April 25, 2022

Passing People in Theaters, Removing Shoes in Homes, Using Coasters Properly, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle passing people in theater aisles, removing shoes in people's homes, using coasters properly, and much more.


Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle passing people in theater aisles, removing shoes in people's homes, using coasters properly, 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

 

EPISODE CONTENTS

  • AMUSE-BOUCHE: Passing people in theaters
  • A QUESTION OF ETIQUETTE: Taking off shoes in people's homes
  • QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS: What do you do if there aren't enough coasters? What do I do about a new friend who's contacting me too much? What do I say to people who say "I'm confused" when they're not?
  • VENT OR REPENT: Being friendly in small towns, Things that don't go together
  • CORDIALS OF KINDNESS: A free meal, A thoughtful gift

 

THINGS MENTIONED DURING THE SHOW

 

YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO...

 

CREDITS

Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian

 

TRANSCRIPT

Episode 136

 

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Transcript

Nick: Do you pass people in theaters the wrong way? Do you not remove your shoes when asked? Do you stalk people from the gym? 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: Woo!

Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I would like to take you to the theater.

Leah: I immediately thought of that. The theater? The theater? What happened to the theater?

Nick: [laughs] Exactly. So let's go to the theater. Actually, we've been to the theater. What did we see last? I think we saw Hamilton together.

Leah: Yes, we did!

Nick: Yes! And we had good seats because I won the lottery.

Leah: We had amazing seats.

Nick: So those lottery seats? Orchestra, I think second row, they were good.

Leah: We were right there. It was phenomenal. We were right under people's faces.

Nick: And so that was great. And so getting to those seats, we had to pass a lot of people who were already seated. So the question today is: which way should you face? Should you face the stage and have your butt towards the people seated? Should you face the back of the auditorium and face the people in the seats? Or do you somehow walk directly straight ahead and go down the aisle that way? What is the proper way to pass people in seats?

Leah: Well, directly straight ahead is off the table. There is not that much width.

Nick: Yeah. No, that seems like not an option.

Leah: So I can take that one off the table. So now I'm back to 50/50.

Nick: Right, that's it.

Leah: Every time we do 50/50, I'm pretty sure I've gotten it wrong. So ...

Nick: Yeah, your odds are not good.

Leah: [laughs] I'm gonna go ...

Nick: Well, what do you do?

Leah: I'm pretty sure—I'm trying to think of what I do. I feel like I've probably switched it up, but I feel like I go—my face is towards the stage.

Nick: Okay. So yes, in the United States, that is typically what we do. And most all of the etiquette gurus agree that that's what we do. And so Emily Post, she has weighed in on this, and she says you should do that and you should, quote, "Press as close to the backs of the seats you are facing as you can, and be sure to not drag anything across the heads of those sitting in front of you." She warns that a coat over an arm can, quote, "Literally devastate the hairdressing of a lady."

Leah: But also even take out somebody's eyeball.

Nick: How are you gonna do that?

Leah: You're just swinging it.

Nick: What are you doing?

Leah: You see these people that just swing their coats around? And you're like ...

Nick: That's true.

Leah: We're in a very tight space!

Nick: And then Amy Vanderbilt, she agrees with Emily and you, and she wants you to say phrases like, "Please excuse me," or "I beg your pardon." But she does not want you just to say, "Excuse me," or "Pardon," because she says that's too curt. And she wants you to give people the opportunity to sort of move around you without barging in. Like, you've got to give people the opportunity to shift their knees.

Leah: Yeah, I always like to—and obviously people can't see me at home. I always like to do—when I'm coming in, I do like a little, like, "Hey, I'm coming" wave and point. "Oh, I'm down." You know what I mean? So they know I'm coming through. And then I feel like you could say, "Excuse me" if you said it in, like, a lovely—because a "Excuse me" sounds just not curt.

Nick: Yeah. Saying "Pardon" or "Excuse me" I feel like—I think that's allowed at this point. We've evolved on this.

Leah: [growling] Excuse me!

Nick: Now ...

Leah: I can't believe I got one right! This is phenomenal!

