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Molehill of Beans

Claim:   Homeowner wrecks his house and an expensive new car in an attempt to kill moles.

LEGEND

Examples:

[Smith, 2007] There was this man who had trouble with moles. They would keep on digging up his garden! So he decided to poison them. He got some potion or other and went out at night to tip it over the molehills. He went out at night so as not to alarm the neighbours, right!

He mustn't have thought this out properly because, of course, it was too dark for him to see what he was doing. So he got into his car, a beautiful new Jaguar, and turned on the lights. But he had left the car in reverse, and the vibration from him getting into the car set it sliding backward into the front of his house, causing £6,000 worth of damage.

To make matters worse, he hit an electric heater on his front porch and it ignited the petrol in his car. So his car was a write-off!

In his desperation he had covered his lawn with a ton of ready-mixed cement. No lawn, no moles!
 

[Marsano, 1987]

An English home owner was at his wits' end in his long and unsuccessful war against the mole that had been burrowing unsightly tunnels throughout his property. Enough with the traps and poisons — he planned to go mano a mano with the mole. Moles are noctural animals, so he drove his Jaguar onto the lawn to hunt the mole down with the aid of its headlights. The car stalled, and when he got it started again, it lurched into gear and out of control. Onward it rolled, the driver trapped inside, until it crashed into his house. The car's fuel tank ruptured and burst into flames, which quickly reached the house and burned it to the ground.

He couldn't even phone for help — the telephone cable was burned through before he call the fire department. "I was lucky to get out alive," he said, "I still want to see that mole dead."
 

Origins:   As the top species on the planet, we're used to having our way, and woe betide the creatures lower on the pecking order that get in our way. However, as this (and similar legends) serve to remind us, Mother Nature is not always so neatly dealt with, even at times turning our best laid plans back upon us.

This tale of a homeowner who severely damages his
house and totals an expensive new car after mistaking cement for mole poison follows a common motif in urban legendry. It is similar to other stories involving the hapless who wreak havoc on property (and sometimes themselves) in their misguided quests to be rid of pesky critters, such as the legend of the exploding toilet, the (true) reports of homeowners who touched off explosions by setting out too many "bug bombs," and the (also true) account of the unkillable gopher.

The detail about the destruction of an expensive new car also echoes legends such as those involving a jealous husband who mistakenly fills a brand-new Cadillac with concrete and the duck hunters whose dog ends up sending their brand-new SUV to the bottom of a frozen lake.

Last updated:   10 May 2011

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Sources:

    Bennett, Gillian and Paul Smith.   Urban Legends.
    Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2007.   ISBN 0-313-33952-X   (p. 90).

    Marsano, William.   Man Suffocated By Potatoes.
    New York: Signet, 1987.   (p. 19).