Sept. 12, 2022

Enjoying High Tea, Overcoming Terrible Handwriting, Tipping for Gas in New Jersey, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle enjoying high tea, overcoming terrible handwriting, tipping for gas in New Jersey, and much more.

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Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle enjoying high tea, overcoming terrible handwriting, tipping for gas in New Jersey, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

Have a question for us? Call or text (267) CALL-RBW or visit



  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: High tea versus afternoon tea
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: How do you overcome terrible handwriting? I forgot a family member's birthday...what should I do? Do you tip gas station attendants in New Jersey?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Spilled salsa, Watching TV alone
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Thanks to a listener, Thanks to weekend house hosts







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



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Episode 154


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Nick: Do you confuse your teas? Do you change lanes without signaling? Do you forget birthdays? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out!

[Theme Song]

Here are things that can make it better

When we have to live together

We can all use a little help

So people don't ask themselves

Were you raised by wolves?

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

Leah: And it's Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche.

Leah: Whoo!

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about having high tea. So Leah, we're in London, and oh, look kids! Big Ben! Parliament! We're having a great time, we're seeing all the sights, and somebody has invited us to their home to have high tea. So Leah, should we go? What time of day is this? What are we gonna be served? What can we expect? Tell me all about it!

Leah: Yes, we should go. I'm gonna start there.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Let's go.

Nick: Yes, accept the invitation.

Leah: I'm delighted and excited to go.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: I assume we're gonna have tea.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: And I imagine there are some sort of little sandwiches. Maybe there's a cucumber—I hear about these cucumber sandwiches.

Nick: Right. Okay. Is that—is that it? Is that what's happening?

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: When is this happening?

Leah: When is it happening?

Nick: What time of day is this?

Leah: I imagine it's early afternoon.

Nick: Okay. So what you're describing ...

Leah: Or maybe it's late afternoon? Or is it 11:00 a.m.? Is it 11:00 a.m.?

Nick: [laughs] So what you're describing with the tea sandwiches and the tea and the afternoon timing is afternoon tea—which is sometimes called "low tea." And that is not the same as high tea. And why this is important is that Americans actually often think the terms are interchangeable, and they're not. And I don't want you going to the concierge at the Ritz in London asking where the best place to have high tea in Mayfair is, and then they give you a look and they're like, "Clearly American," and then they send you somewhere that's, like, not that good because they're like, "Oh well, you don't know anything about tea so, like, we're not gonna bother giving you a good recommendation." I don't want that to happen to you.

Leah: Thank you.

Nick: And so I want you to know the differences between these terms, because British people take it very seriously. And so we should too. So long story short, afternoon tea is that thing that's in the afternoon, and it was originally just a way for bored, wealthy people to, like, do something in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. They, like, had enough embroidery and they were, like, a little peckish and they were like, "Oh, let's have some scones and some jam." And, like, that's what they did. But if you had a job and you couldn't actually leave your job in the middle of the day to, like, have tea and little finger sandwiches, then you had your tea when you got home at the end of your day, which was like five o'clock, six o'clock, seven o'clock. And what you needed was way more than cucumber sandwiches, you needed, like, more food. And so high tea is more substantial. There's gonna be probably some potted meats, there could be fish, there could be an egg course, there could be some salads. Like, it's gonna be more of a light supper.

Leah: Oh, so this is like at supper time.

Nick: It is a supper, yes. High tea is really a light supper. Yes.

Leah: Whoo! I mean, that wasn't even in my guesses.

Nick: And I think the confusion comes from the word "high." Like, when we hear the word "high," we think like, "Oh, must be fancy. High society, the high life, high brow, your Highness."

Leah: I was thinking "high" like "high noon." That's why my fourth or fifth guess was like, 11:00 a.m. or 12. I was like, "Oh, it must be when the sun is high."

Nick: Right. Yeah. It's not that. It actually refers to where you're actually being served. And so the story goes that it's called "low tea" because it's served on low tables. You're on a low couch, you're sipping tea very low to the ground. Whereas high tea is more substantial. It's served at a higher table—a dinner table—and you are in a higher chair. And so that is the story for why these things have their names.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: So yes, if you call the Ritz and you ask for high tea reservations at 4:00 p.m., they'll get what you mean, but they're gonna judge you and they're not gonna give you the best table. And I want you to have the best table. So just know that there's a difference between these things, and what you're probably after is afternoon tea.

Leah: I never would have known that there was a differentiation, and we would—like, let's book us back-to-back teas. I want to do a low tea, and then I'd like to do a high tea after that and have all the foods.

Nick: Well, then there's the elevenses, which is a tea break at 11:00. So we really could have tea all day long.

