Aug. 3, 2020

Handling Mothers-In-Law, Disobeying Gift Instructions, Exiting Gracefully, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about replying to voicemails with text messages, handling mother-in-laws who don't respect your wishes, making graceful exits, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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  • Can you reply to a voicemail with a text message?
  • What do you do about a mother-in-law who refuses to accept you haven't taken your husband's last name?
  • What snacks do you have to offer your guests?
  • Are you allowed to ignore a host's instructions about what gifts to buy for a baby shower?
  • How do you make a graceful exit when your host won't stop talking?
  • Vent: A Christmas dinner gone horribly wrong




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Musical Interlude]

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 let's just get right down to it!

Leah: Let's get in it! These are great questions!

Nick: These are good ones, yeah. For our first question: "If you missed someone's call and get a voicemail, is it rude to answer their question via text? Specifically, I just dropped off a welcome basket to some new neighbors who then called to say thank you. Do I need to acknowledge their voicemail at all, or would that be like sending a you're welcome note? If I have to reply, is it okay for me to text them back instead of calling? What say you?"

Leah: You know, I think it's fine to text back.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay. Well, why do you feel that way?

Leah: Because, in this situation, our letter-writer is just letting the person know that they received the message. There's no information being ... They don't have to have a conversation about something.

Nick: Right. Okay. So, you feel like a text is okay.

Leah: I also live in a world of text.

Nick: That's true. You're a texter. Yeah, that's like a default mode for you.

Leah: The only time people call is if there's like a negotiation that has to happen.

Nick: [Giggling] Ohh! That sounds a little shifty. Okay.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: I guess I see actually two questions here. The first is just the: do you have to acknowledge a thank you voicemail? I think you don't have to, but it's nice if you did. I think the thank-you voicemail is a complete event, like a thank you note; we don't respond to that, so that logic, I think, also applies.

Leah: Oh, okay. I would definitely acknowledge it.

Nick: What would you say then?

Leah: "Got your message. Delighted you enjoyed it. You're welcome!"

Nick: Yeah. I think that's perfectly nice. Okay, fine. The second question, though, is: can you respond via text when you get a voicemail, in general? I don't know.

Leah: I think if there's no negotiations happening [Giggling]

Nick: Yeah [Giggling]

Leah: "Yeah, Friday works." Boom.

Nick: Uh, okay ... I mean, I guess I believe that we always want to respond in the same mode of the original message. If you send me an email, I'm going to reply via email. You send me a text; I'm going to reply via text. You call me, I'm going to call you back. In general, I kind of like to keep it parallel.

Leah: I see that, and I think that's great.

Nick: But I know this is also sort of generational that, you know, the kids today, they're happy to text for anything.

Leah: I do think it's nice, what you said, to respond in the same way that it came in. I'm still going to-

Nick: However ... [Giggling]

Leah: However, I'm probably going to slip it into a text if I can. [Giggling]

Nick: I think it comes down to what is your relationship with this person, and how casual is this interaction?

Leah: Right.

Nick: If it's just like, "Hey, I left you a voicemail ..." Although, it would actually be insane for me to leave you a voicemail seeing if you're free on Friday. I would totally just text this to you. That's not a voicemail I'm going to leave you, right?

Leah: No, I think that this person is talking about things like that, in which case, if it's a voicemail that requires information, then I have to call back.

Nick: Yeah. I guess, if you took the time to call me in the first place and leave me a voicemail, clearly this wasn't something that you could send me via text or we don't have a texting relationship, right?

Leah: I don't know. I get the idea that they're asking about things, like, "Friday was great. Let's do Friday," and then, I could text back, "Okay!"

Nick: Okay. I see what you're saying.

Leah: Because you can't text back full conversations.

Nick: Oh, people do!

Leah: If I have to have a conversation, I'm going to call.

Nick: It can be done.

Leah: It can be done, but I mean-

Nick: Oh, yeah. No, I've seen essays.

Leah: I would call back-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: -if it was that kind of a conversing.

Nick: Now, how do you feel about the auto text replies to a call, which is like, "I'm busy, I'll call you later!" via text? You know, like Apple, the iPhone, has the ability to send an automatic message for calls.

Leah: I don't think I've ever gotten one of those.

