Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about screaming out of limousine sunroofs, loading dishwashers the right way, keeping unwanted photos from friends, 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...
Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
Nick: Hey, everybody. It's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.
Nick: And we had 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, quote, "I recently visited my boyfriend's family, and stayed with him at his sister's house. I've stayed there many times before, and I think I'm a pretty good house guest. One day, my boyfriend and I got home to find a note taped to the counter above the dishwasher." And there's a photo. "And the note reads, 'Please put silverware facing down. It is not sanitary to have tines up. That requires the emptier to touch the eating portion of the silverware when unloading. In addition to spelling silverware wrong twice, I found it so passive-aggressive, even for someone who is super abrasive and cold to start with. There are only four people in the house. Just use your words. My boyfriend thought I was overreacting, and that it could have been addressed to her husband or my boyfriend or me. How should I balance being really offended with my general indebtedness to her for having me, and the awkward fact that the trip wasn't over yet?" Hmm. Well, there are quite a few things happening in this question.
Leah: Yeah, there's, like, multiple issues.
Nick: Mm-hmm. Let's just talk about the "tines up or down" question first because it's the easiest. For me, I wash my hands before I unload the dishwasher, so my hands are clean. I can touch all of these things. It's no problem. Is this not what people do?
Leah: No, I think that's what everybody does.
Nick: So I don't think it matters what part of the fork I'm touching because, like, my hands are clean.
Leah: Also, just to be factual ...
Nick: Oh, please!
Leah: If one looks up the proper way to wash their dishes ...
Leah: You're actually supposed to put the tines up, because if you put it down and it has gunk in it, it's more likely to stay in there because it's like little boxes, and your fork is actually less likely to get clean. So it's knives down, forks up if we're rule followers.
Nick: Oh, okay!
Leah: So this person is not only spelling silverware incorrectly, they're actually incorrect. But it is their home. You want tines down because you're worried about—but just for the record, that's not right.
Nick: Right. And also I was looking at my dishwasher, and by the way, I only had a dishwasher, like, in my 20s. That's, like, the first time I ever had a dishwasher in my life. And, like, what a difference that makes. How did I do this before?
Leah: Okay, let's not rub it in, shall we? [laughs]
Nick: Okay. It's a lot of luxury and glamour over here, Leah.
Leah: I'm, like, looking at my sink.
Nick: So I looked at my dishwasher, like, silverware caddy that's in it. There's no way to put forks in upside down, Like, they have to go up. That's the only way it goes in, like, the thingy. So clearly, the Maytag people have a preference.
Leah: Yeah. No, she's wrong.
Leah: But I mean, that's not really the question. But also just to add, she's wrong.
Nick: Now I think it is true what you just said. It's her house, it's her rules, that etiquette applies. So if she wants it done her way, then you should just do it that way, and that's what it is.
Nick: Now it also sounds like we don't care for this person.
Leah: Yeah, that's what I wrote.
Leah: Obviously, you don't like her anyway. [laughs]
Nick: Right. You know, she's someone who's, quote, "super abrasive and cold to start with." So where do we go from there?
Leah: I think sometimes people irritate us and then it's, like, the last thing and you're like, "Argh!"
Leah: Because you've already been irritated.
Nick: Now one thing that caught my eye, I don't know if this note is actually passive-aggressive. This actually feels pretty direct. Like, here's what I would like to have happen. So is it passive-aggressive, this note?
Leah: I didn't find it passive-aggressive. I think this person was just leaving a note instead of saying it to you, because they felt that was the most direct way to do it.
Nick: Yeah, because that'd be, I think, actually more awkward or strange for, like, a one-on-one conversation with everybody in the house about the dishwasher.
Leah: I think passive-aggressive would be like if you're sitting at the dinner table and you were like ...
Nick: Oh, my fork's a little dirty. I wonder if somebody put it in the dishwasher the wrong way.
Leah: You know what I hate? I hate it when people touch my fork. That I feel would be ...
Nick: Like, "Oh, there's a fingerprint. I wonder whose it is?" Then you get a little dusting kit.
Leah: [laughs] Yeah, I think bringing out a dusting kit at dinner, and then comparing fingerprints, that would be ...
Nick: That would be—that would be next level. I would respect that, though. [laughs] But yeah, I think we just don't like this person, and I think we just need to let this one go and just do the dishwasher their way, knowing that they are wrong. Like, we will validate you. This is incorrect dishwasher loading.
