Archive for September, 2007

More questions than answers

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Ever since the Weekly World News published its last issue a couple of months ago, consumers of a certain genre of journalism — a group in which I proudly claim membership — have had to scavenge their pickings wherever they could find them. My local newspaper made it easy for me yesterday with this item, which I reproduce here in its totality for you, the loyal reader. I give give give and never take. That’s just how I am.

MAIDEN, N.C. (AP) - A man who bought a smoker Tuesday at an auction of abandoned items might have thought twice had he looked inside first.

Maiden police said the man opened up the smoker and saw what he thought was a piece of driftwood wrapped in paper. When he unwrapped it, he found a human leg, cut off 2 to 3 inches above the knee.

The smoker had been sold at an auction of items left behind at a storage facility, so investigators contacted the mother and son who had rented the space where the smoker was found.

The mother explained her son had his leg amputated after a plane crash and kept the leg following the surgery. The mother said her son plans to drive to Maiden, about 35 miles northwest of Charlotte, to reclaim his amputated leg, police said

I did a quick Google search and learned, just as I suspected, that this little news nugget has likely circled the globe. I found it on the web sites of newspapers from coast to coast, and as far away as Ireland. All around the world, people are surely asking themselves a multitude of questions about North Carolina. I can imagine what they are because, frankly, I’d like to know these things myself:

Is the saving of severed limbs a tradition in certain parts of North Carolina? Had the leg actually been smoked, or is it just common for amputees to store their limbs in unused cooking devices? Has anyone checked that guy’s stove for other amputated limbs? Do Tar Heel hospitals typically wrap and bag amputated limbs for you, or do you have to request that as a special service? Would insurance cover it? Was the leg covered in a newspaper or something like Christmas wrapping? If it was a newspaper, which section? (In a perfect world, Health and Science.) If it was Christmas wrapping, did it have fun, happy Santas printed upon it, or somber wise men? Doesn’t the leg legally now belong to the man who bought the smoker? Has he agreed to give it back? What would an abandoned leg fetch on eBay?

It’s a moment like this when I most wish I was still in the newspaper business. I’d find the answers to those questions for you because I would consider it my selfless duty to do so. That’s just how I am.