Throughout the year, some events provide a bit of respite from the daily grind and remind us that human nature and failings are qualities shared worldwide.
Here is a lighthearted selection from AFP’s “offbeat” stories for 2013:
– A tired German bank employee dozed off on his keyboard and accidentally transformed a minor transfer into one of 222 million euros ($293 million), a court heard in June.
The Hessen court was told that the man was going to transfer just 62.40 euros from a pensioner’s bank account, but “fell asleep for an instant, while pushing onto the number 2 key on the keyboard” — upgrading it to a 222,222,222.22 euro operation.
The bank quickly discovered the mistake and corrected the beneficiary’s brief windfall.
– A terrified New Zealand burglar handed himself in after breaking into a darkened house in June and bumping into a hanging corpse, waking neighbours with his blood-curdling screams, police said.
The would-be thief was arrested when he called police in the early hours to report his gruesome encounter in the North Island town of Hamilton, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Inspector Greg Nicholls said it was the most unusual case he had seen in his 28-year career, and felt it would prompt the burglar to mend his ways.
– A wealthy Chinese Maserati owner hired four sledgehammer-wielding men to smash his $420,000 (307,470-euro) supercar in protest at poor customer service, a newspaper said in May.
The car owner, identified only by his surname Wang, had the quartet attack his Maserati Quattroporte at an auto show in the eastern city of Qingdao in Shandong province, the Qingdao Morning Post reported.
Video images showed the men performing their task with gusto, leaving the vehicle with a shattered windscreen and mirrors, the grille broken and dents to the bodywork.
– A German groom got off to a bad start in October after he drove for two hours down the motorway before realising he had left his new bride at a petrol station.
The hapless husband took off from a highway stop while, unbeknown to him, his wife had gone to the bathroom.
He only noticed his mistake 200 kilometres (125 miles) down the road, because he thought she was sleeping in the back of their camping van.
“My first reaction was: is he stupid?” the 33-year-old bride recalled on private radio station FFH.
– Fed up with people ridiculing its name, Bland Shire in Australia wants to cash in on it by hooking up with Dull in Scotland and the American town of Boring.
Long considered a dreary destination due to its name, Bland’s tourism committee mulled promoting the area in May by establishing sister relationships with similar towns.
Dull and Boring have already joined forces to draw in tourists.
– Thieves turned the notion of jailbreak on its head when they broke into a northern Italian prison to steal a safe in September.
The robbers used underground passages that have no CCTV cameras to reach the prison director’s office and make off with around 5,000 euros ($6,700), the Corriere della Sera newspaper said.
The money had been left there for safekeeping for prisoners by their families.