Leah: I do know that one because it's in Lord of the Rings. [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Okay. Where you know most of your British etiquette.

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to go deep.

Leah: I mean, deep and far, deep and fast. Deep and put on your turning signal!

Nick: [laughs] So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about driving.

Leah: Oh! I've been really looking forward to this deep dive! [laughs]

Nick: Well, it's not that deep: other people exist. End of segment. Cue the music. That's it. There's nothing more to say.

Leah: That's exactly what I wrote at the top. Everything is like, there are other people out there with you.

Nick: And Miss Manners has been asked about this many times, and she is just confused and amazed by the quote, "ostrich-like delusion that people cannot be identified because they are safely inside their cars." And that feels like that's the whole thing, that because we are anonymous, or we think we're anonymous in our cars, we think we can act with impunity. Right?

Leah: It's really unbelievable. I ...

Nick: That's what it is. It's just we think no one can see us, so we feel like we can get away with it. It's the same reason why people are nasty online with, like, internet comments, because it feels anonymous, and so you just are your worst version of yourself.

Leah: And I feel like our listeners know I have some very strong feelings about driving etiquette.

Nick: As you should. I was actually looking to see what Amy Vanderbilt had to say about this, and she basically says, you can learn a lot about a person by riding with them in their car way more than you would if you spent hours with them in their living room. You really get to know somebody's true character, like, behind the wheel, which I think is true.

Leah: That's so true. That is so true. And I do want to add the caveat that, like, obviously, all of us make mistakes sometimes.

Nick: Sure. Yes.

Leah: And I did this week. And I—you know, I wish there was, like, a thing in your—like, a sign you could put up in the car in the back that said, "My bad. Like, that was totally me. So sorry!" But honestly unbelievable some of the things people do. You're like, "Are you even aware that there are other people out here?"

Nick: And I think what is maybe a little maddening is that there are some aspects of our lives where there is no template for the correct thing, like the laundry room, which comes up quite often. Like, how many minutes should you allow wet laundry to stay? Like, we have not come to a consensus on this. But with driving, I think it is very clear how you're supposed to do it. Like, the rules are very clear. We all agree on what is supposed to happen. I don't think there's any ambiguity.

Leah: There's no ambiguity because actually with driving etiquette, it's pretty close to the actual rules, which there is a book that you have to study and take a test on.

Nick: [laughs] Yes. I think the only thing that can be said is that driving is a skill, and not everyone is good at it. And so I think that may be a baseline reality that we have to live with, that maybe not everyone's good at this. And actually, if you do a survey, most people would say that they're above average, which is statistically impossible. We cannot all be above average when it comes to driving. So I think some of us are just incorrect.

Leah: I have a few friends that are straight up—they're like, "I'm a bad driver. You don't want to ride with me." [laughs]

Nick: I appreciate that heads-up. I pity all the other people on the road though, who have to be on the road with this person, though.

Leah: Oh, I think for me there is like, if I had to break it—there's, you know, the people that aren't making people aware of what they're doing. They're not signal—you're supposed to signal for at least a hundred feet. You don't signal when you're turning.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: You signal before you're turning. That's the whole point of a signal.

Nick: Yes. The word "signal" is to signal your intentions. Right.

Leah: [laughs] It's actually a word that is what it is: you're signaling. And then there's the people who, like, get angry and act rudely. So I feel like there's these two separate—which everybody knows, all of our listeners know how I feel about people who are behind you throwing up their hands because you're in traffic and somehow they're gonna take it out on you. Calm down!

Nick: Yes. No, I mean, at the end of the day, I think the barbeque test is, like, the key thing. And I think we've referenced it in some previous episode. Basically, if you were on the road and something happens with another vehicle, what would you want to do in that moment such that if you ended up at the same barbecue as that other car, you both were going to the same barbecue, both pulling up at the same time, both getting out of your cars at the same time, both now gonna spend an afternoon together in somebody's backyard, what would you have wanted to have done on the road to make that barbecue less awkward?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Whatever that is, that is the correct answer.

Leah: And I do—I think there's an interesting—honking is interesting, because there is the honk that's like "I'm letting you know I'm here because I don't think you saw me."

Nick: Right.

Leah: Or "I think you're not paying attention and you're missing your light." And that's just a "Hey," like a ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Which I think is what the honk was made for. Obviously, sometimes you gotta honk.

Nick: Yes. I think the honk has different intonations.

Leah: But people that lay on their horns because you're not going fast enough in traffic? No.

Nick: Yes. I mean, certainly even a short honk if there's no danger or you're not alerting me to something, you're just angry, also not good.

Leah: No, no, no.

