March 2, 2020

Eating Oreos Properly, Dumping Your Hair Stylist, Seating Incomplete Parties, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about eating Oreos properly, dumping your hair stylist, toasting grammar, duplicating housewarming gifts, seating incomplete parties at restaurants, dealing with gassy coworkers, lowering the volume on loud people, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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  • What is the proper way to eat an Oreo cookie?
  • How do I dump my hair stylist?
  • What is the proper grammar for the word "Cheers"?
  • How many times do you need to bring a housewarming gift?
  • Is it rude for restaurants to refuse to seat incomplete parties?
  • How do you deal with gassy coworkers?
  • How do you lower the volume on people who talk too loud?




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


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

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: We're in New York today, and we've got so many great questions from the wilderness ...

Leah: I can't even handle how many great questions we have.

Nick: We have a lot, and we have so many, here's a bonus episode!

Leah: Woooo!

Nick: Our first question - great question - "What is the proper way to eat an Oreo?" Then, our letter-writer adds, "When eating Oreos in groups of two or more, is it okay to twist one chocolate cookie off to eat or lick the filling from the other half, and then eat the two cookies one after the other? Asking for a friend."

Leah: I love that this question came in.

Nick: So, as a child, I did not actually grow up eating Oreos. I grew up in a macrobiotic household, which is sort of very vegan-adjacent. So, a lot of brown rice, a lot of miso. The idea of having cookies - not really part of the lexicon. I think the first time I had an Oreo, I was probably in high school.

Leah: I feel like we have so many more things in common that ...

Nick: Is that something we have in common?

Leah: I wasn't allowed to have processed food.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I would have it at my friend's house.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: Then, I would actually always go home and get sick because my body was like, "What?!"

Nick: Yeah, what was that?

Leah: My mom tried to pass off that carob was the same as chocolate.

Nick: I mean ...

Leah: I mean!

Nick: Although, I do like a good carob-covered almond.

Leah: Okay ...

Nick: So, let's talk about Oreos.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: I don't have a lot of skin in the game because I don't have strong feelings about this. I feel like people who have strong feelings about this - and people have strong feelings about this - have it because it's how they did it as a child.

Leah: Right. It's a throwback to their emotional childhood.

Nick: Right. So, I did put this out in social media, asking what do people think? A lot of different ideas! So, for you, what is the proper way?

Leah: Well, for me, I love icing. I LOVE icing!

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: So, I just want the icing.

Nick: Okay, so it's not about the cookie part.

Leah: Yeah, and I also feel, it's your friends ... It says two or more friends ... If they're your friends, they can't handle you opening up a cookie and licking it in front of them, they're not your good friends!

Nick: Oh, is that how you read this?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: "When eating Oreos in groups of two or more." I thought that was two or more cookies at a time-

Leah: Oh, I think that's groups of two or more people.

Nick: Oh, okay. Well, then, if we're eating-

Leah: Because, I mean, if you eat one Oreo the same way ... You know what? I think that's groups of friends.

Nick: I see. Oh, okay-

Leah: It's just more than you and your friend.

Nick: I see.

Leah: You're in a group. Can you pop open a cookie in a group? That's what I feel.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: But we could answer both questions.

Nick: Well, if you're alone, do whatever you want.

Leah: Do whatever you want.

Nick: Right. Etiquette doesn't care what you do when you're alone.

Leah: I actually- I said this to my- I read this to my boyfriend because I thought it was so fun that somebody wrote this in. He actually said to me, "Was it a Double Stuff?"

Nick: Well, I have heard that a Double Stuff Oreo is not a true Oreo.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: So, I think that doesn't count. People feel like the Double Stuff is sort of an apocryphal Oreo.

Leah: Oh, WOW-wow-WOW! I feel like we're gonna get letters. [Laughing]

Nick: Bring it!

Leah: But he said if it was a Double Stuff, that it is enough icing to warrant opening it;

Nick: Ah.

Leah: But, otherwise, he doesn't ... He said, "You're gonna open that and lick it when it's that little icing in front of a ...?"

Nick: Right.

Leah: I was like, "Really?"

Nick: So, when I was thinking about this ... If this was a dinner party, at the end of the meal, I'm now going to serve you a plate of Oreos, and I think milk is involved, right?

Leah: I would hope.

Nick: Right? Let's assume some milk is involved.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, I'm going to serve this to you, and I feel like, in a formal setting-

Leah: A formal Oreo.

Nick: Formal Oreo setting ... I think what you would want to do is you maintain the integrity of the Oreo. I think by opening the Oreo, this feels too far. Now we're playing with our food-

Leah: Okay.

Nick: -and I don't think we want to do that in a formal setting, because, also, when you open it, what you're now doing is you're licking.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: And I don't think you lick.