Nick: Well, there are some etiquette gurus who disagree. So Letitia Baldrige, she wants you to look people in the eye as you're apologizing to them. And she was the White House social secretary in the Kennedy administration, and she's also the one that updated Amy Vanderbilt's etiquette book. So she's not a slouch when it comes to etiquette, but she tends to have more European sensibilities. Like, she would much rather you, like, keep the fork on the left. Like, she definitely thinks that if it's European it's better, quote unquote. Which is not true. But I think that's where she kind of falls on a lot of these things. So I think that's probably why she thinks that, because it is true in Europe, in Australia, they do face the other way.

Leah: Well, now we know to turn around if we're in the ...

Nick: Yes. Oh, I think that's also good to note that if you are going to the theater in Europe or Australia, yes, they probably would prefer that you turn around and make eye contact with them as you're apologizing.

Leah: I mean, how intimate is that? You're just like moving. I mean, you're knee-to-knee. You know what I mean? There's never space in there. And then you're deeply gazing into their eyes? I can't. I would have a breakdown.

Nick: I think in America, we tend to want a little more fiction than other places. Like, we want to create the fiction that this thing is not happening, that this person is not passing in front of us. And so I think when you have your back to us as you're passing me, that creates the illusion somehow that you are not actually passing me because we're not making eye contact. And it's sort of like this passive thing. So I feel like that's why that's slightly more American.

Leah: We do enjoy being like, "Oh, this isn't happening."

Nick: Because also I think the equivalent is sort of in an elevator. Like, if you got in an elevator, and everybody was up against the walls of the elevator like it's a Gravitron and facing each other in the car, like, how bizarre is that? So we don't do that.

Leah: Also, how fantastic that you brought up the Graviton, because that was one of my favorite rides as a kid.

Nick: Oh, yeah. No, that was the best. But can you imagine as an adult, if you're in an elevator and everybody's looking at everybody else? Like, what a nightmare.

Leah: I would be like, "Did I walk in on something? Is this some sort of a—" I would think I walked into, like, a weird cult where we were chanting. We're gonna face each other in an elevator? Nightmare.

Nick: Yeah. See what kind of footwear everybody has, and if they match, get off at the next floor.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: And then finally, if you're actually seated and somebody is passing you, it is polite to stand if you can, especially if the seats fold up. So if the seats are the fold-up kind and you can stand, that gives everybody a lot more room to get by. And so that is courteous to do that.

Leah: I always try to because sometimes you get there and then you put your bag down, or there's something on the floor. I move that out of the way when people come.

Nick: Absolutely, yeah.

Leah: Make sure you grab it, pick it up, move it. You don't want people tripping and breaking an ankle.

Nick: Yeah. No, you want to move your knees, you want to try and make way? Yeah, you want to make an effort.

Leah: I'm still really excited that I got that one right.

Nick: Congratulations!

Leah: Thank you!


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

Leah: I'm gonna say deep and shoeless, but then I'm giving it away.

Nick: Well, for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about taking off your shoes.

Leah: In people's houses.

Nick: In people's houses, yes. And so what is actually really interesting, I find, is that we get a lot of questions from you all in the wilderness, and they come in clusters. Like, one week we'll get all these questions about one very specific topic. So it's like, "Oh, that's in the zeitgeist right now." And so this week, we have gotten a tremendous number of questions about shoes: taking them off, leaving them on, inviting people over. And what's also interesting is, because we hear from so many people, we also get a lot of perspective, a lot of different angles on the same question.

Nick: So for example, here's an email we got from somebody who hosts people in their home. Quote, "After I visited Japan many years ago, I started to remove my shoes at home. Now I have a nine month old that is crawling, so I see it as necessary. Some of my guests get very offended when I ask if they would mind removing their shoes. Am I being rude? My husband's family completely ignore me when I ask. I just don't want my baby crawling on germs. Am I crazy?" So interesting question. And then we get it from the guest perspective. So an example of that is, quote, "What do you do when you're invited to a friend's home and are at the door and asked to remove your shoes and spend the evening in your stockings or bare feet? It's not as if we were told ahead of time to bring a change of shoes or slippers."

