A man called the other day with "something terrible" to tell me. I don't think I bathed him in the sympathy he expected.
His story concerned an episode aboard a North Capitol Street bus. Two teen-agers were sitting in the rear seat, one at either window. Each had brought a handful of pebbles aboard. As the bus went along its way, the teen-agers threw pebbles at passing cars.
My caller pointed out that this was illegal -- which was certainly true. He said that young people these days have less respect for the law than young people did in his day -- which is almost certainly true. He said that the pebble-chuckers could easily have smashed a windshield and put someone's eye out -- which is undeniably true.
But then he said the bus driver should have done something about it.
"Did you tell the driver about it?" I asked.
"Are you kidding?" said the man. "Me, get involved? No, sir. Besides, couldn't the driver see what was going on? He's got a rear-view mirror. All he has to do is to tell them to stop."
In fact, sir -- and all other sirs and madams who think bus drivers are omniscient -- it is very hard to see the rear seat from the driver's perch.
The driver certainly can't see the left half of the rear seat, because that portion is directly behind him. They haven't yet invented a rear-view mirror that sees around corners.
And not too many mirrors see through crowds of standees, either. That's why the right rear seat isn't always easy to monitor, either.
So it's essential that riders who see laws being broken tell the driver, in case he or she can't see what's going on. Yes, get involved. Yes, run the slight risk of landing in the middle of an incident. How else can we stop this sort of thing if we don't help the one person on a bus who has the authority -- and the radio with which to call for assistance?
Once again, the Super Stoppers Club opens its arms wide to welcome the following new members, all of whom have quit smoking for at least three months and all of whom are hereby rewarded by seeing their names in stunning bold-face type.
Rachel Kopel, a quitter herself, nominates officemate Paul Garner. Another happy coworker is Julie Zawisza, now that Ellen Areman of Chantilly has quit. And Elaine Nannis nominates her boss, Lee Towle. "He has not only been good; his personality got better," Elaine reports. An unexpected benefit, huh, Elaine?
These quitters nominated themselves: Jane Ginzell of Vienna, David A. Johnson of Laurel, Jay H. Feldman of Northwest, Ilene Levin of Columbia, Roger Metcalfe of Waldorf, William E. Durbin of McLean, Doris Stock of Cheverly, Dorothy J. Thomas of Southwest, Mary Reagan Morris of College Park and Winnie Connors and Marj Shannon of domiciles unknown. Congrats, all!
"Mystery Lady," a CB enthusiast from Fairfax, nominates another: "Falcon" of Manassas. Whatever your real name is, my winged friend, welcome aboard. Meanwhile, Jimmie G. Yeonas quit on April 1, 1984. No foolin'.
Lisa Reinoehl of Jessup sure knows how to use 22 cents efficiently. She nominated herself and five friends, all in one letter. The non-Lisas are James Norris, Joe Becker, Louise Alvey, Bruce Gentile and Molly O'Neill.
There's a huge crop of "family affairs" this trip. Marcie Burroughs kicks things off by nominating daughter Sandy of Laurel. "I've been preaching, preaching, preaching since they were all in high school, and she's the only one of my four kids to quit," says Marcie. Get with it, Sandy's sibs.
Harry J. Simon of Silver Spring lavishes praise on wife Rose. Dominique Groome cheers fiance Phil Bell of District Heights. Beverly J. Langager congratulates Dad John and sister Carol "for the willpower and strength that I myself have not yet found." And "loving daughter" Candace blows kisses toward her just-kicked-'em Dad, Daniel G. Rodman.
Martha Taylor of Silver Spring says hubby Willis cold turkeyed five years ago. Betty Schlesinger of Arlington says husband Howard has been clean for six years. Marcia Joy Berritt of Beltsville quit last February, "to the delight of her parents, Leon and Lillian Marin." And "His Grateful Mom" sent along the good news about Don Phillips of Bowie.
Finally, a post card from Julie Pheulpin (age 11) and her sister, Kristen (age 8), of Waldorf:
"Our daddy Larry , whom we love very much, knew that we didn't like for him to smoke. So on Thanksgiving Day two years ago, he quit. That made us very happy, especially since he hasn't started up again.
"Our uncle, who typed this letter for us, still smokes. But we let him know that we think he should stop."
Your move, Unc. If you quit -- or if anyone else you know does -- drop a line to Super Stoppers Club, c/o Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071.