Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating king cakes, hijacking vacation plans, finding surprises left in the trash, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd write you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
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Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
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Nick: Do you pretend you didn't find the baby? Do you not clean up after your dog? Do you use the speakerphone in the bathroom? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out.
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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: Let's get in it!
Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to take you to New Orleans.
Nick: And I want to talk about king cake.
Nick: Have you ever had a king cake?
Leah: My boyfriend in high school was from New Orleans.
Leah: And so I didn't know what it was, but his mom shipped one up.
Nick: Oh, okay!
Leah: For Mardi Gras. So that's when I learned what it was.
Nick: So let's talk about king cake. So yes, king cake is basically an enriched dough thing, kind of like a big cinnamon roll—basically brioche—and it's usually, like, braided in an oval shape. And there's maybe a filling in there, like a flavor sometimes. And it's gonna have a lot of icing on it. And the icing is gonna be in the Mardi Gras colors, which is purple and gold and green. So that's what it's gonna look like. There may be sprinkles. And it is hard to say when this started, because there's a lot of similar types of things around the world. But in New Orleans, it either was, like, brought to the area from the Basque people in, like, the 1700s, or the French in, like, the late 1800s. Who can say?
Nick: But a king cake is traditionally served from the Epiphany, January 6—also known as Three Kings Day—to Mardi Gras. So that is the official period when you can enjoy a king cake. And some people get very bent out of shape if you serve a king cake before January 6. I don't want to see it at Christmas. You know, some people are very firm: you can only have a king cake starting January 6 to Mardi Gras.
Nick: Now the key feature of the king cake is that there is a plastic baby stuck in it. Now I grew up in a place where we do not put choking hazards into our food, so ... [laughs]
Leah: [laughs] Which honestly, seems like less fun for you.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I haven't lived. Or maybe that is why I've lived. But basically, there is a plastic baby stuck into this baked good. And it maybe symbolizes baby Jesus, maybe it doesn't. It actually—there's different origin stories about this. It's relatively recent. It only started happening in, like, the 1940s and the 1950s. Before that, you know, cakes for the Epiphany usually had like a bean in it, or maybe a pecan. Oh, and sidebar. Do you say pecahn or pecawn?
Leah: I hate to admit this about myself, but I fluctuate.
Nick: Oh, interesting. Apparently—total sidebar, sorry for the digression, guys—that it is not a regional thing, that people say it both ways throughout the United States. And the American Pecan Council says that, quote, "Any and all pronunciations are welcome, as long as the pecans are being eaten."
Leah: I love that answer. It's very positive.
Nick: So say pecahn, pecawn, you know, live your life.
Leah: I think I say it depending on what I'm pairing it with. You know what I mean?
Nick: Yeah, because it's pecahn pie, right?
Nick: Not pecawn pie.
Leah: But maybe I'm having a salad with sugared pecawns. [laughs]
Nick: Anyway, so there is gonna be a plastic baby inside of the king cake. And so here's how you eat the king cake and the etiquette. It's a round thing. You slice it with a knife. You slice, like, a piece, maybe an inch wide out of this ring. And it's a finger food. This is not a knife and fork thing, it's kind of almost like a Danish. And so you're gonna enjoy the piece of king cake. And if you find the baby, if the baby is found by you, then typically what happens is you are now responsible to buy the next king cake. So that is the etiquette rule. It is very important to not pretend that you do not get the baby. Like, there's this long Reddit thread of people complaining about bad king cake etiquette or, like, people in the office would pretend they didn't see it so that they didn't have to buy the king cake.
Nick: Or people who wait until someone else finds the king cake before they go into the break room to slice off a piece, because they don't want to buy the king cake. So there's actually a great photo I saw of somebody's, like, office kitchen, which was quote, "By cutting a piece of king cake for your own consumption and/or enjoyment, you hereby agree to the following terms and conditions: if you even see the baby, you get the baby. Seeing is finding. So if you see, like, a little leg sticking out, you have found the baby. The baby has been found. And if you get the baby, you buy the next king cake. And if you pretend you didn't get the baby, you will be judged for eternity."
