April 24, 2023

Escaping Charity Solicitations, Writing Wedding Invitations, Ghosting Hair Dressers, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about escaping charity solicitations, writing wedding invitations properly, ghosting hair dressers, and much more.

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Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about escaping charity solicitations, writing wedding invitations properly, ghosting hair dressers, 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 ask.wyrbw.com



  • Does it matter in what order people are addressed in a business email or on a conference call?
  • How do we get out of a dinner that's intended to solicit our help for a charity?
  • How do you get someone to stop eating in your car?
  • Should "District of Columbia" be spelled out on wedding invitations?
  • Do I need to tell my hairdresser, who moved to a new salon that's farther away and more expensive, why I'm not returning?







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



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Episode 181


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

Leah: And it's Leah Bonnema.

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

Leah: [howls]

Nick: ... that we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is quote, "I have a sales director—let's call him Chad. Chad was very bent out of shape after being called on to speak after an account manager on a team call. I assured him it wasn't intentional, but it got me thinking: does it matter in which order people are addressed, either in email or on a conference call? For example, if I write my boss—who is male—and our production manager—who is female—do I address this as 'Hi, Lisa and Chad,' or 'Hi, Chad and Lisa?' Am I overthinking this, or does hierarchy matter in office communication?"

Leah: So I read this not as people were introducing themselves on this sales call, but that they were doing presentations, which I think makes a difference.

Nick: Right. That was my interpretation here, that we're all doing some presentation and we're going in some order that made sense for the presentation.

Leah: I think that if we are the sales director and people are presenting, I do think a lot of times presentations get ordered by which information makes sense to come first.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But if you are the sales director and if you feel like you have to go first, I would probably let the person running the call know in advance.

Nick: Yes, yes. I mean, my thought about Chad is that in general, people who are comfortable with themselves, with their status, with their position in society, are not gonna be bothered by this. And so I think for Chad, I don't know if he's very comfortable with his status here because why are you so bent out of shape, Chad?

Leah: Definitely seems a little insecure.

Nick: A little bit, yeah. A little—a little insecure, which is not a good look.

Leah: And so I think don't let that cause you to overthink. You obviously weren't malintentioned.

Nick: But I think in general, in etiquette we do want to introduce the more senior person first. So if we were introducing Chad into the call, maybe there was a client on the call, then the order of seniority would come into play. So the most important person on that type of call would be the client. The client gets introduced first. Like, "Oh, client, you are the most important person here. You have the money. So welcome." And then we would go in order of, like, seniority: the president of the company to the vice president, to the director on down. That would be polite. And in email, you could follow the same convention if you wanted to. I would like to think if we're writing an email too, "Hi, Lisa and Chad," and we're using first names and we're pretty casual about it that, like, hopefully everybody's cool and, like, we don't have to be that formal and it doesn't matter and no one really cares. Let's just get the business done.

Leah: And for the business emails, who goes first? I don't think gender matters.

Nick: That's a great point. Yes, in business etiquette, gender doesn't really have a place. So seniority matters but yeah, whether or not your boss is a man or a woman or—this does not matter.

Leah: And it has been my personal experience, as Nick pointed out, that the higher up and more secure somebody is with their position, the less they care.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, I think this is true and universal. So I think we have learned something about Chad, though. So regardless of what makes sense, regardless of what the etiquette is, I think Chad just wants to be first. So if there's donuts in the break room, please let Chad pick first.

Leah: Yeah, we can put that in our pocket of knowledge so we know how to navigate that situation.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "Recently, the sibling of a childhood friend contacted me to request a meeting with my spouse and I to discuss some ideas they had for a charity they are very involved with. Although vague on the details, I suspect they want to recruit us to donate our time and professional skills to a fundraising event. I've never been close to this person, they just happened to be around a lot in my childhood because I was friends with their sibling. And after not seeing this person for a few decades, I most recently ran into them at a social function a year ago. Although it was pleasant to catch up with them after all these years, that was the extent of our reconnection. Now I suspect we're being lured into a high pressure sales pitch for a cause that, although worthy, is just not something we share the same passion about. We don't want to seem insensitive or dismissive, but we both have busy schedules and don't want to commit to spending an evening with somebody I was never really close to and my spouse has only met once so we can receive an awkward presentation. How can we respectfully and tactfully decline their invitation without seeming like jerks?"

