Discover the internet’s most remarkable stories about moments of pure, unadulterated genius.
1. Good Dog
I was seven years old and had a loose tooth that I couldn’t pull out. I tied a string from my tooth to the door and swung. It didn’t work. So, I tied a string to the tooth and tied the other end to my dog’s collar. Threw a tennis ball. Bye-bye tooth.
2. Party Supplies
A friend and I once snuck 15 people into a Warped Tour concert by giving them some bracelets from a party supply store and clipboards full of paper. I walked up to the side gate and said we were with Rock the Vote. The security guard waved us right in.
3. Jesus is the Answer
I put Jesus in as a Wi-Fi password in church once. It worked.
4. Free Rides
I used to know a guy who, every week, would order his Saturday night curry for delivery while sitting in the pub, and then walk across the road to the curry house and get the food and himself delivered home. This went on for about 10-12 weeks. One week, we were sitting having a pint and the owner of the curry house walked in, took his order, and had him picked up from the pub.
He said it was easier for everyone concerned.
5. Creative Problem Solver
I forgot to bring a resume to a job interview, but I had an index card in my bag. I cut the index card in half and wrote my name, my contact info, and “creative problem solver” in my best handwriting, and gave a copy of my “business card” to both the interviewers. I got the job.
6. Key Fishing
My parents used to run a bed and breakfast, and we used to keep a section of the house locked. We only had light security, and it was just supposed to stop guests accidentally going into our living space. We used to keep the key on top of a door frame—it turns out the frame was hollow and there was a hole on the top. I put the key up there, it fell into the hole but didn’t sound like it dropped all the way to the floor.
14-year-old me didn’t realize taking the door frame off isn’t a major job, so I was a bit worried my parents would kill me. I found myself a wire coat hanger, straightened it out and attached a magnet to the end to go “key fishing.” It was more out of desperation than anything else, but it somehow worked.
7. Helmet Head
Wearing a motorcycle helmet while snow blowing was one of my most genius moves. I did it because I missed riding. It kept my face warm and when snow would fly back at me the visor would protect me.
8. Radical Rates
I am a poor student living in Germany. Students are required by law to have health insurance. The university will expel you if you don’t have health insurance. The lowest rate I could get was about €189 ($208) a month. I usually don’t even spend that much on food! There was just no way that I could pay such a high rate. I wrote my insurer countless letters and emails explaining how there was no way that I could pay €189.
They refused to lower my insurance rate, explaining how they are just following “the law.” They even informed my university that I had failed to pay health insurance. The university then threatened me to remove me. In my desperation, I wrote the German Ministry of Health. I explained myself and asked them to talk to my insurer.
A week later I received a letter from my insurer informing me that they had cut my rate to a mere €89 a month and that this reduction was applicable to all months prior. My rate is about to go up again but this time I should be able to manage this time.
9. Booze Smugglers
I was really poor when my future wife and I exited college. We went on a cruise with friends and didn’t have a lot of money to spend. The cruise wouldn’t allow you to bring alcohol onboard and we weren’t willing to pay for drinks due to budget. We purchased a liter-sized sealed bottle of water and some cheap rum, drilled a hole in the bottom to drain the water and funnel in the rum, then super-glued the bottom again.
The water was caught by ship security scanner but the guards said, “It’s just water” and let us through. We had cheap mixed drinks for the duration. We look back on those days fondly. We would never think of doing that today, but it was funny back when we were young.
10. Insider Trading
In college, my buddy and I took an investing class. For one of the projects, we had a month to “invest” fake dollars into the stock market and see which team would have the most money after a month. It was spring semester so we put all of our fake money into Heinz, thinking there would be a spike in ketchup and mustard sales as the weather got warmer.
The next day was actually the day that Berkshire Hathaway purchased the entire Heinz company. As a result, the professor accused us of insider trading. We had no idea what we were doing. To clarify, we didn’t actually get in trouble for “insider trading” but the professor came over to us before the next class and was like, “What happened here?”
We explained it, and she thought it was funny but said we would definitely be investigated for insider trading if this was real money.
11. Time Saver
There was an overworked lady who worked at my company who didn’t know you could hit the shift key to copy multiple lines of excel at once. She saw me do it once and said:
Lady: “Wait, how did you do that!”
Me: “Do what?”
Lady: “Copy multiple lines at once!”
Me: “You just click the first line, hit shift, then click the last line, why? How have you been doing it?”
Lady: Looks at me in disbelief. “I’ve been copying it line by line, it takes me hours to do it every week.” I took the next few hours to show her a bunch of features in excel and computers in general. I think I saved her 20 hours per week that day.
12. Rock the Boat
This is maybe not the most impressive story here, but I thought it was a great side-step of effort nonetheless: A co-worker of mine had to get rid of a smaller junk fiberglass boat with no trailer. Our other co-workers are all telling him how much time and money he’s going to need to spend to get rid of it, and he’s just saying “Oh, is that so?” They had no idea what he had in store.
He took off one day and sat down on his lawn with a cooler of beer. That day was garbage day. Inevitably, the trash guys roll up. He hands each of them a cold beer, and says “Hey boys, got $50 for each of you if you help me out really quick.” They fed the entire 12-foot boat into the packer, crushing two feet at a time.
13. Work Smarter Not Harder
My boss hated Excel to the point where he didn’t want us using formulas because “you can’t trust them to be right” so we needed to “do all the calculations by hand or on a calculator.” He would give me a spreadsheet once or twice a week that required, let’s say, 45 seconds to do, but maybe seven hours by hand, and he told me to “go to Starbucks or something and crank it out.”
He thought that since I pasted as values and he couldn’t see the formulas that I did it by hand, when really, I just did it in 45 seconds, sent an email on delay for seven hours, and studied for the next semester. Dude was the poster boy for failing upwards in your career. The first day of my internship he told me with a straight face he was a “work harder not smarter kind of guy.” The best part was that he once gave me a 50-page printout of Excel pages and asked me if I could type it up because they lost the digital copy. He told me it was probably going to be a week of work.
Luckily, the pages were printed really well so I just used five different PDF to Word converters. Then because each page had the columns averaged and summed up at the bottom, it was super easy to check to make sure that the PDF to Word converter worked properly. After that I just ran a program to compare the five different PDF to Word converters, and they all came out identical so I did a very quick scan, then after about an hour, I concluded a week of work.
I turned it in a day earlier than my boss was expecting and acted exasperated when I turned it in. He was like, “Man I’m sorry you had to go through that, thank you for getting that done so quickly.” Dude was aggravating.
14. The Flyer Fix
When I used to hand out flyers, I would sit in the front seat of the local bus for two or three hours and give anyone who entered a flyer, since most people were going home, and they would order a pizza from the flyer I gave them. I would make $45-$55 each time.
15. Lord of the Reports
In high school we had to do four book reports every year. A friend of mine did his on each Lord of the Rings books, and the Hobbit freshman year. He turned in the same four book reports for the rest of his time in high school. You switched English teachers every year so no one ever caught on. I was never brave enough to try the same thing.
16. American Ninja Warriors
I was working a kids’ chess summer camp with this guy who just always spaced out like you wouldn’t believe (still a far, far better chess player than me). One day, the kids were being particularly rambunctious and I told him he had to take them outside to get their energy out. He had them spend the next hour doing “American Ninja Warrior” on the jungle gym/playground.
I hadn’t even heard of the show, but it was a group of young boys aged like 6-12, so they all adored it. This coworker loved to get super stoned and watch it. Don’t know if he was high at the camp, but he just got to sit on a bench and tell kids their time was getting slower when they did “stunts” and they just scurried and jumped around faster.
