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Even if you're an atheist of Dawkinsian proportions, there's a good chance that at some point in your life, you've encountered a set of circumstances that made your eyebrows do that weird scrunchy thing that they do. You know, a story so full of irony and/or karmic justice that not only does it suggest the existence of some higher power pulling our strings for its own tepid amusement, but that said higher power's sense of humor is completely fucked up.

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"He died while arguing online over the meaning of 'ironic.' How ... cosmically apropos."

And if you haven't ... well, then have we got a story for you. Five of them, actually.

5
Hundreds Contract Food Poisoning at the Food Safety Summit

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Food safety is a big deal. Why? Well, because at some point along the timeline of human evolution, we became giant pussies. Long gone are the days when we were happy gnawing on month-old meat and washing it down with water from the shit lagoon. Somewhere along the way, we also invented things like reading and the arts, which quickly supplanted our former most popular pastime (explosive diarrhea).

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"We only live to 23; we don't have time to be picky."
"And you don't see the correlation here?"

So yeah, food safety is a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that all the food industry bigwigs gather for an annual summit to discuss innovative and effective ways of storing, preparing, and serving food safely. We're guessing they have an awards ceremony where they hand out trophies shaped like the Ghostbusters logo, except with a salmonella bacterium in place of the ghost.

At the 2014 Food Safety Summit in Baltimore, Maryland, nearly 1,300 food safety professionals from organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and McDonald's (we're assuming that guy snuck in the back) gathered to discuss how to feed people without also painfully incapacitating them (again, we're looking at you, McDonald's guy). On the second day of the convention, the attendees tucked their napkins into their collars, slathered themselves with copious amounts of hand sanitizer, and proceeded to dig into a delicious buffet lunch without so much as a second thought as to the un-rottenness of the food. We'd think having "food safety expert" on your business card would make you leery of any food simmering over a sterno, but hey, what do we know?

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Maybe low heat kills all germs. We're not the chef of surgery.

The following day, the poop began. More than 200 of the attendees found themselves in a newly committed relationship with their hotel room toilet, wondering when their lower intestines had become sentient and capable of hate, while simultaneously wishing for a more loving God.

Apparently, the chicken Marsala was to blame for their potty pyrotechnics. It turns out attendees had traveled from as far away as Mauritius and Costa Rica to learn all about how to serve food safely, but instead learned everything they never wanted to know about Clostridium perfringens, a shitty little bugger often found on raw poultry. And since more got sick than had even eaten the chicken, it seems likely that there was some cross-contamination going on, to boot. So much for all that "employees must wash hands" business.

4
A Dude Gets Crushed by an Ironic National Health Service Billboard

Leicester Mercury

In an effort to increase public awareness, Britain's National Health Service kicked off a campaign of placing billboards across the country encouraging people to live healthier lives. The billboards -- which the Brits refer to as "hoardings," because apparently everything in England needs to sound like something straight out of a dragon's lair -- simply suggested that readers contact their doctor if they were feeling under the weather. They looked something like this:

NHS
Only much bigger and much, much heavier. The "heavier" part will become painfully important in a moment.

Back in February of 2014, on a particularly windy and rainy afternoon (read: an afternoon) in Leicester, England, a man was walking down the street when he noticed that one such billboard was coming detached from the wall it was affixed to and had begun "flapping about." The man went into the building to report the loose sign, after which he and the building's owner came out and stood beneath it, wondering what should be done about it.

They didn't have to wait long for an answer, and that answer was "RUN!" That's because, at that precise moment, the 15-by-30-foot sign came flying at them like a Kaiju had just finger-flicked it. It missed the building's owner by inches, but Mr. Good Samaritan wasn't so lucky -- it landed plumb on top of him, crushing him beneath it and opening a nasty gash on his head. Shocked bystanders popped their monocles and ran to his aid, some saying the impact was so loud that it sounded like a car crash.

Leicester Mercury
All signs point to "this is not your lucky day."

Luckily, the man survived and was taken to the hospital to treat his injuries, but that doesn't change the fact that he had just become the victim of one of the most impossibly ironic accidents ever. To recap: the sign's purpose was to encourage people to stay healthy. It did so by asking if the reader was "under the weather." The weather blew it down. A guy got fucking crushed by it (possibly the unhealthiest thing that can happen to a person), along with any hopes he may have had of not being a victim of attempted murder by the cosmos.

Uh huh. "Go outside," our moms always said. "You'll like it out there," they said. Yeah, that's probably what that dude's mom told him, too.

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3
A Thief Gets Robbed by an Act of God

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This is a tale of an Old Testament-style smiting from Heavens that would probably have gotten cut from the Bible for being too on-the-nose. It begins in Kingsport, Tennessee, where the residents of one neighborhood started noticing something strange about their stuff -- specifically, that they didn't have it anymore. Ed Cleek was just one victim of the thefts, having complained to police that his air compressor, weed eater, and welder had all gone missing.

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Ed was building either a BattleBot, or the most badass bong of all time.

Then, in July of 2014, a tornado touched down in the neighborhood that leveled the home of Ed's neighbor, Jerrod Christian. Luckily, Christian wasn't home at the time. Less luckily, it was because he'd been arrested the previous day. During that incident, Christian told the arresting officer that he was going to "stomp [his] teeth out, stomp [his] mother's teeth out and rape [his] children." So just in case you were feeling a pang of pity about Mother Nature curb-stomping this guy's house, there's that.

