By Mordechai Schmutter


Welcome back to “How Should I Know?” — the column that four out of five doctors recommend as a way of dealing with insomnia on Friday nights.

Dear Mordechai,

How come some people feel the need to blast their music while driving, so everyone walking by on the street can hear it?


Dear E.,

When the ice-cream man does it, you don’t complain.

Maybe these people are selling ice cream. I say knock on their windows and ask. You won’t know if you don’t ask.

Unfortunately, though, it’s usually Shabbos when we notice that people are doing this, and we can’t buy ice cream anyway. This is why many people take to yelling, “Shabbos!” after these cars.

Most of these are just people who bought cars that nebach — due to some kind of manufacturer’s error — have the speakers installed on the outside. So they have to make the music loud so they can hear it inside the car with the windows closed.

It’s generally not Yidden who blast their music like this. When a Jew goes to the mechanic, it’s like, “Can you make my car make less noise?” not, “Can you have it make more noise?” Unless the purpose of this noise is to cover up the other noises.

Because yes, we get the feeling that a lot of people are doing this on purpose. I mean, we’ve all met people who are afraid to be alone with their thoughts. These people can’t even be alone with their thoughts when they’re driving. They have to interrupt their thoughts with music, and they can’t do that alone either. Everyone in the area can’t have thoughts.

Or maybe they’re just nice people, trying to share their music with the neighborhood. Haven’t you ever heard a good song that you want to play for someone, but they keep saying that they don’t have time? You don’t really have time to listen to music either, so you do it while you’re driving. So why not have all your friends hear it while you’re driving? Even if they’re in their homes.

I say this because these people always seem to be sure what song they want to play. They drive by, and they’re playing a song. You never hear them driving by while flipping through the stations to find something they like. And they never blast commercials.

What I would like to hear coming from their cars once in a while, especially on Shabbos, is the news. Or the weather — that would be really convenient. They’d drive by on Shabbos blasting the weather, and you’d say, “Oh, it’s gonna rain! Maybe I’ll bring a coat to shul.” Then you can yell, “Thank you!” But they won’t hear you, because by then they’ll be busy blasting the traffic report.

Dear Mordechai,

Who came up with the “Happy Birthday” song?


Dear Y.,

Clearly, someone who once forgot a gift and had to come up with a song on the spot, off the top of his head.

“Oh, we were supposed to bring gifts?”

“You didn’t bring one?”

“No-yeah, I wrote a song.”

“Let’s hear it. We’re about to bring in the cake.”

“OK, um … Here goes…

Happy birthday to you … (OK, I’m off to a good start, everyone’s still smiling)

Happy birthday to you … (Everyone’s making a face; I’d better change up the next line)

Happy birthday, dear … wife’s name, (Shoot! What rhymes with my wife’s name?)

Happy birthday to … you.”

“Is that it?”

“No, there’s more. Um ….

How old are you now? …

How old are you now? …

How old are you now? …

How old are you now?”

“Any more?”

“No, now you take over.”

“You don’t actually know how old I am?”

“No, it’s part of the song.”

“Why don’t you just count the candles?”

And someone else there was thinking, “Wow, what a great song! Can I reuse this? I have a birthday party next week.”

“No, I’m going to charge massive royalties.”

And somehow, before he knew it, this song became literally the most commonly sung song in the world. Though it’s not one you’ll ever hear blasted by a car driving through your neighborhood.

Dear Mordechai,

If I’m laying down $15 for a sandwich, shouldn’t they build it in a way that everything doesn’t go flying out the back?


Dear C.L.,

Well, if you think about it, whatever comes out is a nice little meal for when you’re done with the sandwich itself, and a reason for you to take the free forks. Inexperienced sandwich buyers say, “Eh, it’s a sandwich; I’m not going to bother with forks,” and then they have to pick up pieces of avocado with their hands.

That’s why they give you the coleslaw — so you’ll pick up a fork. The coleslaw is never good. Only about 50% of all bought coleslaw is worth eating, and you can be pretty sure that whatever bulk label-less coleslaw they’re buying and scooping into tiny containers too small for your fork is not one of the good ones. But you take a fork anyway, because you never know when they’re going to change up their coleslaw suppliers to some other huge cement-mixer-type truck labeled “slaw.”

So it could be that they design the sandwiches that way on purpose. For some reason, though, we have the opposite problem with ice cream. You get a cone with this nice big scoop, but then, below this one scoop, the entire cone is empty. Yet there’s somehow also ice cream leaking out through the point. So how come the sandwich toppings retreat as you take your bites, but the ice cream doesn’t sink down? Are you eating your ice cream faster than gravity? I know I am.

It’s not like the sandwich professionals have taken any major steps to correct this issue, other than allowing you to take, for free, a lifetime supply of napkins. Most of them try to take care of it by wrapping the entire thing in paper before cutting it in half, paper and all. This would be like if you made your kids a sandwich in the morning, put it in a sandwich bag, and then cut the sandwich bag in half before putting the two halves in another sandwich bag.

And don’t give me this toothpick business. Yeah, the toothpick holds it together. But once I take out the toothpick, I’m still in the same pickle. (Not literally. The entire pickle came out on the first bite.) Am I supposed to eat around the toothpick and only take it out at the end, and then use it to pick my teeth? Shouldn’t they put the toothpicks at the back of the sandwich? Why are they in the middle? Am I supposed to pick the sandwich up by the toothpick and eat it like hors d’oeuvre?

There are definitely ways to construct sandwiches so they don’t fall apart. I think you want to put absolutely all of the toppings exactly in the middle of the sandwich and put nothing at the ends, and whatever you don’t eat in that first monster bite can start sliding toward the back.

Or, when you’re eating it, you can alternate your bites — take a bite from the front of the sandwich, then a bite from the back; a bite from the front, a bite from the back. Just keep pushing the toppings back and forth. The paper does not make that easy.

They can also try putting things in your sandwich that create friction, such as rock salt.

According to researchers, however, the fault of this issue doesn’t entirely lie with the people making our sandwiches. Part of the issue is how we hold them — eight fingers on top yet only two thumbs on the bottom, both of them close to where we’re taking our bites. There’s zero support in the back.

So the best idea, obviously, is to hold the sandwich exactly like that — eight fingers on top, two thumbs on the bottom, and to feed it to the person across from you. And at the same time, he feeds you yours. (Well, maybe not exactly the same time.) Sandwiches are a social food anyway; you might as well eat them socially.

Wash your hands first, of course. And maybe wear masks.

But what the researchers recommend is that you put your pinkies under your sandwich, supporting it from the back. And then have someone else give you a swig of your drink. See, the British think that the classy way to eat is with your pinkies up so that you at least have two clean fingers that you can use to open doors and turn on the sink, but in the meantime, the rest of your arm has dressing running down to your elbows.

At least they have a way to hold their onion rings.

Have a question for “How Should I Know?” Make sure it’s something I can sink my teeth into. Otherwise, it’s like squeezing toothpaste.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of seven books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


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