On Feb. 27, Mordecai Gordon was seated in his parked car on Westbard Avenue in Bethesda when an NIH bus back into his car and bashed in the grill and hood. The bus driver immediately acknowledged that he was at fault and told Mordecai how to go about claiming compensation for the necessary repairs.

Following instructions, Mordecai filed two estimates on March 2, Nothing happened until April 6, when an HIH investigator phoned to say, "We need a Form 95 from you. I'll send you one. Fill it out and send it back to us."

"And how long will it take to get my money?" Mordecai asked.

"Six months," was the reply. Why? Because that's the way the system works.

The strange thing about all this is that Mordecai isn't coutraged by the delay, and he has no complaints about the inefficiency of government personnel. "I have rarely encountered a government worker who was other than courteous and interested," he says. "The people are fine. They do the best they can. It's just the system. The people who work for the system become cogs in a machine, and the machine obeys Gold's Law." I think he may be right about that. I don't remember what Gold's Law says about government workers, but whatever it is, you can bet it's very profound.