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Mysterious stranger returns coat, and cash, lost on Metro

Sunday, October 31, 2010; 12:20 AM

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Iwanted to share a story and ask for your help. Yesterday afternoon, I exited a Red Line train at Metro Center and realized that I was missing my sport coat, with my wallet in the breast pocket.

As I pieced together what happened, I realized that I'd left it draped over a bench at the Bethesda Station while waiting on the rather delayed train. I immediately went to the station manager at Metro Center, who gave me the number for Lost and Found while telling me nothing was likely to show up for 48 hours.

I went to my office and worked dejectedly through the rest of the day, hoping against hope that someone would call. Finally, as I was leaving to go home and start canceling credit cards, I received a call from my mother in Falls Church.

She had just walked into her house after work and found my sport coat draped over the sofa, with my wallet in the jacket. She checked and found all of my credit cards and cash in it.

We were both baffled until we pieced together a theory. We think someone found my jacket and wallet at Bethesda, took it with them, found my mother's address in the wallet, drove it to her house on the assumption that it was my house and then gave it to the cleaners when they answered the door.

I'm incredibly grateful to whomever went to such lengths to return my jacket and wallet. And I'm amazed at the ethics that would prevent them from taking any cash from the wallet. I would love to give them a reward, or at least a tremendous thank you, for saving me the immeasurable hassle of canceling and replacing my cards, but they didn't leave their name, number or e-mail. If you could put out an APB for my good Samaritan in your column, I'd be much obliged. My e-mail is eburfield@synteractive.com.

- Evan Burfield,

The District

Part of this Metro mystery was solved, Burfield told me in a follow-up note. A stranger did, indeed, drop off the coat. But what stranger would go to all that trouble? The generous, considerate person could be the stranger sitting next to you on a train this week.

By the way, if you're not as fortunate as Burfield was in encountering a good Samaritan, you can report a missing item to Metro's Lost and Found office at 202-962-1195.

Don't cross solid lines

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I've been wondering whether there's rhyme or reason to the lane lines between the Interstate 66 and Braddock Road exits on the Capital Beltway. Because of the construction, there are long swaths of solid lane lines, then suddenly and briefly they give way to broken lines, not necessarily in time to move over to make an exit. Then, before you have a chance to look around and make sure it's safe to switch lanes, the solid lines start up again.

The result is confusion all around and potentially dangerous sudden lane changes in the brief areas with broken lines. Knowing the rationale for placement of solid lines vs. broken lines would help me weather this stretch during construction. If there is no rationale, someone might want to rethink line placement: What's there now isn't working, that's for sure.

- Kate Holden, Springfield

Drivers on the western side of the Beltway in Virginia have been seeing those solid white lines for many months, and they will remain in place for many more. They were laid down where lane shifts occur to make room for the reconstruction of the bridges and interchanges that are part of the high-occupancy toll lanes project.

This is a safety measure, meant to discourage drivers from changing lanes in the work zones.

Most drivers obey the rules. Some just flat out ignore them, speeding and changing lanes with one hand while holding a phone in the other. But the Beltway work areas offer challenges to the best of drivers.

One particularly difficult area is the inner loop work zone between Interstate 66 and Route 7. Drivers from eastbound 66 enter the inner loop on the left side. If they're heading north to the Route 7 exit, they have only short stretches of dashed lines in which to maneuver their way across the four lanes of heavy traffic.

Dr. Gridlock also appears Thursday in Local Living. Comments and questions are welcome and may be used in a column, along with the writer's name and home community. Personal responses are not always possible. To contact Dr. Gridlock by mail: Write to Dr. Gridlock at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. By e-mail: drgridlock@washpost.com. On the Dr. Gridlock blog: washingtonpost.com/drgridlock. On Twitter: drgridlock.

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