Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating soup dumplings, navigating airport security, waving while driving, and much more.
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating soup dumplings, navigating airport security, waving while driving, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
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Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
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Nick: Do you eat soup dumplings the wrong way? Do you get pushy at airport security? Do you wave your hands while driving? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out!
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When we have to live together
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Were you raised by wolves?
Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.
Nick: And let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche.
Leah: I'm excited!
Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about xiǎo lóng bāo. Do you know what this is?
Leah: Not off the top of my head. [laughs]
Nick: Okay. It is more commonly called "soup dumplings." Have you ever had a soup dumpling?
Leah: I have had a soup dumpling.
Nick: So they are often called xiǎo lóng bāo. And actually there's some disagreement on whether or not that's the correct term or not, because xiǎo lóng bāo might mean something different in China depending on where you are. And people have very different notions about xiǎo lóng bāo. But I think globally when we say xiǎo lóng bāo, we are thinking of soup dumplings. So Leah, explain what is a soup dumpling. What is this thing?
Leah: It is a dumpling in soup.
Nick: No. It is a dumpling that has soup inside of it. Are we talking about the same thing?
Leah: Then we're not talking about the same thing.
Nick: So xiǎo lóng bāo soup dumplings are dumplings. And inside the dumpling besides, like, the meaty filling is soup.
Leah: Okay, I have—my mind is blown right now. I thought we were talking about dumplings in soup. There's a whole kind of dumpling that I don't even know about?
Nick: Oh, I just blew your mind!
Leah: My mind is blown. I'm actually leaving this episode to put on my shoes, and I'm gonna go get another dumpling that I've never had right now.
Nick: So xiǎo lóng bāo are spectacular. I mean, it actually is one of the world's best foods. And if you've never had them, then you absolutely must make an effort immediately to go have them. And so a little history. There's a lot of different origin stories. A lot of people point to Shanghai, or some little town outside of Shanghai which is now part of Shanghai now, because Shanghai has grown so big that that little town is now just a suburb. And there was a restaurateur who made dumplings, and to set himself apart, he created this special dumpling that had soup in it, so that when you bite into it, it's actually like broth comes out besides the filling. And it was so novel and interesting that it was a big hit and then it kind of went global.
Nick: And there's actually a famous dumpling place called Din Tai Fung from Taipei, and they really pushed xiǎo lóng bāo globally with their global expansion. And I'm very excited they're opening in New York next year, which really is gonna be life changing for me because they are really probably the best soup dumplings that there are on the planet. Like, they are spectacular. So what it is is a dumpling that does have soup in it. And you're like, "How do they get soup in a dumpling?" And what it is is they actually create a stock that's sort of jellified, basically aspic, and that when it's steamed in a steamer, it liquefies. And so you get this liquid soup in the dumpling when you eat it. And so the question is: how do you eat this thing?
Leah: I have one prior question just for my visualization.
Nick: Oh, yeah. Let's talk about it.
Leah: How does the soup not come out before you get to eat it? Like, how does it not seep out?
Nick: Well, the wrapper is quite sealed, so it can hold the moisture in pretty well. And a place like Din Tai Fung, they're actually famous for exactly 18 pinches around.
Leah: Oh, wow!
Nick: And so they have a military precision. And they do 18 because they say that's the perfect number. Also, it's a very good luck number, as we recall from an earlier episode. In China? Eight, very lucky. And so they have exactly 18 folds at every Din Tai Fung globally.
Leah: I love that you open up new worlds for me.
Nick: So how do you eat this thing? Because it's like this dumpling that is, like, full of liquid. And so obviously this could be a little problematic.
Leah: I mean, it seems like fraught with options of how not to eat it. Because it feels like there's many utensils.
Nick: Yes, a lot of different possibilities. But here's how it should be done. And there are different ways that it's done, but if you do it this way, you will be guaranteed to not be made fun of or be looked at strangely. And so basically when you sit down, you will be given chopsticks, and you will be given a Chinese soup spoon. You know, the kind of porcelain ceramic-y thing.
Nick: And you will also be given a little dish of julienned ginger. So you'll have a little ginger julienne, small little slivers. And then on the table there will probably be vinegar and soy sauce, or it will be brought to you at some point. But you will have this accoutrement. And what you do is you will take soy sauce and vinegar and add it to your little dish of ginger, and whatever ratio you want. Pp to you. You don't have to use any if you don't want. This is your journey. But what I like is a one to three ratio of soy sauce to vinegar. That, like, works for me. But you find you.
Leah: [laughs] The precision!
Nick: So now you have a dish of julienned ginger with soy sauce and vinegar in it, and then a steaming tray of xiǎo lóng bāo is gonna arrive. And what you do with your chopsticks is you will take one dumpling out of the steamer, and you will place it into the ginger-soy sauce-vinegar mixture—full dabbing. You're just trying to get that flavor onto the outside of the wrapper. And then you take the dumpling and transfer it to your soup spoon. And then with your chopsticks, you are gonna pinch a little hole into the outside of the dumpling to drain the soup that's in it.
Nick: So you're gonna free the soup from the dumpling.
Leah: Free the soup!
