can you repeat what you just said?"

Customer: "I said I put butter in my A: drive to get your crappy disk out, then I had to use pliers to pull it out."

Tech Support: "Did you push that little button that was sticking out when the disk was in the drive, you know, the thing called the disk eject button?"


Tech Support: "Sir?"

Customer: "Yes."

Tech Support: "Sir, did you push the eject button?"

Customer: "No, but you people are going to fix my computer, or I am going to sue you for breaking my computer!"

Tech Support: "Let me get this straight. You are going to sue our company because you put the disk in the A: drive, didn't follow the instructions we sent you, didn't actually seek professional advice, didn't consult your user's manual on how to use your computer properly, instead proceeding to pour butter into the drive and physically rip the disk out?"

Customer: "Ummmm."

Tech Support: "Do you really think you stand a chance, since we record every call and have it on tape?"

Customer:(now rather humbled) "But you're supposed to help!"

Tech Support: "I am sorry sir, but there is nothing we can do for you. Have a nice day."


Compaq is considering changing the command "Press Any Key" to "Press Return Key" because of the flood of calls asking where the "Any" key is.


AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was hard to control with the dust cover on. The cover turned out to be the plastic bag the mouse was packaged in.


Another Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that the system wouldn't read word processing files from his old 5-inch diskettes. The customer had stuck labels on the diskettes, then rolled them into his typewriter to type on the labels.


Another customer was asked to send a copy of her defective diskettes. A few days later, a letter arrived from the customer along with photocopies of the floppies.


A Dell technician advised a customer to put his troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door (old 5-inch drives had levers to close the slots after disks were inserted). The customer asked the tech to hold on and was heard putting the phone down, getting up and crossing the room to close the door to his room.


Another Dell customer called to say he couldn't get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of trouble-shooting, the tech discovered the man was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in front of the monitor screen and hitting the "send" key.


Yet another Dell customer called to complain that his keyboard no longer worked. He had cleaned it by filling up his tub with soap and water and soaking the keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and washing them individually.


A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged because his computer had told him he was "bad and an invalid". The tech explained that the computer's "bad command" and "invalid" responses shouldn't be taken personally.


A confused caller to IBM was having troubles printing documents. He told the technician that the computer had said it "couldn't find printer". The user had tried turning the computer screen to face the printer, but that his computer still couldn't "see" the printer.


An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech Support couldn't get her new Dell computer to turn on. After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the technician asked her what happened when she pushed the power button. Her response, "I pushed and pushed on this foot pedal and nothing happened." The "foot pedal" turned out to be the computer's mouse.


Another customer called Compaq Tech Support to say her brand-new computer wouldn't work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it in and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked "What power switch?"


Another IBM customer had trouble installing software and rang for support. "I put in the first disk and that was OK. It said to put in the second disk and I had some problems with that disk. When it said to put in the third disk - I couldn't even fit it in...." The user hadn't realised that "Insert Disk 2" meant to remove Disk 1 first.


True story from a Novell NetWare SysOp:

Caller: "Hello, is this Tech Support?"

Tech: "Yes, it is. How may I help you?"

Caller: "The cup holder on my PC is broken and I am within my warranty period. How do I go about getting that fixed?"

Tech: "I'm sorry, but did you say a cup holder?"

Caller: "Yes, it's attached to the front of my computer."

Tech: "Please excuse me if I seem a bit stumped. Did you receive this as part of a promotional, at a trade show?"

Caller: "It came with my computer. I don't know anything about a promotional. It just has '4X' on it."

At this point the Tech Rep had to mute the caller, because he couldn't stand it. He was laughing too hard. The caller had been using the load drawer of the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder and snapped it off the drive!

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