Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle sending signals in restaurants with cutlery, going to art gallery openings, flushing dog poop down toilets, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle sending signals in restaurants with cutlery, going to art gallery openings, flushing dog poop down toilets, 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
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Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
Nick: Do you confuse servers with your cutlery? Do you touch the art in galleries? Do you change the budget without asking? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out!
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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: Let's get in it!
Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, I want to talk about the correct place to put your cutlery while you're dining. and I bring this up because from time to time, our listeners will send us this infographic that's been floating around the internet. And in this infographic, there are a bunch of plates, and there is a knife and fork on these plates. And then there is some description about what that means. So, Leah, for our audience, please look at this infographic. And what do you see? Explain what is happening.
Leah: So Nick just sent this to me.
Nick: So describe what messages do the various configurations of knife and fork send according to this infographic.
Leah: According to the infographic, the knife and fork are sending in your four different options: I'm still eating.
Leah: The meal is finished.
Leah: And then the meal was tasty?
Leah: Or the service was bad.
Nick: Yeah. So you could send that signal, according to this infographic.
Leah: Which I didn't know. That seems intense.
Nick: And what do you do with your knife and fork to convey this, according to the infographic?
Leah: You put it in like a V with the fork tines and the knife crossing in the middle of your plate.
Nick: Right. And pointing towards you.
Leah: Pointing towards you.
Leah: And then there's also one that says "Bring complaints book," which I guess is a more intense version of—that's like a higher level of service was bad. I don't even know what that means. Are we doing that to people? I want to let you know the service was—it's so passive-aggressive.
Nick: [laughs] Yeah. So sorry. So this infographic is garbage! And so why it is so troubling and why I want to talk about it today is that this has been floating around the internet. Articles In actual newspapers have been based on this. I even saw breakfast television in Canada did a whole morning show segment using this infographic as if it were true for their audience.
Nick: And it's like, this is not true. This is garbage. So there is this great blog and Instagram account called Etiquipedia, and they have been tracking this infographic since its earliest days. And I reached out to them, the woman who runs it. and I was like, "What's up with this?" And she's like, "We assume this was a joke. This is just a joke that has gotten out of hand, and now people have been copying it and copying it." So the infographic you see, there's hundreds of different versions. Graphic designers have recreated this graphic, and it's on, like, stock photography websites, it's all over YouTube. I mean, it's really bonkers, like, how far this has spread. And the woman from Etiquipedia, she says that she first noticed this in around 2010. And we would like to find this person, and I would like to put them in my trunk and I would like to drive to a remote location. And what happens, who could say? So there's only two things to know about the signal you are sending with your knife and fork during a meal. It's the resting, and it's the I'm done. Like, "I'm taking a pause," and "I'm done. You can take my plate." That's it. There is no other symbolism available. There is no signal to say, "I don't like this." There is no signal to say, "Bring the complaint book." There is no signal to say, "Bring more." Like, none of that. No.
Nick: So let's just talk about what this actually looks like, and I will post photos of this on the show notes so you can actually see. But basically, there's two ways that we eat, which is the American style where you switch your fork, and the European style where you keep the fork on the left. So if you are eating American style, if you are resting, the knife will go towards the top of your plate, and some people put it very horizontal at the top. Some people sort of have it going from 12 o'clock to three o'clock, if you visualize the plate as a clock. And then the fork goes sort of like four p.m. on the right hand side, that's sort of your resting position. And when you're done, the fork and knife go parallel, and they kind of go at about 4:30. That's sort of like the angle towards the center of the plate.
Nick: And if you're eating European style, the resting position is sort of a V shape, where the fork tines are down on the left, and the knife kind of goes towards the middle. And sometimes they'll overlap where you do the fork tines over the knife, or they kind of get very close. But you have a V shape, sort of an upside down V towards the middle of your plate. And when you're done, the resting position is pretty much the same. The fork and knife go together parallel. If you're in the UK, they'll go straight up and down—12 o'clock, six o'clock. If you're very continental European from the continent, you might actually have it more like 3:15. In America, we might do more like a 4:30. And I have a friend in Canada who does eat European style, but leaves it at more of the 4:30 position.
