The Big Chill ends with some folks hot under the collar


January 24, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

Iknow it happens all the time -- and, in this case, the complainant knew he shouldn't have parked his car where he did. But it's still an outrage. I'm speaking here of what towing companies charge people to get their impounded cars back. Rafik Agri, a college student who lives in South Baltimore, couldn't find a place to park his car one recent night. Nor could his roommate. So they both parked their cars in a private lot -- not smart -- across the street from their rowhouse. It wasn't long before a tow truck arrived. "I know where we parked was improper," Agri says. "But it's what they charged us to get the cars back. And they only towed the cars 3 miles away." The bill was $280. "That is a scam," Agri says. No argument here.

Loathsome sluggard

Wasn't there something on the radio about the gas-and-electric people pleading with us to conserve energy during last week's Big Chill? Lots of consumers cooperated, and that made a difference. However, one of our finking correspondents reports that a house in Rodgers Forge (on Stevenson Lane, in fact) had all its Christmas lights on during the cold spell. We're not going to mention any names -- you know who you are! -- but in recognition of this brazen disregard for your fellow citizens, we're awarding you the Loathsome Sluggard Award for January. You should find notice of the award under your windshield wipers.

Just that fast

The phone rings. It's a Baltimore County police dispatcher. "Do you own a white Acura Legend? You do? Is it missing? Why? Because one of our officers is following it down I-83 as we speak." That's pretty close to what a woman named Joan heard one night last week after the phone rang in her condo in Sparks. Her car had been stolen literally minutes earlier, apparently by four youths. A county officer had seen the car on York Road and fTC followed it through Cockeysville. He had used his radio to call the dispatcher to determine who owned the Acura -- the current car-of-choice among joy-riding thieves -- and the phone call to Joan confirmed the theft. Pretty fast work, I'd say. Problem is, once the county patrol car's flashing lights came on, the young driver of the Acura made a maneuver that, in the pursuing officer's judgment, prohibited a chase. The cops were frustrated; so was Joan. But she got her car back. Three days later it turned up in the city, with only minimal damage. I guess, in the grand sweep of modern life, that must serve as consolation. Right? No one was hurt.

And the quick work of that cop, his dispatcher and the Motor Vehicle Administration computer was, I'd say, quite impressive.

Cold dealing

I hear from good sources that, in the teeth of the Big Chill, drug lookouts remained at their posts, working city street corners in the bitter cold. There was a particularly busy corner on Gwynns Falls Parkway. No liberal leave policy, I guess.

Now is the time . . .

"Hey, Dan," this Harford County chap named Lee Klug barked into my ear during the height of the Big Chill. "I called all over the city, everywhere, every store that might have one, looking for a gas-powered snow blower. And nobody had one. They all said it was a 'seasonal item,' and here we are, with most of winter still ahead of us. Then I pick up the Sunpaper and inside is a circular from Hechinger advertising lawn fertilizer and crab-grass remover. Makes a lot of sense!"

Winter quiz answers

I hope you enjoyed the get-ya-through-the-winter-weekend quiz provided in this column last Friday.

Here are the answers:

1. Tabitha, from "Bewitched." 2. Kohlrabi. 3. Lillehammer, Norway, Winter Olympics, Feb. 12-27; the '98 games will be held in Nagano, Japan. 4. Stock market meltdown; Dow plunges 508 points. 5. Michael Jordan. 6. Ivanhoe. 7. Robert Sherwood. 8. Mercedes-Benz. 9. Mays, Musial, Aaron and Banks. 10. George Sauer. 11. Totally Titanic: the year it sank and lives lost; the year it was found and its depth in feet. 12. Cpl. Louis LeBeau (Robert Clary) of "Hogan's Heroes." 13. c. 14. Jack Kent Cooke. 15. D-Day invasion. 16. Greenbelt. 17. Maryland Blue Crab, the state crustacean. 18. Navratilova. 19. c. 20. Attorney Joseph Welsh to Sen. Joe McCarthy, during Army-McCarthy hearings, 1954. 21. Jessica Lange in "Country," Sissy Spacek in "The River," Sally Field in "Places in the Heart." 22. Richard Nixon, Little Orphan Annie, the Jetsons. 23. Aries. 24. Cy Young. 25. Former Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid. 26. Eddie (7), by one. 27. Baskin-Robbins. 28. "If you don't own a cow, call Cloverland now, it's NOrth-9222!" 29. Wednesday, but if you own stock in the company, everyday is Prince Spaghetti Day. 30. True. 31. Use Ajax. 32. Siamese twins, attached at heads, separated during 22 hours of surgery. 33. b. 34. Fly fishing. 35. Australian rules football. 36. Maryland Day. 37. "Mommy, call Hampden!" 38. Furniture and appliances. 39. Ejected from a game. 40. b.

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