May 31, 2021

Enjoying Peking Duck, Borrowing DVDs Without Returning Them, Flaunting Office Ice Cube Rules, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating Peking Duck, borrowing DVDs without returning them, flaunting office ice cube rules, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle eating Peking Duck, borrowing DVDs without returning them, flaunting office ice cube rules, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)


  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: Peking Duck (Běijīng Kǎoyā - 北京烤鸭)
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: Staying at hotels
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: What to do about friends who borrow but don't return my DVDs? What do we do about a friend who cancels at the last minute for dinner parties when she doesn't like what's on the menu? Is it rude for someone to eschew the office's ice cube rules?
  • VENT OR REPENT: An unfortunate bathroom incident, Sending "you're welcome" emails
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Incandescent candy







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian

Episode 90


Nick: Do you overstuff your Peking duck? Do you not tip housekeeping? Do you borrow DVDs and not return them? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out!

[Theme Song]

Here are things that can make it better

When we have to live together

We can all use a little help

So people don't ask themselves

Were you raised by wolves?

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

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

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

Leah: I love these!

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about Běijīng kǎoyā (北京烤鸭), commonly known as Peking duck.

Leah: Mm!

Nick: So Leah, have you had Peking duck?

Leah: No.

Nick: And do you know what it is, though?

Leah: I'm gonna guess it's duck.

Nick: Okay, yes. It is duck.

Leah: And it's cooked in a certain way.

Nick: Uh-huh. Very good, yeah.

Leah: That one refers to as the "Peking method."

Nick: [laughs] Right! So yeah, I mean, that is not wrong. So basically, Peking duck is probably one of the most famous dishes in China. Like, when you go to Beijing, people are like, "You got to go to the Great Wall and you got to have the duck." And to totally oversimplify it, it's basically duck that is prepared in a very special way. And air is pumped under the skin to separate it from the fat, and then it's glazed with syrup and spices and then hung for 24 hours and then it's roasted. And there's a couple different ways they roast it. They either roast it sort of like traditional style, or they also roast it hanging up, which allows, like, the fat to sort of render and drip out, which leaves a very, very crispy skin. So if you've ever walked through a Chinatown anywhere and you see all the ducks hanging in the window, that's what this is.

Nick: And the history on this is actually a little murky. It might have started up in the Yuan Dynasty. And by the time we get to the Ming, it's on all the imperial court menus. And by the time we get to the Ching dynasty, it's basically trickled down to the upper classes and, like, regular wealthy people were also having it. And because it was probably like a Yuan-Ming thing, it's actually probably not even from Beijing originally. The capital of imperial Ming Dynasty China originally was in Nanjing. And so then it moved to Beijing. Anyway, we can have a conversation about the mandate of heaven and the dynastic cycle another time. Point being, it's called Peking duck. It's from Beijing now, and that's all you need to know.

Nick: So you're at a restaurant that hopefully specializes in Peking duck—because it's a specialty. And here's basically what's gonna happen to you during this meal. And depending on what type of restaurant you're at, there might actually be some ridiculous pageantry. So they might present the duck to you before carving. You might get a certificate of authenticity for the duck. And I seem to recall being in some restaurant in Beijing where they wheeled around a big gong, and they would hit the gong every time, like, a duck arrived at someone's table.

Leah: I love that!

Nick: And I'm pretty sure that must have happened because, like, why would that be in my head? Like, why would I just make up the duck gong? So I think that happened. I had a lot of Peking duck in my day, so, you know, it's hard to keep it all straight. So there's also a lot of casual Peking duck, too. Like, it's not always sort of some extravagant affair. So the duck is gonna be ...

Leah: [laughs] A casual Peking duck.

Nick: You know, for those casual Tuesdays. Sometimes you just want a little ...

Leah: Dressed down.

Nick: Yeah. You know, dress it down with jeans, dress it up with pearls. It goes from desk to dinner. So you're gonna be presented with the duck sliced at some point. And they may do it tableside, or it just might arrive at your table in a platter. Okay, great. And if it's hot and crispy, you might be presented with just the crispy duck skin to try, and there could actually be some table sugar with it or, like, a sauce. And so you can, like, dip the skin in sugar and/or sauce and just try the skin. And then you're also gonna have all these fixings. So there's gonna be pancakes and spring onions, maybe cucumber, and then some sauce. And it could be bean sauce or hoisin or plum sauce. And there could also be all sorts of other things, depending where you are. So using your chopsticks, we're basically just gonna make tacos. Like, that's kind of what you're going to do.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: So you're gonna take the pancake, you put it on your plate. You're gonna take a piece of duck, and you will probably dip the duck in the sauce, and then you'll sort of like rub the duck piece with the sauce on the pancake. And then you might add a few other pieces of duck, and then you're gonna put some scallions and some cucumber, then you're gonna fold the bottom up, and then you're gonna fold the left and then the right, and you're gonna create a little, like, swaddled baby for your duck. And then you eat that one at a time.

Leah: So I'm eating the little babies.

Nick: You are eating a little swaddled baby of duck, pancake, scallion, sauce thing. And a rookie mistake is overfilling it, putting too much duck or too much sauce or too much something else so that you can't really fold it nicely, like, in a little packet. And if you're really a pro, you'll do all of this with chopsticks, and you'll actually never touch it with your hands.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: It is also totally fine just to use your hands to do this as well. Like, don't grab the duck with your hands, use chopsticks for that. But you are allowed to fold the pancake to create your little packet with your hands. And if you want to be super elegant, you'll want to do it in such a way that, as you're eating it, the seam is towards you, so the non-seamed side is facing towards your guests. That's very, like, advanced level.

