Too many overdue notices and nagging calls from a collection agency pushed a 62-year-old Newark man over the edge, provoking a bizarre reaction. The customer, whom Bloomfield Rent-A-Center employees described as a nice man, owed money for furniture rentals. Yesterday, he entered the store to speak with the manager, but the manager was not available. In front of customers and employees, the man lit himself on fire in protest. From The Star Ledger:

“He basically pulled out a bottle of lighter fluid, poured it all over his body, pulled out a cigarette lighter and lit himself on fire,” Bloomfield Police Capt. Chris Goul said.
Employees rushed to get water to extinguish the blaze. The 62-year-old man, Emilio Saladriagas, was taken to the burn unit at Saint Barnabas Medical Center for treatment.
Saladriagas was listed in critical condition late Tuesday, said hospital spokesman Sally Malech.

79 replies on “Distraught Customer Sets Himself Ablaze”

  1. It is getting tough out there and it’s going to get worse. We are facing a gloomy economic downturn.
    And for you dunderhead blind optimists you’re about to get your clock cleaned. Bet on it.

  2. Mikey, you of all people should never use the word “dunderhead” in a post.
    But why are you always so gloomy? Have you in fact ever had your “clock cleaned?” Is it just that your own personal existence is so mingy and limited?
    Be that as it may, someone who “pulls a Buddhist” in a store clearly had major mental problems in no way strictly related to dunning by bill collectors. To imply otherwise is to go way beyond the bounds of journalistic sobriety.
    Besides, it only stokes the dementedly downbeat likes of laserboy up. Was that the purpose of this sad item?

  3. Are you having a good summer, laserpooh? Doesn’t sound like it. Here’s a piece of advice: when a story about a disturbed and desperate individual self immolating himself gets your juices flowing, it’s time to get out of your bunker and try and enjoy the summer before it slips by. Life, in the best of circumstances, is short. No need for impending Armageddon to make that any truer.

  4. Mikey, you’re posting more and more openly in an emotionally unhinged fashion.
    And while I’d probably enjoy telling others “I told you so” about your crazed mean-spiritedness, really, you’re scarily one-note lately. So either have your seizure soon or prepare for the men in the white coats.

  5. Can you grind up cute puppies and make oil out of them?
    You could, but drilling off shore would be much more efficient.
    To paraphrase a distinguished poster here, et tu, laserdoodle?

  6. Those of you who gang up on this poster for being “unhinged” would do well to examine your own emotional states, which I would characterize as advanced denial. Do you read? Have you heard that the earth is warming? Do you realize what an utterly fundamental indicator temperature is to the life of the planet? Do you have even an inkling of the potentially catastrophic implications? No, “potentially” is too tame a word for it. Catastrophe in our lifetimes is a virtual certainty.
    How do you think catastrophe arrives? All at once? Or is it a succession of bad news? First the alarms of climate scientists. Then evidence (melting glaciers, changing migratory patterns, drought and severe storms, etc). Then the price of oil rises. Then food prices rise. Then the stock market crashes. Then economists find the recession to be deeper than feared. Where do you think all this is headed? Hint: it is not cyclical, it is systemic.
    It’s time to take your heads out of your proverbial asses.

  7. This is truly sad. People are getting desperate in this economy.
    Sadly, if this man survives, he will now be barraged with nagging calls from hospitals expecting payment for the services rendered to save him.
    Never ends…

  8. (robin, crazy folks have set themselves on fire at times other than “this” economy. To that end, even during the go-go 80’s and 90’s, many folks didn’t fare well during “those” economies…. Remember, poor folks exists despite the economy.)

  9. ma~,
    Earth will be around for another billion years or so – plenty of time for several more iterations of plate techtonics, ELEs, and all kinds of other neat stuff.
    We are not individual human beings. That is an illusion. We are all facets of the one eternal conciousness and will be here to see what happens next, forever.

