Cell phones, squirrels and pharmacists who strike back


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JIM BOWMAN, Columnist

CALL ME...It's sooooo 2004 to complain about cell phone conversations in public. But we can talk about it, can't we? Yes: Caribou customer's phone rings loudly, he answers, other customers hear that he is in Oak Park?#34;they knew that?#34;and is buying a hot chocolate?#34;the counter man knew it, but not the guy at the window table, slightly out of earshot.

Another time, another store: man enters discussing his affairs loudly and clearly. One of the two customers shoots him a look involuntarily?#34;can he be speaking to me? Man smiles and says "Hi," friendly, not defiant, continues conversation. Speaks of man who "merged" a failing pet store on Madison "Avenue" [sic] in Forest Park, and to a woman who will either go to jail or make restitution, thanks to legal action he instituted. Certain details he won't go into, saying he's in "the UPS store," cruelly leaving others uninformed. Five minutes more and he winds up: he and the other will meet at "Mother's." "That will be fun," he says, and signs off.

LOVING NATURE...I don't feed the squirrels at Scoville Park, but I look at them and they look at me. I sit with my coffee covered, lest they sip. My toast too, which is far more attractive to them. They hop onto my bench or timbered seat, probe a little, hop back down. I rise and stand before them; they approach indirectly, veering slightly, then probing to one side. This one primps, scratching, nosing himself, brown fur glistening in the sun. He's light, almost blond in places, and holds his left forepaw or both forepaws bent at his breast. Why?

SHOWING THE WAY ... Mid-morning of a blustery January day, the stroller is approached at Oak Park and Lake by a young couple from another country asking, in careful English, where Frank Lloyd Wright houses can be found. They wear leather mid-length jackets and are of olive complexion, black hair, unassuming demeanor, are prosperous enough looking but flaunt nothing. They apparently had just got off the Green Line train a block away, most likely from the Loop.

A block that way, says the stroller, pointing north, then four or five left until the park, then right, and there you have your Wright houses. Smiles and thank yous, and off they go.

BURYING MISTAKES ... Oak Park's own Debra Stulberg, M.D., a West Suburban Hospital resident, is quoted March 23 by the Sun-Times in a story about a Planned Parenthood protest of a Loop druggist who refused as a matter of conscience to supply morning-after contraceptive pills. Dr. Stulberg says a pharmacist's job is to fill prescriptions and not "get in the way of the best interests of the patient" but is grievously one-upped by a Pharmacists for Life spokesman who tells the reporter, "Pharmacists are the final checkpoint of patient safety. We correct doctors' mistakes all the time."

This is a case of "Pharmacists Strike Back." They are still getting even for the depiction of Mr. Gower the druggist, who would have mistakenly sent poison to a patient if not for intervention by the Jimmy Stewart character (as a boy), who got his ears boxed for his trouble, which made him half deaf for the rest of his wonderful life.

Never mind. Dr. Stulberg has had a reproductive-issue bone to pick at least since her days not too long ago at Harvard Medical School, where she belonged to Medical Students for Choice, on whose web site she argued in 2001 for more training in how to abort. Teachers, she complained, were afraid to "take the risk" and give such training, having "heard the message of the anti-abortion movement loud and clear."

More recently, she has worried about a decline in abortions, including at her own West Sub since Resurrection Health Care bought it last year?#34;actually, saved it from abortion by operational deficit. "A lot has changed since the Resurrection takeover," she told the National Women's Law Center. "Patients [looking for birth control help] are being turned away. Rape victims ... are being sent to an outside facility [for] emergency contraception."

This is a case of "Pro-choice residents striking back" at "Catholics striking back" with their own institutions and should be watched for further developments, like Dr. Stulberg's finishing her time at West Sub and going somewhere else.

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