Dec. 13, 2021

Eating French Fries, Misspelling Names, Littering at Disneyland, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating french fries politely, misspelling people's names, littering at Disneyland, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating french fries politely, misspelling people's names, littering at Disneyland, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: French fries
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: An old co-worker turned a casual cocktail party into an intimate sit-down dinner without telling me...what should I do? What can I do about people who keep misspelling my name in emails? Is there a polite way to ask for someone's name after chatting with them at the gym regularly for the past four years?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Littering at Disneyland, Holding up the line at the gym
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Thank you for the birthday card, A nice review







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 118


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Nick: Do you eat your French fries the wrong way? Do you not tip at the nail salon? Do you misspell people's names? 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: And let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche.

Leah: Oooh!

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about French fries.

Leah: Oh, finally! [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] So Leah, do you like French fries?

Leah: You know I do, Nick. You know I do.

Nick: And what kind? Is there a particular genre or a style or approach?

Leah: You know, I'm pretty flexible.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You've, you know, gotten me into In-N-Out. I love that kind of a fry. I love a McDonald's fry. I also love, like, a frite, more like a frite.

Nick: Oh, I see.

Leah: Where you've got, like, the different dipping sauces.

Nick: Uh-huh. Okay.

Leah: I'm not too into the thicker fries, like the ones that are wedges. That's not my jam.

Nick: Sure, I agree. I think as soon as we get sort of pillowy inside, I'm out.

Leah: Me too.

Nick: Yeah. And you went to school in Quebec. How about poutine?

Leah: Oh, I like poutine. I get it. I totally get it.

Nick: And for those who don't know, poutine is french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy.

Leah: And I actually don't like gravy. Like, I don't have gravy at Thanksgiving. I don't have gravy on anything. I like it with poutine.

Nick: You're very complex, Leah.

Leah: You know, I really am. [laughs]

Nick: So the question is: how do you eat french fries properly?

Leah: Oh, I'm sweating. I feel like French fries is like one of those foods where you're just allowed to do it how you want. But obviously, not because this is the question. I go finger. I pick it up with my finger and I dip it.

Nick: Okay. Interesting.

Leah: I can tell you the incorrect way to eat French fries.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And that is to say, "No, thank you. I don't want fries," while your friend orders fries, and then you eat your friend's fries. That's a no.

Nick: Yeah. No, that's a very astute observation about human behavior. And you are absolutely correct. Now in terms of the proper way to do it, Emily Post, she has not weighed in on this. I was looking at her 1922 book, there's no section for French fries. So I think it's pretty safe to say that she actually probably never ate French fries.

Leah: I'd like to think of her, like, alone in her room in the dark, quietly eating french fries and not telling anybody. [laughs]

Nick: I mean, it's certainly possible. I too would also really enjoy this version of her. But Miss Manners, she has weighed in on this, and she says that this is not a "how" question, it's a "where" question. So she says, quote, "In places where actual forks are provided, they should be used. But in plastic fork places, the hands may be used." So I guess the question for Miss Manners is, is this a metal fork place or a plastic fork place?

Leah: I mean, that's really one way to break it down.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think for me, I would go one step further. And I think if the food that you're eating with the French fries is also a finger food, then you may also use your fingers for the French fries. So, like, if you're having a burger and you're using your hands for the burger, well then okay, use your hands for the French fries. If you're having a steak and fries, and presumably you're not using your hands for eating the steak, then you would also use the knife and fork for the French fries that go with that dish. So I think whatever the French fries are paired with, the tools used for that thing apply to the French fries.

Leah: I really like this. I like your ...

Nick: Yeah. It feels very logical and makes sense.

Leah: Very logical.

Nick: And I would say that if the French fries are covered in something, like a poutine type thing, or cheese or anything else you can put on top of French fries, which is best, I think we would probably still use our fork if it's super messy or saucy.

Leah: I mean, that sort of depends on your skill set. If you're a champion fry eater, and you know how to get all that in without—you know?

Nick: Yes. I think if you are varsity-level French fry eater, and you can manage to navigate the poutine elegantly, okay, I mean, I guess I'm prepared to hear more about this.

Leah: I feel like I should add this right now for our listeners. I was in a fancy steakhouse. Was taken for my birthday. And I love ketchup.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I love it.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: I'm obsessed with ketchup.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I am not putting ketchup on my steak. I want ketchup on my fries, unless it's like a garlic dip or it's like a place that specializes in other dips. This was not that. I asked the waiter, "May I please have some ketchup?" And he almost died a million deaths in front of me. He was appalled, and he was like, "Oh, we don't have ketchup here." And I was like, "You don't even have, like, a packet in the back of the kitchen that you brought in from somewhere else that I could possibly dip these glorious fries into?" And he was like, "We do not do ketchup in this steak restaurant." So I just want to throw that out there that some people do not want you to dip your fries in ketchup, the very fancy places, because they are judgy.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. I feel like that anecdote? A little adjacent, but I appreciate it nevertheless.

Leah: Is it adjacent? It's about a fry experience. I actually said ...

Nick: It is about French fry eating. That's fair. Okay.