Nick: So it's sort of interesting that, like, her eating style is very European, but the finish position is American. So very interesting in Canada, a little hybrid. I don't know if my friend is, like, representative of the entire country, but that is a sample size of one.
Nick: So you do not ever cross your knife and fork together in an X. Like, that's not a thing we do. And you don't push your knife and fork all the way into the middle of the plate. And you also don't rest one side of the cutlery on the table and the other on the edge of the plate. Like, that's also not something we do. You just want to leave them in the six o'clock or the 4:30 or the 3:15 or wherever in that zone, and you want to have maybe an inch of the cutlery overhanging the plate.
Nick: And that's it. And why this is important is that this is a very understood signal to servers about whether or not you're still eating or whether or not you're done and they can clear your plate. And we don't want to confuse people because confusing people is rude. So that is why we have sort of decided as a society that this is what we do. So I just hope everybody knows this now.
Leah: I love it. And this graphic is hilarious.
Nick: This graphic? Unbelievable. Right.
Leah: I'm surprised they don't have more that's like, a fork on one side means you need to call your mom. Like, it's just so ... [laughs]
Nick: Oh, be careful what you wish for. No, this graphic, I've seen so many different versions, and all these incredibly inventive signals that can be sent with your knife and fork. Yeah. Yeah, "Bring dessert. "More mashed potatoes." Yeah. No, all of it is just total nonsense. So don't trust what you see on the internet. Internet is not peer reviewed, everybody. So ...
Nick: And what is fun is that the woman who runs Etiquipedia, she is so personally offended by this graphic. Like, nothing else I think makes her more upset than this graphic circulating. And she has made it her mission to, like, track it down. So that's—I really do appreciate her care and her attention to this very important matter because I think people are going—if you watch breakfast television and this popped up on a segment, and you're like, "Oh, well, obviously some producer researched this. They spoke to some etiquette expert before producing the segment for live television," you would be wrong.
Nick: But you might go through life thinking that you could just cross your silverware and they'll bring you more dessert. I don't know.
Leah: [laughs] Or that a waiter or waitress has the time to look at your fork and be like, "Oh, I think they want me to go get the complaints book because they were unhappy with me."
Nick: Oh, go get that complaints book.
Leah: No, thank you.
Nick: Also, what is a complaints book?
Leah: What is—out of all of the restaurants I've worked at ...
Nick: There's never been a complaints book.
Leah: ... there's never been a complaints book.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, maybe we need that. Yeah.
Leah: No. I wouldn't mind a compliments book. I'll get the compliments book. The complaints book? No thank you.
Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to go deep.
Leah: Whoo! You're opening up with a real existential question, let me say that.
Nick: [laughs] Leah, what is art?
Leah: I mean, What is art, you know?
Nick: What isn't art? Yes.
Leah: What isn't art? Life is art? Art is life?
Nick: So for today's deep dive, I wanted to talk about going to an art gallery. And going to an art gallery opening, which I enjoy. Leah, have you been to one of these things?
Leah: I have.
Nick: Okay. And so what do you think?
Leah: I love going, I mean, I feel like you love going.
Nick: I do love going. I do love contemporary art, and I do love installations and environments. And I do actually, like, take vacations specifically for art. Like, I've been to Naoshima, I've been to Mona in Hobart. I've been to the Venice Biennale a few times. Like, I will go to places for art. So for me, I'm all about it. I do think though, that contemporary art and art galleries can feel very intimidating, and so I kind of want to dispel that because I think it's interesting, and there's no reason to be intimidated. And if you're invited to an art gallery opening, you should totally go.
Leah: I love that idea.
Nick: So I'm actually a little surprised that you're all about it, because I feel like your default setting is to have anxiety, and there's a lot of anxiety related to, like, the art world.
Leah: Oh, I don't feel that way because you don't have to talk to anybody. You can just, like, move through and look at stuff and then move on out.