Nick: Oh, I have. I don't care for it. It feels very stark.

Leah: [Laughing] I don't care for it! Yeah. I don't think I would care for it either.

Nick: No, I don't! No- you've never seen this. You'll call someone, and as it's still ringing, you get a text from the person being like, "I'm busy, I'll try you later ..."

Leah: No!

Nick: -or whatever they preprogrammed.

Leah: No!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Oh, wow!

Nick: Yeah. I would rather you just let it go to voicemail. I don't need this text saying that you're unavailable. I got it. You didn't pick up.

Leah: Yeah, no, I haven't seen that!

Nick: Yeah, it's a thing. I think people have very strong feelings about this either way, but my feeling is I don't like it.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: Our next question is: "When I got married, I chose to keep my own last name and everyone in my husband's family knows this. However, whenever my mother-in-law sends me mail or packages, she always changes my last name to theirs. I feel like she's taking away my identity when she does this. That's not my name. Should I just let this slide or is there a polite way to remind her that I don't share their last name?" Hmm.

Leah: Hmm!

Nick: Leah, do you have thoughts about taking a man's name?

Leah: You know I do! That being said-

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: That being said, in this situation?

Nick: Yeah?

Leah: I always feel with our partners' families, in something like this, I would let it slide.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. I think that is definitely one of your better options here, correct.

Leah: Because when you write them back, and it's your name on the card, or the return, you can put your name how you want to put it.

Nick: Yes, and I'm sure our letter-writer is doing that-

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I mean, I think the first question is: do we give the mother-in-law the benefit of the doubt that she doesn't know, or is this is a pretty passive-aggressive strategy to basically be like, "I don't approve of this!"

Leah: Of course she knows!

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: Of course, she knows!

Nick: Yeah, she does. Yeah. Interestingly, I Googled this topic just to see ... This is obviously not the first time this has happened with mothers-in-law, so I just wanted to see, how do other people handle this? The number of mothers-in-law out there that are purposely using not the name. Quite a few.

Leah: Oh, I can imagine.

Nick: This is happening across the country. A lot of Reddit threads about this. Yes. So, if your mother-in-law, we're on to you. We know ... We know what you're doing.

Leah: That's why I think you could just let it slide because she's just ... You know what I mean?

Nick: I think you do need to let it slide because let's say you bring it up, and you correct this behavior? She still doesn't like you [Laughing] She'll find some other way to get at you.

Leah: She's going to do it again!

Nick: Yeah, so, it's not going to make her like you. You might get your packages addressed differently.

Leah: It's not that she doesn't like you. It's that she wants you to have their last name.

Nick: There's also that, yeah.

Leah: Because that's how it was done when she did it!

Nick: Yep. Yep. Tradition!

Leah: She's taking it personal. She's making it about her name, as opposed to ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: That's why I think just write it on ... When you send things, you write it your way.

Nick: Yeah. The other strategies that did come up, online, is if you get packages or mail addressed to you using your not-maiden name, just send it back. Return to sender.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: No such addressee, and be like, "That'll teach her!"

Leah: But then, what if it was something you really wanted, and they just don't send it back to you?

Nick: Well, yeah ... That's the hazard.

Leah: I mean, I guess you could do that, if that was ... How much does it matter? I'm not asking because I know, you know what I mean? I'm asking because our letter-writer ... Is this the be-all, end-all? If so-

Nick: Yeah. Is this the hill you want to die on? I mean, if it really matters to you, then I think you do need to have a nice conversation that is polite yet direct about why this is happening and how it makes you feel.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: But, unless you want to have that conversation, then, yeah, you just have to let it go, and be like, "Ehh, this is pretty common. I'm not alone."

Leah: Yeah, because I would have that with the people at work. I would have that with business, and friends ... But with mothers-in-law ...

Nick: Yeah. That comes with the territory.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: But I think, if you're a mother-in-law, and you do this? Don't be clichÈ. Don't be clichÈ. Just use the name that they want.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: Just do it. Yeah. Our next question is: "My family recently moved into a house on a private lake. It's a fantastic house and many friends have expressed interest in coming to hang out and go swimming. I put an open invitation on Facebook, so these friends are not just inviting themselves. My question is how to handle food and snacks during these get-togethers. At the moment, I assume they'll bring snacks for themselves and their kids, but I also have popsicles and lemonade available. Should I have other snacks? My kids are only allowed to eat fruit as a snack during the day, so I'm not accustomed to keeping all the food other kids eat, like fruit snacks, granola bars, or crackers in my home." Hmm! What is the menu for a lake house, Leah?