Nick: Honking out of anger is rarely ever—I guess there's never a good time when you should be honking with anger.

Leah: We do not honk out of anger. We're honking because there is some kind of a safety issue, or to let people know like at a left-turning light, it's probably you get three seconds. If that person's looking down, you want to let him know we got to go.

Nick: So yes, definitely honking aggression. It always comes down to a kind of aggression. I guess that's a major theme. It's sort of obliviousness and aggression.

Leah: Yeah, those are the two categories. And not—I'm gonna add a third category.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: If somebody lets you in in front of them, they let you come in, they let you turn in, they let you pull out in front of them, you acknowledge their politeness. I want a wave. I want a nod. I didn't have to let you in.

Nick: Okay. I mean, I feel like we have so many other problems to tackle first.

Leah: No, I can handle it.

Nick: That not getting a thank you ...

Leah: No.

Nick: ... for letting someone go first. That can't be one of our priorities, Leah.

Leah: It's up there for me. I can't stand it.

Nick: Really?

Leah: I let everybody in because that's how I roll. I'm gonna let everybody in.

Nick: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Leah: People that just go, "I just need—" you could literally move your chin a half an inch and then I'll be like, "Gotcha." You know what I mean? But that's how that works.

Nick: Oh, I want that to happen for you.

Leah: I just want to be acknowledged.

Nick: No, and I want that for you. I'm just trying to prioritize. This is triage. This is an etiquette emergency, and we got a lot of patients in our etiquette emergency waiting room, and we gotta triage this. And you getting a wave because you let somebody in is not the patient we're gonna see next. That's not. You're gonna wait for a while.

Leah: Obviously, we want to have things that are safety issues up top, but I'm trying to focus on etiquette.

Nick: Okay. Safety is also not—I mean, yes, of course, all the safety things apply. Like, that's not even part of the discussion.

Leah: The thing is is that if I don't get enough—if people don't start being, like, grateful that they let you in and nobody—the bad side of that is nobody lets anybody in ever again.

Nick: Okay. I mean, that is a fair point, that etiquette exists to benefit everybody, and everybody has to give a little to get a little.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: And that is sort of what etiquette is. So that is true. If we live in a world in which no one ever received gratitude for doing a nice gesture, then gratitude would cease to exist because people would have no incentive to do them.

Leah: I just want to be—I don't even need—it's not even a thank you. It's just like an eye contact that's like ...

Nick: Oh, well, that's a thank you.

Leah: "I recognize you let me in." I guess it is a thank you, but it's not like I need, like, them to ...

Nick: Yeah, that's an expression of gratitude for—thanking you for doing this thing for me. Yes.

Leah: I don't need them to get out of the car and genuflect. They can just be like, "I see you. Appreciate that."

Nick: [laughs] Okay. I mean, genuflection? That would be great.

Leah: I mean, then we'd all have to stop traffic. It would be a whole thing.

Nick: Okay, fine. Now that's on the road. Should we even get into what goes down inside vehicles? I mean, this topic is so large.

Leah: I didn't even think of that.

Nick: Backseat driving, putting your feet on somebody's dashboard, changing the radio without the driver's permission.

Leah: Well, I think we know that we do not touch people's radio without permission.

Nick: Well, we know all of these things, though. We all know all of these things. We know these things. Nobody listening to this conversation would be like, "I had not thought of that before."

Leah: I just—sorry, I got lost for a second in thinking about the amount of people that don't signal here, and you're like, how do you think that people know that you're changing lanes?

Nick: Well, when your 2,000-pound vehicle starts moving towards me, I get the hint.

Leah: Unbelievable. Unbelievable! Just signal!

Nick: Yes.

Leah: I think it's basically that we've all agreed on these rules, essentially. We're all going in certain directions. And say you're a person who just stops in the middle of the street—which I've brought up before—and throws on your hazards, and you're waiting for somebody to come out instead of just pulling up onto the curb.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You've now stopped all the—everybody who is going in one of two directions from doing what they were doing because you've decided that you just want to stop there. And somebody should drive up to your car—they obviously aren't the parking—they're not the people checking parking. There should be another group of enforcers who are like, "I'm flagging you. You're getting a flag for disrupting the natural flow of how everybody else is doing things."

Nick: I mean, what a world that would be.

Leah: Back to our flag march. Boom!

Nick: Yeah, I think we just—yeah, we just need more flags. More flags, people. More people just need to get flagged.

Leah: It's just like, realize that other people ...

Nick: Exist.

Leah: Exist.

Nick: It really always just comes down to that, doesn't it?

Leah: Why is it always that? It's just always that.

