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By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, January 6, 2008

Have a question only the Three Wise Guys can answer? Send it to wiseguys@washpost.com and await their words of wise-dom.

Dear Wise Guys:

The other evening while driving home from work, I was stopped at a light in the right lane behind one car. When the light turned green, about three cars in the left lane went through the intersection while the car in front of me didn't budge. I flicked my brights, and the driver moved forward. After about 30 feet, he slammed on his brakes, causing me to come about three inches from hitting him while almost getting creamed by a Metro bus behind me. How should I have reacted?

Brian

Joe: I'm the wrong person to ask. When I was in college I was sitting at a red light in Philadelphia, and as soon as the light turned green the guy behind me leaned on the horn. I put my car in reverse and gave his car a solid bump and drove off. Not my proudest moment, but it felt good at the time. I can't still get arrested for that, can I?

Dan: As Joe reminds us, there are jerks out there. Flicking your brights was a courteous reaction to the driver's inattentiveness, but you should not have reacted to his or her sudden stop. Trying to one-up an idiot motorist only leads to trouble. The only proper retaliation would have been to call in the car's license plate number to the police after you removed yourself from the situation.

Or you could have made a note of the license number and complained about him or her on PlateWire ( http://www.platewire.com), launched by Vienna resident Mark Buckman, 33, in May 2006 to provide a forum for venting and social accountability. "There's been quite a few complaints about people using their vehicle as a weapon," he says. "It's an entitlement attitude. What makes them think they're better than anyone else?" We don't know, but publicly shaming their plate number might be the first step toward more cordial roadways.

Joe: Did Dan just call me a jerk? Hey, pal, I'll see you outside.

Dear Wise Guys:

Why do ads for watches and clocks always show the time as 10:10? I have asked everyone who should know, including people who work in clock stores, but no one can answer. My theory is that it makes the watch dial look like a smiley face. Any guesses?

Jeff

Justin: Sometimes it takes forever to dig up a reliable expert to answer a hard query. Sometimes you are related to them. Monica Fetty, who was once a retail-display designer for Fossil, is also my cousin. "The answer is relatively simple," Monica says. "If you did a casual survey of all of your friends' analog watches and set them to 10:10, you would notice it highlights the company logo perfectly." Then we chatted about our holidays, but that's not really your business.


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