17. Kyle The Genius
In college, a professor always assigned 20-page papers. No one could ever get 20 pages out of one topic. We were only undergraduates. I consistently turned in papers that were 14-15 pages long and suffered for it. Then I learned about Kyle. He would write papers called something like The Origins of the Federal Reserve, it’s Role in the Depression of 1920, the Great Depression, and the 2008 Recession.
Four 5-page papers = one 20-page paper!
18. Word Play
On my last night as a delivery driver, I was told to keep the change on $14.98 as my tip. I responded by rummaging through my change pouch, took out two pennies and tossed them back saying, “If I wanted your two cents I would have asked you a question” and walked away. It was my final delivery ever and well worth it.
19. Mom One, Jerk Boss Zero
After decades of working at a government service job, my mum finally got fed up with her managers one day and decided to retire. As soon as she informed them of this, they tried to screw her over on her payout amount because of an alleged error in their records from twenty years earlier. In other words, they claimed that they had been paying the wrong amount into her retirement fund after the rules had changed and forgot to update it or something.
Jerk Boss: “It can’t be fixed. You would have to bring in your payslips for the whole 20 years to have the evidence to fix it.” Mom: “No worries. I’ll bring them in this afternoon if you’d like.” Jerk Boss: “No, I mean all of them. Every single one.” Mom: “Yep.” Jerk Boss: “In chronological order.” Mom: “Yes of course. I wouldn’t keep my payslips in some other order, that wouldn’t make any sense at all.”
It hadn’t even occurred to my mum that one would not keep all those documents in one place, and she never left the job so she just kept on filling up the box. That’s how you leave a lousy job in style!
20. Work to Rule
A woman in my town is a Principal at a local elementary school. She is in her mid-70s (at least). I asked someone why she doesn’t retire, and they explained that she and her spouse went through a very contentious divorce about 15 years ago and she has to give him a portion of her retirement, so she has decided to NEVER retire so he gets nothing ever! Hahahahaha.
21. Leave the Jokes to the Professionals
An older woman at my table asked me what my mother must think about my tattoos and I said, “Well, my father doesn’t mind.” She didn’t take the hint—I guess it wasn’t a very good hint—and asked: “Well, what about your mother?” To which I replied, “She’s dead. She doesn’t do a lot of thinking.” I thought this woman couldn’t get any ruder, but I was so, so wrong.
She said, “Did she die of SHAME?” I just said, “No, breast cancer,” and dropped the check. They weren’t done eating but her guests looked like they wanted to leave.
22. Must Be This Tall to Order
In high school I was still pretty short, so restaurant staff would often ask me if I wanted the children’s menu, which annoyed me. So one time my mom, myself, and my sister were eating somewhere, and they asked if I wanted the kid’s menu. Fed up, I said, “No, I’m sure that the kid’s menu tastes better than the items on it.”
This became an inside joke between me and my sister after that. My mom yelled at me for being rude, but it was worth it.
23. Pays in More Ways Than One
I learned this one after receiving a “tip” from a server at a popular national chain. The server told me, “Our location has some discount options that we can apply at the push of the screen. Typically, we only use them when the customer presents ID or requests it, but once in a while we can use them to our advantage.” He was right. They could use those codes for extreme revenge.
“If I get particularly rude customers, especially if it’s a group of 40-something ladies who dress and act like they’re a wannabe cast of some version of Housewives, but are actually so cheap that they are coming to a place like this, I totally hit that seniors discount button before presenting their check. While they comb over the check because they just know I must have made errors, they see that I must have assumed they are in their 60s. I don’t care about reducing the price of their check. It’s not like they were going to tip me much anyway.”
24. Playing Mind Games
This older couple, around 70, would always come to this chain restaurant to eat every Sunday after church. While the wife was extremely polite, the guy was an absolute jerk. He often yelled and berated her along with the server. On one fateful day, I was graced with their presence once again. He was being his normal rude self toward me, and even worse to his wife on this particular occasion.
Finally, I had enough of his attitude. I said, “No matter what you say and what you do, I’ll have at least two minutes alone with your food. It will be right out.” The wife absolutely lost it laughing. He shot her a mean glare, and after hesitating a split second, she continued with even louder laughing. I never touched his food, and neither did he. They never came back.
25. Let the Crime Fit the Punishment
One time, my younger brother told our mom I hit him. Just walked into my room and started screaming about me hitting him. I hadn’t even looked at him. So of course, mom comes in, won’t hear me AT ALL, and immediately grounds me. My younger brother has this snotty grin on his face. And I thought, “Screw it…I’m already getting punished for hitting him.”
So mom’s like, “You’re grounded for hitting your brother.” I turned to him, and punched him as hard as I could in his sternum. He freaking DROPPED. Then I go, “Alright. I’m grounded.” And walk away. Oddly enough, mom didn’t say anything at that point. I like to think she realized what was up. Bonus: My brother never pulled that stuff again.
26. Don’t Cross Bob
I didn’t witness it, but I got firsthand accounts and saw the police report. Bob was a delivery driver at Domino’s and was a little off his rocker. Kind of older (upper sixties, maybe all the way to seventy) and the kind of guy who would cuss out a 10-year-old “to make a point,” but also gave away our canceled orders at the end of the night to homeless people.
Anyways, Bob’s delivering a pizza and gets mugged. The robber walked up and hit Bob in the head with a brick, dropped the brick, took his cash and took the pizza. Bob got up, took the brick and proceeded to mug him back and then called the police. The gangbanger in his twenties was too terrified of the elderly pizza man to run away and waited for the police to come.
27. Saved by his Words
There was literally thirty seconds left of class, and my buddy starts to pack up. The teacher didn’t seem to mind, but when the bell rang and buddy got up to leave, the teacher said the classic line: “The bell doesn’t dismiss you, I do.” Then buddy just continues to leave, gets in the doorway of the class and says, “If it decides when I come, it decides when I leave,” and leaves the class.
28. Honest Mistake on Purpose
The host sat me at a table with a couple and their toddler. The two sat on the same side of the booth, kissed, etc., so I knew they were a couple, but the woman looked much older. Like she looked terrible. I’m sure it was substance abuse of some kind, but it was noticeable. So she’s super rude to me the entire time. She asked for her eggs over easy hard.
I explained to her that her eggs could either be over easy and over hard, and what both meant. She then got really patronizing, saying things like “Bless your heart” and asking for a real server. I told her that I know how eggs are cooked, and asked if she meant over medium. That’s when she got very mean and asked “How hard is your job? Honestly, how hard is it to just serve people eggs?”
I’d had it. I gave her order to the cook, and of course, he asked me what she meant. I told him to just make them over medium, as I felt like that was what she meant. I gave her the eggs and she sighed real heavy. She said, “I’m sorry, was my order too hard? Did you not understand me? What the heck kind of place is this that nobody can make me eggs?”
I took a deep breath, and went all in with a brutal insult. I said, “Ma’am, I apologize to you, your son, and your grandson. Let me go ahead and comp your meal.” Her face twisted up and got so red I thought it was going to pop off of her face. She yelled, “THIS IS MY HUSBAND AND THAT’S MY SON!” Oh boy, it was so worth it. She began screaming for my manager.
I got my manager. He yelled at me in the office, but couldn’t prove that I was purposefully disingenuous. So I didn’t even get written up. It was awesome.
29. Music Lessons
When I was in elementary school we had music once a week. For some strange reason, the teacher hated me, and I ONLY got to play the triangle while everyone else got drums and cool stuff. Well, my teacher’s hair was oddly the same every day so we had speculation that she had a wig. Well, one day, I got the triangle again and I let actions speak louder than words. I pulled her wig off to prove our assumptions.