Leah: You're actually dragging your teeth down the cookie.

Nick: Right. So, either way, I don't think we want that behavior at a formal dinner.

Leah: But, is it formal when it's a group of two or more? They're just your friends.

Nick: Well, if you're just friends, I guess ... Does etiquette matter?

Leah: And you just open it. You just twist it because that's what you did as a kid; except for in our households.

Nick: I think, for me, whole Oreo. I'm going to do one half-dunk into the milk, long enough to just do a little moisture into the cookie, but not too long where we disintegrate the cookie.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: Because I think it would be very bad manners to have a portion of your Oreo break off into the milk.

Leah: Right.

Nick: So, I think we'd never want to have that happen. So, we do just a little dunk, get it a little wet, and then we eat the cookie, and I don't think we double-dunk.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: That's how we do it.

Leah: All right.

Nick: Then, I think we can either take sips in between cookie bites, sort of like a palate cleanser.

Leah: Right.

Nick: Or we can then drink the milk at the end-

Leah: Okay, okay.

Nick: -as we would any other beverage.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: I have seen people insert a fork into the Oreo. Have you seen this?

Leah: No, I've seen it with a knife.

Nick: So, you take a fork, and you insert the tines into the cream part, so then you can use the fork to- almost like a S'more into a fireplace, you dunk the Oreo into the milk.

Leah: Oh ...!

Nick: So, you can fully submerge the entire Oreo without, I guess, getting your fingers wet.

Leah: Interesting!

Nick: I feel like any time we're spearing our own food at the table, we don't want to do that.

Leah: Unless ... I mean, have fun.

Nick: Ummm ...

Leah: Obviously, I'm not into maintaining integrity. [Laughing]

Nick: So, I think ... Oh, I did also look up- Miss Manners, and Emily Post have not weighed in on this.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: As far as I can tell.

Leah: It feels like they're really missing out.

Nick: They should weigh in. People want to know. So, if you out there have thoughts, let us know - how do you ... Oh, Leah's raising her hand.

Leah: I would say that Oreo, more than any other cookie, sticks in your teeth.

Nick: It does?!

Leah: It really just stays in the front of your teeth.

Nick: How ...?

Leah: So, if you're eating at a formal Oreo party [crosstalk]

Nick: You mean like the black gets in the ..."

Leah: Yeah, the little black just gets all over the front of your teeth. I don't know, it's like the moth ... Moth! ... stickiest. I don't know what's in there. It's always happened.

Nick: Oh, okay [crosstalk]

Leah: So, if you're at a formal Oreo eating, you're gonna need that milk.

Nick: Oh, okay, but do not gargle with the milk!

Leah: I was gonna say 'to gargle ...' [Laughing] I'm kidding.

Nick: So. our next question - a little long; stick with me - there's a lot of nice detail here, which I think is going to be important for our conversation. "Dear Leah and Nick, I'm a big fan of your podcast, and I'm hoping you can help me with an etiquette dilemma I've been wrestling with. I pride myself on following proper etiquette and don't normally encounter situations in which I don't know what to do, but here we are. I've been getting my hair cut by the same person for about 10 years. She's the owner of the salon, and over the years, she and I have become friendly; not best friends, but we've seen each other socially from time to time. Although I never really loved my hair, I was fine with the haircuts I received from my stylist. Then, about three years ago, she had a baby, and while she was out on maternity leave, I saw a different woman at the salon and received what was probably the best haircut of my life. For the first time in ages, I actually liked my hair. The layers were perfect, and they fell nicely without me having to fuss with it. I knew that my stylist was going to come back with limited hours, and I was hoping that she would just be so busy that I could just continue seeing the other stylist under the guise of just not being able to book timely appointments. So, the first time I called after my stylist returned, the stylist's father, who runs the front desk, answered the phone, and as soon as I identified myself, he said, 'Oh, I'm so glad you called. Lisa was just saying that she's been sad because her clients haven't been calling. She's been thinking that nobody wants to see her anymore, so she'll be thrilled that you called.' Ugh ... What could I do? So, I made an appointment and I received a subpar haircut, and I've been paying for not-so-great haircuts ever since. So, my question for you lovely people - is there a way to ever breakup with a hairstylist without hurting their feelings? I know I can't see the stylist who filled in at her own salon, but I'd really like to find a different salon. I've tried getting a cut elsewhere as a guide and asking her to just do a trim, but that hasn't really worked, and I can't afford to essentially double my haircut budget. Also, something to consider is that she cuts my husband's hair, but he is happy with her cuts. Obviously, he and I have very different hair types, so that's sort of irrelevant." So, she wants to know, "Do I just stop going? Let her get the hint. Do I owe her a conversation? What should I say? I care for this person; I don't want to hurt her feelings; but life is too short to pay for bad haircuts!" Okay, Leah ...

