Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about accommodating dietary restrictions, knocking before entering public restrooms, receiving tacky gifts, cracking knuckles in public, tipping on credit cards, asking inappropriate questions in groups, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)
QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS:
THINGS MENTIONED DURING THE SHOW
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO...
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
Nick: Hey, everybody, it's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.
Nick: We're in New York today, and we have so many great questions from you guys in the wilderness-
Nick: -that we have a bonus episode. So, here we go. Our first question is about picky eaters. "I have a question about hosting a private dinner party. After finding out that diners have so many different dietary restrictions that there is no possible menu to accommodate everyone, can I ask people to bring what they alone can eat, or do I cook in separate pans and utensils? Do I potluck? It has gotten incredibly difficult to host a dinner party of more than four in California. No gluten, nuts, meat, eggs, fish, berry, breads, butter, sulfites ... Is it okay to just tell these folks that we should just go to a restaurant instead? It's way too much work to accommodate these people, even if they are relatives, and they have invited themselves to my house. It's also probably true that they're going to expect me to pick up the tab. What is the polite way to handle this?" Well ...
Nick: So, I have some initial thoughts.
Nick: I am from California. I feel like this is unfair to all of us. There are some very reasonable Californians-
Leah: [Laughing] You're disagreeing with the question!
Nick: You know, there are some of us who are delightful dinner party guests, happy to eat whatever you want to serve. No problem. So, I guess the first question is how do we accommodate people's different dietary restrictions? Is that the first question here?
Leah: That is the first question.
Nick: So, I think the idea of going to a restaurant, I guess, is okay, but I think there is something nice about hospitality in your home. The idea of a dinner party is very nice.
Leah: I feel that this person wanted to have a dinner party in their home-
Leah: -but then, it just got complicated.
Nick: Right. So, I think the solution is let's pick a cuisine that is inherently accommodating to as many different dietary restrictions as possible. What if we did Ethiopian? That could be vegan. The injera bread, that spongy bread, that's inherently gluten-free. That could maybe cross a lot of boxes off for a lot of people and could be fun. So, pick a cuisine that maybe everyone could enjoy. Indonesian could work. Thai, Japanese, Lebanese. I think maybe let's make a party with a cuisine that everyone can enjoy. That's an idea.
Leah: Yes. I think you could also do plates; you could have a veggie plate for people that don't eat anything. You know what I mean? Like, "Oh, here, these are just vegetables."
Leah: So, they can pick it. It's almost more buffet style.
Leah: But you have that ... Then you could have, like you said ... You could make a lasagna with gluten-free noodles, and then, a chicken. Then, if somebody doesn't fit into any of those categories, they have to bring their own food.
Nick: Okay. so we want to still try and be accommodating, if possible.
Leah: I think you could make a few ...
Leah: I had a bunch of people over, and there's always vegetarians. Then, now, gluten-free is more and more-
Leah: So, I had a few things that fit into each of those categories.
Leah: If you had very specific needs, you were going to have to bring your own.
Nick: Yes. Or, I guess if your very specific needs can be accommodated, I guess we would try, maybe. I guess it depends on how specific we want to get. Because we can avoid meat; we can make a vegetarian meal.
Leah: Oh, absolutely.
Nick: We could even go as far as vegan. I think we can get there. Then, it's just a question about nuts, berries, sulfites.
Leah: Yeah, I mean, that's what I mean [crosstalk]
Nick: That's where it gets a little complicated-
Leah: But, also, do you want everything to be vegan? You may just be a meat lover, in which case you could have a vegetarian option.
Leah: You know?
Nick: Okay. Now, the second part of this question, which caught my ear, was that these are relatives that have invited themselves to my house. So, I think that's a separate etiquette question.
Leah: Yeah, that seems to be a separate ... They're like, "Hey, I'm coming over, and can you-"
Leah: "-cook for all my dietary restrictions?"
Nick: So, that, I don't think we need to accommodate? Then, there's the, "They're gonna expect me to pick up the tab, if we dine into a restaurant."
