This and that . . . .

Laura Turchan of Alexandria treated herself to a new Pontiac last month -- and it wasn't just any Pontiac. She chose a zippy $16,000 Fiero, complete with bells and whistles (and for that kind o money, probably hot and cold running root beer) . . . . The transaction with J. Koons Pontiac of Tysons Corner was "routine," Laura says. Then it turned anything but . . . . A few days after the car had been delivered, Laura got a call from Jim Tier, a financial officer at Koons. There had been an arithmetical error, Jim announced, and Koons would be mailing Laura a $1,000 check that very afternoon . . . . Even better, the call came on Laura's birthday. "I think she went out and partied," says Jim, who adds that Art Valentine, the assistant office manager, first eagle-eyed the mistake . . . . Wish I could say that every dealership would have done what you did, Koonsians. But until I can, I say: Bravo . . . .

You want to know what gripes me? People who say eck-cetera gripe me . . . .

You want to know what gripes Marilyn Weissman of Annandale? People who make appointments for job interviews and never show . . . . Marilyn was auditioning household help last week. Two applicants said oh-yes-oh-sure-you-bet I'll be there. They weren't. And no calls to say so, of course . . . .

You want to know what gripes Sally Tom of Annandale? Ignorance on the hoof, as demonstrated by a phone-answerer at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta . . . . Sally is going to Thailand soon, so she called CDC for information about shots she'll need. The operator asked where Sally lives. "Near Washington, D.C.," Sally replied . . . . The operator proceeded to give her a phone number in Area Code 206. "Wait a minute," said Sally, "I said Washington, D.C., not the state of Washington. They aren't the same, you know." "Well, I wouldn't know about that," the operator said . . . . Well, why wouldn't you, Ms. Employe of a National Organization? A little geography never hurt anyone, as my fourth-grade teacher used to say . . . .

'Twas intermission at Wolf Trap one recent evening, so everyone made a beeline for a phone to check in with the baby sitter . . . . Trouble was, there were only two phones within eyeshot of the seats. And one of them was being occupied (and occupied, and occupied) by a reporter who was dictating a story to the home office. A line 25 deep resulted. Most of those people missed at least 15 minutes of the second act. . . . . Can't there be an understanding among reporters that they will not monopolize phones in such situations? . . . . Sure, reporters have deadlines. But a good reporter anticipates a deadline and lines up an out-of-the-way phone ahead of time so he or she A) won't incovenience the masses and B) will be sure to have access to a phone at the critical time . . . . Similarly, a caring parent recognizes that "Everything okay? Good!" is enough of an exchange with the baby sitter when others are waiting . . . .

Beth Wiggins is my latest nominee for the college of cardinals . . . . Beth works a customer service desk at a downtown branch of National Bank of Washington. A customer who looks an awful lot like me approached her the other day to ask a question . . . . Beth was on the phone when I arrived, which would mean Heel-Cooling Time anywhere else. But Beth popped whoever-it-was on hold and asked if she could help me. She could, she did -- and she is a sterling example of what customer service should mean (but so seldom does) . . . .

Thank you, R.F. Goodacre of Springfield, for one of the best belly-rumbling laughs I've had in ages . . . . Brother Goodacre mailed in a clipping from a New Orleans paper. Seems that city is going to require that every New Orleans cabbie go to charm school for four hours . . . . Was Mr. G. suggesting that we try the same scheme here in D.C.? . . . . It would never work, R.F. Our drivers wouldn't be able to find the school . . . .

Hats off to the gang at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School for rolling up their sleeves -- and for puncturing a cliche . . . . Guckeyson Memorial Stadium at B-CC has never had permanent lights. A lot of people think that should be no problem in Montgomery County, where everyone is born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a silver BMW in his garage. Just dig into the kitty, the clichemongers would say . . . . Well, even in Money-gomery County, the kitty doesn't contain enough silver for stadium lights. So the B-CC community has been fund-raising for lights for months now. They are about halfway to their goal of $70,000 . . . . Any B-CCers with a few nickels to spare should spare them in the direction of Sydney Tredick, 656-4906 . . . .

You gotta love Metro . . . . There's a sticker affixed to a Metrobus sign at Connecticut Avenue and Chevy Chase Parkway NW, alerting the wide world that schedules will change on Feb. 19, 1978 . . . . Gives you a nice, warm, up-to-date feeling about our bus lines, doesn't it? . . . .

And finally, from Ben Willis: The most important things in life aren't things . . . .