Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Doris Bartorillo, Baltimore: I had to laugh when I read your column about the Bank of Baltimore and that vice president who said that customers had to write out their checks right or it wasn't the bank's fault.
Well, I bank at the Bank of Baltimore and this month I couldn't balance my checkbook because it kept coming out $1.60 off.
Finally, I found it. I had written a check for $36.08, but the bank had paid it out as $37.68. It was their mistake.
I had to fax them the check and they took care of it, but it's a laugh when they say customers are responsible for getting things right. How about when they don't get things right?
COMMENT: It happens all the time. Banks are staffed by human beings (at least most of them are) and human beings make mistakes. At least you take the trouble to balance your checkbook every month. I am amazed by those people who don't bother and simply take the bank's word for it. That's like throwing money away.
But all is not lost. There is hope. Read on.
Marion Buchman, Baltimore County: The morning that your column appeared on my troubles with the Bank of Baltimore, a Mr. Steve Nestor from the bank called and said the bank was crediting my account with the $1,070 the bank owed me.
Though my family has banked there for three generations, I was going to quit. But now I am thinking of staying. What do you think?
It really wasn't the money. It was the principle of the thing.
COMMENT: I think you should stay with the Bank of Baltimore. When corporations screw up, they should be criticized; and when they do the right thing, they should be rewarded.
In this case, the Bank of Baltimore did the right thing. And though I know you feel like you are only getting what you deserve, you should probably write the bank a thank-you note.
As to your last comment, I believe in what Abe Martin once wrote: "When a fellow says it hain't the money but the principle o' the thing, it's th' money."
Besides, principle don't pay the rent; money do.
Patricia Anne Dowling, Annapolis: I still darn socks. I do it on expensive wool socks that cost too much to replace every year. I also repair handmade socks, which deserve such care.
The process is called "Swiss darning," which is simply following the yarn of the original knit pattern with new wool in a darning (blunt pointed) needle.
A "darning egg" (any smooth, hard, rounded object -- formerly wood or a dried gourd, now plastic, though you could even use a hard-boiled egg in a pinch) is placed inside the sock to assist in picking up only the stitch you want and not stitching the sock together.
It usually takes about 15 hours to reinforce a sock with a small hole, so I don't do it for money.
COMMENT: Fifteen hours? No wonder our grandmothers always looked so tired.
Mary Beth Hall, Conowingo: I would like to suggest an interesting topic for you: the abuse of the posted speed limits by the enforcers.
When is the last time you've seen an officer observing the speed limit? You're lucky to see the blur of the car as it speeds by.
I've become so sick of being penalized by the worst offenders that I recently took the tag number of one that rode my bumper and then passed me doing 70 mph at the minimum in a 55-mph zone.
I asked one officer, one time, why they could speed yet ticket civilians. His response, honestly, was, "We have to get to a destination in a quick time."
Do you think that response from a civilian would stop an officer from writing a ticket? Ha! Ha!
I'd appreciate your expertise on what citizens can do to have the law enforcers follow the same law we do.
COMMENT: OK, try this. The next time you call the police, say:
"There is a very large man who just broke through my picture window and he's got a big gun and a very nasty expression on his face. Please get here as soon as possible, but do not exceed the speed limit."
And if that's what you really want, that's what you really ought to get.
Carolyn Crittenden, Elkridge: For months, curiosity compelled me to buy one of those beaded car seat thingies that taxi drivers use. But frugality compelled me to resist such a purchase.
When the price plummeted to a mere $9.95 plus tax I broke down and said: "What the hey!"
Evidently many of my friends were just waiting for someone they knew to take the plunge and buy a beaded car seat thingie because I have had numerous inquiries as to the benefits and comfort level of the beads.
To answer their question and yours: The jury is still out.
In all honesty, I may be equivocating because I was the dummy who actually went out and bought the thing and I'm stuck with it. Oops: I'll bet you can figure out the real answer from that, can't you?
One other thing: Since the advent of the disposable diaper, not only has it been acceptable to change baby in public, but seemingly it is OK to leave the soiled diaper next to your car in the grocery store parking lot. That kind of practice kind of makes filing your fingernails in public look like no big deal (as long as the nail-filer is chewing a big wad of gum with his/her mouth wide open.)
Enough fun for today. I am a loyal reader and you're not even in the same section as the funnies.
COMMENT: Originally, my column was supposed to run on the funnies page right beneath Mother Goose & Grimm. But the editors figured nobody could stand that much hilarity early in the morning.