Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 01.29.04
Quebec City


The Darwin Awards

"Tis strange - but true; for truth is always strange; stranger than fiction."

Well, Lord Byron got that right.

Having worked as a journalist for some time now, I can attest to the simple fact that there is nothing as odd as the everyday doings of mankind.

This hit home earlier in the week when I found out the Darwin Awards for 2003 had been announced.

In case you're not familiar with the Darwins, they are indeed named in honour of Charles Darwin.

He's the chap who introduced the world to natural selection and survival of the fittest.

In this case, the awards are handed out to individuals who, by their own stupidity, end up doing themselves an injury, or, in some cases doing themselves in, thereby elevating the level of what remains of the gene pool.

To illustrate, let me tell you about this year's first place candidate.

During a stick-up in Long Beach, California - where else? - would-be robber, James Elliot, fired his .38 caliber revolver.

It didn't go off.

Then, for reasons known only to himself, Elliot peered down the barrel and pulled the trigger again.

This time the gun went off.

Definitely a Darwin winner.

One of the runners-up sounds like he'll be a shoo-in at a later date.

An American teenager found himself in hospital recovering from serious head wounds.

When asked how it happened, he told the astonished police that he was merely trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train.

Look for him in 2005.

In the "I failed math in high school category" we have the not-so-bright John Dillinger wannabe who walked into a Louisiana convenience store and put a twenty on the counter and asked for change.

When the clerk opened the cash register, he whipped out a gun and demanded the money.

The clerk complied.

The Mensa candidate then fled, leaving the twenty on the counter.

His take from the cash register? Fifteen dollars.

For my money though, the best of 2003 comes from the corporate sector.

The chef at a hotel in Switzerland managed to lop off one of his fingers in a meat cutter.

But when he submitted his claim, the insurance company wouldn't pay, suspecting negligence.

They sent an investigator to have a look.

You guessed it. He tried the machine to see how it worked and oops! there went a finger.

The company paid the claim.

No continent is exempt.

After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a bus driver in Zimbabwe found that the twenty mental patients he was taking to the hospital had escaped.

Not wanting to show up with an empty bus, he stopped at a nearby bus stop and offered a free ride to everybody waiting there.

They hopped on and he delivered them to the hospital.

Here, he explained to those in charge, that the by now-angry passengers were excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies.

The deception wasn't discovered for three days.

As I said, it's a funny old world.