DEAR BOB: I can't find Emily Post and I can find you, so may I complain to you about elevator etiquette? I work in a large office building on K Street. When I get on the elevator in the morning, there are always at least 10 people in each car. Often, someone who gets on first has to get off first. But the people in front of him will move to the side perhaps one inch. The poor person in the back of the elevator has to squeeze and scrunch past all of those oafs in the front. All these people have to do is to get off the elevator for a second and get right back on, but they never seem to think of that. Is there anything you can suggest, or do we need to bring Emily out of retirement?
SIGNED: SARAH WHO'S SQUEEZED AND SCRUNCHED
DEAR SARAH: My suggestion is to speak up. "Excuse me, will you please get off and let me out? The others will hold the door for you," should work wonders. If you've got a repeater oaf who's immune to your polite requests, wear a pair of spike heels and "accidentally" step on his toes as you exit one day. Don't tell Emily Post I said so, but pain persuades where politeness may not.
DEAR BOB: I grew up in Bethesda in the 1960s, and when I was a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, the best times we ever had were when we made fun of Prince George's County. Hayseeds, hicks, Hell's Angels, you name it, we accused PG of it. That county was absolutely synonymous with no class. But now I never hear anybody put down P.G. County anymore. Has the place turned into heaven, or do I need to hang around with my old buddies a little more?
SIGNED: BAFFLED IN BETHESDA
DEAR B.B.: Even your old buddies would probably tell you that those old jokes (and old notions) don't apply anymore, if they ever did. Prince George's County is home to nearly as many PhDs as Montgomery County and the District. It has more open space than Bethesda will ever have again. It has affordable housing, which most other jurisdictions kissed goodbye back in the late 1970s. It has a university (Maryland) that has improved academically in the last 20 years more than any state school I know. It has big-time racetracks, a big-time amusement park, a big-time pair of pro sports teams and a big-time collection of shopping malls. If you measure class by country clubs and $300,000 houses, it has dozens of each. Its two U.S. representatives, Steny Hoyer and Tom McMillen, don't show up on any "100 Stupidest Congressmen" lists. And the county doesn't have a sense of clutter or claustrophobia. Acid test: If you had to travel five miles on the Beltway at rush hour, would you rather do it in Prince George's or Montgomery? I rest my case.
DEAR BOB: You've written a lot about single people in the Washington area, so I'd like to run a story by you. I commute between Ballston and Farragut West every weekday. Since I work in an office, I'm always dressed neatly. About two months ago, I began noticing a guy who was always sitting near the back door of the third car of the Orange Line train I take. He was always dressed neatly too, making me think he works in an office near me. He's very good-looking -- tall, dark and handsome, as the saying goes. And after a while he started noticing me. It wasn't hard to tell. He would put down the newspaper and sneak quick little stares at me. It wasn't anything creepy. In fact, I was kind of flattered. Anyway, the staring went on for about a week. We never spoke. Then, one Friday morning, as he was getting off the train (he gets off one stop before I do, at Foggy Bottom), he slipped a piece of paper into my hand. It said: I'D LIKE TO GET TO KNOW YOU BETTER. Then it gave two phone numbers, one his work number, one his home number. Half of me says I should call him right away before a good one gets away. The other half says this guy might be an ax murderer. What do you think I should do? I'm 25 and really interested in a serious relationship.
SIGNED: METRO MAUREEN
DEAR METRO MO: It costs you nothing to call the guy, and it will provide you with much more information about him than you have now. After all, you've only seen the cover. The book may be dopey and it may be dreamy. You'll probably find out which very early in your conversation. Call the guy at the office (always better for a first call), tell him you're the one who caught his piece of paper and breezily ask him a little bit about himself. Don't give your name or phone number until you feel comfortable. If he isn't free to talk, ask if you can call some other time when he is. If he's able to open up in that first phone call, read him as honestly and carefully as you would anyone else. Does he sound sincere? Does he sound like fun? Does he have an imagination and a sense of humor? If you score "yes" to all three questions, I can't see anything wrong with meeting him for a drink in a well-lit, well-attended public place. This may lead nowhere. It may also lead everywhere. Just keep your feet on the ground and your eyes on reality, not on some Orange Line fantasy.