Leah: Whoo! I like that!
Nick: That's a long time. So it's very important that if you get the baby, be a good sport. That's the deal with the king cake.
Leah: Isn't it—I thought it was also good luck.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, the—finding the baby can be many different things, depending on what your krewe decides. So it can make you the king and queen of the krewe that year. It could mean you have to throw the next party. It could mean you get to wear the crown all night. You can have good luck. Like, whatever the baby means for your krewe, it can be that. But everybody does agree that if you find the baby, you have obligations now to procure another king cake at some point.
Leah: Got it.
Nick: Which is also very clever marketing by the king cake industrial complex. They have now obligated you to always keep buying king cakes.
Leah: [laughs] Keep it going, keep it going.
Nick: Very sneaky.
Leah: Very sneaky.
Nick: So that's king cake.
Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to go deep.
Leah: I mean ...
Nick: [laughs] So there is something in the air, something in the ether.
Leah: It may smell a little bit.
Nick: Because in a span of maybe, like, four days, we received so many emails and texts and DMs from all around the country—probably world, I don't know where some of these people are—on the exact same topic. It was like we have not heard about this at all, and now all of a sudden, everybody has thoughts and complaints and concerns about dog walking and where to put the poop. So here is the first email we got. And I thought, "Oh, this is a good question." Quote, "I was walking my dog in my neighborhood this morning and as dogs do, he pooped. So I scooped it up in a little baggie, tied it off and kept walking. During the walk, I saw an open trash bin that belongs to one of the neighbors on the side of the road. Not thinking much about it, I tossed the bag of poop in there. Have I committed an etiquette crime?"
Nick: And I thought, "Oh, that's an interesting question." And then, like, minutes later, separate email with diagram, which we will post to on the show notes, quote, "I have a poop problem. I recently moved into a house in a laid-back beach down in Central California. Each week, on the night before trash day, when I go to take out my bag of trash and put it in my bin on the street, I find a bag or two of dog poop. After trash collection, I check my bin and it's always 100 percent empty. This means that someone is walking up my driveway and very close to my car and house to dispose of their doggie bags. None of my immediate neighbors have dogs, so it's a stranger doing this. This action isn't hurting me, and there's plenty of room in the trash can. And I only have to smell it for a second once a week. But it does feel so invasive and unsettling that someone is coming up to my house and could be seeing my trash. I have a security system sign in the garage window directly next to the trash can, but there isn't a camera on that side of the house. Would it be rude to put a sign on my garbage bin asking the offender to stop disposing their waste there? I've attached a diagram of the area for context."
Nick: So it's like, okay, we have a dog person and now we have a bin owner.
Nick: And then we get a little variation on this theme. "What's the etiquette rule for disposing dog poop while walking your dog? My dumpster was out to be picked up on trash day, and I brought them into the garage assuming they were empty. I didn't realize that someone had dropped several bags of poop into the empty dumpster, which then created an unbearable stench that stormed the garage-house barrier more effectively than the troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Am I in the wrong to assume that people should clean up after their dogs and dispose of the poop in their own homes and dumpsters?"
Nick: And it goes on, but I think you get the idea. There's something in the air. So I guess my first thought is like, why is this happening? Like, why in general is this happening? Why is there ambiguity about this etiquette rule? Like, why is so much unhappiness coming from this question?
Leah: I also think it's very interesting how different locations across America have trash bins, because in New York, they're outside the house, they don't get brought in. It's completely different. So if somebody has been in a city for a long time, the difference to be going to a place where people have personal trash bins that then get pulled into their home after trash day. Because once it's yours, it feels like somebody—and also, when people look at the diagram, that trash bin is up in her house.
Nick: [laughs] So yeah, let's talk about the diagram for a moment. I think what is a little problematic about that scenario is that, in order to use this person's trash, you have to really get on that person's property and really make an effort to, like, go behind their cars, deep into, like, their carport and deposit it. And that definitely feels like a boundary issue there. Like, that goes beyond garbage cans.
Leah: That feels like straight up trespassing.
