News of the Weird
The Selectboard of Croydon, New Hampshire, ruled unexpectedly on Feb. 18 that it would abolish the town police department and rely instead on the New Hampshire State Police for law enforcement, reported the Valley News. Croydon Police Chief Richard Lee, the sole member of the police department for almost 20 years, told the News he was asked to turn in his equipment, including his uniform, badges and the keys to his police cruiser, so at the meeting's conclusion, Lee faced the board president and "gave them my uniform shirt. I gave them my turtleneck, I gave them my ballistic vest. ... I sat down in the chair, took off my boots, took off my pants, put those in the chair, and put my boots back on, and walked out the door." Lee walked about a mile in 26-degree temperatures before his wife picked him up. The Selectboard released a statement saying the decision was "an action based upon value for the cost of the department." Resident Rick Sampson told reporters, "What kind of a town lets their chief of police walk out in a snowstorm in his underwear?"
An unnamed 33-year-old woman from Herminie, Pennsylvania, took an unconventional route home after a night out drinking on Feb. 16, according to City of Duquesne police. Driving a Mazda CX-5, the woman left a tavern and ended up in a rail yard near the Port Perry Railroad Bridge, a narrow span that carries one set of tracks over the Monongahela River. "The vehicle did quite well, considering it is not a locomotive," noted police, and the driver traveled a significant distance along the bridge before getting stuck. WPIX reported she called 911 for help at about 2:40 a.m., and Norfolk Southern stopped all rail traffic while the car was removed from the tracks. Police arrested the driver for DUI.
The Passing Parade
Three friends were wrapping up a night of dinner and drinking on Feb. 15 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when things got "a little out of control," according to a police report. As the night wore on, Kasey Margaret Westraad, 24, became increasingly amorous toward a resistant female friend, the friend told police, eventually escalating to the point that a naked Westraad pursued the woman outside, punching her several times in the face. Myrtlebeachonline.com reported Westraad was charged with third-degree assault and battery, damage to property and resisting arrest.
The Smell Test
Police in Speyer, Germany, gave chase after they were passed by a car driving at high speed with its lights off on Feb. 14. The suspect, a 26-year-old man, pulled over and ran from the car, leaving a trail of scent that was so distinct officers said they were able to follow it from the car to the man, who was hiding behind a hedge. "Due to the cloud of perfume that was detected inside the car and on the man," police said, "it was possible to identify him as the driver," the Associated Press reported. His breath didn't smell so good, though: He was far over the alcohol limit.
Tensions are running high in China, where the coronavirus has affected thousands of people and sparked instances of panic-buying. AFP reports that supermarkets have experienced runs on staples such as rice and pasta, but in Hong Kong, a gang of men wielding knives attacked a delivery driver in Mong Kok on Feb. 17, making off with hundreds of rolls of toilet paper worth about $130. Police said the missing rolls were recovered, and two suspects were arrested. Locals seemed baffled, with one woman telling a TV station, "I'd steal face masks, but not toilet roll."
Government at Work
Ontario's new license plates hit the roads on Feb. 1, sporting a pleasing color of blue with white numbers and letters. During the day. At night, all that's visible is a shiny blue rectangle, according to complaints on Twitter -- the numbers and letters disappear, which makes them a problem for law enforcement. "Did anyone consult with police before designing and manufacturing the new Ontario license plates?" wrote Kingston Police Sgt. Steve Koopman. "They're virtually unreadable at night." The CBC reported a government spokesperson saying authorities "are currently looking into this," but Lisa Thompson, Ontario's minister of government and consumer services, saw a political angle: "Sticking with the status quo Liberal plate that was peeling and flaking was not an option," she said. "We absolutely have confidence in our plates."
Police in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, arrested Robert Lee Noye, 52, on Feb. 17 and charged him with first-degree harassment and false imprisonment after his victim told them Noye kidnapped her and forced her to watch the 1977 historical miniseries "Roots" "so she could better understand her racism," The Gazette reported. He allegedly told her if she did not sit for the entire nine-hour series about slavery, he would "kill her and spread her body parts across Interstate 380 on the way to Chicago."
Annals of Entitlement
Seloni Khetarpal, 36, threw a tantrum worthy of the terrible twos on Feb. 13 when she "repeatedly" called 911 to report that her parents had shut off her cellphone, according to court documents. Khetarpal demanded that officers respond to her home in Jackson Township, Ohio, and was warned that she should only call 911 for a legitimate emergency. Several hours later, News5 Cleveland reported, she called back, became "belligerent" and told the dispatcher she thought it was a legitimate issue. She was arrested and charged with disrupting public services.
