ROUTESPolice in Hammonton, N.J., charged David Middleton, 34, with stealing a 40-foot commuter bus from a NJ Transit garage in Orange, N.J., in March and taking it on a 110-mile joyride. Along the way, he picked up two passengers, charged them the correct fares and let them off at their stops. Hammonton police Lt. Robert Jones said his patrol cars spotted the bus leaving the Garden State Parkway some 100 miles to the south of where Middleton started, then chased the bus for 3-1/2 miles before Middleton stopped and surrendered. Jones said Middleton explained he took the bus because "he needed a ride home."An unidentified bus driver in Zimbabwe was transporting 20 mental patients from the capital city of Harare to Bulawayo Mental Hospital when he stopped at an illegal roadside liquor store. According to South Africa's Financial Mail, he returned after a few drinks to find that all the mental patients had escaped. He stopped at a regular bus stop and offered free rides to several people, then delivered them to the mental hospital. It took the abducted passengers three days to convince hospital personnel of the switch.John Doyle, 42, a truck driver for Barton Sand & Gravel of Maple Grove, Minn., failed to yield the right of way and hit a school bus, killing three elementary school children and himself. Later that day, Doyle had been scheduled to receive an award from his employer for 10 years of safe driving.George Musgrave of Eastbourne, England, was fined for parking on a yellow no-parking line 50 years after Britain adopted his suggestion that yellow lines be painted on the sides of roads to designate areas where vehicles could not park. "I don't blame the traffic warden," Musgrave said. "It is one of those ironies."Texas state Rep. Tommy Merritt introduced a bill that would allow motorists to buy "speeding coupons" from the Texas Lottery Commission. "It's a method for motorists to voluntarily penalize themselves for the extra fuel they use when they speed," Merritt said, explaining that motorists would pay $15 to $100 for coupon books, depending on the number of coupons desired, then anytime they're caught speeding less than 10 mph over the limit, hand the officer a coupon to get out of the ticket. Grapevine Police Chief Tom Martin called Merritt's bill "the dumbest idea I've heard in my public service career."CURSES, FOILED AGAINBaltimore police responding to a robbery at a Signet Bank branch found Jeffrie Thomas, 35, a few feet away from the bank counting cash. When bank employees identified him as the robber, officers interrupted his counting and arrested him.Steven Richard King II, 22, was arrested in Merced, Calif., for trying to rob a Bank of America branch after witnesses said he stepped up to a teller's window, held his finger out like a kid playing cops and robbers, pointed his "gun" at the teller and demanded money. The teller told King to wait and walked away. After King got tired of waiting, he headed across the street toward another bank, according to police Sgt. Gary Austin, who said King jumped over the counter and tried to get the key to a cash drawer, but an employee grabbed the key and told him to "get out of there." Police found him hiding in the bushes outside the second bank.OLD HABITS DIE HARDThe day after Philippines president Fidel Ramos declared April 12-18 national punctuality week to remind Filipinos they had to break the national habit of being late to have any chance of becoming globally competitive, Ramos himself showed up an hour late for a Red Cross anniversary celebration. He blamed his tardiness on Tiger Woods's win at the U.S. Masters golf tournament, having risen at 4 a.m. that day to watch the match on television, then gone back to bed after Woods won. "My aide gave me a frantic call on the telephone because apparently I overslept,'' Ramos said.OLDIES BUT GOODIESAn attempted carjacking in the St. Louis suburb of Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mo., ended when the 57-year-old attacker got punched out by his 77-year-old intended victim and cut himself with his own knife. "I told one of those nice officers that if I'd have had a few more minutes, I would've really kicked his butt," said the woman, who asked that her name be withheld.In Albany, Ga., a 17-year-old boy armed with a .38 pistol approached car dealer Oran McGlamry, 74, and demanded his wallet, announcing, "Old man, I've got you now." Recognizing the youth as the same person who robbed him the day before, McGlamry grabbed his weed trimmer and rushed towards the robber. The surprised teen tried to run but fell, whereupon McGlamry gave the trimmer full throttle and began whacking him in the buttocks. "I was just trying to do what any other man would have done to protect his business, his wife and his life," McGlamry said.Two armed men tried to rob store owner Liza Mouawad, 75, in London, Ontario, but fled empty handed after she slugged one of them in the head with a large can of tomatoes. "I worked hard for that money," she said, "and nobody is going to take that from me."In Moses Lake, Wash., Dorothy Cunningham, 75, and Marty Killinger, 61, reported that someone knocked on their door, asking to use the telephone. When they opened the door, four youths forced their way into the women's home and demanded their car keys. While Killinger argued and struggled with the intruders in the living room, Cunningham got her Luger from her bedroom, then ordered them to leave. The young men ran outside but continued taunting the two women until Cunningham fired four shots over their head. "I'm not afraid of guns," Cunningham said after the suspects were arrested, "and I know how to use them."PUSHED TO THE LIMITIn Fort Worth, Texas, Frederico Perales, 52, a computer specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration, stabbed his wife once in the chest in front of his two children, who called 911. According to police Lt. Mark Krey, Perales became irate because the family "started eating before him."Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.