Nov. 9, 2020

Flipping through Wall Calendars, Enduring Boring Relatives, Waiting to be Noticed, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about flipping through people's wall calendars, enduring boring conversations with relatives, waiting for people to notice you when you walk into a room, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)


  • Is it rude to flip through someone's wall calendar?
  • How do I make conversations with my mother-in-law more interesting?
  • Is it rude to ask you to text something and then not acknowledge receipt?
  • How do I shut down nosy questions about my late husband?
  • When walking into a room, is it better to interrupt or should I wait to be noticed?
  • Vent: Driving in Philadelphia




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Musical Introduction]

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

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: We had so many great questions from you guys in the wilderness-

Leah: [Howling]

Nick: That we have a bonus episode. So, here we go. Our first question is: "I'm an old-fashioned gal, and we have an artsy Harry Potter wall calendar hanging in our kitchen. One night, my husband's coworkers came over for dinner and I noticed one of them flipping through the pages on the calendar. This rubbed me the wrong way. We don't have guests over often, and I felt like her just flipping through our calendar without even asking for permission was an invasion of privacy. She doesn't know what kind of dates, memorials, or reminders that I have written on it, and there could have been something personal that I didn't want her to see on it. Was this rude of her to so flippantly flip through our wall calendar, or is it a free space because it's on a wall in a public area? It's worth noting that I really don't like this woman, so I could just be grasping at straws for more reasons to dislike her. Would love your insight, even if it's just for me to not be so sensitive." [Giggling]

Leah: I would just like to say- I would like to list all the reasons that I like this letter writer.

Nick: Yeah, yeah. No, I like a lot about this.

Leah: One, I love a handwritten calendar. That's my jam.

Nick: Ah, yes.

Leah: I have a calendar on the wall. I also carry a handwritten calendar which people often comment on, and I'll be like, "I'm a pilgrim. Back it up."

Nick: Yeah. No, I love a good Filofax.

Leah: [Giggling] Right? If I could have a flippy, I would.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I also love the Harry Potter calendar. Magical.

Nick: Yeah, that's in your wheelhouse.

Leah: And I love that she said, "I really don't like this woman." [laughter]

Nick: I mean, that kinda came through, but I'm glad she just said it.

Leah: I feel like she really knows herself. She's like, "Look ..."

Nick: Just own it.

Leah: "... I already don't like her, so maybe I'm just already ..." which I think was ... I really like her!

Nick: So, my first question was, what is an *"artsy"* Harry Potter calendar? I can picture a Harry Potter calendar, which is just like the kids with wands and something, but artsy?

Leah: That's a great question!

Nick: Right? Is this like-

Leah: Like an Impressionist Harry Potter?

Nick: Yeah. Is this like Water Lilies, or is this like Botticelli, where there's Harry in the middle of a clamshell?

Leah: This is a great question.

Nick: Right? Is this Harry with a Pearl Earring?

Leah: Hmm!

Nick: Right?

Leah: Mm-hmm.

Nick: I have a lot of questions about what is artsy? What is artsy?

Leah: If we could get an email with a picture of that, that would be fantastic.

Nick: I would appreciate some follow up on that. My first thought is that anything that is visible in your home is fair game for people to look at. People are allowed to look at things that are on display in your home. So, the calendar that is on the wall, I think someone is allowed to look at it. That's allowed, right?

Leah: But then, are they allowed to touch it?

Nick: That's where I think no because I think it's the same idea. Like, you're not allowed to pull someone's book off a bookshelf and open it without permission. I think you have to ask somebody for permission before you remove a book from the bookshelf. Right?

Leah: I agree. Yeah.

Nick: I think that's a thing. Yeah, you don't just take books off bookshelves.

Leah: Yeah, you say, "May I?"

Nick: Yeah, exactly! Then, they're like, "Oh, of course," or "Don't touch. That's a 14th-century unique text," or whatever ...

Leah: "Don't touch! They're fake books."

Nick: [Giggling] Right? That's actually a door to Narnia.