Leah: I love this question so much because I feel like this person is so much like me!

Nick: Yeah, it does feel like a you question.

Leah: Yeah, you just ... I know people who stay with a person who they don't like their haircuts from because they feel this allegiance.

Nick: Yeah, yeah.

Leah: I have a great hair person - I wanna say that - but it took me forever to find her.

Nick: And your hair is great.

Leah: Thank you.

Nick: Also, I feel like your hair requires professional management.

Leah: Yeah. Management is the correct word.

Nick: So, I guess my initial thought is that life is too short to have bad haircuts.

Leah: It is!

Nick: So, under no circumstances do you need to continue having a bad service.

Leah: Yeah, I feel like this for all services. I definitely have some things in my life that I'm like, why do I keep doing this, when I ...? I guess it's because I don't want to hurt somebody feelings, and I'm paying!

Nick: Right.

Leah: But I completely understand this struggle.

Nick: Yes. You feel like you see yourself in this woman.

Leah: Yeah, I see myself. I also see a lot of people I know in this woman.

Nick: Okay, so what would you tell this person?

Leah: What you said exactly - life is too short for bad haircuts.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And she should be getting the haircut of her dreams.

Nick: Yes, always!

Leah: How one goes about it ... I was very excited about this conversation because the person's feelings is going to be hurt, but it's also her job, and if somebody doesn't like ... You're allowed to not like the haircut she's giving you.

Nick: Right. So, I think one question would be: do we give her the opportunity to fix this? You know, because you've gone along so long, and you've just been getting the same bad thing every time ... Maybe she can do it differently.

Leah: But she said she went and got a haircut somewhere else and then asked this woman just a trim it, and it still didn't go well.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Also, if the dad said, "Oh, nobody's coming back," it's clearly a red flag.

Nick: True. Yeah, that's true. Yeah.

Leah: It's possible that this just wasn't her ...

Nick: Calling.

Leah: Her gift!

Nick: Right.

Leah: But that's a good point - do you give her an opportunity?

Nick: I do, often, before I end a relationship, especially a business relationship, to give them the opportunity to correct the thing that is making me end something. So, if you're providing a service, and it's just not meeting my expectations, I want to at least make our ending something not feel like it's coming out of left field.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: I want you to know that, "Oh, okay, he is unhappy with this thing, and he has sort of made that known before; so I'm not totally surprised by this conversation."

Leah: Okay.

Nick: I kind of like that because I find when you sort of blindside people and don't give them the opportunity, that does make it harder to end a relationship; whereas, it's an easier conversation to be like, "You know, it's just not working. I think we gave it a good try." That sometimes just makes it a nicer ending. So, it does sound like this woman cannot give her a haircut that she likes, though.

Leah: Yeah, it really does.

Nick: So, does she owe her anything? Does she owe her a conversation?

Leah: I like what you're saying about telling somebody, and then ... But then, the other option is you could just not go.

Nick: It does feel like ghosting feels rude.

Leah: I don't know-

Nick: Because I never like ghosting. I think ghosting is always sort of wrong.

Leah: No, I agree with you.

Nick: So ...

Leah: But I don't know what's going to hurt this person's feelings less. Could you write a lovely note of, "I'm switching to a place nearer my area. You've always been such a joy. Hope we can stay in touch. All the best ..."?

Nick: I guess you could send a note, yes; although, it feels like you should say something after your final haircut, right? Because what are you going to do? Mail her a letter?

Leah: Yeah, that's what I was suggesting.

Nick: Oh, like a ... Oh, that feels more pointed.

Leah: Does it feel more pointed?

Nick: Yeah-

Leah: Okay.

Nick: -because it really emphasizes the breakup, doesn't it?

Leah: But, I mean, that's what it is.

Nick: It feels like you need to decide - we're done. We don't want to give her any more chances.

Leah: Right.

Nick: Once we've made the decision, I think you could have one final haircut, and you go, and then you - at the end of the haircut - just say, "I have something to tell you. Unfortunately, this is our last appointment. I've really loved working with you over the years, but I just feel like I want to try something different; but thank you so much."

Leah: I feel like this is upfront, and honest, and not hurtful, and respectful by being direct. I love it-

Nick: Because, yeah, "I want something different ..."

Leah: -and if this person is capable of doing that or want something different- you're allowed to want something different.

Nick: Yeah, not better. Not like, "Not these garbage haircuts I'm getting from you."

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Yeah, I think something in that world feels correct, right?

Leah: Yeah. I think it feels sometimes very uncomfortable to say that to people.

Nick: Sure, but uncomfortable things is sort of being an adult.

Leah: Yeah. I hate that. I hate that so much.

Nick: Yeah, this is sort of required. Yeah.

Leah: I really like that.

