Doesn't it make you crazy when . . .
* Cocktail party know-it-alls tell you "what they're saying on Capitol Hill." Spin alert! The whole problem on the Hill these days is that there are a zillion strings playing a zillion different tunes. "What they're saying" meant something when committee chairmen were all-powerful and thus worth listening to. I'm not arguing for a return to those bad old days. More voices are always better than fewer. But there is no single strand of truth on the Hill in 1999, and that isn't likely to change when the century does.
* People misspell it as "Rehobeth Beach."
* People who live in Rehoboth Beach misspell it as "Rehobeth Beach."
* People who live in Silver Spring laugh at the previous two items. Too many Silver Springers live in glass houses. Evidence: my mail. Of all the letters I receive from Silver Spring, about 1 in 10 claims in its return address that the town is "Silver Springs."
* Anchors of late local TV news shows begin every story with the word "tonight," in an effort to inject the item with immediacy. Funny how the rest of the story is exactly what ran at 4, 5 and 6 p.m.
* You're merging onto a superhighway. You find yourself behind a slow-moving vehicle, so you tuck in behind him like a good scout and wait for him to merge. But the guy behind you decides that he's frustrated by your caution, so he jackrabbits into the right through lane and sits there, essentially pinning you behind the slow-moving vehicle. Very dangerous. Very, very common.
* Readers like Carleton McDonald send me e-mails that sing the praises of ATMs. They have been "an amazing invention," Carleton declares. "No more standing in line and guessing how much cash I'll need from my paycheck for the next two weeks." However, as I replied to Carleton, he ought to come downtown sometime. Lines at ATMs are longer than lines at teller windows.
* A flight to Chicago from Reagan National Airport can cost $665 one way, but almost every flight from BWI to Chicago costs $79 one way (and sometimes less).
* City dwellers make the big move to the burbs because they say they want a lawn. But they soon discover that they are working so hard and commuting so long that they're never home to enjoy that lawn.
* Small businesses (yes, pizza parlors, this means you) lavish advertising leaflets on cars parked at shopping malls. It would be illegal to stuff that same leaflet into a mailbox. Why is it any more welcome to slip it under some poor, overstressed soul's windshield wiper?
* You look into a trash can in a Metro station and see a discarded Farecard there, with several cents of value left on it. Fine, you're loaded enough to decide that 60 cents is beneath your dignity. But it's a leg up on breakfast for a student or a single mother. Why not make the (small) effort to give that mini-Farecard to someone, rather than chucking it?
* Metro refuses to "bundle" small-value Farecards and reissue them as one larger card. I can understand why Metro won't redeem Farecards for cash. A sold card should remain sold. But how hard would it be for a Farecard machine to slurp up, say, four 80-cent cards and regurgitate a card worth $3.20? Compare it to a dress shop: no cash back, but store credit.
* People suggest keeping that blue-gray scaffolding that now girds the Washington Monument. Here we're blessed with one of the most distinctive, sleek, elegant buildings in the world. And we should swaddle it in the equivalent of wrapping paper? In a pig's eye.
* Cabbies tell you they don't have enough change to break a $10 bill. Tell me another one, you guys. No, better, I'll tell you one -- about the food vendors on the Mall, the CD sellers on K Street, the cashiers at my favorite carryout. They never run out of ones, and they break as many big bills as cabbies, maybe more. This "cabbie shuffle" is a transparent attempt to add a $6 tip onto a $4 fare. Why not play honest with people, cabbies? It will be to your advantage, because instead of wasting three minutes arguing with a customer about whether you're telling the truth, you just might get another fare.
* Yet another high-tech company decides to shoehorn its way into Tysons Corner -- thus damning its employees to the Rush Hour Crush, twice a day. Who better than high-tech companies to understand that their real business address is the Almighty Web? As a result, they could rent space anywhere. Some companies tell me they choose to rent at high-glitter Tysons because clients will be impressed. No chance -- because no client will try to penetrate traffic to get a look-see. Clients know better.
* People drop the last four digits of their nine-digit Zip code "to save time." This little maneuver costs you time, gang. Using the full nine-digit Zip can put a day's worth of zip into your letters. If you lose that day . . . well, you know what Mother always said about time being money.
* People assume you're rich if you live in Montgomery County. More than one-third of the Montgomery population made less than $30,000 last year.
* Messengers double-park and leave a sign in the window that reads, "Making Delivery." So what? What if I left a sign in the window that read, "Writing Column"? Would I stand a chance of ducking a ticket?