Nov. 1, 2021

Obeying Little Signs, Coordinating Pot Lucks, Buying Concert Tickets, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle obeying little signs, coordinating pot luck dinners, buying concert tickets, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle obeying little signs, coordinating pot luck dinners, buying concert tickets, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: The origins of "Etiquette"
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: Hosting Thanksgiving dinner
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: Should I tell someone their new boyfriend reminds me of Christian Bale in "American Psycho"? If you're bringing dessert to a pot luck, are you also responsible for bringing the dessert plates? Do I need to give up my better concert tickets in order for my daughter to be able to sit with a friend?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Bad customer service, Ordering sandwiches
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: Nice neighbors, A nice review







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 112


Nick: Do you ignore little signs? Do you comment on people's food? Do you compare people to serial killers? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out.

[Theme Song]

Here are things that can make it better

When we have to live together

We can all use a little help

So people don't ask themselves

Were you raised by wolves?

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

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And let's just get right down to it with our amuse-bouche.

Leah: [singing] Let's get in it!

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about etiquette.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Specifically, I want to talk about the word "etiquette." Leah, do you know where this word comes from?

Leah: I always misspell "etiquette."

Nick: Oh! even now?

Leah: Even now. No matter how many times I write it, which I must write it at least once a day. It's just like the word chihuahua. I cannot get it right.

Nick: Oh, it's chee-who-ah-who-ah.

Leah: It's chee-who-ah-who-ah.

Nick: [laughs] Right? So etiquette, it's French, and it's a word that literally means "label" or, like, "sticker" or "price tag" or "sign." So the question is: how did we get from etiquette meaning little sign or sticker or label to don't slurp your soup?

Leah: We took a great leap.

Nick: [laughs] So like so many things in history, it's a little murky, but all roads seem to point to Louis XIV in France. He's the guy who built Versailles, and by all accounts, he was a bit fussy. And Miss Manners talks about how he had the habit of quote, "Continually posting arbitrary new rules of behavior." And he kept setting and changing the rules. And all of this was just like a big power play, and Miss Manners says that is not a proper function of etiquette. So apparently, things got very complicated at Versailles: what to wear, how to act, who could stand where. And if you were a noble and you wanted to get on the King's good side, you'd do it.

Nick: And apparently, things were so complicated that what the King did is he put up little signs all over the place reminding people how to behave. And so those little signs are called "etiquettes." And so it was literally like, "Keep off the grass." And so this is how we got the idea of behavior around the word "Little sign."

Leah: I love that. It reminds me of, like, the little sticky papers I have everywhere around the house reminding me of things.

Nick: Yeah, same principle. Now Cindy Post Senning, who is one of the great granddaughters of Emily Post, she tells a version of this story that may or may not be true, but I'll pass it along. Do with it as you wish. She says that every summer at Versailles, there's a big party. And all the people would come and they would trash the place. They would just be, like, garbage everywhere afterwards. And the King was like, "I don't care for this." And so the King went to his gardener and was like, "What are we gonna do?" And so they decided that they were gonna put up signs all over the place like, "Stay out of the fountain," "Don't pick the flowers," "Stay off the grass." And so the next time they had that big summer party, the signs worked, and so they kept it.

Nick: So I guess it was like a big Bonnaroo or Fyre Festival or Coachella. Is that what was going on at Versailles without these signs? Maybe. So point being, there were a lot of signs, they were called "etiquettes," and that's where it comes from.

Leah: I love it. And also, I would listen to all of history as narrated and summarized by Nicholas Leighton, because it would be so much fun. Like, "Apparently he was a little fussy." And, you know, I could see the whole thing. I want to do a whole history with you.

Nick: Oh, okay. Our next podcast series. That's coming up.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to go deep.

Leah: Deep and delicious.

Nick: So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about Thanksgiving dinner, specifically being the host of Thanksgiving dinner.

Leah: I'm very excited about this.

Nick: Have you ever hosted Thanksgiving?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Okay. How'd it go?

Leah: Well, we hosted in our New York apartment.

Nick: Oh, all four square feet?

Leah: All—yes.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: On multiple occasions. So ...

Nick: Okay. How many people showed up?

Leah: I'd say eight-ish.

Nick: That's a lot of people!

Leah: It's a lot of people in 800 square feet. So ...

Nick: Oh, 800. What are you saying?

Leah: 800. Who am I kidding? 400. That's our apartment now. 400 square feet.

Nick: Yeah. I was like, "You had 800 square feet? I don't think so.

Leah: No, I most certainly did not.

Nick: Who are you? A millionaire?

Leah: I know! I'm a Vanderbilt.

Nick: Yeah, you live on Vanderbilt Avenue.

Leah: I really enjoy hosting so, you know, obviously we couldn't do, like, a full sit down in an apartment the way it was set up in New York.

Nick: Right.

Leah: So you make it fun.

Nick: Yeah, it has to be a little more buffet-style, a little more casual, a little more like oh, we're sitting on the couch with the plate in our lap kind of style.