Nick: Okay. I kind of like that [crosstalk]

Leah: The other option is to tell people that you're moving. [Laughing]

Nick: Yeah; witness protection program, uh-huh. Oh, now, one wrinkle is her husband still goes.

Leah: Yeah. That's why I think what you're saying is perfect because she's not making excuses; she's trying something different.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And her husband doesn't want to try something different. He likes what he's doing.

Nick: Right, but I think she cannot go to the different woman in the salon.

Leah: No, she cannot [crosstalk] but I think she knows that.

Nick: She does know that, yeah. And I guess she can't go back to the salon and pick up her husband; she has to stay in the car.

Leah: No, he has to drive for himself.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Well, maybe that lady will be totally cool, and be like, "Oh, no problem. Let's definitely still have coffee." In which case, you can stop by with your husband.

Nick: Yeah, and I feel like she should be cool about it. This is a professional relationship, at the end of the day.

Leah: Ideally, she will handle it correctly.

Nick: Well, no promises.

Leah: Yeah, ideally is the ...

Nick: No promises, yeah [crosstalk]

Leah: I really like your suggestion.

Nick: Ok, well, so letter-writer, try that. Let us know how it goes, and then send us a photo of your new hair!

Leah: Yes! You deserve the hair that you want.

Nick: Yes. Yeah, that is really, actually, the lesson here.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: It's like, you should never have a bad haircut.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Life is too short.

Leah: Life is too short.

Nick: Yeah. Our next question is regarding toasts, but, specifically, grammar. So, we really don't really get into grammar here, but we were asked: "Should 'cheers' be used as a verb, or even a noun? Isn't it just an interjection that's to be said before, or during a toast? I frequently hear things, 'We should have a cheers to that,' or, 'Okay, everybody, gather round. We're about to be cheers-ing ...' It really kind of grinds my gears, and it probably shouldn't.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: So, you're a writer. How do you feel about this grammatical construction?

Leah: This is what I think-

Nick: Uh-huh!

Leah: People are just saying something because they want to celebrate something, so-

Nick: Let it go.

Leah: Let it go. I mean, I understand- I love the phrase 'grinds my gears.'

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Because here's an example of something that grinds my gears.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: Roll-neck sweaters, and ...

Nick: Oh! Would you like to vent, or repent, Leah?

Leah: I don't know why; I just-

Nick: Roll-neck sweaters.

Leah: -I see them, and my gears are grinding and-

Nick: Is that like a turtleneck?

Leah: Yeah, it's different because they more look like they're on a boat. You know, it's like, "Oh ..."

Nick: Oh, it's like a soft-

Leah: It's like a soft roll ... I don't know, I-

Nick: Like a Pacific Coast Wave?

Leah: Yeah, I just feel-

Nick: Like a Hokusai kind of thing?

Leah: -I feel aggressive about them.

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: And I recognize, as soon as I start to feel my gears grinding, that that's my issue.

Nick: Uh-huh ...

Leah: It's not- the person's just enjoying their sweater. It has nothing to do with me.

Nick: Where do you think this comes from?

Leah: I don't know. I just-

Nick: Where did this start?

Leah: I remember it very strongly hitting me in college; I was dating this boy, and he had a roll-neck sweater.

Nick: Oh, well, this is where it started! Okay, wow! Big mystery ... Don't know where it came from ... Ah, Chad ... Okay.

Leah: I'm just saying - I don't know if this is a weird example - but I'm just saying I appreciate [crosstalk]

Nick: This is a weird example.

Leah: -the gears grinding. I get it.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I'm not judging that, but I do recognize - when I do it - that it's my issue.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: People are just cheers-ing.

Nick: Yeah. Let people be festive.

Leah: They're celebrating.

Nick: Yes. However, I do agree that 'cheers' is just an expression.

Leah: Yeah, it's just an expression.

Nick: So, when I was thinking about this, the gerund form - 'cheers-ing' - that does sound a little weird.

Leah: It sounds like you're watching the television show, Cheers, as a group.

Nick: Oh, we're actively watching Cheers? "Oh, what are you doing tonight?" "Oh, we're Cheers-ing."

Leah: Cheers-ing.

Nick: Yeah, of course-

Leah: I like Sam Malone a lot. It's a great pilot. Perfect television structure.

Nick: Okay. But I don't mind the phrase, like, "Cheers to that."

Leah: Oh, I don't either.

Nick: Maybe it's just because I watch so much Ab Fab, where it's just "Cheers to that" is-

Leah: Very British.

Nick: I do find, actually, if I'm in London, and I come back, I say "Cheers" to everybody for everything instead of "Thank you."

Leah: Which I enjoy.

Nick: It's a little obnoxious.

Leah: It is, but it's still really fun.

Nick: I don't know. I try not to do it, but sometimes you just get into the habit-

Leah: Sometimes, it comes out.

