May 24, 2021

Eating Pop-Tarts, Boarding Airplanes, Returning Overdue Library Books, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about eating Pop-Tarts, boarding airplanes, returning overdue library books, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about eating Pop-Tarts, boarding airplanes, returning overdue library books, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)


  • What is the correct way to eat Pop-Tarts?
  • How do I let my bridal party know I'm not expecting any gifts?
  • What do I do about my mother-in-law who needs special tissues?
  • What do I do about someone who doesn't respect the airplane boarding procedure?
  • What's the most polite way to correct someone who misunderstood a bilingual conversation?
  • What do you think about returning a library book about manners after 32 years?






Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian

Episode 89


Nick: Hey everybody, it's Nick Leighton.

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...

Leah: [howls]

Nick: That we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is, quote, "What is the correct way to eat Pop Tarts? After more than 20 years of marriage, this was the moment I realized that I'd married a serial killer." And then there's a photo of somebody eating two pop tarts, basically together like a sandwich. And then she continues, "Who eats pop tarts like that?" So I asked this person, "Oh, can we share this photo?" And she's like, "Yes, it is definitely okay to post. Everyone needs to be warned of the possible psychopath that is walking freely among us." And then she added, "I quit buying Pop Tarts so that I can trick myself into a sense of feeling safe."

Leah: [laughs] I love that so much, because I think we all have somebody in our lives, we see them do something in a completely different way and we're like, "Oh, what is happening?"

Nick: Oh, I look at you in a totally new way now. Yeah.

Leah: Yes! You're like, "I didn't even know this was legal."

Nick: So I don't think I've actually ever had a pop tart. Which I guess, like, when would I have? I didn't grow up with them. And as an adult, they're not currently in my house. So, like, when do Pop Tarts come up?

Leah: I had never had one until I started temping in New York.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And then I would stop at, like, a bodega to grab a coffee, and then I saw they would sell single packets. So they have two pop tarts.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And I was like, "I'm gonna give this a shot." You know, I'd always seen commercials and heard about them.

Nick: And they just kind of look chalky. Is that sort of accurate?

Leah: I mean, they are a party. It's so much sugar, it's a lot of sugar.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And then if you toast them, which I don't think they're toasted in that sammy that he made.

Nick: In this photo, they are not currently toasted. They seem to be raw out of the package.

Leah: And I mean, I would eat them raw, but I've—toasted is like a whole other level, because it's the warm, sugary, melted goodness. But I would sort of pick at it, and then have it with my coffee at my temp desk. So I've done both. I've never eaten it like a sandwich.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I've never seen that happen.

Nick: Yeah, so I was looking into how people eat Pop Tarts, and a lot of actually interesting variations on the theme. Some people are making s'mores out of them. You know, you use the pop tart instead of the graham crackers. I thought, oh, that's interesting.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: That's a lot of sugar. Some people make ice cream sandwiches with them.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: Which also feels like a lot of sugar. Somebody actually butters it and then microwaves it.

Leah: What is happening?

Nick: So—because I guess the pastry part is sort of the blander part, and so this gentleman on YouTube—which I'll link to in the show notes—was saying that, like, by buttering it, it makes it more delicious. Which I mean, I think that's probably true. So I can't argue with that.

Leah: Buttoning everything makes it more delicious.

Nick: Right! So butter your Pop Tarts, yeah. But it does feel like when we're thinking of, like, the etiquette rules, that by eating two pop tarts together, you're sort of duplicating it. And it's like a food that is not eaten that way. It's sort of like eating two chocolate chip cookies together. Like, we don't do that. We eat them one at a time. We don't stack them and then eat them together as, like, a sandwich, right?

Leah: What I think is so funny about it is just that, when people do things out of the normal way it's done, that it always just takes the person back. You're like, "Oh, I've been living with this person." [laughs]

Nick: But we can agree that that's not sort of like the "correct," quote-unquote, way to eat Pop Tarts, right? Like, we just don't do that.

Leah: Well, it's not the normal way to eat them.

Nick: Right. So is it wrong? Is it an etiquette crime?

Leah: I think it's just emotionally affronting.