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: So, I think it's fair game to look at the art. I think you want to pretend like you don't see anything written on it, though. You can't comment. You shouldn't comment on anything handwritten.

Leah: Yeah, you're like, "Oh, do you have an appointment next Thursday morning?"

Nick: "How was the dentist?" Yeah, no. I don't think you should ever comment, and I think you should be careful even commenting about like things that are preprinted, like, "Oh, Chinese New Year's is early this year!" I think you want to avoid any commentary about it, but I think you could remark like, "Oh, I loved Harry Potter in that scene." I think that would be fine - keeping it above the fold.

Leah: Right. You're just looking- that way, you're not making it obvious that you're looking at people's actual appointments.

Nick: Right, but I think ... I was thinking about this. If there was a diary on a desk, like your Filofax was open, I think you wouldn't look at it at all. It would be rude to peer at it and be obvious that you're looking at someone's calendar.

Leah: Oh, definitely. This is- it's different in that way because it's hanging and there's a picture on top.

Nick: Yeah, it's part decor, and because it's part decor, you can look at dÈcor.

Leah: Ostensibly, you're just looking at the picture.

Nick: Right, right.

Leah: Then, once you start flipping-

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: Bad territory.

Nick: So, I think we agree with our letter-writer that flipping through it is rude-

Leah: Very rude! You could have chopped off her fingers.

Nick: [Giggling] But I don't know ... Is this enough to not like this woman? I guess it's fine to just add this to the list of reasons why you don't like this person.

Leah: Add it to the list. We all have people that we don't like, even though we try really hard to like people - maybe not ... [Giggling] No, let me start again. We all have people that rub us the wrong way, so when they do-

Nick: For sure, we have gear-grinding people in our lives.

Leah: Yeah, and then, you're like, "That's another thing!"

Nick: Yeah! Of course, she did! OF COURSE, Lisa looked through my Harry Potter artsy calendar!

Leah: [laughter] Yes. It's so in line with her personality!

Nick: I mean That's so Lisa.

Leah: Mm-hmmmmmm. Mm-mmmmmm!

Nick: I am curious, though, what an artsy Harry Potter wall calendar is.

Leah: But to this person's question: "Do you have any insight, even if it's just for me not to be so sensitive?" I don't think you're being too sensitive. She thumbed through it.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Which is ... uh ...

Nick: Intimate.

Leah: Yeah, it's intimate.

Nick: A little intimate. It's in the zone of going through a medicine cabinet.

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So, uh, you're not being sensitive. Go ahead. Don't like her! [laughter]

Nick: But I don't think we say anything. Do we say something? What's a good, polite thing to say? Like, "Ohhhh, there's nothing interesting in there." Is there anything to say?

Leah: No, I don't think there's anything to say.

Nick: Yeah. I think we just sort of note it, and file it away.

Leah: I mean, you could always say, "Could you please not look through that?"

Nick: True ... Yeah ... Although [sighing] really?

Leah: If it was something that was- I get the idea that this wasn't a game changer. She didn't have something written in there.

Nick: No, she didn't have like, "People I hate coming over for dinner at 7:00."

Leah: Yeah. [Giggling] But if you did have something that someone started looking through that was private, I think you could just say, "Could you please not look through that?"

Nick: Right. Yes. If it was something else that was more intimate, like prescription medication or something. Yeah.

Leah: Even then, I'd be like, "Have at it ..." [Giggling]

Nick: "Want some?"

Leah: "You need some." [laughter]

Nick: So, our next question-

Leah: Leah's a little loose today. She's had a lotta coffees! [laughter]

Nick: So, our next question is: "Trying to have a conversation with my mother-in-law is painful. She's 75 and only wants to know what route you took to arrive at your destination and what the weather was like. Visit the Grand Canyon? She'll ask you, "How were the seats on the plane?" Attend a friend's wedding, "Did you take Highway 101, or Interstate 5?" Then she'll start drawing you a map. To me, these details are the last thing I care about ever. I'm more interested in the emotional human side of experiences. Is there a kind way to redirect conversations away from the excruciating details and onto what really matters?"

