Thoughts while shaving:

What this town needs is a good, cheap shoeshine. I'd even settle for one or the other. But for the last couple of years, I've consistently found neither.

Here's what you get for

No reply when you say "Good morning."

A copy of The Washington Post from which the sports section has been lifted.

A guy sitting next to you who asks if you're from Washington. When you admit that you are, he announces that he's from Ohio, and do you know any way he can get in to see Ron and Nancy at the White House that evening? The kids would sure enjoy it.

A guy sitting on the other side of you who's smoking a cigar -- at 8:15 a.m. It's a beastly habit at any time of day. It's an inconceivable habit at that time of day.

The shine itself: guy starts by pouring a puddle of white goop on the center of both toeplates. How white goop shines black shoes you'll never understand, but you decide to be patient.

Indeed, patience proves to be a virtue, for the guy proceeds down the line, white-gooping the shoes of all four of his customers.

"Hey, wait a minute, I was first," you point out. "I'll have you out of here first," replies the gooper, snidely.

Then come The Neglected Sides. The guy does a bang-up job on the toeplate and the toe, but all he does to the sides and backs is to whip a cloth across them, indifferently and once each.

Finally, the guy takes a toothbrush, dips it in inky water, and paints the ridge of each sole. This accomplishes approximately what stepping into a puddle would. But just as you're thinking about pointing this out, the guy signifies the end of the shine by slapping the underside of your right toe.

You hand him $2.50. He doesn't say thanks.