Dec. 28, 2020

Eating Caviar, Imagining Etiquette of the Future, Hiding During Video Conferences, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating caviar, imaging what etiquette might look like in 300 years, turning your camera off during video conferences, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd write you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: How to eat caviar
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: Etiquette in the future
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: Should you have your camera on during Zoom meetings? How do I tell my friend I don't want to hang out at my house? How do I stop a colleague from using two periods to end sentences?
  • VENT OR REPENT: A crosswalk altercation, A brief update
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Leah's new book, A nice email




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


Nick: Do you eat caviar like it's a burrito? Do you keep your camera off during a videoconference? Do you overstay your welcome? Were you raised by wolves?! Let's find out!

[Theme Song]

Here are things that can make it better
When we have to live together
We can all use a little help
So people don't ask themselves
Were you raised by wolves?

Nick: Hey, everybody, it's Nick Leighton.

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: Let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche.

Leah: Let's get in it! I'm excited to know!

Nick: For today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about caviar.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: When was the last time you had caviar?

Leah: [Singing] Let's say never.

Nick: Really!? You've never had caviar?

Leah: I don't think so.

Nick: I think you'd know.

Leah: I'm saying that in case somebody writes in, and they're like, "No, we had caviar once."

Nick: [Giggling] Okay.

Leah: I'll be like, "I totally forgot." [Laughing]

Nick: So, great! Let's talk about caviar! First, what is caviar? Basically, caviar is fish eggs specifically from the sturgeon. There's a bunch of different species of sturgeon, and a bunch of different types of caviar. The most famous you probably familiar with is Beluga. That's the most expensive. Then, there's Ossetra, which is kind of my personal favorite. That's my preferred caviar.

Leah: Hmm.

Nick: Then, there's also Sevruga, and Kaluga caviar. There's all sorts of different types, and there's all sorts of different ways of manufacturing it, and there's different grades. They grade it almost like diamonds, based on clarity, and texture, and taste. Also, like diamonds, there's a huge range in price - $50 an ounce to thousands of dollars an ounce. I think some people are intimidated by caviar because it feels a little fancy, right?

Leah: Definitely.

Nick: It feels a little fancy. You know what? It is. It is a little fancy. It is. I would love to be that person, which is like, "Oh, Nick, what'd you do last night?" Oh, you know, I was just in my PJs, watching some Netflix, having some caviar. It is a special occasion type of thing. It is a special thing because it is so expensive. It's one of those things. I think, if you're going to do caviar, you should do it right. I don't think you'd want to cut corners when we're doing caviar. You're in for a penny, you're in for a pound.

Let's talk about when you will encounter caviar because you'll run across it at various points in your life. There's the type of caviar which will just show up on top of something, like passed hors d'oeuvre at a cocktail party, or you're having a soup at a restaurant, and there's some caviar. We're not concerned about that. Just eat the caviar like it's regular food.

Then, there's traditional caviar service. The way it'll be presented to you is often in its original tin, or it may be in a bowl, and it's usually going to be served over ice. You may be having caviar alone, like if you're on an airplane, it might just be for you, or in a restaurant, maybe you just ordered the caviar, and other people ordered something else. It is often actually something that is shared with other people, as well.

If it's a really good caviar, it's kind of like tequila. You don't want to make margaritas with a really good tequila. You just want to eat the caviar alone. You can just eat caviar on its own. If you're really into caviar - you're like a real professional caviar person - what you'll do is you'll take a little caviar, and you will put it on your hand in between your thumb and the index finger in that little webbing, and you will eat caviar off of your hand directly.

Leah: I feel like you made this up to see if I'll try it.

Nick: [Giggling] No, this is really a thing, but this is very advanced. I mean, can you imagine? Can you imagine if we were at a fancy restaurant, and we're eating caviar, and we're eating off of our hands? I mean, come on.

Leah: I can imagine eating it off my hands. I've done it. I did it with queso, earlier today. I can't imagine doing it in public as a thing to show off.

Nick: No, but real caviar, people feel like this is the best way to experience caviar because your taste buds aren't disturbed by a spoon.

Leah: How did you get the caviar to your hand?

Nick: Okay, so you will technically still need a spoon to get it out of the container, and you will scoop it onto your hand in the little webbing. I do think this is very advanced. I don't think- even for me, I'm not going to be eating off of my hands, and I think for our audience, I think we use spoons.

Leah: It's real deep-end stuff. We're jumping into the deep end.

Nick: Yeah, that's too advanced for us today. Let's talk about the spoon because, ugh the spoon. The spoon in caviar! The spoon is a big deal in caviar world, and you're going to be hearing a lot about no metal with caviar ever! It's like a Joan Crawford wire hanger thing [Giggling] "No metal spoons with caviar ever!"