Nick: Well, I think it comes down to the idea of feeling that you're alone. And I think in our car, we feel like we're in a bubble. And when we feel like we're in a bubble, we feel like things outside of that bubble are sort of extraneous, almost like we're watching a movie. That these things are not part of our lives, they don't affect us, we don't affect them. And so therefore there is no etiquette consideration required because why would there be to these inanimate things around us that have no effect on our lives? I feel like that's what's happening.

Leah: I think it would be a very interesting study. I don't know who we can get to do this research. If you follow the people who are very rude on the road, how many of them are that rude in life, and how many of them only do it because they feel they're of the anonymity?

Nick: I would suspect most people do it only in their cars. And that in the office, at the playdates, at the daycare pickup, in all their other aspects of their lives—even inside the supermarket, in the laundry room, at the coffee shop, I'm sure they're actually very polite and considerate. But once they get in the car, it just all goes out the window.

Leah: I would actually think that a higher percentage of those people were also that way in their real life.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: Just not as blatantly.

Nick: Oh, so deep down, they have dark hearts?

Leah: They have dark hearts.

Nick: But they're less blatant about it when they're going to zumba?

Leah: Some people are just not good drivers, and that's a different thing. But some people who are— they're just being—they don't care. They're cutting you off. They're doing what they want. And I think that all of those people have some kind of thing in their personality that you would know that, yes, they come to zumba late and then stand in the front.

Nick: Yeah, this would be a very interesting study to see whether or not bad people are bad just in their cars or if they're just bad across the board.

Leah: I think there are some people that get road rage that we couldn't have called necessarily, but maybe we could have.

Nick: Yeah. But I think out there, I think next time you're driving and you feel compelled to maybe do something you wouldn't do on the street if you were a pedestrian—like, if you're a pedestrian, you don't, like, shove other people or, like, breathe down people's necks right behind them.

Leah: Yeah, you don't walk up one inch behind them because you don't think they're walking fast enough.

Nick: [laughs] Right? Right? Like, I hope we don't do that. And so, like, all this stuff we don't do outside of our cars, like, we do in our cars and like, that's weird. So maybe the hope is that when we're in our cars, we'll just be more mindful to live our lives in the car the same way we live it outside of the car. And so that we are living our lives consistently in all modes of transportation. Maybe that's the hope.

Leah: Yes. Now I really want to do this study. Now I'm just hot for this study.

Nick: And now I do have one thing on my list, which I don't know if it's driving etiquette, but it's just a request. If you have a tow ball on the back of your car and you don't need it anytime soon, please remove it. I cannot tell you how many times I've been walking in a parking lot and I've banged my shin against one of these things not knowing it was there. And yes, it's my fault. I should be more careful, but I'm just not anticipating a shiny thing that blends in with the background hanging off your bumper. And so it's just a request. If you got a tow ball and you don't need it any time soon, take it off if it's easy enough to take off.

Leah: I'm gonna add one to this.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: When you're driving at night, it's not high beam time if there are other cars around.

Nick: Okay. I'll see your high beams at night and I'll raise you a when you're filling up your car at a gas station and you're done, don't park in front of the pump when you go inside the store to buy other stuff.

Leah: Oh! That just happened. And I was waiting behind this guy, and I felt like he knew I was waiting and then he just sat there and got on his phone. And I was like, "I'm not even. I'm backing up. I'm going backwards into the other one because I see where this is headed and I don't want to lose my temper."

Nick: Yep! I know it's another 10 minutes. Yeah, I don't have time for that.

Leah: What's happening with that? Just pull around.

Nick: Yeah, just—you're done with the gas? Okay, great. There's some other parking spots here that you can have.

Leah: Really, everything boils down: other people ...

Nick: Exist. They do. They do. Believe it or not, other people exist. And then another day we'll talk about parking. [laughs] I don't have the emotional strength today to talk about parking.

Leah: Well, we didn't talk about parking. We didn't talk about inside the car. So maybe we'll just package all that together.

Nick: Well, this is one of those topics, you know, like a comet, will return to our solar system every so often and we'll address it again.

Leah: Because inside a car will be fun because we can also discuss when you're with people that you don't know.

Nick: Oh, carpooling? Oh, yeah. No, it never ends. So audience, if you have any ideas for what we should talk about the next time we talk about this topic, let us know. But hopefully, we are gonna make everybody a little more mindful about driving, and hopefully we are one step closer to achieving world peace.

Leah: I honestly think in my top 10 things for world peace, on that top 10 is you're gonna signal for a hundred feet. That's how long we're gonna let people know.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. I would definitely have that on the list. Absolutely.

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.

