Sept. 21, 2020

Eating Like Europeans, Signing Business Emails, Giving Repeat Gifts, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating like Europeans, signing business emails, giving repeat gifts, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd write you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: American versus European fork usage
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: Email closings
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: Can I tell my boss I don't want the same Christmas gift as last year? What do you do if someone doesn't apologize for hitting you with a ball? Can I tell a friend I'm never going to read the book they gave me?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Nearby carpentry, A big thumb's up
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Mah Jong, A nice review




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Musical Interlude]

Nick: Do you use a fork the wrong way? Do you try and dictate gifts? Do you send thumbs-up emojis at the wrong time? 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!

Nick: So, for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about the different ways Americans and Europeans eat with a fork.

Leah: This is great. I love eating!

Nick: [Giggling] So, as you know, Americans and Europeans, we eat a little differently with a fork. In case you don't know, Europeans, when they're eating a steak, they will hold the knife in the right hand, and they will hold the fork in the left hand, and they'll cut off a little piece. Then, with the left hand holding the fork, they will skewer the little piece of meat, and then they will eat the piece of meat. Americans will cut off a little piece of meat, and then they will set down the knife, move the fork from the left hand to the right hand, and then with the right hand, skewer the piece of meat and eat it. Then, we'll put the fork back in the left hand, cut off another piece of meat, back and forth, until we're done. This is the main difference. So, how did this happen? Very long story short ... The history of the fork is fascinating. Oh, my goodness! If you are interested in the history of culinary instruments, get into the fork! There's a lot to say! Apparently. it came to Europe relatively late. It seems to have started in Italy, 1600s, maybe 1700s; maybe 1400s? Not everybody was into it at the beginning. Some people thought it was evil, but eventually it started to catch on.

Leah: HA!

Nick: By the 1700s, it felt it was pretty common throughout continental Europe, and even in England, it caught on slightly later, I'm told. Apparently, it took a little while to get across the English Channel ... Eventually, using the fork made it throughout the entire continent. Before the fork came along, people were just used to using spoons and knives and their fingers. When the fork came along, they used it the same way they would use these other things, which was in their right hand. You'd use the fork in the left hand, if you were sort of keeping a piece of meat down when you were cutting it, but the main party, that was all happening in the right hand. So, as these Europeans, with their fork habits, moved to North America, which was happening, the people in North America continued to do it this way. This makes sense. But then, sometime in the 1800s, I think - maybe it was in France - it became all the rage to do this non-switch thing, where you just kept the fork in the left hand, but they forgot to tell the people in North America that this was what we were doing. The memo didn't make it. It's kind of like how we still use pounds, and inches. We're just keeping it old school in North America.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: So, it's not that one is better than the other; it's just different. Miss Manners says that, "Those who point out that the European manner is more efficient are right." "But," she adds, "those who claim it is older or more sophisticated are wrong. Etiquette has never considered getting food into the mouth faster a mark of refinement."

Leah: Oooh!

Nick: So, laying down the law there, Miss Manners. When people have asked her, "Is it okay if I do it the European style? Can I do Continental style?" She says that you can, if you are European, but otherwise, it's in the same category as using an English accent, or a French accent in the United States. That's not proper. We don't do that.

Leah: Wow! Wow!

Nick: So, if you are American, you should do it the American way. Yeah.

Leah: That's so funny because I clearly eat like a European - all in the left.

Nick: Well, I wonder though ... Sidebar: you're left-handed, though.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: So, I wonder if your inclination, because you're left-handed, is to do it the opposite way. Is that part of it?

Leah: I mean, I wouldn't equate it with using a fake accent. I'm gonna say that.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay.

Leah: But I am going to eat with my fork in my left hand.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Because I'm not going to switch it to the hand ... I might miss my whole mouth with my right hand!

Nick: Who knows what may happen!

Leah: [Laughter]

Nick: Now, Letitia Baldridge, she actually specifically suggests teaching your children to do it the Continental way. She thinks that's just better. The latest edition of Emily Post, the one that's written by her descendants, that book says that you're allowed to do either one, and you can even switch between them in the same meal.

Leah: Whoo! Emily Post!

