Sometimes you hear about people finding valuable paintings hidden inside old frames at a garage sale or pirate gold beneath a dusty old restaurant on the northern California coast. Other times you click on the news and see people who find human skeletons under their hotel mattresses and taxidermy cat heads in their Happy Meals. The following stories are more like that second type.
Librarians have it rough, what with precocious rain-soaked children constantly bursting in to escape bullies, only to stumble upon enchanted books and khaki-shirted adventurers always using their tireless book-stamping work to mask the sound of hammering a stanchion through the library floor to uncover hidden treasure dungeons. But Susanne Caro drew the short stick in the "librarians finding gross shit in books" contest when she found an envelope containing smallpox scabs folded within the pages of some dusty old tome. We are almost positive this is not the type of magical discovery the Reading Rainbow theme song was referring to.
"Take a look ... it's in a book ... Reading Rainb- HOLY FUCK!"
Susanne was boning up on 19th century field medicine at the College of Santa Fe's Fogelson Library, when she found a yellowed envelope tucked inside bearing the nightmarishly descriptive label "scabs from vaccination of W.B. Yarrington's children," signed and dated by the book's author more than a century ago. Despite the fact that this is exactly how 30 percent of all Tales From The Crypt episodes begin, she decided to open the envelope, which, as promised, contained a handful of dried-up old mummy scabs. Clearly, this was a book that no one but the author himself had ever read.
You see, back in the 1800s the vaccination process was a little more visceral, because it isn't Civil War medicine unless it's gross and disgusting. The pox on an infected person would eventually scab over and fall off. Doctors would then take those scabs and implant them in the skin of healthy people, inducing a mild case of smallpox that would run its course and then leave the patient immune. Vaccinations today still follow this same basic idea, except instead of shoving infected flesh into your body, doctors now take a tiny needle coated with the virus and stab you with it 15 times.
As opposed to the old cow-in-the-office method.
The library called the CDC, who sent the FBI to pick up the scabs for some reason (presumably in case the envelope was part of a trap set by al-Qaeda time lords).
A man in Stuttgart, Germany was sitting down for his breakfast, pouring himself a bowl of Mini-Zimties cereal when a papery dead bat tumbled out of the box and onto the pile of sugary flakes. This is confusing for a number of reasons, chief among them being that the mascot for Mini-Zimties is a turtle.
Officials theorize that the bat flew into the Mini-Zimtie factory, flittered down onto the production floor, and made his way into a bag of cereal at some point during the packaging process without a single person noticing, which is certainly a much more likely explanation than some deranged maniac on the assembly line stuffing in a dead bat he brought from home to satisfy the burning edicts of the ghost princes that rule his nightmares.
"I don't care if you do sound like my mom. I'm not a slave to your demonic demands!"
Either way, the creature was sealed inside and delivered to the home of the unfortunate breakfaster in the most unlucky series of events to befall a German person since the girl from Run Lola Run got killed in the first five minutes of The Bourne Supremacy.
The official assessment of the food safety representative called on to investigate the situation was that it was "an unusual case," and we should sincerely fucking hope so. We're not sure what bleak crag-scarred landscape the Mini-Zimtie production facility rests on, but apparently it's deep enough in the Black Forest for the desiccated corpses of Halloween animals not to raise any alarms in Quality Control.
"Well, there's your problem. Those aren't blueberries."
One uneventful day, employees at a golf course in Purcell, Okla., stumbled upon a makeshift meth lab inside a portable toilet on the greens, which is a sentence that tells you all you need to know about the state of golfing in Oklahoma. Though to be fair, pretty much every meth lab in history has been a makeshift one.
They noticed some plastic bottles hidden inside the poop hatch of one of the porta-potties, full of some unidentified liquid that was sufficiently free of corn and peanuts to arouse suspicion. The workers called the cops, but by the time the police arrived, two of the three bottles had exploded, which is a turn of events made even more unfortunate by the fact that they were laying in a cauldron of doodoo. Inside the remaining bottle, detectives discovered what they described as a "shake and bake" meth-preparing technique, which consists of pouring chemicals together in a bottle, shaking them up and setting the bottle aside to let them cook. In a toilet. This is a method that has yet to be explored on Breaking Bad.
We're pretty sure meth and jenkem were never meant to be mixed.
Well, that's just great. Having to use a porta-potty is already the low point of any day. It's like stepping into a urine-soaked humidor with nothing to wipe with but spiders. Now, every time you hop into one of those plastic deuce chambers you'll be running the risk of having your asshole detonated by a scatological chemical explosion. So bear that in mind next time you go to the county fair, where porta-potties are the only available restrooms and "cooking meth" is an option on the employee skill set questionnaire.
That's not sugar they're amped up on, Mom.