Leah: I feel like we get a lot of mother-in-law questions.

Nick: Yes, it's a theme. Yeah.

Leah: I am always tended towards relatives ... Well, then, they're your relatives, but like mother-in-law/father-in-law, sort of just ... Unless it's egregious, kind of go along to get along, but I do think, in this circumstance, you could just ... If the question was, "How was the plane?" Then you sort of move it into something that you like. Was the person next to you on the plane interesting conversation? Did you read a book on the plane that you think the book is interesting?

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: There's maneuver room in there to just move a topic into a topic that you enjoy talking about.

Nick: Yes. I was thinking that we definitely want to segue, but I think we want to actually maneuver it towards the mother-in-law and engage her on a deeper level. So, if you were going to talk about your trip to the Grand Canyon, you might say, "Tell me about one of your favorite road trips ..." sort of an open-ended biographical question; or, "Do you remember the first time you flew on an airplane?" "What was your honeymoon like?" Something like that, that is a not a yes or no, and is not just a factual question, but something that gets to a more emotional core.

Leah: I like that very much!

Nick: Because when you think about storytelling, good stories are not just a chronology of events. It's actually how you felt from moment to moment. When you think about really great storytelling, the storyteller just takes you from those moments where something emotional happened and then strings those together. It's not necessarily a chronology. So, I think for an interesting conversation with mother-in-law, yeah, what were the emotions that took place at various related events, maybe? I don't know. That might be a heavy lift here.

Leah: I think it's fantastic. I think it's an extraordinary idea. I love it!

Nick: [Giggling] However ...

Leah: In that manner ... No, no "however." In that manner, my grandparents often used to talk to me ... When they would talk to me about their trips, it was always centered around where they stopped for food - when they were driving, and where they stopped for food.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: But then, I could always veer the conversation to ... They loved food, and then, they loved the places that they stopped, and I could always ... To agree with what you're saying, I could always lead it into- I could then get an interesting story about ... They would stay at parks; you know what I mean? They brought a camper. So, I could be like, "Oh, when you stopped there, what was that place like?" The conversations often started out with where they stopped along the way, but then I could get some very interesting stories.

Nick: Yeah, I think that would be the strategy. The other thing I was thinking of is the mother-in-law just might not be interested in talking about the emotional human side of experiences. She just might not be interested in that, and that just not something that she wants to have a conversation about. So, you might just not be able to have that.

Leah: I mean, yeah.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But I feel like you could still answer the question how you want to answer it.

Nick: Yes. I mean, you could try. Sure.

Leah: Somebody could be like, "How did you drive?" Then, you could say, "Oh, I saw this amazing landscape."

Nick: Yes, that's true. In your half of the conversation, you can be more descriptive.

Leah: Yeah, but what you can get from them may be water from a stone.

Nick: Yeah, yeah. I think it's also important to remember that some people are just boring. [Giggling] Some people are just not interesting.

Leah: Also, some people didn't learn to talk about their emotions about things.

Nick: Well, there's also that. Yeah, that's true. [Giggling] Some people just are not conversationalists, and that's just not their thing, so you just kind of have to accept that about this person.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah. So, those are some ideas-

Leah: Great ideas.

Nick: Isn't it interesting how mother-in-law is a genre of complaint?

Leah: It really is its own genre.

Nick: Yeah, it's interesting. So, our next question is: "I have a question regarding text message etiquette. If someone asks you to text them a picture of something and then you send it to them and then they don't respond, is that rude? For example, I have a four-month-old and someone asked me to send them photos of the nursery. So, I did, and they never responded. No, "Oh, hey, that's cute," or "That's different ..." I wasn't expecting big praise, but just say, "Thanks for sending." Same thing for a recommendation for a video that someone asked me to send them. I sent them the link and then, no response. Shouldn't people send a quick acknowledgment text?" Yeah.

Leah: Yeah. Right up top, let's verify that. [Giggling] Yeah, they should.

Nick: Yeah, you should do that. That would be considerate.

