The gas crisis has had one thing in common with other crisis we've been through. It has brought out the best and the worst in people.
Isabella B. Krey furnishes this example: "It is 7:30 a.m. and I am wrting this while sitting in line for gas near the Exxon station at Connecticut Avenue and McKinley Street. I have been here since 6:50, and it is chilly. The pumps will not begin operating until 8.
"A few minutes ago, something nice happened. A handsome young man came along with cups of coffee, cream and sugar. His name is Rick Neumann. I asked if he was connected with the gas station. He replied, 'No, I'm waiting in line, too. It's a bad situation and I'm trying to make it a little better.'"
S. Fleisher offered a different kind of report: "At 7:15 this morning, a late model, light-colored Cadillac with Maryland tags and a Barwood taxicab cut into the first block of a three-block-long gas line in Silver Spring. The two youths were obviously together because the youth driving the cab went up to the Cadillac and handed him a newspaper."
The cowardly District Lion actually turned back an interloper. After I had spent 45 minutes in a line, Mr. Bigshot tried to force his way in front of me. For a moment, there was an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation. Fortunately, he blinked first.
My car is six years old, his looked new. I was ready to risk a fender, he wasn't. He backed out and drove away amid much cheering and tooting of horns.
The most outrageous report of the month comes from a genteel woman who finally got up to the pumps after a wait of 1 hour and 15 minutes and was refused service. "We're selling only to our regular customers," she was told. Grrrrr!
The gas shortage is Topic A in my mail now. Many letters are critical of Congress for failing to "do something." There has also been criticism of the special privileges congressmen vote for themselves. A letter from Mattie Kalinosky of Pisgah, Md., put it this way:
"I hope that many readers will write you expressing their opinion about the article in The Post on Thursday, 'Gas Pumps on Hill Cater to Wheels.'
"It is a sad story when our 'great' leaders take advantage of their jobs, like Speaker O'Neill and the others mentioned in the article.
"Are they really entitled to these things? There are many thousands of people who live on much less than a congressman's salary, and it is a shame the leaders have such privileges."
Yes, Mattie. It is also a shame that so many people stay at home on election day instead of making it their business to vote, rain or shine.
When I get to be president, I'm going to sponsor an amendment to the Constitution forbidding people to criticize the government unless they have voted in the most recent election. Anybody who doesn't take the trouble to vote the rascals out will have to shut up and keep his complaints to himself.
We also need a law that forbids government officials to escape the effects of the laws they enact. Congressmen should be required to fill out their own income tax returns, whether or not they understand the tax laws they passed. No congressman should be permitted to have an aide sit in a gasoline line for him. No special parking privileges should be accorded them. In short, they should be required to try to survive under the same conditions they think are good enough for the people who elect them.
If we had rules of that kind, you can bet that Congress would get off its collective duff and produce better laws faster.