Here's how lousy life can get. Reporting first, a bereaved resident of Northeast Washington. Reporting second, the pediatric oncology clinic at Georgetown University Hospital.
The bereaved Washingtonian is Clarence Fletcher Sr. He was sad, with good reason to be that way. He buried his son two weeks ago, at Harmony Memorial Park in Landover. As he left the cemetery, he left "a big family spray and a bleeding heart" beside the open grave.
When Clarence Fletcher returned the next day, the flowers were gone. He happened to glance at several nearby plots. There were the flowers -- a few on this grave, on few on that.
"You bury someone in your family today and go out there tomorrow and someone has stolen the flowers," laments this father. "It's terrible."
Cemetery spokeswoman Barbara Loukota said there are no security guards on the premises and no plans to hire any. If flowers are reported stolen, the police are notified, she said. However, there are no reports on file of any arrests, according to the Prince George's County Police.
Perhaps the police could give this situation a closer, more regular look. Granted, we aren't talking about grand larceny here. But we are talking about a crime that could hardly be more cynical, or more discouraging to a certain father who already has more trouble than a man should have to bear.
In the same week, I got a phone call from Ellen Toomey, of Foggy Bottom. While she was a patient at Georgetown Hospital, she took a walk one night past the bulletin board in pediatric oncology. Tacked up there was this sign:
"Please return Nintendo. No questions asked. The kids really miss it."
Ellen asked around and discovered that a Nintendo set that had been used almost constantly by young patients had disappeared from the clinic's waiting room in July.
What kind of louse steals a popular, precious game from kids who are seriously (and probably terminally) ill? No one knows for sure. And as clinic staff nurse Donna Oishi pointed out, it might even have been a hospital staffer.
"It's so infuriating that someone actually broke into a cabinet to take it," Donna said.
Happily, enough people have seen the sign in the last three months -- and have kicked in enough money -- that pediatric oncology has been able to replace its Nintendo. However, the staff is still looking for additional basic Nintendo systems and additional game cartridges.
If you have a few kicking around that your kids no longer use all that much, you're urged to send or bring them to the Lombardi Cancer Center, Pediatric Oncology Clinic, 3800 Reservoir Rd. NW., Washington, D.C. 20007.
Clever, whopper excuses for why a bill hasn't been paid? I figured Levey readers should be good at inventing those, and the mail indicates that I was right. Here are the best of the lot, in response to my request of last week.
I was too busy. It was my cat's prom -- Marcia Amos, of Columbia.
I graduated from college in 1982 and my mail was mistakenly forwarded to my roommate in Hawaii -- Cathy Trybul, of McLean.
The dog took a bite out of my software -- Bobby Brown, of Springfield.
Your bill arrived on a day when a few letter-bomb scares were in the news, so for the safety of my family and myself, I threw all the mail out -- Marty Madden, of Prince Frederick, Md.
It looked like a tax bill to me -- Dawn Bailey, of Vienna, on behalf of Leona Helmsley.
I was deer-hunting when suddenly an eight-point buck blindsided me. He pierced my left jacket pocket, where the bill was, and ran off into the woods -- Karl Bowling, of Fredericksburg.
I made the bill into an airplane and it was hijacked to Cuba -- Angela Stout, of Springfield.
I was performing my duties in the legislature and couldn't pay my bills until after returning home from this elective responsibility -- Larry Genebach, of Amissville, Va.
I didn't send it Overnight Express, so the post office will deliver it eventually -- Louis Cambardella, of Bowie.
I only sign the checks. My husband pays all the bills -- Chlorinda Russo, of Northwest Washington, in honor of Eleanor Holmes Norton.
I accidentally used the accounting principles that are used by our national leaders -- Dale S. Brown, of Northwest Washington.
That was the day Phil Donahue had a show with a reincarnated Elvis Presley as the guest. I was so absorbed that I forgot to mail the check for three days -- Trina Crittenden, of Seat Pleasant.
My accountant is on a cruise -- Sandy Bentley, of Annandale.
Finally, a pair from Manuel DeLucca, of Burke:
I was converting my calendar watch from Gregorian to Julian.
It was too close to the turn of the century.