Here's one to get the Tuesday morning blood boiling, courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration. Or is it courtesy of Systems Auto Parking & Garage Inc.? You be the judge.
The star of the show is Archie Richardson, who works, ironically enough, for an automobile owners' lobby here.
Richardson went fishing in Canada the week before Labor Day. He drove to National Airport, parked his car in one of the airport lots operated by Systems, got on a jet to Toronto and had a great time.
Richardson drove back to Washington with friends over Labor Day weekend. On the Tuesday night following the holiday, he went to National to reclaim his wheels.
The bill for a week of parking was $36. But outrageous as that figure is, it isn't the story. Richardson was prepared to pay.
The story is that Richardson had $5 in cash and tried to pay by check.
It took him three hours.
First he ran afoul of a cashier in a kiosk. She refused to raise the dropdown arm that was hemming Richardson in unless he paid in cash.
Richardson asked to see her supervisor. But the supervisor said the same thing -- no checks -- and refused to call his supervisor, who had gone home for the day.
So Richardson called the airport police, who are under the supervision of the FAA, just as the whole airport is.
They sympathized with Richardson, and said, yes, it happens all the time. But they said there was nothing they could do.
Next stop, Travelers Aid. Yes, they said, it happens all the time. But, no, they said, they didn't cash checks. Maybe Richardson would care to try the airport operations office?
Richardson cared to. There an official called a Systems supervisor at home. The supervisor agreed to accept Richardson't check -- but for $31, not all $36. Five of the dollars, the supervisor decreed, had to paid in cash.
If the whole mess sounds as disorganized and haggle-happy as a rug bazaar in Istanbul, it's no wonder.
But as Richardson points out, the problem isn't whether Systems accepts checks or not. After all, the company does have every right to protect itself against getting stiffed.
The problem is the one Richardson encountered head-on: In special cases, there is no relatively easy way for an exception to the no-check policy to be made.
The underlying reason is that Systems' concessionaire status places the company on curious legal footing.
The FAA can't tell Systems what to do, even though its parking lots sit on federal land. Meanwhile, when Systems' Big Boss has gone for the night, no one else apparently has the authority to approve checks.
Richardson's next move, he says, is to file suit against Systems and the FAA, demanding that they pay for the three hours of his time they wasted.
Richardson says he'll ask for bigtime lawyers' rates -- say, 200 bucks an hour.
And whether that works or not, Richardson says he is sure of one thing: "I'll never park there again."
The Polo Club, a swank new downtown disco-ish place, took out an ad in the newspaper the other day.
"we are pleased to announce the appointment as general manager (of) Mr. Ludvig Schmitz, formally of Claridges of London and The Cosmos Club," the text said.
I'd formerly like to second the motion of Mary E. Moran, of Washington. As she says, " . . . The Polo needs a new ad agency."
Remeber last Wednesday, when Tropical Storm David drenched everybody and everything?
Jerry Pell, one of the few employees of the Department of Energy who is willing to admit it, remembers David Day well. That afternoon, he witnessed what he says was "one of the most wonderful acts of courtesy by a Metro employe I've ever seen."
The employe's name was Z. L. Reed. She is a transit policeman, and she was riding an eastbound Blue Line train that sopping afternoon -- as was Reed -- when a lady in her 80s got on at Metro Center.
Reed noticed how haggard, frail and wet the woman was. She asked if she could help.
Now, making sure the old lady didn't miss her stop would have been one thing -- and it would have been far more than most people would have done.
But Reed got off with her passenger at Federal Triangle, walked her to the street and made sure she was safely and dryly in the building where she wanted to be.
Okay -- are those hearts sufficiently warmed? Glad to hear it -- for here comes a carping criticism.
David Day was yet another reminder of how dumb it was to use that ultraslippery red bricklike material on Metro walkways.
How can Metro be dumb enough to have done that -- and smart enough to have hired Z. L. Reed? Boggles the brain.