How to have a bad day at work

You’ve all had them. Your boss asks the impossible, your computer is running Windows 10 and generally making your life a misery, half your colleagues are pulling sickies to watch some footie match or other, you discover too late there’s no paper in the staff lavatory…

Well, things can be worse. A lot worse.

A few days ago a government employee in Vellore in Tamil Nadu, Southern India, was going about his legitimate business at his place of work. Now he must have been very wicked in a previous life, because karma dictated he was going to die in officio. More to the point, he was going to be the first ever person to suffer this specific fate. Yep, he was going into the record books for this one.

He was killed by a meteorite. Just how bloody unlucky do you have to be to get killed by a meteorite? There had been a report from the 1800s of a man and a woman being killed by a meteorite, but this was never confirmed. That occurred (or didn’t) in India too, as it happens.

It’s not the first time people have been clonked by bits of rock from outer space. In 1827, again in India, a man was struck on the arm by a meteorite. 1924 and 1927 saw a funeral and a wedding disrupted by incoming. Back in 1954, one Ann Hodges, of Sylacauga in Alabama, was rudely awoken from a nap on her couch when a meteorite came through her ceiling and smacked her in the side. In 1992 a woman’s car in Peekskill, New York, took one for the team.

In case you’re wondering, the governor in charge of Vellore paid the man’s family $1000 compensation since he died on the job. Doesn’t sound a lot, but life’s pretty cheap in India as their RTA statistics prove.

You have to be seriously unlucky to get hit by a meteorite, let alone killed by one. But the odds aren’t as long as you might imagine. Some propellorhead at Tulane University did some sums, and reached the somewhat surprising conclusion that your lifetime odds of dying from a localised celestial downstrike are about 1 in 1,600,000. I’ve no idea how he worked that out, but let’s take the good professor at his word. Those odds are pretty short compared with the 1 in 195,000,000 chance of winning the US Powerball lottery, and 1 in 14,000,000 of an outright win on the UK National Lottery.

Next time somebody asks if you’ve got a lottery ticket, you can tell them to take a long walk off a short pier, because you’re more likely to get killed by a meteorite.

By the way, the heroine in my first novel always said she wanted to die by being hit by a meteorite. Strange but true.


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