Leah: Yeah, we're splitting up the table into two places because a full table can't fit in one room.

Nick: Right.

Leah: But I really enjoy—I really enjoy hosting a gathering centered around food.

Nick: Sure! For me, I've done Thanksgiving a few times, although historically I'm actually not in the United States for Thanksgiving. I usually use it as an opportunity to travel somewhere else. Because I'm from the West Coast, I live on the East Coast, and so you get me for one major holiday, not both. So I go home for Christmas, and then Thanksgiving. I usually do something else. So I've actually spent Thanksgivings in all sorts of random places. Like, I've been in Beirut, I've been in Tokyo. I do recall having Thanksgiving dinner at a McDonald's in Sofia, Bulgaria, one year, which actually was wonderful.

Nick: But I think when you are gonna host Thanksgiving, you should have a few things in mind. And so what's first on your list?

Leah: Oh, what's first on my list? I didn't do it in any kind of an order.

Nick: No!

Leah: [laughs] Well, I think emotionally it's important to establish what kind of an event we're having.

Nick: That was first on my list, yes. So what kinds of events can we have?

Leah: We could have a seated dinner or, you know, also for Thanksgiving, people do it at very different times. Some people are like a late lunch, some people are early dinner. So set up what you're—I'm doing it at this certain time. Am I having people come before? Is it right when I'm gonna be serving food? I make sure people know that. Is it a plated dinner? Am I doing a buffet? Is it more like a potluck? Is it gonna be casual? Are we gonna have the game in the background? Decide what type of event it is.

Nick: Yes. And I think also then communicate that to potential guests.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: So that they know what type of Thanksgiving you're having.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Especially if you're gonna go off menu. Like, if you're not gonna serve turkey and you're like, "We're doing brisket this year." Or it's all vegetarian. Like, all that is fine. Serve whatever you want. But I think when you deviate from the template, I think it's important just to let guests know that that's what's happening so they don't show up expecting, like, the standard traditional Thanksgiving menu.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: I don't know who's gonna show up and be like, "There's no turkey, oh no!" But I guess maybe there's somebody out there that turkey is their favorite part of the meal. So I don't know who that person is.

Leah: I do enjoy cooking a turkey. It's very exciting.

Nick: It does feel grand, yes.

Leah: It feels very grand. It's a whole day event. It feels like a lot of responsibility.

Nick: Oh, it's a huge responsibility, sure. And I think related to deciding what type of event you want, I think you also have to decide emotionally what you want from your guests and the experience. Because I think it's a lot of anxiety, potentially, and a lot of times Thanksgiving guests do things that are not necessarily polite. Like, they try and help, or if they get in your way, or they bring a dish that needs your oven. Or they show up way too early or too late, or they brought an extra guest. And, like, all sorts of etiquette crimes do happen at Thanksgiving. And I think before you begin the evening or afternoon, you have to decide, "Am I gonna be bothered by all these potential etiquette crimes that are coming?" Or is the spirit just let it happen to you, let it wash over you. Show up, don't show up. Somebody will do something, but does it matter? And, like, am I at a good place with that? And I think if you start with that intention, like, "I'm not gonna get bothered by some of these little things," I think you'll have a better time as a host.

Leah: I think so, too. And it's just a lot easier for the way that I've had Thanksgiving dinners because they haven't been seated and plated. So I haven't had to be like, "Oh, there was only—I only have nine plates," you know what I mean?

Nick: Right.

Leah: They've been much more buffet-style.

Nick: So about some of those etiquette crimes, what do we do as a host about people who, like, show up super early and like, "Oh, I just want to help?"

Leah: Well, I say in my messages to people, you know, we'll be cooking all day. Please don't come before whatever time it is. Because especially in New York, I don't have—if we're running around in the kitchen and, like, setting up ...

Nick: Yeah, there's no room.

Leah: There's no room.

Nick: Yeah, where are you gonna go?

Leah: So I'll specifically just say, "Please come after this time because we'll be, you know, running around."

Nick: Yeah, I think that's fair.

Leah: And then I'll say what time the food's going down, so they have, like, a window, you know, of don't come before this time. This is when the food's coming down. After that, you may be getting cold food.

Nick: Right. And I think if you do have some timing that you're sort of broadcasting, it's important to stick to that. I do recall being a guest at a Thanksgiving dinner relatively recently, that I think started three hours after the time it was supposed to. Like, it wasn't like, "Oh, we're gonna be having hors d'oeuvres for a little while and, like, oh, you know, two hours later, we're gonna actually eat." It was like, "Oh, no, we're gonna do an hour and a half of hors d'oeuvres, and then food's gonna start," but then it didn't start for another three hours from there. And I was like, "Oh, I have run out of small talk."

Leah: I run out of small talk. I do remember that two years ago, our turkey took significantly longer than it should have.

Nick: Was it frozen?

Leah: I think maybe there was—you know, New York ovens, you're like, "Is this really the temperature it says it is?"

Nick: That's fair.

Leah: You know? And you can't mess around with a turkey. I'm not gonna poison people. I'm gonna wait 'til it's finished.

