Judging A Book By It's Cover

An amusing story and a lesson for all ...

Having her hair done at a West Hempstead, NY, beauty parlor, a woman

told a cautionary tale about racial prejudice. The story deserves a

wider audience.

On a recent weekend in Atlantic City, the woman related, she 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, even if one of them is awfully black. But racial

stereotypes are powerful, and fear immobilized her. She stood and

stared at the two men. She felt anxious, flustered, and 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 burned.

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.

The elevator didn't move.

Panic consumed her. My God, she thought, I'm trapped and about to be


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 one of the men (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 robbing you? She

didn't know.

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 laughing 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


"Thanks for the best laugh we've had in years."

It was signed,

Eddie Murphy

Michael Jordan