Aug. 17, 2020

Meeting New Neighbors, Going Overboard with Gifts, Avoiding Carpools, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about moving into a new neighborhood, going overboard with giving gifts, avoiding carpooling with people you don't like, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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  • What do you do if you don't want to carpool with someone?
  • How to handle a friend who goes overboard with gifts?
  • When buying a home, do you have to give closing gifts to your real estate agent or the seller? How should you go about meeting the new neighbors?
  • What's the best way to follow-up with someone who is ignoring your email?
  • Is it OK to redecorate a temporary office?
  • How should you handle rude people on public transit?




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 with fade]

Nick: -that we have a bonus episode.

Leah: Did you see on that one, I tried to pull away from the mic and then go back in to kind of make it coming in from the wilderness?

Nick: Oh, is that what that was supposed to be?

Leah: Yeah, I was trying [crosstalk]

Nick: Okay! I like the scene we're painting. [Laughing] Ah, yes. Very nice! Okay, our first question is: "Twice a month, I carpool with a colleague to drive two hours each way to another city as part of our job. We are friends and the time passes fairly easily with conversation and catching up. Our dilemma is that another colleague has asked if she could ride with us, as she has been driving alone on a different date and does not like having to go alone. She used to go with a fourth colleague, but that person stopped carpooling with her, presumably for personal reasons. They wanted to detour to visit family at the end of the day. The colleague who would like to ride with us, frankly, she talks too much, overshares, and has political views that clash with our own. If we liked her, we would make it work, but how can we politely decline riding with her? Should we just say that we have our routine set up, and it would be hard to have to add time to our day to pick her up and drop her off - maybe an extra 30 minutes - or should we give her an honest explanation?" Hmm ...

Leah: What's interesting about this question-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: -is that -like we say we love - we've already been told ... They're not saying, "Should we carpool?"

Nick: Yeah, that's off the table!

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: We are not getting in the car with this woman. No! Forget it! No! Not happening! Not interested!

Leah: Which I thought was going to be the question: "Should we just let it go?" But that's not the question at all.

Nick: That is definitely not the question, no. I think my first thought is telling people no is hard. This is hard.

Leah: Oh, it's very hard.

Nick: This is a hard thing. Yeah. Some people are better at it than others. I am quite good at it.

Leah: [Giggling]

Nick: You have more trouble.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: So, know thyself. Know how you handle this, right?

Leah: Yeah, I started sweating halfway through this conversation.

Nick: I think honest explanation ... I think we don't want to lie to her, but I don't think we have to give her the whole explanation. I think we can just focus on the part of the explanation that's, "We have a good routine going, and we need to leave it at that." I don't think we have to also explain that, "We don't like you ..."

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: No good will come of that.

Leah: No good will come of that. I also think the only reason one would do that is if you were thinking about trying to make it work and then you would say, "We don't like to talk as much ... We like quiet," and then you're giving that person the opportunity to say, "Okay, I'll talk less." But since you're not doing that-

Nick: Right. Yeah. I guess if you wanted to try and make it work, you would see if we could agree to ground rules-

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: -like no talking about politics and whatever it is. But, yeah, we're not interested in this woman.

Leah: And we want to talk less. Since that's not ... You've already decided no, then I think there's no point, as Nick's saying, in giving them the full reasoning.

Nick: Yeah because, then, once you start giving the full explanation, then it gives an opportunity to negotiate. "Well, what if I didn't talk about politics with you?"

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: We can't have that conversation. We don't like you. [Laughing] So, yeah, I think we just want to say, "Thank you so much. We've got a good routine going; this is just working for us, for now. At this time, we don't feel comfortable rocking the boat, and we need all the stability in our lives we can have ..." whatever you want to say. I think, when you do say no - and I think this is in general, whenever you say no to anything - it is always nice to try to not leave someone empty handed. I would see, is there someone else doing this commute that you could hook her up with? "You can't ride with us, but I heard Chad drives every month. We talked to Chad, and he would be open to having you ride with him. Talk to Chad." So, in the same breath you say no, it would be nice if you could give her some options. That makes saying no easier when you don't leave someone empty handed.

