QUICK TAKES

New one doing the rounds on the west side of Bethesda . . . . Kid rings your doorbell and asks if you want the lawn mowed. Most of the time you say no, since you've either just done it yourself, or you plan to, or you don't want to admit to a kid that you're too lazy . . . .A few days later, you return home to find the lawn cut, without your knowledge or permission . . . .You also find a bill in the mailbox, with a Potomac return address, which says: THIS WOULD HAVE COST YOU $10 IF YOU'D SAID YES THE FIRST TIME. NOW IT'LL COST YOU $25 . . . .Unclear how the kid plans to collect. Still, doesn't this border on extortion? . . . .

Is anybody else wondering what happened to the "full" at "full service" gas stations? . . . .What it seems to mean these days is that a surly guy wanders over to the driver's window at a snail's pace, says "Yeah?" rather than "May I help you?" and only cleans the windows or checks the oil if you ask him to . . . .Air in the tires? Check the water in the battery? Directions? You're a dreamer . . . .

If you'd like to be driven directly out of your mind (do not pass go, do not collect $200), try to figure out why some local banks place holds on local checks, and other banks don't . . . .Here's the tally, as amassed by researcher Wendy Melillo: Of 16 D.C. banks sampled, 10 apply a hold of at least two business days, and sometimes as many as five. Nineteen of 26 Maryland banks do the same, as do 8 of 19 Virginia banks. And there's no rhyme or reason to why some banks hold and others don't . . . .I still say holds of any kind are useless, since banks have other ways to get even if a check turns out to be rubber . . . .But at the very least there should be consistency -- on the short hold side . . . .A whole week before you can use local funds? That just can't be necessary . . . .

Way to go, you brave diplomat in the sports car . . . .You're the comedian who came to the corner of Dolley Madison and Old Dominion in McLean the other day, in the far right hand lane of D.C.-bound Dolley, and suddenly decided to make a left -- across three lanes of moving traffic . . . .Those DPL plates may protect you from a lot of laws, pal. But they won't protect you from your own stupidity forever . . . .

How fact can become fiction . . . .Miguel Palos, a visitor from Los Angeles, thought he'd take in the Friday night show at the Marine Barracks, which is always one of the nicest in town . . . .He found himself sitting next to a family of five: a Mom, a Dad, a girl about eight, a boy about six, a second girl about two . . . .While waiting for the show to begin, one of the kids pointed to the commanding general's house and asked Dad: "Whose house is that?" . . . ."The commandant's house," said Dad to Mom. "The commodore's house," said Mom to oldest daughter. "The captain's house," said sister to brother. "The commander's house," said brother to younger sister . . . .Amused, Miguel decided to finish the chain by asking Youngest Daughter whose house it was . . . ."The comrade's house," she told him . . . .

Jesse Green, you are one good guy . . . .So says Kenneth E. Swab of Bethesda, with reason . . . .Ken returned from a trip abroad minus a suitcase. The airline said they'd find it and deliver it to him as soon as possible . . . .But the next call came from Jesse, not People Express. He had found Ken's bag sitting in the middle of Nebraska Avenue, where it had apparently landed after slipping off a delivery truck . . . .To make a nice story even nicer, Jesse refused to accept a reward . . . ."Well, you know, it's about time we did things for people and not look for things in return," he told me, when I called to ask him how come he's so altruistic . . . .Amen, Mr. G. . . . .

Hating litter is only half the battle . . . .We also need to love those who try to prevent it, or who replace it with gardens and other colorful wonders . . . .You can bestow some of that love on deserving Washingtonians by nominating them for mayor's beautification awards . . . .These will be handed out at ceremonies Nov. 1, to citizens who have made major contributions to the beautification of the city . . . .To make a nomination, or for further information, call Dorothy McClain at 576-7391, or write to her at 6523 Chillum Pl. NW., Washington, D.C., 20012 . . . .

Bill Quinn has an idea that would go a long way toward cleaning up the mess that the D.C. cab business has become . . . .Put questionnaires with postage on them in every cab, suggests Bill. You the passenger would check "yes" or "no" to such questions as "Breaks traffic laws?," "Understands English?," "Overcharged?" and other considerations that should never arise in a D.C. cab, but so often do . . . .Howard Davenport, general counsel of the D.C. Public Service Commission, says he doubts the industry would be receptive -- and they'd need to be before the commission would require cabs to carry questionnaires . . . .But isn't good cab service more important than the thin skins of some cab companies? I say that one isn't even close . . . .If you're for this idea, write to Mary Jordan, Secretary, DCPSC, 451 Indiana Ave. NW., Room 220, Washington, D.C., 20001 . . . .