Leah: This kind of question is my nightmare, you know? Because I feel like I always get sucked into these things. I know what's happening and I'm like, "How am I gonna get out of this?"

Nick: Yeah. As I was reading this, I was like, oh, I feel like Leah is gonna experience anxiety reading this question.

Leah: [laughs] I did. I sort of got—like, my stomach hurt a little bit.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: I may have had a little acid reflux. I mean, I think the thing is you don't have the bandwidth for this.

Nick: Yeah, but even if you did, you know, maybe you just don't want to do it. So how do we say no?

Leah: Well, I don't think we say we don't want to do it.

Nick: [laughs] Right. Yeah, I don't think we want to tell them like, "No, not interested in supporting your charity."

Leah: What was your phrase? "Not possible. Thank you so much for reaching out, but this is just not possible."

Nick: Yes. "I'm afraid it's not possible."

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think something in that zone could work, but I think one thing that catches my eye in this question, which I think comes up a lot and so I think it's good to highlight, is that there is this sneaky thing that people do where they will take a business-y thing and they will sort of wrap it in this facade of social etiquette because they know it's a little harder to say no if it's a social invitation than if it's a business invitation. And so a lot of these things in this world are couched as, like, "Oh, let's socialize." And it's really not that. And so as the recipient of this invitation, you don't know what rulebook you're allowed to play with. Can I use an etiquette playbook from the business world, in which case I could just decline a solicitation? Somebody is at your door trying to sell you encyclopedias? That's easy to say no to. Or is this actually like a social event? And then now that's more awkward, and am I reciprocating this event because that's what we do in social world? Like, so that is why this is tricky, because they want you to use, like, social etiquette, which is hard to decline, but it's really not a social thing. And so this is sneaky.

Leah: That is such a great way to describe exactly what's happened.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Because I read that and I understand that, but I don't have—didn't have the words to say it. All I could think of was "Anxiety!" So I think that's the perfect way to explain what is being manipulated.

Nick: It is manipulative, yes. It is definitively manipulative. Now it's polite, but it's still a little manipulative. So I think it is possible to decline in a polite way. And I think you just say you don't really have bandwidth, I think is one way you could go. But I think a better way to go—especially since they did tell you this is charity related, so it does sound like they hinted like, "Oh, this is about a charity. We want to get together socially but, like, we want to talk to you about a new charity," is that you could say, like, "Thank you so much for the invitation. Unfortunately, we're fully committed to supporting the charities that we already support, so we're unable to offer anything to any other charities, but would be happy to know about your charity if you want to email us the link. And we'd be happy to pass this along to anybody we know who might be interested in supporting it." And so no need to get together, no need to respond directly to this invitation to get together. You can basically say, like, "We're not gonna be able to help you. So thank you so much." And you're not jerks because you still support charity, just not this one. And that's okay. You know, we can all pick the different causes we want to support, and that's allowed.

Leah: And then what if this person says—because that's what I say to people on the phone who call about charities when I pick up not realizing it's a solicitation call. And Isyou know, I have the charities that I pick that I'm gonna go donate to, and that's where I'm capped at the year. So I say that exactly.

Nick: But yes, what you don't want to do is you don't want to make this a negotiation. It's similar to, like. a high pressure, multi-level marketing where, you know, you have that friend that wants to sell you a new skincare line. And if you give objections that can be overcome, they're trained for this. So the response can't be like, "Oh, we're busy next month." "Okay, no problem. When you're back from your vacation, delighted to get together." So you don't want to make this a conversation. It just needs to be a "No, this is not possible." And ideally, you don't give explanations because when you're explaining, you're losing a lot of times. But the explanation is just like, "Oh, we're fully committed with other charities, but thank you so much." And you could just say that in a polite way. And given that you don't have a relationship with these people—these are basically strangers—then no problem. Like, if they want to be offended or not offended, like, do we care?

