Reader Carolyn Pierce was at her local Giant not long ago when she spotted an unusual sign: "NOTICE TO OUR CUSTOMERS: THE PRICE OF MILK HAS INCREASED DUE TO INCREASED COST OF INGREDIENTS."

And those ingredients would be what, exactly? Um, milk?

Or, as Carolyn asked, "Aren't they getting it from cows anymore?"

Well, I don't know a lot about economics, but maybe there's something shady going on here. Could milk drinkers be the victims of a scheme among several milk producers to fix prices or stifle competition?

In other words . . . a cowtel.

Or perhaps it's even worse: a moonopoly.

Is someone trying to moove the markets in an unfair way? Or perhaps trying to skim the cream off the top? Cud it be that we're being milked?

Sure, you might think it's udderly ridiculous, but stranger things have happened. I mean, let's just ruminate on this for a while.

. . . .

Okay, that's long enough.

Let's see what Giant spokesman Jamie Miller has to say. He said that if you've seen any of those signs lately, it's a mistake. They referred to a spike in prices a few months back.

As for what those ingredients are, Jamie said it's raw milk.

"We purchase the raw milk as an ingredient and complete the processing of the milk in our local dairy here in Landover," he said.

In a Lather

From one area retailer to another: Depending on which CVS you shop at -- assuming that you shop at CVS -- you might have noticed that the soap is off-limits. Off-limits as in locked up.

Or maybe the soap is out on the shelf, but the body wash and moisturizer aren't. They're safely locked away, along with the teeth-whitening materials. If you stink or have dirty teeth, you have to ask someone to unlock the cases those products are in.

What's up? Are those items really so desirable that they have to be treated like the Hope Diamond?

Yes, said CVS spokesman Todd Andrews. Organized gangs of thieves are increasingly preying on retailers.

"They will come in and sweep the entire inventory of the shelf into some type of bag or other device and resell the items at a flea market," Todd said.

Can I just say that the notion of buying soap at a flea market makes me itch?

A story last summer by my colleague Margaret Webb Pressler outlined how stores are trying to combat such wide-scale thievery, from locking up merchandise to sticking items in dispensers that make a lot of noise when you try to extract one.

Todd said locking up merchandise isn't ideal. "If a customer comes in and sees that something is behind lock and key, they might not buy it," he said. "But you have to do it so that it's in stock."

Would it be any better if thieves were actually using the items they steal? Whitening their teeth. Shaving. Washing themselves and then moisturizing their dry skin.

No, I didn't think so.

For Every Thing, Turn, Turn, Turn

I haven't heard the last of it as far as why it is that so many Washington drivers are unwilling to use their turn signals.

And because I haven't heard the last of it, neither have you.

Centreville's Dan Whitesides said he and his wife have a little joke about cars that don't signal. They say they've "run out of blinker fluid." (BMWs seem to go through the fluid especially quickly, he said.)

Said Dan: "My wife and I realize that when our daughter is old enough to drive, we have to tell her that there is no such thing as blinker fluid or she may try to buy it."

Jesse Lord of Arlington pointed out one bright spot in the turn-signal world. Yes, it is true that many people never use their signal while driving down the road, "but one place that you can be assured that the turn signal will come into play is the parking lot. Make no mistake, if there is a vehicle in a parking lot with a person walking up to it, there is another vehicle with its turn signal on, declaring ownership of the yet-to-be-vacated parking spot."

Jesse said it's one of the only times you'll see a turn signal in the Washington area.

Sign Language

More dispatches from the memorable sign front:

Bette Ulshoffer reports that a store in Yarnell, Ariz., has the wonderfully bizarre name of Brand New Dead Things. It's next to a medical clinic. That must do wonders for a patient's confidence.

Speaking of brand-new, Tina Mancuso of Fairfax City got a laugh out of a store she and her husband passed in the Shenandoah Valley. The sign out front read "Antique Tables Made Daily."

Setting the Record Straight

I managed to both misspell Greg Hutchison's name in yesterday's column and give him a promotion. I called him an " 'errand boy' for Douglas MacArthur," when in fact Greg was an errand boy on the staff of Gen. MacArthur.

My assistant, Julia Feldmeier, helped research this column. Seen something unusual on your travels? Write, or John Kelly, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.