It is true, there was a fear, way back when, when all spoons were silver, that silver is reactive, and it does react with the caviar, and it can change the taste of the caviar that you're about to eat. So, traditionally, the spoon that you'll see with caviar is going to be mother of pearl, or wood, or tortoiseshell, or some other inert material. You might actually even see gold because that's inert.

Obviously, stainless steel is also an inert material, but because it is the same color tone as silver, it bothers a lot of people. There will be a conversation at the table about like, "Ooh, is that silver? You're not supposed to do silver!" To avoid all of that, traditionally, I would just go with mother of pearl. So, just know that the spoon in caviar, it's a big thing - don't use silver.

Okay, we have our caviar, we have our spoon, which is not silver, and now we have all of these other accouterment around it. If you aren't going to eat it directly off of the spoon alone, because it's good caviar, then you might see toast points. You might see blinis, which are little buckwheat pancakes. You might have some shallots, some eggs, some lemon. You're going to have all these other things.

The idea is you take a little scoop of caviar, like the size of a blueberry, and you can put it on the toast, or the blini, and you eat that, and that's it. Then, you can dress it however you would like. For me, I like a little crËme fraÓche. I take the blini, and I put a little crËme fraÓche down, like a spackle, to keep the caviar on. Then you scoop the caviar onto that, and then you enjoy that. Now, you do not take too much caviar because it is very expensive. Yeah, Leah's now demonstrating how she would ladle the caviar over-

Leah: Yeah, I'm miming a good shovel, a good shoveling [Giggling]

Nick: So, you don't take too much, and you don't roll it up. It is not a burrito.

Leah: Hmm.

Nick: You keep the blini flat. It is also not a sandwich. Don't put two blinis together with caviar in the middle. It's not a caviar Oreo. You also don't want to stir the caviar with your spoon. Don't get into the caviar tin and stir it around. Also, it is not guacamole. Do not dip a blini, or toast into the caviar. We don't do that.

If you're sharing caviar with other people, you'll actually want to take a little bit of the caviar to your plate first, and then, from your own plate, make your little blinis, or do whatever you're going to do with it. Don't double dip into the communal caviar.

Leah: Are we sharing the spoon, or does everybody have their own spoon?

Nick: Often, everybody will probably have their own spoon because, as you're scooping the caviar from your own plate to your own blini, you want something to do that with, so you will have a spoon of some sort. There will be probably an additional spoon, a communal spoon that is going to be in the tin, itself. You'll take communal spoon to your own plate, and then your own spoon to your face.

Leah: Okay. It's a minefield.

Nick: It is a minefield. It's a total minefield. Then, the traditional pairings- a lot of times, you'll have champagne, or vodka. These are very traditional. You do not need to drink alcohol with caviar. You can have water. That's fine. I think other beverages are probably a little trickier to pair, but I'll leave that to other people. That's caviar.

Leah: Wow.

Nick: Right?

Leah: Yep.

Nick: So-

Leah: I feel more ready for my first encounter.

Nick: I think everyone should have caviar once in their life to see if they like it because it's really wonderful. It's a very interesting experience because it's really like nothing else. It'll really kind of take you back through the ages of all these people who've had caviar before you. It kind of feels historical. I don't know. I'm into it.

Leah: I'm excited. I do want you to know that my low-class self-

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: -when you said sturgeon- at the beginning of this conversation, you said they're mostly sturgeon. The song [singing] So urgent! has been playing in my head-

Nick: Okay [Giggling]

Leah: -and I have refrained from singing it this entire time because I was like, "Don't be trashy in the middle of a classy segment."

Nick: Well, your restraint was noted.

Leah: [Giggling][Singing] So urgent!

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: We're back, and now it's time to go deep!

Leah: Very interesting deep.

Nick: For today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about the future.

Leah: [theremin-esque humming]

Nick: Exactly, get your theremin! I've spent a lot of time thinking about etiquette, probably more than I should, and I was thinking, where are we going with this? Where is etiquette going, and where have we come from? So, I guess my first question is, in looking at the arc of human history, are we going in the right direction? Are things getting better? Are we becoming more polite, or no?

Leah: I didn't know that we were going to start with the arc of human history.

Nick: [Giggling] Yes! Yes!

Leah: This just felt, all of a sudden, very depressing. I-

Nick: Yeah, does the arc of the moral universe bend towards etiquette?

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Right? Because, I mean, it does feel like we are not poisoning people. We are not having duels. We are sort of more polite than we were a thousand years.

Leah: We don't have public beheadings.

Nick: Right? I think that's rude. I think public beheadings are rude.

Leah: We aren't burning women- as much.

