Have you ever plunked your foot down in soft, muddy earth? Slowly, irresistibly, the foot will sink into the goosh. Which is exactly what was going on for several years down at the Jefferson Memorial.

That important bastion of local history was built on land that had been reclaimed from the Potomac River. The land is very much on the gooshy side, which means that over the years, the memorial had settled. Result: its steps had gotten out of kilter.

Lee Cassidy of Northwest noticed this last summer when she drove some out-of-town friends to the memorial to have a look. While they went inside, Lee stayed in the car. But as she watched tourist after tourist mount the western steps, Lee noticed that about one out of every three tourists tripped.

Lee decided to do a little investigative reporting. She got out of the car and started climbing the steps, keeping her eyes on Thomas Jefferson as she went (which is what most tourists do). Sure enough, on Step Three, she nearly went sprawling.

"This step is considerably higher than the rest," Lee wrote. "I think this poses a real threat to the safety of tourists, especially elderly ones."

Threat nullified, Lee. Seems the National Park Service finished a major two-year realignment of the Jefferson Memorial steps just after you wrote me.

Each step is an 8-inch by 12-inch by 6-foot block of granite, said Park Service spokesman Earle Kittleman. Each step weighs several thousand pounds. Each was reset so that no step is higher than any other. "It was quite a job," Earle noted.

Thanks to the Park Service for keeping such careful tabs on its public structures (which it usually does better than just about any other public agency). And thanks to Lee Cassidy for noticing and caring enough to write. That's what gets things fixed in this world. Cursing the darkness doesn't.

You will want to go get the scrapbook and the paste right about now, ladies and gentlemen, because this is a column to save.

Levey is about to admit that he was wrong.

He was invited to do precisely that by dozens of readers, all of them suburban women who shop frequently at Giant Food stores. They objected to the advice I gave a few days ago to a reader who was being driven nuts in the grocery by other people's misbehaving kids.

The reader said she'd had enough of kids pitching fits when Mom wouldn't buy them the "correct" ice cream or the "cool" hair spray. Even in well-bred Bethesda, she had seen kids knocking cans off shelves for giggles, the reader said. She asked Levey if he had any brilliant ideas.

Levey suggested that the reader go up to the Mom of the tantrum-chucker and say: "Listen, I know this might be difficult, but could you please try to keep your child under control? This is a public place."

From "A Mother With Children": "If this person were to walk up to me and tell me the obvious, he would get a purse in his face or a quietly slipped foot to trip him as he went past. I may even help my child shove a shelf of cans over on him. I'm just kidding, of course. But I would resent this type of interference."

From "Bethesda Mom": "Young children are not like dogs that, properly trained in a month or two, should never give offense. They are human beings with their own wants and free will. Developing self-restraint is a developmental step like learning to walk or talk. A mother (or father) can no more order a 2-year-old child to stop a temper tantrum than they can order a 1-year-old to start speaking in complete sentences. If a parent could prevent unacceptable behavior in a child as easily as {you} seem to think, don't you think that parent would do so?"

From Elisabeth Bissell of Springfield: "A grocery store is not a place of quiet meditation. Children come with the territory . . . . I think compassion rather than criticism is the answer here."

From Laura Jones of Falls Church: "The last thing I need is some intolerant busybody informing me she doesn't care for my child's behavior. Neither do I! But I am struggling to teach him . . . . I think you should suggest that {my reader} have a little tolerance, and realize that these 'monkeys in a zoo' will be paying her Social Security some day."

Ladies, you have carried the day. Uncalled for advice, no. Quiet sympathy, yes.

I hope there was no connection. But I got a large laugh out of the possibility that there might have been.

The top press release in an envelope from George Washington University Medical Center requested volunteers for a study of male-female relationship development.

The bottom press release requested volunteers for a study of congestive heart failure.