The price of everything has gone up, right?

Wrong. Consider the sage of Robert Thompson, of Jefferson, Md., as recounted by Greg Ames of the Hechinger Co. store in Frederick.

Early on Oct. 22, 1975, Thompson stopped by for some treated lumber to complete a house project. The wood was on sale. He paid for the load and said he'd be around that night on his way home to pick up the lumber. It was a busy day, however, and he didn't get back that night.

Thompson stuck a pickup ticket on a bulletin board, which promptly got covered up by other notes. For five years. On June 3, Thompson was catching up on around-the-home projects and discovered the ticket for 13 pieces of lumber. He went to Hechinger's with the ticket, showing he had paid $34.47 plus the 1975 Maryland sales tax at 4 percent.

By chance, the wood was on sale again early this month. The selling price plus the 1980 sales tax rate of 5 percent totaled 16 cents less than Thompson paid in 1975. According to Ames, the order was filled and Thompson told Hechinger's to keep the change as storage charges.