July 18, 2022

Leaving Items Behind, Using Postcards for Wedding Thank You Notes, Talking Loudly on Airplanes, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about houseguests leaving items behind, using postcards for wedding thank you notes, talking loudly on airplanes, and much more.

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about houseguests leaving items behind, using postcards for wedding thank you notes, talking loudly on airplanes, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

Have a question for us? Call or text (267) CALL-RBW or visit ask.wyrbw.com



  • Is it OK to do a house sweep for forgotten items before a houseguest departs?
  • Do I have to offer champagne to all the guests on my boat?
  • Did I choose the correct bathroom stall?
  • Is it OK to use postcards for my wedding thank you notes?
  • Vent: Talking loudly across the aisle on a morning flight







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 147


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

Leah: And it's Leah Bonnema.

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

Leah: [howls]

Nick: ... that we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is quote, "Often, when my family and friends come to visit, personal items are left behind, which I then feel responsible to ship to them within the next week. Over the course of the last 10 years, I've probably had to ship things back to guests after 95 percent of their visits. So I would like to start doing house sweeps for them before they leave, but I just don't know how to go about it without making the guests feel like I don't trust them to do it themselves—which I totally don't.

Nick: "And I'm a bad actress. The last time a family member was here—let's call her Lisa—as she was packing up, I was vocally trying to help her and was picking up random items from areas of the house she didn't seem to remember leaving things in. She seemed to be getting frustrated with my questioning, and at that point I just stopped. But she forgot at least three items that I would have seen had I done a full house sweep. Is it rude to just sweep the house without asking, and just pick up items they've left around? Is it rude to go into their bedroom as they're heading out the door to check for toiletries and chargers left behind?"

Leah: It's a great question.

Nick: I mean, this is bonkers. This is—95 percent of the time this is happening? Is your house a Where's Waldo painting and everybody's chargers are red and white striped? What is happening?

Leah: And shipping is the worst.

Nick: Oh, and that! And how courteous of you to do this for your guests. I mean, a good guest would give you a prepaid label at least.

Leah: [laughs] I do not think that doing a sweep is bad at all. Just don't mention it, and just walk around the house looking at stuff as they're ...

Nick: Yeah. Like, "Oh, here's this thing you left by the pool. Here's this thing." Oh, PS, why are we leaving things all over your house, too? Like, why is that happening?

Leah: I think it's very common when people stay and they, like, stay for a couple of days. And it's you're not just in a room, you're in the whole house, and maybe you were in the living room reading a book or you ...

Nick: All right.

Leah: You know what I mean? I think it happens a lot. I always do a sweep.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I don't want to leave things behind.

Leah: But I think often people are kind of frazzled when they're leaving, and they forgot they went into that room. And I think that you can just do it without mentioning it and then be like, "Oh, I just saw this." Boom.

Nick: Yeah. I think you just go around, collect it and like, here it is. And I think like in a hotel, after they check out, you are free to go into their room and see if they left anything behind in the room, in the bathroom.

Leah: I think you're free to go—I mean, you want to catch them before they get to the airport or whatever. So I think ...

Nick: Well, I mean, checking out like they're in your lobby of your house.

Leah: Yes. Yes.

Nick: [laughs] They haven't left the property yet but, like, they've left the room.

Leah: I also think that say they're up in their room packing and you see something in the living room, maybe move it to near the door. "Oh, I just saw this in the living room. I put it by the door."

Nick: Yeah. I mean it feels almost, like, helpful to be like, "Oh, here are things that I don't want you to leave behind that I saw elsewhere in the house." Like, I don't see a problem with that. I don't know what Lisa's problem here is.

Leah: I also think that sometimes—I know when I'm packing, I have, like, a mental order of how I need to get things done. So maybe they were like, "Oh," they just weren't—they were doing things in a certain order, so they weren't ready to hit the living room yet. Maybe that's what it was.

Nick: Oh, you think Lisa has a checklist, and she hadn't got to the chargers and the books yet?

