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Unexpected, Unwelcome Visitors

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So I live in an apartment in a pretty reasonable neighborhood. But I get a constant flow of slightly weird people ringing my doorbell and wanting something, or being angry with me. Does this happen to everybody? Here's a rundown of some recent activity:

1. Oil Change Guy - a guy in overalls who knocked *and* rang my doorbell at 5:15pm, just after I'd walked up my stairs after returning home from work (had he been waiting around for me to come home?). I walked right back down the steps and opened the door. He wanted to sell me twenty oil changes at some local shop for the low-low price of $200. The deal was, I'd give him cash and he'd give me these vaguely suspicious-looking coupons. I agreed that it was a good price, but I really didn't expect to need twenty oil changes any time soon. And, too bad, I didn't have any cash on me. Plus: totally sketchy. He began bargaining, bringing the price down to $150, and finally to $80 -- and he wanted to walk with me to an ATM. His last line was, "That's only four bucks per oil change, bro!" I was forced to close the door on him.

2. Angry Marketing Lady - a lady in a business suit who rang my doorbell at 7am, angrily repeating the doorbell-ringing as I jumped to put on some halfway decent clothes. When I answered the door she said: "You're late! Jeez, I've been out here for ten minutes! This is not the way to start a marketing relationship." Now, I've never seen this lady before in my life, and I said something to that effect. She took another look at me -- with my bedhead and crumpled band tee shirt -- then asked, "Is this XYZ Produce Company?" I assured her that, indeed, I was not the one late for a marketing meeting with XYZ Produce Company. She left in a huff.

3. Blanket Dude - a gentleman who rang my doorbell at midnight and asked if he could borrow a blanket. (I nearly didn't answer the door, but figured he wouldn't be ringing it at midnight if he didn't need something.) I said, "You want to borrow it or have it?" He replied, "Have it." So I gave him a blanket, he made the sign of the cross, and he went on his way.

4. "The End is Nigh" Couple - a man and woman wearing matching beige suits and holding clipboards rang my doorbell at 2pm (while I was working from home). I had been getting these pamphlets through the mail slot for several days indicating that the world would be ending circa 2011, and encouraging me to buy a book that would explain what to do about it. (As I recall, the pamphlets had a lot of full-color illustrations of deer and other woodland creatures watching a nuclear blast in the distance.) When I answered the door, I found that this couple had been leaving them, and they were determined to speak to everyone in the neighborhood about this world-ending situation. The woman said, "Would you like to learn more about the End Times?" I had to close the door as she continued with her speech.

5. The Meat Salesman - this one actually happened back in the 90's, but it deserves a mention. I was living in Tallahassee with some school friends, and one evening this guy came to our door with a cardboard box filled with meat. Long story short, the guy claimed that he worked at some restaurant and had mistakenly ordered all this meat, and he had to sell it off pronto to avoid being fired. So his loss was our gain. He had a truck full of various kinds of meat, packed in these cardboard boxes and vacuum-sealed. My roommates proceeded to buy several hundred dollars' worth of meat from this entrepreneur. I declined. For what it's worth, the meat seemed okay and they did eat it all. I'm just not sure why anyone would want to buy hundreds of dollars of meat on a whim from a stranger.

So here's my question: who has come to your doorstep unannounced? Have you had any interesting scammers come by? Also: has anything good ever come from a random visitor?

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.


According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.


In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.


Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.


This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.


Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.


This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.


This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.


If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”


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