Leah: I would say, then, have a house party.
Nick: Have a house party. However, if you do invite people to a restaurant, and you are the host, you are picking up the tab. So, that instinct is correct. You will pay, if you are hosting, if it's at a restaurant.
Leah: I think this person just felt forced into going to a restaurant because nothing that he or she was cooking met their needs-
Nick: Yes, yes. So, potluck, or buffet with enough options.
Nick: Okay. Our next question is: "What is the proper etiquette when entering a single-person public restroom? Should you knock? Nobody else I know knocks first. They just attack the handle like the police serving a search warrant."
Leah: Actually, can we go back to one thing really quickly?
Leah: Just because they asked about the separate cooking things-
Leah: For vegetarians, they definitely don't want any stock- you know, if you cook in a stock, or-
Nick: Oh, sure.
Leah: I would just be careful to label it.
Nick: Yes, and that could even be a halal/kosher thing, too, potentially.
Leah: Yeah, I would just let people know what it is. If you can't accommodate, you can't accommodate. You're trying your best, but just make sure, if something does ... If something was cooked in a chicken stock, or there was dairy, I would just let people know.
Nick: But then, I guess the question is what obligation do you have to your guests about informing them in advance about what is happening? Because if I was very restrictive with my diet, I guess I would want to know, if I'm showing up to your dinner party, will I be able to eat anything?
Leah: I think you just say, "I'm cooking these three groups."
Leah: "I'm having a chicken. I'm having a gluten-free vegetable lasagna-"
Nick: And we're doing a vegan [crosstalk]
Leah: "-and I'm having a nondairy vegetable plate."
Leah: "If you can't eat any of these three things, please feel free to bring something for yourself."
Nick: Okay. All right, great.
Leah: That's what I would ... What do you think?
Nick: Yeah, I mean, I guess you want to do your best. You want to be gracious. At the end of the day, you want your guests to be comfortable. So, I think as long as you are welcoming, and you are as accommodating as possible, then I think that's nice. Guests also have an obligation, too, though; everyone has their part to play. Guests want to minimize the inconvenience on their hosts, as well. So, I think, you know, they have to step up a little bit and not be aggrieved.
Leah: Yeah. I also think if you can't accommodate everybody, or you can't ... You just want to make lasagna, then do that and be like, "This is what I'm making."
Nick: Come or not.
Leah: "Come or not."
Leah: "Feel free to bring something else."
Nick: RSVP yes, or no.
Leah: If you don't feel like accommodating, I don't think you have to accommodate. Just let people know what's there and that they can bring something else.
Nick: Yeah, I kind of like that. Yeah, all right, let's go with that.
Nick: Our next question - that bathroom door. Are you executing a search warrant when you when you try and enter? I think knocking first is nice.
Leah: I would always knock first.
Nick: Yeah. I think the trick, though, is sometimes, you're in a place, and it's very loud, so you don't always hear the response. So, I guess jiggling is also good, then, at this point.
Leah: Yeah, I just do- I think you should do a knock up top.
Nick: Up top?
Leah: No, I just mean in the beginning.
Nick: Oh, in the beginning.
Leah: Yeah [Laughing]
Nick: Not at the top of the doorframe.
Leah: Up top of the multiple things we're gonna try to do to see if the door is open.
Nick: I see. Yeah, that's step one. I have had experiences where there was actually nobody inside the bathroom, and they had locked it from the inside. This is a very tricky situation.
Leah: Oh, that is tricky. Now you have to involve somebody.
Nick: Yeah! Now you have to get management, right. That's beside the point. Our next question is a voicemail. Let's listen to that now.
