Woman, 71, is mistaken for a 'lady in waiting'


March 01, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

Shirley Williams, a senior citizen in tennis shoes, thinks she got propositioned on The Avenue the other day. In fact, she doesn't think it, she knows it. And at 71, she's all smiles. Wouldn't you be?

Shirley was on 36th Street, which is known as The Avenue in Hampden, and she was shopping at Sally's. That's Hampden shorthand for the Salvation Army secondhand store.

(Coincidentally, I was in this same Sally's on Wednesday night and picked up a cobalt blue coffee mug, souvenir of the "Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven" exhibit at the Walters. It was a gift shop piece, and I'll bet it sold for at least $5 a year ago. Cost me only 50 cents. Which just goes to show how volatile the art market is these days.)

Shirley Williams and her 62-year-old friend, Sarah Hale, were standing at 36th and Elm. Suddenly, across the street, a guy in a car started honking his horn and waving at them.

"What's he want?" Shirley asked. "Who is that anyway?"

Sarah didn't know. So Shirley -- no wallflower, she -- decided to walk across the street to find out what the honker wanted.

She walked right up to the car and looked at the driver, who appeared to be about 65 years old.

"What do you want?" she asked the guy.

"Which one of you is available?"

Huh? Duh? Wha? Avail? Me? Her? Which?

"Which one?" he asked.

"He was serious," Shirley says. "He wanted to pick one of us up. Well, I just went completely blank. I didn't know what to say. I guess he thought we were, you know . . ."

Ladies in waiting?

"Then he just drove off," Shirley says. "He looked kinda frightened, like maybe he thought we were cops."

As strange as the encounter was, Shirley felt pretty good about it. Her step was a little lighter as she crossed The Avenue again. "I went back and told Sarah what happened," Shirley giggles. "And I said, 'Sarah, we still got it, hon!' "

Elevating experience

The man whose name appears on every elevator inspection certificate in the state got stuck on an elevator the other day. John P. O'Connor, state commissioner of labor and industry, was late for a meeting because he spent 40 minutes in a lift on the eighth floor of the Standard Oil Building in downtown Baltimore. He was joined there by nine other men and women, two of them elderly. "It wasn't funny until after we got out of there safely," O'Connor says. "I think everyone knew that the worst thing we could do was panic."

The elevator was an old one, the type that still requires a human operator. But there was no mechanical failure, O'Connor says. ,, Rather, an electrical problem kept the doors from opening. It was a long 40 minutes. "But no one freaked out," says Michael Moran, a Westminster hairstylist who was among the trapped. "We played word games to pass the time."

Dueling bus ads

Have you noticed anti-abortion ads on MTA buses? Noticed the counterads, too? One ad says, "Abortion causes more and deadlier breast cancer." The counterad says, "Abortion does not cause cancer." What's up with this?

In January, an organization called Christ's Bride Ministries asked to run the anti-abortion message on 35 MTA buses and inside certain Metro stops. Several health organizations caught wind of the proposed CBM ads, protested and asked the Mass Transit Administration to free up some space for a countermessage.

So the MTA sought advice -- from the Maryland attorney general and the state secretary of health.

The AG's office said rejecting the ad would violate CBM's right to free speech. Health Secretary Martin P. Wasserman said this: "Some studies show no increase in breast cancer after abortion, while other studies show a slight increase in risk. Therefore, we cannot draw any firm conclusions about the relationship between abortion and breast cancer."

The MTA gave space for the counterads to a coalition of women's health organizations. In some places, they run side-by-side with CBM's ads.

Matter of trust

Paula Gemora's husband, Irv, needed emergency surgery one morning last month, and she wanted to be with him before he went into the O.R. So she drove to Sinai Hospital, giving herself plenty of time to find a parking space and get to Irv's side.

But she could not find a parking space in three passes through the lot. She was excited, tense and frustrated. "Irv called me on the car phone to let me know they were ready to take him to surgery," she says. "I was just about ready to abandon my car at the pay booth and I was not under control when a wonderful gentleman asked me if I wanted him to park my car. I thanked him, gave him the keys and left running."

What do you suppose happened? Let me see a show of hands: How many TJI readers think the guy stole Paula's car?

Now, how many think he honored Paula's instant trust and parked the car?

"It was time to go with my husband to the operating holding area," Paula says. "And this wonderful gentleman -- I didn't get his name, I don't even remember what he looked like -- came into the operating suite to tell me where my keys and car were."

Irv is doing fine, thanks. Paula feels pretty good about things, too.

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