Leah: That seems good to me.

Nick: Right? So, sorry ...

Leah: It is very hard to say no. That's really true.

Nick: Yeah, of course. You have to work with this person, and you don't want to make it awkward. So, yeah, I think just saying, "Unfortunately, our routine is sort of set for now, but maybe here are some other options." Our next question is: "We have a close friend who goes overboard in thanking and reciprocating. For instance, I looked at an article she'd written for the local paper and gave her some notes. I'm an editor and writer, myself. She insisted on taking us out to brunch to thank me. I'm teaching myself to bake and occasionally share whatever I've made with her. I don't think bottles of wine are necessary as a thank you, and I've told her more than once that our friendship is not transactional. She's a wonderful person, but the successive gifting makes us uncomfortable. Can you shed some light on what might be going on and how to handle it?" Well, first of all, this gifting doesn't sound too extreme. A brunch in exchange for some notes on an article? A bottle of wine in exchange for a cake? This is not too crazy. This is not like diamond tiaras in exchange for a cup of sugar.

Leah: Yeah. I think I sometimes feel uncomfortable when people give me things because I feel like I didn't want them to feel like they had to give me something ... But people like to do nice things for people, and I think that she just wants to show her thanks and that maybe that's okay.

Nick: Yeah, my first thought was that some people are just generous, right? [Giggling] Some people are just generous, and they like giving things. Interestingly, psychologists often say that people actually get more joy in giving gifts than receiving them. The serotonin release is actually stronger in the giver than the receiver. Some people just really like giving gifts. Think about everybody's- that one relative at Christmas who just loves giving gifts. They just get into it. and you kind of have to roll with it.

Leah: Yeah, I love giving gifts.

Nick: Yeah, you're that person.

Leah: Like you said, it doesn't seem excessive. I think if our letter-writer could just think to themselves, "This person loves giving gifts, so my gift to them is being a glad receiver."

Nick: Yeah, being a very gracious recipient, I think is a good start. I think, as the receiver, make it clear that it's not necessary to give these gifts; like, "Oh, you didn't have to; so unnecessary; it was nothing; you really didn't have to ..." which I think our letter-writer has said. You have said this. That has been heard, and they want to give you gifts, anyway. I think you have to just go for it and just accept the gifts graciously. Now, there is a portion of gift giving that does come from a place of codependency or insecurity, like people trying to buy affection, or trying to express love through gifting. That is a thing that happens. That's outside of the world of etiquette, and I don't think that changes our response here, other than just being a good friend ... But we were asked whether or not we could shed light on what's going on, so I think that's a possibility.

Leah: Yeah. I think that, as the receiver, you know if a person is giving gifts for ulterior motives-

Nick: Oh, sure.

Leah: -and it feels sort of suffocating, or if this person is just sort of like an overgifter. In which case, I think, just be a gracious receiver; know that the gifter just really enjoys this.

Nick: Yeah, and it sounds like she does. So, take that bottle of wine, and share the bottle of wine! Like, "Oh, thank you so much for the bottle of wine. Come over later. Let's pop it open."

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: That's nice. Yeah. So, speaking of gifts, our next question is a voicemail. Let's listen to that now.


Caller Hi, Nick and Leah! We're big fans of the podcast. We just bought a home, and we're kind of stumbling through the process because it's our first time. We are wondering, at our closing date, who do we give gifts to? Do we give gifts to anybody? And, once we move into our house, how do we meet our neighbors? Do we wait for them to come to us? Do we take a pie to them? What do we do? Help us! Thank you!


Leah: I was excited about the second part of the question.

Nick: Right. Well, first of all, congratulations on your new home. That's very exciting.

Leah: Yes, very exciting! Congrats!