Caller: I have a question about managing tacky gifts from relatives. Here's my situation. My partner and I just moved into and remodeled a dream home. Everybody in our family is very excited. My family lives very close, and my mother has wonderful taste and has been a part of kind of our design process; knows what my partner and I are going for; and she has given us, really, some beautiful gifts that fit perfectly into our home to help us warm it up. My partner's family has been more removed. They live several hours away. Their experience with the house, and me, honestly, isn't very much. My mother-in-law, I think, is wanting to contribute, so she's been sending a lot of gifts. The problem is that they're very, very tacky. I don't understand what she's thinking. My partner doesn't understand what she's thinking. So, we've already been kind of managing what to do with these things as they enter our house. We've got a housewarming party coming up, where his side of the family is gonna come and visit. I was wondering if it would be appropriate to create a housewarming registry of some kind to kinda help guide some of these relatives and minimize the amount of stuff that will eventually become clutter in the house. Bonus points, if you can help me figure out how to frame this - what language to use - so that it sounds gracious, and polite. Help!" [Voicemail beep]
Nick: Oh ...! So, I followed up, and I asked this person to text me a photo of an example of one of these tacky gifts. One of the examples was a insulated wine clutch, and it was sort of a teal, pleathery thing, and it kind of looks like a little purse. You put a wine bottle in it.
Nick: So, I didn't think it was that terrible.
Leah: I immediately thought, "You could regift that."
Nick: [Giggling] But, I get that, you know, it's not your taste. I get that. No problem. I have very specific tastes. I'm notoriously difficult to buy things for. Leah has managed to purchase correct gifts for me.
Nick: So, I guess that just goes to show you know me very well, but most people would struggle, so I get it. The thing to do is just accept it. Just say thank you. "Thank you so much for the teal, pleather wine clutch!"
Leah: I think if you're afraid that everybody's going to come over and bring tons of stuff that you dislike-
Nick: Yeah, like a big stuffed animal from a fair.
Leah: You could have ... It's your husband's parents.
Leah: Right? Because she's saying-
Nick: Yeah, it's his side of the family.
Leah: I think it's always good to go through the side of the family that it is.
Leah: So, you could ask your partner, "Hey, do you want to see if you can tell your parents that if they want to give us something, this is something we need and are looking for?"
Nick: So, drop some nice hints-
Nick: Yeah, okay. I think that would be okay. Although, I don't love the idea of soliciting gifts.
Leah: No, but they clearly are going to keep doing it.
Nick: Yeah, but when you have a registry, it makes it very overt that like, "We want you to give us gifts, and we want you to give us these gifts." So, I don't like that tone.
Nick: But I guess, if you're dropping very specific hints about, "If you are going to be bringing something, this is something that could be okay ..."
Leah: So, you're saying not appropriate to create a registry.
Nick: I don't love the registry thing, no. If you do the registry, you're basically saying, "We expect you to bring gifts," and I don't think you should have that expectation for housewarming. It is common, and it's sort of expected; it's what is done, but there's that pageantry of like, "Oh, you brought me something? No! You shouldn't have!" You need that pageantry.
Leah: I know that in, a few episodes ago, we said specifically not to do this, but ...
Nick: Okay. There's always exceptions.
Leah: If this is a thing this person really wants to do, maybe there's a way to say, "We really don't expect gifts. Some of you have asked what we need ..."
Nick: Yeah, but now- this is a mass email? What is this?
Leah: This is just to the people that they're worried about.
Nick: I mean ... Here's the thing, if you give instructions to these people, these teal, pleather wine-clutch people, are they going to be able to follow your instructions to the T, and dial in exactly the gift that's your taste, unless you're giving them a barcode?
Nick: Right? If you're like, "Oh, we could really use some white towels," inevitably, you're not going to get the right white towels.
Leah: That's true.
Nick: You're not gonna get the right white towels from people.
Leah: That's true.
Nick: So, it feels like just let them bring whatever they think you might like, and re-gift it, or maybe you'll luck out, or give it a charity, or whatever. But I think you just kind of have to accept your fate.
Leah: I think, yeah, just let it go.
Nick: I would let it go. Yeah-
Leah: I would tell my parents, "Hey, this is something I need for my housewarming," but they're my parents.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess you know, also, the relationship that you have with your parents, so-
Leah: Yeah, because they also ... I know that they would want direction.
