Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle giving red envelopes in China, reseating people in metaphorical theaters, cancelling on friends, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle giving red envelopes in China, reseating people in metaphorical theaters, cancelling on friends, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
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Nick: Do you put crumpled money in red envelopes? Do you lie about your party plans? Do you give people your garbage? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out!
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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: Let's get in it!
Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about Hongbao. Do you know what this is?
Nick: [laughs] Okay. So this is the Chinese tradition of giving people money in red envelopes. And Hongbao literally means "red envelope" in Mandarin.
Nick: And so you see red envelopes at the most auspicious occasions in China. So weddings, births, graduations, and of course, Lunar New Year. And China doesn't have a lock on red envelopes, but they give billions and billions of them every year, so it is safe to say that red envelopes is definitely a thing in China. And have you seen red envelopes?
Leah: I feel like I have, yes.
Nick: Yeah, you probably have. So here are some things to know about them. So first, a little history. And there's lots of origin stories about how this came about, but one that I like a lot that you come across often is the idea that money was originally intended to protect children from evil spirits. Specifically, there was an evil spirit named Sui, who would come around every New Year's and torment children when they were sleeping.
Nick: And so one set of parents was like, "Well, you know, if our kid doesn't fall asleep, well then we don't have to worry about this demon." So the parents gave their kid coins to play with, with the idea that by playing with coins that would keep them up all night. Well, the kid fell asleep, obviously, because I mean, how fun is coins to play with? But next morning, kid was still there unharmed, and the parents were like, "The coins! It was the coins. The coins protected our kid." And so this is one origin for why we give money at New Year's. It's to protect the children. And originally, coins actually had holes in them, and so they would be given on strings. But cut to today, we put the money in envelopes.
Leah: I like that story.
Nick: Yeah. And actually, even today, some people actually call red envelopes, not red envelopes, but another word which literally translates as "Money to restrain Sui."
Leah: Oh wow!
Nick: Meaning, like, "Oh, here's money that keeps Sui away." So that's sort of interesting. And the red color, this symbolizes a lot of things in China. It symbolizes luck and prosperity. And then the money inside, this symbolizes everything else. And so who gets them? Who gets these envelopes? Well traditionally, red envelopes would be given to younger generations by parents or grandparents or even close neighbors or friends. But they're also given from younger people to elders in sort of like a respect your elders, Confucian relationship sort of thing. So then there's siblings. And in some families, you would actually give a red envelope to a sibling, although some people feel like if it's the same generation, you don't have to give red envelopes.
Nick: And then there's red envelopes that you can give to people who work for you. So like employer to employee. So basically, there's a lot of red envelopes happening. And how much to give? Also very complicated. I mean, it could range from $2 to $200, $1,000. I mean, it really just depends on what your relationship is with these people and a lot of other factors. But the number itself, this is very important. So regardless of what amount it is, the numbers. There's a lot of symbolism in China with numbers. Eight, generally speaking, the luckiest number. Hard to go wrong with eight. And if there's an eight in the number? Also very good. And even digits are typically better than odd digits. So even though 30 is an even number, three is an odd digit. So you'd actually be better off giving somebody $28—because there's an eight in it, than $30—odd digit. But then four, it's an even number, but four is actually very unlucky in China because the word for four in most dialects sounds like the word for death. And so we want to obviously avoid that at an auspicious occasion.
Nick: So that's kind of the basics.
Leah: That is very interesting. And I—it's so cool. I'm immediately like, I'm just gonna stick with $28 if I have to give, because that seems—it's got the eight in it. And it's even.
Nick: Yeah. $8. Also good.
Nick: $800. $888. I'll take it.
Nick: And then when you're giving it, it's always two hands. Two hands giving, two hands receiving. Similar to the business card thing we talked about.
Leah: I was gonna say, "Like the business cards!"
Nick: Same idea, yeah. No, definitely the same energetics with the two-handed thing. And then you don't actually open the red envelope in front of the person who gave it to you. Just thank them for it, and then put it in your pocket and then you can open it later.
Nick: And interestingly, today it is increasingly common for red envelopes to actually be virtual, where you're just like texting somebody money. So loses a little something, I think, when it becomes digital, but that's happening.
Leah: Is there like a picture of the red envelope? Or is it like a ...
Nick: Yeah. So, like, if you're using one of the popular messaging services like Weibo, yeah, it's like a red envelope-looking thing and like, here's your money.
Leah: Oh, okay.
