Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell us three stories of people solving a little problem with extreme measures.


From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Maz Jobrani, Amy Dickinson and Roy Blount, Jr. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

MIKE TRIGGS: Hi, this is Mike Triggs.

SAGAL: Hey, Mike, how are you?

TRIGGS: Oh, very fine.

SAGAL: And where are you calling from?

TRIGGS: I'm calling from Scottsdale, Arizona.

SAGAL: Oh, a beautiful place. What do you do there?

TRIGGS: I work for the Phoenician Resort.

SAGAL: The Phoenician Resort, is this something I should know about, the Phoenician?

TRIGGS: You should. It's got to be one of the nicest resorts in the United States.

SAGAL: Oh wow. And is it Phoenician in the theme?




SAGAL: Oh I see.


SAGAL: Phoenician as in Phoenix.

TRIGGS: Yeah, absolutely.

SAGAL: I thought it was Phoenician as in the ancient seafaring people of the Mediterranean.


SAGAL: Well, welcome to our show, Mike. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Mike's topic?

KASELL: If you've got a nail, I've got a sledgehammer.

SAGAL: Everybody's got problems, but sometimes the solution can be worse. This week, we heard about somebody overreacting to a minor annoyance. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories of overkill. You tell us which one is the real one. Ready to play?

TRIGGS: I certainly am.

SAGAL: First, let's heard from Maz Jobrani.

MAZ JOBRANI: Emily Jones is planning to spend New Year's with her girlfriends in sunny Puerto Rico. But before she hits the beach, she's got a couple pounds she'd like to lose. When the girls told me we were going I was like, awesome. But then I looked at myself in the mirror and I was like, ew.


JOBRANI: "That's when I went online and found Solitary. Solitary dieting is the latest extreme weight loss fad sweeping Beverly Hills. Founder Lee Jacobs told L.A. Weekly how it works. We basically lock you up in solitary confinement and feed you only what we can fit under the crack of your door.


JOBRANI: Saltines, rice cakes, some of your skinnier veggie and greens. Solitary clients rave about the results. Says Ms. Jones, when I came out, I was really lonely, desperate for any kind of human interaction, but also in the best shape of my life.


JOBRANI: Not eating and doing sit-ups in a tiny cell can really be good for your abs. Jacobs says he first came up with the idea after thinking about his own time in solitary.


JOBRANI: Two decades later, Jacobs is a new man and an entrepreneur helping people shed weight fast. He says he gets up to 10 clients a week, which keeps his 10-room facilities full at all times. Sometimes it gets overcrowded in there, just like a regular prison. I hear the girls yelling at each other from cell to cell. If I let them out, we'd have riots. Then with a sigh, he reminisces, reminds me of the old days.



SAGAL: The solitary confinement diner plan from Maz. Your next story of using a nuke when a flyswatter would do comes from Amy Dickinson.

DICKINSON: Ho, ho, no. Sometimes Santa gets a bad case of the grouchies. Case in point: Tthe sad, sad story of Martin McMillan, a department store Santa Claus at the huge Macy's store in downtown Dallas. The elements for a perfect storm of holiday hell were all there: an overheated department store, a line of squirmy children, and the free candy canes that some kids quickly licked down into sharp sword-like points.


DICKINSON: When little Jeannie Shepherd(ph) sat on Santa's lap and tugged his beard to see if it was real, Santa blew a gasket. While he was trying to displace the child from his seat, she jammed her candy cane into what the police later referred to as his lap area.


DICKINSON: Santa has filed a Workman's Comp claim and has sued the department store for maintaining an unsafe working environment, claiming that his lap is his special workspace.


SAGAL: Macy's is countersuing, accusing Santa of conduct unbecoming.


SAGAL: Lawsuits over...


SAGAL: ungrateful child on Santa's lap. And your last story of overdoing it comes from Roy Blount, Jr.

ROY BLOUNT JR: What is it like to look into the face of sheer evil? Ask Rick Raymond, buster of gold brickers, scourge of pseudo-sickos. The current economy, which makes whiners feel trapped in their jobs, has brought on a surge of malingering, reports BusinessWeek magazine. And that means boom times for private eyes like Rick. Workers call the office and claim they've caught some kind of bug, they've been run over by a truck, they can't seem to shake that brain tumor.


BLOUNT JR: Right, right, they are stealing from their employer just as surely as if they were breaking into his home and threatening him and his loved ones, maybe even slapping his pets around at gunpoint until his lawyer gives up the combination of his safe. But they don't get away with that for long, not after their company calls in a crack private investigator. A Rick Raymond will surveil a phony sufferer until he sees into his very soul. And at the first sign of health, that's when the shirker's true inner sickness is laid bare.


SAGAL: All right. So these are your choices, these are three stories of perhaps an overreaction to a problem. From Maz Jobrani, people who are locking themselves in solitary just to lose weight. From Amy Dickinson, counter lawsuits in Dallas just because one child did not behave herself in Santa's lap. And from Roy Blount, Jr., a private detective whose job is to check on people who are claiming sick days from work. Which of these is a real story in the week's news?

TRIGGS: Well, I do know that there are people that actually claim sick days. But I don't think that's the one. I'm going to go with the solitary dieting because I think I actually know two people that went there.


SAGAL: Really?


SAGAL: All right. Your choice then is Max Jobrani's story of a prison-like dieting facility where they just feed you what they can fit under the door. Well, we spoke to the person who was actually at the center of this story.

RICK RAYMOND: The employer initiated surveillance on the employee and we determined that she was with her son and daughter, nieces and nephews at Universal Studios, riding rides and volunteering for the park's animal show.

SAGAL: So that was sick day bounty hunter Rick Raymond.


SAGAL: A licensed P.I. in Florida. I'm afraid you didn't get the right answer. That was Roy's story. But you did get a point for Maz. We're very happy you played.

TRIGGS: Well, thanks very much.

SAGAL: Thanks for having us.

TRIGGS: You bet.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.



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