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Quick Takes: Proof positive

A U.K. woman is weary of telling the government she’s still alive and kicking

Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes: Proof positive
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EILEEN McGRATH has repeatedly told government officials in the United Kingdom that she’s not dead. So far, they’re not taking her word for it. In an interview published Jan. 20 by The Guardian, the retired teacher said she’s been having trouble with her pension check since 2020. The 85-year-old has received multiple letters from a government agency inquiring about her living status. Each time, she wrote back affirming she was still alive. In December, she noticed her pension checks had stopped. Only after she complained further did her checks finally arrive in January. “Fortunately, I have enough money in my savings account to weather these incidents but I am sure that’s not the case for everyone,” McGrath told the paper. “Besides which, it’s unpleasant and distressing to be told periodically that they think you are dead.”

Bamboozled no more

Despite decades of claiming his feet didn’t work, a New Hamp­shire veteran came clean when he stood before a federal judge Jan. 25. Christopher Stultz admitted in court he was not disabled despite claiming the opposite to the Department of Veterans Affairs since 2003. Prosecutors said Stultz defrauded the government out of about $660,000, including monthly disability benefits and extra funds for specially modified vehicles that Stultz later sold. Stultz’s story unraveled after investigators recorded him switching from his wheelchair to his feet in the parking lot of a VA facility before driving to a mall and walking around to shop.

Ditching the gun

An employee at a Walmart near Gettysburg, Pa., called police after finding a gun in a parking lot trash can. A cursory investigation deepened the mystery when police identified the firearm as a Pietta 1851 Confederate Navy revolver, a replica of the kind of gun used during the Civil War. Authorities are still puzzled by how the historical firearm ended up in a trash can, but noted the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum is just a short drive away from the big box store.

—This story has been updated to clarify that the Pietta 1851 Confederate Navy revolver is a replica of a gun used in the Civil War.

Cupid’s revenge?

Coinciding with Valentine’s Day, a New Jersey animal shelter has a catty offer for animal lovers feeling vindictive due to human rejection. With a $50 donation, the Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center promises to name a feral cat after the donor’s ex and then spay or neuter the feline before releasing it back into the wild. In a social media advertisement, the Gloucester Township shelter claimed people should take advantage of the program “because some things shouldn’t breed.”

Hanging around

Monica Laso wasn’t really missing. She was just up in the air. While snowboarding with friends Jan. 25 at a California resort near Lake Tahoe, the Chilean woman got tired making her way down the mountain. A resort employee directed Laso to enter a gondola, but minutes later the gondola abruptly halted midair. Laso, who wasn’t carrying her cell phone, shivered through the next 15 hours, shouting to no avail at resort employees on the ground. Her friends, meanwhile, reported her missing to the local sheriff’s office. The next morning after the gondolas began moving again, crews were shocked when Laso got off at the bottom.

No-stopping zone

Las Vegas’ “anything goes” reputation may be less deserved after a new ordinance took effect Jan. 16. The law says people who walk on certain pedestrian bridges can’t stop to gaze at the lights of the Strip or watch a street ­performer. The punishment for stopping? A misdemeanor with a fine up to $1,000 or six months in jail. County officials say the new rule governing “pedestrian flow zones” is about safety, but that doesn’t assuage ACLU officials who have threatened a lawsuit. “Making criminals out of ordinary Nevadans stopping for a mere moment on the pedestrian bridges they fund as taxpayers is lunacy,” ACLU of Nevada’s Athar Haseebullah told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Sign before you bite

If a restaurant asks a patron to sign a waiver, does it really believe in its burger? That’s the question posed by an anonymous U.S. customer at a Toronto Hilton following a Jan. 15 visit. According to a social media post corroborated by CTV News, the customer asked restaurant staff at the Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel & Suites for a burger cooked medium. The waiter soon returned with the burger—and a waiver claiming to indemnify the hotel of any liability should the customer get sick from the undercooked burger. “I lost my appetite,” the customer told CTV News. “Simply because I felt they did not have confidence in food they are offering.”


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