If reading is so discouraged, why can Montag pick up a book and read it, right off the bat? It's been a while since I've read the book - although this would be an appropriate time to do so again- an I don't remember whether this was explained.
Speaking of re-reading favorites, it's obvious to me that the towel guy I was remembering must have been Ford Prefect, as has been suggested. However, it was a pleasure refreshing my memory, especially because I discovered the origin of the story about the guy who had insisted he spent time acting as a chauffeur to a family of ball points.
I'm still trying to track down the story that explained why you would have an abundance of one common item, followed by a scarcity of that item and a superfluity of another. It was hypothesized that there was an (alien?) life form that looked like a paperclip (or safety pin) in its larval form, a hanger in its juvenile form and a bicycle in its adult form, or something like that. I seem to remember it ending with someone falling over bicycles in the hallway of his apartment or rooming house. Admittedly, my memory isn't the best, but I'm pretty sure I didn't imagine it completely. Maybe it was Fritz Leiber but if it is I haven't found it yet.
" When you see a difference in a person and can find only wickedness in it - you and them - the 'them' become fair game, not people anymore but obstacles to the greater good, and it's always open sweason on 'them'"
from Court Of The Air by Stephen Hunt