Nick: I think these are all good things. With the advent of the internet, it is unclear whether or not we are taking a step back, or the internet also allows more bad etiquette just to be heard. If there was a fight in a supermarket parking lot, across the country, we probably wouldn't have been aware of it 50 years ago, but now, we probably could see the video of it happening. That doesn't mean that there's more bad behavior in the world. It just means we're aware of more bad behavior, maybe.

Leah: Yeah, and it's much more- we're more aware of it, and we're more aware of it all the time because we're getting more information 24 hours a day, nonstop.

Nick: Right.

Leah: I personally would very much like to believe that we are moving towards a kinder, gentler world with a bunch of hiccups along the way-

Nick: Yes.

Leah: -that we are going to work on, and dig in, and become better from.

Nick: Yeah, I do think, even though there are days when you're like, "Ugh," I think, overall, the arc is towards a more polite, kinder, empathetic world.

Leah: Understanding more of each other.

Nick: So, all right- well, hard to say where we're at currently, but in the future - let's go to the future. Let's go like 300 years into the future, the Star Trek universe - what is etiquette on the Starship Enterprise, or whatever sci-fi franchise you want to use?

Leah: This is what I think will be very fun-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: -is that, I think, for thank you notes-

Nick: Hmm!

Leah: -you know when you go to those places, and they have- you get to put those outfits on, and you stand in front of like an old prairie home, or like a rodeo picture, and you're wearing like a corset?

Nick: Oh, sure. Sepia tone.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Yes. You get to make those like in your home with your little hologram maker. You just throw on this- whatever hologram outfit you pick from your hologram closet that best suits the gift, or present, or kind thing somebody did for you. Then you throw up a thing, and you make a little hologram, and then you just zap it to them, and then it full-life figures in front of them. You're in your little outfit-themed thing that matches what they gave you, so it's like a thanking theater performance.

Nick: Oh, interesting! With the filters that you get on Snapchat, we're basically there.

Leah: We're so close, but I think this will be happening on our spaceships.

Nick: So, the idea of a thank you note is that obviously we will still have thank you notes. This will not go away.

Leah: No, they'll just be like interactive, performance-based-

Nick: Right. You'll be able to be very thoughtful with your thank you note based on the technology we have. I like that. I think that's not wrong. I think that's probably correct. Yeah. I mean, I was thinking that if we have thank you notes in the future, which I hope we do, that the handwritten thank you note will be even more rare, even more special, because we probably won't know how to handwrite in 300 years. Everything is going to be all verbal only. I thought, if we still had paper, and we still used paper, how special it would be to get a handwritten thank you note.

Leah: Oh, yeah, and I bet people would save them in hermetically sealed boxes.

Nick: Exactly.

Leah: They'd be like, "Come look at this paper with ink on it!"

Nick: What about table manners? Do you think we will still have hands? Will we still eat, or will we just eat nutrition pods? [Giggling]

Leah: Well, I think we'll definitely have hands because one of the things that separates us is that we have our thumbs. I don't think we're going to lose that.

Nick: I don't know.

Leah: I think we'll definitely of hands, but I do think we could probably have just like meal prep bars that we eat.

Nick: Right. We just- nutrition pills.

Leah: I hope not because I love a meal.

Nick: I feel like table manners, there'll probably still be table manners then - I guess the right place, or the wrong place to have your food IV [Giggling]

Leah: We're really just guessing.

Nick: [Giggling] Yes, we are guessing.

Leah: My guess is that people will have- it seems to be in my lifetime, I see people sitting down to meals less.

Nick: That's true. So, that trend may continue.

Leah: I do think people will still sit down to a meal every now and again.

Nick: Okay, so we're going have a dinner party, and we may have food replicators. We may have done away with the cooking part, but at least we'll have food replicators, like on Star Trek, where you can just dial up whatever you want - Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Leah: There it is.

Nick: I guess, at a dinner party in the future, the same rules probably still apply. Like don't criticize your host's programing, or don't bring your tablet to the table, right?

Leah: I think we're going to have to be a lot more heavy handed with that, moving forward.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: The tablets will probably actually be connected to our bodies at that point.

Nick: If we have embedded tablets; our vision involves the television, and the telephone, now, like you could just look through your normal eyes and see whatever it is, I think the same rules should probably apply. You shouldn't be doing that while you're talking to somebody, right?

Leah: I agree with you. I agree with you.

Nick: The same consideration for somebody else's time - that should still apply. I guess, with all of these rules, it feels like the fundamentals are still the same. Even if we don't have thumbs in the future for which we have no more forks, the idea of still having consideration for other people as you're eating food, this still applies, even if the food we eat is different.

Leah: I think that consideration for people is timeless.

Nick: I would like to think it's timeless.

Leah: I would like to-

Nick: I would like to think-

Leah: I'm just leaning in on my hopes in this because the other way we could go is just very depressing.

