Dr. Donald L. Trump, the former CEO at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, was driving recently at night in the Arlington, Va., area when he lost his way and drove in the wrong direction on a one-way street.
A police officer stopped Trump, and after determining that alcohol wasn’t involved, asked for his driver’s license.
The officer looked at the license, looked at the driver, and looked again at the license.
“What’s it like being Donald Trump these days?” the officer asked.
“It depends on what your politics are, officer,” Trump replied,
That turned out to be a great answer.
“Be careful,” the officer said, sending Trump on is way.
Sharing a name with a presidential candidate, especially Trump, can be an intrusive, amusing or annoying experience, depending on the candidate, the person sharing the name and the circumstances.
Just ask Dr. Trump or Bernie F. Sanders of Staten Island, a Republican who’s clearly relishing the coincidence, as well as the phone calls and emails from “Bernie” supporters.
“I was hoping somebody (from the media) would call me,” he said in a phone interview from his home last week. “I’ve been getting them from people from all over the country, saying that they support me and thanking me. Just nice emails from people.”
For Dr. Trump, now CEO and executive director of Inova Schar Cancer Institute in Falls Church, Va., it’s a bizarre coincidence that affects him virtually every day.
“It makes me appreciate what really famous people put up with on a daily basis,” the doctor said. “You can’t go anywhere and be private. People feel remarkably free in invading your privacy.
“It’s mostly annoying, because any comment that is more than a smile or a raised eyebrow feels like an intrusion into my space,” he added. “But the recent interaction with the police officer and a few other unique reactions have left me with a little smile on my face.”
Dr. Trump has seen both sides of the celebrity-name-sharing experience. Besides the obvious and stale reactions – “You’re fired” or “No, that can’t be. You’re lying” – he’s also gotten some benefits from the coincidence.
Dr. Trump met the real-estate mogul once for about 20 minutes, talked to him a couple times on the phone, received a personal donation to Roswell Park’s Goin’ Bald for Bucks program and even had The Donald make a video praising his anti-cancer efforts.
“My politics and Mr. Trump’s are decidedly different, based on his public statements,” the doctor said. “But when I was with him in New York City, I found him engaging, interactive and a regular kind of guy.”
The video lasts one minute and 54 seconds, an over-the-top tribute filled with respect, appreciation – and even a large splash of humility.
Not exactly Donald J. Trump’s trademark style.
But the real-estate-mogul-turned-presidential-candidate flashed his charm in the thank-you video for Roswell Park’s Bald for Bucks campaign. And the glowing tributes were directed at one man:
The real-estate tycoon clearly had fun with this video, apparently made in 2010.
“The Roswell Park Cancer Institute is really lucky to have the other Donald Trump, but the other Donald Trump is me, because you’re the famous one,” the future candidate said in his normal pronounced cadence. “I’ve been hearing your name for years and years. It’s been a little bit confusing, but believe it or not, what you do in life is more important than what I do in life.
“So I think Donald L. Trump, which is you, is probably more important than Donald J. Trump, which is me. I just want to congratulate you on the great work you’ve done.”
You almost have to watch the video twice to make sure it’s not a Darrell Hammond impersonation from “Saturday Night Live.”
The real-estate mogul said he initially heard about the Roswell Park CEO from a friend of his, who had “a big, big problem.” His son had been diagnosed with cancer.
The friend then asked whether there was any way that Trump could speak to, “believe it or not, Donald L. Trump.”
Donald J. Trump found a way, of course, and he said the Roswell Park official couldn’t have been nicer or more professional in helping the young man receive treatment.
Dr. Trump, obviously, was flattered and appreciative.
“I think he was very gracious, clearly acknowledging the importance of cancer research,” the doctor said. “My personal experience with him is that he’s a regular guy who was very supportive. He didn’t have to make that video, and he gave Roswell Park a donation in honor of his friend’s son.”
The only thing Donald J. Trump didn’t do, of course, was offer to have his head shaved, for the Bald for Bucks campaign.
“The shaving-the-head thing ... Donald, I’m really glad it’s you and it’s not me,” he said in the video.
Later, the billionaire Trump looks into the camera, apparently addressing Dr. Trump and other activists in cancer treatment:
“I really admire what you’re doing to support a world without cancer. That would be a great place,” he said, before making a more universal appeal.
“What would you do to support a world without cancer?”
The other Bernie
One day in his mid-20s, the Bernie Sanders of Staten Island went to a palm reader on the Jersey Shore, to ask whether he ever would fall in love.
No, she replied.
“But she did say, ‘Your name is distinctive. It’s going to be a very powerful name in the future,’ ” according to Sanders.
She got that one right.
The Staten Island version had never heard of the U.S. senator from Vermont until the current campaign.
“I heard my name on the news one morning, and I did a double take,” he said. “Bernie Sanders? What did I do? I was in shock. The first thing I thought of was” the fortune teller.
Good friends know all about his cross-party support for the candidate. One even went to a Sanders political rally and brought him a “Bernie 2016” bumper sticker.
“I actually do like Bernie more than anyone else,” he said. “I’m not really into Hillary. I never was a supporter of hers.”
The non-politician also goes by “Bernie,” using “Bernard” only professionally. He’s retired from the trucking industry, after suffering an injury in a car crash.
Since the other Bernie Sanders has become such a hot topic, the Staten Island man has received roughly 400 to 500 emails. One was from a Manhattan comedian who wanted to donate the proceeds from an upcoming show. The 49-year-old man wrote back, with his Staten Island address.
“I’m sorry,” the comedian replied. “I thought you were the guy running for president.”
So what would the Staten Island Bernie Sanders say if he ever met his namesake? “I would go up to him, shake his hand and say, ‘I’m a Bernie Sanders, too. Thank you for running. I wish you the best of luck, from one Bernie to another.’”