Tax-free job & pension: No fooling …

Since today is April Fools’ Day, we offer for your consideration two stories.

One’s an urban myth. One is real. But you must solve it the old-fashioned way. Use your brain, not your smart phone or computer! Don’t try to Google your way out of this.

Think. As in you know, like, think!

Read the two stories. See if you can sniff out the one that really happened and detect the one that just doesn’t pass the smell test. Here goes:


1) From the Times of London, the story about the hard-working parking lot attendant at the Bristol, England, zoo. The lot holds 150 cars and spaces for 8 busses. Fees ranged from $1.40 to $1.60 (depending on the rate of the Pound to the U.S. Dollar) and about $7 for buses.

Although zoo managers never noticed, the same devoted attendant worked every day. Never took a vacation or a sick day. Then, one day in 2009, after an estimated 23 years on the job, he failed to show up for work. The zoo called the local council government and told it to send over a replacement. The council checked, called back and said the parking lot is under the zoo’s jurisdiction. The council thought the zoo was paying him and getting the parking fees. The zoo thought he was the council’s guy.

Turns out he worked for himself.

Putting two and two together, authorities estimated that the man probably cleared about $7 million (U.S.). And all of it tax free. Police would like to find him to help with their enquiries. They think he may have purchased a retirement villa in Spain or Portugal.


2) Two former parking lot attendants, at the Smithsonian Air and Space Center in Virginia are behind bars. Their crime? For several years, beginning in 2009, they skimmed an estimated $1.4 million in cash parking fees. Parking at the lot costs $15. When they needed a little cash, which apparently was every day, they unplugged the car-counter equipment.

Officials said on some days, the attendants stuffed as much as $4,000 in tax-free cash in duffle bags which they took home. Their supervisor took money off the top for looking the other way. A third attendant — hired by the private firm that held the Smithsonian contract — killed herself before the trial.

The parking lot contractor has installed a new device that will do a better job of counting cars. And cash.

So which story is an urban myth and which is true?

Click here for the answer.


Compiled by Jack Moore

Happy April Fools’ Day. Check back Tuesday for a new Nearly Useless Factoid.

Has the Nearly Useless Factoid been furloughed? Well, not quite. Here’s a hint: Scroll over and highlight the space above for a special message)


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