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The Stella Awards

A short diversion from the Darwin Awards – we’re going to take a quick peek at the Stellas, an
  equally valuable contribution to our awareness of mankind’s potential stupidity, venality and legal systems.

The Stella Awards are named after 81-year old Stella Liebeck, a woman who spilled coffee on herself and successfully sued McDonald’s for millions.

The runners-up for 2005 are:

  • Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas. Won $14,500 after being bitten on the arse by his neighbour’s beagle. Mr Williams was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun at the time.
  • Amber Carson of Philadelphia. Paid $113,500 by a local restaurant after she slipped on a puddle on the floor and broke her back. The puddle had resulted from her throwing a soft drink at her boyfriend.
  • Kara Walton of Delaware. Successfully sued a nightclub for $12,000 after falling from a bathroom window and knocking out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge.

And the winner is:

  • Mrs Merv Grazinski of Oklahoma. She purchased a brand new Winnebago motor home, a 32-foot top-of-the-line vehicle with (among many other facilities) cruise control. On her first trip she drove on the freeway, set the cruise control at 70mph and went into the back to make herself a sandwich. While she was spreading the bread, she crashed. The basis of her lawsuit was that the Winnebago manual did not advise her specifically against doing this. The jury awarded her $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. The company then changed their manuals on the basis of this suit.

Bah Humbug
While doing some last-minute shopping late on Christmas Eve, I heard quiet sobbing coming from a doorway beside the brightly-lit shops.

The crying was coming from a poorly dressed boy of about 12 years old. He was short and thin. He had no coat. He was just wearing a ragged shirt to protect him from the cold night’s chill. And just then the snow started to drift down. He shivered in his misery.

Oddly enough, he was holding a £20 note in his hand. Thinking that he might have become separated from his parents, I stopped to ask him what was wrong.

He told me his sad story. He said that he came from a large family. He had three brothers and four sisters. His father had died when he was nine years old. His mother was poorly educated and had to work at two full-time jobs to make ends me. She barely made enough to support her large family, let alone her addiction to prescription drugs and her cigarettes.

Nevertheless, she had managed to scrimp and save, and she had accumulated a little money – just £40, to buy her children new winter coats as Christmas presents.

The young boy had been dropped off by his mother on the way to her second job. She gave him two £20 notes; he was to use the money to buy coats for all his siblings and save just enough to take the bus home. He had not even started to look for the charity shops when an older boy snatched one of the £20 notes and disappeared into the night.

“Why didn’t you scream for help?” I asked. The snow was settling softly on his hair and shoulders.

The boy said, “I did scream.”

“And nobody came to help you?” I queried. In the background I could faintly hear the sound of festive carols.

The boy stared at the sidewalk and sadly shook his head.
“How loudly did you scream?” I inquired.

The soft-spoken boy looked up and whispered meekly, “Help me!”

I realized that absolutely no one could have heard that poor boy cry for help. So I grabbed his other £20 note and ran to my car.

Old Joke’s Home
A couple of mobile phone salesmen win the grand bonus incentive prize: it’s a weekend clay-pigeon shooting. So there they are, banging away at the clays, when one of them suddenly falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head, he’s gone white. The other guy whips out his Nokia and calls 999.He gasps to the operator, “My friend is dead! What can I do?”

In a calm soothing voice the 999 operator says “Just relax. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”

The phone goes silent for a moment. The operator hears a shot. The guy comes back on the line. “OK, now what?”

Management in action
Indecision is the key to flexibility. To be certain is to be hidebound.

You can’t tell which way the train went by looking at the tracks. (And while you are looking, you may well be hit by the next one coming along a few minutes later.)

There is absolutely no substitute for a genuine lack of preparation. You can’t come up with creative lateral-thinking solutions if you’ve been over-influenced by ploughing through that report first.

Sometimes too much drink is not enough. That’s not true all the time, but it is incumbent on you to find out which times it is true.

The facts, although interesting and often entertaining, are irrelevant. What’s important is commitment to the inner truth of things. Or, alternatively, complete flexibility to be open to creative solutions.

Someone who thinks logically makes a stark contrast to the real world. Which is nice, but they don’t have much of a social life.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. That way you’ll be able to get on top of it without having to come across as a moron.

The trouble with life is, you’re halfway through it before you realize it’s a do-it-yourself thing and your local B&Q isn’t open at that time of night.

The first rats off of the sinking ship are the best swimmers. The management thinks they would be a real asset to our organisation, which is why they’re being employed over your head and at greatly inflated salaries.

By the time you make ends meet, they’ve usually moved the ends
(and often made them wider, deeper and less visible too).

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