If you'd like to complain about something take a number and wait your turn. There are quite a few people ahead of you today.
George Sauer of Rockville is first in line. He picked up his daughter when she arrived at Dulles recently."Because United gave us the exact time of arrival and her luggage was ready when she got off the plane," George was back in his car 15 minutes after he had parked it "in the short term lot, where one pays by the half-hour."
However, not all the toll gates were manned. The cars waiting to exit formed long lines, and the lines moved slowly. By the time it was George's turn to pay, more than 30 minutes had elapsed. So, for the privilege of wasting his time in a slow-moving line, he had to pay a doubled fee for parking.
A "ripoff" of even smaller dimension (10 cents) moved W.M.O'C. to spend 15 cents to mail this complaint: "I sometimes stop at a fast food place in Maryland for a 99-cent hamburger. I hand the cashier a $1 bill, she gives me back a penny.
"Today I was a little hungrier than usual, so I got two hamburgers. I gave her two $1 bills and held out my hand for the change.
"She said, "That's $2.08, sir.' I asked her whether they had raised the price and she said no, they were still 90 cents each, plus 10 cents sales tax.
"It turned out that on one hamburger you don't pay tax but on two you do. I said to her, 'Next time, I'll just get one sandwich and pay 99 cents, and after I eat it I'll get another one for another 99 cents. Any objection to that?" She said, 'No, not at all. As a matter of fact, if you do it that way, the second sandwich will be warm when you're ready to start on it.' What kind of crazy tax law do they have in Maryland?"
The same crazy kind they have in many states that exempt meals of less than some arbitrary amount and then charge full tax on any meal that runs even a penny more. For example, where the cutoff is $1, you pay no tax on a sandwich that costs $1 but pay 6 cents on a sandwich that costs $1.10 -- in other words, a 60 percent tax on the extra dime's worth of purchase.
It would make more sense to exempt the tax on the first dollar. That would make the tax on a $1.10 sandwich one penny. The tax on a $1.50 meal would be 3 cents, the tax on a $2 meal would be 5 cents, the tax on a $3 meal would be 10 cents, etc.
But who ever accused any of our tax laws of making sense? Forgive me for suggesting it. I must have lost my head.
John F. Mahorney of Falls Church also has a tax complaint: "Persons such as myself," he points out, "are not allowed energy credits for tax purposes for having installed wood-burning heaters.
"I have spent $2,000 doing so and have cut my fuel oil consumption by two-thirds. I am not allowed an energy credit.
"But had I installed a new oil burner, which would have saved far less oil, I would have been allowed a credit."
Now you know why it took Congress so long to pass energy legislation, John. One can't achieve inexplicable incoherence overnight, you know.
Leon Weinraub voices a complaint I hear frequently these days. He says people in "service" businesses have forgotten how to be polite to their customers. They almost never say "Thank you," and in general seem to think they're doing you a favor when they take your money.
In the course of his business, Leon leaves his car in several parking lots and garages each day. Each time he reclaims it, the fee is several dollars, but the cashiers seldom say a word as they take the cusomer's money. They just shove back the change and wait stony-faced for the next contributor.
"When I fill up my gas tank, I lay out about $17," Leon adds, "but I can't get my windshield cleaned, they don't want to check my oil, nobody says "Thanks,' and I'm supposed to drive away feeling they did me a big favor."
Be patient, Leon. One day our ship will come in, and it won't be an oil tanker. It'll be filled with a cheap new fuel that will make gasoline obsolete.
On that wonderful day, it will no longer make a particle of difference to us whether Iranians choose to live under a Pshaw of Pshaws or an ayatollah of ayatollahs.
We won't care whether gold sells for $35 a pound or $1,000 an ounce because the Yankee dollar will by that time be commanding respect in the world again.
I know it will, Leon. I'm sure of it. I feel it in my bones. The only thing I'm not so sure about is whether any of us here today will live to see it. THESE MODERN TIMES
Colleague Mike Kernan reports that Mr. Henry's on lower Wisconsin Avenue, does not have a Happy Hour.
From 4 p.m. until 8 p.m., it has an "Attitude Adjustment Period."