Questions and answers:
From John R. Parziale of Alexandria: "One of the grocery stores near our home is a Food Barn. It's one of those warehouse outlets opened by Safeway during the past few years. While I was shopping there, I found an item with no price . . . .The clerk told me he wasn't sure the item was 'authorized' for a Food Barn . . . .
"I asked the manager about this. He told me the federal government told Safeway how many items could be sold in a warehouse operation, what types of products and the number of varieties of each item! . . . .
"I know there are federal inspectors to insure food is safe. But marketing decisions, too?"
Rest easy, John. Uncle Sam has not invaded the grocery business. This manager either didn't know what he was talking about or was trying to get rid of you. My hunch is the latter.
From Lisa Varouxis of Falls Church: My cousin went to Parris Island in August of 1983 for Marine boot camp. One of his drill instructors suggested writing home and requesting that bottles of Avon's Skin So Soft be sent to keep the mosquitoes away. Try it, please, and then let your readers know if it actually works."
It actually doesn't, Lisa.
That is, maybe it does once in a while, and maybe it did one day at Parris Island when a certain drill instructor was being heavily dive-bombed and reached for any goop he could find.
But don't expect Skin So Soft to work on a regular basis, says a spokesman from Avon-dom. In fact, he says, over the long haul, Skin So Soft may actually attract more mosquitoes than it repels. "If it does what its name suggests -- and we think it does -- the mosquitoes are sure to notice," the spokesman points out.
From Marti Teitelbaum of Silver Spring: "Whenever we go into a restaurant, the tables are clean, the counters are clean and the floors are clean. But the trays on baby high chairs are never clean. Any reason?"
I've talked to restaurant inspectors in several jurisdictions, Marti. They think the reason may be that clean high-chair trays are not always on the checklists of the inspectors who come to see if a restaurant is abiding by the health code. "If a dirty tray isn't going to close you down, maybe you don't hustle quite as hard to keep it clean," said one inspector.
But you'd think the parents of high-chair occupants would insist on better hygiene -- and passionately. Here's hoping they will.
From Maggie Whitman of Falls Church: "There is a sign on the George Washington Parkway, as one heads east downriver, which clearly states, 'Key Bridge Ramp Closed 7-9 a.m.' Yet, to those of us struggling to get through Rosslyn, what ordinarily takes five minutes becomes more than 15 anytime after 8:15, because cars are pouring up the ramp from the parkway . . . .
"Are they changing the hours of access to that ramp? Without notifying us hapless commuters? . . . .I am ordinarily a considerate driver. But until I hear that this feed-in to Rosslyn traffic is legitimate before 9 a.m., I ain't lettin' nobody in!"
They ain't changin' nuthin', Maggie. What's happening, according to the U.S. Park Police, is that some friendly neighborhood anarchist is removing the barricades at the top of that ramp in a fit of selfish impatience. What follows is a tidal wave of drivers who take advantage.
The cops say they're too understaffed to put an officer at the top of that ramp throughout morning rush hour. But if backups and delays are happening as often as you say, the police had better reconsider before Rosslyn becomes even more of a rush-hour disaster than it already is.