A TRUE STORY IN ATLANTIC CITY NJ (WAS
IN THE PAPER)
On a recent weekend in Atlantic City, a
woman won a bucketful of quarters at a slot machine.
She took a break from the slots for dinner with her husband in the hotel
dining room. But first she wanted
to stash the quarters in her room. "I'll
be right back and we'll go to eat," she told her husband and she carried
the coin-laden bucket to the elevator.
As she was about to walk into the elevator
she noticed two men already aboard. Both
were black. One of them was big,
very big, an intimidating figure.
The woman froze. Her first thought was: These two are going to rob me.
Her next thought was: Don't be a bigot, they look like perfectly
nice gentlemen. But racial
stereotypes are powerful, and fear immobilized her.
She stood and stared at the two men. She felt anxious, flustered, ashamed. She hoped they didn't read her mind, but knew they surely
did; her hesitation about joining them on the elevator was all too obvious.
Her face was flushed. She couldn't just stand there, so with a mighty effort of will she picked up one foot and stepped forward and followed with the other foot and was on the elevator.
Avoiding eye contact, she turned around
stiffly and faced the elevator doors as they closed.
A second passed, and then another second, and then another. Her fear increased! The
elevator didn't move. Panic
consumed her. My God, she thought, I'm trapped and about to be robbed! Her heart
plummeted. Perspiration poured from
every pore. Then...one of the men
said, "Hit the floor," Instinct told her: Do what they tell you.
The bucket of quarters flew upwards
as she threw out her arms and collapsed on the elevator carpet.
A shower of coins rained down on her. Take my money and spare me, she
prayed. More seconds passed.
She heard one of the men say politely, "Ma'am, if you'll just tell
us what floor you're going to, we'll push the button," The one who said it
had a little trouble getting the words out.
He was trying mightily to hold in a belly laugh.
She lifted her head and looked up at the two men.
They reached down to help her up. Confused, she struggled to her feet. "When I told my man here to hit the floor," said
the average sized one, "I meant that he should hit the elevator button for
our floor. I didn't mean for you to
hit the floor, ma'am." He
spoke genially. He bit his lip.
It was obvious he was having a hard time
not laughing. She thought: My God, what a spectacle I've made of myself.
She was too humiliated to speak. She
wanted to blurt out an apology, but words failed her.
How do you apologize to two perfectly respectable gentlemen for behaving
as though they were going to rob you? She
didn't know what to say.
The 3 of them gathered up the strewn
quarters and refilled her bucket. When the elevator arrived at her floor they
insisted on walking her to her room. She
seemed a little unsteady on her feet, and they were afraid she might not make it
down the corridor. At her door they
bid her a good evening.
As she slipped into her room she
could hear them roaring with laughter while they walked back to the elevator.
The woman brushed herself off. She
pulled herself together and went downstairs for dinner with her husband.
The next morning flowers were delivered to her room-a dozen roses.
Attached to EACH rose was a crisp one
hundred dollar bill. The card said:
"Thanks for the best laugh we've had in years."
It was signed,
Eddie Murphy and Michael Jordan.
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