Nick: Okay. [laughs]

Leah: But I don't think it was three hours. I think we were just like, "Hey."

Nick: Right. What are you gonna do?

Leah: What are you gonna do? So we just got everything else ready, you know? So there's a little leeway in there when you're cooking poultry.

Nick: Yeah. Oh, no, 2:00, you know, can also mean, like, 2:15, 2:30. But I think 2:00 doesn't mean 3:30, 4:00.

Leah: I would say 2:00 doesn't mean 4:00.

Nick: Okay. I mean, I don't think it means 3:30.

Leah: [laughs] I'm giving people a wide berth.

Nick: Very wide.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Now as host of a Thanksgiving meal, which I think is unique in that it is often bringing people together who don't ordinarily dine together ...

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Like, this isn't like the friends that you always, like, grab a bite with. You know, this is sort of a group of people you don't often see maybe as often as other people you know, and often that means we might have different values or different opinions about certain ideas or topics. And so sometimes these topics do come up in conversation. And I think as host, it is not your responsibility, but I think it is often nice if you do play referee if things do get a little heated.

Leah: I agree 100 percent.

Nick: Like, you're not obligated, but I think for harmony, it is nicer to, like, jump in if you feel like, "Oh, let's table that for now. Let me get some more mashed potatoes for everybody."

Leah: Yeah, I definitely always like to introduce people if they don't know each other. Oh, and a little something about them so they could have—maybe I know that they both are interested in the same thing, or they both have done this thing. So just to give that, and then I think I would insert myself if I saw that everybody was, like, say, fighting about what is their favorite color, and it just got so—it got so heated. And I was like, "Let's not talk about the best shades of pink," or whatever they're fighting about. "Let's talk about, you know, this is a holiday. Let's watch Miracle on 34th Street." [laughs]

Nick: Gray is also the correct answer.

Leah: [singing] Blue, blue, blue.

Nick: Then next on my list is, as the host, you have prepared a delightful meal. There will be some things that your guests are not interested in eating, and it is very important to not call guests out on this. They will be polite. They may be shoving it around their plate, pretending that they're eating it. And as host, it's your job to pretend you don't notice.

Leah: Oh, definitely.

Nick: So please don't call out people for not eating everything. And then last on my list is getting people to leave. As host, this is always tricky. I think Thanksgiving, it's extra tricky because the evening has no sort of defined end time. Like, normally at a dinner party, we've had dessert, now we've moved to the living room for a cup of coffee, and then we finish our coffee and then, like, we're done. Thanksgiving? The game's still on, we're playing endless board games. Like, it never ends.

Leah: That is true.

Nick: What's a host to do?

Leah: I mean, if I had something the next day ...

Nick: You don't. It's Thanksgiving.

Leah: I know. That's what I'm saying. I don't. So I don't care. I'm not the right person on this because after the games were done, I'd be like, "Does anybody want to stay and watch all three Lord of the Rings? That's what I genuinely am like.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And usually at that point, people are like, "I think I should go home."

Nick: I mean, I guess you could say, like, "Oh, I've got to get to Mervyn's for the door buster deals tomorrow morning at 6:00."

Leah: Well, I think some people do get up early the next day, so I would say, "Hey, I gotta get up early the next day." If this was a thing that happened.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: "I gotta get up early the next day, you know, maybe we should wrap up in, like, another half hour." But I go the opposite way where I invite people to stay too long, and then they usually excuse themselves. [laughs]

Nick: Okay, like, I got to go, Leah.

Leah: Yeah, I didn't bring pajamas.

Nick: You're like, "No worries. I have pajamas for you. You can borrow these!"

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: But one idea I had for this is, I actually like the game-playing for Thanksgiving. I think that's always a nice sort of fun thing to do, and I kind of want to save it until right when I'm towards the end of the evening. And you can kind of introduce it as a "Oh, should we play a few rounds of apples to apples before everyone has to take off?" And so you could kind of phrase it as, like, "We're gonna do a few rounds of this game thing, but we will not be doing too many." And then that's everybody's signal that once the game is over, then the evening is over.

Leah: Yeah, that sounds great.

Nick: So that was—that's my little solution. I don't know if it's useful to anybody, but it works for me. Although now that I've said it? Now my secret's out. Now you know my secret.

Leah: I know, but I think that's fair. It's not even—it's not like it's bad. You're just, like, putting a time limit on let's play a few games, and then—I feel like I'd play some games. I love playing games at the end. It's so fun.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: And I always tell people up front there will be game playing, but then I think after that is usually when I start cleaning.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You know, I'll be like, "And then we can wrap it up." And then I mean, food everywhere. You gotta start. And then people sort of they're like," Oh, can I help?" And you're like, "No, I got it." And then they're like, "Oh, maybe I'll take a piece of this home." And you're like, "Why don't you take some of this home?"

Nick: And, like, "Here's the Tupperware. I'm putting it by the front door for you to grab."