Nick: I see.

Leah: [laughs] The same is when that—somebody wrote in about the person who bit into the Kit Kat.

Nick: Oh, right. Yeah, like a Jaws on a boat. Right. As opposed to breaking them apart.

Leah: Like, I wouldn't lock them up. You know what I mean? They're not going to jail, but you're like, "What does this mean about you?"

Nick: Yeah. And so what does it mean? What does it say about the person that eats Pop Tarts this way?

Leah: They're a rule-breaker.

Nick: They don't care about society's boundaries.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: That's what this says.

Leah: They are lawless.

Nick: Right. And then if they do this, what else are they capable of?

Leah: Man!

Nick: I guess that's really the implication.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Like, this is a gateway food item. Like, where does it end?

Leah: Yeah, it's that thing where I should have recognized this when I saw the Pop Tart.

Nick: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Like, "Oh, I didn't take that seriously enough." Yeah. So should I try a Pop Tart? Or is it okay that I've gone this far?

Leah: I don't think that you will like it.

Nick: Oh, I'm pretty sure I won't like it. Yeah.

Leah: So I think—I mean, it might be interesting if you buttered one, or if you did the s'mores to just, like, really go all in. Because I would want you to have it warm.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And so maybe if you really overdid it, you know, with the s'more one, it might be more fun.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: Maybe like a fun thing that you did.

Nick: Okay, my next campfire. Our next question is, quote, "I'm getting married soon, and I want my bridal party to know that I don't expect them to get us any gifts. I'm trying to be mindful of the fact they're spending money just to travel to join us and throw me a bachelorette party. I think I'm a low-key bride, and they can wear whatever they want, decide whether they want professional makeup and hair done, et cetera. And I want to be clear that I'm not expecting gifts, but I don't want to imply that people can't afford our fairly modest bridal party expenses. How can I word it?"

Leah: Should I read what I wrote?

Nick: Sure, yeah!

Leah: So I think an option would be, "It means so much to us to have you with us, your support and presence are all we need for gifts."

Nick: Okay. So you want to go with the "Your presence is our present" approach.

Leah: Yeah, "Presence" with a C.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: And your support and sharing this moment with us is all we want.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Is all the gift we want.

Nick: Mmm.

Leah: Thank you so much for being here with us.

Nick: Meh.

Leah: Why don't you like it?

Nick: Well, I just don't like the "no gifts" wording on, like, the invitation, because we're not actually supposed to be expecting gifts. And so then you have now made it about gifts, and now there's this weird thing about gifts now.

Leah: Well, I think this is going to her bridal party, so it's not on the invitation. I assume this is like a group girls or people email.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess you could do it as a mass email sort of thing. I think more effective, though, is probably just to tell the one best friend who knows everybody that this is kind of like what I want everybody to know, and then subcontract. Let that friend just let everybody know, like, we don't need gifts.

Leah: I think that works, too.

Nick: But I would mention that some people actually like giving gifts, and actually take great pleasure in that, and enjoy the act of, like, finding something you might like, and actually enjoy watching you open the gift. And so some people actually do enjoy that process. And as a reminder, gifts don't have to be expensive. They can also be tokens. And so you might not be expecting gifts, but what you're really saying is you're not expecting expensive gifts.

Leah: I think this person just wants to let people off the hook if, you know, they spent money on the things and they're—which I hear what you're saying. She just doesn't want people to feel like they have to spend any more money.

Nick: Right, that's fine. But I think everybody should just remember that gifts don't actually have to equal money, necessarily. And so you could just actually say nothing and not have expectations. Don't register for the Baccarat crystal goblets. And if somebody wants to buy you a gift, they can just do it within their budget. And that should be fine, whatever their budget is.

Leah: But I do think it's totally fine if it's something that's taking up your mental space, because you really want to make sure people know that, to send out a group email to your bridal party and be like, "You being with me is really what I want. Please don't worry about any other kind of gifts."

Nick: Yeah, although I think if I received that, I would probably then now privately message somebody else in the group and be like, "What do you think this means? Who among us can't afford gifts? Like, what is this really about? Who's this email really for?" I imagine—I don't know, maybe my friends are more gossip-y. [laughs]

Leah: I don't think so. I think—my guess is that, like, say I sent that out, I think everybody would know that it was because I was feeling like I don't want people to take on ...