Nick: And then what you're gonna do is you're gonna take a little of the ginger from your dish and add it to the top of the dumpling, so that you can have both of these things in one bite. And then you're gonna eat the dumpling after you give it a second to, like, let it cool down. And then you have a soup spoon full of soup, and then you will enjoy the soup. And that is one dumpling done. And it is delightful. It is truly delightful.
Leah: What a masterpiece of a whole—am I eating the dumpling with my chopstick then after I put the ginger on it?
Nick: Yes. You're gonna take the chopstick.
Nick: And you're gonna then lift it. And that's why you want to make the hole in the side of the dumpling relatively small—just enough to release the soupy liquid. Not to, like, get the whole filling destroyed and like messy.
Leah: Amazing. This is amazing!
Nick: And what you don't want to do is eat a soup dumpling without breaking the outside that still has the soup inside because that does not work. That is not a thing that is possible. It doesn't work out well.
Leah: It's gonna sort of run down your face.
Nick: Yeah, you don't want to do that. And you also don't want to eat it when it's too hot because these are right out of the steamer. These are very hot. So you do need to give it a moment to make sure that it's the correct temperature before you put it in your mouth. And you also don't want to do a half bite of a dumpling. These are very fragile, and a half bite also is not gonna work out for you.
Leah: Get it all in there.
Nick: So yeah. I mean, if you've never had a soup dumpling, that is a high priority item for you. It is truly a delicious dish.
Leah: It sounds amazing.
Nick: And Din Tai Fung, I mean, you want to be like, "Oh, how good could they be?" And I gotta say they really are that good.
Leah: I wonder if there's anywhere that makes them wheat free. I hate that I can't eat wheat because that's dumpling.
Nick: Oh, that's a good point. I would imagine.
Leah: There must be some rice paper ones.
Nick: And if not, this is a major missed opportunity and this is a great business idea, and we would like a cut if anybody invents it based on this conversation.
Leah: [laughs] I would like a taste is what I would like.
Nick: So that's xiǎo lóng bāo.
Nick: Bié kèqì.
Nick: And now we're back. And now it's time to go deep.
Leah: Deep and down the line.
Nick: Ugh! So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about security at an airport.
Nick: Oh, I mean ...
Leah: I'm in a lot of airports. I'm in a lot of security lines.
Nick: Yeah. And I guess for me, it's just like, is this your first time? Is this so many people's first time doing this? Because it really feels like it's a lot of people's first time.
Leah: Well, it may be some people's first times, but I think some people they just want to be obstinate.
Nick: Oh, you think that's what it is?
Leah: I do. I think some people are like, "Why? Why am I doing this? I don't want to do this. I'm not listening. I'm actively pushing the people in front of me. I came late. I want to get through this."
Leah: So instead of doing it right the first time, I'm gonna rush, do it wrong, get irritated, hold everybody up.
Nick: Yeah. So I think at the end of the day, it is courteous to everybody else around you to be ready. When you get in that line, you should be ready for whatever the next phase of that line is. So if it's the ID check, be ready. Have your ID out.
Leah: Yeah, it's ready to go. It's not in any plastic thing that they can't see through. Have it ready.
Nick: And for your ticket, if that's on your phone, have your phone on, powered on, and ready to roll. That's not when you get your phone out of your pocket, turn on the screen, unlock with your password, find it, turn up the brightness. Like, no, no, no. We have already done all those things by the time they ask for it.
Leah: And we had time in line.
Nick: There was time.
Leah: We didn't get there immediately.
Nick: Right. So it's like, please do that. Just be ready. And I think for me as a New Yorker, that's the number one crime is like when you step up to the front of the line and you're not ready. You're not ready to order at the deli. That's also, I think, what makes this so maddening for me, which is like, you had all this time. You had all this time to do all of these things, and yet here we are.
Leah: That's not my number one crime, but I can imagine that being exceedingly irritating.
Leah: But I also feel like TSA agents also hate that, so I always feel like they always give that person a look. There's always them being like ...
Leah: "You're not ready?"
Leah: I think we can assume as the person going through TSA, that everybody's as equally irritated. You know what I mean? Nobody likes this. We're all just doing it, so we might as well be polite and move through together as a group.
Nick: Yes. It is just easier if we all just agree that we're just gonna do this.
Leah: We're just gonna do it.
Leah: We're just gonna do it.
Leah: We're just gonna follow the rules. We're not gonna be like, "Can I keep this one thing that's five ounces?" Nope!
Nick: Yeah, this is what it is. Just get on board. Just get on board with this.
Leah: It's not a good time to argue with the TSA people about your feelings about it.
Leah: Because that's where you're holding everybody up. You're holding everybody up.
Nick: Right. And you're not gonna change federal policy today.
Leah: Nothing is going to change.
Nick: [laughs] Right. This is not when this policy is gonna change, so you just get on board. Right.
Leah: And I think we're listening and we're moving. The whole—I think the etiquette of this whole thing is moving through, aware of others and quickly as possible. And the way we do that is we listen, and as you say, we're ready to go for each step. So once you go through the—they've looked at your ID and your ticket, you put them away. Then you're gonna have to have your shoes off, your jacket off, your liquids out, your iPads and computers out. This is standard across the board.