Leah: I said very, very earnestly, "Ketchup's great."

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: And I addressed it to the tables, all the tables around me. I will not be put down. You know, you're not gonna make me feel guilty about that.

Nick: Yeah. No, I mean, I feel like they don't want you putting ketchup on the steak, which I feel like is fair.

Leah: That's fair. I clearly said, "Don't worry, it won't touch the steak. It won't touch the steak."

Nick: But they don't even want it in the building for fear somebody may be tempted.

Leah: Yes, they don't even want it in the building. And I felt like it was a loss.

Nick: That's patronizing.

Leah: Right?

Nick: That's patronizing, because it doesn't trust the diner to use good judgment.

Leah: Thank you.

Nick: So French fries.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to go deep.

Leah: Or go round or square.

Nick: [laughs] So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about going to a nail salon.

Leah: I'm ready.

Nick: So you have great nails, and so you have a lot of experience probably doing the nail salon thing. So let's get into it.

Leah: I love it. Thank you. I actually got my nails from my mom. She is—you know, when you inherit something and you're like, "I got those hands from my mom." So thank you.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I just want to give the compliment where it's due. I do love going to a nail salon. They do such a great job.

Nick: So I think a lot of people have never been to a nail salon—and this goes for men or women—and maybe go infrequently or maybe go all the time, but still have anxiety about, like, doing the right thing. So let's chat about some of the things that maybe you should know and think about, so that you'll have less anxiety next time you're there and will feel confident that you're doing the right thing.

Leah: Sounds good to me.

Nick: So the first thing on my list is, like, if you make an appointment and you're not just a walk-in and you're running late, you should call.

Leah: Definitely call.

Nick: Right? I mean, this is an appointment like anything else.

Leah: Definitely call if you're late.

Nick: And I have heard that there's a lot of colors available. I've never had any color polish on my nails, but I'm sure there's a lot of options. So if you aren't sure what color, like, is it okay to show up early? Like, how does that work?

Leah: I mean, I'm a walk-in girl, but I mean, I feel like you have an appointment and you know you're gonna take, like, 45 minutes to pick a color, maybe try to get there a little early.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: To be like, "I like to take my time. I got here early because I love to take my time looking at colors." I can imagine that would be appreciated.

Nick: So know thyself.

Leah: Know thyself.

Nick: And is it okay to bring your own polish from home if you're like, "Oh, I like this color?"

Leah: Oh, I'm sure.

Nick: Okay. And what about, like, do I need to trim my nails first, or do anything, like, to prep other than just make sure, like, my hands are clean and I brush my teeth kind of thing?

Leah: No, they do all of it. I used to always do my own nails.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And then I started going to nail salons, and I feel like professionals just really knock it out of the park. And once you start, you're like, a professional job is significantly different than what I'm doing at home.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, especially something that requires you using your own hands on your hands. Like, I can see how there's just not enough hands.

Leah: There's not enough. You would need one more hand.

Nick: Right. And so that's what they do. They are those extra hands. Right. And a lot of nail places have sort of a spa environment, and they might even offer, like, a beverage or anything like that. So that's all typically, like, complimentary, right? We're not paying for the champagne or the wine or whatever is happening.

Leah: Complimentary. It's usually like, tea, coffee, water, maybe a champagne.

Nick: And what happens, like, I picked a color, Bubble Bath I hear is a very popular color. And so let's say I picked Bubble Bath, but it just doesn't look right once we've started. What do I do? How do I, you know, stop the train?

Leah: Usually people will give you—they'll do one nail and then show you and be like, "What do you think?" So I would just try to catch it as soon as possible. That way, it's easy to rub off and start over.

Nick: Okay. So we just don't want to wait 'til it's all done.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And be like, "Oh, actually."

Leah: I think for sure, feel free to be like, "Oh, this isn't coming out the color I thought it was. May I—I'd like to switch out, please."

Nick: Okay.

Leah: To that extent, I'll often if I'm trying a new color, which is very big for me, I say, "I like these two. Can we just do one nail?" So they'll do, like, one paintbrush of one and one paintbrush of the other.

Nick: And then we deliberate

Leah: And then we move forward. So I already have the other color. That way, I don't have to go back and look again.

Nick: I see. Okay, we've narrowed it down to my top two choices.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Okay. That's considerate, because at the end of the day, I think you want to be considerate of your technician's time.

Leah: Yes, but I think they are also happy to switch it if you're—you know, if you don't like it up top. They want, you know, you to want to come back and be happy with what you have.

Nick: Obviously, we are tipping.

Leah: We're obviously tipping. And also, I feel like if it's been a long winter and you bring those feet in for the first pedicure ...

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: We're gonna tip extra heavy. You know what you're bringing to the table.

Nick: Yeah, that's fair. Like, your tip should be proportionate to the amount of effort that was required.

Leah: Yeah. Like, if they had to bring out the horse hooves thing, let's double that. You know what I mean?

Nick: Okay. Now if I've just had my nails done, how do I actually tip physically? Like, how do I get money out of my bag and into your hands?

Leah: Okay, if they're not doing gels, gels—for anybody unfamiliar—gels, you put under a little light, they dry right away.

