Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shake My Head

The mileage between my part of Baltimore and the DC suburb in Maryland known as Bethesda is only 40 miles as the crow flies, but the average crow would rather stay here, judging from how many I see peckin' around on my way home.

And I can't blame them.  I often mention that there might as well be a giant brick wall on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, as far as many of us around here are concerned.  I realize that in, say, Idaho, two huge cities 40 miles apart would more or less be twin metropolises.  And I know that meteorologists on The Weather Channel like to point their doodads in our direction and blithely refer to "the Baltimore-Washington area," but take this simple test.  Have you ever been watching a show or listening to people talk, and when one asks the other where he/she is from, heard, "Oh, I come from the Baltimore-Washington area, Jay!"?

Baltimore is the biggest small town in the world, where we all relate to each other by the answer to "Wheredja go to high school?"  When you go to the doctor, you'll invariably find that the medical assistant's mother's cousin was the steady girlfriend of your uncle by just asking a few simple questions in conversation.  We sold our first house to a guy and his wife who ran a sub shop that we liked, and they in turn sold it to a guy who was in my class in high school, who sold his old house to the significant other of a good friend of mine. You get the point.  We are Mayberry, writ large.  

DC, as we call Washington, is a city that no one really calls home.  The cast changes all the time as new presidential administrations come and go.  Whereas I went to all twelve grades with the same core group of outstanding young scholars, and myself, kids in DC finish high school having attended a dozen or so schools previously.  

Baltimore is renowned for its cuisine, and the only signature food item I can really think of as being "pure DC" is the half smoke, which is kind of like a chubby hot dog.  We don't see them up here.  

Speaking of smokes, DC is the temporary home of John Boehner, who smokes in his office, in violation of law, common sense, and hospitality.  But he will be Ohio's problem to deal with soon, one can hope.

But I think this is the difference that really sums it up for me.  I was, like everyone else, disgusted, when a woman named Jayna Murray, working in a store called Lululemon in Bethesda, was killed this past March 11 by her coworker, one Brittany Norwood.  322 wounds to the body was the mechanism of death in that case, we found last week as the Norwood trial began.  

And that's not even the most shocking part for me.  Sure, the murder was beyond comprehension, but so was this fact:

The Lululemon store was next door to an Apple store, whose employees heard the commotion of the 322 wounds being administered to Ms Murray and heard a female voice calling for help.  Here's part of the story as reported on Channel 9 in DC:

According to the state,  an employee at the Apple Store next door to the Lululemon store told stated that she heard the sound of "furniture moving" and two women yelling. Then, the employee heard a voice say: "Oh God, please help me." The employee got her assistant manager, who pounded on the wall, but didn't follow up.

I know, I know.  The 20-year-olds who worked at the Apple Store can sell you a little box the size of an Etch-A-Sketch that makes pictures come out of the air, brings you email and music, functions as a camera and I don't know what-all else. 

But these are people so disconnected to humanity that their response to agonized cries for help is to bang on the wall.  Shut up over there!  We're trying to play a video game!  You need help, grab your iPhone and call 911. I'm not helping you.

And something that cold would never happen in Baltimore.  

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