Nick: Right. And so be ready for that. And as a conscientious traveler, you might want to have all those things at the top of your bag ready to take out.
Leah: I always put them at the top.
Nick: Yeah. As you're packing, just know these are gonna have to come out. And so just let's make this easy on myself and everybody else.
Leah: So you get up to the—when it's your turn, you grab the buckets.
Nick: Two buckets, sometimes three. I like a good bin. I'm a bin hog.
Leah: Me too. I love a bin. I grab them and I move. I move forward ...
Nick: Slide it down.
Leah: ... to where is my empty spot, so the next person can also get their bucket. That being said, I hate people that push your buckets when you're like, "I'm actually moving pretty fast, so give me one second to get my stuff together."
Nick: Mmm, yes. Impatience is also not a great quality when we're going through this system.
Leah: It's nobody's fault that you didn't leave enough time to get to the airport.
Nick: So let's talk about that. There has been many occasions in which there'll be somebody rushing through, they'll be like, "I'm gonna miss my flight. I'm gonna miss my flight. Please let me cut. Please let me cut." And apparently, there is a group of people out there that do this on purpose.
Nick: They purposely don't give themselves enough time, knowing that they could just talk their way to the front of the line. And this has to end.
Leah: That's so upsetting.
Nick: We can't have people like this in the world!
Leah: Honestly, I'm shocked. You can just get TSA pre-check if that's how you're gonna be.
Nick: And I actually did have this happen to me recently where somebody was like, "We're gonna miss our flight! We're late! Oh, can we cut? Oh, I'm so sorry. Oh, we're gonna miss our flight." And so I was like, "Fine." Like, I give myself plenty of time. I mean, I get to an airport a day early, but I do not like cutting it close.
Leah: Me too. Me too.
Nick: I don't need that stress or anxiety. Like, I'm not interested. So, like, I have plenty of time. And so we let them go ahead and we're like, "Oh, where are they going?" I get to my gate. Guess who's on my flight.
Nick: And it's like, if you're gonna lie, at least don't get caught.
Leah: [gasps] I'm actually shocked by this. Because how rude! Because there are people that are really late, and it was out of there. It happened to me once. I was mortified. I was on the AirTrain going to JFK. The AirTrain broke down.
Nick: Oh, yes. I've had that happen.
Nick: What a feeling being trapped on that thing.
Leah: Trapped on the AirTrain. You think you're gonna miss your flight. Thank goodness I leave, as you, six hours early. I get there. I miss the time to check my bag. I'm carrying my bag in my arms outstretched. I'm running through. I'm very late, and I have so much trouble asking people to skip. I feel very rude. I was like, "I'm very late!" This wonderful lady was like, "She's late! Let her through!" And so I was very late, and it was out of my control. It does happen. And everybody let me—was very kind and let me skip. And I just hate the idea, because anytime somebody tells me they're late, I'm like, "Oh, go ahead of me," because I assume they're being honest.
Nick: Yes. I mean, I think people who take advantage are ruining it for the rest of us who may need to have that one day, that one time when something was out of our control and we really do need to make that flight. They do make society worse for everybody else.
Leah: I would want to go up to them and be like "Liars!"
Nick: I was thinking if I had the opportunity to say something, because I was sort of like, "Oh, if we happen to be, like, merging the line at the same time. And ,like, if I had the nerve to say something, like, what would I say? And so what I workshopped was, like, "Oh, I'm so sorry you missed your flight. I'm so glad you were able to get rebooked on this one."
Leah: Oh, I love that. Whoo!
Nick: That's what I was thinking. I would say if I had the opportunity. I did not have the opportunity, thankfully. I think that probably would have been pretty rude. So I'm glad I did not say that, but that is what I had workshopped in the half hour ahead stewing while I was looking at these people about how they just cut in line unnecessarily.
Leah: Yeah, that's just ...
Nick: Isn't that gross?
Leah: Ruining it for people that need help.
Nick: That's really gross, yeah.
Leah: I don't like it at all. There are people that—at TSA, there are gonna be people that need extra time.
Nick: That's a good point.
Leah: And we don't need to push up on them or be like, Why? Why?" You know, a lot of times people are traveling with small children.
Leah: They're in wheelchairs. People are on crutches. I recently was behind somebody who had a medical thing inside their person, so they had to go around and back and around and back. And just give people their space. You don't need to be pushing up on them when they're—everybody's doing the best they can.
Nick: Yeah, I don't think you want to be impatient. And hopefully you gave yourself enough time that you won't necessarily feel that time pressure, and can actually just be a little more chill during this experience.
Leah: And also know if you have time pressure, it's not the person in front of you's fault.
Nick: That's also a good point. Yeah, don't blame the person in front of you when you decided to leave the house with 20 minutes to spare.
Leah: And even it may not be your fault either. You may have gotten stuck in something, your AirTrain may have gotten broken down, but getting irritated by the person in front of you, or even the TSA agent, isn't necessarily the way to handle it.
Nick: Yeah. No, that's a good point.
Leah: I was also thinking, like, sometimes people are traveling with things going through. They don't check it, they carry it. And then TSA makes a big deal and everybody has to hold up, and that person is also feeling awkward. I was recently traveling with our podcasting equipment.
Nick: Oh, okay.
