Diane needs a job she's pawned everything but her dignity


December 17, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

Let me give it to you right up front: Diane Griffin doesn't want a handout, she wants a job. After speaking with her a few times, then meeting her yesterday in East Baltimore, I get the impression of an intelligent woman of great dignity and emotional strength. She's going through a rough time right now, but a steady job would turn things around. That's what she wants. A job would help her keep the house on North Curley Street and maybe get a few things out of hock.

Diane has been making regular trips to a pawn shop on Monument Street to raise money for rent. She pawned a television set, a microwave oven, a cordless phone, her daughter's stereo, even her son's Nintendo games -- all to raise cash. This week, when she still came up short of the $559.59 she owed her landlord, she turned to her church for help and managed to avoid eviction. "But that was November's rent,"

Diane says. "I still owe my landlord for December's rent."

She's 35 years old, the mother of two children, a girl and a boy, both teen-agers. "Good kids," she says. "I raised my children in the city and I've never had any problems with them, either with the police or in school. They know how hard it is right now. My daughter has dealt with it a lot better than my son. But they miss things [that were pawned]. My son turned 16 last Saturday and there weren't any presents, but we did bake him a cake."

Her husband left last August. "He just disappeared," she says. They had been married 17 years. Her husband had a good job as a heavy equipment operator. But Diane says the man had personal problems that ruined their marriage. He's gone now. "To a certain degree," she says, "it's a relief not having him around."

But he took the family's main source of income with him. So Diane, who worked for marketing companies and municipal government in the past, has applied for work -- "I have training in clerical skills," she says -- all over the Baltimore area. She gets up, checks the help-wanted ads, gets on a bus or the subway and visits prospective employers. When she's not doing that, she takes temporary work. "Some jobs last two days," she says, "some jobs last two weeks, sometimes two weeks go by without hearing from the temp service."

She hasn't applied for welfare and she applied for food stamps only last week. I get the impression she held off doing that, hoping a job would turn up. That should tell you something -- actually, a lot -- about her. You want to meet this woman, maybe offer her a job? Give me a call.

Sorry, wrong windows

I checked with the set designer for the Don Donaldo Ring Cycle and he tells me that, when the third act of "Il disperato" appeared in this space a week ago, he mistakenly refered to "paladium windows" in the Lord High Governor's chamber.

Of course, he meant "Palladian," the high windows, arched at the top, attributed to the 14th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. We regret, with furtive tear, the error.

Lawyer joke

In the mail comes a late, but pithy response to Stephen L. Miles' dopey joke (examined in this column last month) about his impressions of a seaside gay bar. Bryon Predika said he had a similar moment of wonderment when, in Ocean City, he happened into "the Masonite Room of the Hotel Congoleum" and saw "500 lawyers suckin' up the Coors." How did Bryon know they were all lawyers? "All of the beer bottles had a sign near the cap saying, 'Drink from this end.' "

A must-see in Hampden

Ah, Christmas. 'Tis a joyful season. 'Tis a stressful season. . . . Spotted on the Beltway: A fetching young woman with blond hair, in a white convertible, top down, cruising the Inner Loop with a Christmas tree in the back seat. . . . Spotted at North Charles and the Beltway: Frazzled-looking guy in a dirty station wagon, turning onto the westbound entrance ramp, his open briefcase on the roof of the car, papers flying everywhere. . . . Make sure you see -- I can't emphasize it enough -- the annual Miracle on 34th Street, Hampden. The Christmas lights are astonishing, and this year the Morgan family's house features a toy train that travels on an overhead track from the living room, through a window, out to the porch.

'Watchdog's Lament'

What Hyman A. Pressman, former city comptroller, municipal watchdog and poet laureate of Baltimore, might have said:

This old watchdog must howl

'Cause something smells foul,

And it's coming from City Hall.

That's not buns I smell bakin'

It's a scandal in the makin'

Someone could be takin' a fall.

My successor has besmirched

The office where I perched

And held integrity's keys.

Something's goin' down,

Jackie, get out of town.

Call Four Winds n' Seven Seas.

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