Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about hiking on trails, criticizing your in-laws, writing in cursive, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)
QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS:
THINGS MENTIONED DURING THE SHOW
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO...
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
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-
Nick: -that we have a bonus episode. So, here we go. Our first question is: "Our friend recently had a new baby and a meal train was made, and there was an approved restaurant list that went along with it. Approved just means places that the family likes to eat at. People signed up for specific dates and said what food they would be bringing, but then the new mom would request certain items or change the restaurant entirely. We had one friend who texted the new mom saying that she was going to pick up Italian food, and then the new mom said she wanted Mexican instead and then texted the specific items she wanted from a different restaurant, which was double the price of the original meal that the friend was going to bring. I find this outrageous, and half of the friend group is also outraged by this, but the other half appreciates that at least the family is getting food that they like. What is your opinion on this? Shouldn't you just say thank you for anything anyone brings?" Hmm.
Leah: I just wrote next to it ... Some of these questions ...
Leah: I just wrote next to it, "I don't even know what's happening." [Laughing]
Nick: So, I looked up "meal train," because I thought I knew what it was, but I just wanted to double check. Anybody who's not super-familiar with a meal train, this is basically when you create a calendar for somebody: who will bring meals to them. This happens especially with like a new mom, or if somebody's just died, for the family. It's a time when a family is busy doing something where cooking for themselves may not be easy or a high priority. So, this is a way for their community to be like, "Oh, here are meals for you, while you're dealing with something." That's a meal train. For me, it sounds like this mom is feeling entitled to be getting free meals and has forgotten that the meal train is actually optional, and no one is obligated to be buying her free food.
Leah: Yeah. To the question exactly: "Shouldn't you just say thank you for anything someone brings?" Yes. Yes-
Nick: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Leah: That being said, I've never been a new mom. I hear incredible things happen to your person.
Nick: Okay ... okay.
Leah: So, I don't know if we give like a week, two weeks' leeway to be like ... I don't know!
Nick: I'm always happy to give slack to a new mom. There's a lot going on.
Leah: A lot going on.
Nick: I get it. That's fine, but ...
Leah: I would think that one would just be grateful that people bring them food.
Nick: Right. I mean, I think this would be fine to switch restaurants and all that, if you were also gracious and grateful as it was happening, but my sense, given that half of the friends are outraged, is that the amount of gratitude that is being expressed is insufficient. If you're gonna make a switcheroo, but you're like, "Thank you so much. Really appreciate it. This is so wonderful. Can't thank you enough," as you're like, "I want the empanadas," then I think it would be fine, but it feels like that's probably missing, which is why the friends are upset.
Leah: Yeah, it feels like that is missing.
Nick: Right. Yes. So, we need more of that.
Leah: Also, people sign up for a reason. They want to be like, "Oh, this place is near me," or "I can afford to do this."
Nick: Oh, true. Yeah, that's true. Yeah. You're definitely inconveniencing people. Yeah ... In my mind, I think we have a couple of options. One is you suck it up. If they want to change the restaurant at the last minute? Okay, fine. We just go with that. The second could be that we just get them gift cards to restaurants, and then you place your orders when you want, and you get whatever you want, and this dollar amount is fixed.
Nick: If you want to blow it all on two entrees versus 10, that's on you.
Leah: I think that's a really solid option.
Nick: Yeah, I think that's kind of my thought there, but, yeah, I think this is rude.
Leah: Yeah, we are agreeing with you that, yes ...
Nick: Yes. Now, I was looking into meal trains further, and this does cause quite a bit of consternation, I have found. There are a lot of people that are unhappy with how meal trains have gone down. One of the top things that apparently happens is, when I'm dropping the food off at your house, I stay. I linger. Maybe I'll even join you for that meal. If you are a new mom and dealing with a newborn, have your friend pop by for dinner and just stay? Apparently not that exciting. Yeah. Please don't stay. So, if you drop a food on the meal train, just drop it off.
Leah: Drop and bounce. Drop and bounce.
Nick: Yeah. You could say hello. You're allowed to say hello, but don't actually linger. Don't come inside.
Leah: Right. Unless, I think, a person invites you in and you feel like staying.