Nick: Okay, so we're not worried about that.

Leah: So if you're not doing gels, you're doing regular polish. After they shape and do your cuticles and wash your hands and usually get a little massage with lotion, after that, most often, they will give you your receipt at that point, and then you pay.

Nick: Okay. And it's dry by then? I can actually manage to get money out?

Leah: No, it's before they do the color.

Nick: Oh, I see. Oh, okay. So in that window?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: That's when I pay. That's when I tip. And then we do the color.

Leah: And then they do the color, and then you'll go sit under the drying fans or lamps. And that way you can sit there as long as you want.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And your technician will move on to the next person.

Nick: And one thing that I don't think we touched on, but I think is the most important, being on your phone.

Leah: Oh! Oh!

Nick: [laughs] You should see Leah right now.

Leah: I think like the gym, people go to the salon as they're, like, hour of repose. Is that—their hour to calm down and, you know, not be at work. And so if you're on your phone loudly ...

Nick: Or at all.

Leah: We're all next to each other. Well, sometimes you gotta take a quick call. It's a family thing, it's business. But to just be on it straight?

Nick: Yeah. Like, "Oh, I'm just gonna get through all my calls right now.

Leah: Yeah, don't do that.

Nick: Yeah, I think that probably is the number one pet peeve for everybody who works there and everybody who is getting a service there. Because, like, yeah, no one is interested in hearing your phone call.

Leah: Unless it's incredibly juicy.

Nick: Well, okay. Yeah.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: If you're providing an entertainment service, then okay.

Leah: Then I'll think about it. Otherwise ...

Nick: Otherwise, no. And in terms of what to tip, I feel like 20 percent is kind of that's the minimum, right? I don't think we tip below 20 percent.

Leah: Yeah, I do 20 percent.

Nick: And I think if they really went above and beyond, I think 25 percent is not outrageous.

Leah: If they went above and beyond, or if you came in and you were just, you know, gardening, and you're just covered in dirt, you know what I mean?

Nick: Right. And I think if they really did above and beyond for you, 25 percent is not outrageous. Could even go to 30, depending on what has happened.

Leah: Yeah, what has happened? Were you gardening shoeless previous to your visit?

Nick: For the last two years?

Leah: If you have to apologize constantly through the thing, you know that you need to tip heavy.

Nick: Yeah, I think there should be a dollar extra for every apology you issue. Right. Exactly.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So all right. Nail salon.

Leah: Can I just throw in a little—this is not etiquette, but just a fun thing if you haven't been before and you're gonna get a pedicure? Wear pants that are easy to push up.

Nick: Oh, actually, that is etiquette, because that is mindful of the person who you're working with, and they don't have, like, a cuff in their way.

Leah: Oh, good. I'm glad we can slide that into etiquette. Because I just feel like it's so—you get there and you're like, I'm wearing skinny jeans, these can't go up because your feet are going into the water.

Nick: Right. Yeah. No, everything is etiquette, Leah.

Leah: Hmm. I love it.

Nick: All right. Well, we nailed it.

Leah: Oh! Oh, yes! I'm pulling you to the dark side. I'm pulling you to the pun side.

Nick: [sighs] It was bound to happen eventually.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.

Leah: [howls]

Nick: So our first question is quote, "An old coworker reached out to ask if I'd be interested in joining her for drinks at her place. She said it would be a casual happy hour drinks thing with no set schedule, and it sounded like a nice idea, so I agreed to join. A few days before they get together, she wrote again to confirm and I told her I was still coming, and I asked if it would be okay to bring my partner. She said the more the merrier. Then the day before, I asked if there was any special drink or snack she'd like me to bring, and she said to bring anything I'd like and that she'll be providing dinner for everyone. That was the first time food had come up, so I told her not to go to too much trouble, and I offered to bring some food to help out. She declined and she said she'd see me there. So my partner and I arrived the following evening, and when we showed up, we saw she cooked up a proper sit down dinner.

Nick: "She'd made a roast, several sides, and set her table. Other guests started arriving, and it ended up just being three of our old coworkers and one of her friends, and nobody else showed up with a plus one. I felt like I completely misunderstood what this gathering would be about, and I had no idea what to do. This was made even worse when it became clear there wasn't enough food for everyone to have larger portions. And when someone asked if they could have seconds of a side, she made a passive-aggressive comment like, 'Well, I didn't plan for any extra people.' I was mortified, and my partner felt awkward, too. But he assured me that there was no way I could have known, and the tone of the invitation was very different than the actual event. Meanwhile, I still feel like I've committed a huge etiquette sin, and I don't know if I should apologize to her. What could I have done differently here? Should I not have invited my partner?"

Leah: [sighs]

Nick: I mean ...

Leah: I mean, I wrote next to this one ...

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And I was trying to find the nicest way to say it.

Nick: Uh-huh. Okay, I'm listening.

Leah: Not our letter writer. I'm talking about the host of the party.

Nick: Oh yes. Very clear that that's who this is directed towards.

Leah: I said, "This woman is operating with entirely different parameters."

Nick: Oh, that's very kind. Wow!