Leah: I think our letter-writer is so kind and generous.

Nick: Yeah, I want to go to a lake house!

Leah: They're inviting people out to their home.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So, I feel like you can say to people ... I don't even think you have to provide snacks. You're letting people get in your lake. I mean! What I would do for a lake right now?

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: I think to say, "Please come out. I have popsicles and lemonade available. If you would like other things, feel free to bring it."

Nick: Yeah. I think the first thing is don't assume people are just going to bring snacks. If I'm invited to your home, I'm not bringing snacks automatically. It wouldn't occur to me, like, oh, I need to bring my own snacks, if I'm invited to your house. I wouldn't assume people are going to bring stuff, but, yeah, if you want to sort of make it very clear what's on offer so that people know that if they do want something else, that obviously they would have to provide it themselves, I think that's okay. You could invite people ... If they wanted to bring other things, you could say that that's fine. I don't think you need to provide an entire convenience store worth of snacks for people.

Leah: Or go out and buy food that you don't normally have.

Nick: Yeah. You're not obligated.

Leah: Because it's not like people are coming in the house. This is like people are out back swimming.

Nick: Well, I mean, they're coming in the house a little bit.

Leah: But I mean, it's not like a sit-down dinner.

Nick: No, it's definitely not a sit-down dinner. Right. In general, it is nice to offer things that you think your guests would like. I think that's a nice instinct. Popsicles, and lemonade — very nice. If there's anything else that you think your guests would like that you also eat, I think that's perfectly fine to offer.

Leah: But I don't think you have to go out and buy all the food that you think other people's kids are eating.

Nick: No, definitely not. No.

Leah: Also, "Come over. I have lemonade if you want it." Oh?! So delightful! She has lemonade for you.

Nick: Yes!

Leah: What a day! What a day!

Nick: You know, the only thing better than having your own lake house? Having a friend with a lake house.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: It's true. Yeah. Weekend houses, and boats. You don't want to own one, but it's real nice to have a friend with one.

Leah: I'm ready! Where are we going?

Nick: Our next question is: "I am invited to a baby shower, and my usual gift is several classic children's books. Today, I received an email from the hostess requesting that each guest bring a personally signed children's book as the card, not the gift. I would still to go ahead with my gift idea, but does it seem like I'm ignoring the request? Would the host think I'm a simpleton because I cannot follow directions or that I'm rude to plow ahead with my own idea? Since shower gifts are open in front of everyone, what should I do?"

Leah: I often feel like I read a question incorrectly.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: Did you notice that about me? Then I'll be like, "That's not how I saw it."

Nick: I picked up on that.

Leah: So, unless I'm reading this — which I'm now leaving as a completely open thing because I've done it so many times — I don't see why you just can't sign the first ... If you get people a group of books, just sign the first one and then make the remaining the rest of the gift.

Nick: Mmm. Interesting. Well, first of all, do you remember children's books from your childhood?

Leah: Of course, I do.

Nick: What were your go-to titles?

Leah: Ugh! I wouldn't remember the story. "Mike and the Steam Shovel" ... Mike and his Magic Steam Shovel?" I'm forgetting what the word-

Nick: What?

Leah: Oh, it was this great, great story about this steam shovel who was getting technology [crosstalk]

Nick: What is a steam shovel?

Leah: What's a steam shovel?

Nick: Yes!

Leah: They dig holes.

Nick: Oh, like it's a tractor-y type thing?

Leah: Yeah, like a front loader.

Nick: What's the steam part?

Leah: It was made- she worked on steam. It was a girl in the book. Nobody was doing that anymore; she was the last one. Then, there was this one job that only she could do, and she saved the whole town!

Nick: Wow! Hero!

Leah: Yeah, it was so good.

Nick: Oh, okay ...

Leah: Then, I had this book called "Tatterhood and Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World."

Nick: [Giggling] Of course, you did!

Leah: It was all fairy tales with female leads from different countries.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: That was one of my favorites. Of course, "Goodnight Moon."