Nick: But it's just—it's no different than just like Venmo-ing somebody.
Leah: You know, I hope that I'm in a situation now where I get to give a red envelope, and I'll know what to do. It seems really cool.
Nick: I'll send you a red envelope, Leah.
Leah: Oh, thank you!
Nick: I mean, does that mean you're my elder, or you're a generation below me?
Leah: [laughs] How about siblings?
Nick: I mean, can you imagine?
Leah: I can imagine, actually.
Nick: [laughs] Yeah, we're kind of there, aren't we?
Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to go deep.
Leah: We have gotten so many messages about this.
Nick: Yeah, we really have. So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about reseating people in the theater.
Leah: You've started a movement with this, I think.
Nick: [laughs] Well—and not an actual theater. The theater of my life.
Leah: The theater of my emotions.
Nick: So this was something I kind of tossed out in a very old episode. And it's not something I invented. Somebody I know who was very wise once introduced this to me, and it really clicked in a very profound way. And so I mentioned it, and it really resonated for, I think, a lot of people because we get a lot of people mentioning it in DMs and emails and handwritten letters that we get. So I thought let's talk about it more.
Leah: I think that's great. It's such a great visual to make sense of the topic.
Nick: Yeah. So I'll just speak for myself, because this is how I think about my relationships and how I think about rearranging people in my life. And so the idea is that we have all sorts of different relationships. And we have people that we’re extremely close to, and we have good friends, and then we have acquaintances. And then we have people that we know but, like, don't know. Like, I know who delivers my mail, but I don't really know anything about her, and we're not gonna have coffee, but that's a relationship I do have.
Nick: And the idea is that all of these people are in a theater. And I'm on stage because everything revolves around me.
Nick: And the idea is that the closest people to me in my life, the most intimate relationships I have, these are people on stage with me. There's not that many people on stage. And that's my core ride or die. And then I have very good friends. These are people in the front row. Then I have people that I know well, they're further back in the orchestra. Then we have acquaintances, they're up in the balcony. And then we have people that I have passing relationships with, like the person who delivers my mail. They might be out in the lobby. And so all of these people are in different spots. And so why I like this metaphor a lot is that it helps me sort of prioritize my time. Like, I want to spend more time maintaining the relationships that I have with the people on stage with me, and I'm less likely to invest a lot of time in the relationships with people who are up in the balcony.
Leah: I think it's such a great visual, and I think for somebody like me who we're putting every single person in the front row, you know what I mean?
Nick: Yeah, it's exhausting.
Leah: It could be somebody you barely know, and if they have something that needs to happen for them, they have to be your front row immediately. You know what I mean? You got to—and so I think it's very helpful to realize not everybody is in your front row. You can't sustain that kind of relationships with the whole world.
Nick: And conversely, we are not in everybody else's front row.
Nick: And so we can't necessarily expect front row treatment from everybody.
Leah: Absolutely. I think that's such a great point. And I know some people who would be more in my row. I'm not in their row, and then I just have to be like, "Okay."
Nick: Yeah, we're not always in the identical seating charts for people. Right.
Leah: And then maybe that gives you permission to recede because you're like, "Oh, I don't really want to have a front row if I'm not in their front row because it's sort of exhausting to be the only one maintaining the relationship."
Nick: Bingo. Yes. I think a lot of times when we realize that, "Oh, I'm in a different seat in your theater, and that is why you're not making any effort at this relationship," then that gives me permission to reseat you as well.
Nick: And it's like, "Oh, okay. We're not front row people. That's cool. Then I'm gonna put you in my balcony."
Leah: Yeah. It's so funny. I would love to know if in your brain you're seeing the same theater as I'm seeing, because I'm seeing people moving around in a physical theater through this conversation in my mind.
Nick: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, actually, I'm picturing the Metropolitan Opera auditorium.
Leah: Oh, that's nice.
Nick: It's a big space. Yeah.
Leah: Very nice.
Nick: But it has really nice wood paneling, a really rich red carpeting, a lot of opportunities to receive people. A lot of different tiers, a lot of balconies, a lot of different levels.
Leah: I love it.
Nick: And then why this is an etiquette thing is that when there's an etiquette crime, often how we want to handle this crime depends on where someone's seated in our theater. Like, if somebody is on stage with us and there's an etiquette crime, we probably don't want to toss away that relationship. We might want to have that polite-yet-direct conversation with them about, like, "Oh, this thing happened. Let's talk about it."