Leah: Isn't that rude? Yeah, that's rude.

Nick: Yep. That's it. Okay, next question. [Giggling]

Leah: I really hate it when people ask you to send something- they ask you and then, they don't acknowledge.

Nick: Yeah, it's rude. As I was thinking about this, it's actually kind of like ghosting, where you're basically just being left for dead with no reason for it. Right? It feels like lite ghosting.

Leah: Yeah, I can definitely see that.

Nick: Right?

Leah: It feels like ghosting. Also, it was like they made you set yourself up to get ghosted!

Nick: [Giggling] Right! Right? Yeah.

Leah: You had to put work in to get ghosted.

Nick: Yeah, and then because it forces you to tell a little fake story to yourself, like, "Well, maybe they didn't get it. Maybe the text didn't go through. They didn't get it. That's why." [Giggling] Because ghosting forces you to make up that fantasy.

Leah: Oh, yeah.

Nick: So, this is that! No, they got it. Of course, they got it! Texts go through. We don't have problems with texts being sent anymore. That's not a technology problem anymore, so, they got it. They're just being rude.

Leah: I've had this happen, and I've texted people. I wrote down exactly what I texted, even though I know we just both agreed that the pics went through.

Nick: Uh-huh?

Leah: I said, and I have texted this, "Hey, did you get the picture?"

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. That's a nice sort of judgment-free tone.

Leah: Totally judgment-free because there have been times where I just got a lot of messages at the same time, and something was an emergency I had to deal with, blah-blah-blah, and then, I just hadn't ... I always follow it up. I'll give that one person the benefit of the doubt that multiple things came in.

Nick: Okay ...

Leah: I'm gonna say, "Did you get it?"

Nick: Right. "Checkin' in. Just want to get to the top of your feed here."

Leah: Yep, and then-

Nick: Okay ...

Leah: -if they respond in a way that I think is acceptable, then we'll move on.

Nick: What's tricky about this is like, for some relationships, when somebody does this, you don't want to keep doing it again, but with a text request, it's sort of like if somebody asks you to send something via text in the future, you still have to just send it to them. You can't withhold the thing, and be like, "Well, you didn't respond to the last thing I sent you, so I'm not going to send you a thing again."

Leah: I mean, you could withhold the thing.

Nick: You just ignore their text?

Leah: I mean ...

Nick: "Hey, send me a photo of your nursery." No response?

Leah: Nope. [laughter] I'm saying this with full knowledge that I would obviously send it-

Nick: You, of all people, would absolutely ... Yes.

Leah: I feel like maybe we should all step into our selves, Leah Bonnema, and be like, "You know what? This person continually does this. I don't need to put my ..." I feel like some people - probably our letter-writer - put their energy into following up with people, sending them the things they want. At a certain point you can be like, "I don't want to do this anymore!"

Nick: Yeah, I'm out. Yeah. So, letter-writer, don't respond anymore. They don't need to see what your nursery looks like. I'm sure it's adorable. They'll never see it.

Leah: It should be shared with people who appreciate it and write back compliments!

Nick: Yes. At the end of the day, you should always focus your efforts on the people that reciprocate.

Leah: How crazy would it be if we turned into honest people, like brutally honest people who texted-

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: I mean, we're already honest, but I mean, who texted things back, like, "I would text it to you, but every time I text you something, you don't text me back, and then I feel uncomfortable, and sad, and I don't want to feel that way anymore, so I'm not sharing any more pictures." [laughter]

Nick: I mean ... I actually-

Leah: I mean, it's honest, and I feel like you could.

Nick: I like that, actually. I feel like if this is somebody who has done this routinely, and you've got the receipts, I think you could say that.

Leah: It's not rude to say that because it's completely honest, and it's from your experience.

Nick: Yeah, no, I think what you said actually was pretty good, if you want to maintain the relationship. Otherwise, I would just cut them loose and reseat them in my theater.

Leah: [laughter]

Nick: But, if you want the ongoing relationship, and their behavior of not responding to theirtext requests really bothers you, I think what you said is great.

