Having left Albuquerque 20 years ago to move to Washington, I was interested to learn that a regular correspondent of mine, Gerre Jones, has just left Washington to move to Albuquerque. Nothing against The Big A, but why would a Washingtonian of long standing like Gerre leave this exciting river village for mountains and silence? Her reasons are food for thought:
"The decision to leave Washington, D.C., was essentially based on that city's negatives and declining quality of life . . . .
"Specifically speaking, Washington's city government is based on cronyism, nepotism and favoritism. It is rife with corruption, ineptness, wastefulness and insensitivity . . . .
"At my age, and having lived in many cities, I am not on a quest for some municipal equivalent of Mr. Clean. I'm neither naive nor innocent, and realize that many elected and appointed keepers of government Holy Grails eventually lose sight of their early goals and objectives. But after 17 years in Washington, I realized I had an advanced form of Capital Burnout . . . .
"In fairness, I should point out that the surrounding counties and cities in Maryland and Virginia do offer good, responsible government, by and large, and provide a relatively friendly atmosphere to business. But their streets are just as jammed with traffic, if not more so, and their citizens must share the same lousy climate . . . .
"Our new house has striking views of the nearby Sandia Mountains from north and south windows; large picture windows on the west offer an equally spectacular panorama of Albuquerque spread out in the valley below . . . .
"No, I'm not sorry I left Washington."
It would be easy for the District Building to pooh-pooh Gerre's reasons for leaving. Easy, and dangerous. The problems are real. The solutions must be, too, or Washington will begin to lose Gerre after Gerre after Gerre.
A reason to feel otherwise about Our Fair Burg, from "Still Embarrassed" of Alexandria:
"Driving west on Braddock Road, I made a bad turn across from the Northern Virginia Training School, and found myself tilted partly on the edge of a ditch . . . .
"A lady driving east stopped her car and rushed over to see if she could help. A man driving a Fairfax County truck stopped to see if he could help. A young man on a motorcycle also stopped. A backhoe operator left his machine and came over to see what he could do for me . . . .
"They all gathered in front of the car and with a heave and a push I was back on solid ground again.
"I offered money, as well as thanks, which they declined with a smile and a wave . . . . How lucky I was to have been favored with so much courtesy and kind friendliness."
Another reason to feel otherwise, from Patsy Gammon of Northwest:
"About a week ago, during rush hour, I boarded the Metro at King Street. I do not travel much out of the District and certainly not during rush hour, so I had no idea it would cost me $2.40 to travel to my destination -- White Flint.
"When I reached the exit at White Flint, my card had but $1.10 left, and I had only 40 cents in my wallet. I went to the kiosk and asked what they did with people in my situation.
"The attendant said that Metro does not take any prisoners. He took my card, asked me to root for the Redskins and let me through the gate."
Oldest truth of all: Hairdressers tell clients great -- and true -- stories. Here's one that qualifies on both counts, told by Carole Taylor of DiGiovanni Coiffures to Lynn Schrichte of Northwest.
A couple Carole knows found a darling kitten and decided to keep it. A few days later, the animal climbed to the top branch of a birch tree and refused to come down. After several hours of coaxing, with no results, the couple decided to toss a rope across the branch and pull it down to where the kitten was reachable.
Nice plan -- except that when the cat was almost within reach, the rope broke suddenly, and the cat was catapulted out of sight.
Days of searching followed -- all for naught. A week later, one of the former cat owners ran into a neighbor at the grocery store. The neighbor was stocking up on cat food.
"I didn't know you had a cat," said the former owner.
"You're not going to believe this," replied the neighbor, "but my husband and I were sitting in the back yard about a week ago, having a drink, when suddenly this kitten just dropped out of the sky and landed in Joe's lap."
No word on which woman got to keep the cat. Just glad he survived his airborne training. Eight lives to go . . . .