Leah: So to our first letter-writer, I want to say up top, congratulations on your new baby!

Nick: Yes, congratulations!

Leah: I love that we got the letter from both opposing thoughts.

Nick: Yes. And these are just examples. We have received many more questions from people wanting to discuss shoes in houses, on or off, et cetera, et cetera. So it's interesting. It's in the zeitgeist. But before we get going, I just want to note there are actually people who cannot take their shoes off for actual health reasons. And as a reminder, just health, safety, these always trump etiquette. So, like, if you have a reason why you just need to keep your shoes on, well then, of course. Like, of course, just keep your shoes on.

Leah: Oh, I'm glad you brought that up. Very good point.

Nick: So just want to mention that.

Leah: I do feel like I've always been around shoe removal because, you know, you live in a place where there's very strong seasons, you got mud season.

Nick: And then construction.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: That's what happens in Maine.

Leah: It's always on the bottom of your feet. You got to take those shoes off or you're tracking it through the whole house.

Nick: Yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. Yeah, it is not unreasonable to not want dirt in your house. Like, that's a fine thing to feel. Absolutely.

Leah: And then I feel like in New York, a lot of my friends just had no shoes rule. It was very common.

Nick: Yes. I mean, this is regional. So in Japan, I mean, it's almost universal. In Maine, probably almost universal. In New York City, I mean, it is so disgusting what is happening outside. Like, I actually just got home the other day, and I was fumbling with my keys and I had a cup of coffee which was dripping. And so I actually had to set the cup of coffee down on the floor to, like, get my keys out. And then there was, like, some coffee on the floor of my hallway. And so I got a paper towel to clean it up. And just a couple of drips, but the amount of black soot that came up on this paper towel from my hallway—and there's only one other apartment past me, and they do clean those floors every week. And so where is this grime coming from?

Leah: Air. The New York Air.

Nick: It's just disgusting, this town.

Leah: Well, you've been on the subway.

Nick: Ugh!

Leah: I don't even let my clothes that were outside touch my bedroom.

Nick: Oh, I know lots of people that change into, like, house clothes, like Mister Rogers when they get home. Absolutely.

Leah: I can't even tell you how much I love Mr. Rogers. And I always change into house clothes. And now that you brought it up, I wonder if that's where it's from deep inside.

Nick: So with shoes, it is not unreasonable to not want those in your house. But it is not unreasonable as a guest to not want to be surprised by that. So I guess in communities where there's mixed rules, where it's not consistent across the board, where guests and host expectations may be different, then yeah, I guess, what do we do with that?

Leah: Well, I actually recently went to a party where in the invitation it said, "We're a 'no street shoes house.' So either bring slippers or a change of shoes."

Nick: Okay. I think that is polite, if you are a host having an event to warn your guests. Yes, I think that is considerate.

Leah: And I think that could be on all levels. Like, if it's a big party, it could be in the invite. If you're having people over for dinner, you could say, "Hey, we'd love to have you over for dinner." In our letter-writer's case we'd say, you know, "We have a new baby. She's crawling all over the floor. We'd love to keep it clean. So if you could bring slippers, that would be great."

Nick: Yeah, I don't think that's unreasonable. And I think better hosts, if that's the type of house you have, will offer slippers, you know, like disposable slippers to guests.

Leah: Or, like, cute socks with little animals on them?

Nick: I mean, you do you. Whatever guest amenities you want to offer, that sounds great.

Leah: I can't imagine showing up, and you're not a person who's used to taking your shoes off, and your feet weren't ready to be debuted. And so you felt taken off guard and you were like, "My feet are not ready. I was unprepared."

Nick: And interestingly—or maybe not interestingly—Miss Manners is not a fan of making people take off their shoes. She does not like that. And it is true, it is more formal to allow people to keep shoes on. Like, if you were hosting a formal dinner party? Yes, you should just let everybody keep their shoes on, and just know you're gonna have to clean the floor afterwards. I feel like the more formal the event, the more likely everybody should be allowed to keep their shoes on.

Leah: Well, it's probably a part of the ensemble.

Nick: Right. Exactly.

