Quick takes . . . .

The Brooks family may have beaten the odds, but, please, please, don't you try the same thing . . . . Tommy, age 5, had finished his first day at a new school: George Mason Elementary in Alexandria . . . . His babysitter, Cheryl Newkirk, was supposed to meet his school bus when it let him off at 12:40 p.m. . . . . At least that's what Tommy's Mom, Carey, thought when she read the bus schedule. But somehow, the bus left Tommy off at 12:15 instead . . . . So there's Our Boy, wandering through a strange neighborhood, all by himself, when a car stops, and a man offers Tommy a ride. Which Tommy accepts . . . . But this one ends happily, thank heavens . . . . The man had seen Cheryl frantically searching the neighborhood on foot, and had offered to help. He reunited Tommy with Cheryl in a matter of moments . . . . So all's well that ends well. But it's time to trot out The Nevers again . . . . A kid should never, never accept a ride from a stranger. Or should we put it this way? A kid should accept a ride from a stranger as often as Carey Brooks will misread a school bus schedule again . . . .

Anybody got an electric typewriter or an IBM personal computer (plus business software) they don't want? Barbara Chambers Children's Center on Irving Street NW would love a donation of either or both. Call Paulette Saunders at 387-6755 if your heart is made of gold (and your accountant is desperately hunting for tax deductions) . . . .

That's a nice bit they're running this Friday at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel, 1143 New Hampshire Avenue NW . . . . To thank D.C.'s cabbies for transporting so many of their patrons over the last three years, the hotel will give a box lunch to each cabbie who drops by between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. . . . . One lucky hacker will also take away a grand prize of 500 one-dollar bills . . . . Wags are saying it'll be the first time a D.C. cabbie has ever been able to change $5 . . . .

Northern Virginians and Prince Georgians: it ain't on the level . . . . A con man is calling people in these two areas, claiming to represent The District 22-C Lions Eye Bank. He asks for a donation, then offers to come by and pick it up . . . . Eye Bank spokeswoman Lila Asar says that neither the Eye Bank nor the area's Lions Clubs solicit funds by phone. So if you hear from this guy, tell him you're on to his game . . . .

Dear Metropolitan Police Chief Maurice Turner: You're the guys who uphold the laws, right? . . . . Then why is an unmarked detective cruiser parked illegally at Fourth and F Streets NW every single day? . . . .

If You Weigh It, Flaunt It Dept. . . . . Mort Diamond of Bowie reports being stirred to attention during a recent trip up the New Jersey Turnpike . . . . A "rather obese gentleman" with New Jersey plates zipped past. Once he had, Mort saw his tags: YMIFAT . . . .

You would think that with all the rate increases they've had, the post office would have a standard, effective way of reducing lines and confusion in light of the move to 22 cents . . . . But not only have local P.O.'s not added any extra personnel at booths, they've also done a spotty job of letting customers know about shortages . . . . One reader says he stood in line for half an hour the other day, in search of two-cent stamps. Only when he reached the window did he learn that they were temporarily out (and out of ones, too) . . . . Couldn't somebody have taped a sign up in the front window? . . . . And couldn't supervisors work the windows during lunch hours at busy branches? . . . . When I made my trek to buy 22s and 2s, to the branch on 14th Street just south of I, at 12:30 p.m., only two of five windows were open. Of course, the lines were halfway to the corner . . . . But I could see two supervisors in the back, laughing and joking . . . .

The engagement ring's inscription reads: "Joe to Marion, Nov. 30, 1940." It's an exact copy of Joe's West Point ring. And Marion Gurfein lost it a couple of weeks ago, in either the Backlick or the Ravensworth Shopping Center . . . . "I at least still have the wonderful guy that goes with the ring," says Marion. But she'd like her prized possession, too . . . . If you have it, or find it, call me at 334-7276, and I'll arrange to have it returned, no questions asked . . . .

Baseball fans are nuts. New York Mets fans are certifiable . . . . As the first shout of "Play Ball!" nears, Metmania is gathering force . . . . It'll probably spill all over the place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Cleveland Park library, Connecticut Avenue and Macomb Street NW . . . .There and then will convene The Eddie Kranepool Society, Washington's unofficial Met fan club . . . .Anyone with or without a Queens accent is welcome. Further info: Bob Doherty (289-1700) . . . .

And finally, Martin Buxbaum's answer to the question: What's the best thing about retirement? . . . .Says Bux: Waking up, seeing six inches of snow on the ground and knowing you don't have to call in sick . . . .