A True Story from Atlantic City


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 ... a very intimidating figure. The woman froze.
Her first thought was: These two are going to rob me. The next thought was:
Don't be a bigot, they look like perfectly nice gentlemen. But racial
stereotypes are powerful, and fear immobilised 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; he 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
apologise 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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