The D.C. parking moguls say it can't, doesn't, wouldn't and won't happen. Bill Hayden of Takoma Park says it can, did, would and has. Since I'm in a forgiving mood, I'll put it this way: My money's on Bill.
The co-star of the show is a guy that Bill nicknamed Fast Freddy. He's one of Washington's meter monitors -- those dashing young men (and women) in the little cars with the little blue lights on top who enforce D.C. parking laws. The only thing that isn't little about their work is the size of the fines they deposit under the windshield wipers of us all.
Now, most of the zings the meter monitors administer are richly deserved. Bill's wasn't. But that didn't stop Fast Freddy.
The scene of the crime was the waterfront in Southwest. Bill was buying some seafood with which to surprise his fiance. He drove down to dockside, found a legal parking space and duly deposited a quarter, which should have gotten him 20 minutes of hassle-free rent.
It took Bill eight minutes to buy shrimp, scallops and flounder for two. But when he returned to his car, Fast Freddy had already struck. And he was in the process of striking the car next to Bill's.
Bill walked over to F.F. and inquired sweetly as to why F.F. had issued a ticket when it was as plain as day that 11 minutes remained on the meter.
F.F. replied, "You musta just stuck a quarter in there." He refused to tear up the ticket, to look at the time left on the meter or to admit that he was wrong. It took Bill half a day of annual leave to beat F.F.'s piece of Pink Injustice. But beat it he did.
To Fast Freddy: It's simple to assume that fish shoppers won't make it back to their spaces before their meters click over to red. It's also simple to do your job properly. Try the latter sometime.
Is our cab industry any better? Not if you ask Joe Gallagher of Springfield.
He hopped into one of Washington's Roving Lost Brigade the other day and asked to go to the northwest gate of the White House.
"Where's that?" came the perfectly serious voice from the front seat.
But here's a gang that ought to go to the halo store for a fitting. They are head housekeeper Martha Hughes, assistant manager Ann L. Brockett and executive housekeeper Alicia Vallejo, all of the Rosslyn Westpark Hotel. They could have walked an inch to help some people who need it. Instead, they walked a mile.
Martha, Ann and Alicia were approached by the Coalition for the Homeless back in February and asked to donate 500 beds, as well as bedding for each, to a shelter for street people. The three Westparkers immediately agreed.
But that wasn't such a big deal, as these things go. Hotels are forever giving away beds they were through using anyway. It's a nice way to do a favor and to claim a tax deduction, in one motion.
The difference in Rosslyn was that Martha, Ann and Alicia arranged for the hotel to pick up the cost of transporting the material. They took it upon themselves to find a truck, too.
Without transportation, a lot of good intentions often founder. I can't tell you how many times people call me to tell me they have every copy of National Geographic ever published, and don't I know someone who wants them? I tell them I know lots of someones who want them. But unless the Geographic Givers have wheels with which to get the magazines to an intended destination, the whole process dies aborning.
That's what made the work of Martha, Ann and Alicia so special. It's also a good lesson for the rest of us. If we're ever involved in a charity collection, it's critically important to arrange transportation, too. As the old saying so accurately puts it, you don't ask, you don't get.
Spring hath sprung in Silver Spring. Say that fast five times. Say that fast three times if you've just had a glass of wine. But don't say it joyfully if you live on a Silver Spring street called Dennis Avenue.
A Dennis Avenue resident who has the bashfuls tells of a gent who could use a few lessons in manners. It seems that every year, he comes past this woman's front yard and snips off her daffodils.
The daffodils are not wild flowers, of course. They are fretted over and fussed at and hoped upon. Each March, they begin to bud. Each April, they explode in a burst of yellow. And about two days after each explosion, the thief comes past with a pair of scissors and performs surgery.
This year, for some reason, there is hope. The creep took 25, but he left three. That may be a temporary condition. Let's hope not.
Regardless, my reader is helpless. "I'd move them to my back yard," she says, "but I don't have one." So we are left with this appeal: If you are reading this, Mr. Daffodil Thief, you are worse than terrible. You're the grinch who stole spring.