Leah: Whew!

Nick: And then you just keep doing this until there's no more duck left. And if you need more pancakes or need anything else, you can always ask for more of it. But you probably will have, like, enough to kind of get through the whole duck. So that's that. That's Peking duck.

Leah: I mean, it sounds delicious. Putting a little scallion on top with sauce? Amazing!

Nick: It is delicious because the way the duck is prepared is really unique. And if you've never had it, you should absolutely go have it. And it's definitely available most likely close to wherever you live. Like, you can find Peking Duck. And usually if it's not a restaurant that specializes in this, you do have to call ahead, because they do need at least 24 hours to actually prepare the duck.

Leah: Oh, wow.

Nick: So you just make advance arrangements. It is hypothetically possible to do it at home as well. You could maybe cook it yourself at home.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: But that does feel a little ...

Leah: Okay. We're getting out of control here. [laughs]

Nick: Yeah, feels a little aggressive, so try that and chī hǎo hē hǎo.

Leah: Xièxiè.

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

Leah: Very deep, very helpful.

Nick: So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about staying at nice hotels.

Leah: I realize when I say very deep, very helpful, meaning can't wait for Nick to let us know what's appropriate. [laughs]

Nick: So this topic was your idea. So Leah?

Leah: I know! That's why I was like ...

Nick: What's on your mind?

Leah: Let's go over this.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I've worked in a lot of hotels.

Nick: Yes, I seem to recall you have done housekeeping.

Leah: I've done housekeeping, I've done kitchen, I've done dishes, I did morning breakfast service.

Nick: Ugh.

Leah: I did—I actually was a cook at an inn.

Nick: Okay. [laughs]

Leah: But, you know, when we moved to Los Angeles I, like, pulled up to something and I've never done valet parking.

Nick: Oh, welcome to LA.

Leah: And that got my wheels spinning. I was like, we could do a whole thing on starting there, and just lump it all together into one.

Nick: So okay. I mean, for me, I'm not a hotel snob, which maybe surprises our listeners. But actually, I'm really not. Like, I want it clean and I want it centrally located and I want wi-fi but, like, I don't need it fancy. Like, the idea is I'm not gonna be spending much time in this room. I would like to be out and about wherever I am.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So I guess let's start with check-in. I think the only thing on my list is: be polite. Like, I don't have any other notes other than that.

Leah: Yeah, I think that's a good one.

Nick: I mean, that sounds so obvious, but in looking into this topic for you today, the number of hotel employees that complain about just incredible rudeness right out of the gate from people walking up and checking in, I think it is a problem where people don't even give the hotel the benefit of the doubt. You know, they're already coming in hot. So I think, if possible, just realize, like, this poor person behind the front desk, they're just here to help you.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Hopefully. So just, like, start out polite. Because also I think if you are polite, that might actually make you stand out a little bit. And, you know, if there's an upgrade to be had, you might get it.

Leah: More bees with honey.

Nick: So then we're in the room, and the thing on my note is: don't act like a rock star. So don't trash it.

Leah: I feel like you made direct eye contact with me when you said that.

Nick: Use a coaster.

Leah: I definitely—I like to make sure people know I live there.

Nick: What does that mean?

Leah: You know, when I come in, I just put all my stuff out. I put everything out. I need to, like ...

Nick: You mark your territory?

Leah: I need to unpack. I need to hang things and put stuff. But then I always keep it clean.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think we don't want to sully the room.

Leah: I'm not sullying anything.

Nick: Treat it like you would treat it if you were staying at a friend's place. I think that level of respect, I think, would be nice. Because it is courteous to the hotel, but it's also courteous to the next guest, because they're not gonna be totally cleaning this room top to bottom. Like, we all know what really happens. You know, it gets a light dusting. You know?

Leah: Hurtful.

Nick: You're not steam cleaning the carpets between guests.

Leah: You vacuum.

Nick: And how about that coverlet? You know, that doesn't get washed every time.

Leah: I hope it does.

Nick: We've all seen the Dateline black light exposés.

Leah: Yeah.

Leah: Just bring your own can of Lysol. Just spray it down.

Nick: So just I think the more respectful you are to the room, then hopefully, you know, you'll pay it forward and other people will also be respectful, and then we'll all just have nice, clean hotel rooms that aren't sullied under UV light.

Leah: It is fun, though, to come into our hotel room and be like, "Aah!" And then just, like, flip your shoes off and be like, run wild.

Nick: I think this dovetails to my next thing, which is noise in general. I have been in a lot of hotel rooms where it just was real loud from neighbors. And I don't know if it's just because I'm a city dweller, I'm just more sensitive to living in close quarters with other people. And if you live in a house with a yard and you're just not used to, like, sharing walls with other people, maybe you just don't have the same consciousness. But, like, keep your voices down. And if you're in the hallway, keep your voices down.

Leah: Oh, I think I mentioned this at some point, but I was at a hotel for a few days for a gig and there was somebody on my floor who had their kids go out into the hallway and play games. I think they just wanted them out of the room at, like, 8:00 a.m. How is this legal? In the hall, they're just running up and down. And I was like, okay, this is—this is ...

