Chivalry does not always end as well as its intentions begin. A letter from Kenneth W. Collins of Falls Church explains this quite eloquently.

"I am very tired of reading in your column about how beautiful the world has suddenly become because someone stopped in rush hour traffic to wave some elderly lady over the crosswalk against the light," Ken writes.

"This common practice appears to be unselfishly gallant. But it it really egotistical, rude, dangerous and illegal . . . .

"You may think my view is terribly cynical, so let me tell you how I was converted to it.

"I was driving down the left lane of a three-lane one-way street when suddenly a car crossed a few feet in front of me from the right. I braked as hard as I could, but totaled the other car. My car had several thousand dollars in damage.

"How did the other driver get in front of me? Simple! Some 'polite' driver -- the kind you congratulate for humanitarianism -- waved her out from a "yield" sign. He apparently misguessed her intended route, and she apparently mistook his 'courtesy' for a guarantee of safety . . . .

"So, Mr. Levey, no more commendations for 'polite' drivers. On that day, 'politeness' nearly killed two people. Let's drive safely and legally instead."

You know what, folks? The man has a point. Remember it the next time you have a chance to waive the laws, or heed someone who thinks he can.

I see by the calendar on the wall that April Fool's Day is only five weeks away. That means those fertile little brains out there are cooking up all sorts of ways to amaze, confound and astound. Unfortunately, the results of all that cooking are sometimes entirely too realistic.

Last April 1, I described an episode on Connecticut Avenue in which two April Foolers staged a mock armed robbery. They were lucky that no cops were around to witness the performance. The cops might not have treated a fleeing "robber" with quotation marks.

Happily, not all April Fool stunts are quite so risky. Some are downright delicious -- and the one reported by Adrienne McGeehan of Calverton is Delicious with a capital D.

Adrienne and her husband Alex were traveling back to Calverton from Philadelphia several years ago. They stopped at an I-95 service area in northern Maryland for lunch. It happened to be April 1, but the McGeehans thought nothing of it.

"All of a sudden," Adrienne writes, "two waitresses with heavy trays started to argue.

"One said, 'I saw you leave early last night.'

"The other said, 'What business is it of yours what time I leave?'

"The first said, 'It's my business if I see you meet Bill. I told you if you didn't keep away from him I would push your face in.'

"The other said, 'Listen, can I help it if he decided he wanted someone with a little more class?' "

The first waitress slammed down her tray and started rushing toward the second waitress. Adrienne says the entire restaurant was trying very hard not to pay attention. But they paid plenty of attention when the two waitresses suddenly joined hands and shouted, "April Fool!"

A few minutes later, one of the waitresses was serving coffee to the McGeehans. "We run that routine every hour or so to sort of pick up the pace around here," she told them. Here's hoping we can all be half as clever come 4/1/88.

Here's another Idea Whose Time Has Come, another in a long series of brainstorms without which the world simply cannot continue to spin. Today's is the work of Charlotte Rumsey of Silver Spring.

"If at exactly 11 a.m. (or any other designated time) every single day, each car, bus and truck stopped and the people got out and picked up trash for exactly five minutes, it would soon be cleaned up. And perhaps people would stop adding to the collected mess."

Interesting pair of vanity plates that Christine Stockdale of Falls Church saw near Seven Corners the other day.

The first was aboard a red compact car that was in front of Chris. It read: 1 ONLY 1.

The second was on a cream-colored station wagon that passed her on the left. It read: 1 MOR.

Bumper sticker reported by Ron Hudspeth in The Atlanta Journal:

"Dinner Will Be Ready When You Hear the Smoke Alarm Go Off."