No matter how exciting, dangerous, or crazy some of these real life car chases might be, there's always a distant disappointment when you start subconsciously comparing them to fiction: Only Bruce Willis gets to ramp cop cars into helicopters. Real life cops have regulations to abide by, and physics to obey, and besides, they've got personal lives to attend to: There's hardly ever enough time to get some practice in down at the Car-launching Helicopter Range. As awesome as they are, there are simply no Hollywood conventions present in any real life car chases: There's no leaning out of the window to fire some gargantuan, clearly not officially sanctioned cannon at the bad guy like Dirty Harry, there's no pulling alongside of him and ramming him off the road like Mad Max, and there's no abandoning your own vehicle to leap up onto your roof, jump across through his window so you can beat the crap out of him and eventually hurl him callously from the still moving vehicle into the street, like in Lethal Weapon.
Well, except for in South Africa, where there is absolutely all of those things:
Sadly, that video cuts out fifteen seconds too soon, right before the officer exits the truck, slips on his sunglasses, and walks slowly away from the completely unprovoked explosion.
Fifteen seconds into this video and it's already the randomest car chase in history: The criminal in question has stolen, of all things, a hot pink semi-truck. There is a man still on the back of said truck, by all appearances "just chillin'," and though almost all of the vehicles tires are blown out, it just doesn't seem to care. It's still speeding along.
And then, over the next ten minutes, even more pressing questions start to arise. We've done our best to answer them:
Q: Who is that man on the back?
A: That's the owner of the truck.
Q: Why has he gone all shirt ninja?
A: The exploded tires are kicking up burning rubber at him from below.
Q: Why is he throwing random objects at the police, who are obviously trying to help him?
A: Because he's having a bad day, and he's an NWA fan.
Q: Okay, but why is he on the phone?
A: Because life doesn't stop just because you're trapped on the back of a nearly out of control tractor trailer in the middle of a high-speed chase, okay? This broken blender isn't going to get a refund for itself, smartass.
"Can you hear me now?"
But the most important unanswered question presented by this video is quite simply: Who steals a hot pink semi-truck? What car-jacker sees a pastel eighteen wheeler, walks up to it, pulls out his gun, yanks out the driver, and tries to make off with it, expecting to get away? We don't know. All we do know is that when this guy gets to prison, he's going to have a lot of time to wonder what he did wrong. Eventually, he's going to request a dictionary from the guard so he can look up the word 'inconspicuous,' -- and boy, is he going to feel dumb.
On May 17, 1995, video games officially crossed over into reality, when Shawn Nelson broke into an Army National Guard armory. He looked all about himself, searching for the most valuable piece of equipment he could reasonably steal away with in the night, and instead he laid his eyes on an unattended M60 Patton Tank. His heart soared, guitar riffs sounded inside his head, and he knew -- he just intrinsically understood in the guttural, instinctual, lizard part of his brain -- what must be done. And then this happened:
Every man on this planet understands Nelson's first impulse. Here's a hypothetical scenario: You're alone in a room with a tank. What do you do?
Tank rampage. Obviously.
We get the reaction, but we don't do it, because we have empathy, and respect, and we understand that actions have consequences. In the end, it's just not worth it. No matter how objectively bitchin' it was when he tore that RV apart. Or how fun it looked when he drove right through that van. Or how hilarious it was when he floored it toward that one house, only to stop inches from the window, presumably just to enjoy the expression on the owner-lady's face who heard the commotion and got up -- expecting to see maybe a fire, perhaps a fender bender -- and instead found an eighty ton war machine parked on top of her garden gnomes.
We don't do it because we know that eventually the police would be called, and we know that they would spring into action by ... uh ... by setting up a roadblock? No. By ... firing their pistols? Deploying spike strips? Well, hell, there's not exactly a section in the New Officer's Handbook titled "So They've Gotten Hold of an M60." They can't do much of anything can they?
"Follow him some more!"
No, ultimately we don't do it because we know it can't last forever. And it didn't: Shawn Nelson eventually got the tank stuck on a cement divider, where police managed to finally climb aboard it, open the hatch, and fired on him.
Shawn Nelson died as he lived: Inside a god damn tank in the middle of the San Diego freeway.
For stories that are too crazy to be true (but totally are), check out The 7 Most Insane Things Ever Done to Get Out of Something.