Nick: Yeah, that is considered not courteous to your fellow hotel guests.

Leah: Wow.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, so don't do that. So be mindful of the noise you make. And this also goes for any common areas, I think, in the hotel. So, like, in the breakfast room or in the lounge or in the billiard room or I don't know what this hotel has.

Leah: I was on the road with another comic, and we were sharing a room. And this is the opposite direction: our neighbor called and said that we were making a noise.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And we're both—she and I are very aware of other people. Like, we had the TV on. But I mean, it was like this. [whispers] You know what I mean?

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And then I said, "It really can't be us. We're not—" because the hotel people called us, and they said ...

Nick: You were like, "We're just doing ASMR over here, guys.

Leah: I was like, "We are—it's definitely not us." And then whoever was that came and stood in front of our door, and we could see their feet.

Nick: They're, like, listening with a glass up to the door?

Leah: They were just like—and I was like, you can literally stand in front of our door. It's absolutely not us. Whoever called in made a mistake where the noise is coming from, or they are just being ridiculous.

Nick: Yeah, both are totally plausible in this story.

Leah: Know that if you go to a hotel, there will be other people there.

Nick: Yes. It's not gonna be pin-drop quiet. Yes, it is communal living. Yes.

Leah: You could stand in front of my door all you want.

Nick: But I do think that people do take it too far.

Leah: I mean, don't. Don't stand in front of my door anyone.

Nick: Yeah, be careful what you wish for.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So one controversial thing that I've come across is, okay, there's a hotel breakfast. Is it okay to take food back?

Leah: Oh, I saw that and I was like, I'm coming down on the wrong side of history with this one. I know it.

Nick: I mean, there's kind of no "right" answer, quote-unquote. I mean, there's a lot of different thoughts. One thought is like, I paid for it. I'll take what I want. The other thought is like, no, that's only for enjoyment in that room during the 90 minutes you're allowed to be at breakfast, and you're not allowed to, like, make a second meal out of it. You're not allowed to turn it into also lunch. So there's sort of some gray area in the middle.

Leah: Yeah. I mean, I've worked in a lot of breakfast scenarios in hotels, and I've never had a problem if somebody, like, grabbed an extra danish or a fruit, you know? If somebody made, like, a whole other—like, a stack of pancakes, and then took three boxes of cereal, and then put some juice boxes under their arms and went up to their room, that might be a little—you'd be like, "Ah, you're pushing it."

Nick: Right.

Leah: You're really pushing that.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think acceptable? A cup of coffee to go. I think totally allowed. I think have at it. A banana? I think I'll give you a banana. Like, you can take a banana with you.

Leah: I'll give you an orange or an apple.

Nick: Any fruit, any single-serving fruit. Okay. I think danish for the road? Okay, if it's a breakfast item. Yeah, if it's a breakfast pastry, I think anything that is considered a lunch item, I think maybe that's pushing it. So if you assemble, like, cold cuts and bread and, like, create a sandwich for later? Ehh.

Leah: Well if you do, you better roll that in a napkin and slip it into your purse when nobody's looking.

Nick: Right, yeah. But it is definitely in all, like, the frequent flier forums online. Like, this is a big topic, and a lot of different thoughts about it. I would just say be mindful that this is still a business. And so just know, you know, when you're taking advantage a little bit, know that you could be doing that, maybe.

Leah: I wouldn't pick up the entire fruit bowl and be like, "Oh, I guess I can just take this whole thing, yeah?" And then walk out. That would be too far.

Nick: Too far. The whole thing. With the bowl.

Leah: Yeah, with the bowl.

Nick: Like, I'm keeping this too.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Keeping the porcelain.

Leah: This was a part of my breakfast, right? I get the bowl.

Nick: So speaking of taking things: hotel products. So, like, the shampoos and the soaps and all that.

Leah: Oh, I think they're for the taking. You know, they never make them for curly hair, so I never have any interest in shampoos and conditioners, and very drying for people with curly hair.

Nick: Oh, interesting. And that's an oversight, because lots of people have curly hair.

Leah: Right?

Nick: Oh, how rude!

Leah: I think so, too.

Nick: So Miss Manners is like, you're totally allowed to take the small bottles of stuff that you're using, but she, quote, "Remains firmly opposed to hiding half full bottles to force replacement, and to ransacking the supply cart." So I guess, you know, don't take advantage there, too, I guess is her point.

Leah: Also, if it's a huge hotel chain and you, like, want some extra conditioner because you need it, I don't think anybody cares if you grab one.

Nick: Yeah, I mean, if it's Marriott International?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, like, take another bottle, right? But I think if there is the cart in the hallway, like, that is not there for the taking.

Leah: A lot of times I'll need extra coffee because I plow through it like nobody's business, and the person will be in the hall with the cart and I'll see her and I'll go, "Hey, do you mind if I grab some coffee?" And she's like, "Take what you want!"

Nick: That's fine, yes. But I think, like, if there's an abandoned cart, an unsupervised cart, like, do you just take it?

Leah: Do you put on, like, a black hat with holes for your eyes, and then you sneak up and take things? I think it's nice to tell people, or just ask. You say, "Hey, can I grab—I'm in room 14F, can I grab blankety-blank?" And they're gonna be like, "Yes, no worries."

