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The unluckiest man alive
March 24, 2009 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Bad luck: some people seem to treat the subject rather lightly and consider themselves the unluckiest person ever if they lose a long game of Pokemon, or because of some rather benign school occurrences. Sometimes people fall victim to such unlikely and improbable events that they may be tempted to declare themselves cursed. But it would be hard to beat the hard-luck of a Japanese man named Tsutomu Yamaguchi. On August 6th, 1945, he was in Hiroshima on a business trip when the first A-bomb dropped on Japan exploded. He suffered some burns, but was considered well enough that he could leave Hiroshima the next day and go home. To Nagasaki.
posted by clevershark (63 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Oh bugger."
posted by Artw at 9:14 AM on March 24, 2009


"Not again."
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:16 AM on March 24, 2009


"that's it, i'm retiring to some south pacific island - hmm, bikini sounds like a nice place ..."
posted by pyramid termite at 9:16 AM on March 24, 2009 [11 favorites]


On August 6th, 1945, he was in Hiroshima on a business trip when the first A-bomb dropped on Japan exploded. He suffered some burns, but was considered well enough that he could leave Hiroshima the next day and go home. To Nagasaki.

you know, i laughed. then i felt bad, because that's the most horrible thing i've ever heard of. but still, i want to laugh. because when it comes down to it, the guy survived two atomic bombings! how lucky is that?! shit, i'm so unlucky i probably wouldn't survive one!
posted by shmegegge at 9:21 AM on March 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


The story reminded me of this Family Guy clip.
posted by clevershark at 9:21 AM on March 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's the worst luck, that's the best luck.
posted by dov3 at 9:24 AM on March 24, 2009


When I was young I thought that if I listened to, heard part of, or even hummed in my head "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, I would immediately experience bad luck, and I was mostly right (I had an unhappy childhood). I still can't listen to that song.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:28 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Listening to, hearing part of, or even humming in your head "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor is, by definition, bad luck unto itself.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:37 AM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


A 93-year-old Japanese man has become the first person certified as a survivor of both U.S. atomic bombings at the end of the Second World War, officials said Tuesday.

Yeah, "unlucky" is not the word I'd use to describe this dude. I'm reminded of Max von Sydow's character in Intacto.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 9:37 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Reading the comments afterwards, I was struck by how well mannered and articulate Canadians seem. In the UK, comments usually seem to degenerate into slanging matches and in the US they always seem to degenerate into slanging matches with homophobic insults.
posted by rhymer at 9:38 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wasn't this the plot of Unbreakable?
posted by FatherDagon at 9:38 AM on March 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


And yet he is still alive at 93!

I hope he has lots of children, grand-children, and great-grand-children. We need his genes spread around as much as possible.
posted by eye of newt at 9:39 AM on March 24, 2009


er, if he got nuked twice and lived to 93, how is he 'unlucky'?
posted by delmoi at 9:44 AM on March 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Okay, yes, the bombings were a horrible thing, and I'm not trying in any way to make fun of them....

...but part of me keeps picturing this guy in Nagasaki after the second bomb, looking up into the sky and screaming the Japanese equivalent of "THAT ALL YOU GOT, BITCHES?"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 9:46 AM on March 24, 2009 [16 favorites]


> Reading the comments afterwards, I was struck by how well mannered and articulate Canadians seem.

Would that it were (entirely) so. Perusing the comments section of The Toronto Star will set you straight.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:46 AM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


er, if he got nuked twice and lived to 93, how is he 'unlucky'?

Yeah right.

Imagine if he sucked at Pokemon and his tennis lessons were canceled?
posted by pianomover at 9:46 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is really a test if you look at the things as glass half-full or half-empty. On one hand, total suck luck..on the other hand, 93.

When I was young I thought that if I listened to, heard part of, or even hummed in my head "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, I would immediately experience bad luck, and I was mostly right (I had an unhappy childhood). I still can't listen to that song.

There are some who would argue (not I) that you'd already had bad luck by hearing the song in the first place.