Nick: If you sent it out, yes, we would know that this is about your crippling anxiety, and that you are trying to avoid that. Sure, okay.

Leah: [laughs] And I think that this person is—people aren't gonna think that they're thinking that there's one person who's a ...

Nick: Yeah, maybe not.

Leah: But also I think the thing that you said about telling one ...

Nick: The bridesmaid.

Leah: Yeah, the maid of honor, and then they tell the other people, that works, too.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, if the idea is to get the word out, like, that would also work. All right. So if we agree that we can send an email, then I guess how do we word it? I guess that's the question.

Leah: I think just send it from the heart. It means so much to her that they're spending this time with her and supporting her and being there to celebrate this moment, and that's all the gift that she wants.

Nick: Yeah, I guess if you are gonna send that email, that direct, polite, what is this really about, let's not try and be clever. Let's not try and, like, have a little poem. And just, like, straight up, just say, like, "It's really not something I'm expecting, and don't worry about it."

Leah: Yeah, and just say how you really feel: that their friendship and them sharing this with you is what you really want.

Nick: So our next question is, quote, "It's a mother-in-law question. She comes and visits about twice a year, and the first time she came, she was appalled because we do not have tissues in the house. So I made sure that the next time she came, I had tissues for her. Well, then she was annoyed because they did not have lotion, and it bothered her nose. So then the next time she came, I made sure they were lotion tissues. And then she was annoyed because the lotion also bothered her nose. So I guess looking back at this I'm just wondering, for guests, what are correct expectations of the host? And for a host, how can we be accommodating without just losing our minds?"

Leah: What I think is so funny is that it's not really a question for guests. This is a specific guest.

Nick: [laughs] Yeah, this is one person. Yeah, this is also not about tissues.

Leah: Yeah, exactly. [laughs] It's always going to be something. So it's not like a friend is over and is like, "What's up with your tissues?"

Nick: Right.

Leah: And then your friend comes back and be like, "This isn't my lotion." I don't think that would happen outside of this specific guest we're talking about.

Nick: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I mean, there are just relationships that we have where you can't win. You just can't win. You will never win. You will never be able to win here. And so I think just acknowledging that is gonna go a long way in your sanity.

Leah: Mm-hmm. Because I don't think—if this was just a question about hosts and guests in general, I don't think that a guest would bring up that it's not the kind of tissue they like.

Nick: No.

Leah: I think a guest would try to figure out how to make do. They might go to the washroom and pull a tissue paper. You know what I mean? It wouldn't be—the guest would try to figure it, you know?

Nick: Yeah. Or the guest would be like, "Oh, I'm coming to town. Would you mind picking up this specific brand for me?" As opposed to, like, "These tissues are wrong, but I'm not gonna tell you which ones are right. I'm just gonna let you guess."

Leah: I can't imagine asking my host to get me tissues. I would just bring my—if I had, like, such particular tissue taste, I would bring it with me.

Nick: I mean, tissues is maybe the wrong example, but there could be, like, a specific type of milk that you drink for your coffee. Like, let's say you're a whole milk only kind of person. So you could request, like, "Oh, would you mind picking up some whole milk for coffee?" If you knew you were going to a household that, like, had their coffee black and didn't keep milk at the house. Like, that could be a request.

Leah: I would do it if they asked me, "Hey, do you have any requests?" But if they didn't ask me and I was going to be a guest in their house, I would be like ...

Nick: Oh, that's true.

Leah: When they picked me up or when I got there, I'd be like, "I'm just gonna do a run because I love having whole milk."

Nick: Yeah. No, that would be the nicer way to do it.

Leah: I don't think I would send in advance my requesting list of things I expected to be in the household.

Nick: Yeah, I guess if not invited to do so. So yeah, what do we do about this mother in law?

Leah: I think what you said is perfect, that just in the acknowledging that it's always going to be a thing.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And if there's some way in one's mind to know that this is just their behavior, and somehow find a way in your person to be like, this isn't about me.

