Some people with perfect vision can't see when it's OK to be kind

THIS JUST IN...

July 27, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

One bad day on the street and Mike Suznevich concludes that there's something wrong with human kindness: Not enough of it to go around. What can I tell you? The guy drives for a living -- he drives mainly sedans-for-hire -- and he hasn't been doing this for very long. "About a month and a half," he says in a New Jersey accent that makes him sound tougher than he really is. Two incidents in one day left Mike smarting from a compound fracture of his faith in mankind.

Last Wednesday morning, he stopped the car he drives for On-Time Sedan Service at the corner of Light and Pratt, near the Bell Atlantic building. His passenger was a woman who is legally blind.

Visually handicapped Baltimoreans frequently use On-Time because they find the sedan service more reliable, albeit more expensive, than public transportation or cabs. After Mike stopped the car and opened the door, his passenger remained in the car to write a check to cover her fare. Then she gathered up her belongings. Apparently this took more time than a certain city traffic officer wanted to allow.

As his passenger walked off, Mike turned around and the officer handed him a $32 ticket for parking in a no-stopping zone. "She [the officer] didn't warn me, didn't speak to me, didn't say a word," Mike says. "When I tried to explain how my passenger needed time getting out of the car, [the officer] didn't want to hear it. . . . But, that's not all. Let me tell you what happened the same day at the airport, in the afternoon."

Mike was dispatched to pick up a man in a wheelchair, a quadriplegic arriving at BWI. "I was going to have to literally pick the man up and put him in my car," Mike says. "So I get there and I want to park at the curb, and I ask this cabdriver to pull up 10 feet so I can get to the curb. And the guy refuses to move. He refuses to move. I said, 'You gotta be kidding. You got to be kidding.'

"It was hot, it was humid, it was like 100 degrees. The [cabbie] says, 'I don't give. . . . It's my cab stand.' I said, 'What kind of a human being are you? . . .' I say it's 50-50 out there. A 50 percent chance you'll run into someone who cares, 50 percent that you'll run into someone who doesn't." I say he's being optimistic.

A toast to low prices

What do you think the standard restaurant mark-up of wine is? Two hundred percent over wholesale? Three hundred percent?

Through Labor Day, Spike & Charlie's is offering bottles of wine at -- get this -- just a dollar over cost. The Cathedral Street restaurant and wine bar has come up with a "dog days" list that, management claims, doesn't contain any dogs.

To make sure, I checked with two experts not easily impressed and they were easily impressed. Neither ever heard of a restaurant making such an offer. An Aujoux Beaujolais 1993 for $7 looks good, and one of my consultants likes the $14 bottle of Muller Catoir Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken 'Mussbacher Eselshaut' 1992, which should get three stars just for its name.

Another wine maven was excited about the prospect of only paying $20 for a bottle of Kalin Cellars Chardonnay. (Sorry, bargain hunters, no Cribari.)

Lighten up, Nick

Great. Let your kid watch a couple of hours of TV here and there and all of a sudden he's reciting advertising slogans -- lawyer advertising no less. Here's what my 4-year-old, Nicholas, came up with:

Nick: "Mom, do we have a lawyer?"

Mom: "No, Nick. Why?"

Nick: "Because we have a phone, and the TV says if we have a phone we have a lawyer."

What lawyers fight about

"If you have a phone, you have a lawyer" is the time-worn advertisement for Saiontz & Kirk. Put a twist on the phrase -- "If you're a lawyer, you need a phone" -- and you have a possible title for a dispute involving two Baltimore attorneys.

Ronald M. Sharrow and Daniel Cohen are fussing over a phone number. In fact, they've hired lawyers to do the fussing. Cohen and Sharrow, well-known as a pioneer in lawyer advertising, began a contractual association in 1991. Cohen had more than three decades of experience, numerous contacts and clients, and a phone number, 539-0063, of many years.

The phone number was important to Cohen. A phone number is important to all lawyers. "It's your lifeline," one remarked yesterday.

Sharrow's attorney, Richard Rosenthal, says Cohen agreed to relinquish his phone number at the end of this three-year association with the Sharrow law firm. But early this year, Cohen decided not to retire at the end of his stint and to return to private practice on his own. And he wanted to take his more than 30-year-old phone number with him.

No way, said Sharrow. Cohen offered to buy the number back. Sharrow insisted a deal was a deal and went to court to keep Cohen from using 539-0063. Last Friday, Baltimore Circuit Judge Edward J. Angeletti granted Sharrow's request for an injunction, ordered that Cohen no longer use 539-0063 and that it be transferred to Sharrow. This week, a former federal judge, James R. Miller Jr., will serve as arbiter as the two sides hash it out. Meanwhile, if you're looking for Cohen, his number now is 547-0480.

Garden explosion

Ah, summer. Late summer. Soon we'll have more zucchini than anyone wants to be associated with.

Write me at: This Just In, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Or call 332-6166.

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