Nick: So, "Goodnight Moon" was my favorite.

Leah: So good!

Nick: Obviously, it's a classic! I was looking into it, and it was banned by the New York Public Library for 25 years.

Leah: Really?!

Nick: Yes! It came out in the late '40s, and apparently whoever was the librarian at the New York Public Library in the '40s was this woman who apparently was like your cartoon-villain librarian, you know, like The Shusher. She had an amazing reputation. You should learn more about this woman.

Leah: I already have a full visual in my head!

Nick: I mean, why there is not a movie about her, I don't know. I guess she thought that it was overly sentimental, and it wasn't her taste. She preferred "Velveteen Rabbit," or "Peter Rabbit," which is interesting because "Goodnight Moon" is also rabbit- based. There's a rabbit protagonist in "Goodnight Moon." These are all rabbit stories. She thought it was just not appropriate for children-

Leah: Really?!

Nick: So, she would not allow it to be in the library. It was only after she retired in the '70s that it finally made it to the New York Public Library. Yeah.

Leah: Wow!

Nick: Isn't that amazing? Yeah! So, "Goodnight Moon," yeah.

Leah: "Goodnight Moon." I thought it was innocuous. Apparently not!

Nick: You know, it's just no "Velveteen Rabbit," let's put it that way.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: Yeah. So, back to our letter-writer. Sorry for that digression, people. I don't love the idea that we have this shower, where you're basically telling me what gift to get. You're basically telling me I have to buy a book, in addition to a gift. Now, you're telling me that I have to buy two gifts, really.

Leah: This seems to be happening a lot.

Nick: Oh, that there's bad behavior at showers? Yeah, of course.

Leah: [Giggling] I mean, all of these children's gifts things that we get, we're like, "What?!"

Nick: Yeah, I feel children's parties and children-adjacent things, there's a lot more opportunity for etiquette crimes. Yeah, it's true.

Leah: Meanwhile, the kid's just going to have a great time.

Nick: Well, the kid probably is not even born yet!

Leah: Well, this is a baby shower, so that doesn't even ... That's not even-

Nick: They don't care.

Leah: But I feel like that's why you could just sort of move what you were already going to do to fit this format.

Nick: You're like, "I'm going to bring two books. One of them is going to be my "card," and then, the other is going to be the actual gift.

Leah: Yeah, because-

Nick: That's what you're suggesting?

Leah: They say, "My usual gift is several classic children's books." So, several ... Say it's three or four. The first one, you sign it as the card. The rest of them go right back into the present.

Nick: I like that. Here's the hazard — everybody at this party is bringing books. The chances that you're going to be giving gifts that are already being given by somebody else? Very high. When we think about the classics: "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "The Little Engine that Could," "Goodnight Moon," somebody else is already going to pick that book, as well.

Leah: Get you some "Tatterhood."

Nick: Unless it's "Feminist Fairy Tales from Around the World," there could be some duplicates.

Leah: Well, then I think maybe it's time to get some "Tatterhood."

Nick: [Giggling] Okay. So, uh, you could do that, or I think one idea would be, since we have a literary theme to this party, to give the one book that you want as your card, and then do something that is book-adjacent; like bookends for the bookshelf, or there are book caddies that people have in their children's playrooms, that you sort of shove all the books in. It's like a little bucket thing, usually with a handle that you can take around.

Leah: Right.

Nick: You could create something around books that is not books. That's an idea.

Leah: That is a great idea. I read this question as our letter-writer wanting to give the books and trying to find a way to make it work, but I also really like your idea.

Nick: Yeah or give the books. If they've got to return on them, so be it. Not your problem. Thought that counts.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: [Giggling] So, our next question is: "I've had several situations where I'm not sure how to behave ..." Always a good start.

Leah: Also, when you read this, did you think I wrote it? Because when I read it, I thought, did I write this? [Laughing]

Nick: So, this is actually a voicemail that we got that I just transcribed, so, I know it wasn't you. However, the feelings that this question brings up, I feel like you see yourself in this question.

Leah: Oh, I do! I dwell in this. I dwell in this!