Nick: But ... The original Emily Post: "One wonders if it is considered wrong by the zig-zag eaters, whoever they may be, to go up and down stairs, left foot, right foot, or do they go down - Right foot. Stop. Bring down left. Right foot. Stop. Bring down left." She continues, "Why an able-bodied person should like to pretend that the left hand is paralyzed and cannot be lifted more than three or four inches above the table is beyond understanding." So ...

Leah: I love that. I'm right there with her on this one.

Nick: Emily does not associate with zig-zaggers. She doesn't know any. She doesn't understand them. Emily really feels strongly about doing it the Continental way.

Leah: This is the strongest I've felt about Emily. This is where I think, "Way to go, Emily!"

Nick: Okay! Well, we all find our heroes.

Leah: [Laughter]

Nick: So, that is the main difference. I think the main takeaway, though, is that just because something is European doesn't mean it's fancy or correct.

Leah: Okay. [Giggling] I'm also very delighted about the history of forks.

Nick: Yeah, I think if you're interested in the history of forks, this is a great topic, and I really encourage anybody to explore it further.

Leah: I want everybody to know at home that I keep trying to say, "Took a little tine to get across to England," but Nick will not let me make any fork puns. [laughter]

Nick: No fork puns!

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Stick a fork in it, Leah.

[Musical Interlude]

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

Leah: So deep!

Nick: This was prompted by a question we got from one of our Patreon members, which was: "I've recently read that it is inappropriate to sign emails "Thank you." Well, that is how I've been signing all my emails for years. The reason that I was given is that by saying "Thank you," or apparently even worse, "Thank you in advance," is that you're basically demanding that the person do something for you and are assuming they are going to do it. Thus the thank you. Ever since I read this, I changed my practices, and I sign all my emails "Best regards." This is fine, but now I'm wondering - is it really that bad to sign "Thank you?" Good question!

Leah: Great question. Sent me into a tailspin! [laughter]

Nick: I was looking at some famous letter endings. The Apostle Paul, he ended his letters with "Grace be with you." Some of Thomas Jefferson's letters ended with "Your most obedient and most humble servant."

Leah: I like both of those! I think those are nice!

Nick: Very nice, right? Very nice!

Leah: I want to make my letter endings more like those!

Nick: You could. You could if you wanted. I think this is a great question because it comes down to the general etiquette concept of context. It often always comes down to what is the context we're dealing with here?

Leah: Right.

Nick: What is the relationship? Why are we writing this letter? Who am I? Who are you?

Leah: How do I know this person?

Nick: Yes, for sure! I think, in general, there is formal and informal letters. When we think about formal, which is, I think, what our letter-writer is concerned with, I think it can always be safe to use the word "Sincerely." This is beige. This is the Helvetica of endings. It doesn't catch anybody's eye. It doesn't have any double meanings. It is just a neutral thing that is fine for pretty much any letter. So, I think we can always default to that.

Leah: We can.

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I don't, personally. I understand what's being said about saying thank you is assuming.

Nick: Right.

Leah: But I often use thank you as I'm not assuming they're going to do the thing in the letter. I mean, just, "Thank you for reading this email. Thank you!"

Nick: Yeah, like, "Thank you for your time." Okay, yes.

Leah: Yeah, and that's how I'm using it. "Thank you in advance."

Nick: Different.

Leah: That's different.

Nick: Sure. Yeah. For letter endings, "Sincerely," I think this is my preference. "Thank you," I think, is okay. "Thank you in advance" is not okay.

Leah: I mean, unless you mean it.

Nick: Well, I think you always mean it, but I think it-

Leah: No, I mean if it's being used on purpose because this person was supposed to do a thing, hasn't done it, you're following up.

Nick: Oh, you're trying to just twist the knife a little bit?

Leah: You're letting them know this should have been a thing that was done, "Thank you in advance."

Nick: Oh, okay. Yeah, no, if you are using that phrase for the express purpose of making a point, and you know you want to make that point, well, then yeah, absolutely make that point. Sure. That's great.

Leah: Yeah, "Thank you in advance" is making a point.

Nick: [laughter] Yes, for sure!

Leah: It's coming with a tone!

