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2005 Personal Accounts
The Darwin Awards salutes the spirit portrayed in the following personal accounts, submitted by loyal (and sometimes reluctant) readers. Next Prev Random


Air Freshener
2005 Personal Account

(1983, United Kingdom) Young Mick had settled in for a good night's sleep when he was awakened by a loud explosion. His bedroom door had been blown open by air pressure, and his curtains had flown out the open window. He rushed downstairs, to find his mother staggering from the kitchen with smoke rising from patches where there used to be hair. She seemed more dazed than injured, so he sat her down and went into the kitchen.

It looked like a small bomb had gone off. The net curtains were a pile of melted nylon, and the cotton curtains were still on fire. Mick put them out with a few glasses of water and returned to his mother to find out what had happened.

"Well," she said, "I thought that the kitchen was a little smelly so I got out a spray can of air freshener. Nothing came out but I knew something was inside, because I could hear it when I shook the can. So I thought I'd open it with the can opener and sprinkle some of the contents around."

Propellant spurted from the can as soon as the can opener cut into it, startling Mom and causing her to throw the can into the air. It landed on the gas stove, where the pilot light instantly turned the can into a fireball. Mom had narrowly avoided winning herself a Darwin Award.

In positive psychological terms, Mom was conditioning her son to reacting to danger, to avoid his own untimely removal from the gene pool. Mom's lesson worked. Mick is still alive and passing on her lessons to the rest of us.

In a previous lesson, Mick's mother showed him a broken vacuum cleaner. She had tugged too hard on the power cord, and pulled the wires out of the plug. "I opened the plug and put the wires back," she said, "but it still doesn't work." Mick opened the plug to find all three wires twisted together and inserted, luckily, into the neutral pin. If she had chosen the live pin, the vacuum cleaner would have become electrified, waiting for Mom to touch it and send 240 volts charging through her on their way to ground. © 1994 - 2020
Submitted by: Mick

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