Nick: For the first question: who do you give gifts to at the closing? I don't know why real estate brokers are trying to perpetuate this thing, but they don't get gifts. As the buyer, you're not going to buy them a gift. You're spending money. This is a transaction. You don't have to give a gift to anybody. Now, if you want to because they went above and beyond, and you like them, you're welcome to. You're not prohibited. But there is no obligation to be giving gifts at the closing table. So, I think we could just establish that. Now, the second question: how do you meet the neighbors? I have thoughts.

Leah: That was for the seller and the realtor - no gifts.

Nick: Yeah, I mean, for the seller, you definitely don't buy the seller a gift. That's weird.

Leah: Yeah, you bought their house!

Nick: Yeah, they're cashing the check. They're fine. Then, your real estate agent? You don't have to give them a gift unless they really just went above and beyond for you, or did something unusual, or unique, or something great. But no, you're not obligated, as a baseline.

Leah: Then, meet the neighbors - that's the exciting part of this question.

Nick: Yeah. So, as a New Yorker, I'm like, "Ugh ... " Blahhhhhh ... "Why?"

Leah: I can't even tell you how much I want to meet neighbors.

Nick: Yes! You're like my nightmare neighbor. You're the one that wants to be friends. I don't want that from my neighbors.

Leah: I don't do it in an apartment building, but if I moved into a house or a condo complex, I would introduce myself.

Nick: Okay, so normal New York City apartment building, no.

Leah: No, no, no.

Nick: Melrose Place, yes.

Leah: Correct.

Nick: Interesting. Okay.

Leah: I would definitely have some homemade goods-

Nick: Uh-huh?

Leah: I would print out what they had in them.

Nick: Ingredient lists.

Leah: "Oh, here are some cookies that I made and here is my ingredient list."

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I would go over, knock on the door, "Just wanted to introduce myself. I'm your neighbor ... A little sumpin'-sumpin' ..." and then, I'd give it to them. "Just wanted to introduce myself." Ba-BOOM! I have this all worked up in my head for when this happens.

Nick: Yeah! Okay. You're going to do that when? You moved in on a Monday. We're going to do this Monday night? How quickly is this baking happening?

Leah: No ... I'm going to do this a few days later.

Nick: Okay, but within the first week.

Leah: I'd say around the week mark.

Nick: I see ... Okay. I think that's a fine thing if that's your personality type. I, as your neighbor, would be very interested in knowing that about you very early in our relationship, so I know to keep my distance.

Leah: I want you to know-

Nick: [Giggling]

Leah: We have a neighbor in New York!

Nick: Yeah?

Leah: Who we made friends with-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: -who, we watched their cat while they were gone, and then, they're now watching our apartment because we made friends with a neighbor!

Nick: Yeah, no ... I get why we have neighbors, and why we want to be nice to our neighbors, and why we want to be friendly and cordial with them ... I get that, yes.

Leah: What if I need a cup of sugar?

Nick: I mean, when does that happen?

Leah: [Laughing] Also, you can look out for each other. "Oh, I got this package. It was addressed to you."

Nick: Yeah, I like the relationship with my neighbors that I call "cordial distance." I want to obviously be cordial with everybody, but I don't want the pop-in. I don't want anybody knocking on my door wanting to hang out. I don't want that.

Leah: I wouldn't do that in New York. I would do that here.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And just once. I'm not going to pop in uninvited, ever again, it's just to introduce myself.

Nick: I see. Okay. Yeah, I think you can do that. I think you can also just walk around the neighborhood without baked goods and just sort of see who's out and about-

Leah: Just wave as you go ... Wave as you walk by? [Laughing]

Nick: Yeah, you can do that. You can go up, I think, at least to the neighbors on the sides of you and behind. I think you can definitely do the knock on the door and introduce yourself.

Leah: I would only do those people. I'm not doing the whole neighborhood.