Leah: And I didn't check it. I carried it. It was my carry on. And apparently, tasers look like ...
Nick: Oh, our little recording devices.
Leah: Our little recording device. And I had taken the batteries out, because I've actually had batteries explode and, like, leak onto things. So I didn't have the batteries in it. So then everybody had to stop and wait because I had a thing that I couldn't turn on, and I had to be like, "This is a pod—this is very standard podcasting equipment." I was like, "We can Google it." But I couldn't turn it on. There was no batteries. It was a big to do. Everybody behind me in line hated my guts and I was like, "I'm so sorry!" But it was what it was, you know what I'm saying?
Nick: But, like, everybody has a podcast now.
Leah: Also, I was, like, carrying Lacey in one arm, and she was, like, rolling her eyes at the guy. She's like, "Really? Even I know what this is."
Nick: [laughs] Right. And just for new listeners, Lacey is a dog.
Leah: Lacey is my dog. And—but, you know, I feel like I remained upbeat, and I just shouted a big old apology to everybody behind me. And I was polite to the agent.
Nick: Oh, you did? "Sorry, everybody! Please tune in to Were You Raised By Wolves! [laughs]
Leah: No, I was like, "Check out the podcast, though."
Nick: "All y'all have vents now. Send them in. There's an email address for this."
Leah: "Feel free to vent about me: this silly lady who didn't keep the batteries in so she couldn't prove that she didn't have a taser but refused to leave it at TSA." I'm not leaving it.
Nick: Oh, no, you can't leave—I mean, that's how the whole show happens.
Leah: Oh, yeah. I'm not leaving it. I am not leaving it.
Nick: Yeah. No, you gotta hand-carry that. But I think it is true. I mean, there is a sort of baseline frustration that just this whole just topic is. Like, the whole security apparatus when you fly is just kind of frustrating on some base level. And I think you kind of just have to accept that is what it is, and try not to be frustrated by the inherent frustration that it is, if you can. Because no good will come of that.
Leah: And also, I would rather everybody's suitcases get looked at, you know what I'm saying?
Nick: Also, yes. There is some utility to this as well, yes. There is sort of a point at the end of the day for why we do this. And I think it's also important to note that TSA agents are also a little frustrated sometimes. Like, you know, it's not just a passenger thing. TSA agents are also frustrated with us. And so we just want to be mindful that it's just sort of a universal experience that we're all sharing.
Leah: Yeah. Imagine how many millions of times they've had to be like, "No, you have to take your shoes off."
Nick: Right. Yeah.
Leah: "Laptop out of the bag." Like, that's why I can only imagine how frustrating it is for them as well.
Nick: Yeah, absolutely.
Leah: And my biggest pet peeve is: you go through the little machine that says if you have any metal on you. Apparently I'm the last person in the world wearing an anklet, because they're like, "Can we look at your ankle for a second?"
Nick: I mean, was that from Lake Havasu? MTV Grind? Like, what are you doing?
Leah: I love anklets. I'm not giving it up.
Leah: So this happened very recently. Lady was like, "We gotta look at your ankle." I go "It's an anklet." And, you know, everybody was like, "What?" And she was like, "She's not the only one." I was like, "Thank you!" Woo! Me and, like, three other girls. So then you go over. You're waiting for your stuff to come down the belt. When you take your stuff, take the bin.
Nick: Yes, take the bin.
Leah: Don't let all the bins back up, because then people's stuff can't come out. Pull your bin. Pull your bin. Put it in the empty bins.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, that's definitely courteous.
Leah: It's so rude to all the people behind you waiting for their stuff.
Nick: And then also try and get out of the area as quickly as reasonably possible. Let's not linger.
Leah: Let's not linger. I am often—I get so crazed about the bins that I end up all of a sudden I'm working there. I'm just—I'm at the end taking bins, restocking them, because nobody's doing it.
Nick: Okay, that's too far.
Leah: I know it's too far. I just get in it and then I can't exit. I get there.
Nick: And then now you're doing pat downs.
Leah: [laughs] Yeah. Now I'm like, "Did we check this person?" Can I just check their anklets?" You know, it's that thing where you start putting things back at CVS that aren't in the right place, and then six hours later, you're like, "I just restocked the store."
Nick: [laughs] Okay.
Leah: You know?
Nick: Is that thing that happens?
Leah: Yeah, I do it.
Nick: Oh, okay.
Leah: You know, you're like, "This lipstick is out of place." You put the lipstick back, and then you're like, "Oh, this—"and then all of a sudden you're like, "Where did the time go?"
Nick: And now you're merchandising, and now you're, like, changing the prices. Yeah. Okay.
Leah: Meanwhile, I couldn't put anything away in my own home, but whoo, I can really do a pharmacy.
Nick: So in the end, I think you just want to stay cool. Just be cool about it. And if something happens, something rude happens, something is said to you, then just make a mental note and, like, let us know. Just channel that towards us and don't take it out in the moment. Just use us as your resource for where to put that. Just, like, compartmentalize, set it aside. Send it to us and just get through security.
Leah: Yeah, I love that idea. Be like, "I'm gonna tell Nick and Leah."
Nick: Let us know. Yeah, we're here for you.