Nick: Yeah. So, without further ado: "I stopped by an acquaintance's house for a quick visit to pick something up. I'm standing in the foyer, and she's already handed me the stuff. Then, she's just talking about her Instant Pot, and it's going on and on, and I'm trying to leave. I'm the one closest to the door. So, I said, "Hey, thanks so much. Appreciate it." Then, I reached to open the door to let myself out, but then I wondered, was that rude? Should I have waited for her to open the door? Then, I've also had a situation where people are doing the same thing in my foyer. It feels weird to reach across them and open the door to say, "See you later." So, in this situation, what is the polite way to end the visit for the visitor and the host? Do you always wait for the homeowner to open the door for you? Let me know your thoughts!"

Leah: [Giggling] A) I thought you read that so well, and then-

Nick: [Giggling] Actually, as I was reading that, do you say foy-yay or foy-yer? How do you say that word?

Leah: I realized that I say it differently depending on where I am.

Nick: Oh, contextual! Okay!

Leah: You know what I mean? Because some people, clearly, it's a foy-yay,

Nick: Oh! If it's grand, then it's a foy-yay. I see.

Leah: In my apartment, it's not a foy-yay. [Laughing]

Nick: Okay. That's fair. So, what do we do? What do we do about this? I'm standing in the foy-yay?

Leah: These are the kinds of things that wake me up in the middle of the night. Should I have not opened the door? Should I have not opened the door?!

Nick: [Giggling] Right. Yeah ... No, I could see this being the sort of thing that haunts you as you're leaving, and then the next day, then the next week. You're like, I don't know!

Leah: Then I'll probably text my friend. Because the thing is, is that it's true.

Nick: What's true?

Leah: It's weird if the other person reaches across and opens the door.

Nick: Very weird, yes!

Leah: That would just be ... That would be like, "Get out!" Nobody could do that!

Nick: Yeah, no, that's very complicated. Yes.

Leah: So, then, it has to be you.

Nick: Well, or you don't block the door. As the guest, don't get between the host and the door. Allow the host to walk you to the door.

Leah: Okay.

Nick: The problem in this story is we got an Instant Pot story that's just not ending.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: You know? We want to hear more about your recipes, how amazing it is, what it can do, what you made, what you're thinking about making. So, that's the problem. We're trapped.

. Leah: We are trapped. I would just listen til the end of the story, and then I'd be like, "Oh!"

Nick: [Giggling] okay.

Leah: You know me.

Nick: I mean ... Not everybody has that much patience. I think it is fine to let yourself out. I think that's okay. What you want to do is do it in a way that doesn't feel like you're trying to leave, though. You kind of want to make it feel organic. So, you're telling the story about the Instant Pot, and I'm going to walk over to the door. If you're continuing to tell the story, then maybe I want to just put my hand on the handle, but not turn it.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: Then, I'm going to turn it and open the door, but not actually pull it towards me. Then we're talking ... Then, I'm going to open it and be like, "Yeah, that's an amazing Instant Pot, right? Yeah." Then, as I'm saying that- also, it's very important to be moving as you're the one talking. I find if you're talking as you're moving, it's somehow more natural. So, as you're wrapping it up, and you're moving, this feels good. Then, you're already outside, and then they keep talking, and they're like, "So great seeing you. Thank you so much!" but you're already outside.

Leah: I love this.

Nick: Then, I think you're free.

Leah: I wish that we could actually have this on video because I'm getting emotionally excited, visibly, from ... This is perfect! This is perfect!

Nick: Funny that you mention it. I did actually practice this, in advance of talking about this.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: I did pretend like I was standing in my foyer talking to somebody, and I did try and wrap up a conversation to see how it would go with letting myself out. The technique of multistep opening the door, and then moving as you're talking was successful for my little private demo.

Leah: Well, as I'm watching you do it, I feel very like this is perfect! This is perfect!

Nick: [Giggling] So, that worked for me. Your mileage may vary, but, yeah, give that a whirl.

Leah: No, I love it!

Nick: Do you feel like this would reduce anxiety in the future for you?

Leah: I think that's perfect.

Nick: Okay-

Leah: I think it's absolutely perfect, whereas I'll just stay there-

Nick: [Giggling] Right.

Leah: -until we're eight stories deep-

Nick: Yeah, you're still there.

Leah: I'm still there!

