This article appeared in the August 20, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Captain Underpants to the rescue

Courtesy of Kelly J Tichenor
Michael Venettozzi readies a car for towing out of a flooded parking lot in Utica, New York, on Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019.
David Clark Scott
Audience Engagement Editor

In today’s edition, we’re exploring self-government (New York City socialists), freedom (global digital surveillance), integrity (U.S. college admissions), stewardship (a French eco-village), and equality (Uganda’s women birders).

But first, heroes don’t usually wear capes. And sometimes, they don’t wear pants.

Tow truck driver Michael Venettozzi stripped to his boxers to rescue three people during flooding in Utica, New York. But his efforts cost him his job. 

Mr. Venettozzi was called to a BJ's Wholesale Club parking lot Saturday where a car was stuck in waist-deep water. To hook up the tow, he had to crawl under the car, so he left his pants in the truck. He helped two more drivers caught in the flooding. His rescue efforts were photographed by bystanders and posted on Facebook. That’s when the Captain Underpants jokes spread. 

His boss was not amused. He fired Mr. Venettozzi for wearing unprofessional garb and recklessly endangering the truck. Mr. Venettozzi understands the decision. But he also wrote on Facebook:  “I don’t regret the choice i made... a human life will always trump a piece of equipment to me!!”

Mr. Venettozzi say he’s not a hero. “We have men and women overseas. They are the real heroes," he told a local radio station. “I’m just doing my job and looking out for the community.”

As is often the case when a light is shined on injustice, it’s rectified. A friend set up a GoFundMe page that’s already collected $2,400 in 24 hours. And Mr. Venettozzi got three job offers on Monday. Apparently, those companies are eager to employ Captain Underpants.

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This article appeared in the August 20, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/20 edition