7 Amazing Things People Got Just by Asking
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 ...
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."
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.
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?
Not all of his guards look like 12-year-olds.
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.
From the hands of babes ... come rampant typos.
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.
"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.
A Ride to School from Jay Leno
Remember the days when all the kids viewed Jay Leno as the epitome of cool? Right, neither do we, but apparently there was a time when that must have been the case. Or at least it was if Jay Leno is to be believed.
Would this man lie to you?
According to the story Leno eventually tells in this video (after ten-and-a-half action-packed minutes of him talking about cars), a young boy sent him a letter requesting help with a dire problem. See, this insincere lad had been telling his classmates that Jay Leno was his uncle, and sometimes Uncle Jay would give him a ride in his Lamborghini! Or at least he'd promise to give him a ride five years later, only to have the kid forcibly removed once he got in the car. We're unclear which version of the story the kid was feeding his friends. And it doesn't matter, because of course nobody believed the little fibber. After word of his deception hit the playground, little "Unnamed Jay Leno Fan No. 1" was a walking punchline. Hey, just like his fake dad!
Fast forward to Jay Leno reading a note from this kid asking if he'd help him live a lie and give him a lift to school. Because Jay Leno is a nice guy, and not overly concerned about sending kids the worst possible message about the consequences of their actions, he agreed to help out. A few days after receiving the letter, he showed up to give his young fan a ride to school and, upon dropping him off, even yelled some uncle-worthy words (whatever that means) in the kid's direction to sell the ruse to onlookers.
"You ain't inheriting shiiiiit!"
And now, an indeterminate number of years later, all of those friends know that the kid was a liar all over again. Thanks a ton, Jay Leno.
A One-of-a-Kind Smartphone
Shane Bennett really liked Samsung products. So much so that he owned a Samsung LCD TV, a Samsung Galaxy S and a Samsung laptop. And, as everyone knows, once you've purchased three of anything from the same company, those people owe you something. Loyalty is meant to be rewarded; that's the whole point.
So, looking to cash in on his continued patronage, Bennett took to Samsung's Facebook page and posted a simple proposition. They send him a free Galaxy III S smartphone, and, not wanting to come off as some kind of freeloader, he would offer up a crude drawing of a dragon in return. Entire nations have changed hands on similar deals.
This is the 21st century's Louisiana Purchase.
Because marketing people sure are wacky, someone from Samsung replied and explained that they couldn't just give away phones to everyone who asked, but, as a gesture of friendship, offered Bennett a drawing of a kangaroo instead. This adorable and completely improvised exchange made the front page of Reddit. That's a pretty big deal these days, especially from a marketing standpoint. Naturally, the company was going to have to come up with some other way to thank Shane Bennett.
Although it was a wicked awesome drawing.
What they came up with ... was actually kind of sweet. They used his drawing of a dragon to design a one-of-a-kind Samsung Galaxy S III and shipped it off to the eager fanboy at no cost. And now here we are telling you about it. Marketing magic, ladies and gentlemen.
A Beer With the President
Man, those Obamas sure are a social pair. We've already covered Michelle's openness to being hit on by strangers in uniform, but you might be surprised to know that her slightly more famous husband is just as susceptible to the charms of strange men.
"Wanna see the Lincoln bedroom?"
When a Marine named Dakota Meyer was scheduled to receive the Medal of Honor for his role in saving 36 lives during an Afghanistan ambush, he was contacted ahead of time by the White House. That's standard procedure. What's less standard is for the soon-to-be medal recipient to take the phone call as an opportunity to ask if he could maybe slam a beer or two with the president while he's in the neighborhood.
But Dakota Meyer did just that, and his request was granted. In a private meeting on a patio at the White House, the Marine and the president shared a brewski and, according to Meyer, discussed what it takes to be successful. Obama's advice: Get an education and don't make any rash decisions.
"And any beer that's less than 8 percent alcohol isn't worth your time."
Sounds like a party to us! No wonder everybody wants to drink with Obama!
Now, if you want to get something just by asking, Tweet @Cracked your best 140-character pitch with the #FreeFest hashtag for why we should give you two tickets to the Virgin Mobile FreeFest on October 6!
Once you're finished with that, check out some other badass gifts in The 8 Most Badass Make-A-Wish Foundation Wishes and 6 True Stories That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.