WHEN THE siren went off in the parking lot, the woman in the drive-in window of People's National Bank out at Oxon Hill said, "Oh, my God, not again," because robbers with shotguns had robbed the place a short while back.

"You just have a mule in your parking lot," said Sylvia Allison of Oxon Hill, chugging up to the window with her deposit slip. (The teller in the window thought that was a dumb thing to say, but you meet all kinds when you're a teller).

The Oxon Hill customer was right, of course. It was just a mule in the parking lot. Sylvia Allison had paused (people sometimes do this in traffic) to write up her deposit slip while in line to the window.

"When I looked up, there was this mule in front of the car and he would not move.

"He had a very sweet face, by the way, but when I honked the horn he didn't seem to take a whole lot of notice, so I got out and hollered at him.

There was a police car in line behind me, and the cop got out and said, 'Lady, you're going to get kicked in the head if you don't watch out,' but I said I certainly had to do something, since I couldn't back up because of the cars behind me. He said he'd try his siren, and when the mule heard all that woo-woo business, he took off for a field. I guess it was a he. Maybe it was a donkey. It certainly was not any hosre."

The next time you hear a police siren, remain calm. Probably just a mule out there somewhere.