The ATC Report

"In Control" Vol. XIV, No. 8

We apologize for the late start to this column, but (once again) we were delayed by a sporting event. Today it was The Masters golf tournament. Of course, you folks on the West Coast probably had no idea that it ran 40 minutes long, as all of your shows started on time. So anyhow, please bear with us and we will begin in about 40 minutes from now. Here - we don't want all of you to have to waste time waiting for us to start, so why not go do something else for the next forty minutes, and then come back. You will be just in time for the start.

Sure, take your time! We'll be ready when you get back. What? Well, if you really think you have the stamina to do THAT 8 times, go for it Mailman Jamie. (We were talking about running around the block. What did YOU think we were speaking of?)

(40 minutes later)

OK, so welcome back. Now we can finally begin. We're going to call tonight's column, "The Darwin Awards of the Amazing Race". You all know the Darwin Awards, right? They are awards issued to people who successfully remove themselves from the gene pool by doing completely idiotic things. Here's an example:

In 2008, in the Czech Republic, a thief was trying to steal the steel cable from an elevator shaft. (Apparently high-grade steel is worth quite a bit of money in the Czech Republic.) He used a hacksaw to cut through the cable atop the elevator car, which then released the counterweight at the top of the shaft. Result? One very thin, very dead thief. (Source: 2008 Darwin Award: Thou Shalt Not Steel)

Here's another fine example:

In Italy, in 2008, a man found himself stopped at a stop light - on a set of railroad tracks. Realizing that a train was approaching, the man jumped from his car...and ran towards the train, waving his arms and attempting to stop the train. At least the car ended up having less damage than him. (Source: 2008 Darwin Award: A One Track Mind)

Then there are those "Honorable Mentions". These folks pull stunts that are in every way worthy of a Darwin Award, but don't actually kill themselves in the process.  Here's an example of one of those:

In April of 2007, a man decided that it would be a good idea to drive his lit BBQ grill to a friend's house by placing it in the bed of his pickup. Did we forget to mention that there was also a full propane tank in the truck? The moon survived the ensuing explosion with only burns on his legs. (Source: Honorable Mention: Bed Of Embers)

And then there are those "Urban Legends". These are the stories that somehow get circulated in e-mail after e-mail as being 100% true, but are sadly false. There's the one about the scuba diver who got scooped up by a forest-fire-fighting helicopter and dumped onto a burning forest fire, still in full scuba gear. Or the one about the teenager who decided to recreate the apple pie scene from "American Pie" - only he forgot to let the pie cool first.

Anyhow, we think that we may have found The Amazing Race's leading contenders for a Darwin Award. In this case, the award would be given to a team whose actions are so stupid that they cause their elimination from the race.

We're not talking about the normal stupid things that racers do, either. (You know what we mean by "normal" stupid things. For instance, thinking that taking a taxi across Paris during rush hour can't possibly take longer than the one hour the team has to make a connecting flight.) We're talking about really and truly boneheaded decisions made by racers to get themselves eliminated.

Think about Marshall and Lance in season 5. They quit. Pretty boneheaded, right? How about Momily in season one intentionally violating the rules? Or Mark and Bill of last season - the latest in the line of those who forgot to read the clue.

But all these pale when compared to this season's entry of Mark & Michael. It's true, they haven't been eliminated yet, which is why they are still just contenders for the award.

Let's face it - both Mark/Michael and Lakisha/Jennifer were neck and neck tonight in trying to take the title of "Season's Dumbest Team". Leaving your backpacks behind (and all of your money/passports in the case of the latter two), is not the brightest of moves. But Mark & Michael managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again by incurring two more time penalties - the second consecutive leg that they've been penalized. Can anyone think of another team that has managed to incur four time penalties in an entire race, let alone in just two legs? Four penalties for a total of 5 hours in delays - all because of their stupidity.

Next leg, when the M&Ms are finally eliminated, they will earn their crown as the first ever "Amazing Race Darwin Awards" winners. Nicely done.