Nick: I think the problem with this grammatical construction is when it is a transitive verb; when the word 'cheers' takes an object. So, when I cheers you, I feel like that is where the problem is.

Leah: So, when you're like, "Cheers to you ..."

Nick: Cheers to you is fine, but when I'm cheers-ing you, when you are the direct object of the cheers-ing, I think that is what sounds weird.

Leah: But, I mean, even if it sounds weird, I think ... It's just a roll-neck sweater.

Nick: Just let it go.

Leah: Just let it go.

Nick: So, let it go. Cheers to that.

Leah: We fully support you in having your gears grinded.

Nick: Yeah. Also, I am not-

Leah: Or ground.

Nick: Or ground ... Also, I'm not a grammarian, and I do not know if I used all of those grammatical terms correctly.

Leah: It seems correct what you were saying.

Nick: But, if there are anybody who knows better than I, please correct me. I would be happy to have my grammar corrected and don't just stew there, like this was a roll-neck sweater conversation.

Leah: I think often, also because I'm on stage so much, and sometimes, you just say stuff-

Nick: Yes.

Leah: -because it's a thing that comes to your mind, and you're just trying to ... That I am very easy to forgive when people say things that are just ... I get what you're saying.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: We're gonna have a cheers.

Nick: All right. Our next question is: "I have a friend who just moved, and she invited a small group of us to come check out her new place and then go out for a meal. When I was over, I brought her a small potted plant and a card as a little housewarming token. She said she's considering having an official housewarming party with a larger group of friends. My question is, do I need to bring another gift to the housewarming party if she ends up doing it?"

Leah: No.

Nick: No!

Leah: Definitely not.

Nick: You are off the hook.

Leah: You're done.

Nick: Yeah! But I think if you're invited over again, the standard guest rules apply - you have to bring something.

Leah: Oh, yeah, as a regular.

Nick: But you don't have to make it like, "Oh, this is another housewarming gift."

Leah: Yeah. You just bring some-

Nick: The house is warm.

Leah: -little munchies.

Nick: It's very warm.

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: Yeah. Requires no more heating.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Yeah. All right; our next question: "What is your view of the restaurant policy where guests won't be sat at their table until the entire party has arrived? This makes sense to me if, say, one person without a reservation walked in and asked for a table of 10. However, for somebody with a reservation, it seems rude to make one half of a party of two wait around in the reception area, or worse, wait outside until the other person they're meeting has arrived. Isn't this the point of the reservation?" Hmmm! So, I think that if you let me sit down, I'm probably going to order drinks, and appetizers and get that check going.

Leah: Right.

Nick: So, I would like to be seated.

Leah: I think this is very restaurant to restaurant because I just was at a dinner party and it was 10 of us, and I was first by a long amount of time, and they seated me.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I started- I ordered some apps for the table, and-

Nick: Yeah, the party started.

Leah: The party started.

Nick: Yeah. Well, also-

Leah: I think this is restaurant to restaurant.

Nick: For sure, yes. Restaurants definitely have very different policies. Also, I think when this happens, it is inevitably a host who is a little snitty and is like, "This is our policy," and there's no flexibility; there's no nuance. There's no difference whether or not this is 5:00 p.m., and it's an empty restaurant. It's no different if you're a table for 10, and you're going to have that table for the night.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: They're not going to try and turn that table, so let you just sit down.

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: So, I think that is also a problem. But, on the flip side, I know restaurants say that, economically, they don't like doing it because it hurts the bottom line.

Leah: Right.

Nick: This is the argument; but I think it is shortsighted because, from a hospitality point of view, this is terrible. It is not hospitable to do this to your guests.

Leah: No, it's not. I have been places where they say, if it's a larger party, they want 50 percent of your party there.

Nick: Okay. That's better, I guess.

Leah: But I think what we could do is call in advance and ask what the policy is.

Nick: Sure, knowing what the policy is, is helpful.

Leah: Then, not put our money towards places that don't allow us to be seated unless our whole group is there.

Nick: Boycott! Yes!

Leah: I mean, you know ...

Nick: Yes, but this is actually a number-one complaint of New York restaurant reviewers-

Leah: Oh, really.

Nick: They hate this. Yeah, they're just like, "Just let people sit down." Some restaurant groups, like, I think Danny Meyer, who's a famous restaurateur in New York - and he's famous for hospitality ... His whole thing, for all of his restaurants, is that, "We do hospitality. The guest always comes first. We want you to have a good time." And because of that, it's a really nice dining experience.

Leah: Right.

Nick: And I would go back to one of those restaurants. But, if I go to a restaurant, and I'm sort of treated rudely, or made to wait outside because you won't seat me, I'll remember that, for sure, yeah.