Leah: "I'm putting it in here for you." Because I do think people often—you know, you've had food, you've had camaraderie, you played a game. I think most people are done. They want to go home, you know? You just gotta give the signal. You give the signal. "I'm gonna start cleaning up."

Nick: So you say that, but the number of hosts who have contacted us and are like, "How do I get people to leave? I've done all the signals: I've swept. I've vacuumed around them. I've gotten into my own PJs. I've yawned very loudly. I've told people, "Leave, please!" And they don't get the hint. You know, some people just don't get the hint. So I think if people really just don't get the hint, at a certain point, I think you are allowed to be like, "It was so lovely having you, but unfortunately, it is time to leave." Say it in a slightly more polite way, but I think you just have to be direct at some point."

Leah: Yeah. And I think that if you know you have friends that are like that, it's good in the invite to say, you know, "You'll be home in bed by blank." You know what I mean? So they know they're ...

Nick: Oh, like that person takes that hint.

Leah: I know. But at least that way, it's already been said, you know? So you don't have to feel like you're dropping anything on them. I think that actually helps with the anxiety of the host to be like, "I've said there's an out time. I don't have to feel bad about it."

Nick: That's fair, yes. Even if it's not respected, at least you did say it. So at least you're sort of on the record.

Leah: You know, I already was on the record saying this.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And I think it's absolutely fair to be like, "Hey, I gotta go to bed, so thank you so much for coming."

Nick: I love that most of our conversation is really not about hosting, but it's about how to get people out of your house.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] That's hosting, I think, at the end of the day, yeah. It's not about the hosting.

Leah: What I love about hosting is, I mean, it's so fun to get Thanksgiving napkins, and I'm gonna go wild.

Nick: Yes. As hosts, it's a lot of responsibility, but it's a lot of privilege too, because you are in control of the evening and you get to do whatever you want. And that's fun, for sure.

Leah: I think it's so fun. Just cooking for people is fun.

Nick: But at the end of the day, I think we can all agree that Thanksgiving? One of the top holidays.

Leah: Such a great time.

Nick: Yeah, top 10, at least.

Leah: Top—I'll put it in the top five.

Nick: Yeah. Top three.

Leah: Top three. Let's top three it.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. Done.

Leah: Done.

Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.

Leah: [howls]

Nick: So our first question is quote, "I just met my half sister's new boyfriend, and I got vibes that reminded me of Christian Bale's character in American Psycho. Can I tell her?"

Leah: I love this question.

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: Because if you know me, you know that if someone said this to me, I'd be like, "Thank you!" [laughs]

Nick: Oh! That would be your answer. Interesting. So for anybody who doesn't know, American Psycho is a movie from the '80s, and Christian Bale plays a character called Patrick Bateman. And he's a New York City investment banker who also is a serial killer. And it was also actually a great musical on Broadway, which I think I'm the only one who liked. I actually really liked it. It closed relatively quickly. And back to the movie, there's actually this amazing scene about business cards.

Leah: I knew you were about to say that. I was like, "I guarantee you."

Nick: Yes, it's a wonderful, pivotal scene in the movie ...

Leah: It is a pivotal scene.

Nick: ... where they are, like, trading different types of business cards and, like, how they're printed and how thick they are. And, like, there's a watermark.

Leah: The font.

Nick: It's really amazing. And at the end, you see both the business cards and they're, like, identical.

Leah: [laughs] I'll post a link to it in our show notes. So is this flattering? Because the character is very handsome, very charismatic.

Leah: Very handsome man.

Nick: Wealthy, man about town, great taste, expensive apartment, all of these things.

Leah: I mean, it's Christian Bale.

Nick: Also, it's Christian Bale.

Leah: I just think it's very funny, you know? But that's my sense of humor.

Nick: Yeah. I think, know your audience on this one. I think broadly speaking, unless your half sister is in danger of being murdered, I think we don't say anything.

Leah: Obviously, she doesn't think this man is a serial killer, because that wouldn't be a solid comment. I think she just means this person is intense in the way that Christian Bale portrayed this character in a movie.

Nick: Yes. Oh, absolutely, yes. No, if there was actual danger of being murdered, then the conversation with your half sister is, "You might be murdered!"

Leah: Right.

Nick: "In which case, let's fix that." But if it's just like, "Oh, your new boyfriend reminds me of someone very intense or, like, high-powered or 1980s businessman-y."

Leah: Really into font in an aggressive, '80s investment banker way.

Nick: And if that felt like a compliment.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: That's also important, because this also has to feel like a compliment. Because I think not a lot of people would like to be seen as aggressive investment banker from the '80s.

Leah: Yes, exactly. So I think there's ...

Nick: Or I'll just speak for myself.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: I would not want to be thought of as an aggressive investment banker from the '80s. I don't look good in double breasted. I just don't. I'm not built that way. I'm very—I've become a very weird shape.

Leah: So I think it's twofold then. Is this a person who would get that you're trying to give this as a compliment?

Nick: Right.

Leah: And B) obviously, actual serial killing isn't funny, nice, good. All of those words.

