Chalmers M. Roberts is "retired" now, but our former diplomatic correspondent continues to write often enough to be well remembered by Washington Post readers.
Chal has traveled extensively, and wherever he goes he retains the lively curiosity of a cub reporter.
He was intrigued by a recent court ruling in Berlin that a "standing" automobile does not automaticaly become a "parked" car. The old rule had been that a driver could stop in a "No Parking" zone for three minutes to load or unload passengers or baggage. But the new court ruling was that "protracted hellos and goodbyes" sometimes take a little longer, and do not necessarily mean the driver is in violation.
Having lived with all sorts of parking rules and interpretations in his travels, Chal was curioius to know, "What's the rule here -- where some signs refer to parking and others to "standing?"
I have been answering that question since 1947, but not very successfully. The problem is that our traffic code defines these two familiar words in a special way that most motorists find it difficult to remember.
Our law says, "Parking means the standing vehicle, whether occupied or not, otherwise than temporarily for the purpose of and while actually engaged in loading or unloading merchandise or passengers."
"Standing means halting a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or a traffic control sign or signal; provided that a vehicle may stop momentarily to pick up a passenger or passengers actually waiting at the curb, or discharge a passenger or passengers, but not for loading materials."
A prohibition against "stopping" refers to "halting a vehicle except to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or a traffic control sign or signal."
If you keep these definitions in mind, regulation 79(e) may clarify matters for you. It say: "Where parking is prohibited but standing and stopping are not prohibited, passenger vehicles may stop momentarily to load or unload passengers, and any vehicle may stop long enough to actually load and unload materials."
What all this clumsy language boils down to is that although some cities may allow three minutes or more for waiting, hellos, goodbyes and other delays, Washington does not.
Vehicle may stop briefly to pick up or discharge passengers or materials in "No Parking" zones but may not load or unload materials where "Standing" is forbidden. These rules, especially the enjoinder against "Standing," are frequently ignored.
Where parking is legal, double parking is permitted only when curb space is not available within a ""reasonable" (but undefined) distance, but only if there is room for other traffic to get by and only while the driver is actually engaged in picking up or discharging passengers or merchandise.
If you understand all this, congradulations. You have now become a member of another minority group. ON GETTING UNPLASTERED
I had mixed emotions about having the cast removed from my leg. I wondered how the doctor would get it off.
Would he shatter it with blows from a hammer? Would he saw into it, and perhaps into my body?
The correct answer was, "Neither of the above." He used an electric cast cutter, which appears to be a spinning disc with a sharp edge but is not. The disc doesn't spin, it vibrates 1/16th of an inch. This is enough to cleave a fault line into the cast, which can then be pried apart and removed.
I'm hobbling much better now, thank you, but will not heal quickly enough to challenge Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson for the Open gulf championship. Boy, are they lucky! THESE MODERN TIMES
Pharamacist Mike Baker spent a few days in the hospital recently. His bill ($4,000) went to Blue Cross.
A few days later, Mike received a bill at home for $80 worth of X-rays. When he phoned the hospital about it, he was told, "We were late in posting it to your account. Just forget it. We'll write it off."
"Why write it off?" Mike asked. "Why not send it to Blue Cross?"
"We'll write if off," was the weary answer. "On anything under $100, it doesn't pay to get involved with Blue Cross."