I hope he has lots of children, grand-children, and great-grand-children. We need his genes spread around as much as possible.

His mutated superhuman genes? Yeah, I've seen how this movie ends.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:46 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Unlucky Alf
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I want to write this guy's biography:

It was the best of luck, it was the worst of luck, it was the age of bombs, it was the age of radiation ...

What a story. Thanks for the links.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:47 AM on March 24, 2009


Mr. Yamaguchi is one of about 260,000 people who survived the attacks. Bombing survivors have developed various illnesses from radiation exposure, including cancer and liver illnesses.

That which doesn't kill you will only make you stronger. Or injure you enough that you simply suffer for the rest of your life, praying for the dark forever to engulf you, wondering why you survived at all.

--- Spoiler for Unbreakable below ----








FatherDagon, are you saying that the dual bombings was the work of the dastardly Mister Glass, who was looking for his antithesis? That would make for a fantastic What If historical fiction thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:49 AM on March 24, 2009


That's nothing; wait until you see what he's carrying around in his motorcycle's sidecar.
posted by Mayor West at 9:49 AM on March 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


And yet there's still some blowhard somewhere who thinks the worst business travel experience ever is that time he sat on the runway at O'Hare for two hours.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:49 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I once heard quite a comparable WWII hard-luck story about a friend's father. He was French, from Alsace. At the start of the was, he was conscripted into the French army, and eventually made prisoner by the Germans. Some time after the French surrender, most French POWs were released to go home. The problem for him was, "home" was the Alsace, which had been annexed to the Reich. So he suddenly was a German subject, and duly conscripted by the Wehrmacht. Because to the Germans the loyalty of Alsatians (the people, not the dog breed, you jokers) was suspect, they were all sent to the Eastern Front. He was of course made prisoner by the Russians in some godawful battle like Stalingrad, and was a POW in the Soviet Union for quite a while after the end of the war...

I've always wondered whether he considered himself incredibly unlucky for having been the prisoner of both Nazis and Soviets, or incredibly lucky for surviving both ordeals.
posted by Skeptic at 9:49 AM on March 24, 2009 [8 favorites]


filthy light thief - It'll all be explained in long-ass title credits after the movie ends.
posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on March 24, 2009


I'm totally bringing this up the next time someone complains about having a bad day.
posted by GuyZero at 9:52 AM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I I I I
IV IV I I
V IV I V
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:53 AM on March 24, 2009 [3 favorites]



> Reading the comments afterwards, I was struck by how well mannered and articulate Canadians seem.

Would that it were (entirely) so. Perusing the comments section of The Toronto Star will set you straight.


An old boss of mine described Canadians as "defaulting to politeness". But only when there's nothing in the mix. Reading the Globe comments on any contentious issue is not for the faint of heart. Although I find the CBC is the worst of the lot. Entitlement of the readers, maybe?

What are the odds that Mr. Yamaguchi had really awesome sex in both of the cities prior to the bomb?
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:54 AM on March 24, 2009


His picture is in this article. The guy looks no older than 60! Though I bet he's needed that hearing aid since 1945.
posted by eye of newt at 9:58 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


This post, and Skeptic's comment, remind me of my great-grandparents' story, in terms of bad timing:

My Jewish great-grandparents lived in Austria in the 1930s, and their daughter (my grandmother), who had escaped to England earlier, urged them to join her there. They finally got their exit visas in August 1939. Unfortunately, Germany invaded Poland on September 3rd, and they were never able to use their papers.

In March of 1940, my great-grandfather somehow managed to obtain passage for the two of them on a train from Vienna through Siberia to Shanghai. They spent a year and a half in Shanghai, and in the meantime, my grandmother moved to New York and once again tried to get the papers for her parents to join her. In November, the papers finally came through, and in early December, they got on a ship to go to America. But as before, the timing was horrifically bad -- they were on the open sea on December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. Within days their ship was captured by the Japanese. They were interned in a prisoner of war camp in Manila on the Philippine Islands, where they were held for the next four years until the war would end. (They did eventually survive and make it to America.)
posted by cider at 10:02 AM on March 24, 2009 [9 favorites]


He was of course made prisoner by the Russians in some godawful battle like Stalingrad, and was a POW in the Soviet Union for quite a while after the end of the war...