Leah: And I, as a guest going over, I always ask when I'm at the door. I also—because it's very familiar to me, I always say, "Should I take my shoes off?"

Nick: Yes. I think better guests should always offer regardless. And so I think it is courteous to offer to take your shoes off. And then if it's not a big deal, then they'll be like, "Oh, no, no, no. Keep them on."

Leah: I also—not to blow any minds right now ...

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: I always travel with an extra pair of socks.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: What I think is a nightmare is wet feet. Wet feet? Nightmare.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So I always like to have a backup sock somewhere in case there is—and maybe it's not even for me. Sometimes there'll be somebody who will be like their feet wet and I'll go, "Oh, I have socks."

Nick: How often has the emergency sock come into play?

Leah: Oh, it's come into play. When I was in New York? All the time.

Nick: Oh, that's true. Oh, yeah. No, there's puddles that are way deeper than you think.

Leah: You think. And then all of a sudden you're in and then you're gonna get an illness.

Nick: Yeah. And then now we're cutting off your feet.

Leah: Now you're having your foot removed. And what a crisis! I also cannot perform with wet feet. It's one of my things. So I also—and then that way, if I'm going over to somebody's house, I don't know them very well, I don't know what the rules are gonna be.

Nick: Right.

Leah: If I feel insecure that my feet—like, that my socks are not my, I don't know, professional socks, I'm gonna swap out my socks. I'll be like, "Oh, I got footies!"

Nick: Although I think it would be nice to just always have nice socks. Like, nobody should have holes in their socks.

Leah: Oh, I don't have holes in my socks, believe it or not. I know I remind you of somebody who would, but I'm very particular about my feet. I cannot handle a hole in the sock. It'll send me home. I have socks that I think are, like, more like slipper socks that I would pull out at somebody's house.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Do you know what I mean?

Nick: Yeah. I think it's good to be prepared. I mean, I think that's never a bad idea.

Leah: I mean, a few episodes back, we had the question about the bathing suit parties, and they never had a bathing suit. And we said throw it in the back of the car if this happens a lot. If you really hate taking your shoes off at people's houses but it keeps happening to you, I would say throw some cute little slippers in that bag.

Nick: Yeah, I think that's the way to be a guest is just be prepared. And if you were asked to do it, then yes, you don't ignore your host's request. I mean, that's super rude to be like, "I hear what you're saying, and I'm gonna choose to ignore you and I'm gonna walk all over your house now with my shoes on."

Leah: I feel like it's often at a friend's house, because I do feel, as you said, if it was more formal, we're leaving our shoes on. And that's why I think if it's more intimate, you could actually ask your host, "Hey, my feet weren't prepped. May I borrow a pair of slippers?"

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Because I do think it is gonna be more intimate when the shoes come off. If it's gonna be your friends, they'll probably throw you a pair. Sometimes we haven't had that pedi, you know what I'm saying?

Nick: Well, if you stay pedi, you don't have to get pedi.

Leah: [laughs] I have an appointment tomorrow, as luck would have it.

Nick: That is lucky!


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, "Recently, my boyfriend and I were invited over to a friend's house. Once we arrived, we were offered wine and snacks. We toasted and then sat down at their table to chat. There was a small plate, napkin and coaster at each chair. I noticed the hosts were using the coaster for their wine glasses, which seemed perfectly appropriate to protect their antique wood table. After a few minutes, the hostess brought out ice water for each of us as well. I took a sip of the water and before I put it down, I glanced around the table to see what I should do about the one coaster and now two drinks. To my dismay, the host used the coaster for his wine glass, and the hostess used the coaster for her water glass. I glanced at my boyfriend for silent support, but he wasn't using the coaster at all.

Nick: "My heart is racing, telling the story again. Thankfully, the hosting couple are lovely individuals and they didn't say a word. But in the future, should I simply ask for another coaster, or ask what they would prefer I do with the extra glass? I did have a cocktail napkin, but I wanted to save that for my fingertip wiping after eating the snacks. I'm worried we left water rings on their gorgeous table, and I would love your advice."

Leah: Just quickly up top, I want to say that I underlined the sentence "My heart is racing, telling this story again."