Nick: That's true.

Leah: So, I'm just going to lean in hard on a hopeful, considerate future.

Nick: Now, what about mothers-in law? Because we get a lot of mail about mothers-in-law. Presumably, there will be mothers-in-law in the future.

Leah: I think the problems are going to be exactly the same. My guess is that that will remain the same. It'll just be like-

Nick: "My mother-in-law comes to my dome on Mars and criticizes my housekeeping."

Leah: "She teleports without telling us that she's teleporting over."

Nick: Totally! That's absolutely the problem of the future.

Leah: I think those will be the same just with better technology. I'm a huge Battlestar Galacticafan.

Nick: Oh, so say we all!

Leah: So say we all! I loved that everybody got called "Sir," and it was very genderless, and-

Nick: Oh, yes!

Leah: As somebody who worked many, many years working in the service industry, I always want to call people- you have to say something to people when you greet them, and it's always a minefield, you know?

Nick: Well, because there was "Sir," which is pretty easy for men, but then there's the "Miss/Ma'am" issue.

Leah: No, but some people don't like "Sir" at all because it makes them feel old. I've had people not like that.

Nick: Oh.

Leah: I'll be at a place where people have called me, "Hun." You know what I mean? People trying to find- the idea that there would just be this one neutral term!

Nick: As a society, we've all agreed on this thing.

Leah: It's "Hey, people," but you're just talking to one person. You know what I mean? That way, it's- I love that idea. Then, as you get to know people- but this way, it's not gender-based. It's not age based. It's not where you are in the world based. It's just a greeting.

Nick: Yeah, I guess one thing about the future is etiquette is, on some level, the script that we all follow; as a society, we've agreed on certain scripts for different situations. When we all follow the script, that's called good etiquette. When somebody strays from the script, that is a problem. Maybe in the future, we will all have more consensus on the scripts that we're using, so there's less confusion about what the proper thing is in all these situations, like the idea of using "Sir" fir everything. We've agreed, as a society, that's just what we use for everything.

Leah: I obviously think we couldn't use "Sir" because we've already been using it for a specific group of people. I think it has to be a word we don't have yet.

Nick: Yeah, no, it's some sound. MMmmm. [Giggling]

Leah: I really hope that's it.

Nick: "Yes, excuse me, MMmmm, is this seat taken?" [Giggling] I'm open to that. We'll test drive that.

Leah: I just really loved that.

Nick: Let's hear it.

Leah: Mmmmm.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay.

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: We're back, and now it's time to take some questions for you guys in the wilderness.

Leah: [Howling]

Nick: Our first question is: "What is the proper etiquette for being on camera when on Zoom meetings for work. If everyone else is on camera, should I be? If I'm hosting the meeting, is it rude to not be on camera? If I can see that someone on camera is clearly not paying attention, is there a polite way to ask them to pay attention, such as asking them directly what their opinion about something is, knowing full well that I would catch them not having a clue with what was being discussed?"

Leah: I do a lot of Zooms.

Nick: Yeah, yeah. Zooming is happening.

Leah: If you're hosting, I think you have to be on camera.

Nick: Definitely, yes, of course!

Leah: I think most times you should be on camera unless there's a specific reason why you can't be on camera.

Nick: Yeah. That is how this feels because I think what is the point of the Zoom at all? Why is this not just a phone call? Why are we not having a conference call? Why are we on the Zoom?

Leah: Yeah, it's so people can see each other's faces!

Nick: Right, yeah. It's to feel like we're all there in the same meeting. So, I think you gotta participate. It feels kind of like a Halloween costume party that you're invited to, and you show up not in costume. You gotta show up in costume if you're gonna go to the costume party. You gotta show up on camera to the camera meeting.

Leah: I have had to. One time, I wasn't well, and I just- it wouldn't have been good for anybody for me to be on screen.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So, I messaged in advance. I was like, "Hey, not at my best. I'm going to keep my-" so people knew that I wasn't being rude.

Nick: Yeah, okay.

Leah: Because people, when you're engaged with them, and then your thing is off, and you don't explain why, people think that you're not paying attention; they think you're not in front of the- they think something nefarious has happened.

Nick: Nefarious?!

Leah: Yes! The other time when- that's what I think. I think somebody is being murdered. The other time, there was like a lot going on in my apartment, and I said-

Nick: Okay, like there was a Mummenschanz performance behind you?

Leah: Yes, that's exactly what it was. So, I explained it, and I had my camera off, but both times, I let people know, so they didn't feel like I wasn't in it.

Nick: Right. I think that's good to let the host know why you might not be on camera. That's a good way to handle that, but, in general, if you're going to be on a Zoom call, you've got to be visible.

Leah: Yeah, because it makes people feel paid attention to.