Leah: Because also that is a place that they will throw you out of the airport if you lose your mind in TSA. They are not messing around there.
Nick: Yeah. And you don't want to have that happen.
Leah: No, you definitely do not.
Nick: So just let us know. We're a good resource.
Leah: And then we'll—we'll gossip about those people and we'll let it all out.
Nick: Yeah. No, it'll be great to get it off your chest with us. So do that, and bon voyage!
Leah: Bon voyage!
Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.
Nick: So our first question is quote, "Do you really always have to put your fork down between bites? My mom always told us growing up that we have to put our forks down between bites while we chew. Then we can pick up our forks again after we swallow the food in our mouths."
Leah: I thought this was a great question for Nick, because I usually eat with my hands. [laughs]
Nick: [laughs] Okay. I mean, at least you do that. I'm expecting you to actually have your hands behind your back and just, like, going down to the plate with your mouth.
Leah: I'm just putting my face in my plate. Come on!
Nick: That's it.
Leah: Come on!
Nick: Oh, that's too far? Okay.
Nick: So this is actually a really interesting question, because my instinct was like, no, that's a little extreme. Like, that's too much. Because what I was picturing in my head was, like, I take a bite and then I put the cutlery down and, like, I'm on a baking competition show and time's up. Like, my hands are up in the air like, oh, no, no, no! I've stopped work! I'm not touching the fork. And now I'm chewing. And then I can pick up the things again. And I was like, that's extreme. That's not the rule. But I mean, I guess there is the idea that we don't want to rush through our meal. We don't want to be shoveling food into our mouth constantly. So I think there is some, like, balance here about a bite, maybe two bites, then we rest. We're probably chatting potentially with somebody else at the table. And so I think there is a rhythm where we do set our cutlery down throughout a meal. I don't know if it's after every single bite, though, is it?
Leah: I was trying to think about it, because I do now and again have meals with knives and forks. And I do think I'm not sitting there holding it up while I'm chewing. I do, like, put it down. But I don't feel obligated to do it in between every bite.
Nick: Yeah, I guess it's the "every bite" part. That feels, like, a little far.
Leah: Yeah, maybe you do it quarterly. Like, if your meal is a whole, I'm gonna put it down once a quarter.
Nick: Okay. I mean, I feel like maybe more frequently than that?
Leah: Maybe 1/16th, maybe 1/16th.
Nick: But yeah, it definitely feels like we should put it down at some point just to show that we're not, like, ravenous.
Leah: [laughs] Even though we are.
Nick: Well, I mean, American etiquette is the idea like, "Oh, we're not actually that hungry." We're gonna, like, be so slow about it and we're not gonna make any noise while we eat. And it's gonna be like this real casual, like, "Oh, is there food? Oh, I guess we'll eat it." Like, that's kind of the spirit with which we approach dining etiquette in this country. And so that's why we do eat slowly and try not to make noise when we do it because, like, that's denying the reality of, like, this human bodily function that we're doing.
Leah: I also think, like, I talk with my hands.
Nick: Oh, so you can't communicate if you have a fork in your hand.
Leah: So I gotta put my—I can imagine me twirling a fork around. That's why I probably put it down so I can, you know, throw my hands about as I'm speaking.
Nick: But I think to answer the question, like, was Mom right in this story? And Mom's always right, Mom is correct. Mom's rules? That's what the rules are in your house because etiquette is local. So if the locality is your house and that's what the etiquette rules are, then I guess that's what you do.
Leah: But I don't think in general in the world that we have to do this.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think the general rule is that we don't want to rush through a meal. So there will be some pausing that does happen. And when we pause, we often set down our cutlery.
Nick: So I think that's kind of the spirit, that's kind of the vibe I think I have when I think of this question. I don't think it's this absolute after every one bite, we set down our cutlery until we're done with that bite and then we pick it up again.
Leah: I feel like that amount of putting down and picking up, I would get hand cramps.
Nick: [laughs] It's too much cardio.
Leah: It's way too much cardio while I'm eating.
Nick: So our next question is quote, "I'm officially starting a new remote job next week, but have already been Zooming with the new boss and the staff for the past two weeks. I was just invited via email by my direct supervisor to come to the office in person for a senior staffers' afternoon retirement party, and to see the office and meet some of my coworkers in person. There are about 50 staffers and I'd like to attend, but I've never met or even heard of the employee who's retiring. Should I bring a gift?"
Leah: I don't like showing up to events empty handed, but I don't think it should be—it needs to be an event for the person. You don't know them, they don't know you, but I think it's nice to show up with, like, hummus or some muffins, or ...
Nick: Oh, is that what you think?
Leah: Pretzels that have been dipped in chocolate.
Nick: I mean, this is an office party, though. I think it's a little different.
Leah: I would still show up with a little—a little nosh.
Nick: I mean, usually Lisa in HR takes care of the snacks for, like, a going away party.
Leah: Yeah, but you're just being cordial. You're meeting all these people for the first time.
Nick: I think I would ask what is the culture in this company? What is expected of me as a guest at this type of event, which has presumably happened before? I think I would ask to clarify what is done.
Leah: And you would ask your direct supervisor?
