Thoughts while shaving:
I grieve for playgrounds in and around our town. They all seem to have been hijacked for the summer by the largest and oldest kids, who seize them and keep them as if by divine right, when all playgrounds should belong to all kids.
We could assure recreational democracy by adopting the system that most country clubs and resorts use. If others are waiting, limit the use of basketball and tennis courts, ball fields, slides and jungle gyms to one hour. And hire a teen-ager for the summer to enforce the schedule.
Jaywalking is never taken as seriously as it should be, even by those rare pedestrians who are ticketed for it.
For example, I had a friend who once got nailed to the tune of $10 for crossing in the middle of the 800 block of Vermont Avenue NW.
"Did you pay the fine?" I asked him.
"No, I decided to send my legs to traffic school instead," he replied.
As laugh lines go, that one wasn't bad. But no one's going to be laughing one of these days at 16th and K, 17th and L, 20th and M and other downtown intersections where jaywalking has burst out of all control.
The other day, at lunchtime, I saw a van crossing K at 16th. The driver had the light, yet a dozen pedestrians were ambling across his path as if they owned the place.
"Hey, are you color blind, you $&-*3/4$3/4*?" yelled the driver at one female transgressor -- who proceeded to tell her companion that she didn't know "why he had to get so angry."
Wake up, lady -- while you still can.
When it comes to being unprepared and unbusinesslike, cabdrivers take the cake.
I was walking down 15th Street the other day when a man in a three-piece suit called to me from the curb. He needed five ones in exchange for a $5 bill. His cabbie couldn't change the fiver.
That same night, Metro was on the fritz, so I grabbed a cab to go home. The fare was $4.55. I handed the driver a $5 bill.
Fumble. Hunt. Grope. Search. Finally:
"Hey, I'm sorry, sir, but I don't have 45 cents in change. All I have is this." And out came a palm with three pennies and a nickel in it.
If you ran a business where you expected to handle about $100 a day in small transactions, would you open up without singles or change? Are cabbies too lazy to be sure they have 10 ones and a fistful of silver in their jeans before they turn the key?
When I was a kid, I lived near the end of a New York subway line. That had two advantages: you could fall asleep without missing your stop, and you would never miss The New York Times or The New York Daily News, because someone had always discarded a complete copy of each paper on or under a seat.
Left-behind papers weren't seen here much in Metro's early years. But New Yorkery seems to have begun drifting south. Discarded newspapers are beginning to mount up in our subway. What isn't mounting up is efforts by Metro to do something about them.
It doesn't take much to chase a former automobile commuter back to his old ways. One copy of The Washington Post, scattered hither and yon around a subway car and trampled by dozens of feet, could be enough. Shouldn't Metro spend as much time and money picking up papers as it spends removing graffiti?
Just about everyone hereabouts knows where Alexandria is. And Baltimore. And Richmond.
But Frederick? That northern Maryland town is tiny by the standards of Washington's other neighbors. Its name probably draws puzzled frowns from motorists who see the word on Beltway signs in Northern Virginia. Even if they've heard of Frederick, they may not be sure whether it's north of Washington, west of it, or a little of each. And they may not have a good sense of how far away it is.
Syggestion: change the Beltway signs to read "Frederick, Montgomery County and West." With just four extra words, the highway folks could please everyone heading for Gaithersburg, for Bethesda, for the Pennsylvania Turnpike and all points in between.