Nick: Speaking of paying attention, let's say I'm hosting a Zoom call, and there's one of the squares, that person not paying attention. Is it okay to call them out?

Leah: This is for business, I would assume?

Nick: I am assuming this is business-

Leah: Because if it was friends, I'd just be like, "Nick, what's going on in there?!"

Nick: Right. Yeah, exactly. No, I think this is a work meeting, where Lisa is falling asleep, or she's clearly like doing something else.

Leah: I think you could just be like, "Lisa, what's going on?"

Nick: Yeah, I think you can call them out. I think you want to do it in a nice way. I think you don't want to be accusatory, but I think you can definitely not let it go.

Leah: I think you cannot let- you could always say, "Lisa, what do you think?"

Nick: I don't think we want to trick them into asking them a question, knowing that they're not going to have the answer and putting them on the spot like that. That feels a little rough. You're okay with that?

Leah: I've had a rough week, so I kind of feel okay with it.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay.

Leah: If you come to a work meeting, and you're not paying attention-

Nick: Yeah, okay.

Leah: You could always message them in the chat, privately. "Hey-"

Nick: Oh, that's a good idea! "Hey, I just want to make sure you're okay."

Leah: Yeah, just say, "Is anything going on? I notice that you're not in the screen."

Nick: Oh if they're just totally out of frame?

Leah: Well, I just thought that was a way to say that you're not present in the screen emotionally.

Nick: Ah, I see. Okay. I see you, but I don't see you.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I see. Yeah, I guess you could do the little sidebar because I think you don't want to necessarily call people out in front of other people to embarrass them. I think that's the thing that I'm a little hesitant about - unnecessarily embarrassing one of your colleagues.

Leah: This is really out of character for me.

Nick: Oh! I'm excited to see what's next!

Leah: If you're presenting something, and people aren't paying attention to you, it makes you feel embarrassed.

Nick: Hmm. Okay.

Leah: You know what I mean? It makes you feel unheard and unappreciated. If you're just saying-

Nick: Is embarrassment the feeling that you have, as the host, where somebody is not paying attention?

Leah: Well, ignored.

Nick: Ignored. That's not embarrassment. I mean, ignoring is not good either, but it just feels like a different emotion. Like if you're on stage, and there's somebody in the audience not paying attention to you, what is the emotion that you have?

Leah: It bothers me, but I choose to ignore it because that's how I handle it.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I've seen comics not choose to ignore it, and it tends to derail the entire show.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But I absolutely understand why they did it.

Nick: That's true.

Leah: Like, "Why did you come, if you didn't want to pay attention?"

Nick: I think that actually is the exact same thing for a Zoom meeting - "Why are you here then?" Although, it's probably required, if it's your job.

Leah: That's why I wouldn't do it. I would either message them on the side, or just ignore it, but I do understand a person who would say something because it probably made them feel bad.

Nick: So, I guess if you are going to say something, say it in the nicest, nonjudgmental, value-neutral way, and then we're okay.

Leah: Not because they don't deserve a judgment, but just because you're taking the high road.

Nick: Oh, yeah, no, this is never about whether or not they deserve judgment or not. They always deserve judgment. Of course! That's this whole show! The way we say it; the tone we use, we want to be judgment free.

Leah: Yes. Yes.

Nick: Our next question is: "I don't know how to tell my good friend that I prefer that we don't hang out at my house. I've always been the type of person who's acutely aware of what time it is, and how long things will take to happen, and I'd like to have an idea ahead of time what sort of time commitment I'm looking at. My friend, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. While I love her ability to just go with the flow and be spontaneous, it can cause me a healthy dose of stress. When she comes to my house, it turns into an all-day event, which you may guess causes me anxiety. She continues to want to make plans at my house, and I keep giving excuses, but I've never addressed my underlying problem. If we aren't at my house, it's so much easier for me to end the friend date and go home. Do you think I should directly confront this issue, or should I continue to politely decline and offer an alternative activity, or do I just need to lighten up and be happy that my friend wants to spend so much time with me?" Leah's making a face.

Leah: I am making a face because our letter-writer- the idea that you would think that you needed to lighten up-

Nick: Yeah, yeah.

Leah: You do not need to lighten up. You are allowed to have boundaries! Also, you just have more fun when you're out of the house, and then you get to come home!

Nick: Yes. Well, I think it's just that these friend dates last for like 10 hours, which is too long for this letter-writer.

Leah: I think they want to be able to leave whenever they want to leave.

Nick: Yes, being able to control when it ends is very nice. I have the same feeling-

Leah: That's totally fair. I also don't think it's weird to not want people in your home for whatever reason!

Nick: Yeah. Any reason. No reason. Yeah, you don't have to justify that.

