Welcome back to “How Should I Know”, the column in which we attempt to answer people’s questions and hope they don’t take our advice seriously and ruin their lives.


Dear Mordechai,

Why do some people only shovel a six-inch-wide path in the snow when at least 50% of the people trying to pass are sitting in double strollers? 

Double-Stroller Driver

Dear D.S.,

Firstly, I think you got your math wrong.  Sixty-seven percent of people trying to pass are sitting in double strollers.  If it’s a double stroller, that means there are two people in the stroller for every one person pushing.  If you’re only pushing one child, you should really consider using a single stroller, unless you have a lot of groceries.  Pushing a single child in a double stroller is just going to cause people to constantly come over to you and ask if someone fell out.

The basic answer to your question, though, is that:

  1. They’re not shoveling for you. They’re shoveling to avoid a ticket. True, shoveling the sidewalk in front of their house makes it easier for them to walk, but that’s only for about a minute at a time, and to make this happen, they have to spend an hour standing in snow.  It’s not really worth it.  So primarily, they’re doing it to avoid getting a ticket. And whoever gives out tickets isn’t walking around with a double stroller.  And that said,
  2. This is how wide their shovel is. Six inches, apparently.

That said, the real question is: Why doesn’t someone invent some kind of snowplow that you can mount to the front of a double stroller?  Aside from how much snow would pile up on your kids, that is. 

They should at least make ski attachments.  Unless they’re worried about hills.

(In that case, 100% of people passing will be sitting in double strollers.)


Dear Mordechai,

My wife and I can’t decide where to go out to eat.  Where should we go?


Dear Starving,

I don’t know.  Where do you want to go?

You’re asking me to make your decision, right?  So that neither of you have to?  Fine.  How about Chinese? 

“I don’t know; we just had Chinese.” 

Who cares?  The whole point of eating out is that you don’t have to make the food!  If you go to someone’s house for a meal and they serve Chinese, do you say, “Oh, we just had Chinese”?  Also, it’s probably very insulting to dismiss an entire country like that.  Do you think the people in China sit around, going, “Again?  We just had Chinese.”

You’d think this would not be a big deal.  This is not really a decision that will impact the rest of your life.  And with any decision that will, you both have opinions and you’re unrelenting.  But for this, you’re freezing up?  Where did you guys ever eat before you found each other?

The truth is, though, that the whole reason you’re going out to eat, especially if you don’t have a specific place in mind and your entire idea is, “Just not at home,” is not just that you don’t want to make supper; it’s that you don’t want to figure out what to make for supper.  90% of the stress in making supper is figuring out what to make, and you don’t have the mental capacity at the moment to make that decision.  If you could decide what you want to eat, you would just make it.  So instead, you want to spend time figuring out where to go, getting there, and then reading the menu several times to figure out what you want to order with your entire family AND a stranger pressuring you to decide already. 

So what you really have to do is change the question.  Next time, instead of asking your wife where she wants to eat, smile and say, “Guess where I’m taking you!”  Then go to the first place she guesses.


Dear Mordechai,

When I’m in a public place and I feel an urge to sneeze, should I let go and sneeze loudly, or should I stifle it, making only a tiny noise?  Which one is more appreciated by the people around me?

– Cold Stricken

Dear Cold,

Clearly the stifled noise is more appreciated, especially if the people around you aren’t wearing raincoats.  No one hears a loud sneeze and says, “Whoa! I appreciate that!”

A loud sneeze can also scare people if they don’t expect it, which is why experts recommend that you say, “Achoo!” Because if you think about it, the “A” part isn’t necessary.  You can sneeze just fine with only the “choo”.  The “A” is to let people know it’s coming. 

  Though it could come back to bite you, like when you go, “Aaa… Aaa…” and then the sneeze doesn’t come, and everyone looks at you like, “Why did you say, ‘Aaa’ for no reason?  We all ran for cover!” and you have to go into a whole explanation.  It’s either that, or pretend you’re starting mincha. “Aaa… Aaa… Ashrei yoshvei veisecha…”

I’m not even sure in the first place why it’s okay to sneeze in public.  There are so many bodily noises that are basically harmless, but they’re still considered rude and people will comment on them, but sneezing can cause an epidemic and no one cares, as long as you aim it in the basic direction of your elbow.

Though what are you supposed to do when you’re about to sneeze – jump up and run into the bathroom door with your eyes closed? 

So society in general has been looking the other way, with the understanding that if you’re about to sneeze near us, you should look the other way.  That’ll stop a plague.  Sometimes people turn their heads so as not to sneeze in front of them, and they sneeze directly on the person to their right.  So if you’re someone I know, I would advise you to stifle your sneezes. 

Doctors advise against holding in a sneeze, though, but I bet if they’re sitting next to you, it’s a different story.  According to doctors, holding in a sneeze is not healthy.  But on the other hand, sneezing is not healthy.  Sneezing is not exactly the epitome if health.

So I would say you should only hold in a sneeze if people can see you doing it and appreciate that you’re putting yourself at risk for them.  If no one sees you – for example, you’re in a cubicle – just sneeze.  That weird little noise you make stifling it will just confuse people. 


Dear Mr. Schmutter,

I’m in your high-school English class, and my parents just got home from conferences.  Why did you give them a bad report?

– Anonymous, obviously

Dear Anonymous,

I don’t understand what you’re asking.  The bad report is the reason I gave them the bad report. 

We are not bros, here.  I did not betray your confidence in revealing that you’re disruptive in class.  I’m not going to have your back and keep it a secret from your parents so you can keep doing it.  I don’t like you enough to do that.  You know why?  Because you disrupt my class.  Whose side do you think I’m on here?

Teaching is a business, and the customers are your parents, not you.  They’re paying me to force knowledge into you against your will, kicking and screaming, so that they don’t have to do it themselves and damage their relationship with you until you get to the part of your life when you say, “Hey, I did need some of that knowledge, it turns out.  Who taught it to me, again?  I don’t remember.” 

And if they’re not getting what they’re paying for because you’ve decided, “What is that – free knowledge worked into my daily schedule since I’m here anyway?  Nah, I already have more knowledge than I need,” then they need to know.  Especially if you’ve made an executive decision that no one else in the class needs any more knowledge either.

Yelling at the teacher afterward for giving your parents a bad report isn’t the way to get a good report.  Try this: How about not giving your teacher anything bad to tell the parents?  Don’t give him material!  What’ll he say then, huh?  That’ll show that jerk.  That’ll teach him for trying to teach you stuff.  In the afternoon, for crying out loud.  What next?  The evening? 

Have a question for “How Should I Know?”  Try to send it in the mornings.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia, a monthly humor columnist, and has written six books, all published by Israel Book Shop.  He also does freelance writing for hire.  You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.