Do-gooders Locking Up One Locksmith’s Market

By Wendy Belzberg

Published May 30, 2003, issue of May 30, 2003.

A group of young men in our community have started something called “the Chevra,” the mission of which is to perform good deeds 24 hours a day. It is like Hatzolah, but instead of saving people’s lives, they bail people out. Among the good deeds they perform are unlocking people’s car doors and fixing flat tires. The local locksmith says this will cost him $30,000 to $40,000 a year. Is this a reason for the Chevra to stop?

— Business or brotherhood first?

Do you hail from Chelm? Is there really a community where residents lock their keys in their cars with such regularity that the locksmith relies on this business for his livelihood? Hasn’t anyone in your community heard of a wire hanger? Moreover, unless its members number in the hundreds, the Chevra cannot possibly cover all parking lots and streets. Do they also break down doors, dynamite safes and replace lock sets? These are do-gooders, not vigilantes. I say let them continue on their righteous path. Even the locksmith may be happy to see one of the Chevra the night he finds himself on a deserted stretch of road with an empty gas tank.

* * *

My friend is having an unveiling of the headstones of both of her parents. They are not buried under this stone, which is just a memorial. I need to know the proper wording for an invitation to send to friends and family.

— Uncertain about unveiling

I have never heard of sending out invitations to an unveiling, although one could argue that formal notification of the event is so much more considerate than, say, funerals where attendees have such little advance notice.

And though a gathering of at least 10 people is required (a minyan), if the family wishes to say Kaddish, an unveiling is not a social event. I suggest your friend issue all invitations by phone and save the creamy, engraved stationery for the next family simcha. When the time comes, I will be delighted to help with the wording for that occasion.

* * *

I went to a dinner party last night where I was lucky enough to be seated next to a delightful and provocative woman. My wife was stuck talking to a few guests who were singularly focused on making an early getaway from the work-related function. I was more than happy to turn to my left and lose myself in conversation from appetizer to dessert, but my spouse claims it would have been nice at least once to break away and rescue her. What do you think?

— Table manners under fire

Whose work-related function was this — yours or hers? If it was yours, what I think doesn’t really matter, unless you plan on going solo to the next company event.

That said, if your wife was seated directly to your right she has a strong case. It is only polite at a seated dinner to spend equal time with both of your dinner partners. This holds even if you are fortunate enough to be seated next to Michelle Pfeiffer or Sarah Jessica Parker. As for your wife’s plea, she was at a dinner party, not on a sinking raft. If she is in fact expressing jealousy rather than desperation, cede the point, and remind her that no one is more charming than she. Otherwise, you may remind her that she is an adult, and that she knows well how to swim.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.



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