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: And I wrote next to it, "I love you."

Nick: Okay. [laughs]

Leah: Just because I feel bed too when I go back in it and then I'm like [gasps]I'm breathless! I really ...

Nick: Well Leah, are you a coaster household? What's the coaster situation in your house?

Leah: We definitely have a lot of coasters.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And we—sometimes we use them and we don't. Sort of it's very willy nilly.

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: But these aren't tables that I would get ...

Nick: This is not antique furniture.

Leah: But I have been at people's houses, and I get the idea that they know this couple. They're quote, "Lovely individuals," where there's two items of beverages and there was only one coaster. And I just ask.

Nick: Yes, I think asking is always fine. Like, "Oh, do you have another coaster, or would you like me to use a coaster? Or what would you like me to do with this glass?" I think all of those are fine answers.

Leah: I've said to people, "Oh, this is such a great table. I'm afraid to put my glass down. Do you have a napkin?" You know, I just—I just ask.

Nick: Yeah. And the point of the coaster is to catch drips or condensation. Like, that's the idea, so that it catches that, so it doesn't hit the table. Like, that's the point. And so in this scenario, though, a wine glass—I'm assuming this is a stemmed wine glass—it's very unlikely that this is gonna be producing condensation in drips. So I think if I only have one coaster and two glasses, I'm gonna give the coaster to the water glass. I'm not gonna worry about the wine glass. I don't think stemmed wine glasses really need coasters.

Leah: That was my thought too, because water glasses always sweat.

Nick: Right. And if your wine glass is sweating, either you're in a really hot climate or your wine is too cold. So either way, should you be drinking wine? Maybe you should be drinking sangria.

Leah: [laughs] I love how often you'll bring in a third option, which is ...

Nick: Yeah, like maybe you shouldn't be doing any of these things. Yeah. What you're currently doing is wrong.

Leah: Also, the hosts are not using ...

Nick: Yes, that's another good point. Often we want to look to our hosts for cues, but you're getting mixed messages. And so that's not helpful.

Leah: Our lovely letter-writer looked to the host for cues.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: They did all the right things.

Nick: They did all the right things, yes. So what can you do in the future? Yeah, I think just ask and that's fine.

Leah: [laughs] I also love the sentence, "I glanced to my boyfriend for silent support, but he wasn't using the coaster at all."

Nick: [laughs] Right! That's another issue. He may have left water rings on that antique table. So for that question, yes, you may have caused irreparable harm to these people's furniture.

Leah: No, because the hosts—the hosts weren't using the—so it's fine. I don't want our letter-writer to worry that their boyfriend caused irreparable harm.

Nick: [laughs] Okay.

Leah: Our letter-writer is clearly invested.

Nick: I take it back.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I recently moved to a small town and joined a gym. One of the staff at the gym was very friendly and nice and asked for my number—I believe platonically, but I can't be sure. Since then, she's been reaching out multiple times a day in different avenues: texting, calling and Facebook messaging. It's a bit much and I'm getting uncomfortable, but she's only ever been nice and polite. How do I set a boundary with this person without making the gym awkward? Do I purposefully avoid going to the gym during the hours I know she'll be there?"

Leah: I can imagine myself getting in this situation.

Nick: I'm picturing Glenn Close.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: "I'm not gonna be ignored."

Leah: What a reference!

Nick: [laughs] Hide your bunnies!

Leah: Hide your bunnies!

Nick: Spoiler alert.

Leah: So the easy part of the question: Do I purposely avoid going to the gym during the hours I know she'll be there? No.

Nick: No. No, no.

Leah: Even though I understand that feeling. You just want to make it easy.

Nick: Absolutely. But we can't live in a world in which we hide. No.

Leah: So I think we're just polite and we go about our business.

Nick: Well, okay. So you just want to set a boundary and want to just, like, let this person know that it's too much? Or do you want to just lightly reply to all these messages that are coming in every platform available?

Leah: I cannot respond to every message I have on every platform. It's—you would be on every platform all day.

Nick: Yes. Yes. Which I think this person might be.

Leah: So I think don't feel responsible for replying all the time. We can't be on social media all the time. It's impossible.

