DIY ‘Til I Die: 5 People Who Should Have Left It to the Pros
I’m not going to sit here and argue against the value of independence. Even if a strong desire and will for preservation isn’t exactly necessary in the current day and age given that most humans are well out of the woods, it’s still a noble pursuit. There’s also a lot of power in knowing that, if push came to shove, you’d be able to handle yourself. If the whole world decides to play nuclear tennis and suddenly finding water gets a lot more complicated than walking to the sink, I’m sure the more self-sufficient among us will rise quickly up the food chain.
It’s also true, though, that some things are absolutely better left to the professionals. There’s no shame in turning to someone with actual knowledge and training in the needed field. If there was a need for specialized tradesmen back in ancient days for things like blacksmithing, it’s fair to admit that there’s probably a compelling argument to leave things like “medicine” to people who verifiably know exactly what they’re doing. The line between self-sufficiency and stubbornness is a thin one, and depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, can end up leaving you way worse for wear.
To that end, here are five people who maybe shouldn’t have done it themselves…
Making Your Own Plane
Do we live in a society of over-consumption? It’s easy to argue that we do, and that a lot of the things we buy could be easily made ourselves. Case in point: when we’re talking about ordering takeout. But that’s not so much the case when we’re talking about a piece of homemade machinery that is the only thing keeping you from falling to your death.
Take the case of Morris Wortman, a fertility doctor who had already lived an abjectly horrific life by using his own semen to impregnate patients. Amidst his reign of paternity terror, he also decided that a PhD should be plenty enough knowledge to create a plane. He was half right in the worst possible way, in that he created a plane that was able to get off the ground, but not stay in the air. When you’re talking about flights, you want to make it either 100 percent of the way there or zero, as any flight ending somewhere in between is likely to be highly unpleasant. That’s what Wortman experienced when the “wings of the aircraft became detached from the fuselage and fell to the ground in an orchard,” which is obviously not something you want to happen.
Making Your Own Rocket
If you were reading about building your own plane, and thinking to yourself, “seems fun, but there’s not enough of a chance that I’ll literally explode,” you share a spirit with Mad Mike Hughes. Hughes is two things that go hand-in-hand: 1) interested in attempting to reach the edge of the atmosphere on rockets that he built himself; and 2) very much dead. In 2020, the reaper came knocking for what had to be one of the most overdue soul deliveries in some time.
Building a successful rocket would already seem to demand a thorough knowledge of science and physics. So, given that the other thing Mad Mike was mostly known for was his deep belief that the earth, despite all evidence to the contrary, was flat, odds were against him. It’s almost impressive that he was able to find the one detail about a person that would make you trust their homemade rocket even less. Some credit has to be given to the fact that he did have a few “successful” launches, meaning that the amount of rockets he built and rode on was more than “1,” as it would probably be for most people. Still, he hocked a loogie in the face of God and went back for seconds, and paid the ultimate price for it.
Homemade Plastic Surgery
I will never understand what it is about some people and their level of self-confidence that lets them see things like an aircraft or surgery and confidently think, “I could do that.” Let me tell you, when a discipline requires multiple degrees — and hard ones at that — I’m perfectly happy to let someone who’s put in the hours do the work. Do I love the American system of going into debt because you had to go to the hospital for a broken leg? No. At the same time, though, I’m not keen on the idea of trying to make a splint out of popsicle sticks and duct tape and hoping both my legs stay the same length.
Even plastic surgery is something you only want performed by somebody with a medical license, and preferably a good one. Maybe some people can convince themselves that, given that they’re surface-level surgeries instead of chest cavity work, there’s a little more room for error. After all, what’s the worst thing someone can do to your butt?
Well, for one, they could inject loose silicone into it in a bird-brained attempt at an illegal butt lift, causing embolisms and death. Look, it’s a rule that will treat you well: Don’t let anyone without a medical degree stick a syringe of something into you.
Representing Yourself in Court
Thanks to TV, books and movies, most people are aware of their ability to represent themselves in court. Though the word “ability” might be a little generous versus a word that implies less success, like “mistake.” Any lawyer worth their salt will be the first to tell you that representing yourself in court is a horrible idea unless your preferred outcome is losing and getting on with the punishment phase as quickly as possible. Sure, the really expensive guys who do that job would say that, but also, it’s not like the legal system is famously intuitive.
Maybe the most outlandish attempt at a homebrew legal defense was that of Colin Ferguson. Even worse, this wasn’t a low-profile case or crime, but instead a trial that received national attention after Ferguson killed multiple commuters during a public shooting spree on the Long Island Railroad. Making insane claims, like that someone else had taken his gun out of his bag and committed the crime, despite multiple witnesses identifying him as the person who shot them, or that it was a different guy with the same name who looked exactly like him, the whole thing went about as well as you’d expect.
And the One Happy Ending…
For the last entry, let’s instead take a look at someone who was forced to do it themselves without any other options, and miraculously pulled through. Henry George Anhalt and his family had just enjoyed a vacation in the Bahamas, and were riding in a six-seater plane on the way back to the States, when a critically important part of the plane failed: the pilot. When the pilot lost consciousness suddenly mid-flight, Anhalt, who had mentioned a desire to take flying lessons, enjoyed an all-time monkey’s paw moment as he suddenly got to figure it out in real-time.
With the help of another pilot over the radio, he managed to safely, if not smoothly, land the plane, and he and his family survived.