Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes


Issue: "Effective compassion," July 27, 2013

Lip stuck

A woman calling emergency services was understandably tight-lipped when she dialed New Zealand’s equivalent of 911. The 64-year-old woman from Dunedin, whom police did not identify, mumbled and groaned through a June 27 call leading operators to believe she was being held captive. When police arrived at her home, they discovered she had confused her medicated lip ointment with a tube of super glue and glued her lips shut. The woman was taken to a nearby hospital, treated, and released.

Flame-broiled France

After a long 15 years, Parisians’ wait for Le Whopper to return will soon be over. After pulling its fast-food burger franchises out of France in 1997 due to poor sales, Burger King has begun the arduous work of reconquering France. The American chain set up two of its burger joints in France in December and plans to open up shop in Paris later this year. Burger King’s proposed location suggests it sees a way to capture a share of the growing fast-food market in France. Saint Lazare metro station, Burger King’s target location for its first entrant into Paris, serves 38 million passengers per year. According to a report in the Le Pointmagazine, fast-food revenues in France have surpassed traditional restaurant revenues for the first time ever.

Adam out

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In a nutshell, Adam Thurkettle is too big. The thirsty 6-foot-7 Englishman from Bury St. Edmunds has been asked not to return to the Nutshell Pub there. Owner Jack Burton said Thurkettle’s frame is simply too big for his bar, known as the smallest pub in Britain. At nearly 300 pounds, Thurkettle takes up too much room in the 15-foot-by-7-foot Nutshell, forcing bartenders to turn away paying customers. Thurkettle, 27, told theSun he understands the bar’s position: “I love the Nutshell and the regulars are a great bunch—but not many can get in after I arrive.”

Gained in translation

A language barrier wasn’t enough to stop retired New Jersey state trooper Scott Johnson from performing his civic duties. When the Frenchtown, N.J., resident drove past a family preparing to float the Delaware River on June 30, a thought struck him: The river is too high and too fast for anyone to go tubing. So Johnson pulled off the road and returned to the family to warn them. But when he approached and attempted to explain, “No English” was the response he got from the family’s patriarch. After a bit of clumsy communication, Johnson concluded the tourists spoke Russian. “All right, how do I tell this guy—Ah! I’ve got my phone. It’s got Google Translate. I never tried it before,” Johnson told the Hunterdon County Democrat. And Johnson’s translated tale of the recent spate of river deaths did the trick. The Russian family thanked him and moved along.

Dirty cloud

While temperatures soared on June 28 across the American Southwest, forecasters with the National Weather Service in Texas were trying to solve a mystery. Their weather radar showed what looked like rain clouds north of Austin all the way to Dallas. But they knew from eyewitnesses that there were no clouds to be found—just a scorching sun. So what was causing the splotches of blue and green to pop up on the weather radar? According to scientists for the NWS, the radar was picking up a combination of dirt, pollen, and insects that had clumped into a mass at 4,000 feet due to the sweltering heat and northeasterly breeze. According to meteorologists, the insects and particulate matter anomaly caused some afternoon haze, but harmlessly dissipated that evening. 

Coming to terms

Washington state made a big jump down the politically correct path when the state officially banned terms like “freshman,” “fisherman,” and “journeyman plumber” from the government’s lexicon. The state is also changing “his” in all laws to “his or her.” The changes, which began in July, are the product of initiatives by state lawmakers since 2007 to strip away gendered language from the state’s statutes. “Freshman” will now be called a “first-year student,” according to the new law.

Pizza flight

In a scene reminiscent of the TV show Arrested Development, a La Guardia Airport employee escaped the taxiway and drove a stair truck to a nearby pizza parlor on June 22, reported the New York Post. The blue Southwest Airlines vehicle was designed to be a mobile stairway to allow passengers to get on or off airplanes. And for the record, a spokesman for New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles said the stair truck was not street legal. Meanwhile, a representative of Southwest Airlines said the driver was simply taking the stair truck in for routine maintenance off the grounds of the airport—not stopping in for pizza.


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