Four Tales to Remember


Don’t rush to judgement, these four true tales teach us….writes Nury Vittachi 

A couple of years ago, a friend accused me of being really slow on the uptake, so I called him last night. “Yep,” I said.
One should always take time over important issues instead of rushing to judgement.

Case in point: A recent news report says police were shocked to see the driver of a forklift truck use her vehicle’s pointy bits to pick up and move a van that someone had parked in front of her house.

It was a cheeky, dangerous act, so police detained the driver and then set out to trace the van owner. It turned out to be the forklift driver.

“Villain and victim were the same person,” said reader Sarath Malhotra, who forwarded me the link to the news story from the US state of Wyoming.

Police realised they now lacked a victim to file a complaint and so had to prosecute the motorist for Wearing Flipflops While Operating a Forklift, which is apparently an actual offence. (It is clear to me that law-makers worldwide work in three separate divisions: Criminal Law, Civil Legislation and Silly Laws, the third group being by far the most prolific.)

Anyway, the tale presaged the arrival in my inbox of a rash of news reports with unexpected twists.

An email from a regular contributor reported a recent incident in the UK town of Wiltshire. A woman saw a man with some sort of long-bladed weapon lurking menacingly in a quiet street. She called police and nine squad cars full of officers turned up — to find a man trimming a hedge. The conversation went something like this. “What are you doing?” “Trimming my hedge, then having a cup of tea and a nap.” “No mass murders or terrorist activities?” “I don’t think so but I’ll check my diary.”

Next came a news item from the Washington Post. An old, homeless bag lady had long the habit of making deranged-sounding claims that the government owed her $100,000. Eventually a kindly social worker took the trouble to read through the paperwork in one of the woman’s bags — and discovered that the government owed the woman, 80-year-old Wanda Witter, $100,000. Be nice to homeless people, who may well have more disposable income than we do.

The fourth tale-with-a-twist came from a reader who collects “dumb criminal” reports. In California, a fugitive female, 29, found a pair of handcuffs at a friend’s house and made a snap decision to try them on. Click! Now where’s the key? No key! Unable to remove them, she called the police for help. They turned up at the house and were delighted to find a woman they had been looking for, pre-cuffed and ready to go. This was kind of like a Christmas present for police detectives, who usually have to do all their own detecting and handcuffing.

So there we go. Don’t make rush decisions.

Yet there are exceptions. I told my children that I will love them unconditionally whatever they do, even if they rob banks or start wars, but if they ever use the words “cray-cray”, “whatevs” or “swag” I kick them out and change the locks right now. That’s reasonable, right?