Nick: Yeah. No, that's very true. My thought was: pick one channel that you are comfortable talking to this person on, and then ignore all of the communication on all the other channels and just respond exclusively in one channel. And you can even say, like, "Oh, I'm not great on Instagram and Facebook. Like, only text." Or whichever one it is for you. And that way we can at least cut out some of the noise and focus only on one medium. And then from there, yeah, you can sort of politely respond when you can or want, and you can kind of make that farther and farther apart.

Leah: And then when you see them at the gym, you just be like, "Hey, how are you?" And then you go do your workout.

Nick: Yeah, polite and cordial. And if they're like, "Did you see that text?: You'd be like, "Oh, I haven't seen it yet."

Leah: And I think it's fair, you're within your reasonable bounds to not be tethered to your phone responding to people all the time.

Nick: And then I guess it is a cautionary tale about giving your number out regardless. Platonic or not platonic. So, you know, think twice before you do that again.

Leah: Yeah, I always give people my email.

Nick: Yeah, phone number definitely feels very intimate. And it's sort of a bold thing to ask for, I think, in today's age.

Leah: I think so too. And I understand why our letter-writer did it. You were taken off guard, probably.

Nick: Yes. And you were maybe new to this town, and so you wanted to make friends. And it felt fine, and you weren't expecting to be messaged every five minutes on every platform.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So I understand. But yeah, in the future I guess, you know, decline politely. "Oh, I'm just more reachable on Instagram."

Leah: Yeah. And if people don't understand that, that's their issue.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, we don't live in a world in which you are bullied into giving out your phone number.

Leah: I totally understand why this is awkward, and I hope that this person gets the hint.

Nick: Yeah, keep us posted. Let us know if this is an ongoing issue, or if you've actually been able to sort of nip this in the bud.

Leah: Yeah. And then if it becomes like a bigger issue, then I think we'll change our answer to what will be the next—if this gets next level, like, if this person is just following you around everywhere, then we'll ...

Nick: Yeah. No, if it gets next level then yeah, let us know and then we'll next level our thoughts.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So our next question is quote, "I have noticed that recently people say quote, 'I'm confused' when responding to something I say to them that they don't agree with, or want to indicate that I am wrong. This is a favorite with my boss, and I've noticed my roommate uses the term as well. Frankly, I find it condescending, and I feel like saying 'I'm not sure why you're confused, but I can go over everything very slowly and define any words you don't understand.' Of course I would never say that, but I do wonder if you have noticed an increased use of this term, and what, if anything, would be an appropriate response?"

Leah: I haven't noticed an uptake in people saying "I'm confused."

Nick: I haven't noticed that, but I don't think people would say that to me. So I don't think I'm in danger of this.

Leah: [laughs] This is one thing you probably shouldn't say, but I think it would nip it in the bud: if somebody said "I'm confused," and they were using it in this way to say that you were incorrect, They say, "I'm confused," and you say, "Clearly."

Nick: Ooh!

Leah: [laughs] That's the Leah that's been taken over by aliens.

Nick: I mean, I like it, but yeah, you really have to land that, which is almost impossible.

Leah: I guess you could say—people say, "I'm confused. I thought we were doing this." And then you could just say, "Oh, no. We weren't. You areconfused." [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think the response is to not acknowledge that this is really passive aggressive.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: This is pretty passive aggressive. And it's condescending and it's patronizing. Like, it's a lot of flavors that are not fun.

Leah: It's a lot of icky flavors.

Nick: And I think we just want to use a non-judgmental, value-neutral tone, and just respond with the factual information that they're confused about.

Leah: And then if they just say, "I'm confused," I think we could say, "Oh, what part is confusing for you?"

Nick: Right. Like, "What do I need to clarify?"

Leah: But I would understand, as our letter-writer said what they said they wanted to say, why it feels annoying. And I think that's why you should do what Nick said, which is you're like, "Oh, no. This is what we said."

Nick: And I think for people who say "I'm confused" when they really want to disagree with somebody or tell someone that they're wrong, don't. Yeah, I think find a different way to say that, because "I'm confused" when you're not actually confused, you just want to disagree with somebody. Yeah, it just—it doesn't come across nicely.

