Thoughts while shaving . . . .

I always pay in cash when I buy gas, so from a strictly selfish point of view, I'm delighted by the growing number of gas stations offering discounts to the likes of me.

But I'm bothered on a theoretical level. Not everyone who buys gas (or anything else) with a credit card is a profligate soul with no sense of when to stop spending. Lots of people use credit cards because it's easier to pay one bill at the end of the month than 15 bills throughout the month.

Also, it's much more convenient to have a receipt if you must submit expense accounts. Also, it's not always a great idea to carry cash with you, criminals being the creatures of opportunity that they are.

Also, a credit card transaction is literally cleaner. Have you ever studied the change that gas stations give you? The bills look as if they've been run over 100 times by the starting backfield of a high school football team. The coins are dripping grime. Yuk!

I can well understand the cash pinch in which gas station owners find themselves. How would you like it if you had to pay your supplier up front for the gas you sell, but then had to wait for at least a month before the supplier made you whole for credit card sales? I'd do whatever I could to encourage cash sales, too.

But station owners are missing a solution that's tried and true. Why not run their own credit operations, the way the corner grocery used to do?

This wouldn't solve the entire cash-flow problem. If your gas station sat beside the Beltway, and three-quarters of your business was transients, you'd have to be a fool to say to a driver whose car had Nebraska plates: "Sure, send me a check when you get back to Omaha."

And even if you had a clientele that was largely from the neighborhood, lots of corner grocers have gone broke waiting for nice old Mrs. Jones, who wouldn't hurt a fly, to pay up.

Still, most people are basically honest. And most people would feel more inclined to pay a local guy who's as poor as they are than an Exxon or a Gulf, who deal in zillions . . . .

Among the many sins of TV news, this one is the most aggravating:

Heading into a commercial, the anchorperson will say: "Coming right up, a look at panda pregnancy."

So you sit there. Until the ad is over. And the news is back on. Only to discover, time after time, that the first three stories the anchorperson then reads have nothing to do with panda pregnancy. By the time the anchorperson finally provides the poop on pandas, you're ready to commit a far more violent act than changing the channel.

What are TV news producers so afraid of? If they deliver the news, night in and night out, people will watch. If they don't, people won't. "Teasing" viewers into staying tuned, and then not delivering the goods, is the surest way to assure that viewers won't stay tuned . . . .

If you have a little love to spare, go administer some to the person in your office who handles airline bookings. If that person is still sane, that is. Deregulation may have sent him or her around the bend long ago.

I chanced through the Capital Hilton the other day. In the lobby, several major airlines have ticket offices. My eye caught a poster that advertised Los Angeles for $155. Just for giggles, I asked one of the counterwomen about it.

The fare applies only if you leave and return on a nonweekend day, and stay in Los Angeles at least one Saturday.

You can't stop over on the way, even though that airline stops over at stops over at several cities on the way.

You have to pay for the ticket at least seven days in advance.

You have to pick up the ticket at least seven days in advance.

You cannot change your travel plans in any way once you have made them, or the cost of the trip more than doubles.

The $155 fare applies only to certain flights. Which ones? It changes from week to week, the counterwoman said.

Too much for you? Well, you're welcome to book passage to Los Angeles using one of the airline's other fare plans.

There are 43 of them.