"Aviation seems to attract some really really weird people. Most of the stuff is innocent, such as keeping a logbook of all the flights they've been on or sitting by an airport fence all day with a scanner listening to air traffic control and photographing the planes. The obsessions start getting a bit much, though, when someone comes up to me while I'm in my pilot uniform in the airport and wants to discuss an airline's business class amenities or starts asking real loaded questions about an air crash investigation TV episode they saw.
Once in a while, we'll get the 'expert private pilot' or someone that took a few flight lessons 20 years ago that like to stick their head in the cockpit after a flight and give their expert analysis about what we could have done better. This is like some yahoo yelling golf tips to the pro walking to the 18th at the Masters. For some reason, these people think that being hypercritical to the pilots is going to impress us. It doesn't. It actually makes me want to talk to passengers even less about the job."
"I collect video game and pop culture figures and statues as a hobby. The amount of times I'd have to sprint to Best Buy or Toys R Us to get one specific thing early in the morning is insane. It's always these greasy, obese guys who show up and try to weasel their way in line so they can be the first person in to buy the entire stock and resell them on Amazon for 4x the price.
I've seen a grown man cry to the Toys R Us employees because they had a one-per-customer policy and they had a stock of 6 Marth Amiibos, and he was 14th in line. Collectors might be crazy, but scalpers are on a whole 'nother level."
"Scuba diver here and I worked at a dive shop for four years in Tennessee (you know, the totally landlocked state) and still help teach scuba classes at the local university. There were two groups of people that I noticed the most when it came to diving. The first were the people with plenty of money and usually plenty of time who were tired of the usual expensive activities (i.e. golf, boating, fishing, hunting, etc). They would come in the shop and say they needed to get certified for their Fiji trip that just happened to be in like five days. Getting certified usually takes about a month (at least in Tennessee). Did I mention we were landlocked?
So they would pay extra for private lessons and then buy all of the most expensive stuff. Not the best stuff....the most expensive. Literally, 'What's the most expensive buoyancy compensator/regulator/mask/finssSnorkel?' I pointed to our most expensive item that I'd maybe sold 1 of for the entire year. 'I'll take two of them.' So, they do all of this, then go on their trip, and then...they completely drop off from the scuba diving grid. Like, if you want to scuba dive in Tennessee, there's only so many dive shops you can go to. So if you all of a sudden stop diving, we're gonna notice. I never understood those people.
The second group of people were the blue-collar workers who somehow ended up in a scuba class just to find out that they LOOOOOOOVE IT. They would spend paycheck after paycheck on diving. Now, don't get me wrong, these were my kind of people. After all, diving is freaking awesome, but it's also stupid expensive. Why do you think I worked at a dive shop? But these people took it to another level. They would come up with all kinds of payment plans to try to buy stuff as soon as they could. And my boss was a notorious bargainer, so we ended up with all sorts of weird stuff like a new business sign out front, new windows when one of ours broke, and a brand new roof! All from him bartering scuba stuff.
These people would dive into anything. The best Tennessee diving you're gonna find are quarries, then lakes where you have to be a little brave to dive, and lastly there are rivers. You just have to be plain stupid to dive in these rivers. Zero visibility, overhead boat traffic, ripping current, and you don't know what you're gonna get swept into or what's gonna get swept into you. They would dive all of it! Most of these people never even dove in the ocean. We always joked that if it rained enough, these people would be standing in the puddle in their backyard with a yardstick to see if they could dive into it. Divers can be weird, man."
"I used to work at a local game store that sold Magic: The Gathering stuff and lots of other table top games. There was this guy and his son who would come in once or twice a week and buy two booster boxes of Magic cards. These boxes ran them about $112 each after tax. Other than just selling cards, our store also purchased single cards for about 60% of their value in store credit, or 45% of the value in cash. Kind of like a pawn shop.
Well each week, without fail, they would come in, buy two boxes of cards, then sell us back all the cards they opened in those boxes for 60% of their value in store credit, then immediately use it to buy another box, usually adding cash or cards from their collection to it because it was unlikely that they could open enough value to buy another box. They would then open the third box and sell us all the cards again for cash and then leave.
Essentially, they were giving us $340 in cash, all of the cards from all three boxes, and then leaving with about $40 in their pocket. What aggravates me is that this guy was like 40 years old and his son was only 10ish, so he was setting such a bad example for him.
Another funny example of something similar to this was this one kid who would be in the store like four days out of the week, we'll call him Pack kid. Pack kid was an adult of around 25 years of age, and would buy and open a premium booster pack; normally they cost $4, but the premium ones were over $10. He would open the pack and then if he opened a rare that was worth more than another pack, he would sell it to the shop on the spot immediately, and buy another pack. If he fell short a dollar or two, he would make up the difference with cash. If his first pack fell too short, he would just straight up buy another pack or two. He would try and get through as many packs as he could until he was left with nothing. I never once saw him walk away with any cards of value. We would hold secret bets on how much he would spend doing this each time because he was essentially just giving us money hand over fist by paying for the pack, and then selling us the contents for about 50-60% of their worth in store credit to buy more packs.
