Kindness of stranger on highway helps heal Mary's old hurt


May 02, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

Even now, a few years after the attack, she fights the urge to hate and fear all men. No surprise there. Mary -- that's the name I gave her when I first wrote about her ordeal in The Evening Sun nearly three years ago -- is a rape victim, still in recovery. So when she finds herself in situations that require trusting strangers, especially men, she holds back. Even when she needs help.

Two weeks ago, a piece of metal flew out of traffic while Mary was driving her car on Interstate 795. The metal struck a tire. The tire blew. It took her several minutes to maneuver the car to the shoulder of the highway. Once there, she faced a question: Should she sit in the car, lock the doors and wait for a state trooper? Or should she get out and wave for help?

Finding ourselves in such a situation, most of us would feel frustrated or annoyed, bothered by the inconvenience. But in those moments, Mary was hit by a terrible rush of fear. "Terror is a good word for what I felt," she says. Finally, she summoned up the nerve to step out of the car and stand next to it. For about 15 minutes, cars continued to rush by. Then, a truck pulled up behind Mary. A middle-aged man in a plaid shirt and a cap got out of the truck and approached with a generous smile. He said his name was Will Maguire, and he offered to change Mary's tire. "I have severe back problems and can't even lift the spare tire out of the trunk," she says. "Will was concerned, caring and kind TC about the whole thing without seeming threatening. He made me feel reassured and safe, like he was someone genuinely interested in helping." She tried to give Will $10 for his trouble, but he staunchly refused. His reasoning: "If someone else was in trouble, you'd do the same thing."

Mary, who is a social worker, has been thinking about Will for a couple of weeks now. "Even if he didn't see why what he had done made him great, to me he was a hero," Mary says. "He stopped and cared and gave a damn." And took away some of the fear, some of the hate. That day, along the highway, he fixed more than he knows.

When four isn't fair

Without immediately identifying herself, Rep. Helen Delich Bentley called The Sun one recent evening and, like so many others looking to settle bar bets or complete a kid's homework assignment, she casually asked a question: How many Republicans had been elected governor in this Democrat-dominated state during the 20th century? The reporter who answered the phone immediately recognized the voice. "Good evening, congresswoman," he said, then found an old edition of the Maryland Manual. The answer provided to Mrs. Bentley was four: Spiro T. Agnew (1967-1969), Theodore R. McKeldin (1951-1959), then Harry W. Nice (1935-1939) and Phillips Lee Goldsborough (1912-1916).

"Four -- that's a fair number," the reporter said.

"Four?" huffed Mrs. Bentley, who is hoping to become Number Five. "You call that fair?"

For dinner, roasted judge

At the retirement dinner for Judge John C. Coolahan, the chief judges of the Court of Appeals and the District Court of Maryland performed a tag-team roast of the guest of honor. Here's a bit of what Judge Robert C. Murphy and Judge Robert F. Sweeney had to say.

Murphy: I first met John Coolahan more than 30 years ago when he was pumping gas at a station in Catonsville. . . .

Sweeney: I didn't know John Coolahan when he was pumping gas, but he has certainly given me a lot of gas over the years. When I first met him he was on the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, and he was somewhat distressed that we had overspent our budget.

Murphy: I remember that after some of those budget hearings I would say a little prayer that something would happen to get him off the budget committee. I am always glad when God answers my prayers, but I have always thought that he could have found some better way to get him off that committee than by making him a judge.

Sweeney: I always thought they should have made him an appellate judge. He would have felt at home, as most of them just sit around and dispense a lot of gas anyhow.

Murphy: I remember five years ago when Judge Coolahan took the oath of office and announced he was giving up politics forever. . . . A year later we got a complaint that Judge Coolahan was stopping by the Arbutus Democratic Club every evening.

Sweeney: Judge Coolahan admitted this was true, but explained that it had nothing to do with politics, he was merely stopping in on his nightly walks to use the bathroom facilities. Judge Murphy asked me to commend Judge Coolahan on his regularity, but to ask him to use the Arbutus firehouse instead.

Song for the stretch

If we're looking for a new 7th-inning stretch song at Oriole Park, allow me to recommend "Take Me Out To The Ballgame," the Bruce Springsteen parody version produced by a couple of local funny guys, Tom Chalkley and Craig Hankin, about 12 years ago. Originally released in Baltimore, this smartly-done "Bruce Springstone" cover can be found on "Baseball's Greatest Hits" (Rhino Records). It's great fun.

You can hear the song, along with this column, by calling Sundial at (410) 783-1800. Using a touch-tone phone, enter the four-digit code 6230. The number for tips to This Just In is 332-6166. Park School intern Liesa Abrams contributed to this column.

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