Nick: Yeah, this is not about you. Well actually, I mean, this is about you because this person doesn't like you.

Leah: It is about you, but there's nothing you can do about it. They're gonna behave this way.

Nick: Probably not. Yeah. I mean, the only thing you probably could do maybe is before the next trip say, "I know the tissues I've previously gotten were not the best for you. Please let me know what brand and type I should pick up." And ask.

Leah: I think you could actually send an email if you want to make it work. You could also just be like this woman's never gonna be happy, and I'm gonna try not to let it affect me. I'm gonna be the best host I can be, but probably something will be wrong. I'm gonna just move along. Or you can send an email and be, like, "Excited that you're coming to visit. Lie, lie, lie."

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: Just kidding. "Excited you're coming to visit. Do you have anything specific that you would like in the house?"

Nick: Well, and this type of person is gonna write back saying, "No."

Leah: But then when they say, "Oh, this isn't my type of tissue," then you could be like, "Oh, I'm sorry. I asked you. I didn't realize you wanted something because you didn't bring it up."

Nick: Oh, you think this person has trouble with cognitive dissonance?

Leah: [laughs] I'm just saying at least you have covered all your bounds and you could be like, "It really isn't me. I did everything."

Nick: I see.

Leah: Because I'm pretty sure after the tissues, it's gonna be something else. So you can say, "I blanket asked you."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, on some level, where is the child whose mother this is in this story?

Leah: Oh, staying out of it.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, they're smart. They're smart, yeah.

Leah: It's a lose-lose for that person.

Nick: Yeah, that's true. You can't win that one either, yeah. But I think for all the mother in laws out there—and we do hear from them. You know, we do actually get correspondence from them when we have all these mother-in-law stories and mother in laws write in being like, "I'm not like that." So we know it's a generalization, but if there's part of you that does stuff like this, take a moment and think maybe I shouldn't.

Leah: Maybe I should just have a little lotion in my pocket that I can add to tissues.

Nick: Yeah, maybe you should know that, like, you're giving other mother in laws a bad name, so knock it off.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is, quote, "What is the proper etiquette for boarding a plane when there are no assigned seats and patrons are assigned a boarding number? Recently, I was in this situation. My number was A44. When my group was called, I approached the station where my number was supposed to queue and asked the woman standing there what her number was. She answered, A47. I replied, I'm A44. It was then clear she would not move to let me in. So I stood to the side and I merged in once the line started moving. As I merged in ahead, the woman mumbled under breath something about my need to get ahead of her. For a moment, I thought perhaps I had misheard her number and I was indeed cutting in ahead. But a quick glance at her boarding pass showed I had not. Was I incorrect? For this particular airline, I had to go online 24 hours ahead to check in and get the boarding number."

Leah: These kind of boarding situations stress me out so much, because there are people that just cut. They get up there, they push.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: They're absolutely incorrect.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But then you are forced to be aggressive to get the thing that you paid for or waited in line for, or got on, you know, online, meaning online-online. You know what I mean? Like, you did your job to get online early, to get your ticket number early. And then this person is being like, "Oh, you want to be so pushy?" When they're being pushy.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: They're not following the number order.

Nick: Yeah. I have a flight attendant friend who describes the process of people, like, crowding the gate "gate lice."

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So yeah, I mean, this situation is designed by airlines to make people actually be miserable, so that you'll pay more money to be slightly less miserable and have a higher number or board sooner or make sure you won't run out of bin space. So it is designed to be terrible. Like, this is actually a business decision by airlines to just make it unpleasant. So that's working.

Leah: It's so stressful. And our letter writer, you're not incorrect. It was—the other person was forcing you to have to merge in front of them because they didn't—they know that 47 comes after 44. It's numerically always been in that order. 47 has never come before 44.

