As far as I know, no one is on death row for murdering a repairman. But we've all come close, and a Greenbelt pediatrician named Andrew G. Aronfy just came close twice in a row. His antagonists? Plumbers.
Dr. Aronfy recently had a leaky faucet in his bathtub. So he called Plumber One -- a guy he'd dealt with for 20 years. Plumber One arranged to come out the next day.
But when Dr. A. went home at lunchtime, "ready to take a nice bath in my repaired tub," the faucet was its old leaky self. The doctor called Plumber One, who reported that he had decided not to come because there was no one at the Aronfy residence to pay him once he had finished.
Dr. Aronfy said that when a sick child comes to his office without cash in hand, he doesn't turn the child away. Plumber One replied that this wasn't the same thing. However, he offered to send someone the next day. Dr. Aronfy told him not to bother.
Enter Plumber Two, who has a large ad in the Yellow Pages boasting of miraculous solutions to difficult problems under the toughest of circumstances. But he turned out to be the toughest circumstance of all.
He called the Aronfy home to arrange an appointment. Mrs. Aronfy answered. Plumber Two asked for her husband. She said he wasn't home, but if this had to do with the leaky faucet, she knew just as much about it as her spouse.
Sorry, said Plumber Two, but he couldn't talk to Mrs. Aronfy without her husband on the line, too. See, the work might cost two, three, four hundred dollars, he explained, "and I want you both to be there when we discuss the matter."
Translation: Only the Daddy of the family can talk bucks. So, on grounds of male chauvinism, Plumber Two was swiftly and deservedly cast aside.
Plumber Three did it the way it should have been done in the first place -- and the second.
He showed up a little earlier than the scheduled time (A plumber! Early! Imagine!). As a result, no one was home at the Aronfys.
So Plumber Three dropped by Dr. Aronfy's office, picked up a key, went back to the Aronfy home, fixed the faucet promptly, charged $56.50 (not $400) and offered to leave a bill. Dr. Aronfy insisted on coming home and paying him right then and there. It goes without saying that Plumber Three has a customer for life.
I hope Plumbers One and Two are independently wealthy. Because if they're having trouble making ends meet, they each have no one to blame but that familiar mug in the mirror.
Bob Franklin of Charlottesville, a lifelong librarian, writes that he is in a tizzy, a quandary and a snit.
Bob says he dimly recalls that somebody once wrote a full-sized novel without using the letter E -- no small accomplishment, since E is the most commonly-used letter in the language. But what was the title and who was the author?
"I thought somebody in your vast and cultured readership might supply it," says Bob, hopefully (that's the only correct way to use "hopefully," by the way, in case a few of my vast and cultured readers still don't realize it).
Does an E-less novel ring anyone's bell? Give me a call at 334-7276, and I'll pass the news along.
I've felt for a long time that Georgetown is suffocating from its own popularity. Randall Fulton writes to confirm that all the partying and bar-hopping down in Washington's Good Times Zone isn't making everyone merry.
Randall lives near 30th and N streets NW -- a couple of blocks from Georgetown's crossroads of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, but close enough to be victimized constantly by what he calls "our principal annoyance: noise."
"Most of it is caused by thoughtless, inconsiderate people (of all ages, not just teen-agers), who seem to treat 30th and N as a favorite gathering place," Randall writes. "This goes on particularly between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., if the weather is at all decent . . . .
"In addition to loud talk, shouting and almost hysterical laughter, they play their car radios at the highest pitch and blow their car horns often, apparently signaling each other.
"Perhaps a word from you would help."
In one way, Randall, I doubt that a word from me would help at all. People who blithely keep Georgetowners awake every night aren't going to mend their ways just because a typist tells them to.
But perhaps the police could pay a little more attention to the cacophonous cascade at 30th and N. It's not as if they have far to go. There's a stationhouse six blocks away.
Bob Orben says you know you're under stress when your fingernails become an entree.