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The worst first “date” in Cleveland history 

75 miles of Cleveland's water pipes are 125 years old or older.
  • 75 miles of Cleveland's water pipes are 125 years old or older.

A month ago, it appeared that Michael Kufrin could stake a claim to participating in the Worst First Date in Cleveland History. With visions of a romantic dinner and kiss good-night, Kufrin, 19, was instead kidnapped, robbed, and shot seven times.

Kufrin's dream date with the 28-year-old Leechelle Brown — whom he claimed to have met in an internet chat room — quickly turned into a nightmare. First, she pulled out a semiautomatic, then forced Kufrin to withdraw $300 from an ATM. Finally, after he tried to wrestle away the gun, Brown emptied it into Kufrin's stomach, arms, back, and legs.

With Brown momentarily distracted, Kufrin sneaked out looking for help, leaving a bloody trail as he went from door to door. After 10 or 15 minutes of knocking, a neighbor called police. Kufrin was flown to MetroHealth Medical Center for emergency surgery. Two days later he was released.

Harrowing stuff. Except Kufrin wasn't entirely honest about the details of his "date." As many commentators on the web correctly surmised, Kufrin didn't meet Brown on the internet. The two met on the phone, through a service best described as the parlaying of feminine flesh in exchange for U.S. currency.

According to one source, Kufrin unwittingly showed up for his "date" without any cash, which tends to be a problem in these kinds of transactions. Hence the drive to the ATM. And though Kufrin successfully wrestled the gun away from Brown, he made the unwise choice to hand it back, thus violating the Second Commandment: "Never give a loaded gun to a pissed-off hooker."

But all is not lost for our woebegone Romeo. Besides the obvious good fortune of taking seven bullets that conveniently missed any major organs or arteries, Kufrin's luck may have turned in one unexpected way.

A few days after returning home, his leg felt sore. With the help of a metal detector, Kufrin realized that the hospital hadn't removed all the bullets. Given his history with dates, we've got to assume that his next one — most likely as a plaintiff in a court near you — will turn out much better.

Cleveland Is Sinking
John Goersmeyer knew something was up. The spokesman for the Cleveland Division of Water said that AT&T called to say that water was seeping into the basement of one of its buildings. But when water-department guys showed up, they couldn't find the leak.

"It was strange," says Goersmeyer. "We couldn't understand where the water was coming from. But then two blocks south of us a sinkhole opened up."

His crew rushed over to find a 5-foot by 8-foot sinkhole in the middle of East 55th and Cedar. "Most of the time when a pipe breaks, we see water spraying up out of the street," he says. "This one just sprayed under the road."

The pipe in question was a cast-iron relic from 1875. It's a vintage similar to the burst pipe that left a man-eating crater in Public Square. Of the 5,200 miles of pipes running through the city, 75 miles are 125 years or older, and there's no real way of monitoring them. And since it costs $1 million to replace a mile of pipe, the streets may soon become the most adventurous obstacle course in U.S. history.

"We try to take preventive steps and monitor the break history," says Goersmeyer. "But we can't predict and can't really prevent them from breaking. This is always going to happen."

The sinkhole on East 55th is now a 20-by-30-foot sunken pool. And before workers can fill it in, they have to make sure that sewer pipes didn't crack during the cave-in. Goersmeyer adds that the end of April should see more breaks, while the weather bounces through its annual freezing/thawing trend.

So tread softly, fellow Clevelanders. Our infrastructure has a bad case of osteoporosis, and there's no milk in sight.

Bad Customer
Every restaurant worker can share horror stories of rude customers. People who scream about being kept waiting. People who scream over cold food. People who don't scream at all, but show their displeasure with $1 tips.

But thankfully, few customers resort to Mace. "That's definitely a first," says Jessie, a Rally's employee in South Euclid.

Last week, two drive-through customers badly wanted a chicken sandwich. So they weren't exactly thrilled to find that the joint had closed for the night. Naturally, they first resorted to begging. But when that didn't work, they moved to Phase II of their Chicken Quest: Macing the drive-through attendant. Because as everyone knows, fast-food workers cook way better after you spray chemicals in their eyes.

Unfortunately, the customers still didn't get their chicken, but the cashier is doing just fine.

Rally's reports that it will now include Mace-avoidance techniques during future training sessions.

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