Leah: Of course. I do agree with the letter-writer that that's the point of them making a reservation.

Nick: Well, yes, but the point of reservation is we both agree that we will both be at a certain place at a certain time. So, the restaurant, hypothetically, is holding up their end of the bargain. You are not holding up your end of the bargain.

Leah: Well, if I'm there- say it's a large party, and there's five of us out of eight; five of us are there-

Nick: I would absolutely seat that, yes.

Leah: Right.

Nick: But I know restaurants that won't, and I think that's rude.

Leah: I agree with you.

Nick: Yeah, great. So, I think, if you run a restaurant, think hard and long about whether or not the bottom line, in the moment, is more important than the bottom line, in the long term, and if you ever want my business in the future.

Leah: If you want Nick's business ...

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: I do understand, if you haven't made a reservation, and you show up, and it's busy, and you're like, "Oh, there's gonna be five of us, but I'm here now," and there's tons of people waiting. Then it's-

Nick: Oh! That's a different- that's not this question.

Leah: Yeah, that's not this question at all.

Nick: No, that's ... Forget it. Yeah, fine. Okay.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: Okay. Our next-

Leah: This next question, I can't ...

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I thought Nick wrote it in as a joke.

Nick: Uh, I mean ... I don't know what that says about what you think of me, when you heard the question.

Leah: [Laughing] That's true [inaudible] you wouldn't write this in, but I just was like, "Is this real?!"

Nick: I do believe this is a sincere question.

Leah: No, I do believe it now, but at first, when I saw the ...

Nick: Let's not build up the suspense any longer-

Leah: Okay, I'm not ... Sorry.

Nick: The question is: "My office manager sits all day in her cubicle, a scant 18 to 24 inches from me, with just a fabric partition separating us, FARTING."

Leah: FARTING is in capital letters.

Nick: Oh, there's a lot of caps in this email. "Then, she says, 'Excuse me,' to no one in particular, as there is nobody in her cube with her. However, she then walks past my cubicle; she farts loudly, and there is no 'excuse me' forthcoming. The farting, as crass as it is, isn't what I take issue with. I take issue with the lack of an 'excuse me,' which leads me to believe this crop dusting was intentional. How would you handle this? How I've been handling this is I have been spraying the entire perimeter of my cubicle loudly with Febreeze and keeping a array of cans on my desk. We call her The F'artiste."

Leah: That was the part that I was like, "What?!"

Nick: Um, so ... Leah, I'll let you take this one.

Leah: I think the way I would handle this, as a comic, is not ... You know what I mean? Because I can't ... It's an office manager.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So, I feel like that's a different ...

Nick: There's a status issue.

Leah: There's a status issue.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: If it was your coworker- just your coworker, I would just be like, "Bro! Are you gonna say, 'excuse me'?"

Nick: All right. Interesting.

Leah: Also, people pass gas.

Nick: Yes, I was reading up on it. Apparently, it's between 14 and 25 times per day.

Leah: I mean, that seems ... Some people have stomach issues. There's dietary problems- There are health reasons people need to-

Nick: Yes, there are medical ... Yes, and, in general, the rule of etiquette is you ignore the obvious thing that is happening. In many situations, the correct etiquette response is to pretend it is not happening.

Leah: Right, but I mean, if it's in your workplace and there ... She clearly measured - 18 to 24 inches - and that person is doing it walking by you? It seems personal.

Nick: Oh, you think this is on purpose? Hmm.

Leah: Well, if they say 'excuse me' to themself, but they don't say 'excuse me' to people?

Nick: Okay, but that might just be sort of like a moving flatulence is different than a stationary flatulence.

Leah: So, one only excuses themselves when they are alone and stationary, but in public ...?

Nick: Well, I can see- in a world in which you're in motion, and so you sort of have your mind on other things, and also, you're passing multiple people, so, to whom do you owe the 'excuse me' if it's sort of-

Leah: You could just mutter it under your breath and hope it covers as many people as your fart.

Nick: I'm just trying to see the other side here.

Leah: No, I ... The other side is just ignore it completely and let it go.

Nick: Yeah, I think that is the correct answer here. Yes. I think to loudly spray Febreeze is not polite and to leave the cans out? This is ...

Leah: Well, I feel like you're already making a statement by loudly spraying Febreeze.

Nick: Yeah, no, a statement is being made, yes.

Leah: So, that's why I feel like [crosstalk] once you're in-

Nick: -the statement is not changing the behavior.

Leah: Yeah. So, I would either completely ignore it-

Nick: I think that's what you have to do, yeah.

Leah: -but that means also not loudly spraying Febreeze.

Nick: I think you can't do that, yeah.

Leah: I also don't know if I think spraying Febreeze all the time is healthy for people.

Nick: That's a separate issue. Sure.

