Unexpected kind acts restore faith in mankind

This Just In...

October 24, 1997|By DAN RODRICKS

I keep getting them - stories of good deeds that stun people so much they call to break the news. This just in: "A stranger stopped to fix my flat tire. ... Two Goucher students found my purse and drove 50 miles to return it. ... My little girl lost the '' money she saved for a birthday toy, and someone returned it."

Personally, I don't have a coronary when people are nice. (I'm not thoroughly jaded yet, though I'm trying to catch up.) But I understand why others find it amazing. So I guess I shouldn't keep these stories to myself. They're comfort food for the soul. Here are a couple of fresh ones.

On Oct. 15, after the Indians knocked the Orioles out of postseason play, Harriet Goldberg fell on Pratt Street. She was coming from the game with her daughter, Helene, walking back to her car. She busted her lip and her nose. Blood all over. It was dizzying. It was embarrassing. She was six blocks from her car.

A man and a woman, twentysomethings, about Helene's age, stopped to help. One ran to a bar for ice, the other hailed a cab. When the cab came, the driver took Harriet and her daughter to their car. He refused to take money. "If any mom is hurt, it's like my mom is hurt and I can't take your money," he said.

Says Harriet: "My faith has been restored in the goodness of the people of Baltimore."

And then there was Scott Cusimano, who deals in equipment for medical laboratories. Last week, someone lifted his briefcase while he was paying a visit to Johns Hopkins Hospital. He didn't expect to see it or the checks inside again.

Next day, the phone rang with a collect call from someone named Albert Hill. This fellow was on the street near Hopkins; he'd found a bag filled with checks, a calculator, a Day-Timer and business papers. Some of the papers had Scott Cusimano's name and telephone number. The man on the phone said something about being homeless.

He said he'd leave Scott's stuff at the main security desk in the hospital.

Scott recovered the items, checks and all, the next day. He left Albert Hill a new flannel shirt and gift certificates for a restaurant.

Both Scott and his wife, Cindy, used "unbelievable" to describe Albert Hill's return of the items from the briefcase.

Maybe the more we hear these stories the more believable they become.

So . . . more later.

A sainted 'HolyWeen'

From the bulletin of Messiah United Methodist Church, Taneytown: "HolyWeen Party Oct. 31. Become your favorite saint or Bible character. There will be prizes for the best Bible character or saint."

I can see the Bible character bit - everybody loves a loincloth.

But saints? I didn't know Methodists were into saints. I thought saints were pretty much a Catholic thing - you know, the power of intercession and all that. ("When they lose something, some people go to St. Anthony for intercession," Joey Amalfitano says. "When I was in college, I went to St. Bart's for intercession.")

I'm an ecumenical guy. I like that saint-savvy is not limited to Catholics or their kindred. Saints are cool. Saints are miraculous. They all have stories. They all have causes. So, Methodists or not, I would say the opportunity for fun at a dress-like-a-saint party is high.

Still, this is a Halloween gig. The potential for ghoulishness is huge, and I think the good people of Taneytown ought to know that. I mean, 'tis the season for ghoulishness, and among saints there is plenty of that sort of thing: John the Baptist, beheaded; St. Sebastian, riddled with arrows; Joan of Arc, burned at the stake; St. Cecilia, steamed and hacked. That's just to name a few of your holy martyrs who suffered ghastly deaths.

The statues I've seen of St. Lucy show her holding a plate of eyeballs. St. Patrick usually has snakes at his feet.

Personally, I don't have the stomach for eyeballs or snakes. If I go to this party, I do the St. Anthony thing. It's safe, it's easy. I get a robe, some sandals. I shave my head and walk around with my pockets full of lost eyeglasses and car keys. I'd be the most popular guy on the floor.

Swearing by 'Stoop'

After Pal Joey - Mr. Joseph Amalfitano - used "stoop" to describe the top step of a rowhouse on Fleet Street a couple of weeks ago, some lady called here complaining that Joey can't be an authentic Baltimorean because no Baltimorean uses that word. Well, horse hockey. Joey is a native son. The fact that he would use "stoop" in conversation is not surprising. "Stoop" might not be used throughout town - some people are actually quite priggish about the use of this word - but it's certainly used in some sections of it. I've heard it in East Baltimore and West VTC Baltimore. Gene Raynor, longtime elections official and Baltimorean, says he's heard front steps called stoops all his life, from Chester Street to Little Italy to Canton. And I swear by my membership card in the Honorable Sons of Pigtowne that I've heard "stoop" mentioned over there. Once there was even talk about having the Stoop-Sitting Olympics in Pigtown. So there.

Long wait, great music

Called the Motor Vehicle Administration lately? Our favorite state bureaucracy has that automated switchboard with the elaborate option system and more extensions than the Pentagon. A friend of mine, being the responsible person he is, called the MVA's Financial Responsibility Division the other day. He was on hold for 30 minutes. But he wasn't really mad about it. "I spent the time listening to a wonderful jazz piano rendition of 'Don't Get Around Much Anymore,' " he said. "I thought that was a nice touch."

Pub Date: 10/24/97

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