What's good for the goose

Nolan Lett has been awarded $17,000 in a lawsuit against his former employer, Aramark Corp. of Oak Brook, Ill. Lett had fallen and broken his wrist after being chased by a goose as he arrived for work one day at Aramark's building, which he proved in court was a "high-goose" area -- and that was the company's fault. Aramark, the judge agreed, had encouraged geese to locate on its grounds by creating an elaborate pond and garden attractive to them. The goose that got to Lett "started acting crazy," he said. "It was very ferocious."

Making an ash of herself

Frustrated that a Sallie Mae loan office in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., would not believe that her debtor-son was deceased, a mother mailed in the cremation certificate and two teaspoons of his ashes. Not only were the ashes regarded as inadequate proof of death, but they also caused a full anthrax panic at the office.

Swamped with crime

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently profiled desolate Echols County, Ga., which is located between Valdosta and the Okeefenokee Swamp. The county is very well known to the state's judges because that is where they encourage lawbreakers to go when the judges really want the offenders to leave the state altogether. The Georgia constitution prohibits banishing people from the state as punishment for crimes, so judges merely banish them from 158 of the state's 159 counties. The theory is that no one would ever voluntarily settle in Echols, anyway, and the punitive strategy always seems to work.

Northern exposure

While most of North America endures a fear-of-anthrax frenzy, the Ontario Health Ministry last month fired all five of its biohazard scientists for budgetary reasons. The government replaced them with three lab technicians who have only community-college degrees. Liberal Party spokespeople blamed the decision on the health minister's long-standing philosophy of smaller government, irrespective of the consequences.

Legal affairs

An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled that spouses have no legal duty to inform each other of their adulterous affairs. A 52-year-old man had sued his estranged wife for about $210,000 (U.S.) for breaching her duty of "good faith" and "honesty" by hiding her affairs from him for 21 years. But the best the judge would do is agree to require parties to notify one another in cases where "hazardous" sexual activity outside the marriage would subject the spouse to health risks.

Hit-or-miss situation

London's Daily Telegraph reports that there is an exciting career-opening in Exeter, England: The assistant to Austern Electric Circus knife-thrower Jayde Hanson has walked off the job after being nearly hit in the foot, which would have been her third serious wound this season. That's the same the number of wounds Hanson's former girlfriend took before she gave up the position last year.

Let's tryst again

Municipal clerk Anne Frank has filed a lawsuit for back pay against the city of Greenwich, Conn., citing her boss' 11-year affair with his secretary. According to the lawsuit, the trysting couple was so often going at it that much of the secretary's work was passed down to Frank, and it was work that she was expected to complete in uncompensated overtime.

A dirty lie

From the police column of the weekly Leonard Graphic in Leonard, Texas, 35 miles north of Dallas: "A man claiming to be a medical student was charged with theft of service and given a trespass warning after it was discovered he lied about his reasons for being in the local nursing home two months ago. He told aides there he had permission from the home to Ã?live the life of the patient' and be bathed and diapered as part of a learning experience. However, when he returned to try the scam again, police were waiting for him. He was found to be a registered sex offender."

Where there's smoke ...

Six men were indicted in New York City last month for operating a drug ring, which came to the attention of firefighters, and then police, when one of the men curiously refused to evacuate his apartment across the street from the World Trade Center in the late morning of Sept. 11, despite the area's fires, falling debris and widespread panic. The reason: Inside, police found large supplies of drugs and paraphernalia.

Family feud renewed

Descendants of the 19th-century feuding Hatfields and McCoys have resumed battling, this time in court in Pikesville, Ky. The issue is whether McCoys are being blocked from a cemetery, the main access to which is controlled by Hatfields. ... Up the road in Bloomington, Ind., dep-uties subdued a man after a 10-minute shootout. The man admitted that he provoked the confrontation, explaining that he was irritable after a long bout of constipation.

Dead ahead

An elderly man was accidentally struck and killed by a fire truck that had been dispatched to take him to a hospital (Jacksonville, Fla., in July). And a 41-year-old man ejected in a bar fight was accidentally struck and killed by a sheriff's patrol car responding to the bar's call for help (Fort Worth, Texas, in August).