May we change the subject this morning?

While we wait for the Children's Hospital mail pipeline to gurgle its last, I'd like to find out whether I can still make a living in the columning business.

Instead of talking about fund-raising, let's talk about people -- dimwitted and inconsiderate people.

Edward I. Rosenfeld of the Capital Area Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America writes: "I have now seen the ultimate in unmitigated gall. When I attempted to turn into a parking space reserved for the handicapped -- the only one of six that was about to be vacated by an unauthorized user -- a hog of a driver scooted into it ahead of me.

"This nut crossed a line of oncoming traffic to grab my parking space. Then he got out of his car and -- can you believe it? -- I saw he was dressed in a jogging outfit.

"In keeping with his attire, he began jogging to a store 80 feet away.

"I blew my horn and shouted to superjock that he had parked in a space reserved for the handicapped. His response was a cussword and a finger thrust upward, which is about what one can expect from one of his low moral standards.Tell me, what are paraplegics supposed to do to educate the public about reserved spaces for the handicapped?"

Cool it, Edward. Keep in mind that it takes all kinds of people to make a world.

Please do not be angry with me for taking such a philosophical attitude toward your problem. A philosopher, as you know, is a man who can remain calm as he discusses a problem that affects other people, not him.

I would be willing to make a substantial wager -- for example, the price of a straberry soda, which in these times is quite substantial -- that your jogger was merely ignorant or inattentive, not really mean.

People drive with their aggressions unsheathed and their minds turned off. The man who parks in a space reserved for handicapped people is seldom aware of what he has done. He sees a space being vacated close to his destination and he grabs it. He takes it away from a driver who had been waiting for it because when people get behind the wheel of an automobile they lose their veneer of civilization and sprout horns.

Your villain was probably so happy about besting another driver and saving a few seconds that the space was reserved for the handicapped.

If he had been made aware (with a blast of dynamite, perhaps?) that the driver he was cheating was a paralyzed veteran, I am sure he would have withdrawn in haste and embarrassment. I can't imagine anybody being guilty of such selfishness wittingly.

But he didn't know -- perhaps because he's a little dense, perhaps because he's not really tuned in to his environment, perhaps because the signs in that location are not as effective as they should be, perhaps because he didn't really hear the details of what you shouted at him.

Whatever the reason for his lapse, there is nothing to be gained from railing at an oaf of this kind. All you can do, or I can do, is mention the matter again, and again, and hope that eventually even the dullards will get the message.

At this moment, Edward, you are probably thinking that if I were the paralyzed veteran and you were the columnist who was viewing the problem philosophically, I'd be calling you an insensitive jerk. You're probably right.

People who are insensitive to the rights of others deserve to be educated with a baseball bat. The trouble is, they learn even less that way.


A few days ago, Broom Hilda, one of my favorite comic strips, showed the old witch breaking into the U.S. Mint to cut the power cord to the presses that print U.S. currency.

Frank Crary, age 9, immediately drew a cartoon of his own showing what happens to people who try to cut power lines before unplugging them from the source of power.

In addition to possibly putting dangerous ideas into the heads of slow thinkers, Broom Hilda made one other mistake. The Mint doesn't print paper money.


"There are 40 million pigeons in the United States," observes Bob Orben.

"Thirty million are birds, and the rest are people who pay $40 for designer blue jeans."