Leah: It doesn't.

Nick: And there's a better way to achieve that.

Leah: It's very odd. I've actually never had anybody say that. I've said "I'm confused," and it was when I'm genuinely confused.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Yeah, that's—it's super condescending. Don't—don't do that.

Nick: Please don't.

Leah: Because as adults, we can say, "Oh, I didn't know that that was—" you can just say, "Oh, I didn't agree with that." You don't have to use some weird, condescending term.

Nick: Yeah. And just to be clear, being condescending and being passive aggressive? Oh, this is rude.

Leah: Everybody knows it's my fly in my ointment.

Nick: Yeah. No, it's probably the thing that grinds your gear is the most.

Leah: Yeah, it really does. I can let go of so many things, that just puts me over.

Nick: So do you have something that puts you over? Let us know. And send us your questions. You can send them to us through our website WereYouRaisedByWolves.com. 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 coming in with a vent!

Nick: Okay! Tell me what has happened.

Leah: You know, this week I was like, "I don't have a vent or a repent." It's just been—I'm just living in gratitude. And then, you know, ding, ding, ding! Somebody shows up just in time to record. And you're like, "Thank you. I needed something."

Nick: Thank you for committing an etiquette crime.

Leah: [laughs] So I'm out of town for a comedy gig. And I always go for a walk when I get to a new place. I like to shake off the plane, da da da. I'm walking through this, like, lovely town, and somebody says something to me. And I can't not respond. It's in my DNA.

Nick: Okay. You're being catcalled?

Leah: No, no, no. Like, somebody goes, "Hey, nice day!" And I was like, "Yes!" They were standing in front of a shop. It was a friendly hello. And so I immediately—I'm like, "Hey," and I turn and I face them. And then I realize that they're handing out samples in front of a high-end cosmetics store.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And—but I've made eye contact. I've said hello.

Nick: You're in.

Leah: They say, "Do you want a free sample?" I should have just said no and kept moving, but I was—I said, "Oh, thank you so much!" And then they said, "Where are you in from?" And I said, "Los Angeles." And he says, "You don't look like you're from Los Angeles."

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: So then I said with a smile, "What does that mean?"

Nick: Why would you ask a follow up? Why?

Leah: Because I just wanted to know what it meant.

Nick: You know no good will come of this!

Leah: I said, "What does that mean?"

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: And I said it with a smile. I go, "Oh, what does that mean?" I said it like fun.

Nick: Oh, God.

Leah: And he goes, "Oh, you—you just seem so nice." And I said, "Really? I find people from Los Angeles to be very nice." He says, "What are you here for?" I said, "Work." He said, "Oh, what kind of work?" I said, "I'm a comic." And he goes, "Tell me a joke," which is my ...

Nick: Ugh!

Leah: I go, "I'm not working right now."

Nick: Sidebar, everybody. If you meet anybody who works in comedy, never ask them to tell a joke, say something funny, perform on the spot. Like, never do that.

Leah: Never! And then I said, "I'm not working right now." And then he goes, "But it's good practice." And I was like, "I don't need to practice with you."

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: And then I start to leave, and he goes, "Are you sure you don't want to come in and get some free samples for around your eyes?"

Nick: [gasps]

Leah: Which was, like, clearly trying to target any kind of insecurity a person might have.

Nick: Of course!

Leah: And I go, "I have to leave."

Nick: I mean ...

Leah: I mean! You don't look like you're from Los Angeles. Tell me a joke. And then I was like, "No." And he was like, "It's good practice." And I was like, "Um." And then as I'm clearly leaving because I'm so dunzo, he's like, "Are you sure you don't want to come in and fix those eye wrinkles?"

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: I was just—I got caught in trying to be polite. I should have cut it off early.

Nick: Yeah. No, this is why you should never say hello or make eye contact with people in small towns.

Leah: It's so hard to stop oneself.

Nick: No good deed goes unpunished.

Leah: No good deed. "Tell me a joke." I love that he doubled down. "You sure you don't want to practice?" Oh!