Leah: I'm just throwing out ideas because that's how I pack.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. I mean, I feel like the person that uses a checklist probably is more conscientious about not leaving things behind in general. As a personality baseline.

Leah: No, for sure. I use a checklist, so I don't—I don't forget things. But I'm just saying maybe they just were like, "I'll get to it," and it threw them off their natural rhythm of packing.

Nick: Okay, that is really charitable, but we will allow that as a possibility.

Leah: But I just think that's why we could—we let them do their thing in the room as we kind of do a slow sweep around the house, and then we leave things by the door that they don't have yet. And then we say, "Oh, I just saw this. I put it by the door," in a very helpful voice. And then after they leave the room, we just do a quick walk through. Don't mention it unless we find something and be like, "Oh, I just saw this," and give it to them.

Nick: I mean, 95 percent of the time that you will find something. Yeah.

Leah: I've also had people go check my room when I've stayed in houses, and I didn't take it in any kind of way. I just felt like they were being helpful.

Nick: Yeah, I would not take this in a judgmental, sort of negative way. I would actually be very thankful that you've saved me the trouble of, like, leaving something behind.

Leah: Me too. I can actually visualize myself saying, "Oh my goodness, thank you so much. I would have hated to have left that."

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I have a boat, and the same group of friends and their friends that they invite enjoy it on a weekly basis. Is it rude to only provide champagne for just the people staying in my house that weekend, and not for all the guests on the boat? Quite frankly, I'm sick of paying for everyone all the time, but I do enjoy their company."

Leah: I wish we could have a little more information with this.

Nick: Yeah, we are gonna have to fill in some gaps and have to do some speculation, which I'm happy to speculate about what might really be going on here.

Leah: Like, do you think, Nick, that these guests are inviting people without first running it by our letter-writer?

Nick: Well, it feels like we have a boat, and we also have, like, a weekend house where I have weekend guests. So as a baseline, that's what's happening. And then it feels like there are extra people who are joining the boat who are not my guests. And those extra people seem to be friends of friends of my guests, I guess?

Leah: Yes. But did they tell me that they're inviting them, or did they just say, "Oh, my friend Lisa's coming."

Nick: Well, it seems like we have enough champagne available, we just don't want to use it on all the people on the boat.

Leah: Well, it seems like we're constantly lending out our boat, our house, and then oh, now we're also feeding people, and nobody's sort of in any way bringing ...

Nick: Yes, we definitely have people showing up on the boat who are not bringing anything with them. They are empty handed, and that is irksome.

Leah: It also seems like the people that we're inviting to our house are also inviting friends and then not bringing anything to the boat either.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So our letter-writer is just the giving tree.

Nick: [laughs] Right. Yes. And is eventually gonna be a stump with an old man sitting on it. Okay. Spoiler alert, by the way.

Leah: That book is destructive.

Nick: [laughs] Actually, that book is so sad.

Leah: It's so sad.

Nick: It really is a sad book!

Leah: I just fully visualize the whole thing, and reading it as a child and I was devastated.

Nick: Yeah, that actually is a devastating children's book. It's just not a children's book. Anyway, though. Yeah, I feel like, in general, the question here is: do I have to give champagne to everybody on my boat? And I think yes, actually is the answer. I don't think we can have two classes of guests on the boat. It's not the Titanic. And so I think we do need to treat all the guests equally, and show them an equal level of hospitality.

Leah: But you are not the giving tree, so you could also not provide champagne on your boat. You could say, "Hey, I have some seltzers on the boat. If you'd like anything else, feel free to bring it."

Nick: Oh, that's true. Yeah. And I think if you do want to offer champagne to a certain segment of guests, you have to do that off boat. You have to do that in your house before you board the boat. Be like, "Oh, we're gonna do some champagne just for us, and then we'll go to the boat where all these other people are gonna show up and we'll offer seltzer." Yeah, I guess that would be how we would handle that.

Leah: Yeah, because I agree with Nick. It feels like you can't really just give champagne to a certain segment of the population.