Nick: That feels a little like trespassing, yeah. So I agree that that's problematic.
Leah: I also think that putting the number twosies into a bin that's not like a building bin, that's a person's house where they pull the bin in after trash day, you are now leaving that person with your dog's poop.
Leah: Until the next pick up. Like, that's a no-no. You shouldn't dump it into an already picked-up trash.
Nick: Yeah, that is a problem because I think you would assume after trash day when it feels very light and empty, that it is, in fact, empty. And I think a lot of people wouldn't necessarily do a visual inspection of their own garbage can before bringing it in.
Leah: But they also have nowhere to put it now. They have to bring it back in. It's now in their trash.
Nick: Right. And actually to get to the bottom of, like, a big 40-gallon trash can and try and, like, fish out bags of poop, like, oh, that's just annoying.
Leah: But also, what are they gonna do, put it right back in? Because they have to wait for trash day for next week. They've now been saddled with somebody else's poo.
Nick: Yeah. Oh, that is true, yeah. Now, like, what else am I going to do with this for a whole week? Right. True. True. I guess my question is like, so I'm going for a walk in my neighborhood with my dog, and I need to pick up my dog's poop and now I'm carrying it around. How long is this walk that I'm going on, where I can't just keep this and take it home? Like, is it that I'm embarrassed for someone to see me holding a bag of poop, so I want to just get rid of it as soon as possible? Or it smells, and so I just don't want to have to carry it around? Like, how long are these dog walks I'm going on? Like, can I not hang onto it for half an hour?
Leah: Some people probably go for really long dog walks, and they want to use their phone. You know what I mean? They're like, I want to free up my hands. But I don't think you should free it up. Obviously, the idea would be that there would be public trash cans for people to be able to dispense.
Nick: Right. But I mean, in a lot of these places—I mean, in New York City, we have one on every corner, and I think a lot of places that is not the case. So ...
Leah: Also, New York City is different because the trash bins are outside. Their building trash bins, they don't come back in the building. There's always a bag in there. That's different.
Nick: Yeah. So I guess, let's come up with some rules.
Leah: Definitive rules.
Nick: Some definitive rules on this topic. I think the first choice is carry it home, use your own garbage. I think that's always the first choice. If you can do that, that would be the best. That avoids this whole problem altogether.
Leah: And I think major rule: we don't walk on people's property.
Nick: I think also major rule, we definitely don't walk on someone else's property, so don't do that. Now if the bin is on the property line, and you can reach the bin while on public property, and you cannot possibly carry this poop all the way home, that's not an option for you for some reason, and the garbage has not yet been picked up, then I guess maybe it's okay to put it on top of the pile. Maybe.
Leah: If—and only if—the garbage hasn't been picked up.
Nick: Correct. So I guess that would be maybe one way we would allow that. Maybe. I still don't love that, but that would be one scenario which would be vaguely acceptable to me.
Leah: And if it's been emptied, you've got to carry the poop. Don't drop it in somebody's empty—you're just ...
Nick: I think that's fair, yeah. And I was looking on Etsy. There's all these stylish accessories—I mean, stylish is a strong word, but there's a lot of accessories that you can buy that are like poop holders for, like, holding it until you get back to your own home. There's like special things that, like, attach to your leash that you can have for this purpose. So that's an option, you know? Something to consider.
Leah: And then for the woman who is like, "Should I put a sign up?" I don't know how we're gonna explain to people that they're trespassing if they walk all the way up your driveway, go behind your car.
Nick: I mean, I think you could write a sign that says, "If you can read this sign, you are currently trespassing on my property." And then have a big, like, photo of a camera and be, like, "Smile, you're on camera." Like a convenience store.
Leah: Yeah, because they are trespassing. It's not negotiable.
Nick: Yes. I think you are on my property, yes, using my garbage, so—and it's not rude because you can't see that sign unless you're actively doing the thing I've asked you not to do. So ...
Leah: Yeah, it's not like it's down at the end of your driveway. It's all the way up at your house.
Nick: Right. I mean, it's like those bumper stickers. Like, "If you can read this, you're driving too close."
