Bob Hale of Waldorf is worried.
He relates that last Wednesday he drove eight miles from his home to the Waldorf Post Office to get a $25 postal money order cashed. He says:
"I got there at 8:45 a.m. and waited in line for about 15 minutes. Then the clerk told me he could not cash the money order -- they had no money in the till. The clerk said to come back later in the day when he might have some money. The total mileage involved would be 32 miles back and fourth and then back and forth again. Why can't the Post Office cash their own $25 money order any time they're open for business? Is the government broke?"
Bob, I wish you hadn't asked that question. If our rich Uncle Sam is having as bad a time financially as some of his nephews and nieces, we're all in the soup. If I were you, I'd call the Office of the Consumer Advocate at the United States Postal Service. The number is 245-4514. Your complaint will be heard with sympathy, and if remedial action is possible, it will be taken. DRIVERS REVISITED
Recently I wrote about drivers who think accidents happen only to other people and regulations are meant to be obeyed only by other people.
Kris Graham tells me that while she and her husband were with friends recently, there was general amusement when one man described a "bash" at which everybody had gotten pretty well loaded.
Kris reported, "They were talking about how drunk this (otherwise respectable) person was and how they escorted him out at midnight and gave him three cans of beers for the road! After all, he lives about an hour's drive away.
"My blood reached the boiling point and I couldn't hold my tongue. I recalled you column, and also a segment of a TV news program that showed one of the victims of this kind of behavior -- a 2-year-old child, paralyzed from the neck down, as a result of being in a car when it was hit by a drunk driver.
"The reporter said most drunk driving charges are treated rather lightly by judges and juries because too many people can picture themselves guilty of the same kind of offense.
"As the mother of a young child, I feel I am taking my child's life in my hands whenever we have to drive anywhere."
Kris, I salute you for being a woman of great courage.
It is difficult to tell a friend or acquaintance that his behavior is antisocial or that his conduct is immature.
It is awkward to be the only one in a social group with the gumption to speak out against views or attitudes that have the approval of the others. The more prejudiced or foolish the majority's position is, the more difficult it is for one to oppose it.
But the courage to speak out in opposition was precisely what was needed when supposedly responsible adults chuckled about giving a drunken driver three more cans of beer for the road.
You may be temporarily unpopular with some of the people you lectured, Kris, but my hat is off to you. If one of those who heard you was intelligent enough to profit from your words, they may some day save his life.
Edmund Burke said it almost 200 years ago, and it's still true today: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." I'm sure that if Burke were writing that sentiment today, his amended version would read, "good men and women." TRASHING THE AUTHOR
When Mayor Marion Barry worked as a trash collector for a few hours, he was criticized for not being very good at the work.
However, one member of the crew put the matter into proper perspective. He said, "Can't everybody throw trash, you know."
I urged others in unglamorous jobs to keep that comment in mind.I said their work is essential to the community; if it wasn't we wouldn't be paying them to do it.
Three women immediately wrote to criticize me for implying that only that work which involves a paycheck is important, and that by inference there is no importance to housework, raising children and similar pursuits.
Their criticism of what I didn't say reminds me of book reviewers who aren't content to criticize what the author has written; they have a complusion to tell him what kind of book he should have written.
I didn't say work not paid for in cash has no social value. I said people aren't willing to pay somebody to do work that has no value.
My point was: Don't put yourself down. Don't speak ill of the type of work you do. We all perform a function in this life -- even critics who trash an author for what he didn't say.
What is the function of critics? Very obviously, it is to make philosophers of those they criticize.