Mirrorless Stadium Bathrooms, Greeting a One-Handed Person, Crosswords for Lefties?

By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dear WeisenHeimers:

So I finally went to my first Nats game at the new stadium. I loved everything about it, including our nosebleed seats. But when I went to the commodious bathroom in our section, I was surprised to find there wasn't a mirror in sight. I heard they have them in the fancy-seat restrooms. What gives?

With a mustard-stained shirt,


Joe: Mirrors encourage people to linger and obsess over how they look. This leads to overcrowded restrooms. Dan insists that this is primarily a problem in women's bathrooms, but he doesn't want to say it because he will receive many angry letters from women accusing him of being sexist.

Dan: Okay, listen. Ask anyone which sex, on average, spends more time in front a mirror in a public bathroom. It's women. Right, ladies? You'll admit that. It's not a bad thing. And it's not sexist to observe that. Do not send me angry letters.

But, yes, Joe is correct. Both the men's and women's bathrooms at Nationals Stadium are mirrorless to promote toilet turnover. "What we want is folks to get in and get out," says a club spokeswoman. "We want to expedite the flow."

Justin: Now that is a great quote. I think I know what our motto is going to be next week.

Hey, Wise Guys:

I know you definitely are not etiquette experts, but do you know the proper way to greet someone who is missing a right hand? Do you shake the person's left hand? If someone is missing two hands, do you just give a quick wave?

Left-Handed Phil

Justin: It is not improper to wait a heartbeat and follow the person's lead. Different people, depending on their circumstances, will handle this in different ways. Some with no right hand may extend their left; those with a prothesis for a right hand may extend that.

When a person's disability makes any handshake impossible, as was the case with a college buddy of mine, remember that body language and eye contact are the most powerful part of any greeting, handshake or no. The most important thing is to be comfortable and genuine. A handshake should be used as a personal greeting or farewell (except when it's being used to assert dominance, but that's beside the point here) and shouldn't become a cause of angst.

Dan: I once met a guy with a hook for a right hand. He was sure to offer his left hand before I had time to contemplate what to do. If you meet a one-handed fellow who isn't so considerate, then just go for the bear hug. But then be careful that he doesn't vigorously pat you on the back with his hook.

Dear Wise Guys:

I enjoy doing crossword puzzles for the mental challenge, but the challenge of working with a right-handed format frustrates me. Why can't puzzles be presented in an agnostic way so that lefties and righties have equal frustration with it?


!dlrow eht elur elpoep dednah-thgir esuaceB :eoJ

Dan: Joe is actually correct, in a backward kind of way. I shot an e-mail to Will Shortz, the maharajah of puzzles and editor of the New York Times crossword. He confirmed that, because of space issues, a crossword must be laid out to favor either right- or left-handers, and the right-handers win because there are more of them.

"At the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which I direct every year, the page layout, as usual, favors right-handers," Shortz writes in an e-mail. "Lefties can lose precious seconds if their hands cover some of the clues as they write. To remedy this problem, we give lefties two copies of each puzzle -- one for reading of the unobstructed clues, the other for filling in. In this way lefties and righties solve on an equal basis. In everyday solving, though, where speed doesn't matter, lefties just have to muddle through."

!ssenisub ni su peeK .srepap owt yub tsuj dluoc uoy rO :eoJ

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* This week's motto was submitted by readers Charlotte and Nancy Steinecke of Laurel.

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