Nick: So benefit of the doubt, Leah Bonnema-style. Now I assume this is Southwest Airlines. I don't think any other airline does it, so I don't know why we're being coy. It sounds like Southwest. And so the idea basically for anybody who hasn't flown Southwest in a while, is that you basically line up in the exact order that you're supposed to actually get on the plane. So you really will board right after A43 if you're A44. And the idea is that the queuing area in the boarding area, you're actually supposed to line up such that, like, you'll get ready to roll so that you really will board the plane one to, you know, 200. So that is not how most airlines do it, so I can see a world that this person is not familiar with this, and was perhaps confused and just thought like, "Oh, all of us together in this group, A40 through A50, we all just kind of go at the same time. It's not actually in order." There's a world in which that's possible.

Leah: There is a very far away ...

Nick: You think that's remote?

Leah: Very far away, and a world with very few moons, and ...

Nick: [laughs] I see, okay. Only on Tatooine is this happening.

Leah: Not a lot of—not a lot of dense atmosphere.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: That is possible, because it's numbered. And I guess in this world, numbers also don't go in order.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: But I mean, the benefit of the doubt, she doesn't understand how we're lining up in order. I do believe that people announce it. "Hey, we are—"also, when they buy the tickets, they don't get their seat assignments, so they know they have to check in the day before. So she did check in the day before, so she does know.

Nick: She does know certain things.

Leah: So if you would just show up at the airport and you hadn't purchased the tickets online where I'm sure they told you you had to check in the next day, and then she hadn't checked in and gotten that number, then I could be like, "Okay."

Nick: Right. Okay, yeah. No, I mean, it's remote, I'm just trying to be charitable. It's a whole new me.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So I think the whole muttering under your breath? That is always a little tricky when it comes to etiquette, unless you are sure you are correct in the etiquette situation. Unless you are sure an etiquette crime is being committed against you. If you're not, I don't think we mutter. And even if you are correct, muttering is always a little provocative, because it comes across as passive-aggressive, which we want to avoid. So I don't care for that.

Leah: Well, this woman really set my—not our letter writer, the lady, because, A) she's cutting line, she's trying to get in front of people. And then when the person is 44 before 47 doing what's actually right, like she got caught, she should back up. Then she's gonna mutter. Then she's gonna mutter and be, like, real passive-aggressive about it. And that's why I'm so upset.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You know what I mean? I can't stand it. You're not—follow the rules. You're 47. She's 44. That's how it works.

Nick: I do find that people that break the rules and then get caught, they tend to be indignant, and I think that's what's happening here.

Leah: I don't like it one bit.

Nick: Yeah, I don't care for that. And it's trying to twist it around. I mean, it's that classic example of, like, you didn't do anything wrong, somebody did something wrong and is trying to make you feel bad. Yeah. So ...

Leah: I don't like it at all.

Nick: Classic. It's a classic story.

Leah: Classic story.

Nick: We've heard it before.

Leah: Beast and the Beast.

Nick: Never ends. Our next question is, quote, "My husband—we'll call him José—and his cousin—we'll call him Carlos—are Spanish-English bilingual with Spanish as their native language. As such, they usually speak Spanish together in one-on-one conversation. Carlos' wife—we'll call her Lisa—and I are native English speakers. I have intermediate Spanish competency, and Lisa has beginner competency. Recently, while the four of us were enjoying some lovely family time together, Carlos and Jose were discussing horseback riding in Spanish. Overhearing their conversation, I added a comment and a question in English. Lisa quickly began to answer my question in detail, but it soon became obvious that she thought the conversation had been about cooking, and was providing a great deal of information that was completely unrelated to the topic at hand.

Nick: "Carlos, José and I were then faced with the dilemma of whether we should point out this misunderstanding to Lisa or leave it unaddressed and move on to another topic. It seemed as though each of the three of us were waiting to see if anyone else knew what the course of action was, resulting in much awkward eye contact. Ultimately, we defaulted to moving on to another topic without addressing the misunderstanding, although I fear that Lisa may have picked up on our discomfort. How does etiquette dictate that a situation like this should have been handled? Should we have ignored this misunderstanding and moved on to a different topic like we did? Or should the misunderstanding have been addressed? And if so, what would the most appropriate, kind and delicate way to do so have been? Your advice would be greatly appreciated."

Leah: This question is so interesting, because I feel like it so much depends on who Lisa is as a person.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And my relationship with her.

Nick: Okay. Elaborate.