Leah: And it's also annoying. It's annoying you're there for probably not that long that she has to leave you a note to be like, "Can you?" Because she's saying, like, you have dirty hands, and it's—I get why it annoys you, but it's also their house. You're gonna leave. You don't like her anyway. And it's your boyfriend's family.
Nick: Yes. I think one thing about the note is that there's the explanation for why we want the tines up, and there's this sort of judgment about cleanliness.
Nick: Like, I want you to not touch the top because that's not sanitary. Therefore, you are a not-sanitary person. And so I think that rubs our letter writer the wrong way, because it's sort of like a judgment on their character and their level of cleanliness, which people don't care for.
Leah: I would absolutely be rubbed the wrong way. I mean, I could also see writing underneath it. "Oh, sure, no problem. Also just so you know, I always wash my hands before I unload the dishwasher."
Nick: I don't think that's a good response. I think that does not de-escalate the situation.
Leah: No, but I don't think it escalates, it Even-Stevens it.
Nick: Mm, I think that's tricky territory.
Leah: [laughs] Obviously, letting it go is the appropriate answer.
Nick: That would be the best. But I think the note to write would be, "Please put silverware facing down." Period. End of note. I think to give an explanation for why that needs to be, I think maybe takes it a little too far, and which is more problematic for our letter writer. If it was just like, "Oh, please load the dishwasher this way, that's how I do it," then we could just leave it there.
Leah: And be like, oh, that's just their thing.
Nick: That's their thing. Or maybe it's something with this model or whatever. But it's just like, "My preference is that we do it this way, so please do it this way." Not, "Please do it this way, because you're a dirty human, and I don't want you touching my silverware with your filth."
Nick: So there we go. Our next question is, quote, "I'm a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Sometimes when I'm out to lunch or dinner with people, they would ask me why I'm vegetarian. Well, the honest answer to that question is because the meat industry is horrifying, and the thought of eating animals is abhorrent to me. I have long recognized that it is totally rude to comment on someone else's food choices, so I never, ever do. I also don't bring up the vegetarian thing if I can help it. It's a personal choice for me, and while it would be great if others felt the same way, I understand why people eat meat. However, when people ask me why I'm vegetarian, particularly over a meal, I'm stuck as to what to say. I don't want to sound judging, but I also want to be honest. Thoughts?"
Leah: Yeah, I think they are asking you. They asked. I think you can say for ethical reasons.
Nick: Uh, I think that's hard to land.
Leah: I don't think so.
Nick: Well, because that kind of suggests that my ethics are better than your ethics, and you're eating meat, which means you have bad ethics.
Leah: They asked. She didn't bring it up. It'd be one thing if she just brought it up. "Oh, I don't eat meat for ethical reasons." But it's like, "Oh, why are you a vegetarian?" There's only three reasons, you know what I mean? It's one of the three.
Nick: I hear what you're saying, but I think my hesitation is that when we're talking about the ethics of eating meat, if you're somebody currently eating meat while we're having this ethical conversation, that makes it a little tougher to have this ethical conversation, because you're doing the behavior that my ethics says is bad. And so that's a little tricky. So I think we maybe don't want to talk about ethics in this moment.
Leah: But then that person shouldn't have asked why they're a vegetarian, because there's only three reasons why people are vegetarians normally, and one of them is for ethical reasons.
Nick: Well, many people shouldn't ask a lot of things. So ...
Leah: But if they ask, then maybe they'll be like, "Oh, I shouldn't ask that if I'm uncomfortable with a person's answer."
Nick: Well, I think a lot of people ask inappropriate questions, and are not prepared for the awkwardness to come next. So I think it's a consideration. I mean, the answer I had was, we can be honest, but we don't have to give the entire truth. We can just give a portion, which is, "Oh, I'm vegetarian for health reasons." Which could be mental health reasons or physical health reasons, but just health reasons. That makes it a very personal decision that has nothing to do with you. So my vegetarianism is about me and my body, and that's kind of where I want to leave it. So I think that would be my answer there.
Nick: That doesn't seem satisfying. You want to have a whole conversation about the ethics of meat?
Leah: Oh, I don't think she needs to have a whole conversation, it's a one sentence. "Oh, I'm just a vegetarian for—" you could say personal ethics.
Nick: Personal ethics.
Leah: It's not health.
Nick: Do you think that would really end the conversation? Like, okay, great. Let's move on to another topic.
Leah: Well, if the other person keeps asking, I don't think it's up to our vegetarian letter writer to lie about their answer to guard the person who's asking the question from their own question.