Leah: Isn't that very kind?

Nick: [laughs] Very kind!

Leah: I went through many renditions of that.

Nick: Parameters, ooh!

Leah: I meant in another sphere entirely where words don't mean words.

Nick: Mm-hmm. Yeah, alternate universe comes to mind. Sure. Uh-huh. Yeah. I mean, I don't know what I would have done differently here. I mean, unless there's something very major missing from the story, I do believe you were invited to happy hour drinks. You thought this was a very casual thing. You asked if you could bring your partner, and then the game changed and you were not informed.

Leah: And I actually feel like we're getting the whole story because we get the blow by blow.

Nick: Yeah. No, no, I do think this was totally just a miscommunication would also be a very charitable way to describe what's happening.

Leah: That is more than charitable.

Nick: [laughs] Yeah. There was nothing you could have done. Absolutely not. No.

Leah: And it's actually very rude of her.

Nick: Oh, huge!

Leah: Hugely rude to say, you know, "Some people brought extra people." And who are you talking about?

Nick: So, okay, B.O.T.D.: benefit of the doubt. The one explanation for that is that the host of this event was referring to someone else at that table. So the extra person was another guest who showed up who didn't RSVP. So, like, "Oh, Lisa was invited, but she never told me she was coming, and then she showed up tonight. So I wasn't expecting Lisa to show up. I was expecting our letter writer and her partner because you RSVPed and you asked for permission. But this other extra guest, they just showed up without an affirmative RSVP." And that's who that comment was directed towards. That is the only explanation I have that is possibly an explanation.

Leah: And then do we say something? I feel like I would actually want to clear the air just so—a possibility, and I was thinking I'll just run this by Nick. I think that we could text and say, "Thank you for having us."

Nick: We definitely need to thank our host for the evening, yes.

Leah: And then something like, "You know, you mentioned that there wasn't enough food because there was unexpected guests, and I was nervous you were referring to us. I'm so sorry. I thought I'd asked permission for my partner to come. Didn't mean to cause—" you know, I don't know what the wording is exactly. I don't know if we toss something out in there?

Nick: Well, I think we definitely want to thank our host for a lovely evening. And then I think it comes down to, is this a relationship that we want to continue? Because if we are like, "I'm good. I don't think we need more of this old coworker," then you could just leave it there. In which case, you could leave it there. If you feel like you need to apologize for something—and it does not sound like you do, but sometimes we apologize for things that we don't need to apologize for. You could be like, "Such a lovely evening. I'm so sorry if I misunderstood the invitation. I thought this was going to be a casual happy hour and that it was okay to bring my partner, and I'm so sorry if I misunderstood and ruined your plans for the evening. And if I did, I just want to apologize for that."

Leah: I think that's perfect, I think you could leave off the "ruined your plans" and just do the "misunderstood." And I think you could say that even if you plan to discontinue this relationship just so you feel like you tied the bow on that box.

Nick: And I would assume that all of these logistics were probably over text. So you probably have receipts when you were told this was a happy hour cocktail party, and you probably have the text where you're like, "Can I bring my partner?" And they were like, "The more the merrier." So, like, you probably have receipts for all of this. Not that you need to screen grab and repost those, because that's super aggressive. But at least you could kind of go back through the chat history to just, for your own mind, feel okay about what really went down and that you're not being gaslit.

Leah: Yes. Or that you are being gaslit and it's their fault.

Nick: Right. Yes, exactly.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. No, that's what I meant. Yeah.

Leah: Yeah. Sometimes I like to reread texts when people make me feel a certain way, and then I'm like, "Oh, no, no. I did go through all those things."

Nick: Yeah, I'm not the problem. Great. [laughs]

Leah: But you're for sure not the problem here.

Nick: No. And so in the future, I also don't know what we can do differently to avoid being in this situation other than just to confirm, like, "Are you lying to me right now about bringing a guest? Are you deceiving me about this being a cocktail party?" Like, I don't know what else you could do,

Leah: Which I don't think we want to live in a world where we do that. And should I not have invited my partner? You asked, and I think it's fine to ask.

Nick: Right. Yeah, I think that was fine. And they said, yes, I believe. And so, yeah, what are you supposed to do with that?

Leah: I mean ...

Nick: Also, when you have a dinner party, it is important to have enough food for everybody, and to have enough so that you'll just have leftovers for yourself. The last thing you want to do when you're hosting a dinner party is, like, only have enough exactly for one portion for everybody. That definitely is not ideal, because you never know what might happen. You might have somebody with a big appetite. You might have somebody who doesn't eat one of the things that you're offering, so needs to double up on another side. You might have an unexpected guest like apparently happened here. So as a host, you always want to just kind of cover your bases and make extra.

Leah: And if we somehow come up short, I don't think we blame the guests that we invited.

Nick: No. As a host, you would take less for yourself.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Yes, that is how a host would handle this. You'd be like, "I'm just not gonna eat as much and I will just offer my portion." Correct.

Leah: Ugh.

Nick: Yeah. No, this is terrible. I'm sorry this happened.

