By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Dear Wise Guys:
What about those people who enter an elevator after you and push a button you've already pushed?
Dan: People who do this are fundamentally unable to trust anyone but themselves. Even though you've hit the button for the lobby, they insist on pressing it again to maintain a level of control over the situation.
Joe: That's why I do it. I like to be in charge.
Dan: Also, an elevator is a tense environment. You can't just walk in and do nothing. Pressing a button, even if it has been pressed, releases a tiny bit of tension. It's an action that says, "I'm here, and I'm choosing this floor myself. I'm going to stand here and ignore you, and we're going to remain calm." Double-pressing an elevator button is a sure sign that the person is weak. Exploit that weakness by demanding their wallet. Make sure you do this before you hit the lobby.
Joe: If you really want to exert power in an elevator, get on and stand facing everyone else. Or sit on the floor. No one will know how to respond.
D ear Wise Guys:
We have five acres enclosed in an invisible fence to keep our large dogs off the street and driveway. The dogs know the boundaries by a chime in their collars, and the little training flags are long gone. But other animals seem to be aware of the boundaries, too. Not just the cats (who know everything), but rabbits, groundhogs and deer graze right outside the invisible fence line, even with the dogs nearby. How in the world do they know the boundary lines?
Dan: Cats are telepathic. Groundhogs can smell electricity. Rabbits talk to groundhogs, so they know what's going on.
Joe: Dan just drank half a bottle of cough syrup, so I better take this one. The real answer is that there's not a whole bunch of stupid animals out there. And that's not my opinion, that's a direct quote from Don Moore, associate director for animal care at the National Zoo. He should know, right?
Another thing, Moore says, is that dogs are descended from wolves and, like them, they mark their territory by leaving their scent along the perimeter. Wolves rarely venture into territory that isn't their own, and deer (and other animals) are aware of the boundaries, so they feel free to cavort in these safe havens.
Moore studied deer for his PhD and told me that even if we don't see them, deer are always watching us. That creeped me out.
Dear Wise Guys:
I just returned from a road trip to Canada with my children. It seems as though 99.9 percent of the time when a deer is killed by a car, the deer is on the side of the road and not lying in the lanes. I know the drivers are not getting out of their cars to carry the carcasses off to the side. Why does this phenomenon occur?
Inquiring Mom in Olney
Joe: This one's easy. Deer are generally acknowledged as the most considerate of all mammals. There is a genetic code passed down through thousands of years that teaches them that if they are unfortunate enough to get hit by a car, they should drag themselves to the side of the road, where they can die peacefully and not inconvenience drivers. (For the record, I ran this theory by the National Zoo's Moore as well, and even though he wouldn't back me up, he couldn't point to any evidence to the contrary, so I'm sticking by this.)
Justin: Now it's Joe who is into the cough syrup. Not to be argumentative, but I think it has more to do with good Samaritans or police who simply pull the deer to the side of the road until they can be dealt with.
Joe: Well, I think the readers can decide which of us is right.
Dan: As if being right has anything to do with any of this.
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* This week's motto was submitted by reader Dan Klein of McLean. Have a question only the Three Wise Guys can answer? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and await their words of wise-dom.