Leah: Oh, cool!

Nick: Okay, great!

Leah: Great!

Nick: So, our next question is: "I'm writing because I need your help. My husband died unexpectedly and somewhat traumatically about two years ago. People often ask me how he died when I say that I'm a widow. I hate answering this question because it's so personal and painful, and I don't want people who don't know my husband to define him by the way he died. Is there anything I can say to help avoid answering this question?"

Leah: I'm so sorry for your loss, I would like to say.

Nick: Yes, and up top, thank you for sharing this with us, and trusting us with this question.

Leah: Yes, thank you very much, and very sorry for your loss. Must be very hard. I wrote- I think this is a very easy sentence. I always like to have a sentence when something is hard.

Nick: Yeah, you want something in your back pocket, you can whip out.

Leah: Back pocket, ready to go.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: I just wrote, "Thank you for your support. I'd rather not talk about it."

Nick: That's good. My one sentence was, "Thank you for your concern, but this is a private matter."

Leah: Mmm! Great!

Nick: I think these are two great choices - alternate between them. Then, the key is to repeat because people that are nosy like this usually don't drop it right away. They don't take this hint. They're going to follow up, like, "No, no, no, tell me." I think you just repeat, "Thank you for your concern, but it's a private matter."

Leah: Yep, perfect.

Nick: You just keep saying that over and over until they give up.

Leah: My face just got hot when you said that they're going to keep going. I don't know if you saw that. I felt a flush.

Nick: They will! Well, this comes up with any time there's sort of nosy, overly personal questions from people who have no right to ask you, where, oftentimes, they don't take no for an answer. They keep prying. So, you have to just be persistent. Your tone at the beginning can just be sort of neutral, like, "Thank you for your concern, but, you know, it's private." Then, when they keep asking, you just have to get colder, and colder-

Leah: Right.

Nick: -until they get like, "Oh, I've crossed a line."

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I think that's just what you have to do.

Leah: I think it's very helpful to have these sentences, as you said, in your back pocket, that way, when it comes up, you don't have to think about it. You just say it.

Nick: Yeah, because otherwise ... This is always going to feel startling and a little discombobulating. You're always going to feel a little off balance when someone asks a very rude question like this.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Just having the script ready to roll in your brain is very helpful.

Leah: I think it also will deter people who maybe- who just wanted to be comforting, and then asked the wrong thing because they didn't know what to say. Maybe it just came out of their mouth without them thinking. Then, when you say, "Thank you ..." however you want to say it, then, they could be like, "Oh, of course. So sorry ..." You know?

Nick: Right. You want to at least initially say your back-pocket sentence in a way that doesn't assume malice on their part.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Like, they just misspoke, or they didn't realize that they were being nosy. If they keep asking, then it's like, "Okay, well, now you're aggressively being nosy."

Leah: Then you just go to ice. Ice cold tone.

Nick: Ice is great. Our next question is: "What is the correct way to act when you walk into a room and someone does not notice that you've entered? In my experience, people act annoyed when you announce your presence, but then they act upset when they turn around and realize you've been in the same room with them for an unknown amount of time. How do you handle this situation?"

I'm confused about what's happening [laughter] I'm walking into a room, and there's someone else in this room, and I guess they have their back to me. So, my choice is whether or not I want to make them know I'm there or be very quiet and wait for them to notice me. Is that what's happening?

Leah: Well, I guess my question is also: how many other people are in this room? Is it a party, or is it two people in the middle of the room in a conversation?

Nick: Oh, that's how you picture this? I pictured this as like you're in our apartment, we're roommates, and you're in the living room reading a book. I have entered the living room, but I'm very quiet, and you don't realize that I'm there. I'm just standing there waiting for you to notice that I'm standing. Then, once you notice me, then I'd be like, "Hey ..."

Leah: Do you have a question?

Nick: No, I guess I don't. I'm just saying hey; I'm just letting you know I'm there. That's what I was picturing.

Leah: Oh ...

Nick: Which is a very weird thing.

