Ellen Aaron used to live in Arlington, Va., 22206 . . . . The other day, she discovered that she now lives in Arlington, Va., 22206-1715 . . . .But she didn't learn her new Zip Code from the post office. She learned it by accident from her latest phone bill, which had been zipped with nine digits instead of five . . . .Aren't the postal people ever going to reveal nine-digit Zips to all customers? No, says public affairs general manager Jim Van Loozen . . . ."When the program began four years ago, there was concern on the part of the public and in Congress," said Jim. "So we deliberately chose not to let people know. Whoever wants to get their new one can. They can call their postmaster's office and give their name and address and they can find out." . . . .Mighty bizarre marketing strategy, ain't it? . . . .Can you imagine McDonald's coming up with a new, improved hamburger -- and then choosing not to tell the public about it? . . . .
Beware the landlord with sticky fingers . . . .A Takoma Parker calls to say he went to check out an apartment in the neighborhood the other day . . . .He liked it, and said he'd take it. The landlord demanded a $400 deposit. The prospective tenant wrote a check on the spot . . . .A week later, our guy's all set to move in when the landlord suddenly "forgets" all about him, all about their earlier visit and all about the check . . . .By now, it's too late to stop payment, natch, and the landlord is ducking phone calls like a pedestrian in the middle of K Street at rush hour . . . .Word to the wise: Either date the check a week hence, or get a separate receipt . . . .
Take a bow, John Stern . . . .Fannie Shoock of Silver Spring has just elected herself president of your fan club . . . .She came outside the other day to discover a note flapping under the windshield wiper. "Sorry," it said, "my car door hit your car on the right side. Send me the bill." The signature and address were John's . . . .This good and gentle soul was simply obeying the law, of course. But how many others would do so? . . . .By the way, Fannie has not sent John a bill, and will not . . . .The dents were minor, she says. But the kindness was major . . . .
John Gable of Arlington is trying to make me dewy-eyed with nostalgia . . . .He went to visit a doctor on upper Connecticut Avenue not long ago. As he left the office, there in the middle of the street was a hubcap from a Packard . . . .Take it from Grandpa Levey, kiddies. The roads were not always full of Toyotas and Datsuns. Packards used to be the No. 3 seller in America in the 1930s and 1940s . . . .But not since. And that's why John suspects his "find" will be difficult for whoever lost it to replace . . . .He'd like to reunite the rightful Packard owner with his rightful hubcap . . . .John's at 979-3646 . . . .Warning to con artists and those who smell a quick buck: There is a special mark on this hubcap, and if you can't tell John what it is, you might as well save yourself the price of the call . . . .
There they were, at the Smithsonian Metro station: Dad with the Polaroid slung across his shoulder, Mom with the D.C. map, Brother with the BIG LEAGUE ALL-STAR jacket and Sister with a miniature panda doll . . . .You could peg them for tourists from 100 miles away . . . .You could also do them a large favor, as Bert Lynch of Arlington did . . . .Bert noticed that it was 9:29 a.m. as the family was about to enter the subway . . . .He pointed out that they could each avoid the rush hour fare if they waited just two more minutes . . . .Since the family was heading for a hotel in Bethesda, that piece of advice saved them considerable buckaroos . . . .But why make tourists depend on the Berts of this world? Shouldn't Metro erect large signs at the stations tourists use most often, warning them of the two-tier fare structure? . . . .
You say you just spent 10 grand on a new car? I hope you don't think you bought a solid piece of steel . . . .According to an industry publication, the average new American car contains 161 pounds of plastic. By 1995, that figure will grow to 172 pounds . . . .It sure wasn't that way in the era of Packards, folks . . . .
The holidays are about to bring throngs to our shopping centers again. And many throngers will continue to drive Karen S. McDaniel of Largo crazy by parking in the fire lanes . . . .Karen says she sees this every time she goes to Kettering Plaza near her home. She could see it at any other plaza, too . . . .Fire lane parkers are not only breaking the law; they're making it even more difficult for motorists to see pedestrians than it is already . . . .Maybe these scofflaws won't change their ways because a typist asks them to . . . .But then again . . . .
Architecture critics have no mercy . . . .How else to explain the guy who took spray paint in hand and changed a sign along I-66 from "Dulles Airport" to "Dull Airport"? . . . .
And finally, Joy Jamison of Northwest defines the joy of motherhood as the feeling a woman gets only when the kids are all in bed.