It's always stunning to return to your car and discover a starchy, pink parking ticket flapping in the breeze. But what if you returned to your car and found two? For the same offense?

That's what happened on June 25 to Nora Stuart Donn, of Northwest Washington. If she had parked her car illegally for a couple of centuries, the second ticket might have been justified. But one of Nora's tickets was written at 4:26 p.m., and the second was written at 4:35 p.m. Nora was understating it by a couple of kilometers when she called two zings within nine minutes for the same offense "unreasonable."

Tara Hamilton of the D.C. Department of Public Works had another word for the two tickets: "mysterious."

She and her staff checked into the episode and could not figure out why the second ticket had been issued. "One ticket for one violation is our policy," Tara said. "All I can think is a mistake was made -- an honest mistake."

The city issues a second ticket in only one situation: a car parked at an expired meter for more than two hours. In that case, each two-hour period constitutes a separate violation, and more than one ticket is sometimes issued, Tara said.

However, Nora Donn had not been parked overtime beside her red meter for more than a few minutes. And Tara's investigation revealed that different ticket-writers had issued the two tickets.

Perhaps the second writer didn't notice the first ticket? Tara agreed that that was possible (if hard to justify).

In any case, Nora Donn has already donn (ouch!) what she should have to fight back. She has written to the Bureau of Traffic Adjudication to protest Ticket Number Two. The adjudicators haven't waived that "pinkie" yet. But they'd better. Parking injustices don't get much more open and shut than this one.

Montgomery County cable TV shot itself sharply in the foot on July 21.

The station ran the following ad between 5 and 6 p.m. that evening. Elisabeth Hardy, of Bethesda, was so stunned that she ran for her Polaroid, took a quick-pic of the evidence and mailed it to me.

The ad read:


Jason Parks, of Annandale, reports that his car broke down last Friday night on Little River Turnpike. So he placed a few flares behind the car and lit them.

The first car to come past was full of teenagers. The young people stopped, piled out and started singing, "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you . . . ."

Gary Goldberg has this unsettling thought for the day:

Fifty percent of all doctors graduated in the bottom half of their medical school classes.

Speaking of the medical world . . . .

Marshall McKnight, of Bowie, was contemplating surgery. His doctor voted yes. But Marshall was unsure. He asked the doctor if he should seek a second opinion.

"Why not?" replied Marshall's doctor. "Come back tomorrow and I'll say it again."

The surveys say that Americans are short on heroes these days. But we Washingtonians are lucky to have Heroes.

Heroes Inc. is a 26-year-old organization that provides financial aid and counseling to the families of local public safety officers who die in the line of duty. Unfortunately, Heroes has never been short of customers. It has helped 133 dependents in 117 families over the years, at a time when spirits and finances were about as low as low gets. Many beneficiaries have told me that the support they received from Heroes -- both economic and emotional -- made more difference than any other.

Heroes has never had a year when it hasn't added at least one new name to its roster. This year, the new member is Cpl. Harry Kinikin of the Prince George's County Police, who died this year of injuries he suffered in 1987. But Heroes was right there for his family. And it'll be right there for other families if the need arises.

Heroes Inc. was started by members of the local business and law enforcement communities. Both groups continue to offer their support. But to keep up its work, Heroes depends in large part on contributions from the public.

Isn't it worth a few of your dollars to assure that public-safety families are taken care of in their time of greatest need? Please make your check payable to Heroes Inc. and mail it to P.O. Box 1860, Washington, D.C. 20013. All contributions are tax deductible.