Three Wise Guys: Chatting Up Women on the Metro, Name This Decade, "Call 911" Signs on Cabs

By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dear Wise Guys:

So here's the scene: I'm in a suit or shirt and tie, looking professional, and I strike up a conversation with one of the many attractive women riding the Metro. We're chatting, and it's going well, but then: "This is my stop." "Here's my e-mail address; shoot me an e-mail and we'll continue this conversation." "Okay," she says, smiling, sometimes with a handshake. Then I go home and . . . nothing!!!! No e-mail, and I never see this person again.

So my question is: Why don't women e-mail guys after they have a great conversation with them???? What's up with that, G???? And if you get many responses from the D.C. ladies on this, can you forward them to me?

Stymied in Springfield

Joe: You mention you were wearing a suit or shirt and tie, but there's no mention of pants. Being approached by pantsless guys creeps women out. There's also this, G: Many "D.C. ladies" do e-mail men after they've shared a lovely chat. But while you may have thought the conversation was great, maybe the feeling wasn't mutual. Or maybe they just think that there's something unsavory about a guy who's regularly hitting on women on the Metro. I hate to be this blunt, but here's the bottom line: If you haven't heard back, they're just not interested. Seriously, try wearing pants. It can't hurt.

Dan: Actually, we may have a match for you. Remember Tanja, one of last week's letter writers? She also was a hysterical punctuator. With your question marks and her exclamation points, you guys have a lot in comma. We'll hook you guys up via e-mail(!?).

Dear Wise Guys:

What is the name of the decade we are in? Is it the 0s ("the zeroes"), the 00s ("the double-oh decade" sounds so cool and James Bond-y!), or are we just in the clunky-sounding "first decade of the 21st century"? My friends and I were trying to figure it out the other night, and since we didn't like our ideas, we thought you could help.


Dan: There is no accepted name, but plenty has been written on the subject. "The aughts" comes up most frequently, but I prefer the Brits' "noughties." Perhaps history will label this decade accordingly, but I think we're going to be left with something bland like "the turn of the century." The U.S. government should've auctioned the naming rights and donated the proceeds to the Social Security fund. That way we could be living in the Googles or the Glad Press'n Seal Wraps and maybe feel a bit calmer about our chances of retiring before age 85.

Joe: Based on the way things have gone so far, I nominate "the oh-nos."

Dear Wise Guys:

What's up with the light on the top of D.C. cabs that says "Call 911"? My theory is that the cabbie lights it up if he's being robbed so passersby or other cabbies will call the cops. My friend's theory is that it is to remind people that in times of emergency, don't take a cab, call 911! There's a lot riding on this. No pressure.


Justin: You win; your friend loses (and, really, that's a crazy theory). Though the origin of the "Call 911" lights is clear (the D.C. Cab Commission instituted their use in the early "oh-nos" after a rash of driver-targeted violence), their effectiveness is less certain. Even the experts aren't sure. Cab commission officials could only confirm what I already knew about their origin. And the D.C. police shed little light. Officers Israel James and Junis Fletcher graciously informed me that the police simply don't keep statistics on 911 calls prompted by the lights.

"I'm not saying [the lights] aren't useful," Fletcher says, "but we don't have any information on them."

This is starting to sound like the sort of shadowy government program that turns into an intensely researched book. And if I know anything about journalists who write exposés on esoteric subjects of limited public interest, it's this: They usually end up on "The Colbert Report." I think I just planned my summer vacation.

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