The last quarter of the 20th century gives me a pain.

Take Judge Harold Greene, for instance. He's the guy who broke up the telephone company and ruined telephone service and my equanimity. According to a profile in The Post, not only has he no remorse, but also he says the whole thing was inevitable. Nonsense. Shredding the company was the quintessential act of this era: It wasn't broke but they fixed it anyway. So prices are up, no one knows who to call for service, and when they do come, they say you called the wrong people but they charge you anyway.

Resultant fantasy: The president decides to name Judge Greene to the Supreme Court. The call, however, cannot be completed because of circuit overload.

Or take the book stores. They used to be nice places where the mention of an author's name drew no blank stare; where a question about what to buy Aunt Sue for Christmas brought forth a wealth of suggestions; where there were candies in a jar and a coffee urn snuggled in a corner for use by the regulars; where the owner was -- gasp -- educated and might respond gleefully, when you asked for Trollope, that theirs was a respectable place, not a bawdy house. Nowadays you get discounts and dimwits not even familiar with the best-seller list. They respond to questions with "If we have it, it'll be over there" and an airy wave of the hand in the general direction of the North Pole.

Resultant fantasy: licensing for booksellers. Only English majors need apply.

Or take those stores with a gum-chewing teeny- booper at the door who says, between pink bubbles, "Gotta check your briefcase." "Why?" you ask. "ause you think I'm a thief," you mumble, Christmas spirit gone and the thought forming that if they think you're a thief, you can darn well be sure they are.

Resultant fantasy: enter with briefcase handcuffed to wrist, claiming it is full of classified documents.

Or the good old boys from Detroit, who howl to Washington to limit foreign car imports. These are the ones who brought you fender fins and rear windows that do not open; who eliminated straps to hang onto while their behemoths wallow and sway along the road; and who cut out the nifty little flipper windows that permitted you to direct fresh air onto your fevered brow.

Resultant fantasy: all Detroit car designers condemned to spend eternity riding in one of their own creations.

Even the banks have lost their sense of propriety. In the old days, if you wrote a bad check, they would hit you with a service charge. Fair enough. Today, if a customer gives you a bad check and you deposit it, they charge innocent you a service charge. And the beat goes on. Your auto demands you fasten your seat belt or remove your keys. Magazines shed little pieces of cardboard like dandruff. Your phone rings off the hook at dinner time with unguent-voiced salespeople asking what your income is and if you want to know about tax shelters.

Resultant fantasies: not fit for a family newspaper.