Nick: Well, because how is that gonna work? Be like, "Okay, I have some Taittinger. Who would like some? Oh, you're not my houseguest this weekend. None for you. Who would like some champagne? Anybody? Oh, no. Not you either. Nope. You're not my houseguest. You get seltzer." What is that? You can't do that. [laughs]

Leah: I think so many of these ways to handle situations would be like the funnest, rudest way that we would all love to see happen because we're all so pent up, but obviously not the way to handle it.

Nick: And as a reminder, you do not need to be hosting everybody on your boat all the time. Like, you can also say no. No is a perfectly fine answer.

Leah: But our letter-writer did say, "But I do enjoy their company."

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, that's on you then.

Leah: Well, I think they're just feeling stretched then. They're like, I would love to invite people and have people there, but do they also have to just be takers?

Nick: So our next question is quote, "Okay, can't stop thinking about a ladies' room scenario that happened to me at work a couple of weeks back. I'm debating if I made the right move. This involves the ever-important buffer stall. Here's the situation: I'm in a meeting where one of our vendors is doing an all-day business review. We take a quick 15-minute break. Me and another woman from the vendor's team end up walking into the restroom together. There are four stalls and one at the far end is ADA accessible. She is in front of me, and so she goes into a stall first. She chooses the second stall, leaving me with quite a conundrum, as I'm now forced to choose the stall next to her, which makes me look like someone who does not understand the cardinal rule of the buffer stall, or she forces me to select the ADA-accessible stall, which makes me look like someone who doesn't understand the cardinal rule of never using that stall when there are other stalls available. In the moment I selected stall three, thus breaking the barrier stall rule, but I couldn't stop wondering for the rest of the day if she thinks I'm a monster with no sense of personal space. Did I make the right choice?"

Leah: I relate to our letter writer so much because I feel like everything is so fraught with anxiety. You just want to take a 15-minute bathroom break, and it's just a murky water of stress, you know?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I feel like maybe "murky water" is the wrong term for bathrooms, but you know what I'm saying, listeners. [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. I mean, how did this just quick bathroom break turn into an existential crisis, right? Like, how did we get there?

Leah: I get it. I get it.

Nick: But I get how we got here.

Leah: I also think that because the person chose the second stall, they're not thinking about what stall you chose. I think they're not even thinking about this because they didn't think, "Oh, there's somebody behind me in line. I should go to the first stall."

Nick: Yes. One. One was the correct answer.

Leah: So because they're not thinking that, probably they just don't think about it. They're not a bathroom—they're not a "How am I handling this bathroom life" person.

Nick: They're just going through life not thinking about their decisions and how they have consequences.

Leah: I mean ...

Nick: Okay. I mean, these people exist, I guess.

Leah: And I assume their mental space is really freed up for other things. [laughs]

Nick: Oh! Wouldn't it be so lovely to not have any bandwidth devoted to being conscientious to other people? Oh, so liberating!

Leah: I had such a crisis in a public restroom recently. I'm not through it yet, so I'm not sure if I'm ready to discuss it with anybody, but maybe in like a year. But I mean, really, to be a person that ...

Nick: Of course I want to know.

Leah: ... the person that just walks away from things and is like, "What?"

Nick: Yeah. I wish I was that person, but as we know, I am not.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So yeah, I guess we have to assume that this person, because they chose door number two, is the type that is just oblivious to this entire topic. And so therefore, you did nothing wrong by going to stall number three.

Leah: Also, you did nothing wrong because you were put in a "this or that" situation.

Nick: Yes. Often in etiquette, we actually do have to choose between two correct things that are in conflict with each other. Like, there's a lot of etiquette rules that actually are in direct contradiction, and so you have to choose which one will maximize the greater good. And I think you're correct—not picking the ADA-accessible stall was correct, because that maximizes more good than the rule about the buffer stall. And so faced with that choice, you chose correctly.

Leah: I really like that phrase: what maximizes the most good?

Nick: Well I mean, philosophically, isn't that we're all trying to do?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: I mean, I feel like that's what we're all trying to do out here.