Leah: Yeah, it's really rude to make you feel—because you really went out of your way. "May I bring somebody? Can I bring something special that you enjoy?" You know what I mean? You really did all the right stuff, and then this person just made up a new reality that didn't happen and made you feel bad about it.

Nick: Wouldn't it be lovely to be the type of person that could just do that and feel totally cool with that? Just like, make up a totally different reality and be like, "This is my reality now."

Leah: I don't know, because then I feel like you'd really be walking through the world just hurting people's feelings. I think it might be fun to be the kind of person who when someone does that go, "Oh, do you want me to pull up the texts?"

Nick: [laughs] That would be a more fun personality type. That's true.

Leah: Wouldn't that just be wild? You're sitting at dinner and be like, "Oh, are you talking to me right now? Because I feel—that hurt my feelings. I'd be more than happy to pull up the text."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, we live in a world just short of that.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Sure. So our next question comes from Europe, and it is quote, "I receive a lot of emails from people who misspell my name. My name is not that extraordinary for Dutch-speaking people, but apparently very hard for others. I understand that people are not familiar with certain regional names, but whenever I write an email, I just copy and paste the spelling of the name from the email address or their signature. So why is it hard for others to do the same? I think addressing a person correctly is really the least you can do and requires very little effort. My question is: can I address this and correct people in a polite and professional way?"

Leah: You're like, "Can't you just look at my name and get it right?" I totally get that feeling.

Nick: Oh, yes. Yes, for sure.

Leah: I also want to say—and I am not in any way undermining the irritation here, but I do want to say that this recently happened to me. I was writing to somebody who had a different spelling of a name, and I wrote—I copied their name from their email.

Nick: The address bar. Okay.

Leah: I had it correctly, and then my autocorrect changed it.

Nick: Mmm. Okay.

Leah: And then I didn't catch it until I'd already sent it. And I was mortified.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And I actually emailed this person and I said, "Oh my goodness, my autocorrect changed your name. I'm mortified." And then so I redid it. And that person and I had a good laugh about it.

Nick: Yeah, I think my first question here is just, is this a typo? Was this a one off? Or is this a professional relationship you have or a colleague that keeps doing it? Because if it's just a one off, I think I'm kind of inclined to be like, "All right, fine." But if this is somebody you have a relationship with, then yes, you should correct it in a polite way, but you should correct it because they also should know what your name is.

Leah: Yeah, I agree. If this was like a one-timer, and I think in my mind, I'd be like, "Must be autocorrect." That way, I didn't go over to their office and be like, "Hey!"

Nick: [laughs] Right. But the name is sort of like the Dutch name Daan. D-A-A-N. So it's not that name, but it's an example of a Dutch name that is sort of like a little unusual for Americans because we would look at D-A-A-N and be like, "Oh, that's Dan." D-A-N. And I can see a world in which we would just like, reply to this email, "Dan," which is obviously wrong. And so the question is, how do you respond? How do you correct that in a nice way?

Leah: And also, I take it that this person that we're going back and forth with doesn't see it when we respond with our correctly-spelled name at the bottom of the email. I mean, that's when it would just put you over the edge. You write back and then you have your name at the bottom spelled correctly and then come back with "Dan" again.

Nick: Right. And so that I can see being a little maddening, yeah. So I guess you could just say, "Oh, actually, my name is Daan, D-A-A-N." And sort of just say that in like a parenthetical, you know, in your email. And if you could sort of land that in a nice sort of non-judgmental, value-neutral way, and be like, "Oh, my name is actually Daan." I think that could be fine.

Leah: Yeah, or maybe make a little—I don't know what you could say afterwards that would just be like ...

Nick: I think you could also just have like, "Oh, it's double A like 'Aardvark.'" Do we not like this mnemonic?

Leah: No, I was just spelling out Aardvark in my mind.

Nick: It's double A. [laughs]

Leah: I'm just thinking. I'm, like, visualizing the email.

Nick: Yeah, I think you would just need to reply to whatever they were emailing you about. Like, "Oh, thanks for your email. Here's the report you want it for." And then, "By the way—" no. "FYI—" eh. And then maybe it's just, "Best wishes, Daan," and then parentheses (Double A like Aardvark.)

Leah: Well, they're obviously not reading the bottom of the email or they would get it.

Nick: No, but it would be when you're signing off yourself, you're like the "Best wishes" part.

Leah: No, but I mean, that's where they've already seen the "Best wishes" and the name and they did it again. So I think you have to step it up one more. How about, "Wanted to make sure you have the correct spelling for my name. It's—" blank.

Nick: "I wanted to make sure you have the correct spelling of my name." Okay. Okay. I mean, okay.

Leah: No? That doesn't feel good?

Nick: "Wanted to make sure." I think one idea would be following up with the autocorrect thing you just mentioned. Maybe you could say sort of a joke like, "Oh, I think your autocorrect snagged my name. It's—" blank.

Leah: Yeah, I think that's perfect.

Nick: And it kind of gives you a way to blame oh, some technology that you're using. This wasn't deliberate. Obviously, it was a mistake. "I think your autocorrect snagged my name. It's actually—" blank.