Nick: Yeah. There's definitely a tone. Yeah. I think if you wanted to thank somebody, though, I think I prefer the last sentence of your email to be that expression of thanks; like, "Thank you so much for taking the time to do X, Y, Z," and then, "Best wishes, Nick."

Leah: Oh, I like that.

Nick: I think the thank you, and then the closing could maybe be two separate things.

Leah: I really like that. I always try to end with like, "I really appreciate blankety-blank-blank ..."

Nick: And then ...?

Leah: And then, "Thanks! Leah."

Nick: Thanks. Okay, well, I think the closing does show personality. So, anytime you deviate away from "Sincerely," then we can get a little more of your personality in the email. Whether or not you want to do that is a conscious choice, or at least should be. I have these people who and emails with "Cheers." Unless you're British, or Australian-

Leah: I was gonna say, are they British? [laughter]

Nick: If you're not, you're making a choice ... You're making a choice.

Leah: Well, you know, there are ... I know "Cheers" people. There are people-

Nick: Oh, absolutely. Yes, there are "Cheers" people in this world. Yes.

Leah: I've definitely - and this is not for professional emails, although I think because of my profession I could use this ...

Nick: You have a lot more slack, yes.

Leah: I should start having more fun knowing that people expect it of me.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I've signed a lot of letters, "Guinea pig kisses, Leah."

Nick: As in the animal?!

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Where does that come from?

Leah: I had two guinea pigs, R2-D2, and Tupac Shakute-

Nick: Okay [laughter]

Leah: -who were gorgeous!!

Nick: Sure.

Leah: They lived way past how long guinea pigs should live.

Nick: Uh-huh ...

Leah: We had them for a very long time. They unfortunately have passed on, but they-

Nick: Live on in our hearts.

Leah: Yes, and on my phone with a lot of pictures. I would sign things "Guinea pig kisses."

Nick: Um, okay ... Yes. I think if you are a professional standup comedian-

Leah: That was friends. It was friends and- I wasn't setting that to the bank.

Nick: I think you could send a work email with that.

Leah: You think so?

Nick: Absolutely! Yes.

Leah: Yeah, I should start shaking it up a little bit.

Nick: Yeah, I mean, is some booking agent gonna look at that and be like, "Oh, well, we can't hire her ..." [laughter] Yeah, no, I think if you want to have a signature closing and that's "Guinea pig kisses," then I think have at it [crosstalk]

Leah: Yeah, I need to have more fun. I've gotta-

Nick: But for everybody else out there ...

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: "Guinea pig kisses" is, uh, maybe on the No List.

Leah: [Giggling] Unless you have really cute guinea pigs, and you want to attach a picture and send it to me!

Nick: Oh! You're gonna do a photo in the footer? Oh, okay.

Leah: Imagine I added a photo [laughter]

Nick: Oh, I can picture you doing that. Absolutely.

Leah: [Guinea pig squeak]

Nick: Other things that you probably don't want to do is use an emoji for your closing. I think we probably don't want to do that in a more formal email. I don't love "Ciao." I think "Ciao" needs to be done with care.

Leah: I've honestly never seen a "Ciao."

Nick: You've never seen a "Ciao?" Oh, I've seen "Ciao ..."

Leah: On a professional email?

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: Really?!

Nick: Sure!

Leah: Never seen it.

Nick: Si, vero! Also on this list of things you probably shouldn't say: "Peace out."

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: "Stay awesome."

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: "XOXO"

Leah: Oh! I will take any of these, though. [Giggling]

Nick: I think those are a no. Emily Post (*Of course, she has some thoughts here ...)

Leah: Of course!

Nick: She does not the like word "Cordially," because she says: "In New York, at least, it is not used by people of best taste."

Leah: Hmm!

Nick: She says it's condescending and pretentious. If *Emily Post is telling you it is condescending and pretentious, then that is off limits for you!

Leah: [Giggling] You know it's real bad!

Nick: Real far! Yes! So, "Cordially ..." She has some strong feelings about the word "Cordially." She likes, "Sincerely." She feels like "Sincerely" for formal notes and "Affectionately" for informal notes. Those are your standards. Go with that.