Once, I saw him open a Jace The Mind Sculptor, and at the time it was worth like $80. Dude sold it for five more packs, and proceeded to open another $60 card. Sold that for more packs. By the time he was done, he had nothing and left all the common cards on the table as chaff. He probably could have gotten another 3 or 4 packs with the value of the chaff he left."
"I worked for an indoor lacrosse team (National Lacrosse League) and we had more than a few psycho fans. The craziest ones I can remember would have the players sign their arms and then go get those tattooed (keep in mind, this is professional indoor lacrosse). There was also the guy who painted his face for every single game; the guy who got the logo cut into his hair every season; the guy who built a beanbag toss board to look like the field and got the players to sign it; the guy who offered every player a job for the off-season; the obsessive letter-writer girl asking about every detail of the player's lives; and the guy who had the largest collection of lacrosse memorabilia on the planet and would harass players during warmups. I could go on and on.
The weirdest was when people asked for my autograph to complete their collection for the season or ask for photos with me. I was legit invited to a dude's proposal because I worked in the front office. He wanted me to be next to him when he proposed to his girlfriend along with the team mascot. I was suddenly out of town that weekend and did not attend. People are insane."
"I used to work in public education at a zoo. Every zoo gets some crazies who think of the animals as their pets. One guest, I'll call her Nancy, loved our great apes and jaguars. When our much loved bonobo died, all the staff were sad. He was old and had passed away from heart failure. Then I realized that Nancy was probably coming in that day, as I hadn't seen her the day before. I grabbed my boss and the next hour was all radio calls around the zoo determining who had to be the one to tell her. I threatened to quit if it fell on me.
It was determined that the primate supervisor had to tell Nancy, as the supervisor had been the one to discover the death that morning. When she arrived at the main entrance, the supervisor was called and several security people stationed themselves near the bonobo exhibit. When Nancy got the news, she cried a bit and went home to mourn. We were relieved.
Then she showed up the next day screaming at staff that we didn't even attempt CPR on a bonobo whose end we had been expecting for months. Then she started grabbing guests and telling them how terrible the zoo staff were. Police were called. Within a couple of weeks, there was a restraining order in place, and Nancy is still not allowed on the property more than a decade later. I wish that was the only restraining order against a guest in my time there, but sadly it was not."
"In college, I worked on a photo essay about a haunted house that took its job very seriously. Actors wore no masks (only special effects make-up and it was good), had to create full characters, and yelling or saying 'boo' was forbidden, because you had to create a full character with dialogue. It was a super scary house--the highest-level actors who spooked people out front even carried real weapons. I acted there one night, wearing several layers of latex on my face and breaking blood capsules in my mouth for added effect and it was one of the most fun nights of my life.
The house attracted a lot of Dungeons and Dragons/gaming/nerd types, and some of these people took this INCREDIBLY SERIOUSLY. Many of them never showered for the duration of the season--about two months, if not longer--so that you smelled them long before you heard or saw them in the house. It really did add to the scare factor.
But one woman, who had a spot in a wooded trail between buildings, took it to the next level. All day during season, she would binge eat. She was tiny, but she would eat these massive meals all day. Then, when hiding in the bushes, she'd stuff blood capsules into her mouth to make herself throw up massive, bloody puddles. It was...horrifying."
"One of my best friends worked at Toys R Us back in the late 90s/early 00s. According to him, Matchbox car collectors were the worst, all lonely-looking, middle-aged guys. They knew the exact day new shipments were coming in and would be there waiting outside the store to make a mad scramble for the Matchbox aisle as soon as the doors were unlocked.
Then they'd hover over the stocker as he was unboxing and trying to shelve them. The more sketchy of them would try to open the boxes themselves and sift through them. The employees would tell them to stop and one guy actually got banned from the store for being a bit too confrontational about it (he was a 'regular' all the employees knew and hated, even the other collectors couldn't stand him). It wasn't a massive group, maybe just about 10-12, but still enough to where he hated opening on 'Matchbox' day because he knew he was gonna have to deal with those guys."
"I was a forensic death investigator and we would get the occasional person who thought it was interesting because they'd seen CSI or Law and Order a few times. But one guy takes the cake. This fanboy showed up to a suspected homicide scene and was chattering at the poor guys guarding the scene and trying to snap a few pics. I figured he was really nosy, tone-deaf press, gave him a scolding, and told him that what he was doing wasn't appropriate and was disrespectful of the deceased. He agreed and left, and I figured that was the last I'd see of him.
But no, a week later, the same guy showed up at another questionable scene, but it doesn't click that something is seriously off until he showed up at what turned out to be a suicide a complete county away from the last scene. Apparently, I wasn't alone in my concerns, as he was creeping out some of the other investigators who'd noticed him while working their cases, too.
I got one of my coworkers to shake him down and see who the heck he was and what business he had there. Sure, we get rubberneckers all the time who are curious and a bit loony but no big deal; once the excitement passes, they move on. This guy had no criminal record and didn't work for the press, so one of my superiors had a talk with him, saying that he was making people nervous and that it looked pretty shady to just start showing up at crime scenes.
