What a country! A happy ending to tale of lost money


The surprisingly good ending to Wednesday's column, reported at the bottom of this page yesterday, is that Antonina Berest and Iosif Tsitlik have their money back -- $6,000 the Russian immigrant couple lost a week ago in North Baltimore. It was a Loyola College grad student, Laurie O'Connell, who came up with it. She recovered the cash from a street in Homeland minutes after Mrs. Berest and Mr. Tsitlik, who earn their way as housekeepers, lost it. The cash had been in Mrs. Berest's small handbag; she apparently had left it on the roof of her husband's car as the two were preparing to leave a house they had just cleaned. The couple wanted to use the money to replace their 1985 Toyota and ... you know the rest of the story by now!

"There is a God," someone shouted in my ear yesterday, as the story of Laurie O'Connell's honesty and the Russian couple's good fortune spread around town.

"It's been a bit overwhelming, all the attention," Ms. O'Connell said. She wasn't trying to be a role model or set an example. But she is and she did. Several readers contacted This Just In to say their faith in the existence of human decency had been restored by Ms. O'Connell's decision to step forward once she had located the cash's rightful owners.

Ms. O'Connell wasn't sure what she had stumbled across the evening of April 5. The handbag contained no identification. "It was all cash," she said. "So at first I thought it might be drug money." Such speculation is justified in Baltimore.

But when she read the description of the Russian couple's dilemma Wednesday morning, she knew she had found a match for the cash.

People admire what Laurie O'Connell did. They admire Mrs. Berest and Mr. Tsitlik, too -- hard-working immigrants who, despite their professional backgrounds -- she's a teacher, he's a dentist -- have taken menial jobs, basically anything they could -- find, to get by. And they've obviously worked hard at saving their money since arriving here from St. Petersburg in 1993.

Just so you know: More than 60 people contacted The Sun this week to offer money, jobs or even help financing a new car to Mrs. Berest and Mr. Tsitlik. To this I say: Amerika, kakaya strana! (What a country!)

See Spot return money

"No Tomatoes" were the two other words on the lunch order clipped to the $5 bill that Spot, the wonder Dalmatian, sniffed out of a North Charles Street gutter. (This Just In, April 12). Alta Anthony, an employee of Johns Hopkins University Press, provided the two-word code that proved she was the $5 loser. She went, gleefully, to retrieve the bill from Spot yesterday at his office, SilverShoe Graphics, 2639 N. Charles. Nice Spot. He got Milk Bones for his honesty.

Basting in the twilight

Time again for the Malaprop Report. Today's guest lecturer is Brendan Connolly, an air traffic controller at BWI. The subject of Connolly's report is a man named Roy, a retired second-line manager who spoke in anguished English. "It was constant," Connolly reports, "not just the isolated slip-up. On a training day, just prior to taking a break, Roy suggested that 'we should all simonize our watches.' Roy loved to barbecue. But you should have heard his 'profane grill.' What a mouth! Shortly before he retired, Roy was asked by a controller how he was doing. Roy replied, 'I'm basting in the twilight of my career.' The controller informed him that you 'baste a turkey and you bask in the twilight of your career.' Undaunted, Roy responded: 'If I want to baste, I'll baste.'"

Here's mud in our eyes

"I don't think anyone would question [Peter] Angelos's loyalty to the city of Baltimore," hums Joe Foss, the Orioles vice chairman, as he drew a smile on a mud pie before slapping it in the hometown's face. That the owner of the Orioles is a Baltimorean doesn't make the decision to keep the city's name off team uniforms -- and to drop it from logos -- any better. It makes it worse.

Demi dines; legal suits

This Just In: Demi Moore has been dining at El Taco Loco, Harborplace, while hubby Bruce Willis is in town making "Twelve Monkeys."

For all who've asked: Stephen L. Miles says he buys all his suits from Burlington Coat Factory and that, "I have never paid more than $230 for a suit in the last five years." No Brooks Brothers lawyer, this one.

Jefferson's 'Morticello'?

Could we get someone in the Art Department to paint a little correction on the Light Rail ticket machines? I mean, here we have a representation of a nickel, featuring Thomas Jefferson's Virginia estate, Monticello, and it's spelled wrong. It's spelled as "Morticello," which sounds like some cheese or Italian pork product.

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