Bluff The Listener
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Mo Rocca, Amy Dickinson and Hari Kondabolu. And here, again, is your host...
KURTIS: ...At the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill. Thank you so much.
SAGAL: Right now it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to play our game on the air. Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
SAGAL: Hi. Who's this?
LEAH: This is Leah (ph).
SAGAL: Leah, where are you calling from?
LEAH: I'm calling from Columbia University in New York.
SAGAL: Oh, Columbia University up there in the north side of Manhattan. Are you from New York?
LEAH: No. I'm from the Bay Area in California.
SAGAL: Oh, really? How did you enjoy transitioning to life in the big city of Manhattan?
LEAH: It was really fun. I really like it here.
SAGAL: Oh, really? People...
LEAH: Yeah. There's so much to do.
MO ROCCA: It's great.
SAGAL: Are you sure you're from the Bay Area? Because no one is ever supposed to - from the Bay Area - ever to praise any place else.
LEAH: Yeah. That's what everyone else tells me.
SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Leah. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Leah's topic?
KURTIS: Nine-one-one? I think you wanted 311.
SAGAL: Don't worry. Things are not as bad as it seems - is a sentence that only applies to this week's Bluff the Listener story. Our panelists are going to tell you about a false alarm we heard about in the news. Pick the one who's telling the truth. And you'll win our prize - the voice of the WAIT WAITer (ph) of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?
SAGAL: All right. Let's hear first from Hari Kondabolu.
HARI KONDABOLU: Mark Shurtleff (ph) and Gillian Canavan (ph) were returning home to their Brooklyn brownstone from a lovely honeymoon in the Bahamas when their worst fears were realized. Their home security alarm was blasting. And police officers were standing in front of their building. One officer on the scene told them, I've never seen anything like this. But upon further investigation, it wasn't a robbery at all. Sometime over the weekend, Mark's dog Tom (ph) escaped from a neighbor who was watching him and returned home through the doggy door, setting off the alarm's motion sensors. But Tom wasn't alone. He brought the neighbor's dog and cat, along with three other dogs.
KONDABOLU: The place was left in shambles - muddy paw prints, shredded sofa cushions. And animal waste was everywhere. Most shockingly, a wine bottle had been knocked over. And the animals licked its contents clean off the floor.
KONDABOLU: This would explain the cat passed out in its own vomit on the stairs.
KONDABOLU: And there was also no water left in any of the toilet bowls.
KONDABOLU: Clearly, a desperate attempt to get sober.
KONDABOLU: When police initially entered, Tom was in the living room, having relations with the neighbor's dog...
KONDABOLU: ...In what Officer Toby Crittenden (ph) described as, quote, "in a style that doggies are accustomed to."
KONDABOLU: Mark suspects Tom was heartbroken over the marriage of his longtime owner and perhaps wanted to, quote, "go on a bender." Both owner and dog are now in pet therapy, a booming industry in their neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn.
SAGAL: An alarm...
SAGAL: ...In Park Slope...
SAGAL: ...Turns out just to be a corgi orgy.
AMY DICKINSON: Oh, gosh.
SAGAL: Your next story of an un-emergency comes from Amy Dickinson.
DICKINSON: Emily Mason (ph) is a structural engineer getting her Ph.D. at Cornell University. In between projects, she indulges her hobby - surfing through the dozens of Instagram accounts devoted to her favorite building, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Tourist pictures fall into a few different categories. There's, oh, it's so tiny. I can squeeze it between my fingers. Or the inevitable oh, no. This tower belongs in my trousers.
DICKINSON: So many tourists were taking selfies with the tower in the background that the city of Pisa installed a wooden selfie platform 200 yards away. But starting about six months ago, the American engineer noticed something odd. In dozens of selfies posted over the course of several weeks, the tower appeared to be straightening itself ever so slowly. She analyzed the photos and estimated that, at this rate, in only five years, this tourist landmark would have to be renamed the-not-very-interesting-tower-in-some-Italian-town.
DICKINSON: After publishing her findings in a paper called "Lean On: A Famous Tower Finally Goes Straight," officials in Pisa officially freaked out. An international team of experts, armed with lasers and ladders, closed the tower down while they investigated this mystery. A Belgian engineer finally figured out what was happening. Woodchucks had burrowed under the wooden selfie platform. And it was starting to lean at an angle...
DICKINSON: ...Opposite of the towers. They said, (imitating Italian accent) falso alarme.
DICKINSON: The American engineer has been forced to apologize.
SAGAL: The Leaning Tower of Pisa...
SAGAL: ...Thankfully, still leaning. No worries there. The last story of nothing being wrong comes from Mo Rocca.
ROCCA: On a recent Wednesday in the British Midlands city of Birmingham, an ordinary citizen passed by the downtown branch of NatWest Bank and noticed employees cowering beneath their desks. Naturally, the passerby alerted the police. And officers were on the scene in minutes, only to learn that the employees weren't under siege. They were playing hide-and-seek as a team-building exercise.
ROCCA: The bank was embarrassed. The police simply laughed. And life returned to normal. A funny incident that, for one brief moment, made people forget that, in 30 years, Earth will be uninhabitable.
SAGAL: On that charming note...
SAGAL: ...Here are your choices. From Hari Kondabolu, the story of some vacationers from Brooklyn who thought their house had been ransacked, when it turns out it was only a bunch of dogs having fun and one drunk cat. From Amy Dickinson, the authorities in Pisa, Italy, becoming concerned that their famous leaning tower would no longer lean. It turns out it was just the place where they're taking photographs from. And finally, from Mo Rocca, a story of a bank robbery that wasn't. It was just the employees playing hide-and-seek. Which of these is the real story of an emergency that wasn't in this week's news?
LEAH: I liked the Leaning Tower of Pisa story. But I feel like the bank story is true.
SAGAL: You feel like the bank story is true. So you're going to choose...
SAGAL: ...Mo's story of the bank employees playing hide-and-seek.
SAGAL: All right. That's your choice. We spoke to someone familiar with the real story.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DAVID GOLDSTEIN: And I'm sure hide-and-seek was fun as a kid. But in a bank, in front of the public...
GOLDSTEIN: ...It didn't seem like the smartest idea.
SAGAL: That was David Goldstein. He's the founder of TeamBuilding (ph), one of the largest corporate team building companies in the country, talking about the reasons not to use hide-and-seek as a team building exercise, especially in a bank, especially during business hours.
SAGAL: Congratulations, Leah. You got it right.
ROCCA: Thank you, Leah.
SAGAL: You earned a point for Mo.
ROCCA: Thank you, Leah.
SAGAL: And, of course, you have won our prize...
LEAH: Thank you.
SAGAL: ...The voice of anyone you may choose.
LEAH: Thank you.
SAGAL: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO BIG DEAL")
LYLE LOVETT: (Singing) She said, man, it may be no big deal to you, but it's a very big deal to me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.