Nick: But if there's an etiquette crime with a perfect stranger, this is somebody who's not even in your theater, they're out on the street. Well, you know, that's maybe a different etiquette response. Maybe we just let it go. Oh, somebody made some rude comment to you on the subway? Just walk away. So I think often, the seating chart can inform how we want to feel about an etiquette crime.
Leah: Yeah, I love that. I think that's perfect.
Nick: And when we're doing a reseating, I think a lot of times we have the desire to make a grand announcement about it. And when we're reseating, we actually don't want to do that. And so much of etiquette is not satisfying and is about not giving people closure. And this is one of those times where you're like, you're not gonna give somebody closure. You're just gonna reseat them. Not tell them they've been resat, but just start treating them according to their new seat. And so if this was a good friend who did something and you're moving them to the balcony, well then just treat them like a balcony person. Just don't put in as much effort as you would with an orchestra person.
Leah: Yeah, you don't have to be rude or impolite. You're just—it's just less.
Nick: Yes. Yeah. Oh, this is never about being rude to anybody. This is just sort of how much effort you want to put into a relationship. You must treat everybody with kindness, and you must be cordial to everybody in your life.
Nick: Unless they really don't even deserve a basic courtesy—which happens. There are certainly people who don't even deserve that, but for the most part, we should treat everybody with respect and be cordial. But it's just, you know, somebody who makes no effort to reply to your dinner party invitation, well, you know, then you're in my balcony. I'm not gonna make more of an effort, and happy to see you at the holiday party of our mutual friend once a year.
Leah: Yeah, we'll say hi. It'll be nice.
Nick: "How are you? How was your year? So nice to see you."
Nick: And then that's it. Enjoy your time in the balcony.
Leah: I also think that when people are being resat and we're not announcing it, if you sort of pull back on a relationship, deep inside people know why.
Nick: Yes. Yes, I think so. I mean, I think people get the hint, yeah.
Leah: And if they don't notice, you know ...
Nick: Then that's also fine.
Leah: Yeah, it's fine.
Nick: And I have definitely been resat in other people's theaters, and I can take that hint. In which case it's like, "Oh, okay. That's a wedding I should have been invited to and I wasn't. Oh, I didn't realize that my tickets got swapped." And you're like, "Okay, this is my new seat."
Nick: And, you know, you gotta be in a good place with that.
Leah: I for sure have been resat.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, we all have. It's what it is. I mean, you cannot expect to always have the same seat forever in everybody's theater. But if you feel like you're in somebody's theater and you really want to go from the balcony to the orchestra with somebody, you can also make an effort to upgrade your seat.
Leah: You can. And it's possible, though, that you can make all that effort and try, and they just don't have the bandwidth in their life. And that's what it is.
Nick: Yes. There may not be enough seats, yeah. It could be one of those cabarets where they take out half the seats so they can put in little tables.
Leah: Yes, they have cabaret seats. I feel like that's the right way to think about it. This person has cabaret seating. This has nothing to do with me.
Nick: No, it's just the seating chart is just what it is. Yeah.
Leah: They had to have room for the waitstaff to go in between the tables. Obviously, I just don't fit. It's not personal. I think it's a great point that the reason this is an etiquette is because it has to do with how would we then respond to an issue where they are in our theater?
Nick: Yes. Yes, exactly.
Leah: And if something comes up multiple times, and we've tried to address it in a polite-yet-direct way, then we can reseat. That's—we don't have to keep putting ourselves in the situation that isn't—doesn't make us feel good or it's not kind and polite. We can just reseat after we've tried many times.
Nick: Yes. It dovetails with boundary setting. Like, if somebody crosses a boundary and that's it for you, well then yes, they don't deserve that seat. And this gives you permission to think about somebody in a new way.
Leah: Yeah. For somebody like me who we feel like we are being rude if we reseat for whatever reason. Oh, I went to this person's wedding. Oh, I worked with them for five years. And then we feel like we're being rude people by reseating when really, I think as you so perfectly described, it's just the amount of energy we're putting into people, and everybody just can't be in the front. And if somebody continually sort of either makes you feel bad or isn't putting in the same amount of energy, you're allowed to reseat and it's not being rude.
Nick: Yeah. I guess at the end of the day, reseating is not rude.
Leah: And I think that's very hard, especially for somebody like me to not feel rude if you don't give a hundred percent of yourself to every single person you've ever met. And you just can't do it.
Nick: Right. Yes, it is impossible. I mean, it's exhausting. And many people try. I think many people try.
