Sylvia Laurenti of Northwest was trying to flag down a cab near Connecticut and Sedgwick the other day. Even though it was her birthday, she was having about as much success as you or me -- and she was rapidly becoming about as late.

Finally, a cab with another passenger already inside pulled over. Sylvia told the driver where she was going. The cabbie replied that he was taking his fare to the Washington Hilton Hotel, and planning to pick up another fare there. But he told Sylvia she could ride to the Hilton with him for nothing. There, he said, she could catch another cab.

Sounded good. Sylvia hopped in.

At the Hilton, Sylvia offered the cabbie $1. He refused. Sylvia insisted. He insisted. Finally, she gave in, remarking that this was sure a charming way to start one's birthday.

Birthday? Did the lady say birthday?

The cabbie dug out his wallet. Far from accepting Sylvia's dollar, he handed her one of his.

"He said it was his custom to give people a dollar on their birthdays," she writes. "I thought he was so sweet, kind and unusual."

Amen to all three, Sylvia. But perhaps the most unusual part of the story is the cabbie's name.

It's George Swindler.

Has a last name ever been more inapt?