My punishment was to spend the day as an in-school suspension in the teacher’s office. Joke’s on her, my principal loved me as I was president of hall council. He gave me cookies and helped me with my work. Looking back it was pretty mean, but I was a young kid.
30. Eh B’y?
My history teacher would spend half the class making jokes directed at the students. One student in particular always took the jokes on the chin and never really made any comebacks. Eventually, the teacher called him out and jokingly lectured him about standing up for himself. He ended his rant with, “You’ve gotta be a man. You’ve gotta be like me.”
The student replied with the greatest burn I have ever heard. “Well, which one? Do you want me to be a man or do you want me to be like you?”
31. The Graph
During my internship, my professor gave me line graphs made on paper and asked me to find the coordinates by drawing horizontal and vertical lines. It would have taken hours if not days. I thought to myself, “I couldn’t be the first one who is super lazy.” So, I googled it, and found this cool free to use software “Web Digitizer.”
Step 1 – Scan the graph. Step 2 – Mark the X and Y axes in the picture. Step 3 – Grab a beer because you got the nicest graph that you couldn’t have drawn by yourself in a million years. My professor was so happy she asked me to document the method and mail it across the entire department. And yes, I did share my original method with my professor and the entire department.
One, she was a really supportive professor and I wanted to return her favors (even if this software might have been the tiniest help to her work). Two, the original developer of this software made it available online for FREE. They could have made it a paid service, and believe me, researchers would have paid because it is that good.
But they kept it free for all of us to use, and it was my responsibility to share their work as much as I could.
32. These Numbers Add Up
I had an absolute nut of a boss at a restaurant. This lady was trying to be promoted so hard and was just so extra about everything. She wanted me to count every salt packet, lid, straw, and packet of ketchup in any open boxes. Like I couldn’t say 3 boxes and 3/4 of a box. I had to say 3 boxes and 872 salt packets.
If I gave the numbers too quick, she’d know I lied. So, I’d come up with reasonable-sounding numbers and then spend 10 hours playing Pokémon. Eventually, I left and went on to bigger and better things. Went by the mall years later and she was still there in the same job.
33. Top Ranked
I worked at a chain restaurant and in my last few months there we got those stupid table kiosks that customers could pay at. There was a survey at the end of every transaction and our managers added new performance metrics based on how many people paid using the kiosk and also how well our service was based on the surveys.
One jerk would just fill the surveys out himself after his customers left and gave himself five stars in everything. Dude was always ranked top of the servers. Freaking genius.
34. The Paint Marker Broom
A supervisor wanted me and another guy to mark the hydraulic hoses in this pit, so the second shift could jump right in and start replacing. Fine, but that involves someone getting a harness, waiting for security to come sniff the pit for gasses, fill out confined space forms, and get them signed, etc. I asked do they have to be marked in any order or way?
The supervisor said no, they just need some kind of identifying mark. So, I said ok got it. I told the other guy to hop on my cart “to see what we need” and to bring a broom. He was like ok. So, on my way over there I said, “You see how I asked if he just wanted them marked?” Well using this yellow paint pen, that broom handle, and some electrical tape, I bet we can mark them through the floor grate…
Sure enough, I drew a yellow line down a section of each hose. We came back and the supervisor was like, “Well?” I said, “Well what? We marked them; it’s done.” “WHAT HOW?” I showed him my paint marker broom and he just kind of stood there then laughed and shook his head.
35. Simple Surveys
This was at my first job at McDonald’s. Every time a customer filled out a receipt survey, we got a $5 gift card. For a college student, that’s a lot of money, so I would take home ALL the leftover receipts after my shift and fill them all out under my name.
36. Love Is a Universal Language
I have a friend who, when she’s tipsy, likes to speak in Spanish. Except I taught her all the Spanish she knows, and I only took high school Spanish. Anyway, I am having a BBQ and she hits it off with my friend from Peru. She speaks a little Spanish to him, and they exchange numbers. She uses my wife, who does speak Spanish, to text him back and forth.
They set up a date. She knows the jig is up. She showed up to the bar before him. When he walked in, she gave him a hug and whispered, “I don’t speak Spanish.” He whispered back, “I knew the whole time.”
37. Boss in Training
Not me, but my cousin applied for a brand new restaurant job and didn’t get it. Her friend got the job and she was mad she didn’t get hired. So her friend told her where and when orientation was, and she decided to “fake” getting hired until she “made it.” She went to orientation, all the training, introduced herself to all the staff, management, and made her presence known.
After a couple of weeks working, everyone got their paychecks, except her obviously. She went up to management and was like, “What the heck, everyone got paid but me…you’ve seen me working for the last two weeks!” Management goes into the computer system and checks to see what the problem it. “That’s so weird you’re not in the system…I’m so sorry…must be a clerical error…we will get you in the system, and paid right away!”
And that’s how my cousin fake got hired until she made it. I want to be like her when I grow up.
38. Talk Yourself Up
I was desperate for a job several years back, so I wrote up this resume that was utter horse poop on a whim. Granted, some of it was legit, but a good 80% was me making it up. Amazingly enough, I got a call for an interview and by some miracle, they ended up hiring me. I worked for the place for seven years before something I was actually qualified for work that opened up at another place.
That awful resume saved me from ruin, though, so I always will look back at that crazy situation fondly.
39. Ensured to be Screwed Over
My client’s house burned down from an explosion in the fuel oil tank. It was clearly the oil maintenance company’s fault, but his homeowner’s insurance still refused to pay out, citing a ridiculous technicality. Essentially, the policy covered damage caused by the oil heater, but they claimed that because the storage tank exploded, they didn’t need to pay.
During a deposition with the claims adjuster, I asked how she came to the conclusion that the storage tank was not a part, or at least connected to, the heater. She states that she relied on her “expert witness” who was an engineer. Little did she know, I checked this person’s background. He had zero engineering experience.
As you might know, you don’t get attorney’s fees in most cases. However, you do when an insurance company denies your claim in “bad faith.” Her little admission cost the company about 500k in fees, on top of the original claim for 1.2 million. Kaboom, lady.
40. The Ice-Cold Truth Spills Out
The plaintiff in a case I was working on said a car crash injured him so badly that he couldn’t any work, any regular activities, or pick up his young kids. He then posted a video on his public Facebook profile where he does the Ice Bucket Challenge. If you’re not familiar, he basically lifted a huge cooler filled with ice water over his head. His attorney had no idea he had posted it…but I knew.
Felt so good when I dropped that knowledge.
41. Cheaters Never Perjure
I handled a fraud case where a man said someone stole his Rolex at a hotel. There was just one problem: there was no proof that he visited a hotel at the time of the “theft.” The guy’s sworn in and immediately slips that he wasn’t at a hotel, but with his mistress. He just left his watch at her house. Apparently, this genius’ wife noticed his absent watch, so he said someone stole it. He hired an attorney and went through this whole circus just so his wife wouldn’t find out about his affair. Needless to say, the insurance company denied his claim.
42. A Filmmaking Miracle
My brother is an attorney. He had a case where a client said he was permanently disabled from a work accident. At a deposition, my brother overheard the guy talking about remodelling his house, using the money he hadn’t even won in court yet. My brother drove by to see the renovations and saw the apparently disabled client carrying bundles of roofing shingles up a ladder to the roof.
He took a video, made copies, and sent them to the other attorney. The guy dropped the suit and headed back to work.