Nick: Yeah, let me do my hour with you right now. [laughs]

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: So for me, I would also like to vent. And so, you know, there are these things that just go together. You know, things just pair well: peanut butter and chocolate, Netflix and chill. And then, you know how there are these things that do not pair together well? Well, for me, it's being wrong and being rude.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: You can't be rude and wrong at the same time. That's the worst combination. It's just the worst. It's—I hate that so much. And so I'm at my local sandwich shop, which we've talked about before. And it is the source of a lot of etiquette unhappiness. And so I'm in there again, glutton for punishment. And I want to go order a sandwich, and how the sandwich shop works is you enter and the sandwich board is on the right, and you make your way to the right and you order, you work your way down to the left where there's the cashier, you wait for your sandwich on the left and they'll hand it to you. That's how this works. It's also four square feet. Like, there's not a lot of other ways to do it. So I go in, I go to the back of the line, we're all moving up, and the guy in front of me, like, isn't moving up. And I'm like, "Oh, I think you're next." And he turns to me so rudely, and he's like, "The back of the line is over there." And he points to the left side of the sandwich shop where people are waiting to pick up their sandwiches.

Nick: And it's like, "That's not the back of the line. Like, you're standing in line." And he's like, "I'm waiting to pick up my sandwich. And I'm thinking, like, that's not where this happens. You're standing looking like you are waiting to order. Like, what is wrong with you? And he was so rude about it. He was so rude. He pointed dismissively. His tone was dismissive and rude. Like, everything about this was wrong. And so I didn't know exactly how to respond because I'm not gonna give you a "Thank you." I'm not gonna give you a "I'm sorry." So all I think my brain could give was, "Oh." And it had a tone of, like, "Oh, you're an idiot."

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Or, "Oh, maybe you're correct." Or. "Oh, thank you." Like, it was an "Oh" that had a lot of plausible deniability about what that "Oh" meant. But it really meant, like, "Why are you an animal? Like, what is wrong with you?" And so I just sort of like walked around him up to the counter and ordered. And everybody there knows me because I've been going there for a hundred years. And so I think he was surprised, like, "Oh, he just went out of line and somehow got served? And how did he do that?" Like, I don't know, but I just hate people who are rude and wrong. That combination to me, that is my kryptonite.

Leah: It is the worst. It's the absolute worst, rude and wrong. I love how you put it in combos that are good, combos that are bad and ...

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: So right. So annoying!

Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?

Leah: I learned that chocolate and peanut butter, yes. Rude and wrong pairing? Absolute no.

Nick: Hard pass. And I learned that you carry around backup socks at all times.

Leah: I do, yes. And I'm happy to give them out if somebody is in a situation.

Nick: All right. If you need socks out there, Leah Bonnema, she's got you covered.

Leah: I'm very into foot comfortability.

Nick: Well, 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!

Nick: So for your homework this week, we want your questions. And you've got them. Oh, we know you've got some questions.

Leah: You do. You do!

Nick: So please send them to us. You can send them to us through our website, WereYouRaisedByWolves.com. And also, we know you've got some vents or reports out there, too.

Leah: Oh, get it off your chest.

Nick: Get it off your chest. 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 they only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!

Leah: So same town where the man, the makeup man insulted me, on the upside, I went out to dinner before the show. And I was with another comic, and we were talking to this lovely couple who was sitting next to us. And then when I went to pay, they'd already paid for us.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: They treated us to dinner.

Nick: Isn't that nice!

Leah: And it was a total surprise. I went to pay, and the waiter was like, "Oh, the couple next to you covered it." And I was like, "What?"

Nick: I mean, how lovely!

Leah: How lovely! I couldn't even.

Nick: And for me, I want to give a special shout out to my friend Jerry, who just surprised me with a first edition copy of Emily Post's book from 1922. And if you know me, you know I love a good first edition anything, but this book, of course, special meaning. We talk about Emily a lot, and so to have a first edition copy is really lovely. So of course I sent him a thank-you note, but it never hurts to say thank you again. So thank you, Jerry. Really appreciate it. It was a great gift.

Leah: That's so cool!

Nick: Very cool. So thank you.