Driblets and drabs . . . .

"Anonymous of Arlington" wants to play a few bars of that old refrain, "Why Is Washington Different From New York?" . . . . She wonders why Washington department stores have always had sales on national holidays, when New York's never did until after World War II . . . . She also wonders why carryout food is more popular in Washington than in New York. Could the reason be discrimination? Perhaps blacks carried food out in the prewar years because they couldn't sit and eat it? . . . . Common sense answers Item One, Ms. Anonymous. We have always had sales on holidays because so many of us work for the federal government, and therefore have the day off. You prefer statistics? About 24 percent of adults in the D.C. area work for some government. About 9 percent of adults in the New York area do . . . . On Item Two: I'm guessing here, but I think Washingtonians carry food out because it's cheaper and faster that way, not because of bigotry. Also (chauvinism showing!), could it be that we work harder here than they do up there, so that lunch at one's desk is frequent, and expected? . . . .

Hmmmmmmm Department: Susanne Trowbridge of Baltimore noticed an ad in a magazine, inviting college students like her to apply for a credit card through Citibank . . . . Sounded good to Susanne. She applied, and two weeks later got an amazing reply. Citibank bounced her request because of her "field of study" . . . . What field is Susanne pursuing? The grand old art of writing. "I've been writing professionally for seven years," she says, " . . . . enough to pay credit card bills on time." . . . . Does Citibank really deny credit to writing majors? "Field of study is one of several factors based on statistical samplings," said Citibank spokesman Bill McGuire, but "it wouldn't of itself be reason to reject." What are the other factors? Brother McGuire wouldn't say . . . . Hmmmmmmmm . . . .

Besides those who drive our streets at rush hour, I've always thought the bravest folks hereabouts are songwriters . . . . They earn little money and less recognition. But still they hum, they strum, they plink, they plunk, and a lot of what they produce is pretty good. But what do they do with their masterpieces? . . . . The answer, between now and Sept. 18, is: Enter them in The Fifth Annual Mid Atlantic Song Contest . . . . The contest is sponsored by The Songwriters' Association of Washington. Entries (entirely original, please) will be accepted in any of ten categories: Jazz, folk, instrumental, top 40, rhythm and blues/dance, gospel/inspirational, adult contemporary, rock, country and open/novelty. Prizes include a free trip to New York to shop your winning entry to record companies . . . . For further info: 866-9090 or 800-542-7664 . . . .

What is a warranty? I say it's a guarantee that whatever is warranted will break into little bits two minutes after the warranty expires . . . . Caroline H. Keith of Bethesda discovered the truth of this when her warranted photocopy machine bought the farm in her home office, two weeks after the warranty expired . . . . "Fully reconditioned, they had told me," says Caroline. "Excellent longevity, they had promised. Service with a smile, they had grinned. Riiiiiight. There's one born every minute." . . . . Kindly businesspersons are also born, considerably less often than every minute, but in Joel Lasko's case, often enough . . . . Brother Lasko answered the phone at The Copier Store, listened to Caroline's tale, agreed that the clutch on her photocopier should have been fixed during reconditioning and dispatched a repairman to her house right away. The copier was shipshape two hours later, for no fee . . . . Now why doesn't it work like that at car dealerships? . . .

Anybody out there still doubt that tourists are the lifeblood of this town? . . . The Washington, D.C., Convention & Visitors Association has just logged the 1 millionth walk-in visitor at its tourist information center at 1400 Pennsylvania Ave. NW . . . . Took only four years to break the million barrier . . . .

Large hoorays for Eugene Bowdery, a D.C. street cleaner . . . . While working in the West End one day in June, Eugene found in the gutter two paychecks that belonged to an employe of the Grand Hotel. One check was for a week's regular salary, the other for a week's vacation. The employe had been knocking himself out trying to find the checks, without success . . . . Eugene could have considered the checks trash and swept them into oblivion. Instead, he stopped what he was doing, found a phone, called the Grand's personnel office and brought the checks by the hotel that evening . . . . Says the Grand's personnel director, Robert M. Oursler: "Exemplary work performance." Says I: Clap, clap, clap . . . .

A caller from Kensington says I should have figured this out before now. "Figured out what?" I ask . . . . Figured out, says my guy, that the reason locals pronounce the name of our city WAR-shington is because we are hoping to go to war, preferably with Iran . . . . At last, dear readers, I have heard everything . . . .