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Just stuff (things on my mind that aren't to do with writing)

Dead wrong


On Friday I posted a newspaper cutting about a guy who died while at work and none of his colleagues noticed for five days.

This morning I woke up and thought wtf?

The story claimed that a man called George Turklebaum, a proof-reader, had died at his desk on a Monday morning, and it took until Saturday morning before a cleaner tapped him on the shoulder and then maybe wished she hadn’t.


I mean, really, you’d have to be Mr Magoo with a heavy cold not to notice somebody in your office had been dead for a week. So, in the best traditions of investigative journalism, I went to NewYork turned to Mr Google.

Luckily I didn’t have too far to look. Those nice people at Snopes.com who specialise in debunking urban myths, had got there before me. According to them, the story is a complete hoax, first surfacing in America’s Weekly World News which is well respected for its considered take on global events.


The clipping I posted came from the Sunday Mercury in Birmingham, printed on December 17, 2000, (that’s Birmingham as in the home of Noddy Holder, Ozzy Osbourne and Joe Chamberlain, not Birmingham, Alabama), but the story is about a bloke in New York.

The Sunday Mercury claim they got the story from an NY radio station, but, according to Snopes, no newspapers in New York carried the story, and the Medical Examiner’s office knew nothing about the case. And there was nobody on the Social Security Death Index by the name of Turklebaum.

So there you go. Never believe everything you read in newspapers. Unless, of course, you agree with it.

Pictures courtesy of Creative Commons, via:








About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I like to; even when I can't think of much to say.


16 thoughts on “Dead wrong

  1. I’m pretty sure my staff would throw a party around my dead body here in the office, singing, “Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead” before notifying the authorities of my demise. The bash could go on for days. And then one of them would confiscate my Harry Potter wand and assume the mantle of power over their fellow cube-dwellers. 🙂

    As for red neck vampires, just wander over to the Wally-mart in my, um, neck of the woods. Lots of red neck undead folk in there. Or at least, I’m assuming they’re undead; there’s no doubt they’re red necks… *shudder*

    Posted by Nan Sampson | July 7, 2014, 9:53 pm
    • You could play dead, and see what happens…imagine their surprise when you leap up and shout, ‘Surprise!’ No. Much too tasteless. Sorry. Walmart in Chicago, eh? You need to visit Tesco in Basildon. Perhaps we could organise an exchange…

      Posted by elainecanham | July 7, 2014, 10:30 pm
  2. I see the story of the dead man created a bit of a stink.

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | July 6, 2014, 9:11 pm
  3. Great title! In some jobs, there are death benefits in addition to health insurance.

    Posted by MikeW | July 6, 2014, 6:35 pm
    • Hey Mike, long time no see! I was thinking of you the other day, when I was posting about how much I don’t like exercising (!).

      Posted by elainecanham | July 6, 2014, 7:50 pm
  4. To be fair, those redneck vampires are a menace.

    Posted by Charles Yallowitz | July 6, 2014, 2:34 pm
  5. No…stories like that don’t need to be true. The scribe’s aiming at some greater truth about the banality of work, office…and it’s funny. Beware engineers with pens. atb

    Posted by brightonsauce | July 6, 2014, 1:55 pm
  6. “So there you go. Never believe everything you read in newspapers. Unless, of course, you agree with it.”

    Exactly. There is no telling how many stories from the satirical publication, The Onion, eventually get passed off as fact by gullible idiots.

    Posted by lbwoodgate | July 6, 2014, 12:53 pm
    • Never heard of that one. I’ll go and have a look. We have Private Eye in Britain. (Started by Peter Cook, the guy on that clip I sent to you). It’s excellent.

      Posted by elainecanham | July 6, 2014, 12:55 pm

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