His money is in the mail, and after what Eyrick M. Cameron went through, it had better be. Eyrick was just trying to kill a little time while waiting for his meatball sandwich. What he got instead was a classic dance called the Hey-I-Just-Work-Here Shuffle.

The scene was the Venice Pizzeria, a carryout on Connecticut Avenue near the Sheraton Washington Hotel. Eyrick ordered a submarine, saw that it would take a few minutes to fix and decided to try his luck at a video game that was standing nearby.

Down the hatch went a quarter, but nothing happened. So Eyrick asked the guy behind the counter for his money back.

The guy refused, saying he didn't own the machine. Eyrick asked who does. Dunno, said the guy.

Why isn't there an "out of order" sign on the machine? Dunno, said the guy.

Why isn't there a sticker on the machine telling me who services it? Dunno.

Where's the owner of this place? Dunno.

How am I supposed to get my quarter back? You'll never guess what the counterman said.

Eyrick wrote me. After several tries, I got the manager, David Hawa, on the phone. He said the counterman put on the dunno act because he was "probably just trying to get rid of" Eyrick.

But Hawa was willing to make amends. "I apologize," said Hawa. "On behalf of my employes, I apologize, too." Hawa added that he'd send Eyrick 50 cents -- the 25 he lost, and 25 for good measure.

Not only is Eyrick 50 cents richer, but when I dropped by the Venice the other night, the video game bore a sticker telling whom to call if it breaks. If only it were always this easy.