Leah: I knew that you were gonna have the perfect response to this.

Nick: [laughs] So our next question is quote, "How do you ask someone to stop eating in your car?"

Leah: Whoo!

Nick: Yeah. I had some questions. I feel like to answer this, we have to have more information. So one of the questions I had is, like, who is this person who is eating? Who is this? What is my relationship to this person?

Leah: I also want to know what are they eating and how long is it gonna take?

Nick: Right. Is this raw oysters? Is this spaghetti? Is this a power bar? Like, what is this thing?

Leah: We recently got tacos at a new—you know, I'm trying—working our way through all the tacos in Los Angeles.

Nick: Oh, that's gonna be a long list.

Leah: A long list, which excites me. And we never really eat in the car, but we were on a time crunch and ...

Nick: Okay.

Leah: ... there was weather involved. And these were the most onion cilantro tacos in the whole world, which I adore. But then our car smelled.

Nick: Oh, okay. In my mind, I'm just thinking about spills. But yes, smell. This is another issue.

Leah: Smell will sit in your car.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So I also want to know is this—like, you said, a power bar, which is—I can grab the wrapper, or I'm gonna ask them obviously not to—it doesn't spill a lot. It will go fast.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Forgivable. Or is this like a full, heavy cilantro, heavy onion taco dinner where I'm gonna be pulling onions out of the console for the next month?

Nick: Right. And then the question is: how do you tell someone to stop eating? So we actually are jumping in the middle of this story. We are in the car and the eating is currently happening. It is a gerund. And so the question is like, oh, was there not an opportunity?

Leah: [laughs] It is a gerund.

Nick: It is! Was there not an opportunity to stop them? Was there no conversation like, "Would it be okay if?" So presumably this person just, like, whipped out a bento box of something and just, like, started chowing down.

Leah: [laughs] Yeah, I think we should start by saying if you're in somebody else's car and it's not—I don't think a power bar is a big deal because it is so consolidated and so quick, but if you're gonna eat a meal, we ask, "Can I eat in your car?"

Nick: Okay, so this is a great side question: what is the line between power bar easy and full-blown smorgasbord all-you-can-eat Sizzler buffet? And so at what point do you think it's okay to not necessarily ask for permission to eat something? Like, what is that item? When does it become too great, too large, too much?

Leah: Well, you know me, I would ask regardless. And I would offer the driver ...

Nick: Stick of gum.

Leah: Yeah, a stick of gum. Well, a stick of gum, I would have a stick of gum, but I would offer. "Hey, do you want a stick of gum?"

Nick: Okay. You're gonna just take the initiative to eat it without asking permission, but you would offer.

Leah: Permission to have gum?

Nick: Well, I just wanted to see where the line is on this spectrum.

Leah: Well, a lot of people chew gum in cars because they get carsick. Have your gum.

Nick: So we can agree. Gum? You don't have to ask for permission first. You can just chew it.

Leah: I will say though, going back, I bet we do have people that would prefer to be asked about gum because they don't like the chewing noise.

Nick: Oh, that's a good point. That's—yes, very astute. Okay, so maybe the rule is just like before you chew anything in someone else's car, we just ask.

Leah: We just ask.

Nick: Okay. I mean, maybe that's great. I like having rules that are definitive. What about beverages?

Leah: I think if we have, like, a water bottle?

Nick: Yes. Free pass.

Leah: Do we have a fountain drink where we're pulling the straw in and out over and over again so it sounds like some kind of a weird flute noise? That could be a little upsetting to the driver. I think it's just it's polite to ask.

Nick: It is always polite to ask. That's true. Yeah, that is true. Yeah, the notion of like, oh, it's better to ask for forgiveness than permission? Like, that doesn't really work in etiquette world.

Leah: But I do think as the driver, if somebody had gum, I would be—obviously if they're like a loud pop or chewer, I'd be like, okay. Or if they had a protein bar, you know, some people got to eat regularly for their energy levels.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I do think it's nice to offer things to people. I don't think I'd be irritated. But if you brought out a full meal, and there's things falling on the floor and it's like, I gotta open the windows, I gotta air out my car, I'd be like, "What are we doing here?"

