Forty-five bucks an hour for labor is bad. Taking two days to do two hours worth of work is worse. But now we've reached the worst of all: auto service places that don't honor service appointments . . . .Edward Deckaneva of Lanham booked his car for a checkup a month in advance. But when he pulled in on the appointed morning, the service adviser said, "Sorry, nowhere to put you. You'll have to make a new appointment and wait another month." . . . .How about a written guarantee of next-day service in the case of such "bumps," same way they do it with bumps on oversold flights? . . . .

Nice consumer idea from Jeanne Oberlander of Oxon Hill . . . .She flatly refuses to get caught in the Kill Your Whole Day Waiting For The Delivery Man game . . . .She tells the sales clerk at purchase time: You deliver it when it's convenient for me, not you, or I ain't paying . . . .To places that say, "sometime in the morning" or "sometime in the afternoon," Jeanne says, "Not good enough. You give me a specific hour or I take my business down the road." . . . .So far, so good, although Jeanne once had to go refrigeratorless for six weeks until Sears saw the error of its ways . . . .

Elderly readers: Beware the hearing aid con man . . . .Reader in Leisure World out in Silver Spring says a smoothie is calling folks in that all-adult development . . . .Offers a free home demonstration, but doesn't say anything about being a doctor or testing your hearing . . . .Since when can you sell anyone the proper hearing aid without testing his or her hearing first? . . . .

Delicate but important issue raised by John H. Moelter of Vienna . . . .Is there such a thing as a bumper sticker that's too coarse? And if so, what do we do about it? . . . .John sent in the text of two Steamy Stickers that he spied aboard local bumpers recently . . . .Anyone who says shock value is dead hasn't seen these . . . .They leave sexual subtlety gasping in the dust . . . .But should the cops tear these stickers off any car on which they see them? Should they give the driver a ticket for illegal use of the English language? Either approach sounds too much like censorship for my taste . . . .Best idea I can offer: you, John Q. Citizen, should leave a note under the windshield wiper, protesting . . . .True, that note doesn't carry any legal force. But notes have a way of getting under a tasteless oaf's skin -- and staying there . . . .

Great one relayed by a friend who takes phone ticket orders at Capital Centre . . . ."I am new to your country," said a French-accented voice, "and I would like to order some tickets to a basketball game of your Washington Boo-lays." . . . .My friend says it's the first time anyone ever started booing a basketball team before they'd even finished ordering tickets . . . .

Evidence of hard times . . . .Pauline Breeden of Harper's Ferry, W. Va., was grocery shopping one recent Friday night, with her customary fistful of discount coupons . . . .In mid-shop, she decided to buy a Pepsi from a machine, so she left the coupons in her cart and asked a cashier to change $5 . . . .In the few seconds it took to break the five, the coupons all took a permanent walk . . . .

Get a good look at this one . . . .You may not see the likes of it again soon, if ever . . . .A Good News Story about the D.C. Government! . . . .Rose Mansker of Cleveland Park regularly crosses K Street NW at 25th . . . .One Monday morning, the lights weren't working . . . .Rose called in a report . . . .Repair crew was on the scene "almost immediately" . . . .Couple of Mondays later, same intersection, the button that pedestrians push to change the WALK light in their favor was broken . . . .Flushed with success, Rose called again . . . .By Wednesday, the button was Back in Business . . . .