Nick: Oh, interesting. Okay. I mean, I guess that's very true. Yeah. The New York Times did an article in the '90s about art galleries and the openings, and they had a great quote that described the anxiety that some people have. And they said, quote, "It's one part dinner with the boss where you don't know how to behave, it's one part final exam, but you don't know what you're talking about, and one part trying to rent a Manhattan apartment and you can't afford anything on display." So I think the art world has probably changed since the '90s a little bit, but there is something that is off-putting about some galleries. And some galleries do go out of their way to try and be snooty and pretentious, and that actually is part of the mystique that they're trying to create. And just ignore that.
Leah: I think I went to a lot of art galleries growing up because my parents are artists, so I'm also—I'm very familiar with it.
Leah: Which is also maybe ...
Nick: Okay, that's why. Sure. You're desensitized.
Leah: I'm not desensitized, I just—you know, I'm comfortable with it.
Nick: Right. Yes. So I think the first thing that comes to mind when you go to an art gallery is that museum rules apply, which is don't touch, and don't get too close. And be mindful of the other people around who are also trying to look at the thing that you want to look at. So that's why we're not, like, crowding in front of things.
Leah: Yeah, don't walk directly in front of somebody who's looking at something and then just stand there like a tree.
Nick: Yeah, and at an art gallery party, there will be people around, and there will be the temptation to comment on the art. And I think it is nice to talk about art, sure. I think you just want to be very careful about what you're saying because the artist could be there, or people that know the artist is there. And it's similar rules to, like, going to any theatrical experience where, like, people who know the performers are probably around you, so keep your mouth shut if you don't have anything nice to say.
Leah: Yeah, compliments only. And I also think that I wouldn't compare artists. I hear a lot of people and they'll be like—you know what I mean? People, it's like ...
Nick: Yeah. Like, "Oh, it's very de Kooning," sure.
Leah: Or "I liked this—somebody else tackled this subject and I liked their version more." You know? It's like, just don't do that.
Nick: Yeah. Oh, definitely don't do that. Also, don't ask, like, "I could do that."
Leah: Yeah. Oh, don't say that. Especially I feel like in modern art, you hear that all the time when it's like ...
Nick: Oh, sure.
Leah: People are like, "Oh, it's just a chair." And you're like, "You know what? You get into a gallery."
Nick: Yeah. No. Yeah, you could do that, but you didn't.
Leah: Yeah. [laughs]
Nick: And so that's why you're not the artist. Sure. And I think also one thing to know about the art gallery opening is that art galleries are actually art stores. They sell art. And so the art gallery party, it's a party, sure. There's gonna be wine, there's going to probably be beer, but they're trying to move merchandise. And so you want to be mindful of that in that you don't have to buy anything like any other store but, like, if the artist is there, the gallerist is there, they're trying to sell stuff. So, like, if you know the artist or you know the guy who runs the gallery, don't monopolize their time. They are trying to network. They're trying to actually, like, sell some stuff here.
Leah: Yeah, and I think it's nice to throw out an "Absolutely lovely," or whatever you want—how you want to describe it, and "Thanks for having me," or just, like, a nice thing to the host or the artist if they're there. If you know them. If it's an intimate gathering.
Nick: Yeah, yeah. But yeah, you don't want to monopolize their time. How about what to wear? What should people wear to these things, Leah?
Leah: I think the great thing about art is you get to be your most you.
Nick: Yeah, I think it's definitely about attitude. And I'm sure this is regional, I mean, so in New York City, like, Thursday nights, you're walking through Chelsea, going to galleries, you see everything. And it doesn't matter. I mean, definitely there's a look, though, sort of a Comme des Garçons. Like, I'm wearing a jacket, or is it a skirt? Or is it a smock? Who can say? You know, asymmetrical haircut. Very distinctive, weird glasses. Like, there's a look, sure. But you can also wear jeans, t-shirt. Yeah, I mean, I see flip flops, so I guess come as you are.
Leah: Yeah, I was going to say, I think shirts and shoes, shirts and shoes.
Nick: Shirts and shoes, yeah. This is not Margaritaville in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
Leah: But I think it's you get to be very you.
Nick: And in terms of photos, I think almost always photos are cool. Like, I've rarely been in a gallery where photos are not allowed. And usually if they're not allowed, it's probably some work that's, like, historical and on loan from somewhere, and there will always be a sign that is, like, no photos of this thing. The default setting is that, like, you can just take photos. You can always ask for permission. It's always nice to ask for permission, but generally speaking, have at it. But if you do it, you should always tag the gallery and the artist in it because this is a commercial adventure. They're not doing this for sport. They would like to have some promotion. So if you're gonna take pictures of their stuff, like, at least help promote it.