Nick: I think the conversation is like, "Hi, I just moved in next door. Here's my email address, in case there's anything I can do for you. Looking forward to getting to know you ..." and then sort of leave it at that.

Leah: Also, I want to say that this is if this person wants to.

Nick: Oh, I think they want to.

Leah: Yeah, that was my takeaway from this, that they wanted to.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But I think, if you don't want to-

Nick: I think in a place that's not New York City, where you want to know your neighbors, I think you should still introduce yourselves to your neighbors, even if you don't want to, because otherwise, everyone's just going to talk about you; like, "Oh, you know who moved into 112? Not very nice ..." Then, you'll be the talk of the neighborhood about the not-nice people that just moved in. You have to make an effort.

Leah: I think that it would be fun to make an effort.

Nick: So, then, how do you feel about having a party at your house for your neighbors to introduce yourself?

Leah: Oh, I think if that's a ... If you're a party person and that's something you would want to do-

Nick: You would do that?

Leah: I wouldn't do that.

Nick: Like, "Come on down, Saturday. I'm having a barbecue!"

Leah: You know, I remember a time in my life where I loved a potluck. I'm having a potluck. I could bring that back, maybe, if I moved into a residential area.

Nick: Bring a dish. Yeah, bring a hearty hors d'oeuvre.

Leah: But the thing is, is that if you do a party, now, it gets complicated because you're doing more than just the three people, and then you don't want people to feel left out, but you can't invite the whole town.

Nick: I mean ... Depends how big of a town it is.

Leah: Then I started having anxiety, whereas just the walk around to the people right around me, I can manage that.

Nick: Okay, okay.

Leah: What do you feel about the party?

Nick: I don't like the party idea at all! For me, that's a hard no because I have found that you don't actually always know who your neighbors are going to be, personality wise. You don't know who you actually want to know more or less.

Leah: Right.

Nick: I feel like you want to kind of suss things out a little bit. You want to have a low profile at the beginning, when you move to a new place, just to get the lay of the land; who's who; what the different factions are; who doesn't like whom. When you have a party, you short-circuit that research, and then you don't have all the information that you might have wanted had you not had the party too soon.

Leah: I agree with you on this.

Nick: Yeah. So, that's sort of my strategic approach. I have lived in my current place for over a decade, so I'm happy to not meet anybody. It seems to be working for me.

Leah: I mean, honestly, New York is like a whole other thing. I don't know half the people in my very small building; we're not going to introduce ourselves.

Nick: I could not tell you the name of the person across the hall. I couldn't even give you a first name. If I saw her on the street, I'm not sure I would recognize her. That's how I roll, so I'm the wrong person to ask this question to, but I'm happy to answer it anyway. Our next question is: "I am an office worker, and I often serve as a temporary administrative assistant to various executives in my field. I work in television. When I leave my temporary assignments, these executives often claim that they are, "happy to help" with my career aspirations and will provide recommendations or connections, if needed, down the road. However, when the time comes to request a recommendation, crickets. I send an email, and they ghost me, never responding. I keep my requests brief, polite, and specific, and I don't know what the issue could be. Is there a polite way to follow up with such a request? How many times should I politely follow up until I accept that they're ghosting? I'm aware they have no formal obligation to help me, but this feels callous to be brushed off like this so unceremoniously. We're not strangers, but they're ignoring me. Any advice?"

Leah: I feel like this was such a good one for you. I felt- I would follow up once.

Nick: Yeah, yeah.

Leah: Then, after that, I think I would drop it.

Nick: Yeah, but before we get there ... Ugh, the television industry is so cruel.

Leah: Cruel!

Nick: So cruel. So-

Leah: It's a cruel industry.

Nick: I mean, the number of emails to television executives I've written that I've not gotten a response ... More than one.

Leah: Also, it's an industry where people will email you, email you, email you, and then just drop off.

Nick: Yeah, like we have a thing going back and forth. It's hot. We're gonna green light this thing, and then like nothing.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah, that happens.