Leah: I just wonder what would happen if I ... I would be taken aback if somebody wrote "Cordially," just because I never saw it. I wonder if I could slip it into an email, and I wonder if someone would be like, *"Cordially?"*

Nick: I mean, "Cordially" sounds really cold. "Cordially" is like when, in old movies, they say, "Good day, sir! I said good day!" [Giggling] you know? "Cordially" has that flavor to me, right?

Leah: "Cordially," i.e. "Not cordially at all!"

Nick: As in: "Yeah, please go away." So, those are some thoughts. For me, my go-to is "Best wishes." It's slightly more than "Sincerely," but is a pretty neutral thing that no one really reads into, and whether or not I actually want best wishes for you ... So, I think that really strikes the right tone.

Leah: I like, "Best wishes." How about "With regard?"

Nick: "WITH regard?" Uh ... Okay. I mean, okay.

Leah: I've never done that. I just thought of it right now.

Nick: Yeah, I mean ... I think whatever you do, I think you need to pick the same one for all your emails, because if you send multiple emails to the same person and you change your closing, that gives the recipient the opportunity to sort of read into it. It's like, "Oh, we started with "Warm regards," and then, "With regards," and now, it's "Regards." It's like, "Oh, what's happening here?" I think whatever you pick, just stick with that. If it's "Guinea pig kisses," then that's what it is.

Leah: I think it's a great point. [Giggling] Stay awesome!

[Musical Interlude]

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

Leah: [Howling]

Nick: Our first question is: "I work in a small office and my boss is the COO. He directly oversees three people, all female. Every year for the holidays, he sends us all the same thing - a huge caramel, chocolate, and nut-covered apple. The first year I worked for him, I thought, 'How nice ...' but then, the same gift kept coming year after year. I appreciate the thought. However, I never end up eating the apple with all the other holiday food that's around during that time, and it sits forgotten in my refrigerator until sometime in January when I inevitably throw it out. I feel so wasteful about this, and I wish I could just say "Thanks, but no thanks." I would prefer no gifts at all to the guilt that inevitably comes with the apple. I can't even do what I normally would do with unwanted food gifts and bring it to the office to share. Is there a polite way to opt out of receiving a gift from my boss? Can I suggest he try sending something else, or do I just need to get over it and keep throwing away the apple until one of us retires?" Good question!

Leah: I wondered if I'm being a jerk face.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay.

Leah: I circled this. "The guilt that inevitably comes with the apple."

Nick: Mmm! Why was this a highlight for you?

Leah: I highlighted it because my question to our letter-writer is: do you actually feel bad about throwing away the uneaten apple, or do you actually feel bad that your boss keeps giving you the same gift, when you don't even like the apple, and instead of putting it outward, you're putting it on yourself?

Nick: [Giggling] Okay. I mean, I get the idea of food guilt; about throwing away perfectly good food. I get that.

Leah: You've been given the same gift every year by the COO, and you're going to feel guilty?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I mean, I would. I would.

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: That is why I'd like to look at this letter-writer and say, "You know what, Leah Bonnema, you shouldn't feel guilty. You're not giving yourself an apple three years in a row!"

Nick: Fair. Okay. My first thought is that there's no polite way to decline this gift. So, the idea that we're going to tell the boss? No. No.

Leah: Yeah, no, no, but then I wrote, "No, of course, you can't. No, you can't.

Nick: We're not going to tell the boss, "Oh, this year, would you please not give me the apple?" That's not on the table here.

Leah: You could just give it to somebody else.

Nick: Yes! I mean, is there no other option here? Are you not invited to any other holiday party? Do you not have a neighbor? Do you not have a relative you're going to see? Like, is my only choice to put it in the back of the fridge until January? Is that it?!

Leah: Yeah, regift that!

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: Regift it!

Nick: So, that's my first thought. I mean, I guess you could start dropping hints in July about some new dietary thing that restricts your ability to eat this apple.

Leah: "Oh, I just went to the dentist and I can't have any caramel."

Nick: [Giggling] Right, or "I kind of might have a vague nut allergy now."

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: I don't know.

Leah: My guess, though, is that a boss who gets you the same thing, and all your coworkers, every year, isn't going to hear the hint and take it.

Nick: Probably what's happening here is that you say that you like the apple, so the boss thinks, "Oh, this was a good gift. They liked it. I'll do that again, they liked it so much!" That's probably what's happening.