Leah: Yeah. It's always nice to support the artist and the gallery.
Nick: And then one thing that does come up for artists themselves is that if you go to a gallery show and it's not your gallery show, do not hand out fliers or business cards.
Nick: And this is apparently a thing that happens, which I mean, I appreciate the effort, but I think there's a time and place for it. And this is not that.
Leah: Yeah, I think we're supporting whoever's events it is.
Nick: And lastly, let's talk about prices. It is actually okay to ask what things cost, but usually the nicest way to do it is there's probably actually a price list, which is a printed thing that the people at the front desk can actually hand you. And so you can see the prices of all the works that are in the gallery show.
Leah: And that's in the gallery show, not in a museum.
Nick: That is not in a museum. That is the main difference between museums and galleries. That's true.
Leah: Can you tell me how much this ...
Nick: Yeah. "The lady with the smile? The Mona—the Mona Lisa thing? Yeah, how much you want for that?"
Leah: "How much is that?"
Nick: Can you imagine if you owned the Mona Lisa? Ugh.
Nick: I feel like the lines in my apartment would be so long.
Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to take some questions from you all in the wilderness.
Nick: So our first question is, quote, "I'm in a predicament. I just found out that I'm unexpectedly expecting a child. While looking at my calendar, I realized two very important events fall within the first couple of weeks after my due date: my sister's wedding and my best friend's wedding. Both are destination events, and now I won't be able to attend either. How best do I break this news to them?"
Leah: I just wrote one word underneath.
Leah: I just wrote "Directly."
Nick: I mean, is the response we're expecting is, "How dare you get pregnant and miss my wedding?" Is that what we're anticipating?
Leah: Yeah, because that would be ...
Nick: "How dare you?"
Leah: I'm sure they'll miss you.
Nick: "Have you no decency?" [laughs]
Leah: I think everybody's gonna understand.
Nick: I would hope so.
Leah: Yeah, I would hope so.
Nick: And if they don't, then, like, "How dare you get pregnant? Have you no idea what the calendar is? Did you not look first?"
Leah: [laughs] Yeah.
Nick: So yeah, I mean, etiquette issues in general don't get better the longer you wait, so the sooner you address this, the better.
Leah: Yeah, I think just right away.
Nick: So I think how were you planning on breaking the news to these people in general? Like, if there weren't these weddings? How were you gonna tell your sister and your best friend that you're pregnant? And however you were gonna do that, like, do that.
Leah: And I think you could even do like a good news, bad news. Like, "Hey ..."
Nick: Yes. I think after you break the news that you're pregnant, I think then you say like, "Oh, and of course, what this now means is that unfortunately, I will be unable to attend your wedding."
Leah: "And I feel really bad about it. I didn't want to miss it. Obviously, you understand."
Nick: Yes. Yeah, sure. All of that. Yes. "I did not do this to spite you."
Leah: I think it's express your—sorry to miss it, obviously. Like, you just can't go. I think everybody will get that.
Nick: Right. And you could also offer to help in other ways, in the prep and, like, there's other ways maybe you can get involved other than actually being there.
Leah: Yeah, I think that's great. And I think what Nick said about sooner rather than later.
Nick: Sure. Yeah.
Leah: Just jump right in that.
Nick: Pull the Band-Aid off.
Leah: And I can't imagine a world in which they're going to be un-understanding.
Nick: Yeah. If they're upset by this, then I think we have to really think about our relationship with these people and, like, what does that mean?
Leah: I mean, you're having a kid, and you can't go to a destination wedding, it seems. And it was unexpected.
Nick: Yeah, so that's what it is.
Leah: And also, congratulations!
Nick: And congratulations, yeah! No, this is very exciting, so keep us posted.
Leah: Please keep us posted.
Nick: There's gonna be a lot of etiquette crimes you're gonna be experiencing during the next nine months, and we would love to hear about them. So keep a log. Send them to us. Keep us posted.
