The readers ask, the columnist answers.
From H. Merton Evans of Bethesda: "I got on a T-4 bus at Friendship Heights the other day and gave the driver my transfer, which I'd gotten from the driver of a 36 bus at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue just half an hour earlier. But the T-4 driver refused to accept it. He said it expired at 3 p.m. (it was after 4 by this time). I explained that the 36 driver hadn't torn it off his pad properly. The T-4 driver said he sympathized, but I'd have to pay full fare for the rest of my trip home, which I did. Anything I could have done?"
Other than make a scene, I can't think of much you could have done then and there, Mert. But I'd certainly get in touch with Metro's customer relations office. They refund fares to passengers who've been wrongfully or excessively charged. You qualify on both grounds.
From Maria McDonough of Northeast: "My daughter is 12 years old, and goes to a Catholic school in Foggy Bottom. To get there, she rides the subway every weekday morning. That's fine with me, because a lot of people are around, including a lot of girls she goes to school with. And nothing has ever happened to her. But the other day she asked me if she could go downtown on a Saturday night with two friends her own age to go to the movies. I said no. She said she didn't see why, because it was the same subway she takes every day. We agreed that we'd abide by your decision. What do you think?"
I'm with you 110 percent, Mom. The conveyance may be the same; the situation isn't. Various lowlife come crawling out of various holes the minute the sun goes down. I'm a lot older than 12, and probably a lot heavier and taller than your daughter, and I don't like to be in certain parts of downtown after dark myself.
Tell your daughter that they have movies on Saturday afternoons as well as on Saturday nights.
From Bart Janowicz of Arlington: "I went up to Baltimore for an Orioles game the other day, and I thought I was never going to get home. I parked in a lot right across the street from the stadium. I immediately noticed that the guys giving directions were packing the cars in like sardines, without any room to turn around, but I didn't think to ask anyone about it. Sure enough, when the game was over, I sat there for a solid hour before I could get out of the lot. You newspaper guys know all the angles. What's your solution?"
All the angles? You flatter us, Bart. But I do happen to know a way around this persistent problem, and I'm happy to share it with you.
Don't approach the stadium by going north on Charles Street and east on 33rd, like the rest of the universe. Go through the Harbor Tunnel, take the Erdman Avenue west exit, and follow signs to Memorial Stadium.
This route brings you to the stadium from the opposite end of 33rd Street. Parking's a lot more plentiful there -- on the street, in lots, even in people's driveways. As for getting out after the game, I'd say it's at least four times faster. True, it costs an extra $1.50 in tolls, and it'll take you a few miles out of your way. But your diminished blood pressure will repay you forever.
From Diane Johnson of Northeast: "I was sitting in my car waiting for my daughter in front of the Rayburn Building last Friday when a man came up and said he wanted to show me something. I said OK, and he flashed a gold watch at me. I thought it must be stolen, and told him I didn't want to have anything to do with stolen property. But he said he wasn't a thief, that he had a license to sell watches on the Capitol grounds. I drove away right then because I was getting scared. But I've been wondering if there is such a thing as a license to peddle on Capitol grounds. Could this man have been telling the truth?"
This guy was about as on-the-level as a giant slalom, Diane. Nobody has a license to sell anything on the Capitol grounds, stolen or not, because the leadership on the Hill doesn't want the place to become a circus of pennants, balloons and dinner plates with Howard Baker's face on them. Next time this happens, just to treat yourself to a laugh, ask to see the guy's license. Or better yet, go find a cop.