Wish list for 1991 . . . .

Every D.C. cabbie will know (and choose) the shortest route from Point A to Point B. It's in your interest, drivers. Since you don't have meters, you can't pad the fare by going 30 blocks out of the way. You can only increase your gas costs.

No will call me up and announce breathlessly that "1991" looks the same in the mirror as it does on a piece of paper held up to the mirror. Not so. The last "mirror image" year arrived 30 years ago. The next? 6009.

Metro will consider widening the subway platforms at the Pentagon, Rosslyn, Farragut North, Farragut West and Metro Center. The more popular the subway gets, the more people pack onto these slabs of concrete during rush hours, and the more likely it is that someone is going to get pushed into the tracks.

Smuggies in Fairfax and Montgomery Counties will stop assuming that everyone who lives in Prince George's is a grade school dropout with bad teeth and 300 tattoos. Do you smuggies think Goddard Space Flight Center is run by Hell's Angels? Do you think Eleanor Roosevelt High School turns out illiterates?

Drivers on westbound I-66 will stop maneuvering for every square inch. I realize virtue doesn't exactly gush on other major local arteries. But I-66ers seem to go especially and utterly mad as soon as they get west of the Beltway. They leap from lane to lane. They pass on the right when it isn't safe. They don't take bad weather into account. They cut off fully-loaded trucks. It's almost enough to persuade me that remote-control ticket-writing machines are the way to go.

Everyone will make way for fire engines and ambulances, whenever, wherever. Two seconds of your time aren't worth a human life or a burned-out home.

No waiter or waitress will ever again leave the check and say, "I'll take this when you're ready." You sure as shootin' won't take it before I'm ready, waitpersons. So what's the point of saying that? Is it a half-baked attempt to inform me that I don't have to march the check up to the cashier? Then why not say so? My hunch is that it's a quarter-baked attempt to get me to vacate the table, and/or leave a hefty tip. If so, the strategy almost always backfires.

Baseball at RFK Stadium. Ple-e-e-e-ase.

D.C. florists will offer sales technique lessons to other retailers. Last month, I managed not to forget my wife's birthday, so I decided to send flowers during my lunch hour. "I want a bunch of something simple, for a sensible amount of money," I told the salesman. He didn't try to steer me toward a $200 arrangement. He didn't try to "work" me into phosphorescent roses when my budget said plain white mums. He gave me what I wanted, quickly and courteously. Are you listening, car dealers and appliance sellers?

Every last soul will keep right on Metro escalators -- and no left-hugging soul will glare when you ask him to move over.

Airline pilots will start leveling with us about turbulence. How many times have you heard that dulcet voice say that we can expect "a little light chop for the next few minutes?" Next thing you know, you're bouncing around as if you're at King's Dominion. And if a pilot ever warns that "it'll be kinda bumpy on our climb out this morning," you can bet that your coffee will soon be spilling all over your spreadsheets. Try the truth, pilots. Our psyches will appreciate it even if our stomachs won't.

Some genius will dress up in a clown suit and entertain the masses who wait outside the White House for the tour to begin. After all, many of those masses are children, and they can get fretty if they're asked to stand in one place for a long time. On the White House tour line, 45 minutes is standard. A clown could help it zip past.

Well-marked (and well-observed) pedestrian crosswalks in shopping center parking lots. Nothing is scarier than watching customers leave a grocery store and stream right into traffic, every which way, bags in their arms, defying drivers to miss them. Watchword: If you wouldn't do it on the street, you shouldn't do it in the lot. Crosswalks would make watchwords unnecessary.

It will be punishable by mandatory torture for a bank to play Christmas Muzak after Dec. 24.

Sharon Pratt Dixon will consult with Walter Washington about what to expect. He, too, faced budget blues. He, too, had to deal with a president of the other party. Our first elected mayor would have a lot to contribute.

Anyone who misspells Loudoun (as in County) will be sentenced to eat 10 consecutive meals in a Dulles Airport coffee shop.

Bookstores will stop stacking dozens of copies of the latest hot fiction right in the front of the store. Even if I want a copy of Stephen King's latest (which I don't), the front-of-store stockpile always makes me worry about a killer bookslide. That's not the path to a sale. Also, why label that stockpile a "best seller" if the book has been off the presses for only a week? It's true today and always was: the joy of a bookstore is browsing, not getting beaten over the head.

You'll have a healthy and a happy.