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Despite popular belief, those big metal donation bins you see scattered around grocery store parking lots and gas stations aren't dumpsters. Employees working at thrift stores for Goodwill or the Salvation Army have to sift through piles of literal garbage when they empty those things out before they find any actual clothing, and half of that is infested with lice, bedbugs, and old bloodstains. Oh, and hand grenades, because as it turns out people throw those into donation bins all the freaking time.
Apparently, servicemen and women from yesteryear would just take grenades home with them as Army souvenirs, because they really needed a reminder of how awesome a time they had during World War II and nothing but a handheld murder device would do. So, these rogues would sneak grenades (among other things like ammo boxes, helmets, bayonets, etc.) into the suburbs to be stowed away in the attic for the next seven decades. Evidently they anticipated a future wherein all commerce is dealt in exploding currency.
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"And here's your change."
Once those old hoarders die, their families find all their old bullshit piled in shoeboxes and milk crates and hold a small exhibition boxing tournament to see who gets to drag it all down to the donation bin. They either never see the grenades because they're wrapped up in clothes (or packed inside a box that gets tossed into the donation bin unopened), or they assume the grenades are fake. As a result, thrift store employees routinely find live ordinance mixed in with the daily donations and have to call in the bomb squad to come pick up the grenades and dispose of them safely.
It's either that, or the work of some deranged Punisher-esque vigilante with a blood vendetta against secondhand clothing.
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"Just looking at this makes me boil with unbridled rage! Hand me my bazooka!"
Recently, workers in New York's Central Park were shocked to discover that an old British Revolutionary War cannon on display in the park for more than a century was still primed and ready to fire a live cannonball. This is different from the loaded weapons they normally find scattered around the park, because tourists generally don't stop to take pictures of their children climbing all over the 12-gauge shotgun lying in the bushes next to the bathroom.
The cannon had been donated to the park around the time of the Civil War, after being salvaged from an old British warship. Luckily, not a single person involved in the cannon's recovery, transportation, or installment as a public decoration ever bothered to check and see if it was carrying live ordinance. And the barrel was capped with concrete as a safety measure, because "safety" occasionally means "turn an ancient piece of artillery into a giant fragmentation grenade".
"Eh, it's just shards of exploded metal, pussy."
So it sat on display in the middle of America's most famous city for the next 130 years, literally ready to explode at any moment. To be fair, most people you find in Central Park seem ready to explode at any moment, so it's easy to see how the cannon could've slipped through the cracks. Finally, preservationists working on restoring the cannon removed the concrete plug and immediately noticed there was a cannonball still lurking within (a detail which had eluded everyone else for two-and-a-half centuries). They called the NYPD, who came in and removed 800 grams of active gunpowder from the iron-belching murder tube. That's almost 2 pounds of explosion dust, crammed inside a glorified bench in Central Park. We're surprised Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson weren't led to it by a series of riddles.
We don't know what they're afraid of. In the South, they use them to stave off burglars and hunt squirrels.
Recently, some shoppers at a Georgia Wal-Mart were stabbed with discarded syringes while hunting for roll-back bargains. Normally this wouldn't be considered too out-of-the-ordinary, considering a large portion of Wal-Mart shoppers have diabetes and/or methadone prescriptions, but these syringes weren't carelessly tossed on the floor or left by the paper towels in the bathroom -- they were carefully hidden inside articles of clothing that were still on the racks.
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"Now, does the heroin come with it, or do I have to buy that separate?"
One victim, a 14-year-old girl, got a fistful of pointy medical waste when she stuck her hand into the foot of her new pajamas, which suggests that she wasn't clear on how pajamas are supposed to be worn, in addition to raising troubling questions about why a teenager would own footy pajamas in the first place. Another woman was stabbed by a syringe while opening a package of bras. Employees had even found a syringe inside a pair of socks a week earlier. After the stabbing incidents, the police were notified and conducted a search, and more syringes were discovered scattered within merchandise all over the store. Remember, this is all in the same goddamned Wal-Mart.
"Look what I found behind your ear! No, seriously ..."
So far, no one has tested positive for any horrific diseases, and investigators have begun poring over the surveillance tapes to see if they can figure out who in the bell-jingling reindeer scrotum has been shoving their dangerous medical leftovers into the folds of Swaziland sweatshop clothing. To its credit, Wal-Mart has gallantly refused to pay any medical costs incurred by the stabbing victims unless it can be unequivocally proven that one of their employees was responsible for lacing the store with hypodermic needles, because it isn't like they have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their customers or anything.
For more unexpected treasures, check out 5 Pieces of Junk That Turned Out to be Invaluable Artifacts. Or discover 6 Objects You Won't Believe People Managed to Lose.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 6 Animals You're Not Safe From in Your Own House.