Leah: [howls]

Nick: So our first question is quote, "How do you overcome terrible handwriting? I'd like to send more letters and cards, but my handwriting is terrible. I spent a lot of money on nice stationery to try to get into the habit, but I'm constantly embarrassed by the finished product. My penmanship is bad, and my ink smears. Are lined cards only for children? Does any company make them? Would people ask if I was raised by wolves if I sent cards or letters on lined stock?"

Leah: This is such a great question.

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: I would love to ask our letter-writer just really quick, because I have—I slant when I write. I can't seem to write in a straight line. And then also sometimes my words are closer together and then they're further apart. So what I do, I write it once, I handwrite it once on, like, just a sheet of paper to figure out what I want to say.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: And then I rewrite it again, just sort of for the actual physical writing of it, and then I write it on the card.

Nick: Oh, that's good. I think for people who don't love their handwriting, composing it off the page is key. I think trying to compose and focus on your handwriting at the same time is tricky. So I think definitely composing offline on some other piece of paper first and then transferring it to the card, I think that is definitely a good place to start.

Leah: And I do it twice. Once is for the composing. The second one is how is this gonna fit? And then the third one is the show.

Nick: And I think it's important to note that just handwriting is a skill. It's a skill like anything else. So if you want to get better at that skill, then you do have to practice. And so it just requires time and practice.

Leah: And I think that it's lovely that you want to send handwritten letters, and I bet your handwriting is better than you think it is.

Nick: Oh, for sure. Yeah. I'm not worried about legibility. And as long as it's legible. I mean, as long as you are able to be understood, that's the whole point. When I get your thank-you note, as long as I can understand it's from you and you are saying thank you for something, I'm good. That's actually all I need. I'm not judging your handwriting, your penmanship. I'm not looking at what ink color you've chosen. Like, I'm actually not worried about any of that. Just like, oh, you took the time to send me a prompt thank-you note for something I did for you? Great! Achieved. Really appreciate it. And that's all I want.

Leah: And then I want to say this for the ink smears, I tend to smear because I'm left handed.

Nick: Mmm.

Leah: So certain ink doesn't smear. And then I will also actually put a piece of paper under the lower part of my palm.

Nick: Okay. That works.

Leah: When I'm writing.

Nick: And for the question about lined paper, you could totally write a letter on lined paper. Like, fine. I think there is the index card trick which I like, and actually I do use when I'm trying to get very straight lines like on an envelope. And what I do is I take a standard index card that has the lines on it already, and I basically line up the index card, some of the lines with where I want my line to start above the index card. So I'm writing above the index card, but I'm basically using the index card as a spacer. Am I describing this? Like, do you get what I'm talking about?

Leah: Yeah, and then you slide it down.

Nick: And then you slide it down the number of lines in the index card for the amount of space you want for each line, and you just make sure that that's consistent. Now this works better if you write in all caps, which I do, so I don't have any descenders in my personal typeface. And writing in all caps? Have at it. I think it looks great. I'm happy to do it. I don't mind. You don't want my cursive anyway. So it's a win.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So I think try the index card to see if that helps. But I think at the end of the day for legibility, consistency is key. As long as you have sort of spacing that is consistent from letter to letter or word to word, and as long as your slanting is sort of consistent along the way, and as long as you write the same letters the same way each time, that for legibility for me is what I need. Because then once I get some words, like, I can context—fill any other legibility problems that may exist as long as the same way you dot your I or, like, circle your L is the same each time. I don't care how you do it but, like, as long as it's consistent throughout your letter, like, I'll figure it out. So I think you just have to send more letters, don't worry about your handwriting. And if you'd like, we would be delighted to receive a letter from you, and we would be delighted to tell you how good it looks, because I'm sure it will.

Leah: I'm sure it's terrific.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I accidentally forgot about a family member's birthday. What should I do in this situation?"

Leah: I mean, I would immediately reach out. "Oh my goodness!" Whatever your wording is for "I can't believe I blanked."

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: "I super apologize. Obviously, I want to wish you the biggest happy birthday. I'm celebrating you all year."

Nick: Yeah, I think that's a great approach because, like, what are your choices here? You can do that, or you can continue to ignore it. I don't think there's a third option, is there?

Leah: You can also, if you don't want to call, you can send a card. They have "Happy belated" cards. And then you write that.

Nick: Yes, you could do that. I mean, I think at the point when you realize the birthday has passed, I think you want to now jump on it and now wish happy birthday. That's the point when we want to do that. So whenever that is, that's when you do it.

Leah: And it happens.

Nick: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it absolutely happens. And it's never the crime, it's the cover up. So yes, etiquette problems happen. But how you handle it, that's where the rubber meets the road. So the way to handle it is just acknowledge you missed it. Apologize for that. Express your sincere birthday wishes.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: And happy birthday!