Leah: Like, I have friends—I understand what our letter writer's saying, like, when there's three people who sense something is off, and then you feel guilty that the other person doesn't get what the three of you ...

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: That the three of you are thinking, "Oh, she misunderstood the word."

Nick: Right.

Leah: So you don't want that person to feel bad. You don't want the person to feel bad. Is it worse that the person would feel bad later that everybody knew? Or that if you corrected it now when you don't want to correct somebody? But then that's why I think it sort of is like, is—I have a lot of friends that they're learning a new language. They want to be like, "Oh, I think you thought that we were talking about this. And this is actually the word for that."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think you got to jump on these things as soon as they happen.

Leah: Right away.

Nick: And they don't get better the longer you wait.

Leah: Yeah, it's got to be right away.

Nick: Yeah. It needed to be like, "Oh, Lisa, we were actually talking about montar a caballo not bistec de caballo." And then just like, that's that. Actually, have you ever had bistec de caballo?

Leah: No, I haven't.

Nick: It's this Colombian thing. It's where you put, like, a sunny side egg over a steak. It's very good.

Leah: Oh, no. I haven't had that at all.

Nick: I don't know what horseback food conversation they were having, but I just assume it's bistec de caballo.

Leah: I mean, that seems ...

Nick: It seems plausible.

Leah: Like, a solid guess of what it is. Yeah, because it's not a big—there's nothing wrong with the fact that she got it wrong.

Nick: No!

Leah: So that way you could just point it out.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But it has to be done right away.

Nick: Right away. And you just do it in a nice, non-judgmental way, which is like, "Oh, Lisa, we were actually just talking about horseback riding." And then she'd be like, "Oh, I heard blah, blah, blah." And then we move on. But yeah, the waiting and then now we're keeping secrets, and now Lisa's like, "Oh, what is wrong? Like, I don't know why they're all being shifty-eyed." Like, that's uncomfortable.

Leah: I also think that sometimes, for me I know I'd be like, "Oh, maybe I was wrong. Maybe I got that wrong." And then I would go into my head and be like, "Maybe she's right and I'm wrong." And then I'm like, "What is happening?" And then five minutes has passed. So that's why I totally understand why that happens.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I also think for—like, if Lisa was brand new to the group, you know what I mean? Lisa's married.

Nick: Right.

Leah: She's married into this family. Like, with you and, like, you guys are all relatives.

Nick: Yeah. And so I think it's totally fine.

Leah: Yeah, it's totally fine.

Nick: To be like, "Oh, Lisa. We were talking about horseback riding."

Leah: And I think as a person—like, I like learning a new language. I like to know what word I thought was another word.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think this is a learning opportunity as well. The key is just like, are you doing it in a nice way?

Leah: No, I think that's what it is. Just presenting it, like, non-judgmentally. And then also I do think that, what I was trying to say is that some people like to learn, and they don't feel embarrassed in front of—and then some people get very embarrassed. And so that would be a key part to the equation for me. What type of person is it?

Nick: So if Lisa is somebody who is embarrassed easily though, I think it's still better to embarrass her early and quickly rather than later. So either way, I think we arrive at the same place.

Leah: Or just move on faster or correct faster.

Nick: Move on faster? Yes, if we moved on real fast such that there was no, like, awkward silence or shifty-eyed glances, then that is an option. Yeah, I'll give you that.

Leah: Well, I'm saying if you've already moved on, then move on.

Nick: Right, right. Yeah.

Leah: You can't go back.

Nick: Don't go back. Don't belabor the point.

Leah: Yeah, you can't go back.

Nick: And be like, "Oh, actually, yesterday?"

Leah: "Do you remember yesterday?"

Nick: "When we had that conversation?"

Leah: "When you said 'biblioteca?'"

Nick: "And it was actually not? Just want to let you know."

Leah: "Just want to let you know I've been thinking about it for 24 hours."

Nick: Well, speaking of biblioteca, our next thing is something we got from a listener, which was, quote, "I recently came across this amusing article about someone returning—after 32 years—a library book. The note that accompanied it was rude, don't you think? What would have been the proper thing to do in this situation? Also, note the book title." And so the book is titled "Manners Make a Difference."