Leah: Put your armor on! You know what I mean?

Nick: Oh, yeah. This is not for the faint. My first thought, when I read this, was that it is very possible that these offers are not sincere. It's like, "Oh we should get together sometime." I don't mean that. So, like, "Oh, happy to help however I can ..." I don't mean that. It's just a thing we say. This might just be a pleasantry that these people don't actually mean. I think that is a possibility here. Of course, they're not going to write you back because they didn't mean it the first time.

Leah: I still think you should follow up once.

Nick: Yes, yes!

Leah: Because also, in this industry, it's the people that keep following up. "Well, they said they could. I'm gonna follow up."

Nick: Yeah, yeah, that's true. Persistence is really the key. Actually, if you look at who is successful in Hollywood, it's not the most talented, it's just the people that didn't give up. So ... [Giggling]

Leah: Just hang in there!

Nick: Just hang in there. Yeah, we're all a cat-on-a-branch poster.

Leah: I also read this article about following up - "I wanted to check in" - and how you should go through your letter, or your email, and take out any time you write "just." "I was just checking in. I just wanted to follow up ..." and just delete it because it immediately ... You can immediately tell that you were nervous about checking up. This was just an article I read.

Nick: Oh, interesting! Okay, so just to be more unapologetic about following up?

Leah: Yeah. You're following up because they said that they would help, and you're going to assume they're busy, and they missed the first one. So, you just want to follow up, but you don't say "just." You're following up politely.

Nick: Yeah. I think we send the initial request and then, I think some reasonable amount of time needs a pass, but not too much. In the television industry, I would say a week?

Leah: A week to two weeks.

Nick: 10 days?

Leah: 10 days.

Nick: Yeah, 10 days. Split the difference? Then, I think we follow up one more time. "Hey, wanted to follow up ..."

Leah: "Wanted to follow up."

Nick: Then, if you get no response to that, then I think we give up.

Leah: Then you give up. I think one follow-up is fine.

Nick: One follow-up is fine. I think what you should do is not give up on that person. If you have some new thing to mention in the future - six months, a year down the line - I have had success where I was like, "Hey, wanted to let you know about this new thing I'm doing. FYI, here's a link to more info," and start a new thread. Sometimes, if they're interested in that thing, then they'll respond.

Leah: Yeah, I think that's very true. Very true. Keep this on file for later.

Nick: Right. In general, and in any industry, people are very bad about responding, and you can't take it personally.

Leah: Sometimes, they're just real busy. I mean, we all are, but be persistent.

Nick: We're all busy, yeah ... Although, I don't like using that as an excuse for not replying to email, but it happens.

Leah: I don't either. I just tell myself that, so I don't get really upset.

Nick: Right. They were just busy. It's not personal.

Leah: They were so busy.

Nick: My idea wasn't garbage. They're just too busy.

Leah: Yeah, I'm not garbage, as I lie on the floor and cry. [Laughing]

Nick: Right. So, our next question is: "I'm an essential office worker for my local government and normally, I share an office with a coworker, but I recently moved to another office, where the usual occupant is going to be working from home for the rest of the year. What's the etiquette surrounding redecorating a little bit in order to make it more comfortable for me? I brought in a few of my pictures from my office and stuck them up on her filing cabinet with magnets. I've also been keeping her plant alive while she's working from home. She's a very nice person, which is why my boss put me in her office versus any of the other options. I don't think she would mind if I put my calendar up, or a few things, but I wanted to know your take on it."

Leah: I wrote down two things.

Nick: One is - is this the most considerate person in the world? Worried about putting things up with the magnets?

Leah: Yeah, that's what I put. That was the first thing that I put. [Laughing]

Nick: Right?

Leah: You're already so considerate that I could just say: put it up.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: But I felt that you could ... Is there no way to email that person who's staying at home?

