Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.
1998 Urban Legends

The following stories are apocryphal. They are included on the Darwin Awards website because they are inspirational narratives of the astounding efforts of legendary Darwin Awards contenders. Next

Bad Day at the Office 
1998 Urban Legend

Hi Sue,

Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother. Last week I had a bad day at the office. Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job. As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office. It's a wetsuit.

This time of year the water is quite cool. So here's what we do to keep warm: We have a diesel-powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea. It heats it to a delightful temp. It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose which is taped to the air hose. Now this sounds like a damn good plan, doesn't it? I've used it several times with no complaints.

When I get to the bottom and start working, what I do is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my neck and flood my whole suit with warm water. It's like working in a Jacuzzi. Everything was going well until my ass started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds my itchy ass started to burn. I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done.

In agony I realized what had happened. The hot-water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. This is even worse than poison ivy under a cast. I had put that hose down my back, but I don't have any hair on my back, so the jellyfish couldn't get stuck to my back. My ass crack was not as fortunate.

When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into my ass. I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communications system. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he and 5 other divers were laughing hysterically.

Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make 3 hellish in-water decompression stops totaling 35 minutes before I could reach the surface for my chamber dry decompression. I got to the surface wearing nothing but my brass helmet. My suit and gear were tied to the bell. When I got on board, the medic, with tears of laughter streaming down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to coat my ass when I got in the chamber. The cream put the fire out, but I couldn't shit for two days because my asshole was swollen shut.

We've since modified the equipment to filter out most sea creatures.

Anyway, the next time you have a bad day at the office, think of me. Think about how much worse your day would be if you were to squash a jellyfish on your ass. I hope you have no bad days at the office. But if you do, I hope this will make it more tolerable.

Original source: forwarded email in August 1999

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Stretch says, "You're absolutely right to classify this story as an urban legend. First off, if a commercial diver was working in cold water at depths requiring A 35-minute decompression time, he'd certainly use a drysuit which does not allow water to touch the skin. Second, the expense and pressures involved in pumping heated water down to the diver at such a depth would both be ridiculous. Third, the jellyfish would've been pulverized from the pump and the stew of stinging cells would have affected all sites of contact (i.e. all over the fellow's back), not just at one spot. Fourth, if the diver spent 35 minutes in safety stops and still had to spend time in a decompression chamber, he would have to have been incredibly deep and using mixed gases, which contraindicates hardhat diving. In short, it's a crock. Amusing, but a crock nonetheless."

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