Leah: [laughs] Nick is like, "We want to hear all about your pregnancy and who was rude so we can trash them."
Nick: Exactly, yeah. Bingo. So our next question is, quote, "One of my former teachers is retiring and leaving town, so to show a token of appreciation, a few of us—my former classmates—were thinking of getting him something. One person suggested we can get him and his wife a gift certificate for a couple's massage, which costs $220. Everyone thought this was great, and we all agreed to split it. But then later that day, the same person mentioned that she also wants to add a $40 chocolate gift box. As much as I love my former teacher, I don't want to blow my budget, so I replied to the group chat, "Can we just pick one, please?" Was that an appropriate response? Could I have done better?"
Leah: May I say something up top?
Leah: And I think this is—a lot of us speak to ourselves this way, and it's the phrase, "Could I have done better?"
Leah: And I think it might be helpful—and I'm including myself in this, or I'll speak for myself, and then maybe our letter writer can decide if this helps them at all. I think the thing to think is, "Could I do something different next time?"
Leah: Because I feel like it's sort of like, so hard on ourselves to be like, "Did I handle that right? I should have done this." It's like, when something comes up, we're trying for the new time, so if we do decide that we want to do something different, it's for next time. It's not because we didn't handle that to the best of our abilities. We're learning as we go.
Nick: Yes. I mean, I think this bell cannot be unrung. I don't think when we have problematic etiquette experiences that we want to pretend that never happened and don't want to try and fix things. I don't think we just want to sweep it under the rug.
Leah: No, but I think it's, "What can I do moving forward?" As opposed to, "What could I—"do you know what I mean?
Nick: Yes, absolutely.
Leah: Because I think there's this way of thinking that sort of puts us in a position of just feeling like we messed up and there's no way to fix it.
Nick: Well, right. I think if it's a situation where this bill has been rung, it's done, there's nothing to do about it, then yes, we just want to think, "What can I do differently in the future?" If there's an issue, though, where, like, "Oh, is there something I can still do to fix this situation?" Then we obviously want to make an attempt to fix this situation.
Leah: Yes, I like that.
Leah: I totally agree with that. I didn't mean not try to fix it. I just mean, I think there is this way where often people think, "I should have done this, I should have done this." And it's either we can fix it, or moving forward we'll do something different. But don't beat yourself up.
Nick: Right. Yes, if you can't do anything about it at this point, then no sense in dwelling, but just try and do better in the future. Absolutely. So I think text messages do make tone difficult.
Leah: They really do.
Nick: But I do think that you were annoyed, and so I think the tone that you used was accurate in terms of what happened here. You were annoyed, and your text message did reflect this. So I think we could have phrased it differently, more along the lines of like, "Oh, I would prefer to stick with the original budget. Would everyone be okay with that?" That would have been a nicer way to maybe present the same response.
Leah: I would say, "I would love to do one or the other."
Nick: Yes. Yes. "Would everybody be okay with that?" And I think you would also want to check in with the group as part of your sort of weighing in.
Leah: And I do think, as Nick said, that text, the tone is so hard to read, so sometimes we send a text and we're like, "Ooh, was that too curt?" And then sometimes I'll send a follow up text, like, I looked back at my text and I realized the tone isn't how I meant it, and then I restate it.
Nick: I mean, that's nice to do if you feel like it was ambiguous enough where, like, "Oh, let me just clarify." And for this, there was no winky face emoji, I'm assuming. So, like, there's nothing to soften this blow.
Leah: But I mean, I understand why you sent that text. You thought we'd agreed on it, we'd had a budget. We're moving forward.
Nick: Yeah. No, I get being annoyed. Also, let's talk about the person that just, like, changed the goalposts and is throwing a $40 chocolate box into this. Like, it sounds like this person didn't ask the group: do we want to add a $40 chocolate box to this? It sounds like this person probably just said, like, "And we're gonna do this, everybody. Cough up the extra cash."
Leah: Which is annoying.
Nick: That is annoying. And rude, yes. Because it is rude to spend other people's money.
Leah: It's very rude! And I think also it could be like, you're welcome to add a box.