Nick: Yeah. No, they're gonna say yes. But yeah, I think that's nicer than just, like, taking it, because then it does feel a little bit like stealing.

Leah: Yeah. I think if you make yourself known that you're there, it's gonna be totally fine.

Nick: But definitely don't take stuff like the shoeshine bags or the laundry bags. Or the coffeemaker.

Leah: The hair blow dryer. Like, those things, I think not for ...

Nick: Yeah, don't take anything bolted down.

Leah: Although I've been in hotels where they've made a note in the bathroom that it's like, feel free to take the amenities—but not hair dryer. I've seen notes like that.

Nick: I mean ...

Leah: I'm like, what are people doing? Just ripping them off the walls?

Nick: They're usually, like, attached.

Leah: They're attached, and they're not even plug-ins, they're, like, into the wall.

Nick: But if they're not, like, don't take that.

Leah: Yeah, don't take that.

Nick: Or the iron.

Leah: Don't take the bed.

Nick: I mean, the bed.

Leah: The curtains. "Oh, these would look good in my place!"

Nick: But the bathrobe is also not something to take. And hotels are onto you, and there's usually like a little thing on it, which is like, "If you would like this bathrobe, it's only $69.95," or whatever.

Leah: Yeah, they will charge you.

Nick: Yes. And speaking of the bathrobe, if we're going to breakfast, I think we don't wear the bathrobe to breakfast. I think we put on clothing.

Leah: I mean, I would never think of it, because it would seem very ...

Nick: Oh, I've seen it. I've definitely seen it.

Leah: But I think if I saw it, I would think, "Wow, that person is comfortable."

Nick: I would definitely think that they're comfortable, yeah. A little too comfortable, maybe.

Leah: [laughs] I'm always up for celebrating people who are just living their truth.

Nick: Yeah, so don't when it comes to bathrobe at breakfast, I guess. I think you should wear your bathrobe when you open the door for room service. So I think that's nice. I don't think we want to, like, open the door in our boxers.

Leah: Yeah, I think it's very nice to, like, look clothed.

Nick: Cover up a little bit, yeah. And speaking of room service, I guess the only thing to note is like, what do you do with the tray when you're done?

Leah: I think you're supposed to put it in the hall.

Nick: So I think it depends on where you are. Like, on a cruise ship, when the halls are very narrow, I think you have to call and have it, like, fetched. I don't think they want it just, like, left in the hallways.

Leah: Okay. I wasn't even factoring a moving hotel into this.

Nick: I mean ...

Leah: But it's a very good point.

Nick: We're talking about hotels.

Leah: No, it's a very good point.

Nick: I mean, for me, I always call and let them know that I'm setting it outside so that someone can pick it up. And I think most hotels do prefer to just be alerted when you're done so that they can just come by and grab it. Or if it's like that whole, like, wheelie thing that sometimes happens with room service, like, they come in with, like, a whole table, then yeah, I definitely want that out of my room.

Leah: I had one of those ones. It was very—it was actually the first time I came to LA, and it was so exciting. It was my first time getting the full wheelie.

Nick: It was exciting?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: You're like, "Oh, it's a metal thing with a cloth on it.

Leah: Yeah, I do. I get very excited.

Nick: It doesn't take much.

Leah: No, and that's one of the things I enjoy about myself. [laughs]*

Nick: [laughs] So housekeeping, let's talk about it.

Leah: Let's talk about it.

Nick: I think this is, like—this is, I think, a lot of people's anxiety around hotels, or what's the right thing to do? How do you leave the room when you check out?

Leah: I always put the towels that have been used in a pile.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Probably on the bathroom floor. Wherever the tile is.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Because I don't want to leave it on the rug. And then I pull up the bedspread just to make it look—you know, they're gonna have to change the sheets, but I just don't like to leave it all. And then I always leave cash in the room with, like, a little thank-you note.

Nick: Yeah. So I have been told that housekeeping likes when you bundle all the towels together, and they like it when the washcloth is, like, in the middle of all that, because that's, like, the wettest thing. So you want it in sort of a bundle where they can grab it all in one scoop. And then yes, you definitely should not make the bed, which some people do do. So don't do that. If you want to just, like, toss the duvet up over the top to make it look, like, a little presentable, that's fine. But yeah, definitely don't make the bed completely. Like, that's not necessary. I think you definitely don't want to have garbage all over the place. So, like, put garbage in the garbage.

Leah: And I usually leave my bottles outside of the garbage in case they recycle. I don't want people to have to go through the garbage.

Nick: And then tipping, yeah. You should tip. It is not nice to not tip, so you should tip. And you should tip every day, because you might have a different housekeeper every day. So the tip is not at the end of your journey. It's like every day that you're staying there.

Leah: I think sometimes because I've stayed in places for long chunks and I put a "Do Not Disturb" sign up, because I'm gonna be staying there and I really don't need things switched out every day. You can tip after a long chunk, if you're not having people coming in and out.

Nick: Well, I think you should tip every day that you're having housekeeping done. So if there's a day you just aren't having housekeeping because you have enough towels and you don't need it, then that's fine. But I don't think if you're staying in a hotel for seven days and you had housekeeping three days, that you wait until the seventh day to tip. Have you been doing it wrong?

Leah: I mean, I know I haven't been doing it wrong. I worked in housekeeping. Most of the places where I stay, it's like I have the same person.

