Richard A. Pence of Fairfax was in the Dupont Villa Restaurant recently when a stanger asked if he could borrow enough money for lunch.

The stranger explained that he had lost his wallet. He said he was a General Electric employee from Los Angeles and he would, of course, repay the loan promptly.

Pence suggested the he call the local GE office for help, but the man said he didn't have time to do that. So Pence caught the eye of the owner of the restaraunt and motioned him to come over. "I'll okay your credit with the owner," he said, but at that moment the panhandler's nerve broke, and he went rushing out the door.

Having complained about panhandlers who keep using the same story year after year. I felt duty-bound to report to you that this new one-man show has opened in Washington. The cost of watching a performance is rather steep when one considers the price of lunch these days and how short a show you get for your money. However, the star is already a rather good actor and shows promise of getting better with expierence; and the script is refreshingly new. Only the scam is old. MEA CULPA

Let the record show that Iam a fool. In a recent column about foreign cars that have taken away American markets, I said that if I were president of Chrylser I'd be tempted to forbid any employee to park a foreign car in my factory parking lot.

That was a stupid thing to say, as dozens of readers pointed out.

Roy Schnell of Alexandria "explained" it in these words: "Could I park my Mitsubishi station wagon in Chrysler's parking lot? On its front hood, it says plain is all you get out, 'Dodge Colt.'!! Please check out Ford and General Motors and AMC to see what foreign products they sell. Also check out Colt, Winchester and Remington -- all good old revered American names."

Yes, I know. Also check out RCA, General Electric, Zenith and dozens of other American names. At one point, I was about to buy a small car from a local American Motors dealer when I discovered (by accident -- nobody volunteered the information) that American Motors dealer didn't make the car in America; it imported the car from abroad. I didn't buy it.

I knew that Chrysler had put its name on foreign cars, and it was therefore just plain stupid of me to write as I did about Chrysler's parking lot.

Most of you who wrote to me about this point were aslo critical of the poor design (too big, inferior engineering) and sloppy workmanship offered by American cars. Many readers contend that "American manufacturers refused to make small, fuel-efficient cars," but auto industry spokesman have vigorously denied this. They say, "We made them, but nobody wanted them. They didn't sell."

I am not qualified to say where the truth lies. I do know that I and many of my friends have been disappointed with the quality of workmanship in American Cars. We also know that we have cynically ripped off by every kind of repairman: new car dealer, specialty repair shop, friendly neighborhood filling station, back-alley garage, the whole damn caboodle of them. They know how to charge, but not how to fix a car right on the first try. I don't know weather the foreign dealers and repairmen are better, worse or the same because I have never dealt with them. POSTSCRIPT

Memo from Sid Levy: "Just above Dupont Circle on 19th Street, I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that I said, 'Buy American Arts & Crafts.' It was on a Honda." UPDATE

I can now verify a reader's statement previously quoted here: First National Bank of Maryland does, welcome applications for Visa cards, does not plan to charge an annual "membership fee," and does not require applicants to transfer their banking business to First National. As spokesman Jerry Kraft put it to me, "We'd love to have their business, of course, but that's not a precondition for getting a card." REMINDER

Would you believe that the first calls are already coming in from people who want to contribute to Heroes, Inc., but mislaid the mailing address? Your tax-deductable contribution should be addressed to Heroes, Inc., P.O. yBox 1860, Washington, D.C. 20031. Your gift will help the widows and orphans of firefighters, police officers, FBI agents and other law officers who are killed in the line of duty. Thank you. TIME MARCHES ON

On the cover of the August issue of Esquire you will find this legend: "We warned you about Johnson. We warned you about Nixon. We warned you about Carter. Now will you please listen to us about Reagan"?