Leah: And also then you end up expecting other people to give a hundred percent of themselves to every person, and nobody can do that.
Nick: Also unrealistic.
Nick: So at the end of the day, this theater metaphor helps me sort of prioritize my time. And it also helps me be less bothered by etiquette crimes that happen further from the stage. And that really helps me think about relationships and sort of helps me get through the day. So hopefully this is useful to somebody else.
Leah: Well, I think it's great, and I think that by the amount of response we've gotten to this and how many people have, you know, used it in their wording of messages to us, you can see how it's really resonated. I mean, I visually see it now with people. I'll be like, "Oh, this is a front-seater. I'm excited!"
Nick: Yeah. Or something happens and you're like, "Ooh."
Leah: Oh. And then I still feel guilty, but I tell myself, Nick would make it okay.
Nick: [laughs] Whatever you got to say to yourself.
Leah: No, you would tell me to get rid of people.
Nick: Yeah. No, there's definitely been a lot of people in your life where I was like, "Get rid of them."
Nick: "Get rid of them! You don't need that! Mm-mm." Yeah. No, I'm a great ticket-taker. Yeah, I got a little vest. Yeah, I got the playbills. Yeah, I'm happy to work anybody's theater, just let me know.
Leah: Bring Nick into your theater. He'll move everybody around.
Nick: Yeah. I got the little flashlight. I'm gonna look at your tickets. I'll be like, "Oh, these are the wrong seats, sir. Come with me."
Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.
Nick: So our first question is quote, "My partner and I had a New Year's Eve party at our house. One couple—we'll call them Chad and Lisa—said they weren't coming the day before because they wanted a quiet evening at home, which I totally get. However, the day of the party, other friends of ours—we'll call them Bob and Carol—asked if they could come early because they needed to leave early so they could go to Chad and Lisa's place. I was rather taken aback by something that I considered to be incredibly rude. There is quite a bit of consternation in our home as to whether a breach of etiquette was committed and if so, by whom. We have decided that we would ask you to be the judge and jury, and we will respect your ruling."
Leah: Judge and jury!
Nick: How about executioner?
Nick: [laughs] Oh, the power, Leah. The power!
Leah: I mean, I feel very definite about this.
Nick: So interesting. I guess my first question is: has an etiquette crime been committed?
Leah: I would say yes.
Nick: So there are definitely some possibilities here. One of the possibilities is that Chad and Lisa were always gonna be having this party and you were not invited, and they decided to lie to you.
Leah: Yeah, it seems like dishonesty is the crime being committed.
Nick: Yeah. No, I think that's on the table. Now benefit of the doubt, when Chad and Lisa said, "Oh, you know, we're just gonna have a quiet evening at home," that was true at the time, but then they decided, "You know what? Actually, we would like to have some people over." But because you were already having a party of your own, and because they already declined your invitation, then they didn't tell you. Do we live in this world? Is this possible?
Leah: It's possible. I still think it's—I still think it's rude.
Nick: Okay. So I guess either way, there's deceit here.
Leah: It's the deceit. There is deceit regardless.
Leah: There's deceit across the board.
Nick: Yeah. So I guess deceit is rude.
Nick: Yeah, it is rude.
Leah: Inevitably, you—close friends, you're having a party. Everyone knows you're having the party.
Leah: So what's really happening is an alternative gathering has been pulled over to this other area that started out as a "We can't come, we're having a quiet evening at home." Whatever the explanation is, if it is this, "Oh, we were gonna have this and then we did this thing," there should have been some kind of a conversation.
Nick: Especially since we have friends in common. Bob and Carol are here.
Leah: They knew Bob and Carol were going.
Nick: Of course. Of course!
Leah: And I don't think it's Bob and Carol. Bob and Carol probably didn't know what Chad and Lisa had started.
Nick: Well, good question. Because when was Chad and Lisa's party scheduled for? Because it sounds like Chad and Lisa RSVPed, but then changed their mind.
Nick: And so when did Chad and Lisa decide to have the party?
Leah: Well, even if it's just a small get together, I think that Bob and Carol, they were just like, "Hey, we're gonna go there and we're gonna go there."
Nick: But Bob and Carol hypothetically RSVPed to our letter-writer first, and then got this later invitation from Chad and Lisa.
Leah: But I feel like if you're upfront about that, you're allowed to do that.
Nick: If you're up front about it. But on some level, Bob and Carol committed to our letter-writer. "Yes, we would be delighted to join you for New Year's Eve."
