Bill the Collector


Are You Feeling Lucky?

Make a bet every day; otherwise you might walk around lucky and never know it.

- Jimmy Jones

Source: Funny Times January 2001

Man Leaves $50,000 and Car to Waitress

Brownsville, Texas - For nearly 7 years Melina Salazar did her best to put on a smile and tend to the every need of her most loyal and cantankerous customer.  She made sure his food was as hot as he wanted, even if it meant he burned his mouth.  And she smiled through his demands and curses.  The 89-year-old Walter "Buck" Swords obviously appreciated it, leaving the waitress $50,000 and a 2000 Buick when he died.  "I still can't believe it," the Luby's cafeteria employee told Harlingen television station KGBT-TV in an interview during which she described Swords as "kind of mean."  Swords, a World War II veteran, died in July.  But Salazar learned just a few days before Christmas that he had left her the money and car.

Source:  28 December 2007

Put It on My Bill

Truckie Beats Death to Win a Fortune

Melbourne - A year ago they were about to switch off Bill Morgan's life support system.  Yesterday, the television cameras gathered to record him receiving a car he'd won in a scratch lottery.  Then he bought another ticket from the same newsagent for luck, and while the cameras rolled he scratched it and won $250,000 ($NZ304,803).

No kidding.

Mr Morgan's tale of luck reads like fiction.  He suffered a heart attack in April last year and after driving himself to hospital, he was treated with a drug to which he had a violent reaction.  As a result, his heart stopped beating for almost 15 minutes and he went into a coma.  The 37-year-old truck driver remained unconscious in the Dandenong Hospital in Melbourne's southeast for several days, his doctors just about giving up on him.  Only hours before they were due to switch off his life support system, they changed their minds and flew him by helicopter to the city's Alfred Hospital.

Mr Morgan then experienced his first stroke of amazing luck.  Normally anyone whose heart has stopped for as long as his would either be dead or would have suffered serious brain damage.  But on Anzac Day last year, not only did he wake up for the first time in 12 days, he came out of the coma without any sign of ill-effects.  "The doctors asked me how I felt and I think the first thing I said to them was that I was hungry," Mr Morgan said.

Then he got even luckier.  The company he worked for kept a job open for him and to celebrate his "reawakening", he got engaged to his girlfriend, Lisa Wells, on Anzac Day this year.

Then he got really lucky.

A fortnight ago, he bought a Tattersall's "scratchie" ticket from his local newsagent in Cranbourne.  The ticket, the last one in the shop, won him a $27,000 Toyota Corolla car.  With that, Mr Morgan concluded, he'd come the full circle.

But then he got really, really lucky.

At a special publicity event yesterday at which he took delivery of his new car, Mr Morgan was asked to reenact the "scratchie" purchase for the cameras.  He duly obliged, pulling $5 out of his pocket and handing it over the counter at the same newsagency at which he'd bought the lucky car ticket.  He scratched the plastic film off the ticket and let out a yell.

The ticket was worth a cool $250,000.

As the gathered media muttered cynically about corny publicity stunts, an incredulous Mr Morgan broke down and started to cry.  "I really have won $250,000," he said.  And so he had.  No stunts, no publicity gimmicks.

The man who "died" 13 months ago had again beaten amazing odds.  After taking a minute to check his pulse and make sure the old heart was still pumping, the impossibly lucky Mr Morgan began taking stock.  "All these months I've had time to think about the heart attack and thank my lucky stars," he said later.  "It was a worry even after I came out of hospital.  "But things have gone so well - I got my old job back, I got engaged, I won a car.  It can't be true." - AAP

Source: The Evening Post Wednesday 29 May 1999 picture credits Channel 9 News Limited

China's Spidermen Face Death

by Damien McElroy

On a damp chilly morning in the heart of Shanghai's business district, two "spidermen", window cleaners who rely on a single rope to hang in the air, heave themselves over the side of the 23-storey Peregrine Plaza.  Minutes later, Fan Defu, 38, and Xaio Wenge, 29, are sprawled on the pink-tiled forecourt of the office block, having plummeted to the ground after the bolt designed to hold them in place snapped.