Nick: You know, like, don't tailgate me. So I think you could put a sign. I don't know if that's gonna stop anyone, but it may make people think twice from doing it again. So that's an option. But I think a sign is okay.
Nick: So I think those are our dog poop rules. I think I feel pretty satisfied with this list.
Leah: [laughs] I do love that we got just a whole—shall we say dump—at once.
Nick: [laughs] No!
Leah: That just came to be right now. Right now.
Nick: Wow. Wow, just those comedy chops. Mm-hmm.
Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.
Nick: So our first question is, quote, "Two days ago, I was in a public restroom, and not only was the woman in the stall next to me on the phone, but she had the phone on speakerphone. My fiance seemed perplexed when I shared this vent with him, saying, 'I think men's rooms work a little differently than women's restrooms.' What say you? Isn't the bathroom a sacred space where I shouldn't have to worry about others hearing my bathroom noises? And if not for me, shouldn't we at least have respect for the person on the other end of the line? Surely they aren't interested in the bathroom noises forced upon their ears."
Leah: I have a question up top.
Leah: I obviously don't have a question on how I feel about this. I just wondered what you think this meant: "I think men's restrooms work differently than women's restrooms." Do you think he's saying that he thinks that's totally fine?
Leah: Or that nobody's on speakerphone?
Nick: My first thought was that, oh, we don't do this in men's rooms, that's new to me.
Leah: Oh, okay. I was just curious because I didn't—I didn't understand.
Nick: However, I have certainly been in men's restrooms where people are on the phone and on speakerphone. Like, I have witnessed this. So maybe it's more common in men's rooms than women's rooms. I don't know.
Leah: That was my initial response, that he was saying, "Oh, in men's rooms, everybody's on speakerphone." So I don't know. I've never been in one. I was curious. Is that what you guys are doing in there? Everybody's on speakerphone?
Nick: Yeah. No, we're on speakerphone. Yeah, we're just having a meeting.
Leah: It's like a big conference call.
Nick: I just wrote down. "No. Mm-mm. No." That's it. That was—that's my whole feeling about this. Like, speakerphone? No. Why are we doing that?
Leah: Ever. Anywhere in public, anywhere in public.
Nick: I mean, I don't like speakerphone in general. Just as a general phone situation, I don't care to be on speakerphone, I don't care to put people on speakerphone. Like, I'm not into speakerphone. But in a bathroom?
Leah: I'm appalled. I mean, it's happened to me many times. When I was at the gym, there was always a woman on the speakerphone in the bath. And I was caught—every time I was shocked. You would think I'd stop being shocked and be like, this is the world we live in. I just don't get it. I, like you, don't like speakerphone. I wouldn't even actually be on the phone in the bathroom.
Leah: Like, why are we on the phone at all in the bathroom? I mean, unless obviously it's an emergency situation.
Nick: It's only if I'm on hold with an airline, and it's, like, been 45 minutes and I don't want to lose my place in line.
Nick: And I have to use the restroom. So I'm gonna put it on mute and I'm going to, like, monitor it. And I'm on hold, but I'm not going to be, like, actively taking a phone call in the bathroom.
Leah: Yes, exactly. I don't even get it.
Nick: Oh, I get it. Of course you get it.
Leah: I don't get it. I'm really try—I'm so—I really don't anymore. I mean ...
Nick: Well, because I think a lot of times, people feel like nothing around them matters and is of consequence. Like, they're in their bubble, and they're just like, "Oh, I'm on a call, and that's all that matters. The happiness or thoughts of anyone around me is inconsequential, it does not matter, they don't exist to me. And so, like, oh, I'm going to go in the bathroom."
Leah: I guess done with it is what I am.
Nick: Yes. I think we could certainly be done with this behavior, but this behavior is not done with us.
Leah: I mean, at a certain point, are we gonna start banging on bathroom walls and be like, "Can you please?"
Nick: But I guess, why does it feel so terrible? I mean, I guess the bathroom is a safe space.
Leah: The bathroom is a private place.