  10. Mellonbursh – I actually hope not. I hope the earth shakes us off and starts over again.

  11. JG,
    It can’t shake us. We are it. Once people start to get this elemental truth, things will start to ‘improve’.

  12. I can’t even imagine being so desperate that I’d consider setting myself on fire as a possible answer to my woes. Clearly he had issues beyond not being able to pay his bills.
    I’m torn between wishing this guy a full recovery and hoping that his pain ends as quickly as possible.
    As far as Mathilda and (especially) Laser go: Amusing though your posts may be, the one-notedness of them in any story at all, regardless of subject, is starting to get tiresome.

  13. I enjoy life as much as the next guy. Unlike the next guy, I notice the elephant in the room especially when I’m under it’s @55.

  14. cathar proves yet again that he can’t read this blog properly. The poster who used the word dunderhead was your compatriot profwilliams. Cheez whiz! LOL

  15. Mikey, if you “enjoy life as much as the next guy,” then the guy next to you must be Al Capp’s great creation, Joe Btfsplk.

  16. If he can’t afford to rent-a-payoff his couch, I bet he doesn’t have health insurance, so who’s paying for this one? oh, yeah… us.

  17. Spot,
    And for you dunderhead blind optimists you’re about to get your clock cleaned. Bet on it.
    Posted by lasermike026 | July 30, 2008 9:39 AM
    A whole 12 minutes before Prof made fun of him for using the word.

  18. Spots, perhaps you’ve already had too much Alpo for today. Look at the 2nd post in this thread, then try and tell whoever your master is that you wish to “go walkies.” And very quickly.

  19. Nice that the Rent-A-Center folks describe this poor fellow as a “nice guy”. Imagine the extra usury that would have been applied to his account if he weren’t so “nice”. Perhaps he should have gone down the street for a “payday” loan at 1000% interest so that he could pay the furniture bill. All sorts of “enterprising” types are around to help out folks like this guy.
    mat, while I agree with you that, as Shakespeare said, “when troubles come they come not single spies, but in battalions”, your act is getting as old and as tired as mikey’s.

  20. Actually, by lighting himself on fire, he increased his carbon footprint and consequently contributed to the global warming crisis.
    Surprised math didn’t jump on that one…

  21. Poor, slow Spot the DB,
    cathar wrote: “… then try and tell whoever your master is that you wish to ‘go walkies.'”
    Too funny. Too funny.

  22. Croiagusanam, while I agree with you that places like the Rent-A-Center are ripoffs, I also think they’re very well-known as such. So anybody who walks into one and signs a contract…
    Down in SC, they have these places, of course. But also far more pawnshops on the highways than I ever recall on Eighth Avenue in NYC even during the 60’s, and also places which give loans based on title to your automobile. So it’s far worse down South, although the loans-just-till-payday seem worst of all as you indicated. (There were guys lurking just outside the gates of Fort Benning when I did AIT there who offered something similar, and claimed they were providing soldiers a ‘free’ service out of sheer patriotism.)
    I noted, too, that the Star-Ledger story gives no real sourcing for the claim that dunning drove this guy to hosting his own auto-da-fe.

  23. I could never understand the concept behind renting furniture. Why not just do yard sales? Ikea also has some very affordable things (ask any college student).

  24. They probably just put him out, nellie, so that he wouldn’t char the merchandise. I remember a guy I knew who ran a saloon in NYC — he once hauled a patron who was choking on a piece of steak out to the sidewalk because he didn’t want the guy dying in his place. Bad for business, you know.
    The guy was back the next day, ready for another go.
    These Rent-A-Center places are indeed ripoffs, but most of the patrons have nowhere else to go. IKEA is OK if you have a car to get the stuff home or the wherewithal to pay delivery charges. Yard sales are few and far between in this area of Newark. The reason these places locate where they do is because they’ve identified a clientele with few other options. Its all legal, I know. But decidedly sleazy, in my view.