Leah: I really think you summed it up.

Nick: Yeah. So I'm sorry that this happened to you, and I hope this doesn't happen to you again, but it will, because statistically speaking, this will happen to you again. But hopefully you'll feel less preoccupied about it.

Leah: I think also you could become a Leah Bonnema who just makes things worse by just being vocal about it. You sit down in the next stall and you say over to this person, "Hey, sorry I didn't leave a buffer, but I didn't want to take the ADA-accessible stall in case somebody needed it. You understand."

Nick: [laughs] Yeah. Real smooth. So ...

Leah: I am not smooth.

Nick: [laughs] I mean, you can definitely do that. If you want to do the Leah Bonnema approach, have at it. Let us know how that goes.

Leah: And then you would be writing in a letter being like, "I can't believe I said that out loud," which is my life. [laughs]

Nick: And then we get a letter from that person which is, "I was just in a stall, minding my own business, when this other person came along and announced their entire agenda."

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So a lot of options.

Leah: But letter-writer, I feel you so hard, and I appreciate that you're thinking so hard about the right way to handle situations.

Nick: I really do appreciate that, that you are being mindful at all moments, and that you are really trying to do the right thing. And luckily, you did the right thing here, so no crisis.

Leah: And also, so many people are just completely oblivious and in their own heads.

Nick: Yeah, this person has not given this another thought. Correct.

Leah: I also—I always remind myself that other person is not even thinking about this.

Nick: Yeah. So let it go.

Leah: I'd love to go into a public bathroom with you any time. We could—we could make it work.

Nick: Uh ...

Leah: Did that sound creepy?

Nick: I mean, I guess I won't be there. So have at it.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I just got married, and I sent my thank-you notes for wedding gifts out on my honeymoon by way of postcards on our stops. I'd love to hear what you think. Was this acceptable, or did this fall short of personalized stationery?"

Leah: I actually thought this was really cute.

Nick: The idea of sending postcards on your honeymoon?

Leah: Yeah, and from, like, different—from, like, representative of where you're at so the person receiving it also gets a little, you know, like a fun visual of the trip.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think forest for the trees, the point of the thank-you note is to express sincere gratitude for something nice that somebody did for you, which was get you a wedding gift. And so I think however you achieve that, I think is fine. Traditionally, we write notes on cards and we mail them and, like, that's typically what we do. I think if you can achieve that same sentiment and thoughtfulness in a postcard, I guess that's fine. Like, what difference does it make if there's no flap on the outside?

Leah: Yeah, the major difference is the flap. That's what we're debating.

Nick: Now a lot of etiquette experts out there don't like this because they feel like there's not enough room on a postcard to adequately say thanks. It's just not enough square footage. And so I guess that's a consideration: how big is your handwriting and can you get it all on a four-by-six postcard?

Leah: I mean, we don't even know how big these postcards are.

Nick: I mean, that's true. Yeah, it could be two feet by three feet. It's possible. Extra postage needed.

Leah: To be straight up. I think people that say that it's just not big enough are just making up excuses because they want the flap, because a lot of these little thank-you cards are like this big—and you can't see me at home, but they're very little cards. So technically, the postcard is the same size.

Nick: Yes. I mean, I've definitely gotten wedding thank-you notes that were on cards with flaps that had one sentence on them, which would definitely fit on a postcard. Yes. Now is that a good thank-you note? You know, it's not great. But for me, I'm just happy you sent it. You know, you just put pen to paper and something went in the mail and showed up in my mailbox. I mean, you're checking off 99 percent of the criteria, and I'm good with that. I mean, given the choice between not sending it, sending it a year later or a postcard? I'm delighted to get the postcard.

Leah: I also do like postcard pictures. I think it's so fun.

Nick: Yeah. I think also, if this is very you, whoever you are, then that's also nice. I think if you had a very formal wedding at The Pierre and you had, like, hand-engraved invitations and you had lobster thermidor, and then my thank-you note for, like, the $500 Baccarat crystal gravy boat I gave you is a postcard from Bora Bora? I don't know if that matches. But if you had, like, a more casual wedding where, like, the postcards are sort of like who you are as people and that was kind of like what your wedding vibe was like, then that also seems like that matches and makes sense.