Leah: That's a good point.

Nick: Right?

Leah: It's true. No, that's a great point.

Nick: Now, what if we did Secret Santa? Maybe this is the solution - that we all draw names, and we get somebody else a gift. Now, inevitably, if we do this, your boss will still draw your name, and you'll still get the apple, but at least we will improve our statistical odds that you won't get the apple.

Leah: [laughter] One of the things I appreciate so much about you is that-

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: -besides having an answer to the question, that's the answer, you also have ideas of alternative options.

Nick: I mean, I don't want to leave you empty handed.

Leah: No, so I love that.

Nick: I don't want her to say, "Nope ..."

Leah: That was why I love that. You're going to suggest that our letter-writer suggests - which I think is a great idea - "Let's do Secret Santas this year."

Nick: Yeah, I think that might be our best bet.

Leah: For sure, they're still getting the apple.

Nick: You're definitely getting the apple. Yeah, sorry about it, but it's worth a shot.

Leah: I do think it's fine to regift it. I don't know how you could tell them, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Nick: No, that's not on the table. Sorry.

Leah: No, you can't do it.

Nick: Nope. Our next question is: "This weekend something happened, and I feel like I might have overreacted because I grew up with strict and well-mannered parents." Oooh, good intro! "I currently live in Belgium, and, as everyone does here, when sunbathing in the park, while minding my own business, two kids accidentally hit me with their soccer ball. No harm, as these things happen, but they then proceeded to act like the ball did not belong to them and ran back to their parents. When I returned the ball, their mom just waved at me and there was no 'Sorry for hitting you,' or 'Thanks for returning the ball.' My mom would have dragged me by the hair to apologize after hitting someone. Is it wrong that I got annoyed by the passive way that the mom and kids reacted? I should also add that I do speak the local language, so it was not a situation of miscommunication. In my opinion, not teaching your children basic good manners is a crime against humanity!"

Leah: I would just like to say-

Nick: Yeah?

Leah: -as an aside, if you say, "I feel I might have overreacted ..."

Nick: Uh-huh?

Leah: "We are looking forward to what you did.

Nick: Absolutely.

Leah: Then, you did nothing rude, or you didn't even respond!

Nick: You did very little. Yes, there was barely a reaction. You brought the ball back.

Leah: There's no ... You definitely did not overreact. I don't even see your reaction!

Nick: Yeah, yeah. No, there there's barely anything to hang my hat on here. You didn't really do anything. Yeah.

Leah: So, we can say that, for sure, you did not overreact.

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: If I say I'm afraid I overreacted, the thing that I did was an overreaction [laughter] There was a public disturbance. I probably cried. I said some things. [laughter]

Nick: Yeah, so you're not wrong to be bothered by this.

Leah: Just being bothered is not overreacting.

Nick: No, and if this happens in the future, I guess, if the parents or the child wants to pretend that the ball does belong to them, well, then don't give it back. Like, "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought this was yours. I guess not. I guess I'll keep it."

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: Yeah. No need to return something that doesn't belong to them.

Leah: I wish that people could see the face you're making-

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: -with the response.

Nick: So, I think that's an idea. Don't give it back if they don't want it. What could we have done differently? I mean, you can't scold them. You can't demand an apology.

Leah: You can't hit them with the ball.

Nick: That is wrong. No, you can't do that.

Leah: No, but I think that ... I guess you could - this feels really ... I'm shaking my shoulders, for people at home ... I think this feels really ... But what Nick did, you could- if you just put the ball next to you and waited until they came over and asked for it, that feels really cutting edge, because you're really saying something. At the same time, you're not being rude.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think if they feel like they want to disclaim all responsibility and ownership of this ball, then I think that's a perfectly fine option. Yeah. I do take some comfort in the fact that bad manners is global. It's not just an American problem, it's a global problem.

Leah: It's everywhere. That is true. Nice to know that kids everywhere are acting up.

Nick: It's universal. Yeah. We're all suffering through the same problem together.

Leah: I guess you could - but this is not in our upfront, direct, nonjudgmental tone - when you return the ball, you could return it with a look that my nana would give; like a "You know better" look.

Nick: Yes. You could definitely return it with disappointment.

Leah: [laughter] That's it, exactly!

