In a world that worships celebrities and fictional superheroes, we've made it our mission to find regular, everyday folks who stepped up in life or death circumstances, their own safety be damned. Because as we've mentioned once or twice (OK, more like thrice or ... fource?) before, the world is full of heroes. Whether they're exceptionally brave or simply insane, we'll let you decide:
#6. Wheelchair-Bound Man Thwarts a Robbery
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It's the oldest trick in the incompetent counterfeiter's handbook: Take a fake large-denomination bill into a convenience store, use it to buy a small-ticket item, trick the unsuspecting store clerk into handing over wads of real bills in change, and ... PROFIT! That's exactly what went down in a Vancouver Food Stop in 2010 -- with the exception of the "unsuspecting store clerk" part.
In the store were Cindy Grewal, who was working the counter that day, and a customer in a wheelchair that everyone probably just ignored. When an unnamed man tried to hand Grewal the fake bill, she was having none of that shit. She promptly told him to hit the door, at which point the would-be counterfeiter decided to try his hand at would-be convenience store robbing instead, muscling his way behind the counter to have his way with her cash drawers.
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Maybe if the drawers hadn't been dressed so provocatively.
That's when our third player -- the wheelchair-bound Larry Skopnik -- stepped in. Skopnik, having been in an ATV accident 10 years prior, was a paraplegic, but as soon as the altercation over (we assume) painstakingly crayoned funny money transformed into a robbery in progress, he sprang into action, launching his wheelchair toward the assailant at a speed that must have left skid marks on the waxy tile floor.
Grabbing the assailant in a headlock, Skopnik wrestled him to the ground and held him there. Once the threat was safely neutralized by the guy in the wheelchair, the able-bodied store patrons kicked into action -- while Skopnik held the thwarted counterfeiter/robber in a reverse full nelson, another customer administered a severe spanking with a nearby "CAUTION: Wet Floor" sign. Seriously. Here, watch the video:
According to Skopnik, "Just because I'm in a chair doesn't mean I can't stand up and do what's right." We'd say it's people like Skopnik and stories like this one that make us proud to be Americans, if only it hadn't happened in Canada.
#5. Man Punches Out Alligator to Save 6-Year-Old Son
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There are good days and bad days in this convoluted clusterfuck we call life. Some days you might find an extra 20 bucks in your drawers; other days you might have to throw haymakers at a predator with 200 million years of evolutionary experience in the field of flesh rending. This story falls into the latter category.
It's times like this you'll wish you would have paid attention to Mick Dundee instead of laughing at his folksy Outback charm.
On a routine father-son canoe trip in Florida, Joe Welch and his son, 6-year-old Joey, were paddling along when Joey fell into shallow water ... and smack dab into the waiting jaws of an 8-foot, 200-pound alligator. Joey's father, knowing that there was no way in hell he was going to paddle the canoe all the way back by himself, decided that the best course of action was to square up and unleash his fists of fury on the head of a living freaking dinosaur that outweighed him by a good quarter bill, an act that he later said "felt like I was hitting cinder block."
After hearing Welch's battle cry (and realizing that this was Florida and the crazy meter on a news story can't teeter anywhere south of 11), another unidentified man sprinted to the rescue. The good Samaritan phoned the nearest animal control office and calmly explained the situation, and the proper authorities were promptly dispatched. Only, no, that's not what happened at all.
Please enjoy this selection as you read the next paragraph.
After a dramatic entrance and a prolonged interrogation as to whether the gator could smell what the Rock was cookin', the unnamed man began repeatedly kicking the alligator right in the dick. Just, right in it. Meanwhile, Welch continued his bare-handed assault about the monster's head and neck. Having suffered one too many People's Elbows and fearing that the Rock Bottom was mere seconds away, the animal released little Joey and retired from its newfound human-wrestling career -- a retirement that was soon to be cut short by the business end of a wildlife official's rifle.
Inexplicably, the beast hadn't clamped down on little Joey with the full force of its serrated deathjaws, and the boy walked away with a few scrapes and a well-backed claim to the coolest dad this side of the Mason-Dixon Line.
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"So Jim is swimming out to save a drowning kid and all of a sudden this dude jumps in and just starts whaling on him ..."
#4. A Little Throat Slashing Can't Stop Grandpa
It was just an average lunch hour at a Salt Lake City Arby's when in burst Curtis Allgier, a 27-year-old, 6-foot 1-inch, 200-pound, eerily grinning white supremacist. If the words "SKIN" and "HEAD" tattooed where Allgier's eyebrows should be (with a center swastika completing the unibrow look) didn't tip off the patrons that their quest for flaccid curly fries was about to end in disaster, the gun he was waving surely did. Allgier hadn't stepped into Arby's for some "freshly sliced" roast beef; no, he had just effected his escape from custody by way of brutally murdering a corrections officer, then led police on a high-speed chase that ended with his split-second decision to take a unique hostage in the form of a fast-food restaurant.
Allgier tossed out the standard "everybody on the ground" cliche before bounding over the counter and grabbing an employee in a headlock, warning the fast-food worker (who, by the way, seriously did not get paid enough for this shit) to hold still or be shot. The fry scooper-cum-hostage did the precise opposite of not move, and Allgier fired off a point-blank shot that inexplicably missed the person whom -- we repeat -- he was holding in a headlock at the time.
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Which he should have taken as a sign that perhaps he just wasn't cut out for this crime thing.
The gunshot was like a wake-up call for Eric Fullerton -- a 5-foot 6-inch grandfather of six and, oh, also a former Army paratrooper who saw action in the 'Nam. But instead of awakening religious enlightenment like Jules in Pulp Fiction, this gunshot awoke Fullerton's long-dormant Army training. He vaulted over the counter and latched onto Allgier's gun. The two struggled throughout the kitchen for control of the weapon, we're assuming in slow motion while surrounded by cinematic avalanches of still-frozen french fries and geysers of fry oil.
The skinhead, unable to wrestle the gun from Fullerton's G.I. Joe Kung-Fu Grip, used his free hand to grab a serrated knife and did his damnedest to thin-slice Fullerton's neck meat. Ignoring the stomach-turning sound of his flesh ripping, the visibly outmatched Fullerton didn't give up his struggle for control of the gun until he was able to rip it right out of the convict's hand. Fullerton kept the weapon trained on the no-longer-grinning escapee until the police arrived, presumably while staunching the blood flow from his tattered throat with his free hand and mumbling something about being "too old for this shit."
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Fullerton was then politely informed that only Arby's employees were permitted in the kitchen.