The two most common reactions to a disaster are 1) running away while peeing your pants, and 2) taking out your phone and hitting "record" (while peeing your pants). After all, we have the military, paramedics, and so on to handle that stuff. But what happens when they're unavailable or simply don't give a shit? That, as we love to point out, is when random whoevers go, "Welp, here goes nothing," and step in to save the day.
Still believe the world doesn't have any heroes? Then turn off those goddamn 24-hour news channels and read about ...
7A Catholic Monk Volunteered To Die At Auschwitz In Someone Else's Place
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Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Catholic monk of German heritage who died in Auschwitz anyway. It's Clerks' "I'm not even supposed to be here" taken to an incredibly macabre level. Except Kolbe wanted to be there, because fuck Nazis.
He's Hitler's exact opposite, down to facial hair size.
From his monastery in Poland, Kolbe published multiple religious journals, reminding readers that those goose-stepping assholes hassling Jews for existing really ought to go screw. The Nazis arrested him, but as soon as he was released, he went back to his anti-Nazi literature and started sheltering hundreds of Jews on top of that. There's poking the bear, and then there's continually slamming a barbed-wire bat into its skull.
As a result, Kolbe was arrested again and shipped off to Auschwitz, where he was beaten mercilessly for preaching to prisoners (which he kept doing). Two months later, angry about an escapee, Auschwitz guards randomly selected 15 prisoners for death by starvation and dehydration. None of them took the news well, including Polish army member Franciszek Gajowniczek, who implored guards to spare him for the sake of his wife and children. That's when Kolbe stood up and offered to take the man's place. The stunned guards allowed it, because they don't cover these types of situations in Nazi school.
via Ad Jesum Per Mariam
"How dare you volunteer for the death bunker?! Off to the death bunker with you!"
And then Kolbe ... didn't die. Despite three weeks without food or water and most of his bunkermates dropping dead around him, Kolbe lingered on, just to piss off his captors some more. Finally, the Nazis lost their patience and injected him with carbolic acid, because this guy was pulling a full Rasputin on their asses. In the end, Gajowniczek died in 1995 at the ripe old age of 94, and Kolbe was canonized in 1982 as St. Maximilian "Stone" Kolbe.
Jakub Halun/Wiki Commons
"In an unprecedented turn of events, the pope uttered the phrase 'big-ass testicles'
no fewer than 36 times in today's speech."
6A Drug Dealer Commandeered A School Bus To Save 60 People During Hurricane Katrina
Kyle Niemi/US Coast Guard via Getty Images
Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit, 20-year-old Jabbar Gibson and his friends were desperate to escape their dilapidated housing project in New Orleans. Now's the time to mention that Gibson was a small-time drug dealer and thief, who had stolen vehicles before. So what's one more, especially when the alternative is a violent drowning death? He found a school bus, figured out how to drive the thing, and off he went to pick up as many friends and family as the bus could fit. Roughly 60 people climbed aboard, way beyond capacity, but since it's not hard to choose between cramped legs and cramped inside a coffin, nobody complained.
Carlos Antonio Rios/Houston Chronicle
The "figured out how to drive the thing" part puts him above most drivers we've had.
Then, the cops came. Seeing a guy with a record driving a stolen bus, they ordered everyone off and were likely about to commence with the cuffin' when Gibson countered with his secret weapon: his momma. Bernice Gibson told the cops that her son's "theft" was the only way to save dozens of lives. Unless they had a better idea. They didn't.
Off Gibson drove, hoping to make it to the Houston Astrodome and periodically stopping to squeeze in more people. After 13 hours, Gibson and his human Tetris puzzle arrived at the Astrodome. His was the first bus to arrive, beating police and emergency workers -- actual trained responders. Everyone rejoiced!
Oh, wait, no. Everyone told them no.
"We were just about to hang the 'NO VACANCY' sign."
The Astrodome was exclusively for people already inside the New Orleans Superdome. It was the most infuriating reinterpretation of the National Lampoon's Vacation "Sorry, the park's closed!" scene imaginable. However, after 20 minutes of "Now what?" the Red Cross' heart grew three sizes, and they allowed Gibson's entire crew inside. Gibson's been nabbed for various charges since, but unlike most people covering his story, we'll leave it at that. The 60-something people whose lives he saved, on a day when nobody else gave any shits about them, would want it that way.