Nick: Yeah. I mean, you've joined them for dinner. Now we have to use the Instant Pot! Yeah.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: So, our last thing-

Leah: [Laughing] I love this one so much!

Nick: -not a question, but it's a vent-

Leah: Which we have specifically asked people to send in, and I'm delighted!

Nick: Oh, please! No, we would love your vents, and you have them out there. You have been wronged. Etiquette crimes have been done to you. This is your opportunity to get it off your chest-

Leah: To set yourself free!

Nick: Share it with the world; share it with us and get validation. We will validate the crime. We'll do that for you. That's a service we will provide.

Leah: Yes! We can provide that service!

Nick: [Laughing] So, here's what happened. This is a story about an office Christmas party over a decade ago!

Leah: Over a decade ago!

Nick: It's still with her. She still has some thoughts about it.

Leah: I get it!

Nick: [Giggling] Our letter-writer's husband got a promotion, and they were invited to a fancy work holiday dinner. "We were excited to meet the other more senior managers and to try restaurant downtown we'd never been to before. We hired a babysitter, got dressed up and showed up 10 minutes early for dinner. By the stated dinner time, everyone was there except the boss. It was a crowded holiday weekend and after about 20 minutes, our waitress had to sit down at the table to alleviate the crowding in the bar and hostess area.

After waiting another 15 minutes - and if you're keeping track at home, now, we were waiting 35 minutes for the boss - we ordered water for everyone along with a couple of shared appetizers. The boss and his wife showed up over 45 minutes late, and we finally ordered our dinner. When dinner was over, and the waitress brought the check, the boss's wife was angry that we hadn't asked for separate checks. Several of us had to rush out to an ATM because we hadn't brought enough cash, and it was too late to have the check for our large party separated out. The group made my husband and I pay for the appetizers because we'd done the ordering.

We were angry, mortified, and could barely afford our share of the large tab. It was more than our weekly grocery budget. I thought I'd laugh about it eventually, but it's been over 10 years, and it still makes my blood boil. How could a man be with a company for over 20 years, become the head of a division and still not understand how etiquette works?" Wow!

Leah: Wow!

Nick: Wow.

Leah: It is really rude.

Nick: Oh, I mean, that's ... Oh, yes! Rude! I mean, I don't know what word to use. Rude feels too easy-

Leah: Yeah, rude is too easy.

Nick: Rude feels like ... I'm stuttering. I don't know how to ... My feelings-

Leah: It's disrespectful! I find that when somebody does something aimed at somebody I love-

Nick: Hmm!

Leah: -I'm even more upset. I'll hold on to things ... I hold on to things longer if somebody has upset somebody that I love. This was her husband's promotion!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: It was his big night out. Then, they're late? Then, they are angry that the check wasn't split before they got there? Then, they're asking people to pay when they know they're the boss? They make way more money!

Nick: Also, company holiday dinner to which you're invited. You were a guest!

Leah: Who has to pay for that?! That's not how that works!

Nick: Yeah ... There are so many etiquette crimes on top of etiquette crimes that have compounded!

Leah: Then, everybody decides that they pay for the appetizers because they were the one that took the poll? What's going on?!

Nick: It's like the Richter scale of etiquette crimes.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: It's just logarithmic.

Leah: It's very hurtful!

Nick: Yeah. I mean, it's disrespectful. It's hurtful. It's rude. It's shocking. I think it's shocking. Shock is the emotion I have because if I was at this dinner, and I thought we were having a nice time, and then I'm presented with the bill for a dinner to which I thought I was a guest, I would be like, "What? Oh, I'm sorry. I totally misinterpreted the invitation."

Leah: Also, they were 45 minutes late.

Nick: Well, lateness ... We know how I feel about that! Yeah. And, to make them pay for the appetizers because they're the one that ordered? I mean, did they eat all the mozzarella sticks themselves? No.

Leah: No! It's also that the boss's wife was MAD that they hadn't asked to split checks up top.

Nick: What's it to her?

Leah: Why are you MAD?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: What's going on?!

Nick: Oh, I had a thought. Was the boss's wife mad because the company allocated cash for him to take everyone out, and her idea was if they don't spend that money on the dinner, then they'll keep the difference?

Leah: Wow, Nick, I never would have thought of that.

Nick: I mean ... That's a dark conspiracy theory, that.