Nick: And we want to pretend like nothing is happening there, and that we want to pretend that we're not being monitored by other people.
Nick: We want to pretend like we're alone.
Nick: And we want that fiction. That fiction is very important. That's why we don't make eye contact. That's why we don't make conversation, hopefully. At least that's a men's room thing.
Leah: If I was in a stall, and the woman next to me just started talking to me for any other reason, except for "Do you have any toilet paper?" I'd be like, oh, I'm next to a serial killer.
Nick: [laughs] But also, I think if I'm on the other end of this phone call, I find that very disturbing. Like, in general, I don't like when I can hear the tone difference when you've gone into a very small, tiled, walled space. Like, I can hear that on the phone. Like, even if you're in your own bathroom in your own home, like, I can tell we've just moved into a different room that has more tile.
Leah: Oh, absolutely.
Nick: With echoes. And I don't care for that, right? And I think in general, you should be mindful of, like, the sounds that you make doing innocuous things: rustling some paper, going to the sink to fill up a glass of water, unzipping your jacket. Like, all of these things may sound very strange on the other end if you don't know what's happening because you can't see it. So I think you just want to be mindful of, like, all the sound effects you're making.
Leah: But I do think that this person who's in the bathroom on speakerphone, whoever they're talking to is probably also in a bathroom on speakerphone. Like, they're just like a group of friends with all of this, like, cave-like behavior. You know what I mean?
Nick: Yeah. So what was the question? Is this rude? I guess that's the question. Should you do this? Is that what it is?
Leah: I mean, I think we're all, like, gross.
Nick: Yeah, don't do that.
Leah: Please do not.
Nick: Yeah. And as for the difference between men's rooms and women's rooms? No, the rule's the same. There's no difference here.
Nick: So our next question is, quote, "I live in New York, and my building has a recycling room. Is it more considerate to break down my cardboard boxes, making it easier for the building staff to recycle them? Or would it be more considerate to leave the boxes intact, in case one of my neighbors needs a box for something?"
Leah: If they need a box, they can tape it back up. You got to break it down.
Nick: Yeah, that was my first thought. I mean, in my building where we put, like, the recycling is in the stairwell. So if you just have all these boxes, that's a fire hazard, at least for anybody who lives above me. Like, they're on the own. But yeah, you don't want, like, just boxes floating around.
Leah: Yeah, it takes up too much space. You've got to break it down.
Nick: And then, yeah, I wrote, "If you need a box, you can make it a box again. If you've got the tape to seal the top, you got the tape to seal the bottom."
Leah: [laughs]* I love the idea. You can make it a box again! [laughs]
Nick: [laughs] Right. So I like the idea of, like, wanting to be quote unquote "considerate of your neighbors," although that actually feels like an excuse to be lazy.
Leah: I know. That's what it felt like to me, but then I wanted to believe that our letter writer was actually just being like, what if somebody else needs it?
Nick: Mm-hmm. Yes. Well, I think that's why you won't soil the box. You're not gonna cut it up into a million pieces so no one can have it. But I think just flattening it is fine.
Leah: You're not going to rip the bottom open. You're just going to slice up the tape.
Nick: Yes, exactly. Okay. So our next question is, quote, "I have a friend—let's call him James—who my girlfriend—whom I'll call Sally—has met a couple of times but doesn't know well. James recently suggested that we do a weekend couples' cabin trip with him and his better half, along with one other couple that James knows but I've only met once. So six people in total, none of whom really knows my Sally very well. The destination is a fun getaway with outdoor winter activities and affordable cabin rentals, which is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive each way. Everything sounds great, and everyone seems on board, but nothing has been pinned down on the calendar yet. So it's more of a fun idea than a plan.
Nick: "Sally is excited at the prospect, so much so that she's wanting to invite two of her friends, another couple. I've only met half of that couple before, and James and his crew definitely don't know this couple at all. The one half of the couple I do know is great. But the other half is a big question mark, mainly because I haven't met him. From where I'm sitting, I feel like it would be awkward and a little bit of an imposition if I were to start extending invitations to Sally's friends, when the event itself was originally presented to me as an invitation from James. Since James came up with the idea and initiated, I see him as the quote unquote 'host,' and feel that it's not my place to invite people from my circle that he's never met, especially when one of those people is someone I've never met. Am I off base in thinking that that could come off as hijacking James's plans? Or am I overthinking it?"
