WJAR-TV via AP

Maybe dressing up a male bus driver as an elderly lady from a senior center isn't the best idea.

In early January, Sue Stenhouse, the executive director of the Cranston, Rhode Island Senior Enrichment Center, announced a new program for teens to shovel snow for seniors. It should have been as innocuous as city press events get. A service for the elderly! A teen-job generator!

But Stenhouse evidently wasn’t comfortable with the optics going unadjusted. So she called in the aid of a senior center bus driver named David Roberts—not to introduce her or talk about their work, but to appear as an elderly woman sitting prominently beside Stenhouse throughout the event.

To do so, Roberts donned a dress, a grey wig, full make-up, and a name-tag thoughtfully identifying him as “Cranston Senior Home Resident”—amounting to a middle-aged man looking extremely uncomfortable in drag, which, yeah, he probably was.

Stenhouse resigned last week in the wake of the bizarre civic scandal, which included this choice moment:

“I’ve been in a meeting all night being a great public servant for the city of Warwick,” Stenhouse said when confronted by a WJAR reporter at her home. “And now I get this bullshit.”

Sources told WJAR, which broke the story, that Stenhouse really was only trying to improve her public relations image by placing a fake old lady by her side. Why Stenhouse simply didn’t ask an actual senior for help is a mystery for our time. A former Cranston city staffer put forward this theory in a lengthy Facebook post in support of Stenhouse:

Knowing Sue, I’m sure she was also thinking of the possibility of putting a “real” senior in harm’s way should someone recognize that person and go to their home to take advantage of them.

Perhaps Roberts, the bus driver, also had senior safety in mind when he picked up the wig himself from a local salon. The salon’s owner, Elaine Mancuso, told the AP:

“He says to me, ‘Elaine, do you have a wig that I could borrow? I have to get dressed as a senior.’ I said, ‘Oh, my God. He wanted it for that.’ I probably would have given him a better wig if I had known.”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a Metro PCS store in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    What D.C.’s Go-Go Showdown Reveals About Gentrification

    A neighborhood debate over music swiftly became something bigger, and louder: a cry for self-determination from a community that is struggling to be heard.

  2. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.

  3. A new map of neighborhood change in U.S. metros shows where displacement is the main problem, and where economic decline persists.
    Equity

    From Gentrification to Decline: How Neighborhoods Really Change

    A new report and accompanying map finds extreme gentrification in a few cities, but the dominant trend—particularly in the suburbs—is the concentration of low-income population.

  4. The facade of a casino in Atlantic City.
    Photos

    Photographing the Trumpian Urbanism of Atlantic City

    Brian Rose’s new book uses the deeply troubled New Jersey city as a window into how a developer-turned-president operates.

  5. a photo of San Francisco tourists posing before the city's iconic skyline.
    Life

    Cities Don’t Have Souls. Why Do We Battle For Them?

    What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change.