Leah: Oh, and then changed their mind later.
Nick: And then Chad and Lisa came along and they're like, "Well, we're also gonna have a party, and you know we give good parties." And then Bob and Carol were like, "Oh. Actually, Chad and Lisa's party? That's gonna be a way more fun place to be at midnight. So we'll pop by our letter-writer's place early in the evening, have a little champagne, and then get out of there for the good party."
Leah: I feel like what Bob and Carol do doesn't bother me as much, because at least it's honest.
Nick: It is more honest, yes. Okay, so we're gonna give them a pass today.
Leah: Because as far as we know, maybe Chad and Lisa live right next to their house and they're like, "We'll swing by on the way home. We want to be in bed at 12:02."
Nick: Okay, fine. All right. That is a world we could live in, sure.
Leah: We could live in that world.
Nick: Chad and Lisa? Yeah, they're the criminals here.
Leah: And for sure criminals for judge, jury and executioner.
Nick: But then why is there consternation, and why do we need to be a judge and jury here? This feels very obvious.
Leah: Because I think they were trying to give their friends the benefit of the doubt. It's hard when it's your close friends because you want to be like, "You know what, they just wanted a quiet evening at home. And then maybe, you know—" it's just organic. Nobody thought of it. I for sure think of thousands of reasons why when somebody does something that hurts my feelings, it wasn't really rude. I always do that. And I think that's why there's a third party being involved.
Nick: Okay, so what do we want to do about it?
Leah: I mean, do we just not want to invite Chad and Lisa moving forward?
Nick: I mean, our options are to do nothing. We can have a polite-yet-direct conversation with them about, like, what went down. Or we can just reseat them in our theater.
Leah: Hmm. Great callback.
Nick: Mm-hmm. I guess those are your options, yeah.
Leah: I think those—all three options work.
Nick: I think I would like to probably get together with Chad and Lisa for brunch, and just bring up New Year's and be like, "How was your New Year's party? We're so sorry you couldn't come. We heard you also had an event. We're a little confused."
Leah: Or we could say, "Hey, Bob and Carol told us they were going over. Sort of hurt our feelings because you had said that you weren't coming over because you just wanted to stay—have a quiet evening at home." And give them—just be very direct about it, and then give them the opportunity to explain exactly what happened.
Nick: Because we all know Bob and Carol, you're not gonna have a quiet evening with Bob and Carol.
Leah: No. They're partiers.
Nick: They're wild. They're wild!
Leah: It's gonna be pin the tail on the donkey. It's gonna be ...
Leah: Ugh! What's that one where you have to go—this always stressed me out where, like, you pull a chair away and everybody has to sit down.
Nick: Musical chairs?
Leah: Musical chairs. So stressful. When is the music gonna stop? I don't know! Should I sit early?
Nick: So I'm sorry this happened.
Leah: I'm very sorry it happened.
Nick: I would definitely rethink our guest list in the future, because if you invite Chad and Lisa, they're gonna have an alternative party and try to siphon off half your guest list.
Leah: But if they're close friends and it hurts your feelings, I think it's totally fair to be like, "This hurt my feelings. What happened here?"
Nick: Yeah. Okay, so those are—those are, I think, good options.
Leah: But for sure, it was rude.
Nick: It was definitely rude. Absolutely.
Leah: I'm gonna have a new thing that's F.S.R.: For Sure Rude.
Nick: [laughs] Okay.
Leah: That was FSR.
Nick: Um, I don't know if that's gonna catch on.
Leah: Yes! FSRed! [laughs]
Nick: Oh, that's even worse.
Nick: Wow! Past tense.
Leah: "I got FSRed."
Nick: Okay, we're gonna workshop that and put that on the whiteboard, but I don't think it's gonna be a pillow in our store anytime soon.
Leah: I'm gonna have to write it down so I try to work it into another conversation.
Nick: Okay. Audience, get ready. FSR coming your way.
Nick: Our next question is quote, "I used to volunteer at a second-hand charity—sort of like a goodwill shop. And my coworkers used to drag in bags and bags of clothing to give me, which was often easier for them to do than drop them off at the charity themselves. The charity was located down several flights of stairs, and it was very difficult for me to drag the bags down myself. One co-worker even had me back up my car to her car trunk so we could transfer her trunk load of bags to my trunk instead of having to carry them into work. I no longer volunteer at this charity, and I've made that known to all my coworkers, but my coworkers still bring me bags of used clothes to donate to the charity.