Nick: All right. So we have someone eating something in my car. I would like to ask them to stop. And so I think the answer is just polite yet direct. "Oh, would you mind actually saving that until we have reached our destination?"

Leah: Yeah, I think that's the only—it's weird that they would bring out a full picnic basket without running it by you first in your vehicle. But I guess that's what happened.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And then you're already in it, and then I think that's the way to go. I'd be like, "Hey, do you mind just waiting until we get there? Thanks."

Nick: Yeah. And then hopefully they say, "Oh, no problem." Then I guess the other alternative is "No, sorry. I'm gonna do it anyway."

Leah: And then I guess that's when we pull over on the side of the 405 and tell them they have to walk the rest of the way.

Nick: Oh, you actually pull over? I think I would just open the door and push.

Leah: [laughs] Just, like, open and push?

Nick: Drop and roll.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] So our next question is quote, "I create custom wedding invitations and prefer to use formal etiquette. I have a client getting married in Washington, DC, and I remember reading that DC is not spelled out as District of Columbia because it's an exception to the rule of no abbreviations. I called a stationery company and they said they always abbreviate it, and my copy of Emily Post shows DC abbreviated as well. However, my client's wedding planner told them it is always spelled out. I did a brief Google in the car and could only find this rule on a few websites. Which is correct? And if abbreviating is correct, may I tell them that? But I'm happy to spell it out if they prefer. I don't want them to think I don't know what I'm doing, but I also want to respect the wedding planner, especially if it's simply a matter of opinion."

Leah: This pull between wanting to—I don't mean our letter-writer, I mean within myself ...

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: ... to show people that you actually know what you're talking about.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And then also just whatever you want is ...

Nick: Right.

Leah: ... the line. Because I wrote it one way, and then I was thinking about maybe we just say "However you want to do it."

Nick: That's a great observation because yeah, you want to do, like, the correct thing, and you want your clients to know, like, oh no, I do know what I'm talking about. But you also don't want to throw the wedding planner under the bus because it's a small community, I'm sure. You might work with that wedding planner again, and it's never a good look to just, like, criticize people in this way and be like, oh, they don't know what they're talking about. Especially since it sounds like the wedding planner is, like, definitive. Like, "Oh, no. This is how it's done." And so it's sort of like, oh, how do you correct that? Or how do you have a conversation with that?

Leah: Because it seems like it could really go either way.

Nick: So let's talk about that. And here are some thoughts on this topic, and maybe at the end of this we will come to some conclusion. So I think my first thought is that for the outer envelope, the one that the Postal Service needs, we need to do the thing that's gonna be the thing they need to make sure it gets delivered. So for that, I think you probably just want to abbreviate. Okay, fine. Now for invitations in general, I love how invitations are like this one time in people's lives, in their etiquette lives, when they're like, "We must do everything properly. Everything must be perfect for this." And it's sort of like, where were you when you just cut in front of me in line at Starbucks? Where were you when you just, like, had your bag shove me on the subway? But, like, oh no, your wedding invitation is perfect. Okay. And it's kind of like, oh, that's interesting. Like, oh, can we not actually be polite in all aspects of our lives? But somehow we've decided as a society, like, oh, the wedding invitation, that's the one time we have to follow the rules. Okay.

Nick: And then the other thought I had was like, there is this idea that we have to do things the "proper way," quote-unquote. And there's one way that is. And we kind of forget that, like, oh, this has changed throughout time. And when you think about, like, the wedding dress that is probably gonna be worn at this wedding is gonna be white. But before Queen Victoria wore a white wedding dress, wedding dresses in Europe for wealthy people were all sorts of colors. You had red wedding dresses and blue ones and yellow. Like, it wasn't white. But, like, Queen Victoria did it, and everyone was like, oh, that's the way it's done. That's the way it will always be done. And so, like, there's just like these etiquette things that do evolve.