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: Return it with disappointment.

Nick: "I'm not mad your kids hit me with the soccer ball. I'm just disappointed."

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: Our next question is: "For my birthday, a relatively recent friend gave me a copy of "The Handmaid's Tale." Obviously, I'm grateful that she gave me such a thoughtful gift, especially since it shows that she gets me. Usually, when I write a thank you note, I like to share a little about why I appreciate the gift. 'I read it in one sitting, or 'I plan on taking this to the beach with me.' In this case, however, I read this book back in the '80s, and given its dystopian nature, I'm unlikely to reread it. Do I tell her that, or do I just say, 'Thank you so much for the thoughtful gift,' and leave it at that? If I do that, what do I say if she asks how I liked it? I don't want to lie."

Leah: I love everybody's commitment to honesty. I appreciate that about people so much.

Nick: Yeah, it feels a little too honest, sometimes. Maybe a little too honest.

Leah: Well, you know, I'm all for it. I do love honesty.

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I do think that you don't need to say, "I'm not going to read it."

Nick: Definitely not.

Leah: Especially since you really appreciate that this person got you; that they get you. It is an appropriate gift.

Nick: Yes. For sure. Yes. I think people like to know that you liked something.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I don't think you need to always give them the whole story. You can say that you appreciated it, which you do, and you can say that they get you, which they do.

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: Then, we just leave out the part of, "Oh, I'm never gonna read this."

Leah: Then, if they directly ask you-

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: -which is ... I also can't lie. I mean, I can. I don't want you to think I'm incapable. I just don't like it.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay.

Leah: I think you can say, "It was one of my favorites in school," or whatever they said.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: "I loved it in school. I'm so excited to have it in my collection now!"

Nick: Great answer. Yes. You could say, "Oh, I haven't gotten to it yet, but it's on the list."

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: So, that's how I'd handle that, but, yeah, don't tell them that you're never going to read it.

Leah: Yeah, especially, especially since you feel like they understood you.

Nick: Exactly. We'll certainly read your questions, so send them to us! Send them to us through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail; 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 REPENNNNNNT!!!!!

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 to vent or repent?

Leah: I'm going to vent.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: This is a very vague vent.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I'd like to make it vague. I'd like to make it vague.

Nick: Okay. Is this to protect the innocent or the guilty?

Leah: This is to protect those adjacent.

Nick: Hmm. You don't want any collateral damage.

Leah: I want no collateral damage.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I would just like to say that if you are going to do a carpentry project-

Nick: [Giggling] Mm-hmm.

Leah: -in an area where you have close neighbors-

Nick: Sure.

Leah: -and say that carpentry project is going to last for more than a week or two weeks-

Nick: Uh-huh?

Leah: -and you are going to be doing that carpentry project from sunup to sundown-

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: -I think that maybe maybe you would want to go to your neighbors and say, "Do you have any important phone calls you need to make over the next three months? Possibly an interview that maybe on that day would be one day that I could take off from the constant sawing that is now going through your windows?"

Nick: [Giggling] Okay.

Leah: Um, so that's just a thing that I wanted to mention.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Am I wrong?

Nick: No, you are absolutely right to be enraged by noise that's incessant and unending. Totally no problem.

Leah: Unending, Unending!

Nick: I'm sorry.

Leah: I would think that you would go and discuss it with other people to be like, "I have to do this with my time. Apologize. Do you have a day of the week that maybe that day, you would not like to have a migraine?"

Nick: [Giggling] Yep, that would be nice, but, uh, nice doesn't always happen. No.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: For me, I would like to repent.

Leah: [Gasping]

Nick: Doesn't happen often. Take a moment.

Leah: I can only think of two other times!

Nick: Yeah. Doesn't happen that often. So, a friend of mine had a relative that was very ill, and this was kind of going on for a little while, and obviously, there was a lot of conversation with my friend about what's going on, and how is it going ... Getting updates because it's kind of a big deal. So, I'm coming home from dinner, and I'm in a taxi, and it's a pouring night. It's just raining ... We pulled up to my building, and I'm about to use the little touch screen to pay with my phone; Apple Wallet kind of thing. I'm kind of juggling all this, and my friend texts me through Facebook Messenger and says that this relative has now actually just died.