43. The Rooster Just Got Cooked
I represented Mom in a bitter custody fight. Dad wanted full custody and argued mom was an unfit parent. Mom wanted full custody because Dad had a history of domestic violence towards her and the kids. Dad’s lawyer was doing a good job of painting her in a bad light during his cross-examination, and I was starting to get worried.
His lawyer brought a close family friend as a character witness for Dad, who said the usual nice things about Dad. Then he said something about them owning chickens. I thought that was odd, so I asked more questions. I was able to get the friend to spill the beans that the Dad owned chickens for illegal cock fighting. He also took his young children to these fights, and when the children acted up, he’d punish them by forcing them to feed the chickens, who would peck and scratch them.
I could see the color draining from Dad’s lawyer’s face. Mom got full custody.
44. You Can Put a Price on Nothing
A contractor ripped off my client. At court, I went through the entire contract and asked the contractor to agree to it line by line. He agreed to the payments for his workers. He agreed to the total. However, he failed to list any profit. My last question was “Where is your profit in this contract?” No answer. As written, he worked for free. Due to this, the judge dismissed the case.
45. Eat It
I had a teacher in middle school who tried to write me up and force me to come to Saturday school for talking during an exam. I hadn’t been the person talking, and the person who had been talking had already fessed up. I asked him, why I do I have to spend a Saturday in detention when someone else had already admitted to it?
He told me, “Do not question your elders and eat the consequences you were fed by them.” So, I crumbled up the slip and ate it in front of him.
46. Time to Hang it Up
A 15-year-old creep somehow got my 16-year-old younger sister’s phone number and kept calling her and would say the most reprehensible and vulgar things. Too bad for him, our dad is a federal investigator. All I had to do was tip my dad off as to what was going on.
Last I heard, that kid is no longer allowed to have or operate a telephone for a certain amount of time without parental supervision.
47. Mind Games
My old boss tried firing me because I was better than them at their job. I tricked them into saying it out loud, in front of the CEO. Let’s just say they don’t need to worry about me being better than them anymore.
48. Lecturing Them
I have a great story from a lecture I was at a few years ago. The lecture hadn’t started yet, and people in the audience were chatting amongst themselves. In front of me were two Israeli girls, chatting to each other in Hebrew. I speak a little bit of Hebrew—not a lot, but enough to be able to get the gist of what they were talking about.
They were making fun of the older lady in front of them, mocking her clothing and appearance and so on. They got what was coming to them. After a few minutes of talking about her and laughing, the lady turns around and says, in Hebrew, “You shouldn’t assume that no one can understand you, you know.” Oh, but it gets better.
At which point the guy sitting next to them says, in Hebrew, “Yeah, you really were being very rude.” At which point a third person, a woman sitting in the row behind me, leaned forward and called them idiots, all in Hebrew. By this point, I was starting to really crack up with laughter and the people seated nearby were giving me looks.
I didn’t have anything clever to add, so I just wheezed out that I spoke Hebrew too in between laughs. The four of us just laughed and laughed, while the two girls tried to slide into the floor.
49. Filing This One Away
I had this file thing back in elementary school where you had to put all your worksheets into a folder, and my teacher was supposed to check it at the end of the year. Well…I did not do it at all. Instead, I convinced her that I handed it in, but she’d somehow lost it. She said she would get back to me…and I’m still waiting.
50. Just Keep Swimming
When I was in Marine Boot Camp, you had to do a swim qualification. You jumped off a high board, floated, and had to swim half the length of the pool to get the lowest qualification. I did a good job going off the high board, and the floating, however, I touched the bottom of the pool during my swim. We were told that if we failed, to walk right back to the locker room and not check in at the desk. As I walked past the desk, the DI said, “Hey numbnuts, you passed, you check in with me.” So I checked in, and the next day I did Swim Qual day 2.
This was a little more advanced…I failed it immediately. As I walked back, the same guy said, “You must be stupid, let me guess, infantry? Check in, so I can put you in for Swim Qual 3. So I checked in. I went all the way to Swim Qual 4, without ever passing Swim Qual 1.
51. Straight Shooter
In my school, there was an inter-house rifle shooting competition being held, and I wanted to go but I didn’t get selected. Even though I knew this, I went to team practice anyways and the teacher for some reason didn’t even care. On the day of the tournament, my team came second.
52. The Right Wiring
I was desperate for a job and acted like I had six years of experience in low voltage and IT work. I Youtubed a ton of stuff and went out my first week with a journeyman before they sent me out on my own. He felt comfortable that I knew what I was doing. I now have four years of actual low voltage work and still do it to this day.
I’m making a lot of money now, too. No college degree, no experience except in completely different industries. It really goes to show how much you can work your way into anything. Now I will say, I’m pretty sure one of the veteran guys knew that I was winging it as he helped all the time over the phone with troubleshooting and whatnot, and he never said anything to management.
In the end, my thought process was “What’s the worst that’s going to happen?” They figure out I don’t know anything and fire me, I’m embarrassed for a few minutes as I walk out the door and never see any of them again, so who cares? I suppose since they are somewhat reputable, they could have warned other employers, but at the time not being able to pay rent or afford food I didn’t care.
53. This is a Test
Well, when I was 16, I managed to fake being sick well enough to fool a doctor. It was end of the year, finals week. I had failed three classes and was at risk of failing philosophy, too. Day of the exam arrives, I wake up late and start to panic. As I run to school, I’m already making up a story about how I woke up feeling sick, the usual stuff.
They say I can only do the exam if I show up with a doctor’s note on the same day. Instead of panicking even harder, I don’t even go home and instead walk straight to a kind of clinic close to home. I get there after one hour of walking and find out I can only see a doctor for free if I have a partner card, which I didn’t have.
After another two hours to get home, getting the documents and making a partner card, I wait another hour in line to get to see a doctor. When my turn arrived, I had already crafted what I thought was a master-level narrative of how I woke up with explosive diarrhea, possibly from eating at a burger place the night before.
It wasn’t hard to fake a sick-looking face; I’m very scrawny and hadn’t eaten all day at that point. She even measured my blood pressure and confirmed it was awfully low. In the end, she gave me the note, prescribed some medicine, and I did the exam two days later. Passed all the other classes as well. Still one of my proudest moments.
54. Insuring Success
When I was younger, I used to randomly apply for jobs out of curiosity. Worked at a ton of places. Junkyard, machine shop, security, etc. Well, one job I applied for was an analytical position at a small insurance company. I have absolutely zero experience in any office setting except a call center, and was not qualified for the job at all.
My resume was 100% lies. I even made up the name of the college. Well, they hired me. The place was so disorganized that I essentially just kind of talked my way into it. The people interviewing me didn’t even know what position it was for. They paid me $60,000 a year. Three times what I had ever made. I was 19 and absolutely rolling in money.
I even had a little office. I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing, so I just kind of flew under the radar. My parents thought it was hilarious. I was literally making as much money as my dad, who was a metallurgical engineer. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. A larger company bought us out, mined the company, and fired everyone.
I stole a couple of laptops on my way out. One of the guys I worked with also talked someone into giving him one of the company cars, a super nice BMW.
55. Rewind and Unwind
I drive cars so old, they all still have tape decks. I bought this fake cassette tape with a headphone style plug that comes of it. You put the tape in the player just like it was a cassette and plug the jack into your phone, and it uses the car’s speaker system as an external speaker for the phone. I was so skeptical of it working because it was all of $5, but I’ve been using it at least 10 years. It works perfectly and beautifully.
Plus, bonus side-eye every time I pull it out to use it with someone new in the car.