I've always wondered whether he considered himself incredibly unlucky for having been the prisoner of both Nazis and Soviets, or incredibly lucky for surviving both ordeals.


Considering the horrifically low survival rates in Soviet POW camps, he's got to be lucky.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:07 AM on March 24, 2009


How in the fuck is somebody who survived two ATOM BOMB attacks and lived the be NINETY FUCKING THREE anything but the LUCKIEST man who's ever lived?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:18 AM on March 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


And then he was bitten by a deadly spider, only to survive that and get arrested for contempt of court relating to a domestic violence charge.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:21 AM on March 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


It just goes to show..

OK, that's getting old.
posted by cj_ at 10:34 AM on March 24, 2009


How in the fuck is somebody who survived two ATOM BOMB attacks and lived the be NINETY FUCKING THREE anything but the LUCKIEST man who's ever lived?

Because he was a victim of and witness to two of the greatest tragedies to ever occur, and lived through decades where the threat that they would be dwarfed was ever present?
posted by Reverend John at 10:36 AM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I think we can agree that back in August 1945 he was the unluckiest guy around.
posted by clevershark at 10:39 AM on March 24, 2009


Reminds me of the story of Wilmer McLean.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:41 AM on March 24, 2009


Did he hide inside a fridge?
posted by metaBugs at 10:41 AM on March 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


...but part of me keeps picturing this guy in Nagasaki after the second bomb, looking up into the sky and screaming the Japanese equivalent of "THAT ALL YOU GOT, BITCHES?"

"Not enough gun."
posted by hifiparasol at 10:48 AM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pants! Caught on... barbed wire!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:53 AM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am pretty sure this poster in the first link says it all:
"Also, remember that you are not as unlucky as a friend of mine whose Lv. 100 Raichu fainted when a Magicarp used Splash."
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 10:56 AM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Coldchef, don't get any bright ideas about moving to Florida.
posted by cashman at 11:01 AM on March 24, 2009


A 93-year-old Japanese man...

...

“It's such an unfortunate case...”

So what's a fortunate case? Would he have to be 193? Please, tell me what is so unfortunate about this.
posted by Edgewise at 11:02 AM on March 24, 2009


"Also, remember that you are not as unlucky as a friend of mine whose Lv. 100 Raichu fainted when a Magicarp used Splash."

Well, that is pretty unlikely although not a total surprise given that electric-type Pokemon have a weakness to water-type attacks. I'll stick with the Japanese guy on this one.
posted by GuyZero at 11:09 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Damn what a story. Thanks for posting this.
posted by aerotive at 11:13 AM on March 24, 2009


Wow, this is both amazingly bad and good luck rolled into one. And he's 93 now, which is amazing.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:24 AM on March 24, 2009


My post was going to be...

poor. guy.

...but the first thing I saw was "the 93" , and you don't get to 93 on luck.
Yeah, for 2 days he was supremely unlucky, but then things turned around, as they often do.

Not to mention, quite a testament to the japanese lifestyle. Rock on, you rad-hard old man!
posted by djrock3k at 11:45 AM on March 24, 2009


Just a matter of time until he sniffs Tree-of-Life and becomes a protector.

Oh, wait, too old. Well, maybe he has a daughter named Teela.
posted by malocchio at 11:47 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


The guy looks no older than 60!

Yes, he's positively glowing with health.

