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Get towed home, not to jail; future pharmacists; hockey for women

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By ERNEST HOOPER

© St. Petersburg Times,
published November 21, 2001


You think you may have had too much to drink, but getting a ride home means you would have to explain to your wife why the car is not in the driveway.

So you roll the dice because you don't want your hangover accentuated by an argument about "getting drunk with your friends while I'm home watching your children." (Note: They are always your children when you're in trouble).

The reality is, it is a risk we should never take; and for the holidays, there is an alternative.

For the second consecutive year, Budweiser and AAA Auto Club are sponsoring Tow To Go. All you have to do is call 1-800-AAA-HELP, and a tow truck will get you and your car a free ride to the crib. Alert Cab (United Cab of Hillsborough and Yellow Cab of Pinellas/Pasco) has agreed to take care of any friends who might be stranded.

The program started Tuesday and runs through Jan. 1. Last year, it provided 118 safe rides in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, Manatee and Pasco counties. Now it has been expanded to the entire state, as well as the Atlanta metro area.

When I got word about a new joint program for under-represented minorities by the Hillsborough Community College/Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy, I thought I would write encouraging words about it for local kids.

Kids? Forget that. After learning there are 12,000 openings in the pharmaceutical industry and the average starting salary for a FAMU pharmacy grad is $75,000, you can consider this my letter of resignation.

The program is demanding (too much so for my limited mental acuity), but the whole idea of HCC's "Bridges" program is to help students avoid those pitfalls. Not only will participants be put on the proper academic track, but local pharmacists will be solicited to serve as mentors.

FAMU pharmacy dean Henry Lewis III said students eventually could earn a pharmacy degree without leaving home.

HCC also is going to have a similar cooperative venture between the University of Florida and its Plant City campus for agricultural students.

Nearly 200 women toured the Ice Palace Monday night to learn more about hockey. Hockey 'N Heels taught female fans the rules of the game, gave them a behind-the-scenes look at the locker room and provided some ice time with actual players.

Team officials said the second annual event sold out so fast they may give fans another opportunity in March.

Hey, I understand the desire to draw more female fans, but there are a lot of guys who don't know what an offsides trap is (me being one of them). Plus, as one official said, about 15 men called wanting to attend because they thought it would be a good place to meet women.

HCC officials had more than just the FAMU Pharmacy program to brag about. On Monday, the board of directors finalized TECO's deal to fund the school's first endowed chair (IT For Small Businesses) and Dikman Brothers is going to donate 60 acres in Ruskin for a fifth campus in South Hillsborough. What a welcome shot in the arm for that community.

So get this: Bucs punter Mark Royals wanted to serve as a spokesman for the Tow To Go service; but because the program is sponsored by Budweiser, Royals has been told by the NFL he may be violating its ban against players endorsing alcohol and tobacco products.

Come on, he is endorsing responsible behavior, not Bud Light. Royals will petition and with any luck the league will discover why the term "exception to the rule" exists.

That's all I'm saying.

- Ernest Hooper can be reached at 226-3406 or Hooper@sptimes.com. His column appears on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

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