Leah: [laughs] Happy birthday to your family.

Nick: Actually, sidebar: I just bought your birthday gift today, and I'm very excited for you to open it, even though your birthday is not for quite some time. But I'm ready, so I also can't wait to see what you think.

Leah: You know what's really crazy?

Nick: Did you buy me a Toto NX1 toilet today? [laughs]

Leah: No, but I did just put your Christmas present into a package.

Nick: Whoa!

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I mean, I don't know, audience, when you're gonna be listening to this episode, but it is not close to Christmas at all.

Leah: I just saw this thing and I was like, "I'm going out—this was never brought up in any conversation. There was never—I'm just gonna go out on a limb and give this a shot."

Nick: Oh, this will be the true test of whether or not you know me.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Ooh, I'm excited. A little terrified. Can't wait. So our next question is quote, "I'm literally binging your podcast en route from DC to Connecticut and having a blast. Well, I just pulled over to refuel in New Jersey, where it's illegal to pump your own gas. Honestly, had I remembered this tidbit, I would have driven on fumes 'til the next state line rather than be an awkward turtle with a gas attendant. When he started to approach my car, I suddenly couldn't figure out how to turn anything off—the engine, the GPS, your lovely voice is coming through my speakers. He made brief conversation with me, which I strained to politely yet quickly get through so I could frantically Google the transactional etiquette for these pleasantries while the gas pump clicked away like a timer counting down to a high stakes etiquette quiz.

Nick: "I only had two cash bills on me, a $1 bill and a $5 bill. This felt like a setup to either overtip or undertip, and I wasn't comfortable doing either. Or maybe you're not supposed to tip at all? Then he washed the back window, and I was horrified not knowing if this was an extra service or what. Still, Google wasn't returning any helpful results in time, so I decided to give the $1 and hit the road. But before I continue on, what's the etiquette for interacting with a gas attendant in New Jersey?"

Leah: What I love is this sentence feels like so many moments of my life: "When he started to approach my car, I suddenly couldn't figure out how to turn anything off—the engine, the GPS, your lovely voice." People would start and all of a sudden you're like, "I don't know how to do anything anymore." [laughs]

Nick: I also like this visual of the gas pump clicking along like a timer in an etiquette quiz.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: Oh, goodness!

Leah: And then they go and they wash the back window and you're like and you're like, "Whoa!"

Nick: "Whoa!" Yeah. No, I—this is fraught.

Leah: It's fraught. I always get so stressed out at stations where you can't pump your own gas.

Nick: Well, it's really New Jersey, and I think Oregon still has it in most places if it's not rural. So there's only two states in the union that, like, still have this gas rule.

Leah: And then I feel like sometimes you pull up to a pump and you didn't realize that you pulled into the ...

Nick: The full service?

Leah: Yeah. And then you can't leave.

Nick: So Leah, what should you do in New Jersey? What's the rule?

Leah: I always end up over tipping.

Nick: So long story short, I think if you asked most people from New Jersey, they do not tip because they're like, "This is required by our government, and that's just the deal. Like, we don't tip for basic pumping at all." And I think if you ask most attendant workers in New Jersey, the people who tip are people with out-of-state license plates. So I think—that's I think kind of what is happening currently. Whether or not that's right or not, who can say? But I think the reality on the ground is that I think most New Jersey people probably don't tip for the basic service. However, I do think tipping is nice, and maybe even required if they do go above and beyond for you or provide some other service like window washing, or if it's bad weather. I mean, if it's snowing out? I mean, let's tip. Or if it's like a holiday, it's Christmas. Let's tip. Let's tip for that. And of course, you're always allowed a tip if you want to. Like, if you just want to, want to pay it forward, you're having a good day, want to give somebody a couple of bucks? That's also fine.

Leah: And it's always interesting when, like, you didn't ask for somebody to wash the back window and then they do it.

Nick: Right. That does feel like a bit of a trap to get you to tip.

Leah: It feels a little trapping. It feels a little—I mean, I would still tip, but I don't feel—I do feel like that was done on purpose.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, it's possible. It's possible.

Leah: I don't want to say it was done on purpose because I'm a positive, full of love kind of a person, but I do recognize feeling trapped in that situation where you're like, "I didn't ask for this. And then now they're doing it and it's an extra service." It's complicated.

Nick: But I think at the end of the day, the standard tipping rules apply, which is like, if somebody went above and beyond, you want to, you go there all the time and you're a regular, or you want to, like, ensure good service in the future.

Leah: That's why we extra tip for, like, food delivery when it's gale winds or ice snow coming down.