Nick: Oh, no! Murdering people is rude!

Leah: Rude!

Nick: Very frowned upon in the etiquette world.

Leah: At the very bottom of all of the things it is, it's definitely rude.

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: So as long as this person understands, then I think those are just the two issues I want to clearly highlight. We're not saying serial killing is funny.

Nick: No.

Leah: Or violence in any way. Or that if a person wouldn't get why this is a compliment.

Nick: Right.

Leah: These would be the reasons not to bring it up.

Nick: That is all correct. Okay. So letter writer, did you say something? If so, let us know how it went.

Leah: Please tell us.

Nick: So our next question is quote, "My husband's colleagues plus their families are having a potluck-style picnic this weekend. There appears to be no dedicated host or planner, nor is there a sign-up for food or drinks. The only information I have is that one of his colleagues has said he's bringing barbecued chicken, and that there will be approximately 15 people. My husband and I decided to bring three homemade pies. I said that we should also bring dessert plates, since we are essentially bringing an additional course to the meal. But my husband disagrees, and thinks that 'someone' quote unquote, will probably offer to bring utensils and plates for everyone, and that we can just ask them to also bring dessert plates. My question is this: when bringing dessert to a potluck event, is it the responsibility of the dessert-bringing party to also come with dessert plates? Or if someone does volunteer to bring plates and utensils, is it appropriate to ask them to also bring dessert plates too?"

Leah: I got hungry as soon as the pies came in. I just want to say that really quick.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: I think because it sort of seems very thrown together in, like, a fun, let's all do this kind of a way ...

Nick: Oh, this potluck is chaos.

Leah: It's chaos. But I think it's a fun chaos. I think you're gonna have a great time. There's gonna be good food.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I'd say bring those dessert plates. Just grab a pack of plates, because we don't even know ...

Nick: What's the harm?

Leah: We don't even know who's bringing ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: There may be no plates for any of the meals.

Nick: Oh, yeah. No, you're gonna be eating soup out of your hands.

Leah: I think just grab a pack of paper plates.

Nick: Yeah. And forks. Bring everything you need to serve your dessert. I'd even bring napkins.

Leah: I'm in agreement with you.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, in general, for a potluck, there should be someone sort of coordinating, because the idea of a potluck is that we all come together and, through all of us, we all cover all the parts of a meal. Somebody brings appetizers, somebody has dessert, somebody has beverages, somebody has plates. Like, somebody has covered all of the categories. And you do typically need to have some organization to achieve this. And it's usually easier if one person sort of like helps coordinate that. So regarding sort of the second question that we're asked: is it the responsibility of the person bringing dessert to bring dessert plates? Not necessarily. It just depends on what's being coordinated. Like, if somebody is responsible for bringing all the plates and the forks and the stuff for everybody, then yes, just let that person know, "Oh, I'm bringing pie." Just like, "Do you have something for that or not?" And if they say, "Oh, I don't," you could offer just to bring it yourself too. But I think that's important anytime you're bringing anything that is beyond just the main meal plate.

Nick: So if you're bringing a soup or you're bringing a dessert, like, if you're bringing anything that you wouldn't want put on the main plate, I think there is some further conversation required.

Leah: And in a case where it's, as you said, chaos ...

Nick: It's chaos here.

Leah: Just be safe and bring it. I would also love to know if any plates were actually brought at all. You know what I mean? What ended up happening?

Nick: No, there were no plates here. Of course not.

Leah: [laughs] People using their shirts, you know what I mean?

Nick: I mean, who plans a potluck this way? "Oh, we're having a potluck. Come on down." And that's the end of it.

Leah: It's going to be a lot of macaroni salads.

Nick: It's a lot of hummus.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I bought tickets to a concert for a famous music group, and I got really good front row seats for me and my 10-year-old daughter. They were $250 each. My daughter's coming along mostly because I'm a fan, but she's heard of them and she likes them too. After I bought the tickets, I mentioned this to the mom of one of my daughter's really good friends, who is also 10, and it turns out her daughter is a really big fan of this group. I got an early access to the tickets through my credit card company, and I offered to pick up tickets for them if they wanted to join.

Nick: "The mom said that she had to think about it, and then two days later, she said that she got her own tickets for about $140 each about 10 rows behind us. She also said that she bought four tickets just in case. Now she's asking me if I can sell my tickets and buy her extra two so that our daughters can sit together. While it will be fun to go with friends, I personally don't want to do this as I got really good tickets. My daughter is really indifferent and doesn't care either way, but I feel like the other mom has put me in a difficult situation as now I'm feeling guilty as I feel like we are disappointing the other 10-year-old friend. Maybe I could tell her that we could do a pre-concert party? How would you recommend we handle this?"

Leah: I think you could tell by my Thanksgiving hosting where I like to have a room where everybody's happy, that I like to find a way to make everybody happy if possible.

Nick: Sure. I don't know if that's possible here.

Leah: I think that you clearly are very invested in the tickets that you bought, and you want to be up front.

Nick: Right. So I think we want mom to have that seat.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Right.

