* Over the wall: The rugged trend in corporate encounter groups is sending people back to their offices flushed with success, from climbing a tree, scaling a wall, leaping into space. Metaphors for a typical day in some offices. There are even chances to twist slowly, slowly in the wind.

But the echo that lingers, says reporter Carol Krucoff who took part in the session above, is the sound of support. "I can't believe I actually did it," she says about going over a 13-foot wall in 12 minutes. "But the weight of the group was on me. They were screaming 'You can do it, you can do it' as they helped hoist her up and over .

"You come away feeling you can do anything."

* Keeping up: Bethesda late-budder Helen Glazer -- who wrote about being an older mother long before it was chic--is still chuckling over the request for an "older-wife" interview from a Modern Bride reporter. Glazer, who had a baby at 43, informed the reporter, "I'm not an older wife, I just married a man whose hair refuses to turn gray in spite of the provocation I provide."

* Keeping up II: And then there is Estelle V. Davies, also of Bethesda, who may have out-budded us all. In response to Glazer's story, she sent off a missive called "The Mother of the Bride Is Expecting." She was a radiant seven-months pregnant for her daughter's wedding, and a year later, her grandchild arrived.

"The following years were the happiest of my life," she writes, "as my daughter and I raised our children together."

* Spark plug: God knows -- and so do we -- that car service departments don't enjoy the most solicitous of reputations. And the most squeaks rolling off the assembly line of Washington writers have something to do with people who either sell or repair automobiles. So the tendency is to faint when a voice on the other end of the line identifies himself as ONE OF THEM: "The name's Murray . . . and well, you just spent $480 to get your car fixed, and I want to know if you're happy."


"I want to know if you're happy, if your car is running all right now."

It is, as it turns out. The man with the grandfatherly voice -- that somehow conjures up carpet slippers, a cardigan sweater and a run with a kid and a kite all at once -- is Murray Meisel, age 78. The former owner of his own engineering company has been yanked out of retirement by Herson's, Rockville, to "just talk about problems," as Meisel puts it, "and if there's something wrong, maybe we can straighten things out."

Asked if other dealers are doing the same thing, Meisel -- still seething over an $89 bill for an oil change and lubrication job at another dealership--cracks: "All I can say is, I've never gotten a call."