Leah: I think if you don't want to have a sit-down talk about the whole thing, you can just say - period, end of story - "I have more fun when we go out somewhere." Boom.

Nick: Yeah, I think that's good. It feels like her ability to just deflect and move all these events out of her house is working, so I feel like, if that's working, I don't think you necessarily have to say anything. At the point when that doesn't work anymore, then I think we have to do some boundary setting and just have that nice, direct conversation with the friend, which is like, "No, this is not working for me."

Leah: I also don't understand why events keep being asked to be in your home.

Nick: I think our letter-writer's cool, and we like her house. So, let's go to your place.

Leah: Obviously, our letter-writer is cool.

Nick: Right? Of course.

Leah: But I think that they can just keep deflecting it, as you said. Events shouldn't have to be in your home.

Nick: Right, yeah, and you can control events that take place in your home or not. I feel like you can just keep deflecting, if that's working, but at the point when that doesn't, then we just set some boundaries.

Leah: And you absolutely don't need to lighten up! You seem absolutely lovely. You just want to have control over the timing in your own home!

Nick: Yeah. Done. Our next question is: "I have a colleague that I have much professional respect for. However, when she writes emails, I cringe. She finishes almost every sentence with two periods; not one period, not three, just two. Originally, I thought she meant dot, dot, dot, but I don't think that's what she intends. I think she thinks the proper way to finish a sentence is with two periods. To make matters worse, she is an educator at our company, and I've seen this atrocity in emails going externally, as well. It drives me crazy because it looks insanely unprofessional! Should I say something? Of note, she reports directly to me. Thanks in advance for any guidance."

Leah: I was really looking forward to your response to this.

Nick: I mean, my take is that I do not believe there is ever an instance in the English language in which two periods together is correct, so I feel like, right there, this is incorrect. There's not like some debate about this. It's wrong. It's definitively wrong. I think because she reports to you, you can definitely say something to her. Yes, you are within your professional rights to tell someone below you that this is a problem. So, then, the question is just how do we do that? I think, as a baseline, yeah, I think we definitely want to correct this and not just let this keep happening.

Leah: Would you have her go over to the person's office or send an email?

Nick: I think we can do it on email related to a document that had this problem. So, if it was an email that went out, or it was a document that's about to go external, on that same thread, that's where we could bring this up.

Leah: I struggled with this one. I mean, I agree with you, we don't do two periods, and it seems like a work thing that needs to be corrected. This seems like a little bit of a dishonesty - and I don't like dishonesties - but I wonder if it would be- it'd be like, I noticed there are two periods. I don't know what the next sentence is!

Nick: [Giggling] What is wrong with you?

Leah: No, it's like, did you-

Nick: Where did you learn this?

Leah: Is there a formatting issue?

Nick: I think we want to approach it in a way that this is just an innocent mistake and that this is not some deliberate thing that is a comment on their character. So, I think you could approach it as, "Oh, looks like there's like some weird glitch with your word processor. Let's correct that."

Leah: That's what I was trying to- can we say that?

Nick: Or we could pretend that maybe there is a world in which two periods is fine, but it's a style choice. You could say, "Here at Vandelay Industries, our house style is that we end sentences with one period. So, if we could just keep it consistent to the house style, please do that. For other places you may work, they might use AP style; there's a New York Times style; other styles of period use, perhaps, but here at Vandelay, one period. Thank you." So, you don't have to comment on whether or not the previous version was incorrect or not. We could just say what is correct at this company.

Leah: That seems good. I think both of those options are good. Obviously, it wouldn't be with anybody else on the email; it would just be to this person, so they didn't feel embarrassed.

Nick: Yeah, you definitely don't want to call them out in a group.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Think of this as an Oxford comma. I use it. I think it's correct. My house style is that we use it. You may not be into the Oxford comma, in which case, that's your choice. But I think we would have the same tone here with this employee, which is like, "Here, we use the Oxford comma, so please use that in all your writings. Here, we only use one period, so please use that in all your writings." It's that same sort of value-neutral approach to the Oxford comma, and one period use.

Leah: I was actually thinking that earlier, that it could be a similar to an Oxford commas conversation.

Nick: Really?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Oddly enough, I was actually thinking that it could be some kind of a glitch in the person's email.

Nick: No, it's not.

Leah: I think it could be.

Nick: No, come on.

Leah: Why else would there be two periods?

Nick: Because this person thinks that's how you do it. I don't know.

Leah: I don't think that they think that, though.

Nick: Maybe it's a sticky keyboard.

Leah: Yeah, I think it's something odd like that. For example, I recently did something that was formatted, and then I opened it into this other format that reformatted things-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: -as if I hadn't formatted it, so then, everything was doubled.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: That's a real thing that happened to me in the past two weeks, so that's why I was thinking it is possible that it's some kind of an odd glitch.

