#2. South Africa's Driving Test Is a Kafkaesque Nightmare
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Getting a driver's license is an annoying rite of passage every young person hoping to ever get laid must go through. It's not exactly fun to have to drive in a car while being judged by a jaded DMV employee who, let's face it, probably has it in for you due to the fact that your job doesn't entail getting into a two-ton death trap with a kid still learning his way around his privates, let alone a vehicle.
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Playfully saying "Your job fucking sucks" rarely improves your chances.
But even if you get an absolute hardass for your driving test, you have a pretty good shot of making it. After all, nearly every pizza-faced, squeaky-voiced teenager gets their license, often on the first try.
Or at least that's the case in most countries ... but not South Africa. South Africa's maddening approach to driver education is less about teaching people to drive and more about teaching them to suffer. Known as the K53, the South African driving test is so difficult that it set off riots in 2007. It's hardly the worst thing to ever happen to the South African people, but we do think it's gonna make the basis for a pretty kickass sci-fi picture one day.
"Who Will Pass?"
Exactly how batshit insane is this test? Here are some of the things you get points off for: Did you forget to engage the hand brake every time you stopped? OK, that's reasonable. But did you make a single clicking sound while doing it? Sorry, you have to engage the hand brake silently. Points off. Don't check your mirrors every seven seconds? Points off. Glance at the gearshift while you're driving? Points off. Forget to check that your headlights and taillights are securely attached before you get in? Points off! Forget to check beneath your car for leaks? Points off, you reckless maniac!
And just to make it more interesting, there are myriad ways you can instantly fail the test. For example, if your car rolls backward for even an inch during stopping or starting, that's an insta-fail. Presumably at this point you're ejected from the car, James Bond-style.
Or the car explodes. No points off for this, surprisingly.
And what's South Africa's reward for this draconian driving exam? Worse drivers. The test is so impossible to pass for most people (fewer than 4 in 10 pass) that they decide they don't need any of that highfalutin nonsense and just drive without a license. Coincidentally, the rate of traffic fatalities is 20 times higher than in the United Kingdom (and five times higher than in the U.S.). So we guess the lesson here is that they should make the test so easy, even stupid 16-year-olds can pass, and maybe they'll actually bother to study for it and learn something.
#1. One Man's Static Electricity Gets a Whole Building Evacuated
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Static electricity seems like the awesomest thing ever when you're 10 years old and rubbing your feet on the carpet to pretend you're Raiden from Mortal Kombat, but it kinda loses its luster once you're an adult and its only purpose is zapping your hand every time you touch a doorknob. Still, it's only a minor annoyance -- it's not like you're going around like one of Zeus' drunken cousins, scorching shit willy-nilly with no control over it.
Unless, that is, you live in Australia and your name is Frank Clewer.
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Ah, ol' "Electrocutor" Clewer.
Clewer woke up on a chilly September morning in 2005 and decided to put on a spiffy combo of a synthetic nylon jacket and a wool shirt before heading to a job interview (we're guessing it wasn't a management position). What he didn't know was that the shirt and jacket would rub together, passing electrons around and storing up a little bit of a static charge -- and by "a little bit," we mean so much static that when he walked into the reception area for his interview, he heard what sounded like a goddamn firecracker going off. Probably figuring someone had eaten Chipotle for breakfast, he sat down in the waiting room.
Everything seemed normal until the carpet began to smoke for no apparent reason. No one, including Clewer, thought that a person could be responsible for the weirdness, so rather than burning him for witchcraft before he burned them, they called the fire department, which evacuated the building. Meanwhile, loud firecracker noises continued following Clewer around, and small burn marks appeared on the floor wherever he walked.
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Killing anything hiding there, which was a relief, considering where he lived.
When the situation got to the point where Clewer scorched a piece of plastic just by sitting next to it, the firemen decided to confiscate his jacket and test it. It had built up at least 30,000 volts, which is just shy of "full-on fire emergency." How the hell is that possible? Many on the Internet believe it isn't, while an actual expert at Sydney University said it was unusual and would require perfect conditions -- meaning that, yes, apparently you can cause a disaster with your wardrobe choices if it's dry enough, you step on the right type of carpet, and nature is feeling pissed off at you that day.
Anyway, we don't know if Clewer got the job, but we're guessing his chances weren't that good.
You can contact Eddie with writing opportunities, or just to say hi, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related Reading: If you hate traffic jams, read about these poor fools who spent twelve hours inside their cars. And did you know some annoyances can boost human creativity? Drunkenness is a big one. And if you're all about some video game annoyances that need to die, we've got those too.