Leah: And then ... Or, I would just be like, "Why do you never say 'excuse me,' when you fart on me?"

Nick: I don't think we do that. No ...

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: I mean, I like the concept, but I don't think we say that, no.

Leah: Because then we've just left this person with absolutely nothing ...?

Nick: Well, the thing to do is to ignore it. That's an active-

Leah: But we're telling them to actively also stop Febreezing.

Nick: Well, I think you can Febreeze, but just not in front of them. So, if you can more discreetly Febreeze, I think that's okay.

Leah: I would like to know if she started Febreezing after the crop dusting? Because maybe this lady is crop dusting you in response to your Febreezing.

Nick: Oh! That's aggressive!

Leah: I would just like to know the order in which it happened.

Nick: Oh, I think we want to give the benefit of the doubt that the crop dusting preceded the Febreezing.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: And that this is not a vicious cycle.

Leah: Maybe she's not saying 'excuse me' because she's embarrassed.

Nick: There, I think, is that element, yeah, and I think it's definitely more embarrassing that there's Febreeze cans all around the office.

Leah: In which case ... What I would do, personally, is not Febreeze and ignore it.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: Or, I would giggle.

Nick: Ok.

Leah: [Laughing] But, privately, so she didn't feel embarrassed.

Nick: Yeah. I think, in general, we always want to not embarrass people, and I think flatulence is one of those areas where people are inherently embarrassed as it is, so the sooner we can just move past it, the better for society. So, I would say just suck it up and plug your nose.

Leah: Well, she said she's not bothered by the farting. It's just the [crosstalk]

Nick: Where did it say that?

Leah: It says that. She said that it's just that she doesn't say 'excuse me.'

Nick: Oh, okay ...

Leah: "The farting, as crass as it is, isn't what I take issue with."

Nick: True ... Although, Febreezing loudly does suggest that she takes issue with it, but-

Leah: I think she's Febreezing loudly because she wants the woman to recognize, "I know that you're doing this. Why aren't you saying 'excuse me'?

Nick: I see. Okay. So, yeah, that, I think, is passive aggressive and is not helpful.

Leah: Right, so that's why I'm saying, if you're already going to do this, then you might as well just say it to the woman.

Nick: Okay ... I guess you know what your relationship is with this woman, and you'll know how that will be received.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: So, if you feel like saying something-

Leah: Just say something.

Nick: "I would appreciate it if you would just say 'excuse me'."

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: But I wouldn't say it in front of other people.

Nick: Definitely not. No.

Leah: Or just stop the Febreezing and maybe ask to be moved.

Nick: Different cube. All right, so we have some ideas for this person.

Leah: Yeah, I mean-

Nick: Good luck.

Leah: This is really ...

Nick: Might be hard to solve. Here's a different office question from somebody else: "I have a coworker who insists on holding a conversation with me in the mornings and during breaks, which isn't a terrible thing except that he talks at the top of his voice, and his voice is an audible nightmare for me. He's oblivious to any subtle or not-so-subtle cues that I'm not in the mood to have a conversation. I can't think of a polite way to tell him to really just leave me alone, as he's technically not doing anything wrong or malicious." Hmm. Okay ... So, two things. I think the question is do we want to talk to him, or do we not want to talk to him? Because part of it is like, is he just a loud person, or do we not actually want to engage in conversation at all?

Leah: Yeah, because I can't tell either.

Nick: There's two problems here. So, I think if it's just that he's a loud talker, but we don't mind talking to him, then that's one problem. So, for that, I will say this is a major office problem around the world; in terms of office complaints about coworkers, it's loud eating, and then it's loud talking. These are your top two issues, I think.

Leah: I know people that are loud talkers in public areas, and it's ... You know what I mean?

Nick: Or private areas.

Leah: Yeah, and you're just like, this is a lot! I think some people have more sensitive-

Nick: Yes, yes, for sure. I think when I am dealing with a loud talker, one thing I do is I lower my voice because I think people subtly mirror other people.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: I think if you sort of lower your voice very quietly, it forces them to lean in a little bit and then it kind of maybe suddenly makes them recalibrate.

Leah: Yeah, I also do that, as well.

Nick: So, that is-

Leah: I tried to do that last night with somebody, and-

Nick: Didn't work.

Leah: -it didn't work at all.

Nick: Yeah, it doesn't always work.

Leah: I was like, "Ooof!! Losing all the social cues, here."

Nick: Yeah. Sometimes, it doesn't work, but I think that's something to try.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: I guess if you're really bothered by it, and you do just like chatting with him, you could say, "Oh, I'm so sorry, would you mind just lowering your voice?" I think that's okay, right?

Leah: Yeah. Here's the thing - if you want to continue talking to somebody, and it's sort of upsetting to the way you process information, then you're going to have to say something.