Nick: Sure, but then the problem is that you have seen this, and then you have still sent that thing out externally.

Leah: Well, that's why I'm saying why the first one- we could allow that it really could be a glitch.

Nick: Yes, I feel like you want to definitely allow that this is a computer glitch. This is a weird Word-formatting thing. This is a sticky keyboard. This is some problem that is not the person typing. Yes, and I think, regardless of all that, you just want to emphasize that the house style, here at this corporation, is that "This is how we do it, so just please double check that there's not any weird glitches for any emails you may send."

Leah: I think that's perfect. I think, obviously, if it was just a personal note to you, I wouldn't address it, but if these are work emails going out to large groups of people, then it has to be addressed for work purposes.

Nick: Yeah, it does. Yeah. You're right, for casual things that are just to the boss and be like, "FYI, here's an update on the project..," let it go, but for things that are externally sent, where this matters then I think you definitely have to say something.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, do you have questions for us? Maybe you want to have more than one question mark in the question?? We'll take it. Send it to us through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729)

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: We're back, and now, it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent."

Leah: [Singing] Vent or Repent! We should actually call it probably Vent. Once in a blue moon, there will be a repent [Laughing]

Nick: Yeah, it's mostly vent, but you never know. It is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette experience we've had recently, or, on the rare occasion, to repent for some etiquette faux pas we've committed. So, Leah, would you like to vent - mm-hmm - or repent?

Leah: You know, I'm going to stick with what's been working. I'm going to go with another vent, Nick.

Nick: If it ain't broke ... All right, what do you got?

Leah: Whoo! I recognize that everybody's in a bad place. We're all real stressed out, you know?

Nick: Sure.

Leah: So, I'm really going out of my way to try to come into situations, even if they're a little uncomfortable, being extra- I feel like I've been trying to be extra aware of people.

Nick: Okay, that's great.

Leah: When I'm trying to be extra aware, and then, people are rude to me for no reason, I get more upset because I want to be like, "I was trying!"

Nick: "I am making an effort over here!"

Leah: "I'm not happy either!" [Giggling] That's what I want to say.

Nick: Okay, yeah. So, it stings a little harder. Okay.

Leah: Stings a little harder. I had a whole bunch of those happen this week, and then yesterday, the cake topper.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: I-

Nick: Paint the scene. Where were you?

Leah: I drive to the big city.

Nick: Oh. Which is what, 400 people?

Leah: Yeah [Giggling] It's probably 500 or 600, to be totally honest.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: While I'm in the big city, my mom asked if I can return some items for her.

Nick: Right.

Leah: So, then, I'm exiting the mall parking lot, and it's a four way stop.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: So, we all stop because we are following the rules.

Nick: That's what we do. [Giggling] Mm-hmm.

Leah: So, then, this person waves I go. So, I was like, "Oh, thank you so much." So, then, as I go through the stop sign, there's a curve. I immediately turn the corner. That's- I didn't set up the parking lot.

Nick: Right. There was a natural curve in the road.

Leah: As I'm driving, my car is moving. That's just how motion works.

Nick: That's how driving works.

Leah: So, I turn this corner, and there's a crosswalk right there.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I see people- they're not in the crosswalk. They're coming to the crosswalk. I stop.

Nick: Nice. Very polite.

Leah: The guy gets into the middle of the sidewalk, stands in front of my car, and starts yelling at me.

Nick: Why?

Leah: Because I stopped- I hit my brakes, you know what I mean? So, I guess he thought I didn't want to stop, or I was angry stopping. I was just moving, and because I came around a corner, I just saw the crosswalk, and I stopped!

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Then, he started throwing his arms up in the air, like very aggressive, like very aggressive person-

Nick: Oh!

Leah: -yelling into my face through the windshield. It was the end of my abilities.

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: All week, people have been yelling at me, when I was just trying to be nice, and I lost my- the fact that I did the nice thing - I could have not stopped at all. I mean, obviously, I should have; it's a crosswalk, but they weren't in the crosswalk yet.

Nick: So, just to pause you for a moment, why was this person mad at you? That he thought-

Leah: I have no idea why they were mad, and I brought that up. Let me tell you!

Nick: [Giggling] Okay. Yeah, I'm very confused about why is this person mad at me?

Leah: I was like, "Why are you yelling at me? I stopped," and I obviously said that very widely through the windshield, so they could see my mouth move-

Nick: Right because your windows are up at this point. So, this is all being screamed through glass.

Leah: Yeah. So, then, he just keeps- it's the throwing the arms, and he's like pointing at the thing, and I was like, "I know. I stopped!" Then, he continued to yell, at which point, it got very ugly.

Nick: Uh-oh.

