Slow burn about a smoker finally ignites commuters

This Just In...

October 04, 2002|By Dan Rodricks

THERE'S STRENGTH in numbers, but not if everyone sits down when it's time to stand up. A friend who works in the downtown business district relates an incident - something that happened last week on the subway - that illustrates this truth.

It was getting to be 6:30 p.m., and a small crowd of men and women had gathered at the Charles Street Metro stop. Among those waiting for the next train to Owings Mills were two guys smoking cigarettes. My friend describes them as "pretty rough-looking," and no one on the platform seemed to be able to muster the courage to tell them to extinguish their smokes.

The train arrived, the doors opened, and the two buds hurried to the back of the car, huddled behind a partition and lighted up fresh cigarettes.

A woman in her late 20s was sitting on the other side of the partition. She said something to the smokers and pointed to the no-smoking sign behind them.

The pair brushed her off and puffed away.

About a minute later - the minute in which a simmer turns to full, not-gonna-take-it-anymore boil - the woman spoke up again, this time more loudly and firmly: "Your smoking is disrespecting me and everyone else on the train."

One of the men stuck his head out from behind the partition and addressed all passengers: "Is my smoking disrespecting any of you?"

Immediately, and in unison, all the commuters roared: "YES!"

Dude apologized and put out his smoke.

Ovation for the O's

Doug Schmidt, who has been heading up the effort to endow scholarships for the children and stepchildren of the 56 Marylanders who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, gives the Orioles major credit for giving the previously struggling fund a nice boost.

"An auction of 9/11 Orioles jerseys, with special patches worn this year at Yankee Stadium, raised a total of almost $45,000 for the fund. I was just stunned at the total," Schmidt says.

"The Orioles ... may not be winners on the field this year, or even next, but they are striving to be a good Baltimore citizen. With no expectation of return or notoriety, a lot of hard-working people in the Orioles organization went out of their way to do the right thing for 9/11 families and for their community. That's a classy, winning organization - one that fans can be proud of."

Sad and sore eyes

Could somebody please take down the brown Memorial Stadium direction sign on I-83? It just makes us sad.

And while you're tearing down things along the JFX - how about tearing down that monstrous self-storage facility between Northern Parkway and Ruxton Road? Have you seen it? It's tall. It's blue (I think). It's ugly.

One thing that could always be said about the northern stretch of the Jones Falls Expressway - it was nicely crowded by trees, an arboreal vista that pleased first-timers coming into town from the north. Now, over there on the east side of the highway, is a bold, new eyesore that blocks out the sun. I don't know who issued the permit but they made a mistake - where it said "building," it should have said "demolition."

Money trail

I know what happened to that $38,000 in bank-robbery cash missing from the evidence vault down at the federal courthouse: Uncle Billy mistakenly slipped it to that mean Mr. Potter, and now the bank examiner is coming and George is drinkin' heavily. Or maybe it wasn't Uncle Billy at all. Maybe some FBI agent forgot what the string on his finger was for. ... Did you see where a Maryland corrections officer shot himself in the foot while trying to fend off attacking pit bulls in Southwest Baltimore the other day? This happened while the officer was paying a visit to a felon on home detention. A felon is allowed to have pit bulls? There ought to be a law.

On the big screen

Hey, here's something delightfully fresh and different - Baltimore as a cinematic backdrop for a crime story! Been there, done that, got the body bag!

Red Dragon, the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, opens today, and the first scene was shot here in "The Greatest City in America" - not that anyone outside of Baltimore would know this - at the Lyric Opera House, with Anthony Hopkins attending a BSO concert in the days before the Meyerhoff. (Who knew Dr. Hannibal Lecter was a patron of the Baltimore arts?)

Baltimore, we're told, has more roles in Red Dragon than Mike Myers has in an average Austin Powers movie. The City of a Few Dozen Charms shows up as Atlanta and as Chicago; Atlanta's police station is suspiciously close to Baltimore's World Trade Center and City Hall. And Chicago has a tabloid newspaper, the National Tattler, headquartered in a building that looks eerily like the nerve center of a certain daily publication on Calvert Street. (We hear a tabloid reporter gets tied into a wheelchair, set on fire and pushed down a hill, and now we can proudly tell friends: "That was filmed in Baltimore!")

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