Steve Decell says this is a true story:

“I was pumping gas at the Shell station at the Lobdell exit in Port Allen one morning on my way to Lafayette.

“A nice-looking 20-something-year-old young lady in a brand-new Mustang pulled up at the pump behind me.

“She kept inserting her card in the pump, then staring at me several times.

“I realized she was having issues, so I walked over to her and asked if she needed help.

“She thanked me, and said the pump would not take her credit card — she had tried several times but to no avail.

“So I took her card and swiped it in the pump.

“The screen then read ‘Enter your ZIP code.’

“I said to the young lady, ‘You have to type in your ZIP code.’

“Her response: ‘I know! That’s what I kept getting, too. Do you know the Zip code here?’

“Needless to say, it was an amusing drive to Lafayette. …”

(By the way, Steve mentioned the young lady’s hair color, but I don’t see what that has to do with his story. …)

Backward looks

Two comments on baseball cap wearing:

Lucy Neill, of New Orleans, has an answer to a reader’s question about the way some young men wear their caps:

“Wearing the baseball cap backwards is a style drawn from paparazzi, who turn their hats around to make room for getting their cameras close to their eyes.”

(So photographers are now fashion style-setters?)

Roger Wattam, of Baton Rouge, has another view:

“Smiley, here’s the answer to your question of why people wear baseball caps backwards.

“The bill shades the back of the neck from the sun and prevents sunburn.

“Obviously these people don’t want to be ‘rednecks’!”

(No, they want to look like photographers. …)

Sounds of home

Don Ernest, of Gretna, says our mention of New Orleans’ WWL radio “reminded me of my own experience while in the Marine Corps.

“In 1958, I was stationed in the desert at Twentynine Palms, California.

“My duties included radio operations. As you can imagine, there wasn’t a lot to do for fun.

“So, on Saturday evenings during football season, my buddy (also from New Orleans) and I would take a compass reading for Baton Rouge, set up a long wire antenna and attach it to our radio.

“At night, WWL broadcast at 50,000 watts and clear channel. If the weather was good, WWL came in loud and clear.

“With ‘liquid refreshments,’ we cheered on the Go Team, the White Team and the famous Chinese Bandits.

“Seems we never had a problem, not even with our CO — he was from Lake Charles.”

True confession

As our recent frigid weather hit Baton Rouge, LaNell recalled this sad but true cold-weather story:

“The cold front moving in reminds me of a few years ago when I lived in Alexandria and got snowed in. But I laughed about it.

“The first day, I ran out of anything to eat, and I told myself I had been needing to go on a diet anyway.

“The second day, I ran out of something to drink, and I said, ‘Oh well. I’ve been saying I was going to quit drinking!’

“The third day, I ran out of cigarettes, and I put some overshoes on, pulled out the heaviest coat I had and walked down to the Circle K.”

Nice People Dept.

Margo Gauthier says, “Last week, my friend and I went to Panera Bread for breakfast, and a very nice man opened doors for the two old ladies.

“And when we picked up our breakfast, the cashier said the gentleman had paid for it.

“She would only tell us his name was John, and we did catch him to say thanks, but I wanted to add him to your ‘nice people’ list.”

Slow-draw Frank

“You know I’m in the generation of retirees when I now have time to comment on your column,” says Susan V. Himes.

“After reading the comment from ‘Generic Cajun’ Carrol Jordan about cheap friends, I had to add my two cents.

“My cohorts and I had a favorite watering hole to release the stresses of working in the bank.

“When the bill would arrive, we would all put up money — except one guy, Frank.

“He would look at what was on the table and say, ‘Oh, that’s plenty.’

“He never managed to get his hand out of his pocket, and was ultimately nicknamed FISHHOOK FRANK.”

Susan gave me the gentleman’s last name, but I am refraining from using it, in case he (1) doesn’t have a sense of humor and (2) is bigger than me.

Attention, PBS!

Shooter Mullins says, “Here’s a fine idea for a new Cajun sitcom.

“It would be called ‘Downtown Abbeville.’ Couldn’t miss.”

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.