The guy took the hint for a while and decided on a new tactic: this lunatic showed up at one of my favorite dive bars. Now, I'm a 5'7" woman who doesn't look imposing in the least, so I also made it a point to live well away from where I work, for various reasons. He tried to buy me a drink and chat me up with some of the creepiest stuff I have ever heard: 'What's the worst crime scene you've investigated?' 'Have you ever worked on a case where the victim was dismembered?' 'Do you think assault/murder cases are really about power dynamics and not other motives?'
I completely shut him down, not even trying to be polite, and he seemed a little put off but not apologetic in the least. I put in a notice with the district attorney's office and the medical examiner's office to give them a heads up and start a paper trail for a restraining order. He was served with a cease and desist a few days later.
Not even 24 hours after the cease and desist was delivered, he was back to shadowing crime scenes like it was going out of style and even got into an altercation with one of the uniformed officers. He got slammed with trespassing, obstruction, and a few other charges, but since he had no record, he was let out on bail and soon after showed up to a scene I was working. We got into a scuffle after he broke one of my guy's nose to get onto the scene and my partner and I finally got him cuffed. It turned out he had a police scanner and a lot of creepy journals in his car, as well as notes on where I lived and worked along with info on one of the other female investigators.
Yeah, I never thought people would be that obsessed with crime scenes, forensics, or the like that they'd end up going to jail. He's still in jail (multiple felonies and attacking public servants in Texas), which is a relief because he was one of those people where it felt like it was only a matter of time before it escalated even further. I still have a restraining order in place even though I'm medically retired from the profession."
"I worked at Disney in college and that obviously attracted quite rabid enthusiasts. The folks in Tokyo Disney, however, take it to new levels. I don't know much about Japanese culture, but they definitely like their cute stuff.
In Japan, they have a very popular character named Duffy The Bear. He's Mickey Mouse's teddy bear and they tried introducing him in the US to duplicate his success from overseas, but it did not take off like it has there. I didn't realize until I visited Tokyo just how insanely obsessive people are. You will see a LOT of people, men and women of all ages, bringing their Duffy teddy bears to the parks.
They sell outfits for Duffy, which I think were like $40-50 each, and people have tons of outfit changes for them, even changing them while at the park depending on the occasion. I saw young college-age girls matching their outfits with Duffy, and even saw one girl having dinner with her Duffy (Duffy was seated at the table with her with a fake plate and fake food on it). An older couple in front of me at a store bought $280 worth of Duffy keychains. Madness."
"My parents live near a small airport. One day, a light plane ran out of fuel and crashed into their front yard, killing the pilot. There were emergency services and media everywhere, but eventually everyone went home, leaving the plane wreckage there (with the body still inside) until the forensics guys arrived the next day.
When the road was reopened, lots of people were driving by trying to get a glimpse of the wreckage. I understand that; a plane crash is rare and you are unlikely to see one again. Heck, I might have been tempted to drive by to have a look if I couldn't already see it by looking through the window.
But some guys took it to the next level and were essentially parked in the street, waiting all night. A security guard had been posted at the wreckage and I asked him what they were there for. He said that souvenir hunters would travel miles in order to grab a piece of wreckage, especially if it was from a fatal crash. The bits with the registration number were the most valuable as you could prove what crash it was from.
If the security guard wasn't there, these weirdos would have jumped the fence and started ripping bits off an active crime scene with a body still inside. The body was removed the next day and the plane was removed the day after. When the cleanup crew departed, they accidentally left behind the big bit with the number on the side, a pair of Ray Ban Aviators, and the radio. I was tempted to keep them, as they were now part of the history of the house, but it was a bit too creepy so I called them back and they took them away."
"I volunteer with a convention company and do random tasks like working the merch booth, running autograph lines, etc. The convention I was working for was a pretty big name television show (at least it was) and one of the main actors was on stage that day. Since there are so many people wanting to ask questions, there's a huge line for this guy. Eventually his time is up and the MC comes on stage to see him off. As he starts to wrap up and say goodbye, we just hear this SCREAM come from the middle of the line.
A woman had managed to collapse on the floor in tears, sobbing about how she was never going to be able to ask her question now. A volunteer had come over to try and console her, but it had gotten so bad (and loud) that the actor had heard her from the stage. Being a decent enough guy, he stopped the panel for a second and asked if she was alright, as he genuinely thought something had happened to her. She explained through her tears that she was a HUGE fan and had SUCH an important thing to say to him but she was NEVER going to be able to now. Nobody really knew what to do in that sort of situation, so he awkwardly shuffled over to the side of the stage she was closest to and asked what her question was.
She proceeded to pull out her GameBoy and show him a poorly drawn picture of him she made on it. The audience, who had paid hundreds of dollars to come, had to wait five minutes as she explained how she drew it and ran across the convention room to find one of the video cameras to shove her machine at so everyone could see the photo. There was no question whatsoever, just gushing about how much she was in love with him. Usually, the fans at those things are a little obsessive, but that was definitely one of the stories that stuck out to me the most."
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