“Stupid is as stupid does” – Excuses that are really not that much of an excuse

Lowell Altvater, 80, was charged with negligent assault in Sandusky, Ohio after he thought he saw a rat in his barn and fired his shotgun at it. It turned out to be his wife’s hat, which she was wearing. Mrs. Altvater begged police not to file charges, but they did, in part because Lowell had shot himself in the leg in 1992 in the same barn after thinking then, too, that he had spotted a rat. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel- Toledo Blade, 20-12-95; Columbus Dispatch, Nov.95]

A bomb threat that forced a Royal Jordanian Airlines plane to land in Iceland en route to Chicago was discovered to have been made by a Chicago woman who was merely trying to prevent her mother-in-law, a passenger on the plane, from visiting her. And a former USAir flight attendant was sentenced to eight months in prison in May for making a bomb threat to force a landing so she could rest her ailing knee. [Washington Times-Reuters, 11-11-95; Greensboro News Record, May95]

Reading, Pennsylvania, county controller Judith Kraines complained at a commissioners’ meeting in January about having to type letters and do other business on a typewriter because her computer was old and no one had been able to get it to work for two years. “If we had a computer,” she said, “letters would go out faster.”  Three days later, she announced that the computer she was complaining about in fact had not been plugged in to any electrical outlet and that when the plug was inserted and the computer was turned on, it worked fine. [Reading Eagle-Times, 21-1-96]

At an April court martial at Elmendorf (Alaska) Air Force Base, a sergeant was found guilty of using cocaine. He had denied the charge, which was based on a urine test. His explanation was that his part-time job as a pizza deliverer takes him to drug-using neighbourhoods; he has a habit of licking his finger when counting out dollar bills for change; and some of his customers undoubtedly used rolled bills to snort cocaine. [Sourdough Sentinel, 19-4-96]