Nick: Oh, if you're invited, totally different story, but just because you're bringing food does not necessarily mean you will be enjoying it with them.
Nick: Also, don't expect any containers back. If you happen to make something, don't give them your best Tupperware, and expect it back.
Leah: Yeah, and don't give them the job of being like, "This is my favorite plate. Can you get it back to me tomorrow? [Giggling]
Nick: Right. No. Our next question is: "I often write in cursive. However, I know many people who cannot easily read my cursive. I try to accommodate this, but I regularly find that I've forgotten how to write in print and that the reader is having trouble understanding or that I have to translate, which I'm happy to do. Is this rude? Should I spend more time accommodating other people's needs when writing or interpreting?"
Leah: I underlined Should I spend more time accommodating other people's needs?
Leah: I think that because our letter writer asked this-
Leah: -you know that they've already gone out of their way to think of other people.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, they're taking the time to write us, so, yes, they have really maxed out their consideration of others.
Leah: I think you're doing great. If sometimes you have to tell somebody, "Oh, that's a no," it's okay.
Nick: Yeah. She wrote us this letter, physically, in the mail, and sent it to us, so I have actually seen her cursive. Totally lovely, totally legible. I did not have a problem, but I do understand that cursive is sort of dying out. It's not as common anymore. I was actually practicing cursive today just to see if I could still do it, and I learned the D'Nealian method. Do you know about this? This is a handwriting method. That D'Nealian method is still baked into my brain. It was really weird to see it come out, decades later, but-
Leah: Oh, like in elementary school between the lines?
Nick: Yeah, yeah. D'Nealian was some method, a very special way all the cursive is done. It's a little controversial, I've since learned-
Nick: -but I'm alive to tell the tale. Sure. [Laughing] But cursive, in general, I think it would be good if more people learned cursive because I think it's just good for hand-eye coordination, and it's good discipline. It's good to be able to read cursive because a lot of important documents in history are in cursive. You want to be able to read the Constitution. That's in cursive. So, it would be nice to be able to read it.
Leah: Yeah, I guess I just didn't ... I feel like I'm really late to the game a lot of times with some questions. I didn't know that people weren't reading cursive.
Nick: That's how I interpreted this, but it could just be a question about if you have sloppy handwriting, what do you do?
Leah: It is true, though, that less and less ... I understand that, in schools, less and less people do- I get it, but I just ... I don't think this person is writing all over the place.
Nick: No, no. This person definitely isn't, and I have written proof of that. In general, if you don't have very legible handwriting, I think it is worth working on it because we do just, at the end of the day, want to be understood.
Nick: At the end of the day, that is the point of this letter. The solution, if you don't have good handwriting, is to not send a typewritten note. A condolence card from you, I still want it handwritten. I don't want it typed. I think you just want to make an effort to try and make your handwriting at least legible. Doesn't have to be beautiful. Just has to be readable.
Leah: Yep. Sometimes, you go back in, and you redo a letter. That's fine.
Nick: I think cursive does fall into the same category of things that we should all be able to do, even if we don't do them that often.
Nick: I think we all should know how to sew a button. I think we all should know how to build a fire. We should all know CPR. Hopefully, these things don't come up that often, but we should all know how to do some basic things, and I think writing in cursive should be on that list.
Leah: I think so, too. As a side note, I think we should just do a list. We should have a separate - maybe on our Patreon - where what's on this list besides a button, and a fire, and cursive.
Nick: Uh, you should be able to install a dimmer.
Leah: Oh, wow!
Nick: You should be able to iron-
Leah: That was a really big ... That was a really big leap, by the way, from button to dimmer?!
Nick: Oh, electric is so easy! Oh, it's so easy to do electric. No, people shouldn't be afraid of it. Just make sure you turn off the breaker.
Leah: I don't know if you need to know how to install a dimmer. You need to know how to flip your own breaker. That's- you need that.
Nick: Okay, okay ... I'm going to have dimmer on my list because I think good lighting is very important-
Nick: It's up there with CPR, for me.
Nick: Our next question is: "I'm an avid hiker and rock climber and also the president of the mountaineering club in my state, so I've spent a lot of time on trails. Trust me when I tell you that there are a whole lot of people in need of a primer on trail etiquette, particularly around the rules covering the right of way. Lately, I've seen many more people discovering outdoor activities, which is wonderful, and welcome, but very few of them seem to know the rules. It's getting crazy out there. Can you help?"