56. Time is Money
I bought a fake wood (plastic) mantle clock from Value City for like $10 because I needed something to spruce up my first apartment. I received a surprising number of compliments on it and was asked more than once if it was a family heirloom because it looked so old. It also lasted for like 10 years until some movers broke it.
I was kind of proud of displaying that stupid cheap clock.
57. Like Taking Candy from a Baby
Went to a garage sale. Little girl was in charge. She’s like 12. I don’t know anything about turntables, but she has a set on a table. I ask how much; she tells me 20 bucks. I ask her if they work, she tells me she has no idea, her dad got new ones and wants to get rid of these. I wait for dad, she tells me he’s sleeping. She says, “Dude just take them.”
I’m like, no, $20 can’t be right, maybe $200? This little girl looks at me like I’m stupid, so I just say, “Fine, I’ll take them.” I drive straight to a pawn shop and see what I can get for them, or if they even work. They freaking work perfectly. Dude looks up prices and comes back with an offer for me: $1,200. Best 20 bucks I ever spent.
58. A Doggone Deal
I went to buy a used lawnmower and ended up buying their very old dog for $10. He had never been allowed indoors, never rode in a car, been to a park, had a bath…we had a good five years of “firsts.” Best $10 I ever spent.
59. I Take It All Back, Babies
Searched around for a vasectomy reversal. Everything looked to be $15-20 thousand. Finally found a guy in Rhode Island for less than $3,000. This guy was alone in an office in a strip mall. Took cash only, which was very sketchy to me. I was afraid I’d come to in a bathtub full of ice. That didn’t happen, but even after the procedure, I was certain it didn’t work and maybe the guy was a quack or scam.
This was over three years ago and my wife and I still could not get pregnant, and I figured the reason why was obvious: the cheapo procedure. Well, I was wrong. Turns out it was her the whole time, and my surgery worked perfectly. After a few visits to a fertility clinic, we are now 26 weeks pregnant with a baby boy due in November.
Definitely a sketchy cheap buy that ended up being one of my best purchases.
60. The Stars are Small, But They Align
I bought plane tickets from Pittsburgh to Dublin from a sketchy website. It involved three layovers and two airlines. The company had a one to two-star review on every website I went to. I didn’t find a single positive review, but I bought the ticket anyway. After 20 hours, four flights, and a really sketchy layover in Portugal, I made it. I flew across the Atlantic with no problem for $200.
61. Get Your Motor Running
I bought a cheap outboard motor for $40 from Craigslist. It’s a 91’ Nissan 3.5hp. I changed the spark plug and greased her up and she’s been running like a champ for a few years now.
62. Half in the Bag for Quadruple the Value
15 years ago, I was getting deployed for the first time. I wanted a backpack as a carry-on, but it had to be solid black. Went to a few places, ended up at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I found exactly one bag that was solid black, and it was perfect, but it didn’t have a tag. Went to the register and the guy spent 10 minutes with two managers trying to figure out which bag it was so they would ring it up.
They finally asked me, “How much is it worth to you?” I replied that I needed it to deploy in the morning, so I’d pay whatever they wanted. They charged me $10. It’s a Kryptonics backpack that is no longer made. I’ve taken it on four deployments, three TDYs, all over the country, and it made it through my BS and MS degrees. I’m now using it as I pursue my PhD.
It’s a little ragged, but I love this darn bag.
63. Must-Save TV
Just a couple weeks ago, I saw a flat screen TV for $40 at a thrift shop. It might’ve been a computer monitor, I’m not sure. From corner to corner, it’s about as long as my elbow to my fingertips. It had a PC input, all the video inputs, two HDMI inputs, some USB inputs, cable input, the whole works. So immediately, I wasn’t sure if it was too good to be true.
It turned on and all the buttons worked, but there was no remote. Also, I was told there was no returns, only exchanges. Well, I went ahead and bought it anyway, and it works like a dream! I finally have something I can bring with me when I make my next move. I can change the volume and input with the side buttons, so that’s basically all I need.
One day, I might get a universal remote so I can change the brightness, but I’m basically set.
64. Sketchy Parts of a Cool Whole
About a decade ago, I bought a car titled “CAR FOR SALE” on Craigslist for 700 bucks. The person selling it ran a small little “business,” where he’d sell cars from lien auctions. There was one picture of the car, and when I opened the ad my jaw hit the floor: it was a 1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde—which is a pretty rare car in the US. Has an incredible engine (Alfa’s 3L V6h).
I called the guy and picked it up within the hour for 700 cash. The next day, I drove it from LA to Portland, and it made it just fine. I was there for two weeks, and as I was getting on the freeway to come back home, some kid ran a light and smashed into my car, killing it. I ended up staying in Portland for over a year because I didn’t really have a way back and at the time had nothing in LA that demanded my return.
But the kicker: because it’s a reasonably rare car, my insurance took a few months to pay out and when it did, I was astounded: I got a check for almost $10k. Later on in the year, I saw someone on the Alfa Romeo bulletin board had found the car at a junkyard, pulled the engine and put it in a racecar they were building.
So yeah. I think that sketchy purchase turned out alright.
65. A Killer Deal Without the Killer
I was giving these college-aged young women a Lyft ride. One asked how “that Craigslist thing went,” so my ears perked up. The other said something like, “He complained it went back too far, just don’t put it back so far, duh.” Eventually I deduce they are talking about a recliner—which I’ve been looking for one for some time now.
I interject and ask about it. Lady has a Laz-E-Boy electric recliner, and she just wants 20 bucks for it. I’m like, “Listen I know it’s sketchy, but if you’ve got Craigslist randos in your house, Lyft at least gave me a background check.” We pull up, I end the ride, and follow these ladies into their house. I knew I wanted it as soon as I laid eyes on it.
So, this college chick is helping me stuff a recliner into my back seat and all I can think is this is how Buffalo Bill kidnapped that girl in Silence of the Lambs. But still, twenty dollars for a recliner? Not bad.
66. Not a Poor Tour
We bought an Ellis Island boat tour in New York from one of the guys on the street. We were led into a van and treated extremely well, so we weren’t immediately sketched out too bad. We don’t know New York, so we ended up getting driven through Manhattan for 20 minutes by three men to an apparently abandoned sketchy dock with no one there.
That’s when we were convinced we were being scammed or sold into human trafficking. The guys Gave us a Post-It Note with a number. They said to go around the abandoned factory to the pier and they were waiting for us. So, we took our naive tourist butts around the building alone expecting nothing and they would just pull off and scam us.
Sure enough, we turn the corner and there was a big boat with a bunch of people, and it was legit. We had an amazing tour and a lot of fun with free food and drinks. So, overall great decision, but in hindsight, we should have been murdered…or at least scammed.
67. The Unexpected Uprgrade
I was in a market in Shanghai, one of those ones that attract foreigners with knockoffs of nice brands and where you’re supposed to haggle a bit with the store owner. Walking into an electronics store looking for a portable speaker. Negotiated the store owner down over the “JBL speaker” that is basically the size of a thermos.
I think she originally wanted 200 RMB, and I think I got it for 125. Exchange rate was about 6.50 RMB = $1, so like $21. The owner went out back got a blank white box and an envelope. Inside the box was a blank speaker without decals. Decals were in the envelope. She then proceeded to put the decals on the speaker in front of me using tweezers for precision.
This was my first time in China, so it really caught me off guard. Speaker is amazing. Very loud, six to eight-hour battery life and perfect for storing in a cupholder. I mostly use it on a golf course, which is perfect.