Nick: "As I work in a hospital, I've taken them to the children's ward to see if they might need the clothes—they don't—and I've asked the cleaning staff if they could use them—they don't. And I'm still left with bags and bags of clothes dumped at my desk. I firmly told my coworkers that I don't want or need used clothes, and I no longer volunteer at the charity, but nothing seems to help. They say that I can just find another charity to donate them to in my area. I've taken to just dumping used clothes in the trash since I don't want to deal with them. What can I say to make them stop dumping used clothes at my desk?"
Leah: Who are these people? I would love to follow these people home, and just see how they're living their—what's their day-to-day life like where they're just dropping clothes off on people's desks who don't even volunteer at a place anymore after they've been told not to do that? I mean ...
Leah: I just wrote next to it, "What's happening here?"
Nick: What I love is like, "Oh. Well, you don't work there anymore? That's cool. You'll find somewhere else."
Leah: Yeah, what is that? You find somewhere else. You find somewhere else.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, what can I say? I mean, I feel like you've said what you should say, which is, "I don't work there. I don't—I can't help you here."
Leah: You said, "I don't work there," and you've been like, "Please stop bringing me clothes." And then people—I almost feel like at this point, it's like we have to, like, next level our response.
Nick: Well, I imagine that I step into the break room to get a cup of water, and I come back and my cubicle is full of trash bags full of used clothes.
Leah: That's what I imagine as well.
Nick: That somebody just dumped them there and, like, left. And I don't even know where it's from, but I just can't even get to my desk. It's just like full of trash bags, full of chenille sweaters.
Leah: I imagine that as well. I think, though, that we probably have an idea who it is. I almost feel like we're at the point where we take it back to them and say, "Please don't put this on my desk. I don't work there anymore. I have nowhere to put this, but thank you for being interested." And we give it back.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, I think you definitely give it back. Because once you take it, it is your problem.
Leah: And they're gonna keep doing it.
Nick: Yes. I mean, I think you have to teach people how you want to be treated. So I think we need to teach people that you don't take their trash anymore.
Leah: I think it's so rude what these people are doing, and I'm very sorry basically that you're volunteering at this place, you've been helpful, people weren't even carrying it down the stairs and you've been helpful, and now you're being essentially punished for that. And I'm very sorry.
Nick: No good deed goes unpunished.
Leah: When I read this, I in my head heard you responding that. "No good deed." I was like, Nick thinking "No good deed."
Nick: No, and it's really true. Yeah, I think you just have to set firmer boundaries. I mean ...
Leah: I mean, it's unfortunate because you've set two boundaries. You said, "I don't work there anymore," and then you've said, "Please don't." So now we have to unfortunately physically take these clothes and drop them on somebody's desk.
Nick: We have to physically give them back and be like, "No."
Leah: No, I'm not doing this anymore.
Nick: "So sorry. Cannot help you." And I guess if you wanted to make it a little more polite, I think you would include details on where they can go. "Here's the address of where you can take this."
Leah: I mean, you could do that.
Nick: [laughs] No? You don't even want to give that?
Leah: I honestly feel like these people, these are the people who said "Find somewhere else to take it."
Nick: Yeah. Yeah.
Leah: Because then I really feel like these people are gonna be like, "Well, why don't you take it there?"
Nick: Yeah. "If you know where it is, it's just easier for you to do it."
Leah: I think you're gonna have to say, "Why would I take your stuff?"
Nick: Yeah. No. Yeah, I guess it's people like this, logic doesn't really work.
Leah: We're gonna have to—it's like a heavy hammer.
Nick: Yeah. So I think you have to somehow put a gate in front of your desk area.
Leah: Some sort of Plexiglas.
Nick: Or maybe a "No Dumping" sign?
Leah: I think you have to have a sign. "Please do not leave clothes for Goodwill. I'm no longer volunteering there."
Nick: Yeah, a permanent sign where this is happening? That might actually do the trick, yeah.
Leah: And then if people still drop it off, take it back to them.
Nick: Yeah. And clarify.
Leah: And say, "Hey. Oh, maybe you didn't see the sign. I'm not volunteering there anymore. I'm unable to take your clothes in. Thank you." Boom.
Nick: Boom. Yeah, I think that's the best you can do. Beyond that? I mean, I think there are no other options.
Leah: There are no other options.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, at some point, it's hard to be polite.
Leah: It is very hard. It's like people are testing you.
Nick: Yes, this is a test. And so far you're passing.
Leah: I mean, you've excelled.
