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Bluff The Listener


BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here's your host who thinks this might be the year his hair grows back, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. So we're doing our best to salvage the reputation of the past year by sharing some of the best moments from it, all of which happened on our show rather than in the real world, which, let's face it, needed work.

KURTIS: We spent most of the year dealing with the pandemic and some people resorting to extreme measures, as we discussed in this game of Bluff the Listener with Peter Grosz, Jessi Klein and Dulce Sloan.

SAGAL: Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

KATHY BRANDON: Hey - Kathy from Hoover, Ala.

SAGAL: Kathy from where?

BRANDON: Hoover, Ala.

SAGAL: Hoover, Ala. - now, I can't say I know Alabama well. But where is Hoover?

BRANDON: It's where it's supposed to be.


BRANDON: I would say a little northeast. 459 runs right past us.

SAGAL: All right. The next time I'm on...

PETER GROSZ: You know, Peter.

SAGAL: ...459, I will absolutely look...


SAGAL: ...In your direction. Well, welcome to the show, Kathy. You're going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Kathy's topic?

KURTIS: Reopen sesame.

SAGAL: Businesses everywhere are reopening for five minutes until they have to close again. Our panelists, though, are going to tell you about a business that figured out a new way to be safe in the age of COVID. Pick the one who's telling the truth, you'll win the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

BRANDON: Oh, yeah.

SAGAL: Well, then let's do it. First, let's hear from Dulce Sloan.

DULCE SLOAN: Hi, Ms. Kathy.


SLOAN: Hi. You're northeast of what - Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham?

BRANDON: Well, if you come up from Mobile and pretty much stay straight, you'd be right there.

SLOAN: I'm from Georgia, and I go to Alabama all the time. So that's why I was like...

BRANDON: Yeah. Do you go to Gulf Shores and stuff like that?

SLOAN: Yes, ma'am. I go down to Dauphin Island.

BRANDON: Oh, how wonderful. My family loves Dauphin Island. And we just go straight down 65 into Mobile and then right over there.

SLOAN: OK. Ms. Kathy, I'm...

SAGAL: You know your interstate highways. I am impressed.

BRANDON: (Laughter).

GROSZ: I'm from New York. I don't know anywhere that you guys were talking about.

SAGAL: Don't you wish you did, though? Didn't you...

GROSZ: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Didn't you listen to them talk and, like, oh, wouldn't it be great to be one of...

GROSZ: I should have just thrown out some numbers. I have been to Mobile, and that's beautiful.

SLOAN: OK. So Ms. Kathy, I'm going to tell you a story. You got to tell me if I'm telling the truth now.


SLOAN: So Germ-X has partnered with Orkin to create a spray mist sanitizing system for retail stores and restaurants that disinfects customers as they walk in. Germ-X is the leader in sanitizer, and Orkin is an expert at spraying unwanted pests. Our current unwanted pest is COVID-19. Like the water mister in the produce section of a grocery store, customers will be sprayed with a fine antibacterial mist for 20 seconds - the same amount of time we should be washing our hands.

Unfortunately, there have been a few hiccups in this well-meaning plan. While testing the new system at a CVS, some customers complained of the mist ruining their clothes, hair or makeup, and it left them dripping wet. One customer was quoted as saying, this is ridiculous. I came in for allergy medicine, not an indoor Slip N Slide. But it did make my shopping trip faster, though. I was able to pick up some items as I slid through the aisles.


SAGAL: CVS spraying down their customers with disinfectant before they were allowed to come in, making them somewhat slippery. Your next story of a safety solution comes from Peter Grosz.

GROSZ: The Dunkin Donuts in Clinton, Conn., has been open for drive-through service ever since the pandemic struck in March. But when the state moved to phase three of its reopening this week, the store was finally allowed to have customers come inside. We were really excited to see some of our regulars face to face again, said store manager Lisa Coble (ph).

Her franchise is smaller than most Dunkins, though, and Coble was worried about COVID exposure in such a tight space, so she asked for a little leeway from corporate and came up with a really intriguing idea. The six-foot doughnut, which was introduced on Monday, is the perfect combination of edible food item and once-in-a-century pandemic safety protocol.

How does the six-foot donut work? Well, if you've ever been inside of an inner tube, then you know what it's like not to just order but also wear a six-foot doughnut. Upon entering the store, you are given your choice of glazed, chocolate, vanilla or pink icing with sprinkles. Customers simply slip the six-foot doughnut over their head until they're comfortably encased in the six-foot in diameter, 45,000-calorie, 25-pound donut outfitted with suspenders to help keep it at waist level. You can either start eating your way out of the doughnut in the store or take it home with you and enjoy the equivalent of 750 doughnuts at your leisure.

So far, Coble is thrilled with how it's working out. People have really been enjoying coming back into the store, strapping on a doughnut and bouncing up against other customers like they're in bumper cars. The CDC has proclaimed the six-foot donut as 98% effective at preventing transmission of coronavirus but 100% effective at giving you a new malady called type 2 doughnut-betes (ph).

SAGAL: A six-foot doughnut served at a Dunkin Donuts that people put around their waist to make sure they keep safe distance from the other customers. Your last story of a protective measure comes from Jessi Klein.

JESSI KLEIN: The speed with which the pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives has been stunning. But at one pub in England, the changes are quite literally shocking. In an effort to enforce social distancing among a boozy crowd, one tavern owner in Cornwall has installed an electric fence inside his bar to keep inebriated clients at bay.

Jonny McFadden, owner of the Star Inn, tried several different tactics before going with the fence. But apparently things like ropes, floor stickers and the fear of COVID itself were no match for customers consuming one pint too many. So finally, inspired by the electric fences commonly used to keep sheep together in his rural farming town, he plugged in. And apparently, the threat of electrocution has worked fairly well.

Says McFadden, quote, "People are like sheep. Sheep keep away. People keep away." Some might be concerned that a bar owner who's installed a live electric fence in his establishment is opening himself up for many a lawsuit. But as McFadden sees it, quote, "As long as there's a warning sign on an electric fence and you are warned about it, it's totally legal." McFadden may be no lawyer, but he's got a doctor's concern for the health of his customers - and cheers to that.

SAGAL: All right, Kathy, somewhere there is a business that is opening up with one of these concessions to safety in the age of COVID. Is it, from Dulce, a CVS that's started spraying down customers with disinfectant before they come in the door? From Peter Grosz, a Dunkin Donuts that's selling special six-foot doughnuts that you actually put around your waist to make sure you keep distance? Or from Jessi, a pub in England that has installed an electric fence to make sure that nobody gets too close? Which of these is the real story?

BRANDON: I really think the story that sounds plausible is the bar.

SAGAL: All right, Kathy. Your choice, then, is Jessi's story of the bar with the electric fence. Well, we spoke to the innovator who came up with this new safety precaution.

JONNY MCFADDEN: As long as there's a warning sign on an electric fence, it's totally legal. And as a fear factor, it works.


SAGAL: You know, if he says it in that accent, it sounds true. That was Jonny McFadden, landlord of the Star Inn, the bar with the electric fence. Congratulations, Kathy. You got it right. You earned a point for Jessi. You've won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. You did it.


KLEIN: Thank you.


SAGAL: Oh, you sound so delighted.

GROSZ: Good job.

SAGAL: I love it.

BRANDON: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Thank you so much, Kathy. Thanks for playing, and stay safe.

BRANDON: Thank you.


THE FRANK AND JOE SHOW: (Singing) Oh, give me land, lots of land, and the starry skies above. Don't fence me in. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.