(What the article doesn't say, however, is how many of his family and friends were that lucky.)
posted by Skeptic at 11:57 AM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


i just can picture Mr. Yamaguchi looking up at the Nagasaki sky and exclaiming :
"AWWWW, FUCK! NOT AGAIN!"

the thought just makes me LOL.
posted by liza at 12:16 PM on March 24, 2009


He's not lucky or unlucky, there's no such thing as luck.
This thread shows that the concept of "luck" itself is ill defined.
It's like "fate", there's isn't anything meaningful you can actually say about it.
posted by signal at 12:19 PM on March 24, 2009


From the article: Certification qualifies survivors for government compensation — including monthly allowances, free medical checkups and funeral costs — but Mr. Yamaguchi's compensation will not increase, Mr. Miyamoto said.

Anyone else think that it's our government who should be paying Mr. Yamaguchi's compensation?
posted by william_boot at 12:23 PM on March 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


For stewardess Violet Jessop, bad luck came in threes. In 1911 she was working on the RMS Olympic when it collided with a British warship off the Isle of Wight.

A few months later she took a position on the Titanic, which sank famously in the North Atlantic in 1912. Her lifeboat was picked up by the Carpathia.

And in 1916 she was working as a nurse on the hospital ship Britannic when it struck a mine in the Aegean Sea and went down.

By this time she was philosophical. Though the Britannic sank in less than 50 minutes, she took care to rescue her toothbrush, "because there had always been much fun at my expense after the Titanic, when I complained of my inability to get a toothbrush on the Carpathia. I recalled [my brother's] joking advice: 'Never undertake another disaster without first making sure of your toothbrush.'"

After that her bad luck ceased. She lived without incident for another 55 years and died of heart failure in 1971.

posted by Rhaomi at 1:48 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Imagine if this guy and Violet Jessop had a child. The anti-Teela Brown.
posted by GuyZero at 1:50 PM on March 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also: "How could this day get any worse?"
posted by Rhaomi at 1:51 PM on March 24, 2009


I would like to quote from my new favourite movie, Pontypool:

"I'm still here, you cocksuckers."
posted by sixswitch at 1:52 PM on March 24, 2009


Please, tell me what is so unfortunate about this.

I think I'd go with the burning flesh and probable PTSD from living through the erasure of two cities.
posted by oaf at 1:57 PM on March 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know that "erasure" is the right term -- I've been to Hiroshima and it's thriving just as much as any city in Japan. I would reserve that term for a place like Chernobyl, which continue being a fenced-off, no-go area until well after we're all dead.
posted by clevershark at 3:37 PM on March 24, 2009


ahem, which will continue...
posted by clevershark at 3:38 PM on March 24, 2009


Here's hoping no one gets to 3.
posted by Artw at 3:54 PM on March 24, 2009


I imagine there are US/Soviet/French/British troops that ended up in 3+ tests.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:47 PM on March 24, 2009


... and he lost his wallet.
posted by mazola at 9:20 PM on March 24, 2009


Reminds me of the story of the person who lived near the front lines in WWI, so decided to move to somewhere he thought would be peaceful: Midway Island.
posted by forrestal at 10:59 PM on March 24, 2009


The 'Mermaid,' Colonial Government cutter, left Sydney for Raffles Bay, but on entering Torres Straits she got on shore, and was lost. All on board were saved upon a rock. In three days afterwards the 'Swiftsure,' Captain Johnson, which sailed from Tasmania, hove in sight, and took on board the captain and crew of the 'Mermaid,' but in three days she also got on shore, and was wrecked. Two days afterwards the 'Governor Ready,' also from Hobart Town, Tasmania (April 2), passing within sight, took the shipwrecked people belonging to the 'Mermaid' and 'Swiftsure' on board; but was itself wrecked on May 18, but all the people saved by taking refuge in the long boats. The ship 'Comet,' also from Tasmania, soon after took the whole of the collected crews of the lost ships 'Mermaid,' 'Swiftsure,' and 'Governor Ready' on board, but was herself wrecked, but all hands saved. At last the ship 'Jupiter,' from Tasmania, came in sight, and taking all on board, steered for Port Raffles, at the entrance to which harbour she got on shore, and received so much damage that she may be said to have been wrecked. 1829. - John Henniker Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates and Men of the Time, 1879
posted by Mitheral at 4:29 AM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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