Leah: I don't think you're off base at all.
Nick: Nope, not off base. No, let's set that transponder to squawk seven five zero zero. This is a hijacking.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, this is not your event, so don't invite people to events that are not yours. That rule applies.
Leah: And it's not even Sally's friend's event, it's James's friend’s event. So it's even, like, one step away. I think that if we're like—well I mean, the rule that you said applies. And it's also like, if you're the partner in this situation and your friend—it's your partner's friend setting it up, and your partner says, "That makes me uncomfortable because we don't know," then drop it.
Nick: Oh, so you kind of feel like Sally's pushing this a little bit?
Leah: I feel like Sally's pushing it. Otherwise, our letter writer wouldn't have written this in. I think Sally is making our letter writer feel bad.
Nick: Oh, so you feel like Sally is pushing this with the letter writer?
Leah: Otherwise, our letter writer wouldn't be questioning their own instincts.
Nick: Mm. Okay, yeah. No, Sally needs to back off, because if something goes wrong with this friend, the mystery friend, then it's on our letter writer. It's his fault for ruining everyone's weekend. So you don't want that on your shoulders.
Leah: Yeah, and it's our letter writer and James's relationship, and so that's—just back off, I think.
Nick: Now, I do see, like, a slight sort of nuance is that James is the one who initiated the idea. He's the concept creator. Now is he the actual host, though? Because in host, we would think of that as the person that is actually, like, doing the planning, paying for it, sponsoring it, like all those other host-y things. And when you're a host, yes, you definitively control the guest list. I think, though, because James is sort of the initiator, I think he still controls the guest list. This is still his event, even if he's not necessarily, quote unquote, "host" of the whole thing. He's the ringleader, and I think that does still give him power.
Leah: I think that I agree. I also feel like if I was our letter writer and I said something made me uncomfortable and I didn't want to ask my friend about it, then that should be the end of that.
Nick: That's a good signal that, like, oh, this may not be appropriate. Right.
Leah: This doesn't feel appropriate to me, and that that should be okay.
Nick: But I think what you could do is go to James and be like, "Hey, James. Sally wanted to invite some people? Is this a 'the more the merrier' type of situation? Or do you want to keep the guest list to where it is?"
Leah: I think you could ask.
Nick: And I think you just ask. And James could be like, "You know, I kind of just wanted to have it just be, like, six of us," or James might be like, "Oh, more people want to join? Awesome. We'll get a bigger house." So I would let James decide. And whatever James decides, it's up to James.
Leah: Also, have you been to a place—I've been there when somebody brought somebody that nobody knew. Somebody was like, "Hey, can I bring this other couple?" And then one of the couple members was a monster.
Nick: [laughs] Yeah. I think there's a very high risk of that happening. You don't know.
Leah: Yeah. At the end of the day, it's gonna be on James and our letter writer's relationship, and that's why I think if you feel uncomfortable, it's fine to say, "This feels like overstepping."
Nick: And I think what you should do is meet this other couple separately, see how they are, and then in the future we can plan something with them because they're cool.
Nick: Okay, great.
Leah: Just plan another weekend.
Nick: Yeah, just plan another weekend. How hard is that?
Nick: So great question. And we want to hear more of your great questions, so please send them to us. Send them to us through our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com. 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: Oh, I'm gonna vent.
Leah: And I found it amazing, like the multitude of dog poop questions that came in at the same time ...
Leah: That my vent would coincide with a letter that we got this week about women's bathrooms.
Nick: Oh, okay!
Leah: Also, something in the air.
Nick: [laughs] Okay.
Leah: So I had to rent a car. And I went to—I won't say where it was. The office was immaculate, everything was so clean, everything was—I mean, sparkling. It was sparkling.
Nick: Okay. You could eat off the floor.
