BAY SHORE, N.Y. (AP) _ Plumber Joe Rappa thinks he had a good excuse for leaving a customer in the lurch - he had just become a millionaire.

Rappa, 27, of Northport, said he learned that he and his partner had won a $16 million state lottery jackpot while he was at work Thursday on a broken water main.

''The guy had his water shut off, and I just said, 'Tough luck, buddy,''' and told him to find another plumber, Rappa said.

But Rappa got a dose of aggravation himself later Thursday. He and his partner, Sal Crisafi, hired a limousine to take them, Rappa's wife and Chrisafi's fiancee to a restaurant to celebrate the win. The car broke down on the way.

''There I am, sitting on the side of the road, begging for help,'' said Crisafi. ''Me, the millionaire.''

The plumbers said they had bought 100 tickets for Wednesday's drawing.

---

ADA, Mich. (AP) - Newfangled noise ordinance notwithstanding, customers of the Schoolhouse ice cream parlor will continue to celebrate their sundaes by ringing a century-old bell. But gently, gently.

''I feel really good about it,'' said Sophia Theodore, owner of the ice cream parlor, after a tentative agreement was worked out with officials Thursday. ''I'm glad we'll be able to ring the bell.''

The battle of the bell, housed in a tower next to the former schoolhouse building, began last year when Ada Township officials said it violated noise ordinance that provided for 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Theodore's attorney, Susan Keener, said that under the agreement, Theodore will insulate the belltower to reduce the noise by at least 50 percent and will install a sign asking customers to ring the bell gently.

The 19th- century one-room schoolhouse was moved downtown in 1965 to preserve part of village history and was transformed into an ice-cream parlor.

Theodore continued a long-running tradition of allowing customers to ring the bell after she bought the place in 1984. Neighbors, however, complained the bell was an annoyance, and asked the township to do something about it.

---

HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) - Business is booming for Pearl Conlon, the one person staff of Rent-a-Mom. For $5 an hour she'll clean, shop, cook and even do windows.

''I just don't crawl out on second-story ledges to do them,'' said Conlon, 52.

The business, just over 2 weeks old, already has 10 clients.

Conlon, the mother of two children and four stepchildren, retired from her job as a receptionist 10 years ago.

''I became a homemaker, which I thought I'd really enjoy,'' she said. ''I started redecorating the house, but you can only do that for so long. And I thought I'd really enjoy window-shopping and stuff, but I got bored with that, too.''

Six of her clients are college students at California State University at Hayward, where she placed an ad in the school paper.

''Some of my clients are bachelorettes, too,'' she said. ''One is a college administrator, another a teacher. Perhaps the most interesting client I've had is an accountant who wanted me to do nothing more than cook meals for him. He said he was tired of eating out all the time.''