What we learn from a pitchfork-toting robber

waffle house

It’s just a six-paragraph wire service story, but the article detailing a Georgia man’s efforts at robbing a Waffle House with a pitchfork is chock full o’ life’s rich tapestry.

A warrant has been issued for Jeffrey Wooten after he allegedly robbed a Waffle House in Norcross, Ga., by using a pitchfork to herd employees and customers into the back room, according to a UPI story.

However, things didn’t go as planned for the 50-year old, who may want to rethink his life choices.

“When he realized he couldn’t get the cash register open, he took the whole cash register and exited the store with his pitchfork,” Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers said.

Wooten, wearing coveralls and a ski mask, dropped the implement while leaving the Atlanta-area Waffle House.

A pair of restaurant employees took off after Wooten, with one grabbing the pitchfork and wielding it with great effectiveness, giving Wooten something more to remember of his visit.

Wooten’s vehicle also suffered injuries, as the pitchfork was employed to smash out the back window of his pickup.

In the end, it’s safe to say Wooten came out on the short end of the deal, considering the cost of replacing the back window on a truck and how much money is in the till of a typical Waffle House. Oh, and the fact that he’s looking at some serious time in the hoosegow for armed robbery.

“Once he didn’t have a pitchfork, he wasn’t as brazen. I know that,” Summers said.

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Blast from the past has repercussions to present

La Provence

Ship disasters inevitably garner great attention, but not all disasters are created equal, it would seem.

Ask most Americans which peacetime shipwreck claimed the most lives, for example, and a significant number will assert the loss of the RMS Titanic in 1912. However, that catastrophe, which took 1,517 souls, doesn’t even make the top five.

Atop the list is the Doña Paz, a Philippine passenger ferry which collided with an oil tanker in December 1987 in the Tablas Strait. The resulting fire and sinking claimed nearly 4,400 individuals, nearly three times the loss of the fabled Titanic.

Likewise, ask a group of Americans to name the greatest wartime ship disaster and many will likely venture the RMS Lusitania, the British ship torpedoed by a German U-boat in the Irish Sea in 1915, taking 1,198 civilians and crew with it.

The Lusitania is among the best-known wartime ship disasters, but it’s not even close to being the worst in terms of fatalities.

In World War II alone, there were 15 separate sinkings which took the lives of 3,000 or more individuals, including the German transport vessel Wilhelm Gustloff, sunk by a Soviet submarine in 1945 with an estimated 9,400 deaths.

The Lusitania doesn’t even take top honors for World War I. There were three ships sunk in 1916 alone that resulted in more lives lost than the Lusitania: The SS Principe Umberto, a steamship sunk by an Austro-Hungarian submarine (1,926 deaths); the French troop transport SS Gallia, sunk by a German U-boat (1,338 deaths); and the British battle cruiser HMS Queen Mary, which exploded and sank during the 1916 Battle of Jutland (1,245 lives).

But as this year marks the 100thanniversary of the beginning of Great War, over the next four years it’s likely the Lusitania will garner the lion’s share of attention. That’s unfortunate because hundreds of ships were lost during the conflict, and each sinking created a ripple effect which touched thousands, if not tens of thousands of lives.

That’s not to say those who went down on the Lusitania don’t deserve to be recognized. The sinking served a propaganda coup for Allied forces working to convince the American public to side with their cause. But there were many other craft lost during the war that also deserve to be remembered.

One such vessel is SS La Provence, a former French ocean liner that had been converted to an auxiliary cruiser and was used to transport troops.

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