Leah: Oh, no!

Nick: I was like, "Aww, gosh ..." I see that, and I was like, okay ... I finished the transaction in the cab, and I get out of the cab and get through the rain and into my building. So, now, I'm soaking wet in my building, and I looked at my phone, and in the Messenger app, which is still open on my phone, I had accidentally hit the thumbs-up-

Leah: [Gasping]

Nick: -to this message about somebody just dying. The thing about Facebook Messenger is if you hold the thumbs-up thing down for more than a second, it actually gets bigger-

Leah: [Gasping]

Nick: -to show even more enthusiasm about whatever it is. So, the largest thumbs-up sign in response to someone just dying is now on my phone, and of course, in the three minutes between getting out of the cab and into my building, my friend writes back and was like, "What?" Obviously, she was like, "What are you saying? Are you excited about this?" So, I would like to repent and apologize for the several minutes that went by, where my friend thought I was like, "WOOOOOO!" about this very sad news. Definitely was an accident. I definitely apologized in real time, but I do still feel bad about it. So, I would like to repent for this obvious etiquette mistake. Shouldn't have happened, but it did, and I'm taking responsibility.

Leah: I would like to say that I make noises because I can see myself doing that exactly-

Nick: [Giggling] Right?

Leah: -where you just hit something, and it goes through, but anybody that knows you knows that you would never-

Nick: Oh, yes, no ... No long-term damage to my reputation was done through this.

Leah: Yes, because you're such a caring person!

Nick: But I still feel bad about it.

Leah: Oh, of course, you feel bad because you're a caring person, but it was a genuine mistake! It was raining! You were hitting the Apple Pay! It's a sensitive thing!

Nick: Yes. I would be surprising for me to intentionally give a giant thumbs-up to horrible news! So, there you have it.

[Musical Interlude]

Nick: So, Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I was so excited to learn about forks!

Nick: Right?

Leah: It's about time we started talking about it.

Nick: Hmm. I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear that.

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: I learned that "Guinea pig kisses" is an acceptable way to end an email, if you're Leah Bonnema.

Leah: I mean, it's a step up from when I just did the Vulcan, "Long live and prosper" hands.

Nick: Okay. I'll take my victories where I can.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: Well, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

Nick: And thanks you out there for listening. I had your address, I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery. So, for your homework this week, I want you to visit our websiteand sign up for our newsletter, so we can stay in touch with you! That's all!

Leah: Please! I love it!

Nick: Yeah, that's it! Just visit our website. Pop in your email address. We wanna stay in touch! We'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

[Instrumental Theme Song]

Nick: All right, Leah, it's time for Cordials of Kindness. I give you 30 seconds to say nice things. Ready, set, go.

Leah: Well, I would like to say a big thank you to you, Nick!

Nick: Aww, what'd I do?

Leah: Because Nick surprised me ... Not only so kind, but also a complete surprise. I go to the mail. There's a box there. I keep being like, "Did I order something?!" Then, I get in the apartment, I RIP it open, and it is a Mahjong set!

Nick: Ah, Mahjong.

Leah: We had had a conversation and I said how much I'd love to learn, and I didn't have a set, and that was ... We had talked about it once! Then, what an amazing delight! So caring, and thoughtful, and kind. Thank you so much!

[Buzzer Sound]

Nick: Aww, 不用客氣 (bù yòng kè qì). For me, I would to read a nice review that we just got, which is: "The best parts of this spectacular podcast are that it's short, sweet, simple, and snappy. The rapport between Nick and Leah (that's us!) is to die for, and these two are definitely my dream dinner guests." Be careful what you wish for! We will show up at your house.

Leah: Oh, we're there!

Nick: "The worst part of this podcast is that it doesn't have enough episodes. I audibly gasped when I reached the most recent episode and realized I have to wait weekly to be entertained by these two, and - cue the tears - I just couldn't handle it. I haven't found a single podcast as entertaining as this one and have gone through the episodes twice now. Leah's howl will forever resonate in my heart."

[Buzzer Sound]

Nick: So, that's very nice.

Leah: My face just turned into a heart. That was the nicest thing!

Nick: So, thank you.

Leah: Thank you!

[Buzzer Sound]