Nick: I would. I would say, "Delighted to attend. Can't wait to meet everybody in person. Is it appropriate for me to bring something? If so, what would be a good idea?"
Leah: I think that's really nice.
Nick: Because I mean, if this senior staffer is a gluten-free person, we don't want to show up with gluten donuts.
Leah: No. That's why hummus is always good across the board.
Nick: Oh, hummus is like the universal?
Leah: Well, I mean, I guess there are people that don't have—can't eat chickpeas, but I mean, it doesn't have gluten, it doesn't have dairy.
Nick: And then I'm just eating hummus off a spoon or is there pita involved?
Leah: Well, I got a pita for people that don't eat corn. I got corn tortillas for people that don't eat wheat. I got carrots and I got celery.
Nick: Oh, I mean, yeah, I guess you really do cover the bases. Okay, very thoughtful choice then.
Leah: I just like to bring a snack.
Nick: Yeah, I think my first instinct is that you do not need to bring anything, but you can clarify and see if that's something that's even done. But I think you're kind of off the hook.
Leah: I think you definitely do not have to bring a gift.
Nick: You definitely don't have to bring a gift for this retiree, no. That's for sure.
Leah: For sure.
Nick: But yeah, I guess if the question is: I'm meeting these coworkers for the first time, I would like to make a good impression and be sort of like hospitable ...
Nick: ... I could see a world in which I'd want to bring something to share with these new coworkers.
Leah: Yeah. I like to have a little something in my hand. "Oh, here. Would you like a candy cane?" Or whatever.
Nick: Okay, so we've gone from hummus to candy canes.
Leah: I don't even know why candy cane came out, but it just did. So I'm gonna—I'm stuck with this.
Nick: Well, because you can't say Christmas without Leah Bonnema.
Leah: That's very true. I work Christmas into every event. [laughs]
Nick: So I guess let us know how the party is. Let us know if you brought anything and let us know how it went.
Leah: And congratulations on your new job!
Nick: And congratulations on the new job. So our next question is quote, "Is it impolite to not make conversation with my hairstylist? Typically, I feel pressured into small talk by stylists, but recently I started seeing someone new who has never made an effort to make small talk with me. We keep our exchanges to strictly business, only speaking about things that directly pertain to my hair during our two-plus hours of time together. While I'm more than pleased with the situation myself, I worry that he feels that I'm being rude, as other patrons of the salon happily chat with their stylists. Further, if it is acceptable to not speak during the service, is it rude of me to use that time to respond to messages and emails on my phone?"
Leah: I feel real strong about this.
Nick: Oh? Okay.
Leah: Well, I think obviously we do the polite cordials. "Hello, how are you? How is your day?" After that, you don't want to talk and you need to respond to work emails? Have at it.
Nick: Well, especially since your stylist is also not interested in small talk.
Leah: They clearly seem very comfortable just doing your hair.
Nick: I mean, for me, this is the dream.
Leah: [laughs] I know. I was like, they probably think this is a gift. They're like, "I'm really looking forward to this person. They don't talk. I just do my work and they do their work."
Nick: And I can understand two and half hours basically with somebody touching your head and not talking to them, I can see why that feels a little awkward. But no, I think this is great.
Leah: I think that as long as you're not—which I don't think you are—being hostile or rude in any way, you're just being quiet.
Nick: And I think if you're on your phone and it's done in a way that's not interfering with them so, like, your neck is not down in a weird angle that makes it harder for them to do what they're doing, then yeah, I think that's totally fine.
Leah: And your phone's not making noise. It's not like you're on ...
Nick: Yes. Let's not watch the latest episode of something.
Leah: But I do think that this stylist seems very comfortable with also being quiet.
Leah: My stylist in New York, we'd known each other forever. You know, I'd talk to her a bunch because we liked catching up. We're—you know, we moved into the friend area.
Leah: Here, I just went to a new stylist. I think we didn't talk at all, and I didn't find it weird. I mean, we talked in the beginning. There was a few—like, we ended up talking about dogs a little bit, but there was more silence than not, and I felt like it was fine. And I think also, if you're enjoying this, that's lovely. It's your time. You're getting your hair done.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, if you find this relaxing, and that's part of, like, the spa experience, then I think that's also a benefit. And I think you've just nailed a great person to continue working with who's on your page.
Leah: Yeah, I think that you should enjoy that you guys found this match.
Nick: And you know what? The right fit is what life is all about.
Nick: So do you have questions for us? Let us know! You can let us know through our website WereYouRaisedByWolves.com, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW.
Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent.
Leah: [whispers] Vent or repent!
Nick: Which is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette experience we've had recently, or we can repent for some etiquette faux pas we've committed. So Leah, would you like to vent or repent?
Leah: Not only am I gonna vent, but I started getting hot just thinking about how upset I was yesterday.
Nick: [laughs] Oh, all right! I got my seatbelt here and I buckled it.
Leah: It's so perfect that you said that because this is a driving vent.
Nick: Of course, because you live in Los Angeles.
Leah: I'm talking to you, Mini Red Cooper!
Nick: All right. What did the Mini Red Cooper do to you?
