The 5 Worst-Ever Times People Fell Asleep

Go to sleep one time, and boom, you’re injured forever
The 5 Worst-Ever Times People Fell Asleep

For many people, waking up is the worst part of their day. You leave the comfort of your bed and awaken to the gradual realization that your dog ripped out your organs or you’ve been shot in the brain. Clearly, you should really be looking forward to going back to sleep, where it’s soft and warm. But when you sleep, this is when you let down your guard and lose control. Soon, everything can go wrong, just like the time that...

Sleeping With an Ice Pack Ruined a Player’s Career

Here’s a little story about NBA player B.J. Tyler. If you’ve never heard of NBA player B.J. Tyler before, well, this story might explain exactly why that is. Tyler played for the Philadelphia 76ers before signing with the Toronto Raptors in 1995. The deal was he’d earn $6 million to play with them for five years. Then, one day, while still in the preseason, Tyler put an ice pack to his leg. Ice packs are a debatably good choice when your muscles hurt. They reduce swelling, and popular wisdom says this speeds recovery, but we aren’t sure whether the ice really is good for you. It might just numb the pain, and it might make things even worse.

Dennis Cronk

No pain, no gain.

In Tyler’s case, it definitely made things worse. He fell asleep with the ice on him, and it stayed long enough to mess with the nerves there. Though far from enough to paralyze him, this was enough that he never played in an NBA game again. 

We know what you’re wondering right now: Did he sleep so soundly because he was high? Insiders say yes. Either way, the slumber cut short what we choose to believe would have been a legendary career. Tyler wore a number 1 jersey, and if that doesn’t foretell success on the court, the entire field of numerology is a fraud. 

Arrested on a Plane

Falling asleep on a plane is the closest thing we have to teleportation. We recommend it to everyone. If you have trouble falling asleep on a plane, just bring a computer and some work with you. A few minutes into your task, and your body will suddenly decide that, yes, sleep seems like a great idea after all.

asleep plane

Annie Williams/Unsplash

When the attendant wakes you for food, reject it; it’s a power move.

It didn’t work out so well, however, for Ginger McGuire in 2010. She was flying from D.C. to Philadelphia, a journey that takes around an hour. She went to sleep, the plane landed and she still didn’t wake up. All the other passengers got out, and the entire crew got out as well. Not till a separate cleaning crew came on did someone spot her and wake her up. 

At this point, they didn’t just all have a good laugh and send McGuire on her way. Someone was in an airplane, someone who was no longer authorized to be there. No protocols stood in place for letting a lone passenger out so long after touch-down, so they had to lock her in the plane until the feds could formally declare that she was not a terrorist. Naturally, she went on to sue the airline, but we can find no record of this suit succeeding. When you enter an airplane, you forfeit all rights.

The Quarter-Billion Error

Let’s move next to a place where sleeping on the job is strictly forbidden: Germany. This doesn’t mean Germany is a nation without mercy, just that Germany is basically normal. For contrast, look at Japan, where it’s considered socially acceptable to nap in the office, so long as you don’t look too slutty when you do it. 

In Germany, in 2013, a bank worker fell asleep at their keyboard while on the job. They fell asleep on their keyboard, resulting in one key sending its input to the computer over and over. With many simple keyboards, if you press multiple keys at one, only one key registers, and the winner this time was the 2 key. The employee was supposed to transfer €62.40 to a retiree, but instead, the amount that shot through the system to the happy old pensioner was €222,222,222.22.

“With this kind of money, I can retire! Again!”

Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash

It’s always more accurate to type with your hands than forehead.

We only know about any of this because the worker’s supervisor got fired over the error and went on to contest her firing in court. It’s safe to assume the original worker was fired as well, but the supervisor won her appeal and got her job back. The retiree, meanwhile, did not get to keep the quarter-billion in mistakenly transferred funds. Which is just as well, as they surely would have used the money for evil. 

A Boy Slept on a Train and Got Lost for 25 Years

In 1986, Saroo Brierley was five years old and living in a town in India. He and his brother slipped onto a train one day and headed to another town 50 miles away. After exploring that station for a bit, Saroo got onto another train, which he thought his brother had boarded. He fell asleep there, the train took off eastward, and it didn’t go back to his hometown. When it stopped for good, he found he was in Calcutta, 1,000 miles away.

He didn’t know how to get back to his own village, and in fact, didn’t even know his village’s name. He tried boarding more trains (always without paying as he easily avoided ticket collectors), and the ones he chose took him right back to that same Calcutta station. The authorities finally got a look at this kid living at the railway station and moved him to a group home. From there, he found himself adopted — by a family from Australia.

Female Sydney funnel-web spider in a warning posture

Tirin/Wiki Commons

Despite moving to Australia, he survived into adulthood. 

Decades passed. Once he was an adult, he wanted to track down his hometown but still didn’t know what it was called. Thankfully, he had Google Earth now, and by following train tracks going west from Calcutta, he finally saw landmarks that seemed familiar. The town was called Khandwa; he now traveled there, and after asking everyone if they knew anything about a boy who’d vanished 25 years earlier, the people there led him to his mother. He no longer spoke Hindi, and she didn’t speak English, so they needed neighbors to translate for them. 

It was a crazy reunion. It was not, though, a permanent reunion. Saroo wanted to go on living in Australia, not Khandwa, and when he offered to bring his mother to Australia with him, she said no. She didn’t want to move there, where people wear weird Australian clothing. So, he just went on living in Australia and went on making periodic inconvenient trips to this town to visit his mother. She’d go on complaining that he doesn’t call her often enough, to which Saroo would say, “I don’t know Hindi, and you don’t know English. What’s the point in me calling you?”

Fall Asleep on Your Arm and Get Injured Forever

For almost 20 years, Dave Mustaine led the band Megadeth. Then, in 2002, he fell asleep with his arm draped over a chair. This compressed his radial nerve, to an extent that we can call it “like what happened to NBA player B.J. Tyler, but worse.” He’d never use that arm properly again, said doctors, and playing the guitar was out of the question. And so, Megadeth broke up.


When a band does it, it’s called “disbanding.”

We know what you’re wondering right now: Did he sleep so soundly because he was high? The answer to that is complicated. This actually happened to him when he was in rehab for addiction. It’s therefore possible that he wasn’t high, and in fact, it had been one of the few times in ages that he wasn’t high. Maybe being high would have prevented this accident from ever happening. Or, maybe he was in rehab but was also still high. We just don’t know.

The story took a happy turn a little later, though. After lots of rehab — not drug rehab this time, but musculoskeletal rehabilitation — Mustaine found that he could play the guitar again after all. He decided to start up Megadeth once more. None of the other members were coming back, but he’d do it without them. Later, bassist David Ellefson changed his mind and joined up. Later still, Ellefson had to leave over a sex scandal, but that’s the rock life for you.

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see.

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