Nick: Yeah, I mean, if you have the same person. I mean, my point is that you want to tip the person doing the service for you. So if you were able to achieve that however you're going to achieve that, then that's wonderful. So if you know you're gonna be seeing this person in seven days and you want to tip them all at once, that's great.

Leah: You know me, I'm making friends with everybody.

Nick: Yeah, you definitely know everybody. Yes. But you would just hate for, like, the day your check out is like that person's day off, and now there's somebody else who gets, like, your whole tip.

Leah: Right.

Nick: So we want to avoid that. And yeah, you want to leave it somewhere in the room that's sort of conspicuous, and that it's very obvious that this is a tip. So you can leave it with a note, or you could leave it, like, on the bed or, like, on a pillow, which is very obvious.

Leah: Well, usually there's a little envelope with people's name on it.

Nick: There could also be that, depending on what kind of hotel you're staying in, yeah.

Leah: "Hey, I'm Sarah. I'm going to be with you for the week." And you're like, "Thank you, Sarah."

Nick: I guess I've seen that. Yeah, I guess that happens.

Leah: You can tell I work a lot of casinos.

Nick: I was gonna say this feels like a casino thing.

Leah: I work a lot of casinos.

Nick: So—and for what to tip? Oh, isn't this a debate? But I think most people agree housekeeping is at least $2 a day. $5 a day seems to be average. Some people are pushing for $10 a day.

Leah: I think it also really depends on know yourself. Like, did you need 900 extra things?

Nick: Yeah, how much work did you create?

Leah: Did you leave a huge mess?

Nick: Yeah. That's a good point, yeah. Although I have the feeling that the person that's the huge mess that caused the most problem is the person tipping the least.

Leah: It's probably true. But I would think that our listeners are much more self-aware, and they were like, "You know what? I was a little bit messy. I'm gonna throw down an extra whatever."

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, I think that is very courteous. So that's all I got on my list. Are we ready to go on vacation, Leah?

Leah: I'm ready!

Nick: We'll have separate rooms.

Leah: [laughs] I see that you would be like, "I need to be on the other side of the hotel as Leah, because she's going to be talking to everyone."

Nick: I'll actually be in a different property, but I'll see you in the morning. [laughs]

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

Leah: [howls]

Nick: So our first question is, quote, "I live in a rural area where the digital age has not yet arrived. I have several friends who live in a city and have all the modern conveniences, including high speed internet. They love to borrow and are loath to return. How do I politely say no to a request to borrow a DVD for several years? And how do I ask them to return it?"

Leah: I read this and I wanted to ask you, "Who of my friends ask this question?"

Nick: [laughs] So you have, like, VHS tapes.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So I feel like maybe you have this problem.

Leah: You know, I know people who lend out DVDs and have people not return them, but nobody actually asks me to borrow anything.

Nick: They just take them out of your house?

Leah: No, nobody's asked me for my collection. But I know people this happens to.

Nick: Is that a comment on your taste?

Leah: My guess is that it's a comment on the fact that nobody has a VHS player. [laughs]

Nick: That's also probably true.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So I guess for this, it would be nice if people returned things without having to be asked. Yeah.

Leah: But I think you can say, "Oh hey, do you still have my Escape From New York DVD?"

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think you could just use, like, a non-judgmental, value-neutral tone. Be like, "Hey, I just want to know if you have this thing. I would love it back."

Leah: I also—not with the DVD, but with other things, I forget who I gave it to. So I'm genuinely asking, "Did you have this?"

Nick: Oh, I don't forget. [laughs]

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Definitely not.

Leah: I think that it's also I'm just feeling hurt that nobody wants to borrow my things. I just want you to know what that pause was. I'm like, "Why is nobody borrowing any of my stuff?"

Nick: I mean, I have ideas.

Leah: You guys don't want Beatles' Hard Day's Night on VHS? It's a classic.

Nick: I mean, I'll borrow your Troop Beverly Hills VHS.

Leah: I don't have Troop Beverly Hills. I've actually never seen Troop Beverly Hills.

Nick: [gasps]

Leah: And that was on my list.

Nick: That's Shelley Long at her peak.

Leah: Right. I was gonna say, isn't it Shelley Long? I love Shelley Long. Outrageous Fortune, I just rewatched that.

Nick: Oh, I think this is high priority. I mean, sorry audience, but let's just get into it for a second. Leah, I am now worried for you. Like, what other classic movies of the '80s have you not seen?

Leah: '80s? I've missed a very large chunk.

Nick: Oh, okay. Well audience, if you have suggestions for what movies Leah should watch, send them to us. So letter writer, just ask. Because if you don't ask, then you're not gonna get it back, definitely. And oh, how do you say no? That's really the crux here. How do you say no to people who want to borrow stuff?

Leah: You know, that obviously is something I'm working on as well, but I think you can just say, "Oh, I'm not loaning them out anymore."

Nick: Yeah, I think you could say no. I think you could decline, and not make it sound like, "I'm declining because I don't trust you."

Leah: Yeah, and I think—and this is a thing I've worked on, the more details you give? You don't need to. You can just be like, "Oh, I'm not loaning it out anymore." Boom.

Nick: Yeah, don't give them reasons to try and overcome your objection.

Leah: Yeah, I think it'd be better not to give a reason. That way the person doesn't think it's them personally, or they don't try to, as Nick said, give you all the reasons why that's not gonna happen.