Leah: [laughs] And the note is a little yellow Post-it note and it says, "Sorry, just 32 years overdue. Call it Catholic guilt." Smiley face. So what do we think of this?

Leah: I think it's such a funny picture that it's the book being manners.

Nick: Yeah, it's poetic. Yeah, it's poetic. And just to be clear, it is rude to borrow things and not return them. And that does include library books. So if anybody out there has library books that are overdue, return them, please. That is polite.

Leah: For some reason, I immediately felt like this person didn't realize they had it and they found it.

Nick: Yeah, of course. Yeah. No, they weren't actively keeping this manners book for 32 years.

Leah: They weren't actively hiding it. So that was sort of somehow implied in that photo, to me.

Nick: With the idea of Catholic guilt?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: So the Catholic guilt part, are they guilty that they kept it for 32 years, or are they feeling guilty about returning it?

Leah: I think what the person who wrote the sticky note is saying is, basically like in their mind, they're like, how ridiculous that I would return this after 32 years, but I have to return it because I have Catholic guilt.

Nick: Oh, I see. I can't just keep this book forever. I must return it.

Leah: Yeah. Even though it's already been so long, I'm going to have to return it now that I realized that I didn't do it, because I have Catholic guilt.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: That's my reading.

Nick: I mean, I think you should also just return it, and it has nothing to do with feeling guilty. That's just the correct thing to do.

Leah: [laughs] Yeah, but I actually wrote that exactly. I wrote that I think we should all want to return things not just because we feel guilty.

Nick: Like, guilt should not be the emotion that is required to make us return our neighbor's lawn clippers.

Leah: But I mean, also, if it motivates you to get that done ... [laughs]

Nick: Yeah, I guess whatever it takes to get the thing returned. Yeah, I guess we'll take—we'll take guilt then. But I think it would be nice to not just return the book, but pay the fine. Yeah, I think you should pay the fine. I think that would be nice for this poor library that has been missing this book for three decades.

Leah: I wonder what the fine is on that?

Nick: Funny you should ask. So I looked into that, and this actually took place in eastern England, so it was in pounds, but if you translate it to dollars, it's about $1,100.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: So serious fine for 30 years, but I think this library probably could use a thousand bucks. So something to consider. If you really feel guilty, you might want to write a check.

Leah: What do you think our letter writer finds to be the rudest part?

Nick: I think our letter writer is bothered—and I'm a little bothered by it—by the casual nature of the Post-it note. The smiley face? It feels like the weight of the apology is not sufficient for the crime committed.

Leah: Oh, I understand.

Nick: Feels like they're taking it a little lightly, and I want a little more repentance out of this. I wanted a little more, like, "I'm so sorry that this happened." I want a little more deeper regret than just an anonymous Post-it note.

Leah: Okay. I couldn't tell if it was the term "Catholic guilt," or if it was the Post-it note, so that's why I just wanted—you know, I always want more. I'm like, I want more details.

Nick: You're greedy, Leah. You're greedy.

Leah: I want more about your feelings. I'm greedy with our letter writers. Give me all the details.

Nick: But I think that's probably what was rude about it, is that it was sort of a little too casual, and I think we want a little more thoughtfulness.

Leah: Mm. Mm-hmm.

Nick: And I think it's that lack of thoughtfulness. Like, you were already thoughtless by, like, forgetting to return this book. And you've just sort of compounded that by just sort of like tossing the book back with a Post-it note and, like, "Sorry!"

Leah: Which ironically, is about manners.

Nick: They clearly didn't read it, because if they read it, they probably would have finished reading it and returned it 32 years ago. So they just never got around to it.

Leah: At least they brought it back.

Nick: Although I actually looked into this manners book, and it's so antiquated and outdated that it's,, like, this is not a useful reference material anymore.

Leah: They could have brought that one back and then also gifted the library a new one.

Nick: Yeah, there was just a lot of missed opportunities here. But, oh, well. So do you have some etiquette questions for us that are overdue? Let us know. Send them to us and we'll waive the fine. You can send them to us through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message, (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!