The incident alarmed city officials who have allowed the number of spidermen to proliferate alongside the astonishing numbers of steel and glass tower blocks that have been built in Shanghai in recent years.  Now, authorities are to insist that window cleaners work from a wire basket and are attached at all times to a second safety rope.

Shanghai's window cleaners are normally drawn from the ranks of China's 250 million destitute migrants, who flock to cities to find work and are willing to accept any job, no matter how dangerous the conditions, in return for a living wage.  They have become known as spidermen because they entrust their lives to a single thread, usually a rope made of hemp and nylon no thicker than a car gearstick, which they part into a loop with a plank of pinewood.

One of the most dangerous moments for a spidermen is climbing over the edge of the roof onto the side of the building.  A successful practitioner needs to develop the knack of holding on to a squeegee while steadily balancing a full bucket of water and keeping the plank close to his body to ensure that he doesn't slip through when he lets go.  When the winds pick up, the spiderman may use the head of a rubber plunger to hold himself in place so that he doesn't get caught in a deadly rope tangle with one of his colleagues.

There are countless victims of the precarious window-cleaning trade, yet the companies that run the teams of spidermen report that there is no shortage of recruits willing to risk death for the equivalent of just NZ$8 a day.  When a rope frays and snaps, or is eaten through by the strong detergents the cleaners use and a worker falls, he - or his family if he dies - is considered lucky to receive compensation.

Since he first began window cleaning 8 years ago, Chen Baoxing has been saddened by many mishaps involving his "brothers in the air".  Cao Miaodi, of Shangha's Labour Safety Inspection Office, promises that, in the wake of the tragedy at Peregrine Plaza, "we will carry out surprise spot inspections to see whether there are any hazards that may cause accidents".  If he is true to his word, Mr Cao will not have to travel far to find infractions of the rules that he and his colleagues have so far neglected to uphold.  The Hong Kong-owned Peregrine Plaza is on a busy corner of Huai Hai Rd, one of the city's main thoroughfares.  Its management, like those running the dozens of other skyscrapers within walking distance, are happy to take advantage of the cheap rates offered by Shanghai's 1200 window cleaning firms.  A crackdown would drive up costs for building owners by closing many firms that are taking advantage of the plentiful supply of workers willing to risk death or serious injury. - Sunday Telegraph

Source: The Dominion Friday 12 January 2001

Man Survives 11-Story Fall from Denver Building

by Sarah Huntley

Denver - Doctors at Denver Health Medical Center were cautious, but optimistic, Monday night after operating on a 41-year-old man who plummeted from the 11th story of a residential tower and lived to tell about it.  The man was working on an antenna installed on the roof of Marian Plaza, a 120-unit housing complex run by the Archdiocese of Denver, when he lost his footing.  He landed on a single juniper shrub, just inches from a steel gas meter and a concrete sidewalk.

The worker, who had managed to roll onto his side, was having significant difficulty breathing, said Lieutenant Kevin Duncan, spokesman for Denver Fire Rescue.  But he was alert and able to describe his pain.  As fire crews cut off his clothing to assess his injuries, paramedics arrived and rushed him to the hospital.  The man's name was not released, but hospital officials said he was listed in critical condition.  He underwent six hours of surgery involving three teams of doctors, who attempted to repair serious internal injuries.  He was resting Monday evening, with his wife and granddaughter by his side.

"Everybody I've talked to says it's a miracle he's come as far as he has," hospital spokeswoman Sara Spaulding said, "but his wife characterised him as a fighter."  he worker is from Oklahoma and was in Denver on contract with a company that rents the top of the building for its cellular antenna.  His relatives just happened to be visiting him here this week, Spaulding said.

Source: NandoTimes 1 August 2001 © Nando Media and Scripps Howard News Service


Nail to the Skull Leaves No Permanent Damage

by Michelle Healy

A carpenter whose lower eyelid was pinned open by an errant 3-inch galvanised nail that lodged in his head amazingly suffered no brain or eye damage.  An X-ray and CAT scan revealed that the nail, shot from a co-worker's nail gun, had missed half a dozen vital areas by an eighth of an inch.  "This has got to be the luckiest guy in the world," says Anne Hayman, the Baylor College of Medicine radiology professor who X-rayed the 56-year-old man last year.