Nick: Yeah. If it's a heat wave, if it's sleet. Yeah, if you've inconvenienced this person more than normal, more than the normal service. So if you live in a five-story walkup. If your car is very high. You come in with, like, a monster truck and have to get a ladder to get up there.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: I feel like that would be the equivalent. [laughs] So you should tip. If you have a monster truck and they have to climb on a ladder to get to your gas tank? Yeah, you should tip.

Leah: I think these are all solid parameters.

Nick: Very solid. So do you have questions for us where we can give you some solid answers? Let us know! You can let us know through our website, 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: I'm going to throw a spoke in the wheel this week.

Nick: Oh, pun intended!

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Driving pun?

Leah: Because I did have a vent, but it's so specific that I'll just handle that in my personal life. You know what I mean? And ...

Nick: Okay. You don't need to air your dirty laundry with a global audience? Okay.

Leah: It's so dirty. But I did have something that I wanted to bring up, and I was like, "Where would this fit?" And I thought an interesting—you know, normally I follow the Vent or Repent guidelines.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: This could have been a huge repent.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And it was fixed in real time.

Nick: So it was a prevented repent?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: It was a pre-vent?

Leah: A pre-vent!

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And I love that. It was a pre-vent, and I felt so—because it was a situation where I felt my anxiety mounting so fast that I visualized how I normally would have handled it, which would have been a chaotic nightmare. And then I was like, "No, no, no!" I heard your voice in my head, "Not the crime, it's the cover up."

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And I just immediately fixed it.

Nick: Okay, so what has happened? Or what—what was about to happen?

Leah: Oh, it happened. I just immediately took responsibility. I'm in Ralph's.

Nick: Ralph's, the supermarket chain in Southern California.

Leah: Which I love! I love Ralph's.

Nick: Okay. All right.

Leah: And I have—they make a homemade guacamole and they make a guacamole salsa, which is spicier. So I had a big thing of guacamole salsa.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And it's plastic, and I'm carrying it. And then I was looking for my blue tortilla chips, my blue corn tortilla chips. And I reached up high to the high shelf. I got it, and then I realized that the ones I like were actually on the low shelf. So I went to put the high one back, and I don't know what happened, but I somehow knocked my other hand and this huge tub of guacamole salsa falls and explodes.

Nick: Okay, so clean up in aisle four.

Leah: Yeah. And I mean it explodes. And there were people coming down the aisle, and my instinct was to take my sweatshirt off and just start wiping the floor and to—like, I wanted to just, like, throw the chips over to, like, cover it up. I felt like some kind of a wild animal that was like, "Cover it up! Cover it up!" And then I was like, "People drop things. You're gonna handle this."

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: So I just like—I just was like—I made eye contact with the people coming to be like, "Don't step there." And then I went and I found a person and I was like, "Hey, excuse me."

Nick: Uh-huh. Who works there, hopefully.

Leah: Yes, a person who worked there. And I made sure they worked there. They had the outfit on. It wasn't just somebody accidentally wearing the same color as the grocery store chain.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: They had a nametag. And I had the now empty smushed thing and I said, "I dropped this. This exploded right over here in this aisle. Obviously, I'll pay for it. I'm gonna get another one. How can I help?" I said, "How can I help clean up?" And the guy? He was like, "Oh, I got it." He was like, "Honestly, don't worry about it at all." And he goes, "Just give me that. Go get another one."

Nick: Very nice way to handle it. I mean, this happens every 20 minutes in the store.

Leah: I mean, I've never exploded an entire thing of guacamole. And I can't even tell you, I wanted to like dropping—taking a grenade for—I just wanted to dive on top of it and just be like, "Nobody walk here! I'm just gonna clean it up with my body!"

Nick: The idea that you would take off your sweatshirt and mop up guacamole on a linoleum supermarket floor is—I mean, what—what is—what is wrong with you?

Leah: I was fighting against it.

Nick: What is wrong with you?

Leah: Physically fighting against it. I was like, "Just go get somebody. It's okay. You dropped it. It's not a big deal. Just go get somebody."

Nick: And my voice had to be in your head to tell you to, like, not do that? Like, that is what was required here? Okay. I mean, glad to be the voice in your head for that, but I really feel like my voice should not be necessary. Your voice is probably plenty for this.

Leah: [laughs] And the guy was so nice, he was like, "Oh, don't worry about it. I got it." And he's like, "Don't pay for that. Go get a new one."

Nick: All right. So we will be more careful not to do this in the future.

Leah: I mean, I've never done it before. This is my first thing dropping, exploding in an aisle situation.