Leah: Okay. This is—obviously, we all sometimes make mistakes and we didn't see something and that—you know, fine. I'm driving. I'm in the right lane. Left lane is very busy. The person in front of me does this thing that by itself always annoys me here: people don't pull all the way in, they just totally go to a slow and now they're blocking the whole lane. You got to go around or totally stop when they could have pulled in.
Nick: Oh, you mean, like, they're changing lanes, but they don't quite get all the way?
Leah: No, they're pulling into a location of some sort.
Nick: They're turning into some driveway.
Leah: But they don't go all the way in, but then they stop there. It's a thing that happens here. People just stop.
Nick: Wait, I'm sorry. What are you talking about?
Leah: I'm not even talking ...
Nick: So I'm in the ...
Leah: This is not even the vent. This is just explaining.
Nick: Just to clarify: I'm in the right lane, and I want to turn into, like, a parking lot?
Leah: Yeah, a parking lot or a spot. And they don't go all the way in. They're just pulling ...
Nick: Why am I not going all the way through?
Leah: I have no idea. I have no ...
Nick: You mean, like, I'm, like, doing a sort of half turn, but I've not completed it and I've gone to where I'm going?
Leah: Absolutely. That's exactly what I'm telling you is happening.
Nick: Well, that doesn't make sense. But okay.
Leah: Or they're doing it so slow that you're like, "You know, you could have just pulled in and then done whatever it is you're doing that's taking so long."
Nick: I see. Okay.
Leah: But ...
Nick: So ...
Leah: That's not even the vent.
Nick: We'll set that aside. Okay. [laughs]
Leah: I see it coming, and I'm not gonna drive up to them and slam on the brakes. I'm not—that's not how one drives. I see it coming.
Leah: I drive my six feet behind people so I have enough time. I ease on the brakes. I have nowhere to go. The left lane is packed, and people are speeding because then people start going around me. I can't—I'm just gonna wait 'til this person figures out their life and either pulls in. The woman behind me driving the Mini Red Cooper starts honking, which—I can't do anything. Feel free to go around. I can't drive over the car. And then this is what—I can put up with honking. I'll put up with it. I'm looking in the rearview at her.
Leah: She starts waving her arms while that—like, throwing her arms up, like, "Go!" Like, "What are you doing?" And then making these facial gestures. I—I'm still so angry about it. Like, this is not me. I also am being—also we're not going anywhere. We're in traffic. Don't take it out—she's looking directly into the—into me, looking into the thing, waving her arms like I'm some kind of child or person who doesn't understand driving. Meanwhile, she's the one—like, I can't drive over a car. You can go around me if you think you can squeeze into that lane honking. It's the waving the arms. I can't—it's so condescending.
Nick: Yeah, that's what bothers you, isn't it? Yeah.
Leah: She's just waving her arms. And then so I start, you know, I just lose my temper. And then ...
Leah: She decides to go around me. Good for you. This person pulls in. I keep going. I'm now right behind her. Nobody was going anywhere. You know what I mean? It's like, do you feel better? So then this—I'm angry. I'm angry. We go half of Los Angeles behind each other. She then—this is the part that really just sealed the deal for me. She then pulled into a spot the exact same way that this person who pulled in the same way they did.
Nick: [laughs] Of course she did.
Leah: I was like, what? It was the hand throwing up. It's really—I can't stand it when people do that. They're like, "What are you doing?" "I'm doing the right thing."
Leah: "I'm doing the right thing."
Leah: "Who are you?" It took everything I had not to get out of the car. I just wanted to get out of the car and be like, "You put your arms down right now. You put your rude arms down!"
Nick: Yeah, I can see how that gesture just feels a little far.
Leah: And then she does the exact same thing as the car. I was like ...
Nick: That's beautiful. That's so beautiful.
Leah: Why don't you take a driver's test? Because you are the worst.
Nick: Well, I'm sorry this happened to you.
Leah: I'm still amped up. I'm out there looking for Mini Red Coopers. Also, I had Lacey Jane in the back, and I'm not losing my temper with Lacey Jane in the car. You know what I mean? I'm not. You're upsetting me. You're gonna upset my dog?
Leah: No, no, no, no, no.
Nick: Lacey is the dog in the household.
Leah: I know, but I—I do not—she doesn't need to be around yelling. I got my dog in the back. You're gonna act this way with a dog in the back? I was—whoo! I got wild.
Leah: But very silently. There was just a lot of aggressive facial expressions. I started throwing my arms up, pointing at the car in front of me. There's a vehicle in front of me, which they knew.
Nick: Like, sometimes I wish we could have a little LED screen at the back of our car where we could, like, type a message for the car behind us.
Leah: That is the best idea I have ever heard.
Nick: I mean, it's probably the worst idea, actually.
Leah: Yeah, because in that moment the messages you would type.
Nick: But I feel like, oh, if you could only just communicate to this person, like, "Oh, the car in front of me has done this thing. And so unfortunately I cannot do anything. I'm so sorry." Like, if we could all have the self-control to have that type of message.
Leah: Maybe you don't see the car stopped directly in front of me, which I know you can see.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, the problem with the LED screen is that I don't feel like this is how this would be used. [laughs]
Leah: No. Also you would have to have it, like, as a microphone that types what you say because you couldn't type.
Nick: Oh, we have the technology for this.