68. Like Taking Candy from a Baby
Went to a garage sale. Little girl was in charge. She’s like 12. I don’t know anything about turntables, but she has a set on a table. I ask how much; she tells me 20 bucks. I ask her if they work, she tells me she has no idea, her dad got new ones and wants to get rid of these. I wait for dad, she tells me he’s sleeping. She says, “Dude just take them.”
I’m like, no, $20 can’t be right, maybe $200? This little girl looks at me like I’m stupid, so I just say, “Fine, I’ll take them.” I drive straight to a pawn shop and see what I can get for them, or if they even work. They freaking work perfectly. Dude looks up prices and comes back with an offer for me: $1,200. Best 20 bucks I ever spent.
69. The Kid Who Was from a Small Town and Got into Yale
My friend Ian was the smartest kid in school. He was two grades above me, got a perfect score on SAT, and actually wrote the skeleton of a play for the drama club. Me and some other people higher up in the club all sat down with him and our drama teacher and did some editing like made lines shorter, easier to memorize, since he used really big words, and added or changed characters so we could use more people in the production.
He jokingly applied to Yale just to see what would happen. He actually got in and they really wanted him to go, but he couldn’t afford the tuition there. He ended up going to Michigan Tech. I don’t remember what his major is.
70. The Kid Who Discovered Sex and Alcohol
This guy was beyond “genius” I mean just knew a little bit of everything, was the valedictorian, etc. He was rather sheltered by his own choosing. Got a full-ride scholarship to MIT. But then it all went downhill. In his first semester, he discovered he really, really liked sex and alcohol. He ended up dropping out after that first year and had a pretty messed up life for a decade or so.
Something, I don’t know what, woke him up and he turned himself around and is currently an executive for one of the world’s largest construction firms.
71. The Kid Who Was Nine in High School Calculus Class
There was a nine-year-old in my high school calculus class. He actually was eligible to go to university, but his parents wanted to keep him in a more controlled environment until he was a bit older. He went to the elementary school for gifted children in the morning so that he could socialize with kids his own age and then high school for advanced classes in the afternoon.
He ended up starting university at 12. He is now a world-renowned concert pianist. I was in Berlin a few years ago and saw a billboard with him on it, advertising for his upcoming performance with the Berliner Philharmoniker. I wanted to go see him play, but I was leaving too early.
72. The Kid Who Got Away with Breaking the Rules
There was a kid who cussed at teachers and even the principal and never got kicked out because he was the only person to hold our reputation. He was never in classes yet he scored highest every time. He also started guitar, reached grade eight, and stopped playing guitar in less than a year and proceeded to drums. He’s now at MIT.
73. The Kid Who Didn’t Succeed
This kid was my frenemy. He got a full-ride scholarship to a Division 1 school for legitimate academic excellence. Had a seven-figure job as eventual head of his family’s company waiting for him. All he had to do was finish college. But then, he quit college two years in—and it got worse from there. He ran a business that his parents bought him into the ground.
Soon after, the DUIs started, and his driver’s license is now gone, ostensibly for life. He now works as as bartender and plays in awful bands. His kid’s baby mama lives with him and their terror of a kid in the four-bedroom almost-mansion his parents gave him after it was revealed he could no longer drive. I’ll never understand why he didn’t at the very least finish college.
But since he apparently has a huge safety net made out of money, he will likely never have to be accountable. Ever.
74. The Kid Who’s Still Referred to as the School Genius
The smart guy in our school was pretty much the star pupil in all regards bar sports—he has hilariously bad hand-eye coordination. He was probably the best musician the school had even though he had dropped the subject educationally since he was 14 to focus on the three sciences and math, which he later aced for A-Level, the UK equivalent of SATs.
Recreationally, he did scouting and the like. Socially, he was well regarded by teachers and students—he got Head Boy in our final year for being just a downright good lad. The year above and below actually referred to the high achiever from their year as “The <insert my mate’s name here> of their year.” The best thing about all this is he was still somehow the nicest guy in the school.
He was friendly to newcomers, he never looked down on anyone or any of their interests, and he didn’t like bragging about tests and stuff. Everyone including me would automatically almost disregard his achievements in tests and stuff because he was just expected to ace everything. I remember someone was saying something to this effect to him and I, in an attempt to poke fun at him, said: “Nah, he’s actually super dumb—he just has to work über hard to pretend he’s smarter than the rest of us.”
He was beaming at this and thanked me, saying it’s the best thing someone could have said about him, because one of us actually bothered to acknowledge that he worked for it and wasn’t just born smart. He’s still one of my best friends and he seems pretty happy and set for life. if not exhausted and constantly busy, as he’s a doctor now.
75. The Kid Who Preferred the Simple Life
My best friend is a genius. He was skipped ahead two grades in elementary school. In middle school, he learned how to code in HTML and Java, and in the 90s, he made websites for various businesses and doctors in the area. He used the money he made to start a business while attending college for a computer science degree.
His business was PC assembly and repair and he ran a major operation near his university that serviced many of the students there. He taught himself board repair and learned a huge amount of schematics. He got married after college. His wife insisted they move back closer to her family, and he obliged. He closed his business and figured he’d restart in her town: Nowhere, Montana. Population: Old.
He moved in 2007, right before the economy collapsed and all the job growth in tech ceased completely. He now works IT at a local bank, making $18 an hour. The good news is, he likes the quiet country life. He likes the easy cushy job that lets him dabble and goof off 90% of the time. And he loves his wife more than anything.
The dude should be a multi-billionaire tech guru but found a new calling for a simple life.
76. The Kid Who Was Like a Walking Google
I knew a guy who knew absolutely everything. If he didn’t know something, he would master knowledge of it immediately. He was like a walking Google; I could ask him whatever came to mind and he could usually give a detailed and relatable answer. He was perfectly normal as well, and he never ever flaunted his intelligence in an annoying way.
I remember about seven years ago he was telling me about Bitcoin and how this new digital currency would be the future. He used to buy us pot off the Silk Road with it. He fell off years ago though and never goes on Facebook. I suspect he managed to cash out a pretty penny with whatever Bitcoin he had and went to live a quiet life somewhere.
77. The Kids Who Was a Baby Genius
There was this girl at the age of six to eight months who could speak full sentences, identify colors, and read. By 10, she was already in HS due to her high IQ. She was also multitalented in music and was able to play a variety of instruments. She was in a lot of milk and vitamin commercials along with other child prodigies. But there was a dark side to it all.
Her mom, from what I heard from her classmates and from social media, became a very, very greedy Momager-type, using her as a way to earn money via endorsements and enrolling her in various higher classes and programs rather than letting her be a normal 10-12-year-old. I remember seeing her in school, always with a stoic face.
When she got into college, she kept changing courses and degrees because she felt lost when it came to what she really wanted to do. She eventually rebelled against her mom and at around 19, decided that she would pursue professional photography, which was a hobby of hers. She now works for an ad agency as a pro photographer for fashion and magazine shoots.
She is doing well in this stage of life given her crazy, turbulent teens with her family.
78. Thinking Fast, Even When Drunk
I heard a story of a guy who was driving drunk and passed a cop on a bend. So, he immediately parked his car and threw his keys into the woods. Then, when the cop came over, he quickly downed an entire bottle of vodka in front of the cop. Since he didn’t have his keys, he didn’t have the ability to drive—and since the cop had just witnessed him drinking outside the car, he couldn’t check whether he had been drunk when he was actually driving a few minutes earlier. The cop had no choice but to let him off with just a warning.
79. Diamonds in the Rough
The smartest criminal I’ve ever heard of was the guy who stole about $12 million worth of diamonds, stashed them away somewhere, and then turned himself in knowing that there was a maximum sentence of just two years for that crime. You get the idea.