Nick: Okay, yeah. I mean, I don't think we should lie. I agree there. I'm just like, how much of our reasoning do we really want to get into? I guess, what conversation do you want to potentially have as our respondent? I guess that's the question. Like, and if you want to go there and have the conversation about how you really feel about it, because you've been invited into that conversation by the question, then okay. But I think our letter writer just kind of wants to shut it down and not really get into it.
Leah: They also want to be honest. No, I don't think they don't—I think they don't even mind getting into it. They don't want to sound judge-y while other people are eating meat.
Nick: Okay. All right. I guess my initial read on this was like, oh, I just don't even want to get into it. But if we're happy to get into it but just don't want to sound judge-y, well, then I guess okay, then it's all about tone.
Leah: And I also think you can say, "Oh, it's, you know, personal ethical reasons. Let's not talk about it over a meal." And then just change the subject if the person keeps asking you. Or have the conversation. But they asked.
Nick: They did.
Leah: You didn't. Our letter writer's not bringing it up.
Nick: Okay, that's fair. That's fair. So personal ethical reasons.
Leah: I don't think you need to bring up a PowerPoint of, like, what a chicken farm looks like, you know what I mean? And be like, "Oh, have you seen these pictures?"
Leah: You know? And if you're a person who asks the question, why is someone a vegetarian? And you don't know that that's 50 percent chance your answer? I mean ...
Nick: Right, yes. No, I read Upton Sinclair, and that was it for me. Okay, that's fair. Our next question is, quote, "Is it rude to scream your head off out of a limousine sunroof?"
Leah: [laughs] It's such a short sentence, but it comes with such a visual.
Nick: I see what's happening here, sure. Is it rude?
Leah: I don't think "rude" is the right word.
Nick: It could be. It could be rude behavior. I mean, I think context is key here.
Leah: Yeah, I guess depending on where it is.
Nick: I mean, in general, let's talk about just etiquette in general. We don't want to annoy other people, right? We want to be mindful of other people's space and time and feelings. So I think if you're yelling your head off affects any of those things, then it is potentially rude. So if you're just going down, you know, Seventh Avenue and it's broad daylight in the middle of the day and you're going through Times Square and it moves you to get out of that sunroof and scream, it's probably fine.
Leah: Yeah, you're in Vegas. You're having a girls' weekend? Scream out. That's what it's there for.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, the visual I'm picturing is a bridal shower, and she's got the sash on.
Nick: Like, that's what I'm picturing here, yeah. Maybe a couple bottles of rosé in. Yeah.
Leah: And I think that's what that is.
Nick: Yeah, and I think that's fine. Is there times when it's not okay? I guess late at night.
Leah: I'd say late at night, you're in a small town. You know, we'd like to say, "Oh, we roll the sidewalks up at five o'clock." You know what I mean? It's the kind of town everybody's asleep.
Leah: And then it's one o'clock in the morning and there hasn't been a sound all night. And you decide to rent a limo from a town two and a half hours away, drive to that town and scream out the sunroof and wake everybody up? Then it's rude.
Nick: Yeah, okay. Maybe a little bit, yeah. Also, I feel like a stationary limo is different than a limo in motion, right?
Leah: Oh, if you're in a stationary limo screaming out the top, I think ...
Nick: Like, what are you doing? I think that's not okay.
Leah: Somebody should arrest you. [laughs]
Nick: Like, you have to be in motion. Yeah.
Leah: Citizen's—I'm making a citizen's arrest. You need to start that car up and start driving if you want to scream out the top.
Nick: Okay, so we agree there. Okay, so that's the rule: you can do it as long as you're in motion and it's daytime.
Leah: Or even into—or Vegas.
Nick: Or Vegas. Vegas anything. You can do whatever you want in Vegas. Right. Okay, so as long as you're not bothering other people, have at it.
Leah: Yeah, because stationary is you're gonna just—it's the same group of people who are gonna be listening to you screaming forever.
Leah: Whereas where you're moving, you're just gonna sort of like randomly ...
Nick: It's like a jingle in an ice cream truck. It's fine if it's passing, but if the ice cream truck is parked in front of your house with the jingle going over and over and over, then let's call 311. Yeah.
Leah: [laughs] That is the perfect, perfect ...
Nick: Our next question is, quote, "I went shopping with my husband, who picked out a couple of pairs of jeans and some t-shirts. When we got to the register, it came to something like €70, and I blurted out, "Oh, that's cheap!" The cashier heard me and figured out one of the jeans hadn't scanned through properly, so it was actually more expensive. After we left the store, my husband ribbed me a bit for costing him more money. I think there's a moral obligation to tell the cashier if you do notice they made a mistake and undercharged you. But my question is, should you say something if you're not the one making the purchase? Maybe was rude to say anything about how much the total came to—mistake or not. I'm not too worried in my case of my husband, but say I'm shopping with a friend. Should I just shut my mouth altogether of matters of money?"