Nick: Right. Right. They don't know.
Leah: But I don't think I would step in-
Nick: Yeah, I think when you're adults, and you're buying a new house, and you sort of already have an established life, yeah, I think it just ... Let them bring whatever they want to bring and hope for the best.
Leah: Yeah, unless they ask. Then you can send them links.
Nick: Sure. Okay. Yes. If you're invited to send them links, then okay.
Leah: If there's some kind of opening where-
Nick: You've beat me down.
Leah: -you can be like, "Oh, here it is!" Then send them links.
Nick: Okay, fine. Fine! But, I don't [crosstalk]
Leah: I think you could also specify, if you really dislike everything they bring you, is when you do the house warming, say, "Please, no gifts."
Nick: You could definitely ask for no one to bring gifts, I guess. Sure.
Leah: Because sometimes in like a wedding, a marriage, or a new home, people need things.
Nick: Sure, yes-
Leah: But I'm not getting that that's what this is.
Nick: I'm not getting that vibe, no.
Leah: I think if you need things-
Nick: Yes, if you are creating a new household-
Leah: A new home, and you need things, then I think it's fine.
Nick: But these people already have two KitchenAids, so ...
Leah: Yeah, I don't think that's what that is.
Nick: No. Okay. Our next question is: "My boss cracks her knuckles compulsively. We share an office, so we spend the day in close proximity. Whenever she talks to someone, she cracks each knuckle in turn. The noise is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I'm not allowed to wear headphones at work, so that's not an option. How can I politely ask her to stop? I'm afraid it's an ingrained habit, and she doesn't consciously realize she's doing it." So, you made some faces-
Nick: -while I was reading this question. Do you have an issue with knuckle cracking?
Leah: I think when you're trying to concentrate, and people make a noise like that, it's very disruptive.
Nick: Yeah, it definitely takes you out of the moment.
Leah: Takes you out of the moment-
Leah: -and it's a hard noise to listen to.
Nick: Yeah, I think there is probably some weird deep-down evolutionary response that people have to this.
Nick: So, what do we do about it?
Leah: I really don't know because it's your boss-
Nick: And you're not allowed to wear headphones at work!
Leah: Maybe, I was thinking, you could get those little earplugs, and you could say, "I know I'm not allowed to wear headphones, but I would be more productive if I wasn't distracted by noises."
Nick: I mean, I don't know why we have a no-headphone rule, but I can't imagine ear plugs are fine.
Leah: Well, sometimes, people have earphones, and they're listening to things; like they don't want you listening to a podcast.
Nick: Oh ...
Leah: But, if you have earplugs in, you're just trying to block out noise.
Nick: Okay, so earplugs-
Leah: I would say, "Hey, I know that we have no earphones, but I was hoping I could wear earplugs because I get distracted by noises, and I would be more productive."
Leah: They would say, "What noises?" Then, you would say, "Oh ..."
Nick: "You know, Lisa's incredibly annoying habit of cracking her knuckles." I think we would want to give a shot to saying something, and I think we can say something in a nice, and polite, and direct way.
Nick: Because my whole new thing is to be more direct.
Nick: It's a whole new me. No more passive-aggressive. I'm going for it.
Nick: So, I think we would just say to the boss, like, "I'm so sorry ... I know you don't realize you're doing this, and I realize it's just my thing, but I'm just particularly sensitive to the sound of knuckles cracking; so if you could just be mindful when you do it and try not to do it around me?" Something in that flavor.
Leah: I would mention how it makes you less productive. It ruins your concentration.
Nick: Okay, yeah. We could throw in-
Leah: How it's affecting your work.
Nick: -what's in it for her, yeah. What's in it for her, right. It's that, "I can earn more money for the company." Sure.
Leah: "I can be more focused in the moment."
Nick: Yeah, but I feel like we can say something and not make it personal. Acknowledge that this is a habit; acknowledge that we know she doesn't do this on purpose.
Nick: It's not malicious. She probably doesn't even realize she's doing it. So, I think we could try and say something, yeah.
