"I think you can combine a couple of recent rants into a solution," wrote Kala Ladenheim. She happens to like those little address stickers that charities send us and which one reader decried in an earlier column.
Kala has a reason: "I have lousy handwriting, and I always keep a couple of sheets of them folded up in my wallet. At conferences, they go on sign-up sheets, requests for publications, etc."
Most important: "They go on that return postcard at the dentist's office."
Harley Gail McKinnie of Laurel had the same idea. Keep some of those labels in your wallet and, "Voila, when you have to address your card, it's done in a flash."
Vienna's Donna Gorman agrees with me that it's annoying to address what she calls "your own torture card." But she encountered something even worse.
Last November, she went to her usual stylist for a long-overdue haircut. "She cut my hair, I paid, and then she handed me an envelope. She asked me to address it to myself 'for the salon holiday card.' I was appalled but unable to articulate it, so I sullenly addressed my own Christmas card."
A few weeks later, the card which Donna had addressed to herself arrived in the mail.
"What a waste of paper," she said. "What a lack of holiday cheer. This year, I'm boycotting the salon until after the holidays are over. Or maybe I'll ask for extra cards and address them to my friends and family instead of to myself, sort of kill two birds with one stone. You might try that with your dentist cards, too. Who knows the last time your siblings had a good tooth cleaning."
Oh, I'm sure they'd love that. That would be nearly as bad as the year I bought my stepmother a fuzzball shaver. Remember when those little electric contraptions for removing fuzzballs from sweaters were stacked near the cash registers in all the department stores?
Nothing says "I love you" like a fuzzball shaver. Except, perhaps, a nose hair trimmer.
Olive Hue, Too, Honey
My confession that I always write myself a funny, personalized gift card message when I order goods online brought this letter from Stephen Litterst of Ithaca, N.Y.:
"Regarding your habit of addressing yourself in Lands' End packages, I once ordered my wife a pair of moccasins from L.L. Bean in an olive color. I asked the customer service rep to please write 'Olive hue' on the gift card. The rep burst out laughing, as did my wife when she opened the package."
Stephen brought up another scourge that threatens us all: "When did receipts get so large? Either they're twice the width of a dollar bill, or there's a foot of receipt per item. No lie, the Best Buy receipt in my wallet measures 21 inches. And that's for two items. Each item only takes up 3/8 of an inch (yes, I have a tape measure in my office), so why do I need 201/4 inches of receipt to tell me what store it came from?"
It's true. I was at Blockbuster the other day and waited as the cash register spat out a yard of receipts and coupons. I walked out of there trailing a white ribbon that looked like the kind of silk scarf World War I aviators wore. Between the free address labels and the mile-long store receipts, it's a wonder we have any forests left.
Turn, Turn, Turn
And now to turn signals. "In Virginia," writes David Healy of the District, "one cannot use signals to change lanes because the use of the signal allows competing drivers to prevent the merge. In D.C., if one signals a turn too soon, the driver in front will invariably also turn to continue impeding your progress. It goes on and on and on and on."
Several readers made the same point: Using a turn signal just "tips off" other drivers of your intentions, allowing them to take evasive action.
One last thought on the absence of turn signals, from Larry Garfield of Fredericksburg: "They seem to be 'shorted out,' rendered totally ineffective, by the powerful energy waves of the cell phone."
The Skin Trade
While driving on Rockville Pike, Alexander Fraser of Kensington noticed a leather store right below a . . . tanning salon. "I bet your readers can come up with other interesting juxtapositions," he wrote.
I'll tell you one unfortunate sign I saw over the weekend. A mattress store in Crofton was having some sort of festival in its parking lot, grilling hot dogs and the like. The sign on the road said "American Mattress Cookout."
That sounds dangerous to me.
And while we're on the subject of mattresses, let me mention another of my strange hobbies: I belong to a small group of people who get a grim satisfaction from seeing how poorly some drivers affix mattresses to the roofs of their cars. I'm a bit of an overachiever when it comes to this sort of thing. I lash items to the roof of our minivan -- beach chairs, coolers -- with the sort of overkill a bondage deviant would practice.
My family is used to me pointing at other drivers and shouting: "Look at him! He's tied his mattress to his roof with a single loop of twine!" The worst was probably when I saw two guys who didn't use any rope at all, just used their hands to hold the mattress down on the roof.
I'm convinced these lazy lashers come to a bad end. The proof is all the mattresses and box springs you see by the side of the road.
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