The other day, while standing in a long line waiting to meet Baltimore Oriole Bill Ripken at the Orioles store, I was subjected to yet another example of the substandard position accorded ordinary citizens in this society.

My son and I waited for more than 1 1/2 hours, only to be turned away, when there were perhaps only 30 people in front of us. We were all told that Mr. Ripken had to leave for Baltimore promptly at 2 p.m. for that evening's game. Therefore, no more baseball fans, private citizens or young children who love our national pastime were to be allowed in for autographs. Disappointed though we all were, we stood around hoping that perhaps the situation would change and we would ultimately be allowed in.

At that point, a man in military garb, as well as his aides, was ushered in by the people in charge, to the horror of all of those watching. Who was this privileged person? None other than Lt. Col. Oliver North. My son and I were devastated.

First, if Mr. Ripken had to leave, he should have left as scheduled, disappointing even baseball fan Col. North. However, the people in charge claimed Col. North was a personal friend of Bill Ripken's and therefore could get in even after the scheduled hours. Second, Mr. Ripken could have seen Col. North privately, at some other location where personal friends meet, and not flaunted his recent notoriety in front of us.

It is inexcusable that we devoted fans and private citizens had to watch such undemocratic behavior. And it is no credit to Col. North or the Orioles that they allowed this to happen.

I can't help wondering what fan went without the thrill of meeting Bill Ripken and getting his autograph because of Col. North's appearance at the store.