Nick: So our next question is, quote, "I participate in a monthly dinner meeting with eight other women who take a small amount of time to get together to eat and socialize. We have one lady who almost every month calls to see what is being served for dinner. If she doesn't like what's on the menu, she will not come. It's almost as if she's comparing all of her options for the night, and attends the best one. This is really distasteful to the hostess of the month, who has cooked and provided food for her, even though she may or may not come. It's a lot of time and money, not to mention energy. How can this be addressed in a polite and gracious manner?"

Nick: So my first question is, why are we cooking for guests who have not RSVPed? Did she say she's coming, and then she hears about the menu and then might not come but won't tell you? Like, why have we made a meal for somebody who may or may not show up? That's my first question.

Leah: Well, I get the idea that it's nine women, they're ready for nine people to come.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: Every month.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: And then there's this one woman who last minute calls and says, "Oh, what did you make?" And then decides not to come.

Nick: Okay. So yeah, that's super rude.

Leah: Super rude! And it's hurtful. And so that's—I think you're gonna have to address it head on. There's really no way around. If everybody's assuming it's gonna be nine people, and then this person constantly last minute decides, "Oh, I didn't like what you cooked, so I'm not showing up." I don't know how there could be a way to say, "Hey, let's not hurt people's feelings, or people planned for you to come. Let people know in advance."

Nick: Yes, I think we could definitely do that. But I mean, the general idea is if you RSVP for something and you don't show up, well then I'm not gonna invite you in the future. And if you're like, "Why didn't you invite me?" Because it's like, you didn't show up the last time you said you were gonna come. So I think that's also kind of fine. Or you just don't say anything. You don't invite her anymore. This is probably a small group, and so we probably can't do that. But that's my instinct.

Leah: I really get the idea that that is not happening.

Nick: Well, just to be clear though, if you RSVP to something I'm throwing, and you say you're coming and then don't, I'm never inviting you ever again to anything. You've lost the privilege of being in my guest list.

Leah: Well, I think we know this. I think in this situation, I think they could just say, "Hey, let's decide in advance." Obviously, everybody's, like, eggshelling around that it's just this one person, and we're all gonna pretend it's everybody.

Nick: Oh, yeah. No, no. Lisa is the problem here, yes. Also, it doesn't sound like this is a dietary restriction. Like, oh, Lisa doesn't eat shellfish. It's like, "Oh, I just don't care for lasagna tonight." Like, that's what it sounds like. And so we can't predict what she may or may not eat.

Leah: Yeah, that's what it sounds like.

Nick: We can't actually do any menu planning. So one idea could be that we announce the menu as soon as we announce the date. So like, "Okay, it's my turn to cook. Here's what I'm planning on making. Who's available to come?" And then get Lisa on the record to say, "Yes, I'm coming," or, "No, I'm not." And if she doesn't like what's on the menu, that is her opportunity to say so. And so that way I can just buy dinner for eight instead of nine.

Leah: Yep. Or if that's not how they do it, they like to leave it as a surprise or until the last minute, you set the date, this is—if you RSVP and then if she then changes her mind again, I think you can say, "You keep changing your mind last minute and it's hard on the people who are throwing the parties. Please stop doing that."

Nick: A direct but polite sort of clarification to Lisa about her behavior. Yeah, I guess that is appropriate. Yeah, that would probably be fine. And you could do that in a nice, polite way. And if she gets all bent out of shape about it, then so be it. I mean, I think fine, then. She's the one who's doing the bad thing here.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And what happens when it's her turn to host? Does she expect everybody just to like the menu she makes? Maybe I should just, like, ask her what's on the menu and just decide I'm not into it at the last minute.

Leah: I feel like these ladies aren't gonna do that.

Nick: Like, "Oh, I'm just not into moussaka right now."

Leah: All of a sudden, all of the eight of you boycott her and don't show up.

Nick: "But thank you."

Leah: But I think a definite way to not do that first would be to get the RSVPs, and then make it clear that people shouldn't change their RSVPs.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: And then go from there.

Nick: Yes. And to be clear, like, I get that things happen. There are reasons why somebody can't show up but, like, that is not what's happening here.

Leah: Yeah, that's not what's happening here at all.

Nick: This is somebody who's just shopping for a better invitation.

Leah: Obviously, things happen. That's not—that's totally different.

Nick: Yeah, that's not even what we're talking about. Yeah. No, this is just somebody who's bad. Yeah, okay.

Nick: Our next question is, quote, "In our office break room, we have several ice cube trays in the freezer. There is also a bucket with a set of tongs which the staff dump the frozen cubes into, and then refill the trays and replace in the freezer as needed. There is one unknown staff member who routinely takes cubes out of the trays and puts the half empty trays back into the freezer instead of using the tongs and cubes from the bucket. My cubicle buddy and I have talked about this, and we can't decide if this is actually rude or if it just annoys us that someone isn't following the system. Thoughts?"

Leah: I was thinking about this because I'm not a person that this would bother me, but I was thinking about the person who is taking the ice out of the tray.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: And I thought maybe they actually are worried. Because I feel like what might be rude is that people touching things with their hands.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: But people taking out of the tray, they're just sort of touching their ice cube. And maybe the person who's taking from the tray is taking it from the tray because they're worried that the cubes in the bucket have been touched.