Leah: I do feel like there was this theme we have of, like, wanting to recognize what the old traditions are is the right thing to do, you know? And I think this is a very divisive world in etiquette because we definitely have people who are like, "This is the correct way to handle things." But then there's this whole new way of expressing gratitude and being fun. And I think at the end of the day, what you said was the point of the thank-you note was to express thank you so much for this item. Thank you so much for coming. Thank you so much for this gift. Which is achieved through the postcard.

Nick: I would be happy with a video thank you that you text me, you know? If it took effort and it was thoughtful. Like, I'm good with that. Like, it doesn't have to be handwritten and mailed to me.

Leah: Well, I feel like Nick is really showing some flexibility here with the video, because I feel like I've been pushing this. I'm like, "Oh, can we just send, like, a nice video with the dog talking?"

Nick: Well, for me, it's all about sentiment and effort and intention. Like, if you put together a well-produced, thoughtful, multicam thank-you video for me with chyrons? I'm totally into it. You do ...

Leah: Wow.

Nick: You don't have to send me anything in the mail.

Leah: But Nick wants a green screen involved if you're gonna do a video.

Nick: No, I would like this on location, Leah.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Green screen? Come on! Yeah. And if I see a lav mic in that shot ...

Leah: Whoo!

Nick: Mm-mm. No. Boom only. So—but I mean, it's really about the sentiment because, like, if you're gonna send me a thank-you note, I want to know that you actually are sincere in thanking me for the thing I gave you. And so however you achieve that is totally fine with me. It can be in any medium, any form, but I just want that sentiment. That's what I'm looking for. So I think postcards, if that's very you and I get that vibe from you by receiving a postcard from your travels, which PS is actually very thoughtful because, like, hypothetically, you're supposed to be on your honeymoon not, like, worrying about everybody back home. So that also feels a little thoughtful. Like, oh, you took time out of your honeymoon for me.

Leah: Yeah, that's what I really like about it—it makes me feel like I'm a part of your journey. Like, you're on your vacation and you're sending me a postcard from your vacation thinking of me. And I just—it makes me feel like I'm a part of it, and I love that aspect of it.

Nick: But here's 2.0. I'm on vacation. I'm sending thank-you notes, I'm sending postcards, but I'm putting the postcard into an actual thank-you card that I'm mailing for my vacation. So I'm bringing my thank-you notes with me on vacation and adding postcards to those envelopes. Too much?

Leah: I mean, I feel like you always like to have another option.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, that might be a little far. But I think what you did sounds like it's fine. So no complaints here. But if we get letters from your guests complaining that they only got a postcard thank-you note, we'll let you know.

Leah: I'm sure I'm gonna get letters for what I said about the—but what I was trying to say is exactly how you encapsulated it, which is I think that when we want to hold on to traditions, we've got to remember what the point was behind it, not the actual thing itself. And the point was to show your gratitude.

Nick: Yeah. Oh, 100 percent, yeah. I mean, the idea of these traditions is that they're meant to evolve. I mean, etiquette is meant to evolve. If we had the same etiquette today as we had in the 1500s, we would be in trouble. So the idea is etiquette evolves, manners do not. Manners are the universal principles that we all want to live by. And etiquette does sort of evolve. And so I think today, yeah, you have my permission to send some postcards.

Leah: Whoo! Nick is—I mean, go back to our first episode. Nick is ...

Nick: [laughs] Oh, gosh! I mean, I've evolved. I've definitely evolved. Absolutely.

Leah: Really getting more flexible from the beginning.

Nick: Yeah. If you go to episode one, yeah, I'm a different person. But you know what? Hopefully for the better. Although it'd be interesting, some people listen to our show in reverse order. They start with our most recent episode and go back in time, so I probably become more ornery for those people if you go in reverse order.