Nick: Oh, we can contact this person. Absolutely. Yes. Yes. I think it would be nice to send this person an email. "Hey, I've been temporarily assigned to your desk. Would you mind if I put up a calendar, or a few of my own photos up?" Just totally polite; nice; ask for permission. Because I think what you don't want to have happen is this person pops by the office to get some things, at some point, walks by her desk, and sees all your stuff on her desk and didn't know that was happening. That will feel very jarring and violating, even though you're not doing anything wrong, but to be surprised by that, and have your desk gone, and redecorated without warning? I don't think we want to put that person in that position. So, just get their permission.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: I think they have to give it to you. I mean, is this person a monster and will be like, "No!"?

Leah: You're also taking care of their plant.

Nick: Yes. You're doing them a favor. Yeah.

Leah: Our letter-writer's taking care of their plant, so I think you can be like ... This is such a Leah thing, but I would actually take a picture of their plant, and I'd be like, "I'm watering your plant. I'm in your office. If you're swinging by, I was wondering ..." and then, what you said.

Nick: Yeah. Speaking of photos, one nice thing to do is before you start redecorating, take a picture of the office and all the surfaces and what's where, so that when you do go back to your own desk and this person comes back to the office, you can put everything back exactly where it was.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, the stapler is exactly where that goes, and every photo where it was originally, so you can recreate the scene. Take pictures before you start moving stuff around.

Leah: I think that's a great idea.

Nick: Now, what happens if you ask her and she says, "No, I don't want you doing that ..."?

Leah: Then, you stop watering her plant.

Nick: [Giggling] Okay, yeah, that's fair [crosstalk]

Leah: No, I'm kidding. I mean, obviously, I'm not going to make the plant suffer, but I can't imagine ... You're not asking to staple it to the wall. It's a magnet.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, presumably, this is a type of decorating that is not causing permanent change.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, this is fine.

Leah: I don't know what to say, if the person says no. They're going to be gone for the rest of the year.

Nick: Yeah, and be like, "Oh, I'd really rather you didn't."

Leah: I don't know! I don't know, Nick!

Nick: Right?

Leah: Then, I-

Nick: That feels inconceivable.

Leah: Then, it's our fault for telling this person to ask!

Nick: No, I feel like you have to still ask, and if the answer is no, then I think that's very important information to know about this person.

Leah: That's true. I think you should ask, no matter what, but I realize, though, that once you ask, you've asked.

Nick: Yes, but I think we want to ask for permission, not forgiveness. So, just ask.

Leah: Send her a little email.

Nick: Our next question is: "I live in Los Angeles and don't take public transit very often. Recently, I ended up on a crowded bus with two bags and eventually got a seat on the aisle. I did my best to jam one bag under my feet and hold the other in my lap, but the woman next to me kept pushing the bag on my lap further into the aisle, thinking I was impeding her space. I apologized several times, both to her and to the man she was shoving my bag into, but she kept on shoving. Seriously, I was not in her space. What do you New Yorkers do when you're stuck on a bus with a large item and the person next to you is incensed by it?" Uhh, okay ...

Leah: My mom was real hot to know what the questions were that we had this week.

Nick: Did you divulge them to her?

Leah: So, I read this one to her.

Nick: Okay, I mean, I guess that's fine. We don't have some secretive pact about the questions, do we?

Leah: It's my mom, and she was really interested.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: If you think that's ... If I'm breaking a rule, then I'm happy to never do it again.

Nick: We'll let the confidentiality agreement slide today.

Leah: It was either that, or she would sit in here and watch because she was very hot to know.

Nick: Okay. [Giggling]

Leah: My mom, she's saying this with all sincerity - this was not a snarky comment. This is what she thinks the person should say.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: She means it not snarky. She would like to ask- she would take the bag and say to the woman who is pushing it, "I want to make this work for both of us. How do you think I can get this to fit?" Which really tickled my heart.