80. A License to Outsmart
A friend of my brother’s had moved to Israel, where for a period of time it was legally acceptable to drive with only an American driver’s license. One time, he got pulled over by a cop for speeding. When asked for his license, he gave the officer his Costco card. Apparently, most countries don’t have Costco and, therefore, most people outside of the US aren’t familiar with the retail chain.
The exchange that followed apparently went something like this: Officer: “Costco? What is Costco?” Friend: “It’s the state that I’m from.” Officer: “That sounds made up.” Friend: “There are lots of small states that you probably haven’t heard of. Have you heard of Arkansas? How about Idaho?” Officer: “I guess not…” Friend: “Well, I’m from the small state of Costco.”
The officer didn’t have a response and wound up writing the ticket to someone with a Costco driver’s license. My brother’s friend framed the ticket and still has it hanging on his wall to this day.
81. Freedom At Last
I’m a warden. I once dealt with a criminal who successfully forged a series of court documents facilitating his own release from prison.
82. Scrap the Idea of Ever Beating This One
I don’t think that anyone will ever be able to match the level of criminal genius achieved by the infamous Victor Lustig. He successfully “sold” the Eiffel Tower to some scrap metal dealers in 1925 by posing as a government official and claiming that France was planning to take the structure down due to the fact they could no longer afford to maintain it.
83. Bridge Over Troubled Water
There’s a small tourist town near where I grew up that is divided in half by a big river. The only way to get back and forth between the two sides is over a long bridge, unless you want to go all the way around to another mountain pass. These guys once called in about two or three bomb threats to a posh hotel on one side of the bridge. I think they even left some decoy packages at the scene, too.
All of the police immediately went across the bridge to do crowd control, etc. Meanwhile, the guys who were responsible for the calls started robbing stuff back on the other side. The police couldn’t be absolutely certain as to whether the bomb threat was real or not, and they hesitated for just long enough to give the thieves the head start they needed.
84. A Man of the People
John Dillinger, the famous mobster, was quite an incredible case. The public absolutely adored him despite his violent criminal streak. Even though he wasn’t unique in that regard (since the public also loved Al Capone and company, at least until the Valentine’s Day Massacre), and even though he was active during the Great Depression when opinions were rather easily swayed compared to usual, I still think it’s pretty cool that he managed to achieve and maintain that kind of reputation.
He had his cohorts impersonate police officers to break him out of prison. He used hostages as human shields. And through all of this, he never lost control of his public image! Of course, I’m not condoning or celebrating what he did, but I just can’t help having his name pop into my head when I think of the words “criminal mastermind.”
85. Home Is Where the Heart Is
A homeless guy in my hometown figured out that if he committed some act of petty theft, he’d get a free night in a cozy jail, a warm place to sleep, and a hot meal. He’d then show up, turn in his stolen goods, and that would be that. After a while, the police caught on and would just go along with it as long as he agreed to take back whatever he stole the next day. He was quite the town character!
86. Let’s Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
There was this guy who found himself in heaps of debt, as in more than a lifetime’s worth of debt that there was no way he could ever repay. He proceeded to file several police reports for identity theft, up to the point where he got protected from financial checkups. This was a temporary measure that was often given to repeated identity theft victims.
At the same time, he had reported fake income to the IRS for the last couple of years—showing something between $40 and $60 million, depending on the year. So, when he applied for credit cards and loans, banks were unable to check his financial credit due to the identity theft protection—but when they checked his tax returns, they saw that he had a massive income. He got all of his loans and credit cards, emptied them out, and quickly left the country.
87. Eating His Words
The smartest criminal I know of would definitely have to be the guy who ate his own bank robbery note right off the hood of the police car while they were emptying his pockets. That’s definitely one way of removing the evidence! Although, the whole thing was caught on video and I’m fairly sure he was still convicted.
88. And the Winner Is…The Criminal!
I know of a guy who sold thousands of fake raffle tickets to raffle off stuff that he never even had, and for raffles that he never even actually held. I can’t remember how many times he successfully pulled off that scam without being detected, but it was at least enough to buy a nice new car. He ended up moving towns a bunch of times because people would eventually start to suspect him of being a con man.
His dad was apparently also in jail for having pulled somewhat similar stuff back in his day. Despite all of that, he was never even questioned by the police about anything. Now he has a family and a normal job from what I understand.
89. Getting Down and Dirty
I’m not a police officer or anything like that, but a relative of mine works for Border Patrol on the Texas border and he once told me about this hilarious experience of his. He was once out in the field when he and a couple of other officers caught this dude who had crossed the river naked. He had put all of his clothes in a plastic bag so that they wouldn’t get wet when he swam.
As they were walking him over to their vehicle, the guy kept complaining that he needed to go to the bathroom. Finally, they gave in and let the dude have some space to do his thing. They took a step back and faced away. The dude takes a squat and starts doing his business. Then came the plot twist. The dude caught his own poop with his bare hands and started smearing it all over his naked body.
The officers were totally shocked at this and did not know what to do. The dude took advantage of their surprise and started running his butt off back to the river. The officers were able to catch up to the dude eventually, but none of them went in for the grab or tackle because they didn’t want to get covered in some guy’s poop. The dude made it safely back into the river and talked smack the whole time as he swam back across to the other bank.
The running part lasted like ten seconds total, so I guess I don’t blame them for not being able to process the situation fast enough to react in time. It sucks that the dude got away—but at least every time my relative tells the story, he always has a smile on his face.
90. You Can Bank On This One
Close to 20 years ago by now, a guy on Australia’s Gold Coast got away with a major bank robbery in broad daylight. He had scouted out the bank for a while and discovered a pattern of the bank manager always arriving about 30 minutes before anyone else each morning. He would then routinely leave the front doors unlocked so that staff could easily let themselves in without a key or needing to wait for the boss to come and let them in.
One morning, the crook dressed himself up for a busy day of office work and waited for the bank manager to arrive. As the manager was unlocking the front doors, he made his move. He entered the building and threatened the manager with a gun. He got all of the details he’d need to access the vault and so forth, and then tied the manager up and stuffed him away in his office.
When the rest of the staff arrived, he told them that the manager had called in sick that morning and that regional office had sent him in to do the open shop thing on his behalf. No one batted an eyelid at this story.
This bank had a small walk-in vault that normally only held about $30 to $50 thousand in it on any given day—but our old mate had intentionally timed his robbery for the morning after business banking day, when all of the local small businesses would make their end of the week deposits at once. The bank would reportedly bring in a score of close to $250 thousand on those days.
Once the vault was open, he pulled his gun out and invited all of the staff to enter the vault with him. He then proceeded to lock them all in. By this stage, the bank was already due to be open. So, when he went to leave, there were a number of customers waiting to get inside to do their banking. Still posing as someone who worked there, he told them all that there had been an issue with the computers and that the tech team had estimated it would take about 30 minutes before the issue would be resolved—and that they couldn’t open the bank until that time.
Our friend then got into his car, drove straight to the airport, flew straight to Hong Kong, and was never seen or heard from again. To my knowledge, the cops have still never caught him even all these years later, and they never managed to find the money either. They do know, however, that he would have had to have left most of it in Australia somewhere, because you are only allowed to transport up to $10 thousand worth of cash in any currency out of the country without customs pulling you into their interview rooms to investigate and verify its origins.
Therefore, the assumption is that he had to have had an accomplice here in Australia who has been funneling the money to him slowly over time ever since.
