Doesn't it make you crazy when . . . ?
* The driver in front of you pokes along in the left lane as he approaches an intersection. You assume he's just going slowly and plans to go straight, so you fall in behind him. But no sooner does he arrive at the intersection than he hits his left-turn signal, stops and prepares to make his left. You, of course, are trapped behind him -- for at least one full light cycle. Could the guy have signaled three or four beats earlier? Not if he's the only driver on the road -- which he clearly believes he is.
* People deride the District of Columbia for trying to hold the first 2004 presidential primary. It's as if the city has violated some ancient scripture on which is written, in a creaky hand: New Hampshire and Iowa Forever. But what is a primary about if not to attract national attention? This city has every right to seek that commodity -- and more right than any of the 50 states when you consider how many basic rights the city doesn't share with them.
* Car dealers advertise their great "selection." If I walk onto a lot to buy a car, selection is exactly what I don't want -- because I will have done my homework. Anyone who hits a showroom without knowing how much he or she is prepared to spend deserves the bum offer he or she will soon hear. The how-to-make-a-deal books say it well: Take charge of a car-buying transaction by knowing exactly what you want, and you will come out in one piece.
* People lament how much athletes earn and how little teachers earn. But they spend $200 to see the woeful Wizards without a second thought. And then they complain about minimal increases in their property taxes -- which is where teacher salaries originate.
* Bostonians and Chicagoans scoff that Washingtonians don't know how to drive in snow. But both the B-city and the C-city average more accidents per thousand drivers than we do. Yes, that could be the result of our brutal rush hours, during which cars are unable to go more than 4 miles an hour (and are thus less likely to smack into one another). But it could also be regionalized preening, unfair sneering.
* Otherwise sane human beings gather around the water cooler in March (!) to discuss offensive guards the Redskins have just obtained. Take it from me, sports fans. The Redskins won't play a game that counts for five months. And if an offensive guard is the difference between victory and defeat even then -- on a team with as many problems as the Redskins have -- I'll eat my old set of shoulder pads.
* Mothers spank their children in public. In a shopping center last month, I saw a mother swat the behind of her toddler -- hard. The child's sin: She had dribbled a gob of ice cream onto her shirt. What a surprise that a child that age doesn't have the dexterity (or the manners) of an adult! Some mothers need to go to mothering school. . . .
* Airline executives whine that they're sinking because of labor costs. Way to go, gang. Blame flight attendants who make $25,000 a year and who will be lucky to have $50-a-week pensions. Why not blame yourselves, for assuming that fat cats would pay $3,000 walk-up round-trip fares to California, forever and ever?
* Locals on both sides of the issue miss the point about the intercounty connector. By itself, that slab of road would do very little to alleviate Montgomery County congestion. But if the ICC were part of the long-delayed and long-needed outer Beltway, we'd finally see through traffic separated from local traffic. That oil-and-water mix is what's strangling the existing Beltway. It can be fixed with a full bypass -- but not with only a piece of one.
* People who don't live there slander Potomac as the home of the obscenely rich. The latest cuteness I heard: The Catholic parish there should change its name from Our Lady of Mercy to Our Lady of Mercedes. In fact, according to the Web site of a major real estate company, fully half the homes on the market in Potomac this month carry price tags of $450,000 or less. That's no bargain. But it's comparable to Bethesda, most of McLean and large swaths of Alexandria and Northwest Washington.
* Newcomers ask if any personality has ever appeared on local TV for more than 40 consecutive years. What is Mac McGarry, the host of "It's Academic" since Kennedy was president? Chopped liver?
* Restaurants find a way to gouge. I recently ordered a carryout coffee from the hostess at a restaurant. She charged me $1.35 -- 85 cents for the coffee and 50 cents for "boxed takeout." I pointed out that a foam coffee cup is not a box. She said the boss disagreed. I wanted the coffee very badly, so I forked over 50 cents for a container that couldn't have cost the restaurant a penny. But I'll never go back, which makes me wonder if the boss of that establishment has ever heard the expression: "Penny wise and pound foolish."
* People pop off about solutions before they even understand what the problem is. Case in point: Bolling Air Force Base. A recent caller said that Bolling is a fabulous piece of riverside real estate that ought to be closed and developed into the next Watergate. Hey, said this caller, no planes operate at Bolling, so it's obviously obsolete. But Bolling is the one place where enlisted personnel and junior officers can live inside the Beltway, with a family, in real houses, and hope to afford it. If the Pentagon sold Bolling to the highest bidder and Army Spec. 4s had to commute from southern Charles County, wouldn't that be a bit elitist? A bit inefficient? A bit dangerous from a national security point of view?