You've got to use what you've got to get what you want. That's how the old saying goes, anyway. But how do you get the things you want when you have nothing? That's a trick question, because you've always got a voice, and sometimes, that's all you need. By doing nothing more than asking, the people on this list have raked in riches and rewards beyond your imagination. Things like ...
#7. A College Education
Asking other people for money is a bummer. No matter how perilous your situation may be, unless you're some kind of con artist, you're always going to feel loser-y when someone forks over their hard-earned scratch just to help foot one of your bills.
Neighborhood lemonade sales are the first jobs to go in a recession.
But what if you could soften the beggarly blow by asking for something that people view as a nuisance anyway? Like maybe if you asked 2.8 million people to each send you one dirty, good-for-nothing penny. That's the genius-level plan that Mike Hayes, a graduate from Rochelle High School in Illinois, thought up when he found himself short 25 large for the $28,000 he was going to need to attend college (in 1987).
Instead of saddling himself with a lifetime of student loan debt or pulling a Soul Man a la C. Thomas Howell, Hayes took his cause to the people. He sent a letter to newspaper columnist Bob Greene, whose column was syndicated in over 200 newspapers, despite being a person we've never heard of. In the letter, Hayes asked readers to send one penny each to go toward funding his college education. Greene published the letter, and the response was overwhelming.
Eleven postal workers drowned in the flood of pennies.
According to this article, as of November 1987, Hayes had received more than 77,000 letters and earned more than $26,000. Snopes follows that up by confirming that the enterprising young handout enthusiast did indeed earn enough for that college education and graduated with a degree in food science.
Good choice. A degree like that is going to give Mike a major leg up when it comes time to fight for the last available fast food job in town with the rest of the college graduate pool.
"With my degree paid for, I was able to afford the machete that got me my first job."
#6. A Date With the First Lady
Hitting on another man's wife is a bold move, no matter who the husband in question may be. But it becomes a matter of personal safety when the wife you're hitting on also happens to be the first lady of the United States of America. Perhaps you don't realize it (because your state has no helmet laws in place), but that means her husband is the president of the United States, and that's a man who can send some damage your way if you wrong him.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty
He could have a cruise missile halfway up your prostate by the time that kiss ends.
The very real threat of a Secret Service-issued beating was no deterrent for Lance Corporal Aaron Leeks, though. When he laid eyes on First Lady Michelle Obama at a Toys for Tots event in Washington, D.C., the brave Marine took the ultimate in skirt-wooing risks and asked the Head Lady in Charge if she'd accompany him to the Marine Corps Ball. "With your husband's permission, of course," he added, avoiding an uncomfortable waterboarding later.
Shockingly, the plan worked. Michelle Obama called an aide over to get the Marine's information and, as far as we know, is still planning to attend the event in November. But even if she backs out, how many among us can claim to have hit on the first lady without being tasered and dragged out of the room in handcuffs?
Jewel Samad / Getty
Not all of his guards look like 12-year-olds.
#5. A Product-Labeling Wrong Righted
Have you ever looked at something and decided that the person who gave that object its name was a complete idiot? Like the person who decided that the Chihuahua should be called a dog when it's clearly a rodent with bigger ears and uncontrollable sass. Something along the lines of "yap rat" would be a better name, but we don't get to make those decisions, do we?
If it fits in a picnic basket, you can't rightly call it a dog.
Usually we do not. But there's something about the naivete of youth that makes anything seem possible, even a herculean task such as getting a long-standing product-naming error corrected. So when 3-year-old Lily Robinson noticed that a product called "tiger bread" at her local supermarket seemed to have been named by a complete dumbass, she didn't hesitate to act.
By Lily's estimation, the product that these buffoons were selling as tiger bread should have been named after the savannah's tall drink of goofy, the giraffe. And she was objectively right. The bread's cracked, crusty skin made it look like it was spotted. And so she sat down with a pen and paper (and probably one of those fake tea sets like in the movies) and hammered out a sternly worded letter for the people at Sainsbury's, the local grocer in question, and asked the 3-year-old equivalent of "Have you jerkoffs ever even seen a tiger?"
"Seriously, get some fact checkers, you grocery-shilling ignoramuses."
It's the kind of wiseacre comment you imagine retailers getting by the hundreds, if grocers' mail is anything like our comment section, but present it in the hastily scrawled penmanship of a 3-year-old and people pay attention. Why? Because kids not only are adorable, but also are too young to know that they should demand payment for their work. Rename something based on the recommendation of an adult and you might as well give them a cut of your company's revenue, because they're going to expect a windfall.
Not little Lily, though. All she got in return was a letter from the company, saying her idea was brilliant, and a Sainsbury's gift card. As for the bread, it retained its tiger-based moniker for a few more weeks, but once Lily's letter went viral on social media outlets, the company relented to public pressure (great use of your free time, England) and changed the name to giraffe bread. And all it took was a little girl to sit them down and tell them that nobody was fooled by the badass self-appointed nickname they'd given their bread.
J Sainsbury plc
From the hands of babes ... come rampant typos.
#4. Getting Iron Maiden to Play at Your Wedding
It's every couple's dream to have heavy metal legends Iron Maiden summon the fiery winds of Satan himself to blow the doors off the hinges at their wedding reception. Or, at least, it's every guy's dream. Fine, just every guy with a mullet. But still, that's a lot of people dreaming about having the Maiden shred their wed, but only one man (some unnamed dude in Poland, if you're looking for specifics) actually saw that dream become a reality.
If you speak Brad-Pitt-in-Snatch, you can hear the whole story by watching this video.
If we heard that correctly, the band was going to what they thought was a "disco" but instead turned out to be a "converted ballroom, innit?" where a wedding was taking place. A quick-thinking wedding guest, upon recognizing the band, asked if they'd consider playing a few songs to celebrate the nuptials. Sure enough, the band was just kind (drunk?) enough to go for it.
Hulton Archive / Getty
"Give a free wedding concert? Thanks for the tip, beer!"
You can see approximately 45 seconds of the performance in the above video, because when a world-famous band shows up at your wedding to rock, who in their right mind would just record the entire event? That would be silly.