Leah: And I get the idea by this that her daughter actually isn't invested in sitting with her friend.

Nick: I get the idea that this is like a typical, like, 10 year old who's like, "Whatever."

Leah: So I think if our daughter isn't really—like, if her daughter really wanted to sit with her friend, then I think we can have the daughter sit with the friend and then you bring another friend, so you both are in those seats. So I don't want our letter writer to give up her seats.

Nick: Okay. So you're suggesting that we let both of the daughters sit 10 rows back, and we'll buy one of those tickets. And then I will use the extra ticket that I have for somebody else that I will invite.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Oh, okay. Interesting.

Leah: But I actually don't get the idea that the daughter is interested in sitting 10 rows back with a friend.

Nick: I mean, I think the daughter likes the idea of having really good seats.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: But I think is not passionate about it enough.

Leah: But I think she also doesn't seem passionate enough about sitting with the friend either, and the mom seems to want to share this experience with her daughter.

Nick: Well, I think also, the mom shouldn't have bought four tickets without asking, and is trying to unload $280 worth of merch.

Leah: Yeah, that's the other mom. I absolutely agree with you.

Nick: There's also that.

Leah: So I think that we could say, "I really want to share this with my daughter up close. It's one of my favorite bands. Why don't we do—" I like this pre-concert party idea.

Nick: I like the pre-concert party. That was sort of my first suggestion. You keep your seats, you keep the original plan, and you just say, like, "We've decided we're gonna keep our original seats, but let's do this other thing." And I think that would probably be the conversation.

Leah: I do feel like you're allowed to have something that you really care about and wanted to share with your daughter as an experience. And this is clearly one of your favorite bands, and you wanted to take her and sit up front with her. And I think that that's allowed.

Nick: Yes. And I think this other parent should not have made some assumptions about how this evening was gonna go down. And I do agree that their behavior was not ideal, that they just did it without any conversation.

Leah: And then wanting you to sell your tickets was not appropriate.

Nick: Yeah. Asking that and be, like, "Hey, would you give up your better seats so that we can have worse seats further back?"

Leah: Especially when our letter writer already offered. She offered originally to get the tickets.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Through her advance credit card. That way they'd be together. And the woman decided to decline that offer and get these other tickets. Which is fine, but then it's not your responsibility.

Nick: Yeah, it's not your responsibility to reimburse her for a purchase she should not have made. Correct.

Leah: And I think that the pre-concert party is great if the daughters want to hang out. And if the daughter really wants to hang out, she can go back and sit with them. And then you can bring another friend.

Nick: Yes. I mean, bringing another friend does cost you another $140, so that's the only thing to note.

Leah: Well, I'm sure there would be a friend that would want to buy the ticket.

Nick: Oh, I see. We're not offering that ticket as a guest sort of thing. We're saying oh, does somebody else want to buy it?

Leah: No, we're saying, "Who wants to buy this ticket and sit with me?"

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I just feel like she bought her tickets first, she invited her friend. This is clearly something she's passionate about and wants to share with her daughter. I think it's fine to do the pre-show party.

Nick: Totally fine. So you have our permission to do that. Let us know how it goes, though.

Leah: Please. And let us know what band it is. We won't share it. I feel like she didn't want to share it. She didn't tell us.

Nick: Yeah, she didn't want to tell us who it was. So I wonder if it was something she was, like, embarrassed about.

Leah: Oh, I don't think she's embarrassed. I don't think she's embarrassed.

Nick: Like it's The Wiggles. Like, did she just pay $500 for Wiggles tickets?

Leah: I mean, if it's The Wiggles?

Nick: Mm-hmm? Front row!

Leah: If it's front row at The Wiggles, I will—I bet a million to one it's not front row at The Wiggles.

Nick: [laughs] Okay. All right, you're on, Leah. You better hope it's not The Wiggles.

Leah: [laughs] A million paper clips. I'll bet you a million paper clips. We all know I don't have a million dollars.

Nick: [laughs] So do you have questions for us? Let us know. You can let us know through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW.

Nick: And we're back. And now it's time to play a game we like to call Vent or Repent.

Leah: Vent or repent!

Nick: Which is our opportunity to vent about some bad etiquette experience we've had recently, or we can repent for some etiquette faux pas we've committed. So Leah, would you like to vent or repent?

Leah: I'm gonna vent, Nick.

Nick: Oh! Weird.

Leah: And I've been venting all week about this. I vented on Instagram. I vented to you.

Nick: Take it global!

Leah: It's still deep, deep inside my soul. I was trying to think of something to repent about, to mix it up and not to continue this rage fest I have, but you know what? I'm gonna double down and continue venting.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I'd like to keep this vague.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: Just because there's a lot of details that aren't important to the actual etiquette crime.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: It's just more irritating, upsetting and angry. But the actual etiquette crime? I had an issue of which we'll just say customer service had to get involved.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: That's as vague as—and the gentleman at the other end, I've never had to use this service that I pay very much money for, that I pay handsomely for.