Leah: This is such a perfect question for me.
Nick: Is it?
Leah: Yeah. My dad's a huge hiker, summer, and winter. He and I discussed this question. I think the interesting thing in this question, though, is obviously the writer is, I think, asking how he should address people breaking the etiquette rules on the trail.
Nick: Yeah, I mean, that definitely feels like that's the thrust of the question. Interestingly, this was not the only trail-etiquette question we got recently. There was a lovely letter from a family in Southern California, who is also concerned about trail etiquette. They actually sent us photos from their hike in the Santa Monica Mountains, which looked totally lovely. So, definitely, trail etiquette is sort of brewing out there as a topic.
Leah: Well, the big trail etiquette question ... The big trail etiquette thing if I just throw this out there-
Leah: You pass on the left.
Leah: My dad said that most ... I said, "Do people say passing on the left, like you do when you're biking?" He said most of the time, you hear people way before they pass.
Leah: People move out of the way for the faster hiker, and they usually greet each other.
Leah: Because it's a friendly environment. He said that the people that don't know this are the younger kids. Usually, they're with camp counselors, who always say, "Move to the side, get off the trail." Then, the other major rule is that people hiking up always have the right of way to people hiking down.
Leah: Because they're exerting more. However, a lot of times, apparently people who are hiking up love to have the excuse to stop, but it's their choice. So, they step to the side and they say, "No, you go," but it's the person who's hiking up's choice because they're the ones working harder.
Nick: Yeah, I think definitely most of the annoyance on the trail definitely comes with these right-of-way rules about who is in the way and who should be moving and not understanding that convention.
Leah: I think the way for our letter-writer ... If you come upon a group of people who aren't stepping to the side, I think you could just say, "Do you mind if I pass?"
Nick: Hmm. Yes, verbal communication on the trail is key. I think you just want to say, "Here's where I am. Here's what I'm about to do," or "Can I do this thing?" Then, I think that's we sort of make it all clear.
Leah: Yeah, because obviously, they don't know. I don't think anybody's going to be like, "No!" I think they don't know, which is what the problem is.
Nick: Yes. I don't think we are seeing malicious behavior on the trails, where people are actually actively trying to be rude. I think it is just out of naivetÈ, perhaps. Where it gets a little tricky is where we have multiple methods. So, we have hikers, but then we have bikers, and then we have equestrians. On trails where there's mixed use, I think, then, the right-of-way rules get a little confusing. As I understand it, and I'm sure there are some hikers out there who will correct me if I'm wrong ... As I understand it, the equestrian typically has the right of way; we yield to the horse. If I'm a hiker, or I'm on a bike, typically, we would let the horse go through, if possible, because it's a lot easier for me, as a hiker to step to the side.
Nick: Then, I think the bike yields to everybody, I hear. The bike yields to the hiker, and then, the bike yields to the horse.
Leah: I was also thinking, because this person said they're the president of the mountaineering club in their state-
Leah: -because of this huge influx of people who are now interested in outdoor activities, they could find a way to set up ... A lot of the trailheads have signs.
Leah: They could set up some sort of signage - from the positive point of view - because so many people are interested: "We want to welcome you to the woods and tell you how one behaves," and do some cute, "Always step to the ... Greet your hikers. Say, "Passing on the Left." Yield ..." Because this person seems to be in a place where they could actually maybe put that idea to some people, that could be an option.
Nick: Yeah, that's interesting that you say that because I actually wrote this person back, and I was like, "Here are some ideas." I thought this would actually be a great opportunity for this club, so I said, "You should make hats and T-shirts that have little slogans on them of the rules, like 'Uphill Gets the Right of Way,' or 'Hikers before Bikers,' or whatever the slogan is."