Leah: That is very dark!

Nick: I think it's possible.

Leah: It is possible! Because who behaves this way?

Nick: No, this is ... I mean, were you raised by wolves? I mean, seriously.

Leah: And that would do wolves a disservice.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. Gives wolves a bad name. So, what could we have done differently as the guest? Could we have done anything?

Leah: I feel like this is one of those situations where you're just so shocked ... How could you have guessed? How could you have guessed?

Nick: Yeah, how would you know? I guess you really have no choice but to pay it, right?

Leah: You have no choice. You can't be like, "I'm not paying." You can't say that!

Nick: Also because there's a power dynamic between you and your boss, that also makes it complicated. As sort of an underling, you're obligated to suck it up, on some level.

Leah: Yeah, that's what makes it extra unfair because you're in a situation where you can't really ... You're like, does this have to do with my job if I say something?

Nick: Right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, yeah, a decade later, you're still mad about it? Yeah, we'll give you that.

Leah: Do we have a way that we could alleviate, so we don't have to carry this with us anymore?

Nick: Well, I think we can acknowledge that these are bad people who did a bad thing and that you didn't do anything wrong. Although, I think our letter-writer acknowledges that.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I don't think she takes any blame for this. I mean, it would be nice to be reimbursed. Maybe we'll send an invoice to them.

Leah: [Giggling] We could send them an invoice.

Nick: I think the only thing that might make me feel better is to find these people on Facebook and hope they haven't aged well.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: I guess that I would make me feel better, right? [Giggling] Yeah, I hope their lives aren't going well. Is that too far?

Leah: No, it's really great.

Nick: That's not very becoming. That's bad etiquette. Don't do that!

Leah: Well, this- we're doing it for ... You're feeling for our letter-writer!

Nick: Yes. I have a lot of empathy for our letter-writer because I've never experienced something this extreme. I mean, we've all been to those dinners where you weren't expecting to pay because you thought you were invited, and then it turns out you have to pay. We've all had that. Haven't we had that? Have you had this?

Leah: I wasn't thinking about it. I'm sure I have.

Nick: Oh, of course. Yes! I mean, who out there has not thought they were guests and then had to whip out their credit card? Yeah.

Leah: I am just ... For me, it's not even necessarily the payout ... Obviously, it's their week's budget for groceries, which is so upsetting.

Nick: It doesn't even matter what the dollar amount was.

Leah: Yeah, it doesn't. It's more that they were late, and then they were rude!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Then, she was mad at them! That would make me even more angry than paying!

Nick: Yeah. It's that thing where, when you haven't done anything wrong, but you're made to feel like you did something wrong.

Leah: Yeah, that's what that ...! That would put me over the top!

Nick: It's that! Yeah.

Leah: That's why I think it's totally okay that you said that you hopes she finds them on Facebook, and they haven't aged well. [Laughing]

Nick: I think, let's visualize this dinner. Let's picture this evening, and let's visualize it as like a little bubble, and then let's visualize the bubble getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller, until it's the size of a marble. Then, let us visualize putting it in a bottle, and let's visualize putting a cork in the bottle. Then, let's picture ourselves on a beautiful coastal seaside cliff, tossing this bottle into the ocean, releasing ourselves from this terrible corporate dinner a decade ago.

Leah: I love that.

Nick: How's that? Isn't that nice?

Leah: That was nice!

Nick: Yeah, maybe a little far, but, yeah, that's what we want to do.

Leah: No, it's great. I would do a Nick Meditation app.

Nick: [Laughing] Oh!

Leah: You have a very calming voice. I saw the marble. I saw the glass bottle.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I pictured tossing the lady over the side of the cliff.

Nick: [Laughing] Hey, whatever releases the tension!

Leah: Obviously not our letter-writer. The wife of the ...

Nick: Oh, we know who we're pushing [crosstalk]

Leah: Okay, I just wanted to make that a very clear vision!

Nick: Yeah! No ambiguity there!

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: If you would like to be calmed, we would be delighted to help the waves of manners wash over you. Send us your questions-

Leah: Please!

Nick: Or your vents-

Leah: Please!

Nick: Yeah, send us your vents. You've got something from a decade ago? Bring it. You can send it to us through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail, or send a text message, (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729). We'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

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