The man's name remains sealed in the records of Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, although his X-ray appears in the recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: USA Today Thursday 2 August 2001

In my opinion, the co-worker who shot him was the lucky one...

Woman Survives Nail Gun in Heart Scare

A Texas woman has survived shooting herself in the heart with a nail gun.  Joy Wiggins was using the power tool to secure a board at an awkward angle in her home in Kountze.  It was pointing back towards her chest, and when she tried to strike the board, she missed it and shot herself.

When she realised what happened, she climbed down from the attic where she'd been working and called her husband before fainting.  He got her to a nearby hospital where her heart stopped beating and she went into full cardiac arrest.  Surgeons worked quickly to keep her alive with a rare procedure to relieve pressure caused by a blood clot.  Just four hours after the lifesaving surgery, Wiggins was awake and alert.  She said: "I knew I hurt myself but I had no knowledge that I had hurt myself quite so bad.  I love the fact that I do have life and that I am so blessed."

Surgeon Dr Dar Kavouspour said Wiggins is truly lucky to be alive and without brain damage.  "These are cases that I might see maybe three to four times a year, whether it's a stab wound from a knife or a nail gun.  The majority of the patients, by the time they arrive to the emergency room, they're already dead."

Source: Wednesday 22 October 2003

Stabbing Headache

Surgeons in New Zealand removed a knife with a seven-centimetre blade that was embedded up to its handle in a man's brain, reports said.  The 37-year-old Wellington man waited fully conscious for six hours with the serrated blade wedged deep in his brain while surgeons planned the delicate removal operation, which took five hours, NZPA reported.  He had been found by police early Monday after allegedly being stabbed during a disagreement.

The blade had entered through his left ear, punctured his skull and penetrated upwards into the centre of his brain, narrowly missing major arteries, the report said.  Though still in danger of infection, the man was not expected to suffer any permanent brain damage or hearing problems.  "He's feeling all right ... just a bit sore," Wellington Hospital neurosurgeon Martin Hunn said.  The man was lucky the knife had not been yanked out at the scene, he said.  "It would have been extremely dangerous.  A lot of people try and pull the offending object out - it's best if it's left in there."  If a major blood vessel had been severed, heavy bleeding could have led to his death, the surgeon said.

An unemployed man, Peterson Hannah, 37, appeared in Wellington District Court charged with causing grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to the stabbing.  He was remanded in custody to reappear Friday.

Source: from correspondents in Wellington 28 July 2003 AFP photo credit Dominion Post

Are You Satisfied?

A little old Jewish lady took her young grandson to the beach.  While he played in the shallow water, she stood on the beach not wanting to get her feet wet; all of a sudden, a huge wave appeared from nowhere and crashed directly over the spot where the little boy was wading.  The water receded and the boy was no longer there - he had vanished into the sea.

The grandmother raised her hands toward the sky, and cried, "Lord, how could you take him?  Have I not been a wonderful grandmother?  Have I not been a wonderful mother?  Have I not given to B'nai B'rith?  Have I not given to Hadassah?  Have I not lit candles every Friday night at dusk?  Have I not tried my very best to live the life that you would have me live?"

A loud voice boomed down from the sky, "Okay, okay, already!"  A few seconds later another huge wave appeared out of nowhere and crashed on the beach.  As the water receded, the little boy was playing there, smiling, splashing around as if nothing had happened.

The loud voice boomed again, "I have returned your grandson.  Are you satisfied?"

The grandmother looked at the boy for a moment, cupped her hands to her mouth and yelled up at the sky, "He had a hat!"

For more on the unusual: events, abilities, means of self-expression, houses, conditions, people, luck, narrow escapes, resemblances, facts, diversions, heroism and more - click the "Up" button below to take you to the Index page for this Odds and Oddities section.

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