Steven L. Gross has just conducted The Grand Hunt yet again. He and his Toyota were trying to go home to the Gross apartment on N Street SW. Round and around the block they went, for 10 minutes, 20, 30. No legal, non-metered parking space leapt up and said hello.

Steven did see six spaces that he describes as "just a bit smaller than a Volkswagen bug." His Toyota could easily have fit into any of them if the guy parked in front of each space had scrunched forward a few inches, or the guy parked behind had scrunched backward. But no scrunching was possible because the owners of those two cars weren't around. And 9/10 of a space just wasn't enough.

The result was the same as it always is. Steven ended up parking several blocks from his apartment house. The tab: half a gallon of gas burned unnecessarily, vast quantities of mental energy burned unnecessarily and one carton of ice cream melted all over the back seat of the Toyota while Steven hunted and hunted and hunted.

Isn't there a solution? Steven thinks there is:


If every non-metered space in the city were set off by painted lines (as metered spaces are), Steven figures the city would recover hundreds of Toyotable spaces that now go glimmering. Steven says he'd be willing to spend a few Saturdays painting such lines around his neighborhood, as long as the city provides A) the paint and B) immunity from any criminal charges.

But B is precisely the problem. According to Tara Hamilton of the D.C. Department of Public Works, the D.C. Code prohibits the painting of lines on or near public, non-metered parking spaces. To change that law would require action by the City Council. According to Council sources, there's no groundswell for any such move.

Tara said the purpose of the no-paint law is to keep the city as "attractive as possible." Besides, she pointed out, even if painted lines suddenly became legal, some inconsiderate parkers would probably straddle them anyway.

Courtesy is the best answer, Tara said. She pointed out that parkers in such congested neighborhoods as Adams-Morgan and Capitol Hill routinely pull forward or back to squeeze out every possible inch of legal, non-metered parking space for others. The same could solve the problem in Southwest, too, Tara felt.

Please heed this, all who park in the city and don't save as many inches as you could. He who fails to scrunch today may need those few inches tomorrow -- and he may have a carton of ice cream in the back seat.

Thanks to Richard T. O'Grady for this Great Moment in Retailing:

He asked a clerk at a grocery-store deli for four ounces of meat. Sorry, the clerk replied. Her scale measures only to the quarter-pound.

Your District Government at work (thanks to Stan Nadonley of Rockville for the tip):

As you head north on Canal Road, you'll see a traffic sign.

The top half says that the three-lane road is one lane northbound and two lanes southbound between 6:30 and 10 a.m.

The bottom half says that, at all other times, the road is one lane northbound and two lanes southbound.

Neat bumper sticker spotted (and submitted) by Abe Stahler of Silver Spring:




Nearly a month into our annual fund-raising campaign on behalf of 1,100 underprivileged local children, I've gotten the same question more than 50 times: How much does it cost to take the name of the campaign literally?

The answer this year is $352. That sum will send one kid to camp for two weeks. The $352 covers food, shelter, equipment, transportation and the salaries of counselors. None of it goes for administrative expenses or further fund-raising.

This is one charity where your bucks have bang. If you can spare 352 of them, please send a check today. Our camp program is a proven winner. Let's prove once more that Washington cares.


Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp, and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071.

In hand as of June 14: $73,489.09.

Our goal: $275,000.