  25. Tiresome? Je suis desolee, Generically Named Mike, for not being of greater entertainment value to you on your slow work day.
    Frankly, I’m tired of it all, too. Sometimes I think immolation would be preferable. I am distraught at the state of the world. I am upset that nobody wants to listen. I have been losing weight. I am unable to sleep more than a few hours at a time. We live in a godless world, and we are destroying ourselves. There is no joy anymore, except in drink and reruns of Scrubs.

  26. Actually, he inteded to pour apple juice all overhimself, not lighter fluid. Honest mistake.

  27. We only have our technocracy thanks to a brief (cosmically speaking) break in ice ages. Perhaps the next one will be longer and we’ll have the time to both fully decimate the planet and escape to the stars where there are countless planets to destroy.
    (to funny Spicoli)

  28. mathilda,
    Despite it all, people will marry today. Kids will be born. Someone will get a new job. Someone will hear from an old friend.
    Good things happen all day long- everyday.
    Less bad things.
    The question is: which are you going to concentrate on?
    I’d prefer to keep the joy I see in the kids every morning as they head off to camp…
    Or as they walk down the street- with nothing to do, except talk to their friends– enjoying a lazy Summer.
    Be happy friend, there are worst places in the world to live (and even there, folks find joy.)

  29. As I hum along to my Buffy St. Marie records while reading the prof’s treacle, I think all should give props to Bloomfield police captian Goul who opined that employees don’t know “what sparked” the incident.
    Well done, captain!

  30. For excellent furniture finds, one need only drive around Upper Saddle River, the nearby Village of Airmont and our own Upper Montclair on bulk day eves.

  31. You got it Jerseygurl! But don’t forget Essex Fells and Short Hills as well. I always joke to DH that I wish we had schedules of all the bulk days in these tony towns. Hmmm, maybe there’s a cottage industry here. 🙂

  32. “…employees don’t know ‘what sparked’ the incident.”
    My guess is that it was the lighter fluid.

  33. LM,
    For goodness sake, nobody is making fun of burn victims.
    You should lighten up a little bit. No pun intended.

  34. There is an Algonquin Round Table-like assemblage of witticisms on this post today. My compliments to all!
    And a nice heaping tablespoon of castor oil to he-who-shall-not-be-lasered and some left over cat food to Spots!

  35. I know HTML, I’ve tried linking in here, and it just doesn’t work for me. Will try again at the next opportunity.

  36. my question is if laserdoodle lit himself on fire what kind of carbon footprint would he emit?
    Laserdude…As for your 2nd comment on the thread that is one of the main differences between u dunderhead liberals and the right thinking Republicans. Dems are always spreading doom and gloom and lamenting how bad America is where as the Republicans are always optimistic about the spirit of the American people and that we will overcome all of our obstacles through the hard work and our democratic society.

  37. But as we know, jerseygurl, she is also “undoubtedly” rolling off someone else as she does so.
    (Besides, you read what these people really said to each other, it was probably much funnier at the time it was said. You hadda be there, you know? Whereas we have lasermikey posting for posterity on a daily basis!)

  38. Dorothy is not rolling over. As she famously said, she is much too f’ing busy, and vice versa.

  39. Ditto on “good one, banana”. sorry i’m so late to the tikifest. they seem to want some sort of work out of me today.
    croiag…i’m with you 100%. the poor always get poorer.

  40. Sub, Don’t you just hate those days when they want you to work? Those days make me flaming mad.

  41. I don’t think you really count as a ‘burn victim’ if you intentionally light yourself on fire.
    You’re really more of a victim of your self than a victim of burns.

  42. flaming mad, nellie. if they were giving me iphones, nikons, macbooks, vans and soy dog biscuits, then i could make sense of this work ethic thing. but that doesn’t seem to be happening for me. 4:40–almost time to haury home!

  43. Pokey,
    Very funny. The same could be said for this, except I’m not 100% certain that a serpentine is a body part. Never did quite know what that song was all about.

  44. Complainerpuss, have did you ever see two snakes “doing it”? It’s a very sensuous coupling, same as flames moving, etc.
    Anyway, I really expected the prof to chime in with this.

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