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"You said stomp twice."
"I like to stomp."

And if you're the faithful sort, you might just think that Mother Nature was acting on direct orders from God almighty after we tell you this next part. See, that tornado didn't just destroy Christian's home; it also tossed its contents around the neighborhood all willy-nilly. And when concerned neighbors -- including our friend Ed Cleek -- rushed to the scene to scope out the situation, what they found was a yard strewn with all their stolen shit.

Kingsport Police Department
The twister destroyed everything but the booty and Christian's video confession.

In addition to Cleek's aforementioned air compressor, weed eater, and welder, residents found thousands of dollars' worth of stolen goods, including ratchets, an air hose, and yet another weed trimmer (apparently Christian's yard needed major upkeep, at least before the tornado relocated it to somewhere on the other side of Chattanooga).

Police charged Christian with two counts of burglary and two counts of theft. God charged him with one count of don't be a dick if your name is Christian.

2
A Man's Sarcastic Prediction Comes True

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Everyone's heard the old adage that you're far more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to win the lottery. And on March 29, 2012, Fate decided to step right up and prove it true.

That's when Bill Isles headed down to his local grocery store in Wichita, Kansas, to purchase himself a few tickets for the record $656 million Mega Millions jackpot. As he was walking back to his car, Isles turned to a friend and quipped, "I've got a better chance of getting struck by lightning." Little did he know that Fate was listening in on that brief conversation, and also that Fate was just about sick and fucking tired of hearing that tired cliche.

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Next, try saying "Lightning never strikes twice." Try, motherfucker.

Later that night, Isles was standing in his backyard talking on his portable ham radio (Isles was a bit of a weather buff, which will only add to the irony in just a moment). He was observing a storm that looked "far enough off to the north, and there were only just a few raindrops. I would hear thunder, but I didn't see anything close. I thought I was OK." But the next thing he knew, there was a flash and a kaboom like Thor had just used his cranium as a landing pad, and suddenly he was lying on the ground, his radio flung to the opposite side of the lawn. "It threw me to the ground quivering," he said. "It kind of scrambled my brain and gave me an irregular heartbeat."

It should be noted at this point that Isles was a volunteer with Skywarn, a nationwide organization that provides information to the National Weather Service. So he'd spent more than his fair share of time in extreme and adverse weather, but it wasn't until the one night that he waved his verbal dick in Fate's face that he was struck down by goddamn lightning.

National Weather Service
In other news, the National Weather Service depends on lottery-playing randos.

The emergency responders who arrived on the scene noted that there was no sign of a direct strike on the property, so it seems that Isles was on the receiving end of a warning shot -- one to which he paid precisely zero heed, as evidenced by the fact that, while recovering in the hospital, he sent a friend out to buy him 10 more bucks' worth of lotto tickets.

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1
Lifeguards Celebrate a Season With No Drownings, and a Guest Promptly Drowns at the Party

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Lifeguards are sort of like a real-life Night's Watch, except that they wear orange skivvies instead of thick furs. Oh, and there's sand in place of all the snow. Also, they don't so much protect our world from ice zombies as they do protect myriad pool- and beachgoers from a horrible fate in Davy Jones' Locker (or, in the case of your community pool, at the bottom of a public toilet). OK, so they're really nothing at all like the Night's Watch, but still, they save lives, and that's something worth celebrating.

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"You know nothing, Jon Sand."

So how, exactly, do lifeguards celebrate? Either because they don't feel like changing clothes after work or simply because duh, they celebrate with a big-ass pool party. In one case, back in 1985, a group of lifeguards in New Orleans were feeling particularly celebratory. See, for the first time anyone could remember, they had gone an entire season without letting so much as a single person drown -- which would seem to us to be more "keep your damn job"-worthy than celebration-worthy, but then we don't claim to be trained experts in the rescue can arts. Anyway, more than a hundred lifeguards gathered at the drowning-free pool, accompanied by another hundred or so guests.

Now, you probably assume that you'd have a better chance of drowning in your morning bowl of Wheaties than you would at a party literally crawling with lifeguards. And to that assumption, the universe points and says, "Ha!"

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The universe does not have a dry sense of humor.

Unfortunately, Lady Irony was on this particular pool party's guest list, and after observing the hubris of these scantily clad mortals, she decided to put a swift end to all this "people not dying" nonsense. On the receiving end of her ire was 31-year-old Jerome Moody, a guest at the lifeguard-palooza who somehow managed to drown, fully dressed, in the deep end of the pool ... while he, again, was surrounded by a veritable army of lifeguards. And worst of all, his body wasn't even discovered until the revelers eventually decided they were good and done with their reveling and went to clean up the pool afterwards.

So, what's the moral of this story? "Clean your murky-ass pool once in a while" comes to mind. But beyond that, we really don't see any other conclusion to make than "the universe is out to get you, and it doesn't mind literally tossing you into the deep end to demonstrate that ironic bad luck is a thing that absolutely exists."


Kevin Phelan is an entertainment reporter in New York's Lower Hudson Valley. If enough people follow him on Twitter, he might actually start using the goddamn thing (he's verified and everything). You can book his face right here.

For more evidence in a higher power, check out 7 Awesome Acts of Nature (That Science Can't Explain). And then check out If Nature Decided To Screw With Us.

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