They gasped. They sighed. They contemplated what kind of sports car a quarter-million dollars would buy.
On the streets of Baltimore, nearly everyone yesterday suffered a bit of anchor envy at the latest news.
Sally Thorner, who is leaving WMAR (Channel 2) for rival WJZ (Channel 13), is being paid an estimated $250,000 by her new employers to not show up for work until December 1993. Because of a no-compete clause in her Channel 2 contract, she has to sit out a year after her current agreement ends Nov. 30.
Ms. Thorner plans on passing that gloriously well-paid year in hiatus by writing, volunteering and spending time with her husband and young son.
But who among us hasn't indulged in the fantasy of wondering: What if . . . What if it were you? How would you spend the time and money?
"Take the money and run!" jokes Dunbar Brooks, a Baltimore County school board member. "Wow! Sign me up for that deal!"
"Spend it on my own record label," says Pat Ferrise, assistant music director and midday on-air personality at WHFS (99.1 FM) radio station.
Harold White, who runs a busy hot dog stand on Calvert Street, would kick back while enjoying the sunny climes and pristine beaches of Jamaica.
Then, after vacationing, he would indulge himself in kind of a football orgy. "I would go to a football game in every city," he says with a big smile. "Oh! And I would treat my woman right." he said. "And invest."
For Joseph Liu, it would be a year of living luxuriously.
"I would decorate my house with flowers in every room and send Godiva chocolates to my girlfriends every week," says Mr. Liu, a part-time computer operator who lives in Cockeysville. "I would go to the finest restaurants in town every weekend and have top-quality seafood and French wine. And if I had money left over, I would buy a house."
The imaginary windfall brought visions -- albeit fleeting ones -- of being debt-free for Neal Reid.
"I'm trying to comprehend how much a quarter of a million is," says the salesclerk at Morton's Elegant Eats. "I'd pay off my bills. I'd pay off my ma's bill, I'd pay for school. And I have an addiction to traveling. I'd buy a car and travel."
Marie Rickter, who works in the loan department at Maryland National Bank, would like to retire and spend time with her family.
The bottom line, she says with just a touch of glee, "I could do whatever I want to do!"
On a more serious note, Eileen Gillan, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Food Committee, says feeding more people and helping them become self-sufficient would be tops on their list.
And, "in addition to Sally Thorner's money, we would love to have Sally Thorner's time," Ms. Gillan says. "If she has a year off and can't work in the news business, we would love it if she would volunteer here in our public education program."