Nick: So do you feel tested? Let us know. You can let us know through our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW.
Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent.
Leah: [whispers] Vent or repent!
Nick: Which is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette experience we've had recently. Or we can repent for some etiquette faux pas we've committed. So Leah, would you like to vent or repent?
Leah: Oh, I'm gonna vent.
Nick: All right!
Leah: This falls into the category where as it's happening, I'm feeling very uncomfortable, and then I'm talking myself out of it, and then I feel guilty for feeling uncomfortable. Which I think is—I really gotta work on that and just allow myself to be extremely irritated.
Nick: [laughs] Yes, that's what this show is for!
Leah: Yes! I always just feel slightly guilty feeling irritated. But then I just gotta let it go. So I've been traveling 15 hours.
Leah: I get into the airport. I have two—I'm carrying a lot of stuff, you know? And I treat myself to a car service, which I won't say the name.
Leah: You know, it's on an app. I get into the car. Lovely car. Lovely driver. I feel safe. You know what I mean? It's good driving. And then he starts telling me about his family and his life. And I'm trying—you know, I'm exhausted, but I'm trying to be supportive and, like, engaging in the conversation.
Nick: Which is really what you want after traveling for 15 hours.
Leah: But I feel rude being like, "You know what? I can't—I can't support your life right now." I don't want to say that. I just want to—you know, everybody needs an ear sometimes, so I'm trying to do that. And then he gets on about the financing of car services and how much percentage he gets versus—and he thinks he's being ripped off. And then he wants me to tell him how much I'm paying for this car service so he can tell me the percentage of which he's getting.
Leah: So then I was like, "Oh." You know, I'm trying to sort of be polite, but then sort of disengage myself. And then I was like, "Oh, I was traveling for 15 hours." So then he starts, "Oh, it's so amazing that you get to travel." And I was like, "I was traveling for work." And then he starts commenting on, like, how good of a life I have. So very uncomfortable.
Leah: You know, and then how he's not getting enough money. And then he drops me off at my apartment and he's like—you know, it's like three o'clock in the morning, and you can't even see my apartment building. He's like, "Oh, you live in such a nice place." Like, he's cornering for a tip, you know? A long day of traveling and work, and you just want to go home and then you're trying to be friendly. And then all of a sudden you feel guilty for taking the service that you're paying for. And I don't want to feel that way. Like, what's happening?
Nick: Well, being friendly was your first mistake.
Leah: [laughs] I can't—like, I was just like—and I didn't want to say, "This is rude. Stop it."
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I definitely can see that the idea of having been traveling for 15 hours and now it's in the middle of the night and you're exhausted, it's sort of like your options feel very limited in terms of, like, what you're prepared just to do. And sometimes just like, making the small talk and just being like, "Uh-huh. Uh-huh," is kind of the extent.
Leah: And then also, I don't think it's appropriate that I will talk about the financing of somebody else's job.
Nick: I don't love that.
Leah: And of course I want to be supportive of people and everything they're going through, and if something's unfair, you know what I mean? But I don't know if it's an appropriate thing to tell me at three o'clock in the morning, and then compliment my apartment building that you clearly can't see because it's the middle of the night. I felt it was like this angling for extra tips that made me so uncomfortable.
Nick: Yeah. And you probably still tipped and probably tipped well.
Leah: Of course I still tipped.
Leah: Of course I tipped. But I was just like, "Rude!"
Nick: Well, I'm sorry this happened.
Leah: It is rude!
N:L Yes. Yes. No, you were made to feel very uncomfortable, and that is inherently rude.Yes.
Leah: Imagine if I was like, "Oh, you want to know how we get paid in comedy? You just made more than I could make in three hours on this trip. So how about we flip it and you feel bad for me?
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, and then he should have tipped you.
Leah: He should have tipped me. I just listened to—I just played a therapist for an hour.
Nick: Yeah. Oh, that's a good point, yeah. You should turn it around next time.
Leah: [laughs] I just got your whole family backstory.
Nick: Or really, maybe you should actually just start driving one of these app-based car services. You'll make more money.
Leah: I should just start driving and be like, "Hey."
Nick: So for me, I would also like to vent. And so a few friends were visiting New York from out of town, and I had planned a dinner for them and some friends that they know who live in New York all together. And let's call them Chad and Lisa. And so Chad? Chad has, I would say, unadventurous tastes. He's not really interested in going to a restaurant that only has one location. So this is Chad. This is what Chad is interested in.