Leah: Well obviously, I think it just came out of this person's mouth. They weren't making a comment, they were shocked.
Nick: Yeah. And also, the first thought I had was Euros? Love it!
Leah: Love it!
Nick: Love our international European listeners. Thank you for your question.
Leah: I also—it makes it harder because when— A) I agree that I personally feel like if I'm undercharged, it's my moral obligation to be like, I think you missed something.
Leah: And if I'm with my partner, it's probably gonna come out of my mouth just because, you know, we're standing there together. But when you are with your friend, are you up in their business when they're taking their money out? I don't know when this would come up.
Nick: Yeah, yeah. There's that. I mean, I guess there's two things: there's the ethics question and the etiquette question. And I think these are different questions. So for the ethics question, I think we set that aside. We leave that to the ethicists. That's not for us. That's not what we're here for. But the etiquette question, I think it's just, if you're not the actual person involved in the transaction, you don't offer commentary. That's it. Because it's not about you, you're not involved. You just step back. You don't comment on the price. You don't comment on the goods. You know, unless you're invited into the conversation, you keep your mouth shut.
Leah: I agree 100 percent. I was thinking how, if this was like a close friend and we were out buying jeans and then it was like way less than I thought, when we got out into the parking lot, I'd be like, "Oh, my God, that was so much cheaper!" But I wouldn't say it in front of other people, and I wouldn't have a comment on it. I would just be curious why it was so cheap.
Nick: Yeah, I guess you could have that sort of comment, which was sort of enthusiastic and supportive of your friend who got a great deal, right? Because that's more not about the price, but more like, "Oh, you got a deal, good for you!"
Nick: And it's that spirit.
Leah: And then if they were like, "Oh, maybe they undercharged me," that's, I guess, as you were saying, we don't do ethics.
Leah: But of course, I can't stop myself. I guess the etiquette is it's up to them to decide what their ethics are.
Nick: Yes. And it's not for you to push that on them from an etiquette perspective. Now you can certainly judge them silently.
Leah: You can explain to them what karma is.
Nick: You ... [laughs]
Leah: I mean, we all know what the right answer is. [laughs]
Nick: I mean, the right answer is you should not steal, and this would be stealing from the store. So if you realize a mistake has been made, I think you are obligated to correct this mistake, correct? From the etiquette perspective, it's up to the person involved in the transaction to do the correction. Like, it's not for you to drag them back into the store. So that's how we would do that.
Nick: Okay. Our next question is, quote, "Do people expect you to keep greeting cards that have pictures of their children or family? I never know what to do with them. I really want to throw them away, but I feel badly throwing out a picture that was important to them. My drawer is getting full. What should I do?"
Leah: I totally get this, because I have years of Christmas cards with friends ...
Leah: Yeah. Because I do feel bad throwing them away. And this year I was like, I can't. I obviously can't keep every year of all my friends—I can't. They got to go. I mean, I'm not endless space.
Nick: Right. Yes, we definitely are allowed to be less sentimental here in New York City with our square footage problems.
Leah: And I think you're allowed to be less sentimental wherever you are. You can't keep decades of photos.
Nick: So the way I thought about this is, these photos that you're getting are gifts. And like any gift, you're free to do with the gift as you please. So if you want to throw it away, you have my permission. Now the one exception to this is, if the person is gonna know you did it. So if this is a friend who is gonna be coming over for dinner on Friday, it would be nice to put that photo on your fridge. At least through Friday. So they see it on your fridge and realize, like, "Oh, they put the photo up, how nice." And then after they leave, you can throw it away.
Leah: Oh, I think this person is being like, "I have 10 years of these pictures. Can I just keep the most recent one and throw out the back nine?
Nick: Oh, set yourself free!
Leah: Yeah. I keep the recent ones, but the back nine are now gone.
Nick: I mean, you were gonna keep recent ones? No!
Leah: Probably, yeah I will.
Nick: I mean, I'm picturing, like, the Christmas card family assembly thing. Like, that's what I'm picturing with these photos.
Leah: Yeah, me too.
Nick: Or it's like, you know, the yearbook photo with the marble blue background. That's what I'm picturing.
Leah: The fence with the arm up.
Nick: Glamour shots. Right!