Leah: We've agreed on this gift over here. If you want to give a box, give a box, but I'm not gonna be a part of that.
Nick: Right. So I mean, although that's a little tricky to say over text in a nice way. [laughs]
Leah: Obviously, you can't say that, but I understand why one would want to say that.
Nick: Yeah. "You want a chocolate box? Then have at it. You buy it." Yeah. No, that is the sentiment here. Sure.
Leah: You could write, "If you want to add a chocolate box that's totally cool. On your money." [laughs]
Nick: Oh, but the way that's interpreted is you're gonna get stuck with the bill if you do that.
Leah: Yeah, and I think it's even fair to say, "I just want to stick with the original budget."
Nick: Yeah, I think that's perfectly fine. And just make it a budget thing. That's a very understandable thing, and I think that's fine and everyone should accept this.
Nick: Our next question is, quote, "I have a dear friend who visits with her dog. I love her dog, and I'm happy to have him in my home. But when she comes back from a walk, she bypasses our trash can and goes to the powder room, where she flushes the contents of the poop bag down my toilet. I don't know what she does about the bag, and I've never thought about it until just now, but I surely hope she doesn't flush that too. I just feel kind of icky about her doing this, and I mentioned it to her. She said, 'What's the difference? Poop is poop.' Am I being silly about this, or should I request that she just dispose of the whole thing in the trash?"
Leah: Can I just say, which I feel like I said for the last question, I literally don't get this. If I walked into a friend's house, whatever they told me to do, I would be like, "Okay. Okay!"
Leah: It's their house!
Nick: Yeah. No, my hot take on this? Your house, your poop rules.
Leah: Your poop rules.
Nick: Exactly, yeah. No, whatever rules you have about poop, your house, your poop rules.
Nick: That's it.
Leah: I just can't imagine coming in and being like, "No. It's your house, but no."
Nick: Right? I mean, that's so rude. Yeah. And it doesn't matter what the difference is or philosophically how we come down on this or our personal feelings, it's just you're in my house and I have asked you not to do something. And so that should be the end of it.
Leah: That should be the end of it.
Nick: Yeah, it's not a negotiation.
Leah: And then you bring it up and they're like, "Want to have a dialog?" I mean ...
Nick: Now I did look into this because I'd never heard of this, actually. But apparently, the EPA recommends this if the alternative is, like, flushing it down a storm drain where it goes into, like, an ecosystem. They say it actually is preferred to flush it down and have it go through, like, the normal sewage treatment system.
Leah: As opposed to putting it in the garbage?
Nick: Garbage is the second choice for them, apparently. And in New York City, they also recommend doing this too. They say you shouldn't use the trash cans if possible, you should bring it home, or you should flush it at home. Yeah.
Leah: Well, I think this person can flush it in their house.
Leah: Why are they stopping off at your house to flush their poop?
Nick: Well, I think it's that they're visiting you and then, "Oh, let me take my dog out for a quick walk, and I'll come back and then we'll continue our visit. And when I come back from that walk, I'm using your powder room."
Leah: I just—the idea that you would express your wishes about something happening in your house, and somebody would be like, "No," it's just concerning.
Nick: Yeah. It is concerning, yeah. And I guess what do we do about it now? Okay, so we have a friend who clearly doesn't want to respect our wishes. Do we just set stronger boundaries? I mean, what do we do?
Leah: I think that's really funny what you said about it's not about the existential question. It could be like, "Hey, I don't really care about your philosophy on it, I'm telling you to use the trash."
Nick: Right. Yeah.
Leah: "You're welcome to flush it in your own home." I just don't know how it's gonna—because you've already brought it up once, and then they did it anyway. I mean, the next one is going to be—have to be a little harder.
Nick: Yes, this is somebody who heard your note, but thought it was a little silly of you to object, and didn't really register that as like, oh, this is a real objection.
Leah: They heard your "No," and they decided that they had a vote.
Nick: They also thought they had a vote, that's true.
Leah: Which is unbelievable! You don't have votes in other people's houses.
Nick: Not when it comes to this.
Leah: I mean, not when it comes to anything, if I was like, "Can you put your coat on the couch?" And you'd be like, "No."
