Thursday, August 22, 1996
Sometimes no news is the best news

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kathy Schafer of Springdale called to report a nosebleed.

I guess she didn't realize that a newsworthy incident would be more like 40 nosebleeds as the result of unarmed gang violence. Or maybe one nosebleed if it happened to, say, Elizabeth Dole. Or Socks the Cat. Or Brad Pitt.

Well, it was just one nose, and it belonged to Kathy's husband, Don, who is retired from a very responsible job at a very important Cincinnati company. But just keeping your head down and working hard for 30 or 40 years won't make you famous. So that's probably why Kathy called me instead of Deborah Norville or Mary Hart.

Kathy and Don had two of their four grandchildren for the day. Now, again, this is simply not news. They were not abusing these children. And the children were not fugitives from justice. Nobody is estranged from anybody else. They like each other and get together every holiday to exchange gifts or eat too much. Sometimes both. That's probably why she called me instead of Jerry Springer.

Everybody's country club

The Schafers drove out to Sharon Woods, 755 public acres with big, old trees and picnic benches and a 35-acre fishing lake. Everybody can use the facilities if they behave. You are not interviewed by a membership committee to assess your suitability before you are issued a parking sticker.

Stickers cost $3 and get you into any Hamilton County park, including Sharon Woods, which is an unusually nice one. There are ramps and broad paths and plenty of ways to get around, even if you have a few extra impediments. Kathy, who has multiple sclerosis, is in a wheelchair, and Don walks with a cane.

The cane is temporary - recent surgery - and she is used to the chair. Diagnosed with MS 40 years ago, she has had the chair for 10. No big deal, according to Kathy. They live in an apartment building, where the manager built a ramp so Kathy can just zip right out the door to her car. There are steps down to the mailbox, but her mail is delivered right to the door.

Well, this really is just about the most useless piece of information I've gotten yet. Her mailman, apparently, has not murdered any of his co-workers, plus he walks up seven steps every day even though I am sure that his civil-service manual does not require him to do so.

His name is Mark, and just because he works a little harder than he has to, he definitely is not newsworthy either. Nor is the woman from the Schafers' church who brings Communion to Kathy on Sundays.

No crimes were committed

By now, a few minutes have passed, and I am surprised that I have not hung up the telephone to go on to more worthy and uplifting stories, such as crack babies or unrest in England's royal family or the latest pilgrimage to Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

I must be losing my touch.

Anyway, Kathy said they were just getting ready to throw their fishing lines in the water when Don's nose suddenly began to bleed. Another grandfather, on an outing with his 10 grandchildren, ran back to his ice chest. He put a cold pack on Don's neck. A couple more people helped him to a bench.

No one's pocket was picked. No one's purse was snatched.

There were more volunteer tissues than you could count. Somebody even donated a real handkerchief.

One of the bystanders called the park paramedics. Probably an overreaction. By the time they arrived, the bleeding had almost stopped. Everything was OK, and Don was a little embarrassed by the commotion. In all, about a dozen people came to the aid of this one ordinary nosebleed.

Kathy wishes she could thank them all but she didn't get anybody's name. I guess she hasn't heard about the very prudent practice of taking names at events such as these in case you later think of a way you could sue somebody.

''I wouldn't have called you,'' she says apologetically, ''except it's just one of those things that reminds you how nice people can be. It sort of restores your faith in human nature.'' Well, yes it does. And so do you.

Stop the presses.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768.8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.