Nathan Stubbs

Wait, wait... don't tell me: Norman the nutria becomes quiz show fodder

by Nathan Stubbs

A man trapped in a store for two days between fallen boxes of Cottonelle toilet paper, a rogue nutria roaming the aisles at the Wal Mart in Abbeville, and a man who’s big screen TV ruined his marriage. Which of these incidents is true, and made recent headlines for having incited a lawsuit against a big box store? That was the question posed to a call-in listener of this week’s episode of “Wait wait... don’t tell me!” NPR’s nationally syndicated news quiz show. As part of the “bluff the listener” segment, each of the show’s three panelists relayed these bizzare tales , asking an Ohio caller to identify fact from fiction. Comedian Moe Rocca told the story of Wal Mart’s resident rodent:

“His name is Norman and he’s the Wal Mart greeter from hell... Now what was a nutria doing roaming the aisles at Wal-Mart besides looking for low, low prices? The store’s staff had adopted Norman, known in his native country as Norrrman, as its mascot. Rebecca reared back in panic, pulling the cart toward herself for protection, injuring her back and foot in the process. She is now suing the store. It is not known if Norman was injured. Being a Wal Mart nutria, he is, of course, uninsured.”

Unfortunately for the caller, he found the tale of a man stuck in a toilet paper prison more plausible than that of Norman the nutria. A story first reported in the Abbeville Meridional, Norman, while apparently not quite yet a household name, has become national news and irresistible fodder for a news trivia show like "Wait, wait... don’t tell me." As part of the segment, the show also brought on someone who reported on the story, Abbeville Meridional Managing Editor Chris Rosa. “I think it was a giant rat,” Rosa said. “Nobody really knows what it was. Why would a nutria be in Wal Mart? I don’t know.”

Listen to the episode here.