Leah: So whoo! And then—I can't with this. I couldn't believe her, I couldn't with the arm throwing and then doing the exact same thing.
Nick: Well, I'm sorry this happened to you.
Leah: I'm sure it's gonna happen again.
Nick: Oh, inevitably. So for me, I would also like to vent. And I don't know if actually this is a vent. Maybe it's not. I'm not sure.
Nick: But it was sort of like, oh, this is worth mentioning. So I'm at a restaurant in my neighborhood, and it's a tapas restaurant—Spanish, and it has recently reopened after a big renovation. And so with some friends, we're like, "Oh, let's check it out. Let's have a drink at the bar. Let's see what it looks like. How nice." And so we're at the bar, we're having some drinks and we're like, "Oh, well, we're hungry. Might as well get some tapas." Like, why not? And so we order a bunch of stuff. And it's actually delicious and great, and I actually enjoy eating at the bar, I think that's kind of fun. And tapas is very conducive to that. And so we have all these different plates in front of us, and it's very crowded. And so out comes patatas bravas. And how can you go wrong with fried potatoes?
Leah: You can't.
Nick: And there's one thing that came on, like, a little wooden plank thing that has just one piece of toast left on it. So, like, there's some room there. And so the waiter is coming with this hot dish of potatoes. And I say, like, "Oh, you can set this down here." And the waiter says, "Oh, I love that for you." And I was like, What? Like, what? What a weird thing to say.
Leah: Yeah, that doesn't go there.
Nick: Like, does that—what do you mean by that? Like, is that not where that goes, and you're gonna just humor me? Like, am I making an etiquette mistake by allowing you to place this potato dish on this other sort of plate? Is that what that is? Are you actually making fun of me? What is that? And I just—I clocked it and just, like, filed it away. I didn't like it. I felt it was wrong in some way, but I'm not sure why.
Leah: I don't like it either.
Nick: So I thought I would mention it here because that is what this is. [laughs] And so here we are. "I love that for you. I love putting this plate of potatoes there. I love that for you." Right? Isn't that weird?
Leah: I wish I could relay my facial expression to our listeners at home. I'm like, my nose and my mouth is crinkled into itself because I don't love that.
Nick: I mean, is it rude, though? Is it a vent? I don't know. It's not good, though.
Leah: It feels somehow condescending, which you know is my trigger.
Nick: Yeah, I guess it feels a little condescending because, like, what do we mean by that? Because also the tone with which you say that, of course, is condescending.
Nick: "Oh, I love that for you."
Leah: I would be like, "What does that mean in this circumstance?"
Nick: I just let it roll. I was like, "Yeah, I do love that for me. More potatoes, please." But yeah, what a weird thing to say. And so I didn't love it. I'm just gonna mention it here.
Leah: I don't love it either. I'm sorry, Nick.
Leah: Somebody being rude over potatoes. Mm-mm.
Nick: And I mean, if you're gonna be rude, over potatoes makes it so much worse.
Nick: I mean, you love potatoes because of all of your Lord of the Rings love.
Leah: "Po-ta-toes. Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew." That's a reference. Samwise Gamgee. I'm sure our listeners at home are aware of all of Samwise Gamgee's dialog through Lord of the Rings. As am I.
Nick: As are you.
Leah: There's actually been a remix to him saying that on YouTube. It's very big. "Po-ta-toes!"
Nick: And you know what? I love that for you.
Leah: [laughs] That's appropriate!
Leah: Even though I know that you're making fun of me because, you know ...
Leah: But it works here. It works here.
Nick: [laughs] Thank you.
Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?
Leah: I learned that not only do dumplings go in soup, which is the dumpling I was aware of, but there are dumplings with soup in them!
Nick: Xiǎo lóng bāo.
Nick: Bié kèqì. And I learned that you won't yell in front of your dog.
Leah: That is true. I absolutely will not unless it's an extreme circumstance.
Nick: [laughs] Okay. Well, thank you, Leah.
Leah: Thank you, Nick.
Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery if I could.
Leah: He would!
Nick: So for your homework this week, we want you to consider becoming a monthly member. So go to our website, click on "Monthly Membership", and see if that's something you'd like to do.
Leah: Check it out. You might love it!
Nick: And we'll see you next time!
Nick: All right, Leah. It's time for Cordials of Kindness, the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!
Leah: We had two new neighbors move in, and they are lovely, and they are lovely with Lacey. And they even brought me over a gift. And it's just so nice. I am now surrounded by lovely neighbors on both sides.
Nick: Oh, that's very neighborly and nice.
Leah: It's so wonderful, and I'm very grateful to them for being such kind people.
Nick: And for me, I would love to read a lovely review we just got, which is quote, "This is the show I listen to when I need reminding that humans can be civilized, polite, kind, upbeat and delightful. Nick and Leah have wonderful, doable solutions to the confounding things we confront in our relationships with others. I always feel better about others when I listen. A dose of humor and a big swig of 'Let's be grownups' in every episode."
Leah: That is so nice!
Nick: Isn't that nice? I mean, that's wonderful. So I'm glad you appreciate us, and thank you for this.
Leah: Thank you so much!
You can start with our first episode, our most recent episode, or jump in with one of these favorites in the middle:
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