Leah: I don't think that's what it is because why would you just stand there in a room, when I was reading?

Nick: [Giggling] That's why I think this is very strange ... Leering over you.

Leah: I think this is a social situation. I'd be like- I think you would only do that if you needed something.

Nick: Right, so that I find confusing. So, you think this is like a party? I'm going to a cocktail party.

Leah: I think this is a social situation.

Nick: Okay, so, if you're chatting with a friend, and I've come to this party, and I'm standing to the side, and you don't realize I'm there, I just wait to cut in. Is that ...?

Leah: Well, I thought that was the question. That's how I read the question, in which case, it's like- if that's the question, then I think you can go over to the group chatting, and stand there until there's a lull in the conversation, and say hello.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Because you could be right. It could also be like you walk into the library, and the librarian is facing the other direction.


Leah: You don't want to ding a bell or be like [throat clearing] because you feel rude.

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: But then, also, they're often like, "Oh! You should've let me know you were here!"

Nick: Right. I think it's better to announce yourself than leer and wait for them because I think it's creepy to discover someone has been nearby without your knowledge for an indeterminate amount of time. I think that is more uncomfortable than being interrupted.

Leah: I do think when people are leering, it was just because they felt guilty interrupting.

Nick: Right, but I think, given the choice between these two things, I would rather be interrupted because if you turned around right now, and there was somebody standing behind you, and you did not know how long they were there ...

Leah: I mean if there was somebody standing behind me right now-

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: -I would be about to get murdered.

Nick: But I feel like that's uncomfortable.

Leah: That is definitely uncomfortable.

Nick: Because then, the exchange is awkward, too. They'd be like, "Oh, how long have you been there?"

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Then, you'd have to be like, "Five minutes."

Leah: "Oh, I've been watching you for five minutes."

Nick: Right? "Love what you've done with your hair ..." [Giggling]

Leah: "It looks great from the back."

Nick: So, I think that's what I would do.

Leah: Sometimes, I do a little cough.

Nick: Definitely a cough, a ruffle, a click on the phone.

Leah: Yeah. Maybe, right now, in our history, is not a time to do a cough, but some sort of a noise.

Nick: Yeah, I think you want to make yourself known because, also, the longer you wait and don't make yourself known, just the more awkward it gets. I think it's inverse, proportional awkwardness to time.

Leah: I agree with that. I do think that if this is about coming into a room, you can wave at people and then wait until there's a lull in the conversation and then be like, "Hey!" Because sometimes, people join in the middle of a conversation when two people are right in the middle of saying something, and that's always weird.

Nick: That's weird. Yes, but if this is a social situation where you're trying to cut in, the best thing to do is get everybody's eye contact first, so that they're aware that you're standing there, and then you jump in the conversation.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I don't think, like a ninja, you pop up out of nowhere in the middle of the conversation.

Leah: No, no, no.

Nick: That's weird.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Another idea is- is this in an office, where your boss is at the desk with the back to you and you walk into their office because you need something, and you don't want to interrupt them, but you stand there, I guess, waiting for them to turn around and notice you?

Leah: I think you could do a gentle, quiet knock.

Nick: Oh, that's good. Yeah. If you're entering a room. Yeah, no, that's actually the polite thing. Yeah.

Leah: Because that way, if they're on the phone, or something that you can't see because their back is turned, it won't interrupt that, but then it will let them know that ... I would also like to know if somebody was in the room, in case I did something egregious.

Nick: Whooa ... What kind of egregious thing are you doing, Leah?

Leah: I mean, who knows? I'm on the phone. I say something private, or I start changing. What if I started changing?

Nick: Right?

Leah: You never know.

Nick: Yeah, you definitely never know with you. Yeah. [laughter] Our next thing is a Vent. Here it is-

Leah: I want to say, up top, thank you.