Leah: I think that's perfect because I was thinking in my mind about like, if we said, "Oh, want to make sure you have the correct spelling," and then in the parentheses would be like, "Autocorrect's always changing it." You know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: To, like, give that person the benefit of the doubt, even though they're probably just not paying attention.

Nick: They're not paying attention.

Leah: But you're taking the high road because you're absolutely lovely, even though you don't have to be. And you're—you know, of course you tried, you know, kind of thing.

Nick: Yeah. Okay, I kind of like something in that world. I don't know if that's exactly it, but I think it's in that direction. So I think something in that flavor. And if it happens again? Well then, I don't know.

Leah: Then we just start spelling their name wrong. [laughs]

Nick: Oh, always a good idea! Yes, turnabout is always fair play. So our next question is quote, "My husband has been going to the same gym for years, always at the same time and always on the same days. So naturally, he's come across familiar faces over the years, and he's become acquainted with a handful of people. There is one man there that he's spoken to for four years now. They chat about gym stuff and lifting weights, but my husband has no idea what this man's name is. They just never exchanged names, or at least my husband can't remember if they did. Should my husband ask him? What is the right way to introduce yourself if, by typical social standards, you're literally years overdue?"

Leah: My first question was ...

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: ... does he want to ask his name?

Nick: I had that too. I was like, "Do you need to know his name?"

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Is that necessary? Do we need it?

Leah: Because I also am not 100 percent sure ifùI wasn't getting the idea that they were all excited for this person's name. It was more like, "Am I being rude not knowing their name?"

Nick: So to answer that, I don't know if you're being rude by not knowing it, you know? Not knowing something is not inherently rude. It's how we act upon that ignorance.

Leah: But I do think there are some relationships in which we see that person all the time and we don't—we never knew their name and they don't know our name, and we have the lovely chat and then we go about our business.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, half the people in my building who I've seen forever, I have no idea what their names are, and I'm in a very good place with that.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] So yeah. So I think first question is: do we need to know this person's name? Maybe it's fine. It's just like, "Hey, nice to see you. Have a good workout." And it sounds like that's just like the extent of your relationship. In which case this is fine, you don't need to know their name.

Leah: And then I think if you feel uncomfortable, or maybe they're using your name and you feel like you should know their name, I think you just have to own up and be like, "I'm so sorry."

Nick: Oh, I know that's the advice we would normally give. Like, "Oh, just ask." But four years? It's been four years. How do you be like, "Oh, I don't know your name?"

Leah: Well, what are you gonna do? Go look in the gym files?

Nick: Well, I thought actually, you would just ask the front desk. Like, "Oh, see that guy in the beige shorts? Like, what's his name?"

Leah: The front desk is inevitably going to go up to beige shorts and be like, "They're asking your name."

Nick: Oh, you think you're going to get ...

Leah: Yep.

Nick: ... ratted out?

Leah: I absolutely think.

Nick: That's not very nice.

Leah: For sure. If you ask anybody in the vicinity, they're going to tell them.

Nick: Okay. What about, like, "Oh, I just got a new driver's license photo. It's terrible. How is yours? Let me see."

Leah: I mean, that is ...

Nick: [laughs] No?

Leah: That is so suspicious.

Nick: Okay. What about a conversation where you're like, "Hey, did you have any weird nicknames growing up?"

Leah: I mean, it's just getting weirder. That's why I feel like it's just—you know what I mean?

Nick: Now what about the wife is the one who is asking this question to us, so she's in the mix. What if she comes to the gym one day while the husband is there working out with this other person, and is like, "Oh, hey. I brought you your keys or your whatever you needed me to bring from home," and like, "Oh, hello, I'm so-and-so. What's your name?" And have the letter writer be the one to ask this person's name.

Leah: I was thinking, could we introduce a third person in front of them?

Nick: I think we do need a third party here, yeah.

Leah: But it just feels like such a ruse.

Nick: I mean, I think you could be slick about it. No?

Leah: The other option is to just go on forever not knowing the other person's name and having this ...

Nick: Or going through their wallet when they're in the shower.

Leah: [laughs] Yeah, that's really where we're at.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, how about inviting them out for a drink or a party or like, "Oh, let me send you an e-vite.?"

Leah: I'm not sure if that's their relationship.

Nick: It's not.

Leah: I want to know what—if they want to continue the relationship outside of the gym, or if they wanted to have—then I think, "Hey, I'd love to invite you to this thing. May I have your email?" That might work. But if it's they're very comfortable just having, like, this relationship, then ...

Nick: Yeah, I think it's just that we know this person, we don't know their name. We think we should know their name. And so etiquette-wise, like, can we solve this problem? I think that's the thrust of this question from our letter writer. I think they are also content with the mystery, but they are just kind of curious like, "Oh, it's a little funny that we just don't know this person's name, even though we, you know, have talked to them every morning for the last four years." And so it's like, is there a way to just figure out what their name is in a polite way? But if we had that relationship after four years and I was just like, "Oh, I'm so sorry, this is embarrassing. I just don't know your name, I don't think." Is that, I guess, fine? I guess that's probably fine.