Nick: So you're a customer of a corporation.

Leah: Of a corporation that may or may not involve insurance. I have never had to use it, so I'm unsure how it's used. I've been paying for it. I call in. After multiple phone calls to multiple people and multiple messages, I finally have the person who is quote unquote "working with me," or I think we can all say working against me to help me with my claim. I tell this person what happened. They straight up tell me what I said happened didn't happen to me. They said, "Oh, people never say that."

Nick: And you're like, "But I just said that."

Leah: "But it just happened, and I'm telling you what was said to me. And since I have no experience with this, I need you to tell me what to do. That's the whole point of this service." And this man doubled down and was just like, "That doesn't happen. People don't say that." I don't even know what to do with this kind of information.

Nick: Yes. Well, when we don't agree on the facts, there's very few opportunities to move forward.

Leah: There's no opportunities. Also, historically, like, I've done everything right. This is what bothers me: I pay on time. I do all the right things. I haven't done anything else that would be like red flags or whatever. And so when I present something to you, I would like to have at least money in the bank where you believe the words coming out of my mouth. Calling somebody dishonest from the get go, I think is rude.

Nick: Yes, yes. I mean, it's so weird, you had a rude customer service experience? Wow!

Leah: I can't even—I don't even know what to do with it. I was like, "I'm sorry, what?" And he's like, "Oh, people just don't say that." And I was like, "Oh no, I'm telling you it was said to me, and now I don't know what to do about it." "Oh, people don't say that." Who are you, gaslighter man?

Nick: Although, have you not ever had a bad customer service experience? You make it sound like this is the first time for you. Is this, like, your first time?

Leah: This is not my first time in customer experience. This is the first time that I got so angry that I involved a supervisor, let's be honest.

Nick: [gasps] You went to a supervisor?

Leah: I went to a supervisor.

Nick: Did you say the words, "Can I talk to your supervisor?"

Leah: No, I did not. I wasn't ready to do that. I'll tell you what I did do. I hung up. I called back and I said, "Who else can I talk to?"

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Because I've got a dud.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And I don't know how to move forward with somebody who doesn't even understand, won't even let me have the situation that I'm actually having.

Nick: Yes, he was denying your reality.

Leah: Denying my reality! And I think everybody who listens to *Were You Raised By Wolves know that that's my, like—I can't handle it when people act like you're being dishonest in some way. Because it's also condescending. They're like, "That doesn't happen, little lady."

Nick: Yeah, that's really actually why I think you're outraged is that this was condescending.

Leah: It's so condescending.

Nick: Like, "Oh, bless your heart. Of course you're not correct." Yeah.

Leah: And let me tell you, the supervisor didn't call me back.

Nick: No, of course not.

Leah: He called me back again, and obviously listened to the message I left on the supervisor's machine because he repeated it to me. So I mean, obviously, I would be switching people. I'd rather pay somebody else to be fake nice to me.

Nick: Yeah. No, I would pay a little more for some insincerity. Absolutely.

Leah: I mean, what? "That didn't happen." I can't even. I can't even, Nick. You know I've been worked up all week. A supervisor! I've never even returned food items.

Nick: Yeah. No, you've never sent any food back, you've never asked to speak to a supervisor. Yeah, you've never escalated a call. We're very different on all of these fronts.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Well, for me, I would also like to vent. And just from the start, I just want to acknowledge that this is probably irrational, and I should not have been so worked up about this, and I really need a vacation. And so I just want to preface that this is—you know, I should not have had the strong feelings I did. But in my neighborhood there is a sandwich place, and it's a small little place, And it's really neighborhood-y. It's just for people that live in the neighborhood and work in the neighborhood, and very rare to see tourists in there. And it's a very small menu. Like, there's, like, three salads, and then there's, like, four different ingredients that they sort of recombine in different ways to make different sandwiches. And when you walk in, you just, like, give the number. So it's like, "Hey, I want the number four on focaccia," and then you step down to the cashier and you pay and then you step to the side and wait for your sandwich to actually be handed to you. That's the system.

Nick: So I'm dashing between meetings and I'm hungry, and I was like, "Oh, let me just grab a salad." So I pop in, and I just want a niçoise salad. It's already pre-made, it's in the case. They just need to grab it and, like, give it to the cashier and, like, we're good to go. And there's a guy, and presumably it's, like, his wife and son with him. And they're in line in front of me. And there's a lot of contemplation going on. And as we've discussed, the number one crime in New York City is stepping up to a counter and not being ready to order. It is so crucial that you be ready. It is like the number one crime. If you ever visit New York City and you're gonna place an order, if you are not ready we all hate you. It's just universal. It's just like a thing in New York.

