Questions and answers . . . .
Dear Bob: I entered a major supermarket one day last week. As I approached the manager's cage, which was just inside the door, I saw a folded $20 bill on the floor.
As I bent to pick it up, I became aware that a cashier was approaching with her cash drawer in hand, and had pushed the button for the manager to open the cage and take her drawer.
As I straightened up, $20 bill in hand, I came up eyeball to eyeball with cashier and manager.
Okay, how do you handle this? Do you smugly pocket the money and walk away? Or do you leave it with the manager, with your name and phone number, and say you will claim it the next day if no one comes looking?
Is this a matter between you and your conscience, a matter of judgment or a matter of stupidity? (The 20 was gone the following day when I came back to check. They told me someone had come back looking.) Just sign me, Dubious
Dear Dubious: I say it's a matter of judgment, and would have been even if no manager and no cashier had been hovering over you. Here's the judgment I recommend:
Pocket the money, but give it to charity. If store employes are nearby, tell them that's what you plan to do. And ask them to report your intentions to whoever comes back in search of the bill.
This way, you won't sit around wondering about the honesty of the cashier and the manager. And you won't put the manager in the position of trying to decide whether "the rightful owner" is really rightful. You send the money to an unexceptionable, neutral place where it will do some good.
Dear Bob: My son goes to a public high school in Prince George's County. There is a boy in his class who is gay, and who often flaunts it. He wears earrings, ballet slippers and sometimes tight pink pants. My son says the other kids snicker about him behind his back, but generally leave him alone.
Since all this AIDS business, though, one of the non-gay kids has been harassing this boy unmercifully. He calls him names in the halls. He yanks his earrings. He even goes around taping notes onto water coolers after the gay boy takes a drink from them. One note said, "THIS FOUNTAIN WILL KILL YOU BECAUSE (NAME WITHHELD) DRANK HERE."
My son says the other kids are starting to get edgy about all this. What do you suggest? Concerned Mama
Dear Mama: Why are you asking me? Why aren't you in the principal's office right this minute?
On second thought, don't bother. I just called the principal. I explained the situation. The principal knew right away who the two kids were. The matter is in the proper hands, and the wheels are already turning.
But I'm not naive enough to think that the AIDS epidemic won't produce similar tales. To any high schooler tempted to taunt gays in the future: It isn't original. It isn't humane. It isn't funny.
Dear Bob: I'm a high school basketball referee in the area, and this is the time of year when I wonder if I should bother.
Next month, I'll be huffing up and down the court for my 14th season, as the crowds cheer. Nothing unpleasant about that. The unpleasantness is the coaches. They'll be after me -- again.
They'll insult my parentage and my eyesight. They'll accuse me of taking bribes. They'll even shout that the opposing coach has promised me a cheerleader for some "fun-sies" after the game.
I realize that "working the referee" is part of the game. But does it have to be part of the game at the high school level?
These are 16-year-old kids on the court, Bob. They're not the Boston Celtics. And the coaches are not as good as the coaches in the pros. Yet they run their mouths just as loud and just as often.
Please send the coaches a preseason message for me. The message is: Here's one ref who isn't going to put up with their mouths this season. Striped, But Not Stupid
Dear Striped: Message sent, pal, and message heartily applauded.
What you're seeing is the effect of TV. These loudmouth high school coaches don't think they're coaching unless they whimper about every call. The reason is pro coaches on the tube. They start whimpering during pregame warmups. More camera time that way. Might get a Miller Lite commercial if they whine loud enough.
Baiting the refs may be great for the coachly ego. But it's not clear that it's great for the team. Often, whimpers produce technical fouls, which produce points for the opposition.
Then there's the question of concentration. If a player has a ref-baiting coach, he may pay more attention to the baiting than to the man he's supposed to be guarding. I'll bet plenty of players see their coaches go into tantrums and think, "Why doesn't he shut up and just let us play ball?"
Dear Coaches: Why don't you?