Nick: Or, like, "Oh, you may not realize it, but your voice really carries." Maybe that's nice, to be like that?

Leah: It doesn't sound horrible.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I think whatever it is, it's going to feel slightly uncomfortable for a second.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But then, if you want to continue the relationship, that's what's going to have to happen.

Nick: Loud talking, I think, is a habit. Some people are in the habit of doing this, so I don't think you should expect them to change immediately. It's going to take a few tries.

Leah: I have a few friends that are loud talkers. They're also friends who take- they take things really well.

Nick: Oh.

Leah: You know what I mean? So, I'll just be like [crosstalk] Yeah, so I'll just be like, "Hey ..." because I can't- it sort of rattles me, and I want to listen, but ... You know what I mean? I'll just be like, "Hey, I have super-sensitive ears," and then I kind of wave, and they'll be like, "Oh!" But they are also the kind of people who don't take it personally. They just want to talk to you.

Nick: Yeah, and they're excited, or whatever-

Leah: They're excited, and they're just like, "Oh!" because they know they get really loud.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I would rather continue talking to them.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But they're people that don't- they don't have any feelings around it.

Nick: I guess I was thinking I actually don't experience this a lot, and then, I was thinking, "Oh ... am I the loud one?" Which I think I am.

Leah: You're not a loud talker.

Nick: I feel like I might be in certain situations.

Leah: Really?

Nick: I don't know.

Leah: I've never experienced that about you.

Nick: This question made me a little self-conscious. Yeah. Then, I was thinking, oh, maybe it's because I'm short; that most people are taller than I am, so their mouth is just in a different angle to my ears.

Leah: I don't think you're a loud talker.

Nick: Okay. I'm not ... I don't have a complex about it.

Leah: No, but I really don't think you do [inaudible]

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Because I would have noticed.

Nick: The friends that listen to this show are screaming at their radio right now, being like, "He's very loud!"

Leah: I had a friend - who didn't like certain kinds of conversations in public - tell me that I was being too loud about a thing that was, they thought, inappropriate for public.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: But I didn't take it well. [Laughing] So, I do want to say, I've been on the other side of this.

Nick: I see. Okay. What could you have done differently?

Leah: She?

Nick: Well, what could you have done differently?

Leah: Oh, I wouldn't have done it differently.

Nick: Okay, I was ... "Not gonna take it well, and I'm sticking with it."

Leah: I was like, "I'm right in the middle of something, and you're worried about strangers?!"

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: Okay, now, for our letter-writer who may not want to talk to this person at all-

Leah: That was a completely different issue. That's obviously not ... I'm just saying, I've been a person who hasn't taken feedback well-

Nick: Sure.

Leah: -so I don't want to ... Pot calling the kettle black.

Nick: It's something ... Feedback is hard for all of us. We are all working on better ways to accept criticism.

Leah: That's why it depends on the person.

Nick: True.

Leah: That's why I was saying-

Nick: The messenger is very important.

Leah: Yeah; like my two friends who are- they literally don't care. You could say anything, and they'd be like, "Well, yeah ... Oh, no, I got loud! Aaah!!" You know what I mean? That's how they are.

Nick: Yeah. Okay, but let's focus back to our letter-writer - what do we do about our letter-writer who may not want to talk to this person at all? It's not just volume.

Leah: So, if it's the second one, I would just ... You're at work. You can always be like, "I have to go work on this thing."

Nick: Yeah. You always have an out.

Leah: You're working.

Nick: Yeah. "Oh, gotta get back to my desk."

Leah: Yeah. "I've gotta get back to ..." Even if the person came over to your desk and is talking, you can just be like, "I have to get back to this thing."

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Or, "I just wanna ..." Sometimes, people mistake your free time with available time.

Nick: Oh? Clarify that.

Leah: So, when you're at work, and you're taking a 10-minute break from work, but that doesn't mean you are available to ... You may need to read an email or regroup yourself. So, I think it's fair to say to people, "Hey, I just need to catch up on a few personal things in this 10-minute break I have."

Nick: That's fair. Yeah. So, you just have to set boundaries.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Okay. Well, great.

Leah: So, I hope we answered that question for whichever one of the two it was.

Nick: Correct, and I think we threw in some extra information that may or may not be relevant.

Leah: I've clearly been throwing in extra information all of this episode.

Nick: That is the theme!

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: So, if you have questions for us and want us to throw in things you didn't ask about-

Leah: [Singing] Roll-neck sweaters!

Nick: Please send them to us, and you can send them to us through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail; (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729). You can send us a text message there, too, or you could slip into our DMs, or any way you want to contact us - totally fine. So, thanks for these great questions, everybody!

Leah: Thank you so much.

Nick: We'll see you next time.

Leah: [Whispering] Bye.

Nick: Bye!

[Instrumental Theme Song]