Nick: And so he was not ready. So it started with, "Oh, what sort of bread do you have?" Now all the bread is up on a shelf. You can see it. There's only four types: baguette, multigrain, sourdough, focaccia. That's it. But maybe you missed it. Maybe you didn't see it. Maybe you're not exactly sure: is that sourdough? Is that just white? Like, what kind is it? Okay, fine. You can ask the question. But then he's now conferring with the other family members, like, "Oh, what do you want to get? Oh, what were you thinking?" And there's, like, a lot of conversation. And I'm like, "Oh, this is gonna be forever." And then things got very specific. Questions like, "Do you have unsweetened hibiscus peach iced tea?" That's not on the menu. That's not a thing they have. Why would you ask that? Why would you think they would have this very specific menu item? Like, that's weird. And then this is what sent me over the edge: "Can I taste the chicken salad?"

Leah: What? What?

Nick: Taste the chicken salad? Are we in an ice cream parlor? What? It has never occurred to me to taste an individual sandwich ingredient before making a decision. I would just roll the dice on the chicken salad.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: I'm not gonna taste it. But the sandwich place? They indulge him. They got a spoon and they, like, scooped a little bit out and hand it to him. And, like, he's doing a tasting like it's wine. He's, like, getting the notes of it, you know, and the finish. And he is, like, looking at it. And it's sort of like, "It's chicken salad, guys. Like, what are we doing?" And then he, like, turns to the other people in his family and is like, "Should I get it, or should get the tuna?" And then he says, "Can I try the tuna?"

Leah: No!

Nick: I audibly gasped.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Audibly gasped. And it was loud. It was totally involuntary. Did not mean to do it, should not have done it, but I did do [gasps].

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So he saw me do that because it was sort of like, "What are you doing? Now we're sampling multiple meat salads? Like, is that what we're doing here? Is that what's happening?" Is this the thing that happens elsewhere in the country and I don't know about it? In New York City, it's the first time for me.

Nick: And so eventually he did get his order taken care of, and I was able to buy my niçoise salad and leave. But I mean, it was just like, I had so much rage. I had flames on the side of my face. It was just like so much rage. I had so much rage. And so the only good thing that came out of this is as I was leaving, I was like, "Oh, good! Now I have something to talk about for my next vent." So that's the only good part of this.

Leah: I can visualize you in line. Like, I can see the whole thing.

Nick: Who gets a sample ...

Leah: Nobody.

Leah: Of chicken salad or tuna salad? Who is that?

Leah: Nobody does this.

Nick: No! So yes, I need a vacation. But also, no one should do that.

Leah: [laughs] You audibly gasped. I love it! I love it! I love it!

Nick: That should be my new ringtone.

Leah: That's what I was thinking. That's exactly what I was thinking.

Nick: Can you imagine if your phone does that when it rings?

Leah: It would be hilarious. I would get a Nicholas Leighton gasp ringtone. [gasps]

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I learned where the word "etiquette" comes from.

Nick: Oh, sure.

Leah: I got the full historical tour.

Nick: Well, it wasn't a full historical tour. You got some highlights.

Leah: Well, in my visualization, it was very vivid.

Nick: And I learned that you like Christian Bale.

Leah: Yes. Straight across the board, I love Christian Bale.

Nick: So thank you, Leah.

Leah: Thank you, Nick.

Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. I'd send you a handwritten note on my custom stationery if I could.

Leah: He would if he could!

Nick: So for your homework this week, we want you to consider supporting our show. And you can become a monthly member through Patreon.

Leah: Oh, we would love for you to join us!

Nick: So go to our website, click on "monthly membership," and see if that's something you'd like to do. We'd really appreciate it.

Leah: We would appreciate it deeply.

Nick: And we'll see you next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

Nick: All right, Leah, it's time for Cordials of Kindness, the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!

Leah: I have so many people, but I'm gonna go with—and I may have said this ...

Nick: 30 seconds.

Leah: Aah! Okay, so I'm gonna say our neighbors, Nick and Teel, who live directly across from us in the same building, which I haven't had in so long. And it's so amazing to have somebody that you can—I genuinely asked if they had an egg the other day, because I was mid-recipe and I texted, "Do you have an egg?" And I mean, what kind of an amazing life am I living that I have neighbors right next door?

Nick: Yeah!

Leah: And they'll text us, "Can you grab our mail? We're not home. We got a package." And it's just so wonderful to have great, amazing neighbors.

Nick: That is very nice, if you care for that sort of thing, which I do not.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So for me, I want to read a lovely review, which is quote, "Where has this been all my life? The second I heard Nick mention Mummenschanz, I was all in."

Leah: I love it! I love it! I love it!

Nick: And just for anyone who doesn't know—which should hopefully be everybody—Mummenschanz is this mask theater troupe from Switzerland that was very big in the 1970s and 1980s. And they do these sort of like surreal performances usually, like, with masks. And I mention it because in some conversation, Leah was mentioning that sometimes during a Zoom she'll have her camera off because, like, there's a lot going on in her apartment that she doesn't want people to see. And I think I just said, like, "Oh, is there a Mummenschanz performance happening in your apartment?" And so that's why I mentioned it. I don't know why that was in my head. I don't think about this Swiss theater troupe from the '70s very often, but when I do, I think about it in your apartment, Leah.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So thank you for that lovely review. We really appreciate it.

Leah: We appreciate it.