Nick: Okay. I mean, that's not a bad answer. The problem is there is no way for me to say that in a way that does not sound snarky.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: I don't have a tone available for that.

Leah: I think that would be ... In a fair world, that would be the greatest thing, to be like, "Let's make this work together."

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: But knowing public transit ... Like, in New York, I know this person ... They just want to be angry. They had a bad day. They hate my bag. My bag represents something.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You just gotta dig in and have no feelings.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: You just put your shoulder down and then cry when you get home. [Laughing]

Nick: What I wrote down- my first thing is leave your body, and just get through the next 20 minutes.

Leah: [Laughing] That's so it, exactly! Because you did the polite thing! You've tried to keep it out of everybody's way.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Past that, you can't do anything!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Leave your body!

Nick: I think the New York approach is also that we want to apologize but not engage. New Yorkers are very good at this balance, where we will apologize to you, but we won't really make eye contact or have any further engagement. We'll make it very clear that the words apologizing are the extent of our relationship and now have ended. I'll be like, "Sorry," but my body language will make it very clear, there's no further conversation about this.

Leah: I'm very bad at that. I think I leave things very open-ended.

Nick: Okay, well, and you get into trouble.

Leah: "Sorry! Come engage with me." Yeah, I get into a lot of trouble.

Nick: Yes!

Leah: This person has obviously tried to make it work so much.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So, at this point, as you were saying, you just have to leave your body for 20 minutes.

Nick: Leave your body, yeah. The other thing I wrote down was you want to have an expression or vibe that you've had a really tough day and that you're about to snap. "Don't push me."

Leah: That reminded me ... That's so good! When I first moved to New York, I had so much trouble with this boundary face that you have to wear on public transit. It's a face.

Nick: Yeah, you need to have a mask.

Leah: I watched some women who were very good at it, and some of them were chewing gum. So, I made it a character, and I would chew gum when I got on the subway, because when you chew gum, you just look like you don't care as much, you know what I mean?

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: It really helped me get into this, "I have a boundary ..." like you're saying, "I've had a bad day. I may be somebody who will ... I don't know what I would do. Who knows what I'll do?! I chew gum! I chew gum wildly!"

Nick: Right. [Giggling]

Leah: Sometimes, when you go in public transit, you just gotta get your gum out! You know what I mean? Then, you just chew gum.

Nick: Yeah. I think New Yorkers, we're famous for having our game face on, when we are on the street. We put on the attitude. It's a little stern 'got places to be' kind of attitude. This is just so muggers won't stop us. You need that-

Leah: Yeah, or a person who's had a bad day won't pick on your bag!

Nick: Right. Right. It's like, "Pick on an easier target. You don't wanna mess with me."

Leah: That's a face that one can practice, and I would recommend trying it with gum because it really helps.

Nick: Okay, I like that. Yeah. So, that's how we would handle that, as a New Yorker. The other way we would handle it, as a New Yorker, is when you have a large bag, you probably shouldn't be seated. It is much better to have a large bag while you're standing over it.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Then, the bag is between your legs.

Leah: Between your legs.

Nick: That's a pro tip.

Leah: One on top of each other.

Nick: Yeah. In this bus situation, our letter-writer is on the aisle, and the aisle seat, I think, is typically slightly more desirable than the window seat because the aisle is a little more roomy. So, one idea would be to offer to switch with the woman who's at the window in case she wanted to have the aisle instead.

Leah: I'm never on the ... That's true, you could offer to switch!

Nick: Or we can do what your mom suggests, which is, "How can we make this work? What do you want me to do about it?"

Leah: [Laughing] But with my mom's voice, which is she's genuinely wondering, "How do you think this could work?"

Nick: [Giggling] Yeah, see? I can't pull it off. Yeah, can't pull it off. So, do you have etiquette questions out there that we can try and pull off? Send them to us! We would love to hear them! You can send them to us through our website,, or you can send us a text message, or leave us a voicemail; (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729) We'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

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