Leah: I wouldn't have any problem with it. I'd have a great laugh and I'd be like, "Thank goodness you asked, because I don't know your name either." And then we'd have a giggle, and then I would be like, "I'm not telling you my name. I didn't tell you on purpose. I think you're creepy." [laughs] No. Kidding. I would feel relieved that you asked.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, hypothetically, they don't know your name either. So maybe it cuts both ways. Maybe they're gonna write us a letter next week asking us the same question.

Leah: I hope so. Or maybe they'll hear this question and they'll be like, "I think that's me." And then they'll go to the boxing gym and say, "Hey, did you write in a question about me to Were You Raised By Wolves? I mean, did we solve this? I think that the first break in the road is: are you content with the way the relationship is? In which case I don't think it's rude to just continue on as being two people who only discuss ...

Nick: Gym stuff.

Leah: Gym stuff.

Nick: Yeah, I think that's also fine. Yeah.

Leah: But I do think the only way to do it where it's not gonna get odd is to just ask.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think going through their stuff is always an option, but yeah, that's probably frowned upon.

Leah: You could also follow them home.

Nick: Oh, sure! Yeah.

Leah: And then look in their mailbox.

Nick: I mean, that's not a bad idea.

Leah: I mean, it's a bad idea, but it's an idea.

Nick: It's an idea. Yeah, okay. Well, if you want ideas from us—maybe they're not all good. Let us know. You can let us know through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW.

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

Leah: Vent or repent!

Nick: Which is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette experience we've had recently. Or we can repent for some etiquette faux pas we've committed. So Leah, would you like to vent or repent?

Leah: I'm gonna repent, Nick.

Nick: Okay, I'm ready for it.

Leah: And I'm just gonna repent and I'm just gonna feel bad about it.

Nick: No, I'm excited over here.

Leah: So it was my birthday.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: And I was surprised by getting a trip to Disneyland on my birthday.

Nick: Which, delightful.

Leah: Delightful. I love Disneyland. I lost my mind. Fair to say I lost my mind. I'm walking up to the gates, and Mickey and Minnie and Goofy are waving. And I mean, I legitimately almost wept. It was so thrilling.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So I was like, in this—I was in the throes, and I was in line for the Peter Pan ride, which some would say is a children's ride. I would say it's a delight. Obviously, I'm a comic. I very much believe in not growing up, so I love the ride.

Nick: It's just one big metaphor. Okay.

Leah: One big metaphor. I also like rides that, like, are fake nighttime because they have stars. Anyway, I thought, I'm really gonna round this out and I'm gonna get cotton candy because what a delight. It is just—it's food that's not even food. I just haven't had it in decades. I buy cotton candy.

Nick: Okay. I've never had cotton candy, but I imagine I understand what it is.

Leah: It's like air with sugar in it. It's just ...

Nick: [laughs] It sounds, like, great? I don't know.

Leah: It's really a full experience because it's sort of unexplainable in many ways. You're like, "Am I eating air that then leaves, like, a glistening sugar on my face?" It's so fun.

Nick: And I want that? Okay.

Leah: It's just a fun time.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You do it, like, once every 15 years.

Nick: All right.

Leah: So I've only done it once. [laughs] So I'm in line with my cotton candy because, you know, the lines are ...

Nick: That's part of the experience, yeah.

Leah: Yeah, and the lines are very—they must have like a line designer because you feel like you're moving. It's incredible work with these lines. And I'm just eating my cotton candy, loving life. I then get to the end. My hands are chaos. I'm just covered in crystallized sugar. I wrap the paper cone that the cotton candy is wrapped around in the plastic that was in it. I wrap it up. I put it in my pocket.

Nick: Okay, we've finished the cotton candy. We just have the cone. We have the plastic container it came in. Now it's in my pocket.

Leah: Now it's in my pocket because I'm in the middle of the line. There's no trash cans near me. And then I go into my bag, and I hand sanitize all the sugar off.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Then I continue my line. I'm excited. I'm excited. We get up to where you get on the ride, where there is a trash can.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And I'm obviously thrilled. I'm shaking. I can't wait to get in my Peter Pan ride. I reach into my pocket to grab the trash. It is not there.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I say, "Oh no! It must have fallen out of my pocket." And we look down the line and like there was a spotlight on it, four rows away in the middle of the line, there's this plastic wad around this cotton candy cone in the middle of the ground. And I froze. I was like, I littered! And I wanted—I felt like I couldn't yell to somebody, "Can you pass it up or put it in the trash can?" And then I was next. And the only way I could have gotten it is if I got out of line and missed my turn. And instead of missing my turn, which quite possibly I morally should have done because I littered, I just got into the Peter Pan ride and I left it there.

Nick: I mean, all of this buildup because you dropped some trash? I mean ...

Leah: And I left it. I knew that I dropped it. I knew that I dropped it and I left it. And I saw it.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, okay, I agree that you should not have done this. In the arc of the universe of the level of seriousness of crimes, this is it's towards one end, but okay, it's a repent nevertheless.

Leah: I gotta tell you, I felt bad.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, the fact that you still feel bad about it. Sure.

Leah: I mean, I can still see it.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, you're a bad person, Leah. What can I say?

