I took a Rosslyn restaurant to task for an ugly dispute over change. A customer paid a $22 check with a 20 and a 10. The cashier insisted she had been handed a 20 and a 5. The manager refused to take the customer's word for it. Finally, the owner bought the customer's story and gave her $5 -- but not until four hours later.
Barbara June Appelgren of Charles Town, W.Va., spoke for many readers when she wrote:
"In response to the dispute-with-the-cashier situation, I'm surprised you didn't mention the method I've seen many, many cashiers use. They put your bill(s) on top of the register, give you the change and then place the bills into the drawer. In fact, I thought this was standard procedure for working the cash register."
If it isn't, Barbara, it sure should be -- and maybe if enough cashiers and managers see this, it will be.
Another approach that would seem foolproof is for a cashier to state "$20" when a customer hands over a $20 bill. But even the "out-loud method" has caused problems for Julie Angel of Silver Spring, a cashier for Safeway.
"Many times I have had a customer tell me they gave me more money than they actually did," Julie writes, even though she always "out-louds" the size of the bills she is handed.
The only way this can be rectified is for a manager to come over and "count out" Julie's cash drawer. "Every time this has happened, my drawer has come out even," Julie says. " . . . .It isn't always the cashier." Good reminder!
I leveled a gusher of irritation at pro football on television. Too repetitive, too unimaginative, too slow and too full of ridiculous terminology, I declared -- among several other indictments.
Football fans were quick to point out that other sports on TV have their problems, too. One such pointer-outer was Richard L. Moore Sr. of Mount Rainier.
"Have you ever watched a baseball game?" asked Brother Moore. "How about the antics the pitcher goes through before he throws the ball? Or the batter -- he pulls up his pants, adjusts his gloves and hat, knocks the dirt off his cleats with the bat, swings the bat three or four times, digs in at home plate, cleans the dirt off the cleats again and hits the plate with the bat.
"Or have you ever watched a golfer before he tees off or putts? Are all these things necessary?"
Touche, Richard. I still say football is the most cliche-choked sport of the three on television. But I agree that baseball and golf are not without sin.
One correspondent agreed with my pigskin pique. But then he made a prediction.
"I agree totally with everything you said," wrote James Hightower of Burke. "But I'll bet that when January gives way to September, you'll be right in front of the tube for the '86-'87 season."
Somehow, James, I have a hunch you're right. The choice between Redskins-Cowboys and three hours of leaf-raking is, as they say, not close.
I disagreed with the methods of the Prince George's County police in trying to put a dent in the jaywalking problem near Largo High School. The P.G. cops stationed an officer outside the school -- but they sat him in an unmarked cruiser. When a 14-year-old Largo student jaywalked, the officer asked her to come over to the car. But she refused, as her parents had always taught her to do. The policeman finally identified himself, but not before scaring the daylights out of the girl -- and doing little if anything to reduce jaywalking near the school.
Jane M. Briscoe of Lanham made an excellent suggestion in response to this story.
"Even though I can see the need for undercover operations by the law, I think there is a need to protect the general population from unnecessary terrorizing situations such as the Largo student went through," Jane wrote.
"Perhaps officers on undercover duty for traffic violations or jaywalking duty should at least be in cars with a state or government license plate. Offenders would at least have half a chance of telling the good guys from the bad guys."
I think Jane's proposal would clear up 99 percent of the undercover misunderstandings overnight. Good idea!
Here's another, although I can hear the groaning from the Largo students even as I type.
Jonathan Perlman of Rockville suggests that Largo students police themselves with the same safety patrols that you see near every elementary school.
"I've never understood why the same caution that is preached to 6-year-olds is pitched out the window for 16-year-olds," Jonathan writes.
I'm sure 16-year-old readers would tell Jonathan, "The difference is that we can take care of ourselves, and a 6-year-old can't." But when dozens of students jaywalk near Largo every day -- and near just about every other high school, too -- they are proving that they can't take care of themselves. Isn't it better to break out the orange sashes than to use police officers (undercover or not), or to do nothing?