The stories abound -- phone operators who hang up on you, phone operators who don't care, phone operators who won't walk an extra inch, phone operators who don't know nuthin'.
But don't breathe a word of this sacrilege to the Burr family of Southeast. An O-for-operator has just ended a two-day outbreak of mass frustration in their house.
It began one night when 19-year-old Priscilla Burr decided to list the names of the Seven Dwarfs. She got Dopey, Sneezy, Doc, Happy, Grumpy and Sleepy easily enough. But who was the seventh? She couldn't come up with the name -- and neither could Sarah or Eben, her siblings.
Rather than do something simple, like head for the public library, or call Disneyland, the Burrs decided to think up alternates. They came up with several that are pretty au courant: Druggie, Flakey, Workaholic, Preppie, Jockish, Whiney, Tacky, Trekkie, Raunchy, Yuppie, Hippie, Dippie, Drippy, Chunky, Nutso and Sushi.
Fun, yes. But correct, no.
Finally, at the end of her rope, Priscilla picked up the phone, dialed O, and described the family's plight to the operator.
"Who've you got?" the operator asked.
Prisiclla read off the list of the six correct names.
"Bashful," said the operator, without a second's hesitation.
Which would seem to end it. But why? The Burrs have obviously stumbled onto a terrific new Washington parlor game.
Let's call it Seventh Dwarf.
To play, you just invent a dwarf-name that fits something or somebody familiar. For example . . . .
Metrorail at rush hour: Squeezie.
Car washes: Squeaky.
The Washington Post: Newsie.
A trucker on the Beltway: Vroomsie.
The President of the United States: Gipper.
Joe Theismann: Yapper.
Marion Barry: Honorable.
A doughnut shop: Crumby.
A dumpster: Trashful.
A lady of the evening: Willing.
A bank: Bouncy.
And, I'm sure, many more.
Got any? Mail them to me care of The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071. Yours truly, Keypunch, will be glad to publish the best.