Leah: I would love to hear how that goes.
Nick: Yeah. Letter-writer, if you do that, and you don't get fired, I guess, let us know ...
Leah: I almost feel like it's something that you would talk to HR about, whether or not you can say that.
Nick: To a boss?! I mean, what is that conversation?
Leah: The conversation that we literally just had - "Can I wear ..."
Nick: Oh, about the earplugs-
Leah: -"I would like to say something. Is that ...?" I feel like people are so sensitive now that it might be like a ... Starts a whole thing, where- you know what I mean? Should you go to HR first, and be like, "I'm having trouble concentrating because there's a lot of knuckle cracking, and I would just like to have a healthy conversation about it, since I can't wear headphones. What do you think?"
Nick: Okay, so, see if they want to have a conversation with the boss?
Leah: No, see if [crosstalk] you've told them first. That way, there's no way you can get ...
Nick: Oh, it's just documentation in case you get fired-
Nick: -for retribution.
Leah: Yes. [Laughing]
Nick: I see. Okay, it's just a CYA kinda thing. Gotcha. Okay, I guess, in hindsight, I think the earplug thing is nice. That feels like the more easier route; the path of least resistance.
Leah: Then, if it's a conversation, you'll have the conversation of what the noises are, but you say, "I need to ... I get distracted easily by noises."
Nick: Yeah, just noises, in general.
Leah: Then, see where that goes.
Nick: Okay. I guess we just want to plant the seed about your noise sensitivity.
Nick: Okay ... I don't know if I feel satisfied with this response.
Leah: I think go for your response, but ...
Nick: Well, letter-writer, you have some options. They're not all great. Let us know how it goes.
Nick: Our next question is about tipping. So, here it is: "I just left a nail salon that wouldn't allow me to tip for my gel manicure on my credit card. They only accept tips in cash. There was an ATM in the salon, but I refuse to pay $3.95 ATM fee. The total for my manicure was $38, and Lisa, the girl who did my nails, did a mediocre job, at best. I just got home, and I happened to have a random $6 here. So, my question is, do I drive back to the salon and give Lisa her $6 tip? I normally always tip 20 percent, even when service is bad, because I know people can have an off day, and I feel too guilty to function, otherwise. I understand that some places will give a five-percent discount for cash payments, but I haven't had a place refuse a card or, in this case, not have the ability to tip on a card in at least five years, so I feel annoyed. I want Lisa to have her tip, even though she didn't do so well, and I would not recommend her to a friend. I also really do not want to get back in the car and drive to the salon that I feel is giving cashless idiots like me the runaround. Like, how can you just not add a tip on the card? Am I being unreasonable? Should someone just always have cash on them? Should I have called ahead and asked?" Okay, Leah just pointed at me ... She's like, "You go."
Leah: What I want to say, and what I would do are two totally different things.
Nick: So, first of all, you gotta tip Lisa. You gotta tip her. So, I think you do not have to drive back to the salon today. Okay, we will give you a pass; you're already home. Fine. But, this week, you need to go, and you have to drop off an envelope with Lisa's name on it with the tip. I think you have to do that this week.
Leah: Yeah. I think you can go back and drop it off anytime.
Nick: Right. So, I think you gotta do that. Now, the whole thing about tipping in cash, and tipping on the credit card, that's a business thing. That's not an etiquette thing. So, this is what the policy of this salon has, so that's what it is. Would it be more hospitable if they made it very easy for people to tip on a card? Okay ... I get why they don't do that.
Leah: No, but it's also ... I do think because it's not just ... This is very common in New York-
Nick: Oh, sure. Good luck!
Leah: You cannot tip with- you can't tip on a card. You have to [crosstalk]
Nick: Yeah. Forget it.
Leah: Then, they have their ATMs with a big ... It's a racket.
Leah: Everybody's running a racket.
Nick: It's a huge scam.
Leah: So, because I've had this happen, I always have cash. So, I understand being annoyed by it because we- it is a racket.
