The Forger Who Saved Thousands Of Jews
You don't expect your part-time job as a teen to change the world. You barely expect it to pay. So when young Adolfo Kaminsky started working for a dry cleaner to earn some extra lager money, he didn't realize his stain-removal knowledge would eventually turn him into a bona fide hero.
When Nazi Germany invaded France, 17-year-old Kaminsky saw his mother killed by soldiers and the rest of his Jewish family sent to a concentration camp. Fortunately, they didn't stay long, but Kaminsky soon realized few were that lucky. During the occupation, he saw thousands of people deported, all because they didn't have the right documentation. Kaminsky joined the French Resistance, where one of the members found out he had experience with cleaning chemicals. So they asked him to remove something that was bad for people's health: the word "Jew" on passports.
Kaminsky had just the trick. With lactic acid, he could erase ink from documentation without leaving a trace, and then write in whatever he wanted. At 18, he became the Resistance's youngest forger, and quickly thereafter, he also became their best. With the help of expert illustrators like Suzy Schidlof, he could forge 30 documents per hour, helping up to 500 people gain new identities every week.
With that kind of skill, Kaminsky could have made a fortune on the black market. But he refused to be paid for his heroics. He also refused to sleep most days, feeling guilty whenever he wasn't working. That's not a problem we can relate to, but then, we're not forcing two dozen people to risk death every time we skip writing a list to play Star Control.
By the time the Nazis were driven out of Paris, Kaminsky had saved the lives of at least 14,000 Jewish men, women, and children. He was given every French medal under the sun (which he doesn't like to talk about), and his skills were so good the French secret service put him to use making forgeries for their spies. Then in the '60s, he left behind his comfortable life in France to travel the world and forge documents for people fleeing other dictatorships -- free of charge, of course.
The Pickpocket Who Only Robs For Entertainment (And Science!)
In the world of professional entertainers, there's a certain hierarchy. Magicians look down on ventriloquists, ventriloquists look down on dog acts, and everyone looks down on prop comics. But there's one niche so obscure that most people forget it even exists: the theatrical pickpocket. At least, that was the case until a guy named Apollo Robbins appeared out of nowhere, pinched everyone's watches, and made the world a better place.
Apollorobbins.comHe also runs a lucrative sideline selling slightly crinkled wallet condoms.