Leah: I could eat off the floor. It was crisp. Everything was fantastic. I walk into the women's bathroom. It is like I have walked into—I don't even know what. It's like I walked through some sort of—into another world.
Nick: It was like the upside down world in Stranger Things.
Leah: It was like the upside down world in Stranger Things. Thank you. I was, like, visualizing, like, this curtain I went through and it became a wasteland. It was ...
Leah: Problematic maybe would be a low bar word for what I experienced.
Leah: And this is not the first time this has happened to me. I do not understand what women are doing. We need to work as a group. You can't just make the biggest mess and walk away from it, because somebody is coming in. A) somebody has to clean up after you; B) the woman after you is gonna have to clean up after you. I don't—and it was every stall.
Leah: Every stall had a different group of problems. I don't even understand. I don't want to go too far here. There is obviously a problem in women's bathrooms where some women squat, some women sit. And the women who sit have to clean up after the squatters. If we can't come together on this? Plus, you can't just throw your toilet paper everywhere. There was unflushed toilets.
Leah: We are—I just was like, what is happening in here? Is this a lawless wild west where you think that you can just behave like you're still in the caves?
Nick: I mean, apparently so, yes.
Leah: I was just—every time this happens in a women's restroom, I'm like, "I thought we were better than this."
Nick: I'm sorry this happened to you.
Leah: I just collectively, as a group, I feel like we're better than this, I don't know what's happening in women's restrooms.
Nick: Well, I think we need to create a campaign. Yeah, let's get the ad council on this.
Leah: It's just like, I know you don't do this at your home, I know you don't do this at your friend's home.
Nick: Maybe they do.
Leah: No, they don't.
Nick: Maybe their home looks like this.
Leah: No. It's too much in too many places, where I think women just walk in there and think, "I'm gonna do whatever I want." Don't! You can't! It's a group place. I'm just gonna start following these women out. When we go to people's houses, I'm gonna also add in women's restrooms, where I just shame people when they come out and they didn't flush, and they just throw their toilet paper everywhere.
Nick: Oh, I see. We're gonna make them pause. Like, "Oh, ma'am, can you just hold on? We're gonna just take a look at the stall you were just in to make sure it's fine. And if it's not, we're gonna have a conversation about it." Is that what we're gonna do?
Leah: Yeah, and if it's not, then we're just going to look deeply into your eyes and be like, "Do you think that people don't flush toilets?
Nick: [laughs] Okay. I mean, I'm happy to take on that crusade.
Nick: Well, speaking of women who think they can do whatever they want. I would like to vent. So one of the fun things about living in New York City is that we have this phenomenon called "butt brush" in our retail stores. And "butt brush" is basically a retail term—it's a real retail term—about aisles that are very close where you might actually brush up against someone else's butt as you're passing. And in New York City, we have the rare privilege of having a significant number of places where this happens, because our stores are very, very small. Such that, like, when I go home to California, I remark at the wide aisle California supermarkets. Like, I find it very fascinating and novel. So I am in my local CVS, and another fun thing about New York City is that our convenience stores, the layout of these stores makes no sense whatsoever. Like, just the geography? Like, why things are where they are, or why the store is laid out where it is? Like, it makes no sense.
Nick: And so in this particular CVS, in order to get to their actual store, you have to walk through this gauntlet of refrigerators. And it's like a single aisle where there's fridges on both sides. And it's narrow. I actually went to the CVS this morning with a tape measure to measure how wide this aisle is.
Nick: It is 48 inches. So that's four feet. So it's, you know, not as narrow as it could be, but it's definitely not anybody's definition of wide. So, okay. So I'm now leaving the store, and I'm going through the gauntlet of refrigerators to get out of the store. And I'm almost at the end, and there's this woman who is coming towards the gauntlet. She has not entered the gauntlet yet, but she sees me exiting. Okay, great. And I'm thinking, "Oh, this is a normal person. And what normal people would do is wait for me to get out of the gauntlet before you enter." Okay. But no, she was not a normal person, and she had a granny cart. And a granny cart is very common in New York City. It's basically one of these folding carts that are usually mesh. And typically these are, like, two feet wide. Hers was three feet wide.
