Question: Lately, I have been hearing that a lot of people within the state of Hawaii are saving chopstick wrappers in hopes of getting a free wheelchair. However, no one seems to know what company or organization is offering this promotion or how to redeem the wrappers for the "free" wheelchair. Supposedly, this was a promotion done by Japan Airlines a few years ago. I guess people are still collecting, in hopes JAL will do another promotion. I truly think that this is just a big hoax, like the 1995 urban legend of saving cigarette box wrappers. But if I am wrong, could you please provide me with the information necessary for redemption?
Answer: Apparently, this is another urban myth, Japanese style, that won't go away.
It's like the false story that pull tabs from aluminum cans can be redeemed for time on kidney dialysis machines.
We contacted Japan Airlines spokesman Gilbert Kimura in Honolulu, who checked with JAL officials here and in Japan. The airline has never offered such a promotion, he said.
However, some local staffers told him they also have heard of a chopstick wrapper collection for wheelchairs, Kimura said. But they did not know who was doing the collecting, other than the fact "some cousin's relative's friend" had heard about it several years ago.
According to a Jan. 19, 2002, article in the Mainichi Daily News online, stories have circulated for years in Japan that silver foil from cigarette packs or disposable chopstick wrappers could be redeemed for wheelchairs.
But the stories aren't true, according to the article.
We also found a Web site for the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, which cited a December 1995 article in Japan's Daily Yomiuri, debunking the chopstick-wrappers-for-wheelchair story as "a groundless rumor ... spreading nationwide."
Apparently the rumor prompted a volunteer group in Japan to begin collecting the wrappers, but it made money by selling the paper for recycling.
Meanwhile, the National Kidney Society says it's been plagued for years by rumors that aluminum pull tabs can be exchanged for time on a kidney dialysis machine.
"A program that allows groups and individuals to donate aluminum can pull tabs in exchange for time on a kidney dialysis machine does not exist," according to the society. "Nor have there ever been programs that allow people to exchange any type of item (box tops, product points, etc.) for dialysis time."
I have noticed pedestrians are always getting hit on King Street. Pedestrians should realize that on King and Beretania streets, traffic moves in bunches. People crossing in a crosswalk in the middle of the block shouldn't just dart out into traffic. They should wait for a break, because there will be a break. Then, they can cross without getting killed or making every car stop. It's foolish to walk out into traffic where there is no signal and presume that everyone will see you and stop. -- Nancy Bey Little
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