Leah: Yep. [Giggling]
Nick: "... and wear them. Have all your members wear them on the trail so other people see your hat, or see your shirt say this thing, and they're like, "Oh, I get it." Then also set up little booths at the most popular trailheads on busy trail days, like Saturday morning, have your members set up a little table with fliers about etiquette and also your club. You could get the word out about your club and also about how you're supposed to behave. Then also, trail etiquette signs ..." I feel like a lot of trailheads, don't actually list the etiquette rules, just the actual rules. A lot of them will be like No Smoking or No Dogs but won't necessarily be like Yield this way or Here's How You Should Behave.
Nick: So, the club could have a little fundraiser for the most popular trailheads and be like, "Let's do some etiquette signs." I thought that would be nice.
Leah: I think it's a great idea.
Nick: I'll chip in for that. Yeah. "Brought to you by Were You Raised by Wolves?
Leah: Also, you could even make simple signs and just laminate them and post them because most of them have boards.
Nick: Yeah, I think getting the word out because, like all etiquette things, when we all operate with the same rulebook, we all have a better time. If I know how to yield to you, and you know how to yield to me, my experience on the trail will be nicer. So, it would be nice if we all just used the same rules.
Leah: Yes, and I think in this case, as we try with many things, we're going to assume that people want to know. They just haven't had the opportunity to know, so you're telling them in a way, to be like, "I'm sure you want to know this, so our hiking community is a more fun place for everyone."
Nick: [Giggling] Right. Perfect. Our next question is ... Oh, and this is from one of our calligraphers on Instagram. So, if you follow us on Instagram, we have a bunch of calligraphers that like our show and sometimes, they'll actually do calligraphy for us.
Leah: So talented!
Nick: Love it!
Leah: So talented!
Nick: So talented! Amazing. Really enjoy it. So, if you're a calligrapher, I would be delighted if you would do some calligraphy for us. "Sometimes, I write nice notes in an envelope with calligraphy on the outside to brands or shops that I love, especially if I had a fantastic customer-service experience. I always put my return address on the back, but I know that sorting machines at the post office sometimes scuff these beyond readability. Would it be rude to include my business card, or my email address, or Instagram handle below my signature inside the card?" I have actually seen her calligraphy, and it is wonderful, and her envelopes are done in beautiful script - even the way the address is written and all that. So, I get where she's coming from. What do you think about adding an email address, or a business card inside the card, when you're writing to a store?
Leah: Well, A) I would like to say, as an aside, I love that they write notes to people when they've had a great experience, because I just think that's so special and wonderful.
Nick: Yes. When the default setting is a complaint letter, then it's nice when you're like, "Oh, something nice happened."
Leah: Yeah, I just really love that. I want to take a moment to just address how lovely I think that is.
Leah: Then, no, I don't think it's rude at all.
Nick: Yeah, I don't think it's rude ... I'm not bothered by the business card. I don't like the Instagram handle, for some reason. For some reason, that feels like a different category. That feels like more of a solicitation somehow. Or ... No? Is that just me?
Leah: I can see how it could, but I don't think it is anymore. I think it's how some people communicate.
Nick: Yeah, I guess that's true. It just felt a little more like it was marketing, rather than like, "Oh, here's a way to contact me back if you want." That just felt like it was in a slightly different category, but I guess everybody has Instagram, so it doesn't make a difference.
Leah: Yeah, I feel like, at this point, it's just often people get in touch that way as opposed to an address.
Nick: Yeah, okay. Well, then, there you have it. You have our permission - toss in that business card; leave that email address; give your Instagram handle. Great. So, our next question is: "Today, my husband and I received a lovely thank you note from the teen son of our friends. We were so touched by his words, then, suddenly, became very aware that we've never received any written thank yous from our own nieces and nephews, ages seven to 22. I don't think our siblings have ever taught their children about thank yous. We just heard from one of our nephews, who received a lot of gifts from his neighbors for graduating the fifth grade. Should we approach the topic with my in-laws or just let it be? I'm sure at least a few of those neighbors and friends may be offended that they're not getting thank you notes." Mmmm.
Leah: Mmmm. I was actually very much looking forward to what you were going to say.
