High Anxiety

We’ve all had those moments—when something completely unexpected scares the c**p out of us. It gives us something to laugh about…later. (This article was first published in Uncle John’s Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader.)

Laughing out loud

He Got Too High 

A student from the Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology in Cheltenham, England, woke up one morning in May 2006…and found himself 100 feet up in a pine tree. He had no idea how he got there, but apparently he’d climbed the tree the night before while drunk (and barefoot). Luckily, he had his cell phone with him. It took firefighters two hours to get him down. “He was a bit quiet when he came down,” officer Nigel Limbrick told The Sun, “and a bit embarrassed.”

The Fur Was Flying

The pilot of a passenger plane en route from Brussels to Vienna had to turn the plane around and return to Brussels after he was attacked by a cat. The cat apparently escaped its travel bag in the cabin (small pets are allowed as carry-ons), became agitated, and ran into the cockpit when a flight attendant opened the door. Once inside, it “ran wild,” according to the crew, attacking the pilot and leaving multiple scratches on his arms. A spokeswoman for the airline said the pilot did the right thing in returning to Brussels, noting that the cat took a long time to capture and could have hit one of the delicate instruments in the cockpit. She also said there were unconfirmed reports that the cat had been “kicked by someone in business class.”

Nice Headlights

In 2004 Dave Alsop was driving through the West Midland Safari Park in Worcestershire, England, when he stopped to take a picture of two mating rhinoceroses. The next thing he knew, the male rhino, who at more than 4,000 pounds weighed considerably more than Alsop’s Renault, was trying to mount the car from the side. “He sidled up against us,” Alsop said. “Suddenly he’s banging away at the car and it’s rocking like hell.” Alsop sped away…with the rhino in hot pursuit.

Bear-ly Survived

In June 2006, Debbie Yates was getting ready for work in her Nevada City, California, home when she heard noises coming from her kitchen. She assumed it was her cats playing. It wasn’t. “I came around the corner and into the kitchen,” she told reporters, “and instead of seeing cats, I saw a big, brown bear coming in through the kitchen window.” Fortunately, the bear was too big to get through the window, and ran away when Yates screamed.

Planes on a Porsche

In June 2005, a German man got permission to drive his Porsche on the runway at a small seldom-used airport in the town of Bitburg. The man was traveling at about 100 mph when a small private plane landed on the roof of the car. The startled driver slammed on his brakes, which sent the plane crashing onto the tarmac. Both vehicles were badly damaged, but the pilot and the driver were fine. “They probably couldn’t have done it that well if they had tried,” said local policeman Klaus Schnarrbach. The pilot was cited for making an unscheduled landing (on a car).

Raining Cats and…

A man in the Polish town of Sosnowiec was walking down a street in July 2006, when he heard a noise above his head. He looked up and saw a Saint Bernard falling from the sky. That was the last thing he saw before the dog fell on top of him. The 110-pound canine, named Oskar, had been pushed out of a second-story window by its drunk owner. Luckily, both man and dog were unhurt. A police spokesman said “the dog had a soft landing because it fell on a man.” He added, however, that the man was “in a psychological state of shock.”

Not an Urban Legend

In 1999 a woman in England went to her doctor after having headaches for three sleepless nights, accompanied by “a strange noise” in her right ear. The doctor examined her ear—and told her there was a spider “snuggled up right against her eardrum.” He removed the spider with a syringe, and there was no harm to the woman. But, according to Reuters, “the doctor raised an unsavory possibility—that the arachnid was a female intent on laying eggs.”

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