Nick: It was an extra-wide granny cart. So let's do a little math. The aisle is 48 inches, four feet. Her cart? 36 inches. Three feet. That leaves one foot. Okay, fine. So she enters with her granny cart down the gauntlet, and she's about maybe 18 inches into the gauntlet. And she sees me coming, and she expects me to either go around her or back up 30 feet so that she can go through the gauntlet. Like, that's what she wanted to have happen. And she decided like, oh, no, I'm just gonna have you pass. And I look at her, I was like, "Oh, I'm sorry." As in, like, can I get around you? And instead of just backing up a foot to let me pass, she just moved her cart over, leaving 10 inches for me. So I am now shimmying past her and her cart with 10 inches. And, you know, I am wider than 10 inches, so it was real snug. And I apologize to her as I'm passing, but my apology was not sincere. So that was remarkable, and I really did not care for that butt brush.
Leah: A) I didn't know that butt brush was a term. I love it. B) such a visual. I see her, I get her. I know this woman. It's insane. It's insanity. People who are, like, not getting how space works.
Nick: And the worst part is that she was mad at me for inconveniencing her.
Leah: Of course she was.
Nick: Of course she was.
Leah: She was mad at you.
Nick: Right? So ugh, CVS.
Leah: These people are on our list. We're gonna go in aisles and find them and be like, "What are you doing? What is the mindset right now?"
Nick: Some things are unknowable. Some questions cannot be answered.
Leah: We should just start an interviewing thing where we find people doing things in aisles and be like, "Why would you walk in with this huge cart when this person's coming out? What is going on in your mind right now?"
Nick: "What part of you thought this was okay? Walk me through it." Yeah.
Leah: That should be the title: "What Part of You Thought This Was Okay?" [laughs]
Nick: Put that on a pillow.
Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?
Leah: I learned a myriad of things today. Most notably I learned—I didn't know that the baby in a king cake, that that meant that you bought the next round. I thought it was just good luck.
Nick: That's it.
Leah: And I learned that butt brush is actually a term.
Nick: It's a term and I don't like it. And I learned that women's bathrooms are not always clean.
Nick: 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: So for your homework this week, I want you to send us an email, and I want you to tell us about some etiquette rule where you are. So wherever you live, your community, your country, your culture, send us an etiquette rule that we should know if we come and visit.
Leah: I love that so much.
Nick: Isn't that great? Yeah, I love hearing about local etiquette. So send those to us at our website, and we'll see you next time.
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 wanted to do a shout out to—I love—I got a surprise picture of myself doing comedy, and it was drawn by a friend of mine's young six-year-old son, Milo the artist. And he's so talented, and it honestly lifted my spirits, I'd say for a whole week.
Nick: Okay. It doesn't take much.
Leah: It's just, you know when you get, like, a surprise, just like a nice thing, and you're like, "Oh, I'm delighted!" And it just carries you.
Nick: It was very sweet. We'll post a link to it in our show notes so other people can see.
Leah: Super cute, right?
Nick: But it was very adorable. And for me, I want to say thank you to Jeffrey Herman. So very long story short, I have these silver incense boxes that I bought in Shanghai, like, decades ago. And I'm going around the house, like, looking for things to do to avoid doing work. So for procrastination, I thought, "Oh, I should polish these," but I don't actually know much about metal polishing. So I emailed some guy named Jeffrey Herman who is like a silver polishing expert. And I just had some questions, so I was like, "Oh, what is this metal and what would you recommend? And if you have any ideas, I would love to know. Thank you so much."
Nick: Within, like, two hours, he calls me on the phone and he's like, "Oh, let me walk you through it. Here's all this advice. Here's what I would do. You don't have to send them to me for professional. Like, this is what I would do. And here you are." And I was like, that is nice. Generous with your information, generous with your time. I'm like, this is a very kind thing, which I will remember and I will use on the show. So here we are. So thank you, Jeffrey. Really appreciate it.
Leah: I love that!