Nick: Um, I mean, my first thought is that you should just stay out of this because-
Nick: -you are kind of an innocent bystander in this situation because, as I understand it, you have nieces and nephews. They received gifts from third parties that have nothing to do with you. These aren't gifts that you gave. So, whether or not they sent thank you notes to thosepeople? Uh ... feels a little removed. There's also sort of the rule about not parenting children that aren't your children. So, I think that also comes into play. I think the question would be whether or not the relationship in this family is such that those nieces and nephews are under your moral care; whether or not you are offering them any spiritual guidance in life, in general - do you have that role in their life? Are you there for etiquette guidance, in general? If you're not, then, yeah, I think you can't say anything.
Leah: Also, is the question really they know that their nieces and nephews just got a bunch of gifts from the neighbors, but also the previous sentence is that you realized that you've never gotten a thank you note from them.
Leah: So, is that really the burr in the bonnet?
Nick: A-ha. I actually don't get a lot of bee-in-bonnet-ness from this question.
Leah: Then, I think, in that case-
Nick: I'm not getting a high level of annoyance from our letter-writer.
Leah: I didn't get it either.
Nick: I kind of get a flavor of "I want to let my brother and sister-in-law know that they're bad parents." [Laughing] I get a little more that flavor from this, and "Am I allowed to tell them that they're being bad parents by not telling their children about thank you notes?"
Leah: What I am saying is I think it - maybe I'm wrong - would be slightly different if you wanted to tell them that they were bad parents; that you recognized that you've never gotten a thank you note, but to involve yourself in a, "Did they send thank you notes to these other people that I have nothing to do with?" That seems like a different-
Nick: True. Although, how do you randomly, out of the blue, talk about a thank you note you never got for a gift you gave six months ago, years ago? I mean, that feels a little out of the blue.
Leah: I don't think you do.
Nick: Interestingly, it does not sound like our letter-writer sent any graduation gifts to the nephew for fifth grade. There were no gifts here.
Leah: Well, maybe it's because they know they don't write thank you notes.
Nick: Hmm. Valid. So, I think, if you are going to say something, if you need to say something - if something must be said - I think you have to let your spouse whose sibling this is say something. As the in-law, I think this is off limits for you.
Leah: Oh, yeah, I absolutely agree with that.
Nick: Yeah. So, I think that's what we would do there.
Leah: I knew you'd have a great answer.
Nick: [Giggling] So, our next question is: "This happened several years ago, but it still makes my blood boil." Good start. Good start!
Leah: Love it. I love it!
Nick: "At the time, my partner and I have been living together for more than a decade. My partner's protege announced he was getting married to a woman he'd been dating for a couple of years. We had hosted these people in our home. They were weekend guests in our vacation home. We even attended their destination engagement party. Imagine my surprise when the wedding invitation arrived, and it was addressed to my partner and guest. And guest? Are you kidding me?! I'd welcomed these people into our homes on many occasions. I had cooked for them. I picked out their engagement gift. I had washed their sheets, for heaven's sake. My partner mentioned to another person in our friend group that I was very put out by this. She informed him that because we were not married, this was indeed proper etiquette. This is the point at which we went from gears grinding to the transmission just blowing up and falling out. I think manners and etiquette should be about making social situations easier and more inclusive. This definitely didn't make me feel included. I told my partner and a few of my close friends in our friend group that going forward I would not be attending events to which I was not invited. When this eventually filtered back to the couple, they made some excuse to my boyfriend that some random relative addressed the invitations and just got confused. Though I never received an apology, or actual invitation, I decided not to be the crazy person who caused a scene and went to the wedding. It was muddy and we all ruined our shoes. I guess my question is, while it may be tradition to do something a certain way, doesn't etiquette require us to modify these rules, when they become outdated and will actually cause offense instead of avoiding it? P.S.: we never received another plus-one invitation again."
Leah: I love it when it opens with a strong sentence, where we know exactly how we're coming in, the blood is boiling!
Nick: Even without the sentence, I know how I'm coming in on this.
Leah: No, but I mean, we didn't even have to get to the story.
Nick: Yeah [Giggling]
Leah: We've been told our blood is boiling.
Nick: Yeah. So, just up top, yeah, this was rude. This was rude.
Nick: Very. Rude.
Leah: But I would also like to add, the person who said, 'because they're not married, this was indeed proper etiquette,' I hate it when people do that. You're just upset about something, and you're just venting, or letting it out, or saying why something bothers you, and then somebody lets you know why it's okay. You're like, "Can't you just that I'm bothered?!"