Nick: That's actually the most remarkable part of this story: that you have actually never dropped something in a supermarket before. Like, that actually feels like the most surprising thing for you.

Leah: Well, believe it or not, I hate causing a scene.

Nick: Oh, so you're always very careful when you're carrying items.

Leah: I'm very careful. I'm very careful. I don't want to break something that's not mine. It makes me very anxious. That's why I wanted to cover it up. I was like, "No, I can't believe I did this!" But I was like, "You don't have to cover it up. You're allowed to make mistakes. You just have to fix it."

Nick: Well, speaking of mistakes, I would like to repent.

Leah: [gasps] What?

Nick: Now it doesn't happen often. Don't get excited. Whether or not this is really a repent that I feel truly sorry about, who can say?

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: But here's what happened. And I will try not to sound defensive about it—although I'm a little defensive—but I'll give you some context and then you can decide. So I'm in a cab with some friends, and we're heading downtown after seeing an off-off-off-Broadway show. And it's getting late. And apparently—allegedly—in this cab ride, it was discussed that the show that we all watched together, like our appointment viewing each week when we're all in town, apparently it was discussed that we would wait to watch the next episode because I was traveling and they had something happening that night until we were all back. Now I don't remember that part. I just don't remember it. And so I ended up watching that episode without them. I did. I did. And for that, I am very sorry and I repent. Now the friends who this happened to, they asked me to repent on air with you all as part of this.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: That made them feel better that I would say that I did a bad thing in front of a global audience. And so I am doing that. And I do feel bad, because I didn't mean to watch this episode without them.

Leah: Did you text them and be like, "Oh, I can't believe this happened!"

Nick: I didn't do any spoilers. They asked had I seen the episode yet, and I said, "Oh, yes, I did watch it. Have you seen it yet?" They're like, "Oh, we were supposed to watch it together." To which I said, "Oh, I will look through the text chain to see where that is in writing." And they're like, "Oh no, it was in the cab last week." And I was like, "Okay." So that's why I say, allegedly this took place. I mean, whose memory is accurate? Who could say?

Leah: I love how Nick's repents come with a caveat.

Nick: Well, you know, do I feel bad about this? I don't know. But I did do the deed, though. I did watch the show without them. They were hoping I would. I'm sorry that I did that, that I deprived them of me sitting in the room with them while we watched this television show together. And so I am sorry. And I definitely will be much more mindful in the future to not let this happen again. And I am repenting in front of all of you per their request, and so hopefully we can all move on.

Leah: [laughs] Hopefully we can move on. But couldn't you still go over and watch it and pretend and act surprised? I'm not saying lie about it. I'm just saying you could just be like, "I'll watch it again."

Nick: I mean, they wanted to watch it because they're like, "Oh, good. There was nothing else to watch tonight anyway." So, like, they were also happy to watch it. But, you know, it wasn't ideal how this all unfolded. And so for that I am sorry and it won't happen again. I'm not gonna want to repent again. You think I want to repent? You think I like this? You think I enjoy this?

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: No, absolutely not. I am not interested in repenting, so I make a very solid effort to never have to do this. So I hope to never do it again.

Leah: I love it. I love that your friends are like, "We want an apology on air."

Nick: [laughs] Right!

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah, they knew that was really gonna get me. And it did.

Leah: I love it. I love them.

Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I mean, worlds open. I had no idea of all the different tea levels there was.

Nick: Oh, sure!

Leah: We got high tea, we got low tea. Not the same.

Nick: Not the same. And I learned that you have actually never until now dropped something in a supermarket.

Leah: Yeah, that was my first one.

Nick: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. I can't imagine that was the case. And here we are.

Leah: Here we are.

Nick: 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, are you following us on social media and getting our newsletter? If you're not, you're missing out! Sometimes we pop up as guests on other shows, sometimes we have new merchandise to announce. So you gotta follow us on social media and get our newsletter to stay in the loop.

Leah: Stay in the loop!

Nick: And we'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

Nick: All right, Leah. It's time for Cordials of Kindness, the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!

Leah: I want to do a big Cordials of Kindness shout out to Christopher in Los Angeles. Chris is a wonderful listener, and also has been so incredibly kind and supportive and gracious to me in my move to Los Angeles, and is just such a delight and I'm so thankful!

Nick: That's very nice. And for me, I want to say thank you to my friends out in Southampton who had me as a house guest this weekend. We did all the Hamptons-y things. It was very fun. We had rosé, we went to Shelter Island, we had brunch in Sag Harbor. And so it was a great escape from New York City, and I'm very thankful to be a guest in their home. and hopefully I'll be invited back.

Leah: So fun!

Nick: Very fun! So thank you.