Leah: Well, also, we have spent more time learning ourselves, so we become ...

Nick: That's true. Yes. I mean, also, I'm happy to have been more ornery in the past. I can live with that.

Leah: Hmm.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "On a recent morning flight, I was sitting in an aisle seat, and both aisle seats in the row immediately in front of me were occupied by a very chatty couple who, instead of sitting next to each other, decided to sit across from each other but still chat for the entire flight. I managed to move one row back—the last row available, but still had to endure two hours of these people talking to each other at high volume across the aisle. Trust me, it was painful. It's a morning flight and you just want to sit back, relax, read, sleep, work a little bit. But no, these people decided to just make the flight a vivid nightmare. Am I too sensitive, or is this indeed a breach of the decency code?"

Leah: I love the term "Breach of the decency code," because it feels like we're on a starship and, you know, like the alarm goes off and you're like, "Breach of the decency code! Breach of the decency code!" Wah, wah, wah!

Nick: Okay.

Leah: It's just so perfect. Such a perfect way to describe it. I feel like we could just start saying that to people when they are rude in public.

Nick: "This is a breach of the decency code."

Leah: [laughs] Yes. Then just leave the situation. "You have breached the decency code," and then just walk off.

Nick: I mean, that's gonna go on a pillow pretty soon.

Leah: So thank you, letter-writer for bringing this wonderful verbiage to our attention.

Nick: And they sent a photo.

Leah: They did send a photo.

Nick: From the airplane. And I gotta say, this did look a little disturbing.

Leah: Right in the—I mean, they're right in the aisle.

Nick: Yeah, they're really, really in the aisle. Yeah. I mean, I think when it's three-by-three, and this was a single aisle airplane, and you don't want to, like, sit next to the person because that forces you to be in the middle seat. I get that we don't want that, that we would both prefer to have aisle seats. Like, that makes sense. But then if you do that, yeah, you can't be chatting with this person the entire flight, because the volume required to breach that aisle gap is very high to be able to be heard over the airplane noise. And so yeah, you do have to shout the entire time which other people will be able to hear.

Leah: So yes, breach of the decency code. No, you are not too sensitive. I often travel with my fiance where we're both in the aisle and we don't talk.

Nick: Yeah. Also, you see this person all the time. Can you not take two hours to, like, not talk to them?

Leah: And if I do talk or I'm like, "Hey, did you see this?" I lower my voice and it's like a one sentence thing.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Because I don't want to bother the people around me.

Nick: Yeah. And you will. You definitely will. So I think it's true. The rule is: if you're gonna do the across the aisle thing, then you've gotta basically not talk or be very quiet about it and, like, very mindful.

Leah: Also, how can this person—I mean, if you saw the picture, they're right in the aisle. Our letter-writer has moved back. Like, that's—how did they not realize I should check myself? People are moving.

Nick: [laughs] Right! Yes. "We're so loud." And I can see on a morning flight that this is particularly egregious, because morning flights, yes, the flight left at 9:00 a.m., you were up at four. And so, like, no one is interested in being on this plane this early. Like, the coffee hasn't kicked in, everybody's tired, everybody's a little cranky. And this is just like one more thing.

Leah: Also, I've noticed mornings, and then it's the same as, like, late-night flights, like, red eyes, some people they're not even across the aisle. They're right next to each other, and they need to have this exceedingly loud conversation. And you're like, "The plane's dark. Why do you need to do that? The entire plane can hear you, and it's a normal time that people are sleeping."

Nick: Yeah, I think people are not aware that when you are on an airplane, you are still in public.

Leah: And you're in an enclosed public. So it's even more public.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I get more and more, like, worked up. I can just imagine, like, you just stick your head in between the two people and you give them both the big eyes and you're just like, "What is going on?" And then you go back to your seat.

Nick: So I think we're sorry this happened to you, and if you ever do this out there? Don't. Please don't.

Leah: Don't do it.

Nick: Yeah, just don't. That's it.

Leah: Not good.

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

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!