If you would like to go out of your mind, directly out of your mind, do not pass go, do not collect $200, try to find the listing of a trade association in the Yellow Pages.
Let's say it's the Voodoo Association you're looking for. You call it the Voodoo Association. Employes call it the Voodoo Association. All God's children call it the Voodoo Association.
But the technical name of the outfit may be the National Association of Voodoo, which would mean you'd have to know enough to look under "N." Or it might be the International Association of Voodoo, which would mean you'd have to know to look under "I." Or the American Association of Voodoo, Associated Voodoo Chapters of America, or who-knows-what.
So unless you get lucky, you'll have to thumb through every listing of the voodoo outfit you can think of. And even then, if Amalgamated Voodoo Inc. or Hemisphere Voodoo Alliance hasn't occurred to you, you may come up empty-handed.
A reader points out that this is an easy one to fix. Just list the outfit twice: Under V-for-Voodoo, and under its formal name, too.
But C&P Telephone says it's sticking to its policy of formal name only, unless the company in question wants to pay for two listings.
"We do it that way so that the average person can find whatever they want," said Ollie Wilson, a C&P service representative. "We assume that they have common sense." C&P also assumes -- admittedly correctly -- that most people will find what they're looking for once their fingers start walking.
But can't C&P help us stay to the good side of the funny farm by encouraging trade associations to buy twin listings? Better yet, can't C&P recognize that trade associations are where the problem is worst, and give them two listings for the price of one? Or would the Phone Folks prefer we use voodoo to find the number we're looking for?
Here's a long overdue pat on the back for Jay Fast, who thought as quickly as his last name might imply and did a patriotic good deed.
Jay runs the Cheese and Bottle Shop at 1917 F St. NW. One April afternoon, shortly after the U.S. military launched the strike against Libya, a young woman named Marie Cavalcante walked in.
She picked out some salami. She picked out some pepperoni. She threw in some cheese, nuts and crackers. As Jay rang up the order, $34.73 worth, Marie said she wanted it packed so it would withstand a trip to the Mediterranean.
Jay asked who the lucky muncher would be. Her husband, Maurie Crossland, Marie replied. She told Jay that Maurie is a radio communications petty officer assigned to the USS Vreeland. That frigate played a support role in the Libyan assault.
Jay had heard all he needed to hear. He immediately declared that all $34.73 was on him.
"Many of us had a need to express, and when she showed up, I had the opportunity," Jay said. "There is really no logic to it. If I had the opportunity, I would do it again."
By the way, Maurie will be home on leave in September. I have a feeling I know a businessman he'll make it a point to thank.
"No, I don't think I want you to use my name," said the office manager. "I was just doing my job."
But Jack Teller of Silver Spring doesn't think it was an everyday sort of performance, and I don't, either. The office manager rescued half of Jack's day last Wednesday. Believe me, my bashful friend, not every one in your position would have moved as quickly or done as much.
The drama began in Tysons Corner as Jack was getting out of his car to go to work. Juggling his coat and his briefcase with one hand, Jack started to close the car door with the other. At exactly that moment, his key ring fell out of his coat pocket and onto the seat. Slam went the door, too late for Jack to prevent it. He was locked out.
The only spare keys were at home, 20 miles away. So Jack called Covington Buick in Silver Spring, where he had bought the car in February.
Jack was immediately connected to the office manager, who looked up the identifying numbers for Jack's keys. Then she looked up the phone number of Peacock Buick, a dealership that happened to be just a few blocks from Jack's office. Then she called Peacock and ordered a set of keys for Jack. By the time he arrived at Peacock a few minutes later, the keys were ready, and he was on his way.
Two lessons here: One, put your keys in your hand, not your coat pocket, as you're leaving the car. Two, some of the most publicity-shy office managers are also some of the best.
Bumper sticker spotted by Bill Henry on the Beltway: CRIME WOULDN'T PAY IF THE GOVERNMENT RAN IT.