Nick: Yes, I was sort of thinking along those lines that, like, Chad doesn't want your used ice. He wants fresh ice from the freezer. That's what he wants.

Leah: Pre-touched, pre-touched.

Nick: And so he wants that pristine ice for his beverages. So I think that is an explanation. And it is annoying. I can see why we're annoyed, why our letter writer's like, "Oh, this catches our eye. Like, there's something wrong here." But yeah, when does annoying cross the line into being rude?

Leah: I think it crosses the line into being rude when they should have taken whatever was left in the ice cube tray and refilled it.

Nick: Yeah, I think I don't like half-used ice trays back in the freezer. I think I want the whole tray to be used, and then we refill the whole tray and then put that in the freezer.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I don't like different levels of ice age in the same tray.

Nick: Then maybe you should take your ice, dump the rest of it into the container, refill the tray.

Nick: Oh, that would be nicer, yes. So if we want pristine ice, and we want the thing out of the freezer, we should take what we want, put the balance in the bucket and refill the whole thing and put it back in the freezer. Yeah, that is actually what should happen here. Yeah, I agree. Okay.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: How do we not know who this is? I feel like in every office, you know. You know who's up to this.

Leah: You think they really don't know who it is?

Nick: I mean, they say they don't know. They're like, "Someone unknown."

Leah: I mean, I would probably just stand by the refrigerator and watch.

Nick: Yeah, I would monitor absolutely. Yeah.

Leah: I would just get, like, a team of people to monitor. I'd be like, "I'm gonna go in now." Obviously, I have to come back to my desk and work at some point.

Nick: I would actually move the freezer to my cubicle.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So then you have to come to my cubicle to get the ice. Yeah.

Leah: But I would like our letter writer to find out who's doing this.

Nick: Yeah, I think that's really my question here.

Leah: Because when you find out who's doing it, you're gonna get a better idea of why they're doing it.

Nick: Yes. So we would like you actually to report back for an aftermath segment, and we will update our audience in terms of what was this person's true motivations. And then we will then determine whether or not it's rude or not.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: Yes!

Leah: I love this.

Nick: Okay, great. So do you have questions for us, or want us to follow up on anything you've heard before? 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: You know ...

Nick: Oh, this sounds like a repent coming.

Leah: It's a repent. And ...

Nick: [sighs] Oh, Leah.

Leah: I was just gonna block it out of my mind and pretend it never happened, because I'm actually really—I'm really embarrassed.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: But I felt like our audience deserved for me to be honest about this absolutely mortifying thing that I did.

Nick: Oh, I can't wait!

Leah: So I'm at a shopping center.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I have to use the washroom.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Also, I'm trying not to be too exposed. And you know I've talked before about washrooms and how I hope that we as a group can keep them slightly clean.

Nick: Yeah. I think you prefer the term "crisp."

Leah: I like a nice crisp washroom.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: I go into the washroom, it's not flushed.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: But it's not dirty. It's not—like, things haven't been left haphazard, it's just a little not flushed.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. Like, 25 percent?

Leah: I would even say less than 25 percent.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So I try to flush it.

Nick: All right.

Leah: I can't flush it. It's just like the flusher's broken.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Okay. So very little is done in this bathroom. I basically went in to, like, refresh and, like blow my nose and stuff. I leave. The woman coming in behind me looks and she goes, "Oh, does it not flush?" But she says it like, "Are you a gross person?" She didn't say it like ...

Nick: Right.

Leah: But I had spent time trying to flush this toilet.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I really had dedicated—I'm a clean bathroom person.

Nick: Yeah. No, we know that Leah Bonnema does not not flush.

Leah: So ...

Nick: That's not who you are.

Leah: It's not who I am, so I look at her and I go, "It doesn't flush." You know, you hate making eye contact when you come out when something was wrong. I was like, "It doesn't flush."

Nick: Yeah, yeah.

Leah: There is, like, nothing horrible going on in there. It was just I was like, "It doesn't flush." So then she looks at me like I'm a liar, which I wasn't. I really tried.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And then she walks in there and flushes it.

Nick: [laughs] Uh-huh.

Leah: And I don't ...

Nick: So now you're a liar.

Leah: Now I look like a liar.

Nick: You're dirty and you're a liar. Okay.

Leah: I'm a dirty, dirty liar. But the worst part is, is that I really tried. I was like, I don't even—and I didn't—I was like, I'm not gonna stand on the other side of the stall door and say to this woman who I don't know, "I really tried!" Because I'm already mortified, you know what I mean? But I tried when I came in, I tried when I was leaving. And I tried multiple times.

Nick: It's okay. So what is the etiquette crime here, though?

Leah: I mean, I don't know. I'm just mortified. I did try. I wasn't being unaware.

Nick: Honestly, I don't think there's an etiquette transgression here. I think it's a great story. I'm delighted to hear it.

Leah: Well, she thinks I made an etiquette transgression, but I was like, I had to stay in the restroom long enough to wash my hands.

Nick: Uh huh.

Leah: But I just wanted to get out of there so fast.

Nick: I mean, I think this is really a vent about somebody who accused you of doing something you did not do, and didn't give you the benefit of the doubt.

Leah: I know. But I understand why she did. She was like, you don't know how a toilet flush works? How long have you been in this world? Like, she just walked in and just flushed it.