Leah: "I like it on the floor."
Nick: Yeah, actually, is there ever a time when you as a guest have a vote in someone else's house?
Leah: If you're asked.
Nick: Yes, if you're invited to give a vote, sure. But yet, I guess there really isn't. I think we could say that's a hard and fast rule, couldn't we?
Leah: I feel like that's a hard and fast rule.
Nick: Oh, I love hard and fast rules!
Nick: How wonderful! So do you have questions for us where we can hopefully give you hard and fast answers? Please send them to us. 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 would like to ask if you want to go first. I feel like I always get to ...
Nick: I would be delighted to. I mean, it's not true, I have gone first before. But happy to jump in. So for me, I would like to vent. So this is a little historical. I actually had a remarkably etiquette crime-free week. And so not a lot of bad things happened to me this week. So I'm going into the archives, but I'm gonna tell you a story that I actually have never told anyone else.
Nick: And so I was once a houseguest, and I did not send a thank-you note to my hosts.
Nick: And you're like, surely there must be an explanation for this? Oh, oh yes, there is. That is why this is a vent, this is not a repent. So as you know, I have spent many years working in the Hamptons, which is a crazy and complicated place, and it's full of hydrangeas and people with too much money. And normally, my work out there was summertime, but there was this one time I had to go out in February, and I didn't have a place to stay. And one of my colleagues actually lived out there full time, and she was gonna be away the weekend I needed to be there, and she was like, "You can totally use my house, no problem." Great!
Nick: So it's Friday and it's late afternoon and I'm leaving Manhattan and I'm driving east, because the Hamptons is about two, three hours east of New York City. And I'm heading east, I'm on the expressway. There's this Starbucks about 75 percent of the way there, and I usually stop there as, like, a little break just to break up the drive. And so I'm driving out, I get to the Starbucks, pull into the parking lot and I get a text from my friend which is like, "Hey! Oh, gosh, I totally forgot. I rented my house on Airbnb this weekend. Call me."
Nick: And it's like, I mean, what? You forgot you rented your house on Airbnb? Oh, okay. So I call her and I'm like, "Hey!" And she's like, "Don't worry about it. I got you." And so she tells me that some socialite friend that she knows has a house and I can totally stay there. And she's like, "I'm pretty sure it's 168. It's a shingled house, low stone fence. Can't miss it. Back door is unlocked. The wi-fi network is called Plover. The password is Golden Bear." I'm like, "Okay." So it's like another hour of driving and it's getting late and I'm, like, tired, but okay, fine. So I'm driving down the street, and a lot of shingled houses, a lot of low stone fences, but I do get to 168, and I pull around the back and the door is unlocked. And I was like, okay, great. And this is a beautiful Hamptons house. Easily, you know, $10-, $15 million. It's like stepping into a magazine. So I get in. I'm about to crash. I find a guest room off of the kitchen, and I text my friend and I'm like, "Hey, I'm in the house, but there's no wi-fi network called Plover." So she writes back and she's like, "Oh, the socialite rented the house to my friend Jenna, and she's the one who gave us permission. Let me check on the internet."
Nick: And I'm like, does this socialite even know I'm in her house? And I was like, "Okay." And my friend actually never got back to me with the wi-fi password. And, like, that's annoying. But I was like, fine, I don't need it. I can just check email on my phone. So I crash, and then the next morning, I'm actually doing the laundry because I want to just put fresh sheets back on the bed because I thought that would be the most polite thing to do, and I catch a piece of mail on the kitchen counter. And the name on the mail was a woman's name, but it wasn't the name of the socialite. And I'm like, oh, that's weird. And then I'm like, "Oh, let me check some of the photos in the living room." So I go into the living room and there's, like, a credenza that has, like, dozens of framed photos of all sorts of life events: weddings, graduations, birthday parties. And the socialite is not in any of these photos.
Leah: Oh, my God!
Nick: And usually when you're a socialite, you are photographed a lot. And so I was like, "Oh, that's weird." And then I'm like, "Oh, no! Did I just spend the night in someone else's house?"