Leah: It maybe should be a repent, but it is not a repent!

Nick: I was about to say, like, *is this a vent, or-

Leah: It is not a repent because I did not get out of the vehicle-

Nick: And you're not sorry.

Leah: -and I am not sorry! I also stopped. I stopped! I let them cross, and then I got yelled at?! The idea that you would yell at me-

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You're like, "I was doing the polite thing, and then you're yelling at me. How did that happen?" I can't take it.

Nick: I'm sorry.

Leah: I'm so mad about. I still want to drive back down there and find those people.

Nick: [Giggling] Well, for me, I want to just give you an update. So, our most loyal listeners may remember that, some time ago, I sent a wedding gift to some friends, and I was sort of waiting on a thank you note. So, I just want to give you an update on that. Still no note.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: That's all. Just wanted to give you that update. Yeah, no, there's no note still, so, that's all.

Leah: [Squealing] I was thinking about this the other day, randomly. I was just out for a walk, and I was like, "I wonder if Nick ever got that note."

Nick: Yeah, no. No, didn't. No.

Leah: Wow!

Nick: I check my mail. I do check my mailbox. Yeah, there's nothing in it.

Leah: I'll tell you what the thought process really was because I have a Happy 2021 card that I'm going to send out this year-

Nick: Oh, okay.

Leah: -and it has a tinge of glitter on it-

Nick: Hmmm.

Leah: -but just a dusting.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I thought, "This can't go to Nick-"

Nick: Or anyone!

Leah: "-he'll have to put his-" Oh, it's going to some people. I have friends that love glitter!

Nick: Enemies. Okay [Giggling]

Leah: I have friends that love glitter!

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: It's been told. I love glitter. I checked in. I thought, "Oh, this can't go to Nick," and then, I thought, "I wonder-" then, it was the next thought. "I wonder if Nick ever got that thank you note."

Nick: No. [Giggling]

Leah: Should we check in with them? Do you think they're okay?

Nick: Oh, no, they're fine. Yeah, no, I chat with them. See them. Yeah.

Leah: [Gasping]

Nick: Well, at this point, it's not gonna happen.

Leah: No, it's not gonna happen, but I feel stressed about it.

Nick: No, now it's a fun thing that I can talk to a global audience about and complain, yeah. [Giggling]

Leah: You could just pull a Leah, and completely lose your mind about it [Giggling]

Nick: Also, that's an option. It's on the table. We'll see.

Leah: Do they listen to the podcast?

Nick: They do listen to the show-

Leah: [Gasping]

Nick: -but I think they actually are working backwards, so they have not necessarily gotten to the episode yet when I first complained about it, or the second time I complained about it. So, I think they will get to those episodes and will be mortified, which is wonderful. That's really all I'm looking for - their mortification - and then harmony will be restored to the universe-

Leah: No, the balance. The etiquette curve.

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: So, Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I learned so much about caviar, and I'm very excited. I also didn't know that so many of them ended in a, what is that, a U-G-A? A UGA! It's like they all rhyme!

Nick: Yes, it's a very UGA-based food.

Leah: The idea that somebody would put it between their thumb, and their forefinger-

Nick: It can be done.

Leah: -is the coolest thing ever. It's like real deep hardcore caviar partyers.

Nick: Go big or go home!

Leah: I love it.

Nick: I learned that if you're going to lose your cool, stand back. Don't get near you.

Leah: You know, it doesn't happen that often, I'd say once every five years, but when it does, I usually get a really good joke about it a few months later.

Nick: Okay, so you make lemonade out of that. [Giggling] Well, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. If I had your address, I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery.

Leah: He will!

Nick: I do! So, for your homework this week, I want you to go to our website, and I want you to click on Membership to see if that's something you might want to do because your support really does make this show happen. For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you can make the show happen! So, dig into your couch cushions, look for some coins, and send them our way, and we'll see you next time.

Leah: It would be so great!

Nick: It would be wonderful! Bye!

Leah: Bye!

[Instrumental Theme Song]

Nick: All right, Leah, it's time for *Cordials of Kindness," the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go.

Leah: I would like to say a huge, amazingly big thank you to all the people who bought my Christmas book and wrote nice reviews on Amazon - The Holiday Breakdown! Thank you so much!

Nick: We'll link to it in the show notes. Yeah, Leah wrote a holiday book, and it's fabulous, so you should check it out.

[Buzzer Sound]

Nick: And we got a great one through, which, as a reminder, you guys can participate in. It's: "I just wanted to thank you two for being as awesome as you are. There isn't another podcast I listen to that's as responsive to listener submissions as you guys. really made me happy during this stressful Monday." So, that's very nice.

Leah: That's so nice.

Nick: So, thank you!

[Buzzer Sound]