NORMAN — Before you criticize someone — goes this oft-quoted advice — you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, you’ll be a mile away from him when you say it … and you’ll have his shoes.
It is in that spirit of wisdom that we announce the 8th annual edition of the coveted Sammy Awards.
The eponymous Sammies recognize not only everyone who knows what “eponymous” means, but those individuals who have come to my attention over the past 12 months almost exclusively through fault of their own.
The “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” Sammy goes to:
A curious 24-year-old man in Stockholm, N.Y.
Back in May, the Associated Press reported that state police in St. Lawrence County had arrested 25-year-old Shawn Mossow for wounding his friend in the right leg with a .22 caliber rifle.
Mossow, who was charged with reckless endangerment, had been hounded by his buddy — unnamed by the police — to shoot him.
Because — authorities said — the shootee (who corroborated Mossow’s story) just wanted to know what it feels like to be shot.
Well, now he knows.
The “Criminal Mastermind” Sammy goes to:
Arthur Brundage, of East Syracuse, N.Y.
In October, the Huffington Post reported that an unarmed Brundage, 28, went into a bank and demanded $20,000.
The teller, after initially refusing, gave the young man some money, and Brundage left with his ill-gotten gains.
But he came back later. Police found him at the bank’s locked front door, claiming he was shortchanged because the teller didn’t give him the whole 20 grand.
Brundage has been charged with fourth-degree grand larceny.
The “Consumer Reports” Sammy goes to:
Suzanne Besham, of Springfield, Mo.
Ms. Besham, 47, was involved in a business transaction in which she paid $40 for what she had every reason to believe was crack cocaine, according to the Buster website in January.
Upon discovering that her purchase turned out to be sugar, she called the local police and demanded that they arrest her drug dealer and get her a refund.
Police discovered that Ms. Besham had a crack pipe, and she was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia.
The “You Can Get Into Big Trouble If You Break This Law” Sammy goes to:
Giulio Cesare Fava, mayor of Falciano del Massico, in Italy.
Newscore reported in March that Signor Fava had forbidden any of the town’s residents to die.
“It is forbidden for residents,” the mayor said, “to go beyond the boundaries of early life, to go into the afterlife.”
It seems Falciano del Massico’s 4,000 residents are building a new cemetery, and until Mayor Fava gained the right permits, the townsfolk had to stay above ground or risk breaking the law.
The “Parents Of The Year” Sammy goes to:
An Egyptian couple with a flighty idea.
Overwhelming the fierce competition in this category were an unidentified mom and dad who tried to smuggle their 5-month-old baby in their luggage at the Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates in July.
“When customs officials saw the baby inside the bag at the X-ray scanner, they were stunned,” police officials told Gulf News. “This machine is very dangerous for anyone, let alone a baby in a bag, to pass through.”
Police said the couple resorted to the dangerous subterfuge because the infant didn’t have a passport or visa, and “they wanted to have him with them in the UAE.”
Authorities said the baby could have died after being put into the luggage.
A truly scary thought: How did the visa-less baby and his parents get through airport security in Egypt on their way to the UAE?
The “Ingrate Of The Year” Sammy goes to:
The world’s worst boss.
Jackie Bruscia was not only Debbie Stevens’ boss at the Atlantic Automotive Group in West Islip on Long Island, they were pals — at least that’s what Stevens, 49, thought.
That’s why when Bruscia, 61, needed a kidney transplant, Stevens went to the extraordinary measure of donating one of her kidneys. Since they weren’t a perfect medical match, reported the New York Post, Stevens donated her left kidney to the national pool, helping Bruscia get a transplant sooner than she might have otherwise.
And they all lived happily ever after … right up until Bruscia fired Stevens.
Well, actually, not even that long.
“Something was very different when I got back,” Stevens said. “I don’t have words strong enough or large enough to describe her treatment of me. Screaming at me about things I never did, carrying on to the point where she wouldn’t even let me leave my desk. It was constant, constant screaming.”
“I will always be grateful that she gave me a kidney,” Bruscia told 1010 WINS-AM radio. “I have nothing bad to say about her. I will always be grateful to her — she did a wonderful thing for me.”
Wonderful or not, Stevens is out of a job.
“You hate me so much, and I’m so despicable,” cried Stevens, “give me my kidney back!”
In October, the New York State Division on Human Rights ruled that Stevens had been unjustly fired, noting that there was “probable cause” that the dealership engaged in a discriminatory practice because of the transplant, and paved the way for Stevens’ $15 million lawsuit against Bruscia and the company.
Stevens may well get her pound of flesh, but Bruscia, at last report, is keeping the kidney.
Sam Pollak is the editor of The Daily Star in Oneonta, N.Y.