Friday, August 28, 2009

What Would You Do?

Part I: 11:30AM

This morning, on the way in to work I was listening to a New Hampshire radio station's morning show hosted by three guys. One of the guys was recounting a story he had read in an email from a listener. I'd like to present an abbreviated form of the story, from memory, to you all and invite you to answer some "What would you do?" questions in your comments.

The listener who had written the email explains that his mother owns a house that was built in the 1700s. One day, a sink hole opened up in the backyard. The whole grew to three feet wide and four feet deep. The woman called her son over to investigate.

The man examined the hole and ultimately got down inside and started to dig a bit. In the hole he found a wooden box. As he dug a bit more, the box began to take a rectangular shape. He continued digging and eventually was able to see that the wooden box was about two and a half feet wide. Though he hadn't succeeded in exposing the entire length, he could see the box was a rectangular in shape, at least five feet long.

OK, now stop. At this point in the story, jot down what you're thinking and what you would do about it. What do you think you might have? Do you call anyone? Do you continue digging? What if this is a coffin, what would you ultimately do about it? Would you report it? Should you report it? Would you exhume the remains and sell them on Ebay? Would you check for valuables?

I'm going to give the conclusion of the story in an edit to this post later today.

[Part II: 6:15pm]
The man continued digging until he had fully exposed the box. One one end, he found a pipe leading into the box. It turns out, the box was actually nothing but an old drywell. No body. No treasure. The story itself ends there. But the question of "what if?" lingers. I'd love to read your comments.


cemeteryconsort said...

My first thought is I'd get help just in case this thing caved in with me in it. My father dug out the old well behind his house that was filled in when he was a child. He hit wood about 5 feet down, and realized as he dug that his father had thrown old boards in to the well and then filled it. He stopped digging because he thought he might fall through the rotten wood and end up in the well himself.
My second thought is if this is as you describe, just a box, I would of course dig it up to see what it is. If it were a coffin, I would report it, knowing it would be a can of worms of some sort, but hoping that it and any other bodies could be relocated to a proper cemetery, or at least be marked out in the yard as such.
If it were a box of anything valuable, it's mine. I'm sure I would like to know more about the items, but basically, unless they were stolen and buried in the yard, they belong to me. If they proved to be stolen, well, then they dont' rightfully belong to me.
If there were explosives or something dangerous, or seemingly dangerous, I would call the police so they could remove it from the property.
You are going to tell us the guy got a fine for digging a hole in his own yard without a permit? Or without proper safety equipment?

Gleno said...

LOL -- no, he didn't get fined.

Instead, he was attacked and lynched by members of the MSCPA for disturbing the local population of earthworms.

OK, just kidding.

The radio station took a bunch of calls on this story asking people for answer to "what would you do?" There were a lot of answers, and additional questions raised about what would happen if it had been a coffin. Someone actually said they'd dig the remains up and auction them off on Ebay. (I confess, for a moment, I rubbed my chin in contemplation over that one.)

If it was an actual coffin, complete with body, I don't think I'd tell anyone, especially if my yard was a small. More than likely, I'd take some pictures, perhaps take a bit of hair for potential DNA identification, and then I'd fill the hole back in. Personally, I'd be more concerned with eating the cost of the relocation or with potential loss of property value.

I asked myself, what if there were gold rings or jewelry on the body. I don't think I'd disturb any of that.

Then I wondered... what if there was just a skull. Oooo.. that got me thinking. Knowing me, a lone skull would end up on my bookshelf with a candle on it. Sorry!

cemeteryconsort said...

Yes, a lone "real" skull would do well in a daycare. Just when on of the inspectors comes in and checks it out... well, it might end up in Fox 25, it might not. You know they love to pick on the odder types.

Recessionista Genie said...

Haha. I think I would have to put a lone skull on my bookshelf too, next to the beaver skull that's already there.

I would definitely open the box, but I'm not sure what I would do if it was a body. I guess report it to the proper authorities so they could move it out of the way of my garden beds.

And if there were valuables in the casket? Heck, that person isn't using them anymore. I'd probably nab them and set them up on a Dia de Muertes altar every year in October, just to be spooky. Or to appease the cranky ghost from my backyard.

I'm curious to find out what was really in the box, though. I've found many lighters, bottles, and yard tools buried two feet down in my yard, but nothing that exciting.

AsterixChaos said...

I would have checked public records to ascertain the history of the property, find out if it's a burial ground, etc. If not, and the thing being unearthed didn't resemble a casket, I'd continue, find out what it was, and determine what it's worth, or why it was eating the yard. If it did resemble a casket, I'd notify the local authorities and have the place surveyed, or at least make sure that the discovery is known, so I don't get busted or given hell some time later for desecrating a grave.