Nick: Yeah, there it was. 100 percent.

Leah: I was like—oh, I literally thought, "She's probably a Were You Raised By Wolves? listener, and we're gonna get a letter about some monster who was in the bathroom who didn't flush. And I'm gonna be like, "But I tried!" [laughs]

Nick: If you're a Raised By Wolves listener and it is you in this story, please let me know. But I think you did not understand the assignment. There was neither event nor repent in this because I don't think an etiquette crime was really committed.

Leah: My repent is that I should have just stayed in there.

Nick: What?

Leah: And just been like, this must flush somehow. I'm doing something wrong.

Nick: Oh, you are supposed to now fix plumbing? No!

Leah: Well, obviously it worked. This woman got it.

Nick: I mean, I feel like you put in a good faith effort. I don't think it's your responsibility to fix plumbing in a shopping mall, Like, I don't think that's your responsibility.

Leah: I really like the way you're seeing this.

Nick: You tried to fix it. You didn't just walk away. And for all intents and purposes, you gave it your best shot. It was inadequate, but you tried.

Leah: I think that's my repent: being inadequate in this situation. I like to, you know ...

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Hit the top bar. I left the whole shopping place. I was like, "We got to—we're leaving."

Nick: So I think what you need to do is actually bring caution tape in your purse at all times, and should this ever happen to you in the future, you can basically tape the stall and indicate that this is out of order for anybody else. And then you immediately alert staff to immediately service the bathroom. That is the solution to this. Okay, great.

Nick: Well, for me, I would like to vent. And this is serious. This is a big one, everybody. So I want to vent about people who send "You're welcome" emails.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Stop it. It's not necessary. You are literally taking up minutes of my day. You know, it just adds up. And now I have to, like, look at this thing and then I have to delete it. And the worst is people who, like, don't even send "Your welcome." They just say "yw," lowercase, no punctuation. It's like, why did you make—like, you put in so little effort. Like, what is that about? It's not even a full "You're welcome." So it's the worst. And if you do this, don't. It is not necessary. And just as a reminder about how this works, because we actually do get this question. Like, "Oh, do I have to write a thank-you note for a thank you?" I was like, no. You never have to write a "You're welcome" email. If somebody sends you a present, you write thank you to them, and then that's it. If somebody thanks you with a present, then you thank them for the present and that's it. But you never send a "You're welcome." Like, that's it. That's how this works. So if you are ever tempted to send a "You're welcome" email, no, no. Don't do that. Save me—save me some minutes, everybody. That's all I want. Just want my minutes back.

Leah: I don't know why, I just wish I was in your apartment, like, when you get those emails, because I can imagine the face.

Nick: And there's two people who I regularly email with that, like, do this all the time. You can't tell them not to. Like, what is that email like? "Oh, would you please stop sending me 'You're welcome emails?'" It's like, you can't do that, because it's such a minor infraction. But you just want everybody to independently know this, that you're not supposed to do this.

Leah: You're spreading the word.

Nick: And the worst? Actually, you know what's worse than the "You're welcome" email? The reply-all "You're welcome" email. That's the worst. That's the ultimate in email sins.

Leah: I've never even seen that.

Nick: Oh, the reply-all that just says "You're welcome?" Ugh! I mean, I don't—I actually don't think it gets worse than that. Audience, if you have an example of what's worse than the reply-all "You're welcome" email, I would love to hear it. But I do think that actually is probably the ninth ring. That's the lowest it gets.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Please stop that.

Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I learned a phenomenal amount about Peking duck.

Nick: Mm-hmm!

Leah: But I think the thing that I'm just gonna drop is that, you know, I'll be like, "Oh, did you know that Peking duck really got going during the Ming Dynasty?"

Nick: Oh, sure! Hěn yǒu yìsi. And I learned that you haven't seen one of the best films of the '80s.

Leah: I haven't, and it's on my list. And I know that I am wrong for not seeing Troop Beverly Hills yet.

Nick: Shelley Long, she's a treasure.

Leah: She is a treasure.

Nick: Well, thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. If I had your address, I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery.

Leah: He will.

Nick: So for your homework this week, I want you to hit "follow" or "subscribe" in whatever app you use to listen to us. Because there's an algorithm, and the more people that subscribe, the more likely that app is gonna recommend our show to other people. And the more people who listen to our show, the more politeness there will be and then we will achieve world peace. So wouldn't you like world peace?

Leah: No pressure. Just all of world peace is on your shoulders.

Nick: Yeah, that's it. Casual. 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 thank you, grateful shout out to Kristen at Solace Sweets, who if our listeners remember, had sent us a message about people who are taking too many of her incandescent nougats. And she actually sent them to Nick and I, and they were amazing.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Amazing!

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: And it was so kind to send them to us.

Nick: And for me, I actually had the same one, because I also got these incandescently delicious Italian vanilla nougat candies in the mail. And the nougat sort of melted away, and then it became, like, the more nutty flavors kind of emerged. I kind of felt like Violet Beauregard eating the everlasting gobstopper.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: Where, like, it takes you on a full-flavor journey from start to finish. Like, that's how I felt.

Leah: Great reference.

Nick: So it was delicious. And obviously, the thank-you notes are in the mail, but it cannot hurt to express our gratitude again here. So thank you for these. It was really a treat to open up my mailbox and find these. So thank you.

Leah: Thank you. Such a treat.