Nick: Oh, okay ... Yeah, that's a whole separate thing, but that's valid.
Leah: It's like borderline gaslighting. I can't take it!
Leah: I think this person should also be mad at that person, as well. [Laughing]
Nick: Okay. There's plenty of anger to go around. I mean, in general, the "no ring, no bring" rule is a thing that is talked about as apparently a rule that happens. If you're not married or engaged, you are not invited.
Leah: Yeah, but they are invited. They're just calling her "and Guest."
Nick: Well, so, two separate things. The "no ring, no bring" rule, this is what the friend is trying to explain away, where it was like, "Oh, well, you're not married, so obviously, you weren't on the invitation." For that, yeah, you are allowed to be mad because that rule is insensitive, at best. You don't have to be legally married to someone to be in a committed relationship with somebody.
Leah: And you washed their sheets!
Leah: They stayed in your home!
Nick: Right? So, yeah, I'm a little speechless because the "and Guest" conveys a lot of things. The "and Guest" part conveys that the person in the story who's invited: "You're who we want, and you're free to just bring whoever you want. It doesn't matter who it is." So, there's thatflavor. Then, the other flavor is: "You are with somebody. We know who they are, but we don't remember their name, so this is how we're going to handle it on the invitations," even though, like, you know who this person is ...
Leah: Yeah! I also loved - and I underlined it because I so agree - this is a line from the letter. "I think manners and etiquette should be about making social situations easier and more inclusive." Yes!
Nick: I mean ... Yes, of course! That's what it is about, at the end of the day, yes! Making people at ease and more comfortable, correct.
Leah: And feeling welcome and, "and Guest" is just the opposite of that!
Nick: There was no way to do this, and you were thinking, "Oh, well, this is fine." I don't think you could be sending these invitations out and be like, "Oh, this is the correct thing for this invitation for these people who have hosted us, who went to our engagement party," their destination engagement party. That's a multiday affair!
Leah: Yeah. It is possible that, like the person said, a relative wrote it.
Leah: But then, that's an apology. Then, you just apologize!
Nick: Well, a relative wrote it, okay, but from what list that you provided them?
Leah: You'd have to be like ... There has to be a reason why you weren't on the list. "Oh, the lists got mixed up. This relative had the wrong ..." and then, there's an explanation and an apology.
Nick: Even if you meant to do "and Guest," even if you don't like our letter-writer, even if you wanted to kind of stick it to her, once you were called out, you apologize, anyway.
Leah: How could you not like somebody who has you in their home and cooks for you?
Nick: Well, I mean ... I can see that. [Giggling]
Nick: Yeah, that's a ... Just because I'm a house guest in your house doesn't mean I like you. Yeah ... But that's not what's happening here.
Leah: But I'd still write your name on the invitation.
Nick: Absolutely. Yes! If you are in a committed relationship with somebody and you live with them, it does not matter if you're legally married or engaged. You're a unit. You're partners. That's it. You get the invitation together. Correct.
Leah: I also love, "We never received another plus-one invitation." I wrote, "YES!" Then, I circled it three times.
Leah: Good for you!
Nick: You're not gonna make that mistake twice ... And our letter-writer was correct in just going to the wedding and pretending it's fine. To make a big stink about it would have been inappropriate. There is a world in which somebody would say like, "Well, I was not invited, so I'm not going to attend an event for which I was not invited." There is an etiquette world in which I think that would be also okay, but that does sort of cause a little more drama than just showing up for the wedding.
Leah: Well, I like that our letter-writer said that they were upset, their feelings were hurt, and then they went to the wedding and was the bigger person. I think our letter-writer is fantastic.
Nick: Yeah. So great! But "Just got confused ..."
Leah: Got confused ...
Nick: Got confused ... C'mon!
Leah: Get confused when you come to visit next time, and I put you out in the barn.
Nick: Oh, you think there's another invitation to their weekend house? I don't think so!
Nick: Absolutely not. That chapter is closed!
Nick: So, do you have questions for us? Yes, you do. Please send them to us through our website, wereyouraisedbywolves.com, or you can send us a voicemail, leave us a text message, (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729). We'll see you next time!
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