If there's one thing I love about Americans, it's that they're always cooking up kooky schemes. But does it seem like there's been a marked rise lately in the number of kooky schemes that have backfired?
Consider the following news items from the past month:
1. The woman at the Wendy's in San Jose (pictured) who put a severed finger in her chili so that she could sue the company. She then bragged about her scam to at least two people (smart!) and got arrested.
2. The two roofers in Massachusetts who claimed they found a bunch of old bank notes and bills in their backyard. They were so excited by the media attention that they told their story over and over again — changing the story slightly each time (and even had their picture taken lighting cigars with dollar bills!). Of course, the money turned out to be stolen and they were soon arrested.
3. The would-be bride in Georgia that got cold feet and ran off to New Mexico. Initially at least, she claimed she'd been kidnapped and released. Later she admitted the truth. At first this all seemed like a spur-of-the-moment thing, but now it sounds like she may have been planning it for at least a few days. And now the mayor of Duluth, Ga., where she lives, wants to sue her for the $100,000 it cost to look for her.
4. The black college student in Illinois who sent threatening letters to other black students because she wanted her parents to let her leave school. She's been charged with disorderly conduct and a hate crime, which could carry up to five years' jail time.
5. The woman in Florida who, in order to promote rape-awareness week, told police that she'd been raped by two men in a college bathroom. She later admitted that she'd made the story up. The real kicker here is that she's the president of the local NOW chapter (hopefully she'll get points for creative marketing). She could spend a year in jail, and police want her to pay back the tens of thousands they spent on the investigation.
It seems like there is a lesson here: Maybe before embarking on a kooky scheme, people should ask themselves if it's likely to receive a lot of publicity. And if so, will people soon find out that the schemer is full of crap?
For instance, if you steal some old bank notes, why not just quietly sell them on eBay — rather than say, I don't know, HAVING YOUR PICTURE TAKEN LIGHTING CIGARS WITH DOLLAR BILLS! Or with the Wendy's woman, instead of a finger, how about a dead mouse? That's worked before and seems a little less crazy than a finger. After all, people tend to remember when they lose a finger.
But really, who am I to criticize these bold, innovative souls? Carry on, kooky schemers...you make this country great!