Nick: And so I think the way we want to think about this question is: let's not miss the forest for the trees. Why do we actually want formal language on this invitation at all? And for me, when we're thinking about an invitation, the idea is, like, oh, the invitation is to give you a hint about what this event is. And so if we're gonna be having a black tie, very formal lobster thermidor wedding, then yes, hand-engraved invitation with very flowery language, that's what I need. I don't want to show up at your wedding with that kind invitation and there's a bouncy house. That doesn't match for me. And so I need the invitation to, like, be the same vibe as the actual event. Like, have you ever been to an event where you show up and you're like, oh, this is not what I was expecting based on, like, all the information I had prior to this event.

Leah: I'm sure.

Nick: Right?

Leah: I can't think of one off the top of my—but what I'm thinking about right now is how I want more bouncy houses.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. Right. That would be a great wedding. But if that's the type of wedding you're gonna have, I don't need the hand-engraved invitation with, like, very formal language.

Leah: You could just put "DC" if it's a bouncy castle.

Nick: Yeah, have at it. Sure. Or, like, "Our house. Come on down." And so I think that's the question is what will match the formality of this event, and how do we achieve that with language? And so one idea I have is, like, let's leave DC off altogether, because chances are anybody who's attending this wedding is gonna know. When you say Washington, we know what we mean. Like, if you watch a press briefing at the White House, it just says the White House, Washington. They probably actually could just get rid of, like, the "Washington" part because you're like, "Oh, the White House." So, like, we get it. And in looking at invitations, because I have a sort of a database of wedding invitations in my files, a lot of invitations throughout history have not included the state. Like, in looking at New York City, a bunch of invitations were just like, "The wedding is gonna be at the Church of the Heavenly Rest at Fifth Avenue and 46th Street." And that's all it is. Or it just says, like, "Delmonico's," because there was a time in New York where, like, everybody knew where Delmonico's was, so you didn't need to put the street address.

Nick: So I think I would just say "Washington" unless it's confusing what we mean, but I don't think anybody's gonna be confused. And also, doesn't that feel a little classier just to be like "Washington" rather than Washington, DC? That minimalism, like, I think would be actually very chic. So I say do whatever the client wants and do whatever the wedding planner wants. But I think there's a lot of different ways we can arrive at a "correct" quote-unquote answer here.

Leah: I like that very much.

Nick: Right?

Leah: I do understand the impetus to want to say, "I know this."

Nick: Right.

Leah: But I think it doesn't behoove you. Sometimes it's easier just to say, "However you want to do it."

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, I guess you want to pick your battles. And I guess, do you want to make this a thing, or do you not want to make this a thing with this wedding planner?

Leah: Because I think you know whether or not this wedding planner is the kind of person who will hear that as, like, "Oh, yeah, it could be either one," or they then are gonna be difficult to work with for the rest of the thing.

Nick: Yeah. As soon as you said that, I was like, "Oh, this wedding planner's not that."

Leah: This wedding planner is not that at all.

Nick: [laughs] Yeah. So maybe it's just like, "Whatever you need. Whatever you need. Happy to do it."

Leah: Yeah. That way you're not saying, "Oh, you're right." You're just saying, "I'm happy to do whatever. I'm a team player."

Nick: And you're gonna run into this person again. So that's just what it is. So our next question is quote, "I've been going to the same hairdresser for about five years. She does an amazing job, and her salon was right down the block from my house. About a year ago, she moved to a salon that's over 30 minutes away from my house now, and this new salon charges significantly more money for the same services. I've gone to her twice at the new salon, but I do not wish to continue going there. I love my hairdresser, but it is very expensive and inconvenient to continue seeing her. I made an appointment with a new hairstylist closer to my home who charges less money. Do I have to tell the old stylist that I'm breaking up with her? What if she wonders why I haven't come back? I genuinely like her and her work, but the new salon just does not work for me. Thoughts?"

Leah: So many stressful hair stylist questions we get.

Nick: Yes. Although this one I actually think is kind of easy.

Leah: This one is significantly easier because there has been a change.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: And then now we're renegotiating. She's moved. It's more expensive. Boom!

Nick: She made the move. That's on her.