Leah: I also think, and with your point where you were saying, just to add on to that, if somebody is coming over, nobody wants to see their—if they're in the same building as you, if they're your neigh—nobody wants to see their photos in the trash.
Nick: [laughs] Oh, no!
Leah: So dispose of that.
Nick: Yes. Be very gingerly diplomatic.
Leah: Yeah, be nice with the disposal.
Nick: Yes. That's true, yes. If your next door neighbor who uses the same trash as you, sees their family photos crumpled up with yogurt containers, yeah. No, that's not good.
Leah: Yeah, just be gentle with your trashing.
Nick: But yeah, I think if somebody doesn't know, then it's fine. It's similar, like, with regifting. Like, if the person who gave you the gift doesn't know you regifted it, then it's fine. It's like a Zen koan. If you regift something and the gift giver doesn't know, have you really regifted?
Nick: It's just like that. Same thing. So our last thing is a vent.
Nick: And this is—this is intense. So one of our listeners wrote in to say that they keep track of all the things that their mother in law has done. And I said, "Prove it." And so ...
Leah: [laughs] By "intense," Nick means we're delighted. We are delighted.
Nick: And so they sent us this amazing list. And so it was very extensive. We won't go through it all, but here were some of the highlights that jumped out at me. So they preface it by saying this, quote, "My husband and I were delighted to share our list with you. We have pulled out a few of our favorites. While on paper, she seems like a monster, she is really a wonderful woman that means well. Hope you enjoy!" So they actually have headers for all of these. So this is called "Unsolicited scheduling." "My mother in law purchased plane tickets for my husband and I to visit her without checking our schedules first and asking if we could even take off work. The tickets were for a Wednesday to Saturday morning with 5 a.m. flights."
Nick: Mm! This one's called, "Breaking into gifts." "At the wedding shower brunch she threw for us at a restaurant, she opened up one of our gifts without asking, which was a plastic drink pitcher. Her reason? To take home the extra mimosas. She claimed that, since she paid for it, we're taking it home." [laughs] I mean, that's clever. It's clever. The next one is called, "Bad Listener." "When you call her, she often doesn't even say "hi," and immediately jumps into a long story about what she's doing, and then usually hangs up before you even get a word in. And then she complains to others about how you never call her." Oh.
Leah: [laughs] I just love this list so much.
Nick: It's a trap. Oh, this. "Ungrateful gift recipient." "We got her an expensive digital subscription to something we thought she'd like for Christmas. She audibly stated her dislike immediately. 'Is that it? You gave me homework for Christmas? Can I swap that out with what I gave you instead?' This happens every year. She frequently says she doesn't want anything for Christmas, and then complains about how you don't spend enough on her. She also forgets when you do get her what she wants. For one Christmas one year, we bought her tickets to a concert for the following summer. When the time came to go to the show, she insisted that she pay for dinner beforehand. And then after the event, she complained to others that she paid for the whole evening and we paid for nothing, completely forgetting that we bought the tickets. When she was reminded we bought the tickets, she refused to believe it."
Nick: Oh, that's—that's fun. This is called, "Excessively confrontational." "Every time my mother in law sees my sister, she reminds her how upset she was that she was not invited to her wedding. My sister had a small destination wedding, and much of our family wasn't invited. But she still reminds her. 'I totally would have gone to your wedding if I was invited. But remember, I sent a card anyway.'"
Leah: [laughs] I just love it.
Nick: Wow, she does sound like a monster.
Leah: But a fun time.
Nick: Right? Yeah. Well, I don't know. The next thing is called, "Forrest Guilt Trip." "My mother in law insisted she host our wedding rehearsal dinner. We said pizza or tacos would be lovely. She booked a fancy venue and spent a pretty penny, but she still made sure to tell us the exact dollar value she spent on dinner. And years later, still complains about it constantly.”
Leah: [laughs] This is so fun.
Nick: And this is called "Overt gossip." "My mother in law gossips about people right in front of them. One example is she constantly raves about her third child—my husband—in front of her other children saying, 'It took me three times to get it right.'"
Leah: Thank you for sending this. Sharing, what a share!
Nick: Wow. What a list. What a list!
Leah: You've really raised the bar on the vents that people can send in.
Nick: What a share, yeah. Oh, get that off your chest.
Leah: Next level.
Nick: Really! So as a reminder, if you have any vents or repents that you want to get off your chest, long list that you've been documenting for years perhaps, send them to us. Send them to us through Ventorrepent.com, or through our regular website, wereyouraisedbywolves.com. Or you can leave us a voicemail or send us a text message, 267-CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.
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