Leah: You are going to have to use their ATM. You are going to have to have that fee, and then you're going to have a fee, you know?
Leah: But it's not Lisa's fault.
Nick: Yeah. Let's not punish Lisa here. Yeah. I mean, you can punish Lisa for not doing a great job. That's a separate thing. Although, I think you should still tip Lisa. Just tip her and just don't go back.
Leah: Also, just tip her because that way you don't ever have to feel bad about it or think about it again.
Nick: Yeah, tip her the full 20 percent, which would be $7.60, not $6.
Leah: Yeah, but it's probably ...
Nick: There's some tax. Okay.
Leah: Also, I think people outside of the city tip 15 to 18.
Nick: Well, she said she always tips 20.
Nick: Okay ... Yeah, I think just drive back, give Lisa the tip. Now, one thing I have done, because the guy who does my hair, they do the whole tip in cash only thing. I just asked him one day, like, "What's your Venmo?" What I do, when I'm done, is I just Venmo him the tip.
Leah: Oh, that's great.
Nick: And, like, VOILA! So, no fees for him; no fees for me. Everyone's happy. I don't have to carry cash. Problem solved.
Leah: I also think you cannot go back to this place ever again.
Nick: Yeah, I think if you're not happy with the service, just as a separate issue, don't go back.
Nick: I'm sure you can get a gel manicure somewhere else.
Leah: Yeah. At some point this week, go back and tip her, so you can feel good about your conscience.
Nick: Tie that in a bow.
Leah: Then, take your business elsewhere, where they don't gouge your ATM fees!
Nick: [Giggling] So, our thing is a vent. This person says that she's annoyed by, "People who ask super-specific questions that are only pertinent to their situation in a group setting, like if you're taking a tour of a school." I can totally picture this, where someone is like, "Excuse me, I've a question. Do you allow people named George to enroll in this one class if they have four AP credits already in the related sciences?" You're like, "Take that off line!"
Leah: [Laughing] I actually tried to do a joke about this [crosstalk] People ask questions to relay information about themselves in group settings.
Leah: Because I feel like it slows down the whole group so much-
Leah: This also really annoys me. I think we've discussed how we've seen it in talkbacks at movies.
Nick: Oh, sure.
Nick: Um, this is not a question; it's a comment ..." [Laughing]
Leah: Yeah, or people will pose a question because they're trying to ... Sometimes, they'll have, during awards season, or new movies, or new TV shows, they'll have a talkback, where some of the actors, or directors, or producers will be there after. Then, people from the audience can ask a question.
Leah: Actually, recently, SAG-AFTRA sent an e-mail out being like, "If you can't ask a question that's an appropriate question ..."
Leah: "... stop asking a question." Because people will just use it as a thing that's about them-
Leah: -to ask to one of these people, and it's just so obviously not a question, just put in question form.
Nick: "I noticed, in this one scene, that you used blue. I know when I'm making films, and I use blue, that I use it for this reason. Do you agree with me?"
Leah: "I noticed that you use a lot of actresses that have curly hair, and I was wondering if your casting [crosstalk] because I've done a ... What I've been working on ..." Then, they just talk about what they've been working on. "I've recently been filming this thing ..." and you're like, "Uh, are you pitching?! This is not a pitch meeting!"
Nick: Yeah. So, that's a great vent. Yeah-
Leah: Great vent!
Nick: Don't do that. Read the room. Well, thanks, everybody for these great questions.
Leah: Thank you so much for your great questions!
Nick: If you have questions for us, send them in!
Leah: Send them in!
Nick: Please! You can send them to us through our website, wereyouraisedbywolves.com. You can also leave us a voicemail (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729); you can send us a text message there, too; and we would also love you to visit our Patreon-
Nick: -because you can actually, like, support us, and you can buy me a cup of coffee, so I can stay up late and get this thing edited, and we'll send you a thank you note.
Leah: It'll be fantastic.
Nick: So, check us out, wereyouraisedbywolves.com. You can learn all about it. We'll see you next time.
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