Nick: So we had a lot of negotiation back and forth about, oh, what restaurant would be good, and what cuisine, and what time, and what neighborhood was convenient for them. And so a lot of back and forth, more so than is ever necessary just to schedule dinner for five, but here we are. So we ultimately settled on a restaurant that I don't really enjoy, but it's fine. It's not great. It's average to below average, but they sell food and they put it on plates and okay. I mean, personally, if I'm gonna spend the money and the calories, I would definitely prefer something else. But this is a get together with friends. It's not about having a transcendent culinary experience, so okay, fine.
Nick: So cut to the evening of the dinner, it's 30 minutes before we're all gonna meet, and I get a text message from Lisa. "Hey, Chad's tired from our day, so we're gonna skip dinner. Have fun!" And now? Now it's eight o'clock on a Friday night in New York City, and we're not gonna late cancel on this restaurant and go somewhere better. Although it's eight o'clock on a Friday night in New York City so, like, there is nowhere else to go. So now the rest of us are at a restaurant none of us wanted to be at, having a meal none of us wanted to be having because you made us, and now you're not even coming.
Leah: Oh, unbelievable!
Leah: You set it up all around them and then they were like, "You know what? We're good, but thanks!"
Nick: And the fact that I have this podcast is also not a secret, and so I actually think that these etiquette crimes that happen to me are worse because you know I am involved with a show about etiquette. So you know I have a lot of thoughts and interests in behaving nicely and politely and with respect and kindness to other people. And so when you do this to me specifically, you know what you're doing, right? You have to know.
Leah: I think they don't know. I think they're like, "Why would you not set it up around me and then I could back out last minute?"
Nick: I mean, yeah. I guess. Yeah, okay.
Leah: I mean, they're gonna know now.
Nick: I mean, will they? They clearly don't listen to the show, because anybody who listens to the show, not gonna do this.
Leah: That's a very good point. I mean, you sometimes wonder how far people's—"Oh, that's—I wouldn't—I don't do that. That's not me."
Nick: Oh, that's true. Well, listeners? Any time you're listening to our show and be like, "I would never do that," you probably have.
Nick: [laughs] But also what made it bad is that they didn't apologize when they canceled.
Leah: They were just like, "Have a great time!"
Nick: It was just like, "Have fun! Bye!" Super casual. "Have a great time! See you!" And it's like, great. Thank you so much.
Leah: So hard not to respond. "Oh, so sad you can't make it because we came here just for you."
Nick: Yeah. "So sorry you can't join us for this thing that was exclusively set up for your benefit and we all hate to be here and you're forcing us to do it anyway now, and we will resent you forever. Bye!"
Leah: [laughs] How fun would it be if we just started saying things like that to people when we felt it?
Nick: I mean, that's my internal monologue.
Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?
Leah: I learned all about red envelopes and Chinese New Year, and even numbers, especially eights. And definitely no fours.
Nick: [laughs] Exactly. Hongbao! And I learned that even after being in transit for 15 hours, you're still gonna listen to somebody's life story.
Leah: [laughs] Yes, it's very true.
Nick: Well, thank you, Leah.
Leah: Thank you, Nick.
Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery if I could.
Leah: He would!
Nick: I would. So for your homework this week, we would love it if you would go to our website, click on "Monthly Membership," and see if that's something you'd like to do. We got a lot of adorable content over on our Patreon, and we would love to share it with you.
Leah: Yeah, and I just got a new iPad, so I'm actually gonna be able to respond with emojis, which I really felt was lacking from my computer from 1965.
Nick: That was what was missing from your Commodore 64. That's true.
Nick: And we'll see you next time.
Nick: All right, Leah. It's time for Cordials of Kindness, the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!
Leah: I have a huge kindness, gracious thank you so much to my parents: Melody and Garrett Bonnema.
Leah: I just spent the most wonderful chunk of time with them, and I'm so absolutely grateful.
Nick: That's very nice! And we got a great Cordials of Kindness from you all, which is quote, "My two-month-old baby was fussing in the car until I put on your podcast. She quieted down immediately, and when I checked the rearview mirror, she was happily smiling. Coincidence? I think not! I imagine it's your lovely voices and congenial conversation that calmed her. She'll be an etiquette pro in no time. Thank you."
Nick: That's very nice.
Leah: So nice! I immediately get this visual of this happy, smiling baby, and I love it so much.
Nick: Oh, I love that. Oh, that's really wonderful. So thank you. That makes our day.
Leah: Thank you!