Someone at the office told me this story: It seems there was this zoo in Bristol, England, which had a small secondary parking lot that was owned and administered, not by the zoo, but by the city. It was manned by a loyal parking attendant, who in 25 years , never missed a day of work. That is until one day, when the parking attendant didn’t show up for work. The zoo administrator called the city to tell them they needed to send a replacement over. The city said they had no idea what the zoo administrator was talking about. The city had no employee collecting money for them in that location. It seems this phony parking attendant had been collecting money and pocketing it. They figured it was 400 pounds a day for the past 25 years. When the authorities went to the employee’s home they found it empty and no one knows what had become of him.
When I heard this story, immediately my “skepty” sense started tingling. I informed my coworker that what he just told me was probably an urban legend. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great story. Hard working bloke, bucks the system, gets away with millions, probably sitting on a beach somewhere. The problem is that this story has red flags all over it:
It’s about “some guy.” He has no name.
It takes place in another country, but since the city is identified that gives it a little authenticity.
It’s about something we would all like to be true. No one is really hurt by the crime. After twenty five years, you could say, the guy earned the money.
But, did the guy never miss a day at work? He even worked weekends?
How could he have gone 25 years without ever blabbing about his scam to at least one other person? He never had one too many beers at a pub, and started bragging?
This was a simple call. I didn’t believe this story for a second. I told my work friend immediately, to go to the website, Snopes. If you don’t know, Snopes, it is a great resource to check out the validity of urban legends.
Now here is where the twist comes in. My friend looked at the web site and said,” SNOPES CONFIRMED THIS STORY TO BE TRUE”. I instantly became confused. How could this be? It makes no sense. All the rules of logic, that I’ve come to rely on, seem to be letting me down. All the analytical thinking, the baloney detectors, they all were failing. Up was down. Down was up. Twinkies were good for you, and we’re all wearing monkey pajamas. The room was spinning.
Then my friend corrected himself. “oh no wait. I’m reading it wrong. ‘true story’ is the title of the email that was going around. Nope it’s a fake”
And all is right with the world.