91. The Grand Finale
I remember getting into a festival and seeing a magician guy doing tricks on the police officers who were searching him, to distract them from finding the drugs he had on him. It was a spectacular show, and I’m sure he made a good profit.
92. I Believe I Can Fly
One guy who happened to have drugs in his car got pulled over for an ordinary traffic stop. So, he tied the drugs to a balloon and let it go while the cop was still just approaching his window. The whole things was caught on tape. Now, that’s what you call thinking on your feet!
93. Failing the Test
Dave was working at a Mercedes dealership. One day, he’s just sitting at his desk when this well-dressed gentleman comes in and asks if he can test drive a particular car that he had seen parked out in front. It was a very busy day at the dealership, and they had a policy that anyone could test drive a car on their own as long as they left some kind of deposit behind.
So, Dave gave the man the keys. The guy then went off on his test drive, and came back a reasonable amount of time later. He walks in, hands off the key, gets his deposit back, and goes on with his day. This was just before closing time, even possibly on a Friday. Everything was in order at that point. Fast forward to the next business day. Dave’s boss walks in and realizes that a Mercedes from out front is no longer there. Dave has to explain that the car was returned and that they have the key and everything.
Turns out the criminal didn’t really take it for a test drive. He had just driven it somewhere to have a replica of the key created. He had then given that replica back to the desk, while keeping the real key for himself. He returned over the weekend to take the car when no one was around. That smart son of a gun!
94. Art of the Steal
I think that the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum thieves in Boston are the smartest criminals of all time. In one of the most famous museum heists of all time, they got away with paintings worth over $500 million, and were never caught.
95. Building a Career as a Criminal Genius
An ex-criminal I know today once got away with buying a building under a fake name, taking out huge loans against it, getting government money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and then burning it all down and disappearing without a trace.
96. Well, This Blew Up Pretty Fast
I think my personal favorite is the story of the Japanese bank heister who dressed up as a cop. If I remember correctly, the story went like this: A bank manager in Tokyo and his employees had repeatedly been sent threats in the mail for the past few months. Then, one day, a letter arrived in the mail at the bank manager’s house, demanding a payment of 300 million yen. The letter also said that if he did not comply, his house would be blown up.
Security was immediately ramped up and most of the bank’s employees were put under constant watch by the police. As they continued working for the next few days, the bank manager had sent four employees out to go make a regularly scheduled delivery to a nearby factory. As they were on their way over, they suddenly heard police sirens approaching them.
A cop on a bike pulled up and told them that the manager’s house had just been blown up and that their vehicle now needed to be checked for explosives. As the cop went underneath the car, the employees suddenly saw a thick white smoke begin to emerge from the hood of the vehicle. Naturally, they all immediately ran away from the car to seek cover.
They waited nearby for an explosion or for some kind of indication that the situation had been resolved. Minutes passed, and nothing had happened. After about ten minutes or so of waiting, they finally walked over to check—and they discovered that their car was gone.
Apparently, the man was not actually a cop, but was just the guy who had written all the letters dressed up as one. He had planned this whole thing from the start, and had just lit a flare underneath the car to scare them into running away. A total of 300 million yen was inside the car when it was stolen—exactly the amount that the demand letter had requested.
97. Always One Step Ahead Of You
My story goes like this: A homeowner walks out one morning to drive to work, only to find his car missing. He reports the car as stolen to the police. A few days later, he walks outside to find his car sitting back in front of his house again as if nothing had ever happened. Upon closer inspection, he finds a note inside.
Turns out it was an apology letter from the thief, explaining that he had been in dire need of quick transportation and so he decided to “borrow” the first car that he could find with the keys inside. The note went on to say that the thief had noticed the bumper sticker on the back of the car for the local sports team.
Just so that there were no hard feelings, he explained, he left four tickets to an upcoming game in the glove box for the homeowner and his family to enjoy. So, the homeowner and his family attend the game and have a great time. They then return home to find that the house has been ransacked, and all items of value are now gone.
98. He’s Not Wrong
When I was in high school, there was a kid one grade older than me who was the smartest kid I knew at the time. Very bright, kind person, an excellent mathematician. He would regularly get perfect scores on tests and studied some advanced topics outside of class. He went on to study physics at MIT.
My high school was right next to an elementary school. One day, these parents hired this smart kid to tutor their seven-year-old child in math. And when I say, “Tutor him in math” I mean “teach him calculus.”
I would walk by a math classroom after school and see this 18-year-old drawing gradients on paraboloids (so, early vector calculus stuff) and lecturing a seven-year-old. The older kid said once that “that kid’s brain has many, many more clock cycles than mine.”
99. Fast Forward
I taught a genius once. The student could learn complex concepts in the span of minutes. The kid once missed an entire unit that I taught over the course of several weeks. I spent 20 minutes with her when she got back, explaining and drawing diagrams and she got it… and got it better than anyone else in the class had. It was so much fun teaching her!
100. “Pure Math” Sounds Pretty Cool
I attended math classes with someone that was a literal Rain Man.
As a junior he completed all the undergraduate and masters level math courses his elite university had to offer. They sent him to a special math program we were both in to challenge him further. He skipped 16 weeks of our very difficult advanced graduate level math courses to play video games but aced his midterms and final exams—which included oral exams.
He scored perfect on every standardized test he took including SAT, GRE, Math GRE. I never saw him put any effort whatsoever into anything he did. He also published in difficult areas of pure mathematics as an undergrad. He seemed to know everything about math and seemed as if his professors were below him. He ended up completing a PhD from an elite university in pure math. One of the smartest people I ever met. He was also very bizarre in his behavior.
101. Knowledge Isn’t Everything
My uncle is a genius. Has an IQ of 154. He had serious problems. He would always talk down and look down to everyone. He was the youngest of six kids, who were all smart, and as a child would throw fits at dinner saying how no one would listen to him. Obviously, his siblings didn’t give a crap and were busy chowing down.
In the end, he never really adjusted to life or kept a job because he didn’t respect his bosses. I guess it’s not the end and he’s still alive, but his personality and brains has kept him from really reaching his abilities.
102. Swipe Left On This Genius
I *casually* dated a genius. Graduated high school in fifth grade, was finishing up a PhD in neuro-engineering at an ivy league school when I met him at age 23. He told me that he felt really lucky his parents noticed his “knack” for building computers early on and put him in an accelerated program or else he thinks he would have become highly destructive as he got older.
I will say he fulfilled every stereotype of a savant you can name and then some. No empathy, emotional maturity of a 12-year-old, with the ethical compass of a graphing calculator—which is to say he was pragmatic to a fault and felt no guilt if he got away with something.
Things that may have also been related—He was into a lot of freaky stuff in the bedroom and was astonishingly frank about all of it—this is admittedly what I liked about him. He also idolized Justin Bieber, BEFORE his comeback. One day I asked him point-blank if it’s because he saw himself in Bieber and he said, “Come to think of it, yes.”
What a ride that was.
103. Don’t Stop Believing
My dad is out of state on business driving through some no-name town when he goes through an intersection. Suddenly, a cop pulls him over and tickets him—stating that he ran a stop sign. My dad insisted that there was not any stop sign, but the cop did not listen. Angry, he went back to the intersection and saw that there was indeed a stop sign hidden behind a tree and twisted in the wrong direction!
Even more angry, he went into a convenience store and bought a disposable camera. The clerk laughed because he saw what happened and knew what was up.
Luckily, my dad had to be back there in a few weeks for work. The cop assumed that someone with out of state plates would just pay the ticket, and was shocked when my dad turned up in court, calmly presented his evidence to the judge, and strolled out in five minutes scot-free.