Hell, Michigan, is inviting 29 couples to "take the leap" and tie the knot in their fair city on Feb. 29, 2020 (Leap Day), all at no cost, MLive reported. Outside the tiny chapel there, at 2:29 p.m., Reverend Vonn will join the couples in a mass ceremony. "Imagine having only to remember your wedding anniversary every four years," said the reverend. "There are some couples that are paying officiant and chapel fees to be married in the chapel at different time slots. It is going to be one Helluva Day."
sENSE AND SENSITIVITY
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was recently hospitalized due to a health scare. I am now working with my doctor to figure out what's going on. I'm on top of it, but I really want to keep my health status private.
I am a freelancer of a certain age, and I don't need anybody questioning my abilities due to what I hope will be a momentary health challenge. I have chosen not to tell anybody outside my closest confidants, so I was shocked when I got a text from a distant friend offering me prayers for my health because she had heard I was unwell. While I appreciate her sentiments, I was surprised that she even knew. I talk to her a couple of times a year.
I later found out that my husband told a colleague who immediately told this woman. While it was nice to hear from her, I am not happy. My husband knows how private I am. Yet he said something anyway. I know I can't put the genie back in the bottle, but how can I manage what is sure to be a buzz about my health?
-- Not Your Business
DEAR NOT YOUR BUSINESS: Chances are, your husband didn't mean to spill the beans. He is concerned about you, and since you were at the top of mind, his thoughts spilled out. Don't beat him up too badly. Instead, remind him of the importance of keeping your health issues private for personal and professional reasons.
As for the person who reached out, it sounds like she hit the right note, in that she offered you blessings and did not ask you about health details. If others reach out to you, you can respond with gratitude for their good wishes and with assurances that you are OK.
DEAR HARRIETTE: It has been a few weeks since I have started the new semester. Many of the classes I have chosen have been challenging but satisfying due to the amazing professors I have.
However, I have one professor who does not seem to put an effort into the class. He is a nice gentleman in his 60s who has been teaching at the university for many years. I looked at his reviews, and they were all positive. Once classes started, it was a bit off. I thought it was understandable since it was the first day of class, and many professors work differently. It's been several weeks, and we have barely learned anything. So far, the class has been doing discussions on topics we barely learned while the professor just sits back. This class has not taught me anything valuable, but it is required for my degree credits. What do I do in this situation?
-- Confused Student
DEAR CONFUSED STUDENT: Ask your professor for more engagement on a personal level so that you can understand the material better. Also, speak to your adviser to find out if you can switch to another section of the class taught by someone else. It would be best if you can change. If you cannot, either work with this professor or drop the class and take it with someone else next semester.
tIME AND MONEY
Dear Helaine: My father has always been the type of person who lived with the idea of "sticking it to the man" as an undertone to his life. As I was growing up, my parents saved enough money to buy a house, which is almost fully paid off, but that was about it. They saved little money, and my father's jobs rarely lasted long. He would find another job and then things seemed stable again. Money was always tight. But about 20 years ago, it seemed like things changed. My father set up as a contract computer programmer. He was successful for several years, and was finally able to set money aside. But then that ended, too.
My parents are now 65 and almost out of money. My mother has cancer and can't work. My sister pays her to watch her children three days a week after school. My father refuses to take a part-time job. My mother feels trapped, but says there is nothing she can do. They receive Social Security checks, but my mother's healthcare expenses are not small.
I'm at a loss about what I can do to help. I have thought about having them live with me, but they want to remain in their home as long as possible. Financially supporting my parents would compromise my own retirement. My siblings are not in a position to help, either. What can I do?
-- Out of Options
Dear Out of Options: The hardest lesson in life to learn is that we can't save other people from themselves. I'm sorry you are learning it via your parents' rapidly deteriorating financial situation. The good news, as you know, is that they are not out of options. They can tap into their home to come up with extra money if they need it. They don't even need to live with you. They could simply sell the residence and move to a lower-cost condo. That's their choice.
Your choice is whether you want to consider enabling this situation in the future. I don't recommend it. If your father doesn't want to get a job -- and I mean even a part-time retail position -- you most certainly shouldn't financially support that decision. As for your mother, if the time comes when their precarious finances impede her ability to access needed medical care, you and your siblings could consider paying for it directly, if you can afford to do so.