Leah: And now you can't go that far and don't want to pay that much.

Nick: Yeah. I guess the question is like, do we have to give any explanation? Which I guess yeah, I think that's probably courteous. So after your final appointment with this person, whenever it is, you could say something. Although it sounds like we've already had our final appointment with her.

Leah: It sounds like we've already had our final appointment and now we're now going to this next hairstylist.

Nick: So what do we do with that? Because that actually makes it a little more awkward, because what you would have done had you had that final appointment would be just to say politely, like, "I love you and your services. You do a great job. But unfortunately, this is a little far from where I live and the prices are a little higher than I want to pay. So should you move back to my area or should you see clients in my area one day a week or one day a month, you know, please let me know so that we can coordinate." And I think you could leave it at that. And, like, that's totally polite and fair.

Leah: So I think this is—she's already seen this person for the last time. She's now already seeing a new person.

Nick: Right.

Leah: I love your verbiage. I think it's perfect. So do we send them a letter? Do we call them out of the blue to say, "Hey, you may have noticed that I'm not there anymore?"

Nick: All that feels a little more awkward, right?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And I imagine we didn't want to have the conversation with this person while we were in the chair because we thought that would be uncomfortable.

Leah: And they had scissors near our head.

Nick: [laughs] And they had scissors. Right. And so that's probably why we didn't do it. But I think by not doing it, it actually made it probably a little harder. But yeah, do we send a letter in the mail? No, that's—that—I don't like that.

Leah: I also think as a hairdresser, if you move and your prices go up a lot, you have to assume that some people are gonna drop.

Nick: Oh, that's true. And I guess from that perspective, like, do we owe this person an explanation since they probably would kind of put it together. Although we've been with them for five years, though, I feel like we kind of have a lot in the bank with them.

Leah: That being said, we didn't have enough in the bank with them for them not to move and not change their prices.

Nick: Well, I mean, okay. But, like, we can't expect ...

Leah: Just throwing—I mean, not that I think that that would be logical, but I'm just saying.

Nick: Sure. Yes. You can't ever move to a better salon with higher prices.

Leah: I wouldn't hide from this person if I saw them. I'd be like, "Hey!"

Nick: Yes, are we likely to run into them?

Leah: I'm gonna stay in my area. I mean, what are we gonna drive to the salon to be like, "Hey, I can't drive to this salon?"

Nick: Right. I think we would want to reach out. I think that would be courteous, because we have seen this person for five years. That's, like, a long time.

Leah: I'm feeling a text. Does that feel weird to you? Because I'm feeling a text. "Hey!"

Nick: I like a text. Yeah, I like a text. And I think the theme of the text is, "Hey, the salon you're at doesn't work for me, but please let me know should you ever see clients back in my area." And so it would just be like a nice FYI. "I would love to continue working with you if—please let me know when. If it's not happening, then that's cool." And I think in that text you will convey the idea of, "Oh, I'm not coming back to your salon anymore."

Leah: Yeah, I think that's perfect. And then also we're letting that person know you've thought they've done great work. It has nothing to do with that. You just don't want to drive across town, obviously also for twice the money or whatever it is.

Nick: So letter-writer, I think text. We decided text.

Leah: Text. And I think text exactly what Nick just said.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, just get the transcript. We have a transcript of every episode, and so you can cut and paste.

Leah: Cut and paste it, send it out.

Nick: Done.

Leah: Done!

Nick: So let us know how it goes.

Leah: Whoo! I love those texts. Not that this is one because I think that this is—it has nothing to do with their performance, so it's gonna be a fine text and they did move. But some of those texts where you send a text and then you just want to turn your phone off because you're not ready. You ever have those where you're like, "I sent it. I'm turning it off."

Nick: Or you—then you see the bubble typing and then it goes away.

Leah: Oh!

Nick: And then you see the bubble typing but it goes away. Yeah. [laughs]

Leah: Whoo!

Nick: Or they have their read receipts turned on and they don't reply.

Leah: Ouch!

Nick: So do you have questions for us? Let us know. You can let us know through our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com. Or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!