Nick: Thank you. [Giggling] "I live in Philadelphia and have to drive out to the suburbs for work. So, I deal with a lot of bumper-to-bumper city traffic and all the driving etiquette crimes that come with it. There's the double parking, the not moving a little bit over when making a turn, so cars can't get around you. There's the not being ready when the light turns green, not using a blinker, trying to make a turn across multiple lanes of traffic. I could deal with all of these things, but the thing that gets me is when we're at a red light during rush hour, and a car ahead leaves two, sometimes three car lengths between them and the car in front of them. This inevitably causes the car behind them to barely make it past the box and further prevents another car, maybe two, from making it through the intersection before the light turns red.

I do understand that leaving some space between cars is important for safety reasons, but in the city, during rush hour, it seems everyone should just be cognizant of how much space they and their vehicles are taking up. Am I justified in finding this super annoying, or am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Please see the attached drawing for reference. I was most recently car five, but I've also been cars one through three, and cars six through 999 in the past. I would never be car four. We hate car four."

There is a diagram, which I'll post a link to in our show notes. Basically, it's a handwritten diagram showing multiple cars down a block approaching an intersection, and there's a really big gap between car three and four. Car four should pull up - there's too much space - but they're not, and our letter-writer finds this maddening.

Leah: I loved it. I love that we got a diagram.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. Can you picture this?

Leah: I can picture it. I can feel my temperature rising. Of course, it's upsetting. It's like, can't we all just follow the rules of the road when we're all trying to get out of the city? Just pull up a little bit!

Nick: Yeah. That's all you've got to do.

Leah: What's the deal? Are you on the phone? Do you not get how space works? I totally understand.

Nick: But why does this happen?

Leah: I don't understand how somebody cannot understand, if you stay that far back, that the people behind you then are probably going to be back out in ... You're forcing the people behind you to be too far back.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I don't know what's happening! Does science not exist inside that car?

Nick: Some people just aren't good with time and space. They're not good at judging distances.

Leah: Then why are you driving?

Nick: Well, I mean, that's a great question for a lot of people on the road.

Leah: I honestly think it's some people aren't good with time and space, and then they pay extra attention.

Nick: Oh, so, if you know that about yourself, then you have to make an extra effort.

Leah: Yeah. You're like, "Am I too close?" I recently rented a vehicle that was significantly larger than what I'm used to.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I was like, "I don't quite get where I am in space."

Nick: Yeah, I definitely know how that feels, like with a big SUV.

Leah: So, what I did was I paid three times as much attention.

Nick: Yeah, that's good. Yeah.

Leah: Then, I was like ... I want to be in the right place at the right time. Obviously, people are going to mess up, but I think probably that person, that car number four, always does that.

Nick: I feel like sometimes, in our cars, we feel like we're alone, and etiquette doesn't care what you do when you're alone. If you want to eat Oreos out of the garbage, have at it. You're alone. Do it. Etiquette doesn't care.

Leah: Happened to all of us.

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: Happened to all of us. [laughter]

Nick: The problem is, etiquette cares about what happens when you have interactions with other people. I think when we're in our car, we feel like we're in this little bubble, and there aren't other people, and I think we forget that, like, oh, no, no, no, etiquette rules apply. I think this is what happens. We just, like, forget about other people in our cars.

Leah: I think that's right on. It's like we're alone together. We're in our cars alone, but we're together.

Nick: This is why the barbecue rule is so important. Remember the barbecue rule, which is: how you act in your car has to be the way you would act, if you happened to go to the same barbecue as another car?

Leah: Oh, yes, yes, yes.

Nick: You end up at that barbecue, and now you have to see this person at a barbecue all afternoon.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, however you want to run into that person that you just cut off, you want to just know that you're going to run into them at a barbecue.

Leah: I think it's a great rule.

Nick: Act accordingly. Right. So, I am sorry for our letter-writer. This is maddening. We're going to validate you.

Leah: Absolutely maddening.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And I love the diagram.

Nick: Yeah. We love a good visual aid.

Leah: I love a visual aid.

Nick: So, if you have visual aids for us, along with your questions, please send them to us. You can send them to us at our website,, or you can text us, or leave us a voicemail! (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729) We'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

[Instrumental Theme Song]