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Well, I think you have learned something here: that you need to be more mindful about your trash, and you need to not litter.

Leah: I don't regularly litter! You said that in a way that I regularly litter.

Nick: Do you? Do you, Leah?

Leah: [laughs] I don't.

Nick: I don't know. That's not what we hear.

Leah: Oh, wait 'til you have a repent. I'm gonna make it sound like you do that all the time.

Nick: [laughs] All right. Just you wait. Never gonna happen. So for today, I would like to vent. And I was at the gym, and I was just trying to check in. And ahead of me, there's this woman who wanted just to share her thoughts about the gym's app and the user experience and the designs. And she had notes. She had thoughts. What could make it better? What could make it different? How could it be more user friendly? Great. I'm so happy that she felt like she wanted to share all these things, but the problem is there's only one person checking everybody in. And so if you are tying up that person's attention for something that is not super important, I do believe that is inconsiderate to everybody behind you who just wants, like, scan your thing and move on. And I did a—I mean, is it a repent? I don't feel bad about this.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: I was standing behind her, and I did sort of a throat clearing, just a—like, oh, just maybe I need a Ricola. Just a little, like, in my throat. And the key to doing that, if you're gonna do that, you can't make eye contact with the people while you're doing it. You kind of just have to do it to yourself quietly. Just like, [cough, cough]. And so I just did, like, a little cough, and I know she, like, turned around and she, like, saw like, oh, there are people behind. Because it wasn't just me at that point. But then she proceeded for another—I timed it—two minutes, forty two seconds. More conversation about something that did not matter. So we were waiting two minutes, forty two seconds additional time after the cough break for her to move along. And so I would like to vent about this because I think that it's rude. Because it's like you're at a movie theater and you're tying up the person who's taking tickets, and you want to talk about the ending of Citizen Kane. And you just aren't gonna, like, let this person go until you, like, discuss the whole thing and, like, there's people who just need to have their tickets taken. And so, like, it's like that. And so, like, you shouldn't do that.

Leah: I one hundred percent agree.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: How irritating. And I'm also so glad you gave us the cough example, because I was hoping we would get it.

Nick: Yeah, it has to be very subtle. It can't be like, [cough, cough] "Excuse me!" Yeah, you can't, like, be super aggressive with it. It has to be very slick and subtle because you need plausible deniability. Like, if somebody turns to you and be like, "What? Do you have a problem?" You need to be able to be like, "Oh, I'm sorry. What? Oh, I just have something in my throat." So you need to be able to have, like, enough plausible deniability about the way you did the cough. I have a lot of practice. So yeah, I mean, it's just—I will say the app does need work. So, like, she's not wrong. Like, her notes are very valid, but this is not the time or place.

Leah: Let the people go!

Nick: Let the people go. Yeah. Or just step to the side, and then once everybody is, like, checked in, then you can go back and resume your conversation, okay.

Leah: Yeah. No, that's what I meant about let the people go. Just be like, "Oh, I just have—I'm gonna talk. Why don't you guys just check in?"

Nick: Yeah. And I'm sure, you know, the person behind the desk is real excited to continue that conversation. But not my problem. Yeah, I know.

Leah: I love that you timed it. I just—it really ...

Nick: I had a lot of time. [laughs]

Leah: I think it just makes it so much more fun.

Nick: To watch the second hand slowly sweep around? Yeah, it's a party. Really enjoyed it.

Leah: No, I mean, for us.

Nick: Oh yeah. No, for everybody else, yeah, who didn't have to live through it. Sure. Yeah, great for you. I don't know about me, though.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I really love this delineation on how I would eat my fries based on how I'm eating the other item in the meal.

Nick: Yes, context is key.

Leah: I love it.

Nick: And I learned that we actually don't like the same type of french fries.

Leah: More and more in common every day, Nick.

Nick: It's amazing! Well, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery if I could.

Leah: He would!

Nick: So for your homework this week, we want you to sign up for our newsletter, follow us on social media and visit our website, where you can learn about becoming a monthly member and see if it's something you'd like to do.

Leah: Also, there's some new fun merch. Didn't I see a new pillow go up?

Nick: Oh yeah. You know, any time we say, like, "Oh, put that on the pillow," I actually put it on a pillow. And you can buy it. So check out our shop. You might see something you like. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

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 do a huge shout-out to Laura, Anthony and Micah, who sent a birthday card to me at our address. And not only were they lovely notes, but they also did a fantastic Lord of the Rings reference on the envelope, which was superb.

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: And thank you so much. And thank you so much, Micah, Laura and Anthony for your wonderful notes.

Nick: That was very sweet to see that in the P.O. box. Absolutely. And for me, I want to read a lovely review we just got, which is quote, "This is just an absolutely delightful show that has restored my faith in humanity. If you think you're the last human dedicated to never inconveniencing others, not overstepping boundaries and always sending thank-you notes, take heart: there are others like you, and two of them host this charming podcast."

Leah: Just the sweetest!

Nick: Isn't that nice? Yes. You are not alone. We are here. We stand with you in solidarity. So thank you for that. That definitely makes our day.

Leah: So nice!