#3. Hostage Escapes from Kidnappers by Dragging an Entire Bed Down the Street
In January of 1986, Mohammed Sadiq al Tajir was walking to his home in London when he was taken hostage by four guys. Turns out Tajir was the brother of billionaire Mohammed Mahdi al Tajir, the Arab ambassador in London, and the son of two people who are really into the name Mohammed. The kidnappers asked $71.5 million for Tajir's return, and in the meantime chained him by his arms and legs to a bed in a windowless room.
After being kept drugged and blindfolded for 10 days, Tajir woke up one morning to find a note that promised he would be released soon, but also that they would totally kill him if he screamed for help. Tajir, still chained to the bed, obeyed his kidnappers' orders and just laid there in silence. He'd waited almost two weeks to be released, what difference did one more day make?
And the cuffs were comfortable enough, if a bit sticky.
But Then ...
A few hours later, Tajir said, "OK, screw this," and just got up and walked out of the room ... with the bed still behind him. Completely ignoring the "We're gonna kill you if you make any noise" part of the letter, Tajir managed to drag the bed down the stairs, through the front door of the house and down the streets of the South London suburb where he was being kept. Tajir knocked on the door of the nearest house: The woman who lived there later said, "To my astonishment when I opened the door, I saw a fine-looking gentleman in pajamas padlocked to a bed."
We don't actually care what it really looked like -- this is how it appears in our heads.
Once the cops freed him from the bed, Tajir found out that his brother, one of the richest men in the world, had spent the past week talking down his ransom from $71.5 million to $3 million, which he'd paid to the kidnappers the day before ... so, apparently, they were being honest when they said they'd release him soon, and he'd risked his life for nothing. Still, at least he had the satisfaction of depriving them of a perfectly good bed.
Canopy and all.
#2. Kidnapped Bus Driver Hulks Out, Saves 26 Schoolchildren
Kidnapping a bus full of schoolchildren sounds like something that could only happen in movies, because who would be horrible (and cliched) enough to actually do it? The answer is Frederick Woods, James Schoenfeld and Richard Schoenfeld, three armed men who in 1976 stopped a school bus in Chowchilla, California, and took 26 children and one driver as hostages. Also, this happened in the middle of July, which means that on top of everything, these kids were being forced to go to summer school.
Forever remembered by the kids as "Oh This Is Some Bullshit Right Here" Day.
As the kidnappers tried to figure out what to do next and how to spend the $5 million they planned to demand from the 26 families, they forced the kids and the driver into a moving van buried in the middle of nowhere, closing off the top with no way for them to get out.
But Then ...
Even though the kidnappers had threatened him with guns, bus driver Ed Ray wasn't impressed. He had more pressing matters on his mind: It was his job to get these 26 children back home, and he wasn't gonna let being buried in some damn hole several miles away from the middle of nowhere stop him from doing that. Ray looked around: The only thing he had to work with as a means of escape were a pile of (hopefully unsoiled) mattresses inside the cramped van.
It was either using them to escape or eating them over the next week.
Ray and some of the older kids stacked the mattresses up and reached the top ... only to find the entrance blocked by a few hundred-pound car batteries the kidnappers had dickishly put there as extra insurance. Through sheer force of will, the 55-year-old driver managed to lift off the batteries while balancing himself on an unstable pile of 14 mattresses, then helped the kids exit their underground prison one by one and guided them to safety.
Soon, the kids were back with their parents, but by then the kidnappers had realized what had happened and were long gone. That's when Ed Ray, the most overqualified school bus driver, stepped in again: Through hypnosis, Ray remembered the license plate of the kidnappers' vehicle and put the douchebags in jail.
"I only did that because my therapist said there was no way to deliver a drop-kick via hypnosis."
#1. Captured Journalist Escapes the Taliban by Playing Parcheesi
In November of 2008, New York Times reporter David Rohde was in Kabul researching a book about American involvement in Afghanistan when he was kidnapped by the Taliban (that's why we do all our research on Google). Rohde, his translator and their driver were held captive just over the border of Pakistan as their kidnappers made outrageous demands to the U.S., like releasing all remaining Taliban prisoners or paying tens of millions of dollars as ransom.
After seven months of being constantly threatened with death by bearded men carrying rocket launchers, the whole situation was starting to get a little old for Rohde and his translator (the driver was suffering from a serious case of Stockholm syndrome and had started carrying an assault rifle). Unfortunately, it didn't look like it was going to end in a good way.
It's the ones in the fake beards you have to watch. They're already angry about that whole beard thing.
But Then ...
In June of 2009, Rohde and his partner formed an ingenious plan to escape -- and by ingenious we mean so improbable and foolish that the translator himself described it as a "suicide mission." Step 1 in Operation "Let's Get the Hell Out of Here" was simple enough: Parcheesi. Just play lots and lots of games of Parcheesi so the guards get bored and fall asleep.
"I saw this on Bugs Bunny once. Trust me."
Shockingly, it worked: Rohde's translator kept the guards up late playing "checkah" (a version of Parcheesi played in Pakistan) in order to tire them. Once the guards were fast asleep, the two hostages slipped away from the Taliban complex by climbing over a five-foot wall using a rope they'd stashed some days earlier. Then came the second step in their plan, called running like hell.
They weren't out of the woods yet, though: Once they had managed to reach a Pakistani army base, they were mistaken for Taliban suicide bombers and almost shot on sight. After clearing up the wacky misunderstanding, Rohde was allowed to call home and was soon back in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Taliban have declared a jihad on Parcheesi and all board games, but we're actually pretty OK with that.
When not stumbling blindly through the Internet, Evan V. Symon can be found on Facebook.
For more total badassery, check out 6 Real Acts of Self Defense Too Awesome for an Action Movie and 6 Insane True Stories Too Awesome for a Chuck Norris Movie.