1989: John Barrier of Spokane, Washington went into Old National Bank to cash a $100 check. Then he asked to have his 60-cent parking ticket validated. The cashier refused, saying that merely cashing a check didn't entitle him to free parking. Barrier had a manager called, who also refused to validate the ticket. Barrier suspected that they were refusing because he was dressed in shabby clothes like he had just gotten off a construction job. So he withdrew the entire $2 million he had deposited there and took his money to another bank, Seafirst Bank of Spokane.
The tale of the shabby millionaire eventually ended up being told in Seafirst's company newsletter. From there it made its way to a local newspaper column, and then leapt to the front page of USA Today and national headlines.
Both banks confirmed the basic details of what happened, although a representative for Old National Bank later insisted that they had, eventually, validated Barrier's parking ticket.
An example of the literary genre of the spiteful check was recently in the news.
Scott Dion of Havre, Montana is complaining because the check he sent the city for his property taxes hasn't been cashed. Perhaps because he wrote "sexual favors" in the memo line. Though it's noted that "tax checks he sent in the past with similar memo line notes have been cashed." [NBC Montana]
In the news recently, yet another case of paying with pennies. This time it was Nick Stafford of Cedar Bluff, Virginia who wheelbarrowed 300,000 pennies into the lobby of the DMV.
In cases such as this, the penny payer is usually trying to get revenge for having to pay a fine, but Stafford hadn't been fined. Instead, he was paying the sales tax on two new cars. His beef with the DMV was that it had resisted his effort to make it share with him the direct phone lines to all the local DMV offices.
Stafford spent $840 to make the spite payment, in addition to the payment itself: $400 for the wheelbarrows, which he left at the DMV office, and $440 to pay 11 people to help him break open enough paper rollls of pennies.
As I've said before, it's the responsibility of the person making a payment to demonstrate that all the money is there, not the person getting paid. So the DMV could have forced him to count out all the pennies. If they didn't, I'm sure it's only because they wanted to limit their interaction with him as much as possible.
A "spite house" is a house whose primary reason for being is to annoy someone.
In The Hidden Dimension (1969), which is a study of how people perceive space, the American anthropologist Edward T. Hall described a spite house built in Beirut. Although a "spite wall" might be a more accurate description:
Arabs don't mind being crowded by people but hate to be hemmed in by walls. They show a much greater overt sensitivity to architectural crowding than we do. Enclosed space must meet at least three requirements that I know of if it is to satisfy the Arabs: there must be plenty of unobstructed space in which to move around (possibly as much as a thousand square feet); very high ceilings — so high in fact that they do not normally impinge on the visual field; and, in addition, there must be an unobstructed view. It was spaces such as these in which the Americans referred to earlier felt so uncomfortable.
One sees the Arab's need for a view expressed in many ways, even negatively, for to cut off a neighbor's view is one of the most effective ways of spiting him. In Beirut one can see what is known locally as the "spite house." It is nothing more than a thick, four-story wall, built at the end of a long fight between neighbors, on a narrow strip of land for the express purpose of denying a view of the Mediterranean to any house built on the land behind. According to one of my informants, there is also a house on a small plot of land between Beirut and Damascus which is completely surrounded by a neighbor's wall built high enough to cut off the view from all windows!
I think building a massive wall to block a neighbor's view would actually be considered obnoxious in any culture.
There's plenty of other examples of spite houses described online. See, for example, wikipedia or Mental Floss.
Brett Sanders recently did his part to "end the police state" by paying his $222.60 speeding fine with pennies.
Of course, paying a fine with pennies isn't unusual, but Sanders filmed himself paying the fine, so the entire world gets to witness his elaborate preparations.
It's not clear to me if the municipal court accepted the payment. It has the right to demand that the pennies be in rolls.... which is a detail that penny payers, while crafting their revenge schemes, often overlook.
Someone in Portland, Oregon must have gotten a deal on a large quantity of orange and white dildos. They are turning up around town tied in pairs and thrown over the power lines. No reason has been given and no one has claimed responsibility yet.
Mark Gubin, who lives in Milwaukee, has been perpetrating the same prank on incoming air travelers since 1978. For 27 years he has had Welcome to Cleveland painted on his roof. Passengers on flights landing at Mitchell International Airport are often disconcerted and sometimes panicked by the sign, but its all in good fun according to Gubin. In fact he says, 'Living in the world is not a dress rehearsal. You better have fun with it.'
ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com will send an envelope full of glitter to whomever you want. And embedded in the glitter will be a note explaining why they're getting the shipment. Why glitter? Because it's the "herpes of the craft world" that "gets on everything."
This is similar to the feces by mail service we posted about a few months ago, but a little bit classier.
In Vienna, Austria someone set a bucket full of feces to explode when a line was tripped at a spot where police regularly park to watch for speeders. The police officer who tripped it was covered in poo from six and a half feet away. He wasn't injured except perhaps his dignity.
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
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