Nick: I mean, there is a possibility that this was the correct house. We do live in a world in which there is the vague possibility. So I grab my bag and I got out of there immediately, and I did not tell my friend that this is what had happened because I was like, "The sooner I can get out of here, the better." And as I'm driving out, every house on this street is shingled with, like, a low stone fence. So I checked the statute of limitations for trespassing in New York. I am in the clear here, so that's why I could tell the story publicly. So although I would normally write a thank-you note if I was a guest in someone's home, this is a clear vent for a number of reasons. The first is that you forgot you Airbnb-ed your house? I mean, what is that?
Nick: And you waited to let me know until I was already on the road basically there? Like, come on! And then you got a friend of a friend to let me crash in a house without probably asking the person who owned the house for permission? So now I'm an accessory to your etiquette crime, and I don't like that. Yeah.
Leah: Oh, my goodness. Imagine they'd come home when you were sleeping?
Nick: I mean, it's like Goldilocks, but with police.
Leah: [laughs] Yeah, it's like Goldilocks but with police.
Nick: So and for you, Leah? Would you like to vent or repeat?
Leah: I can't even follow that up, Nick. I can't even follow that up.
Nick: Oh, but you must, Leah. So would you like to vent or repent?
Leah: Hmm, you know, since I must.
Leah: I'm gonna vent.
Leah: And I'm gonna try to make this vague enough so it's not absolutely clear who I'm talking about, but also ...
Nick: Although maybe you should make it clear, maybe you just direct it to one person who needs to hear this.
Leah: If the shoe fits, Cinderella.
Leah: If this seems like you ...
Nick: It is.
Leah: If you accuse me of doing something ...
Nick: You say, "Hey, Leah. I think you did this thing."
Leah: And then I say, "I'm sure I didn't," and I give you some facts on what the situation was.
Leah: I've now given you a chance to reassess and check it out. And then you come back to me ...
Leah: ... again.
Leah: And then I have to now go into my files, our old email questions, take screenshots, send it back to you. What comes next needs to be an apology.
Leah: There is no other email.
Nick: After you provide receipts?
Leah: Yeah, after I've provided the receipts. I even gave you a middle step to take it back. Then I've now put in time and effort, whatever's next starts with an apology. And an apology is not "Sorry, there was a mix up." No.
Nick: Oh, that doesn't cut it for you?
Leah: No. There was no mix up.
Leah: You mixed it up.
Leah: There wasn't a mix up between the two of us because ...
Nick: I wasn't confused. Right.
Leah: I wasn't confused, to the point where I actually then had to go in and spend time. There was a mix up on the first email. But if my good faith and good word wasn't enough for you and then I had to show you, now it's you owe me an apology.
Nick: Yeah, that's true. Oh, yeah, that detail: you didn't trust me when I clarified.
Nick: You didn't take my word for it. You didn't think I had enough integrity to be honest.
Leah: Yeah. And that's insulting. I've now been insulted, so now I need—and I will be like, "No problem. I get it." But it needs to be an apology and not an, "Oops. Sorry, there was this mess up." There wasn't a mess up. You messed up and you insulted me, and I would like an apology.
Nick: And it sounds like you have not yet received this apology.
Leah: Oh, I'm never gonna receive this apology because they believe that a general—a general, like, "Oh, sorry, there was a mix up," is ...
Leah: But, you know, I'm fine. I don't have the energy to hold a grudge, but I—moving forward, there will be a different relationship.
Nick: No! They, like, served you papers and subpoenaed documents. There was, like, a legal FOIA request from you.
Nick: No, that's rude. Yeah.
Nick: Yeah. Well, what's rude is that it is questioning your integrity.
Nick: Which I think on a base level really hits a core for a lot of people. Like, all we have is our reputations, and to question? Ooh!
Leah: Thank you!
Nick: Yeah, that actually makes me feel dirty.
Leah: Because I actually go out of my way to try to be honest. It's really a thing that's important to me.
Nick: Oh, for sure. It's one of your worst qualities.
Leah: [laughs] But like, if I—and I know it happens, that's why it's not a big deal. Just, like, own it. But, like, if I said, "Hey, Nick, I think you did this thing," and then you would be like, "No," I would then go look it up and figure out what I did and figure out what the thing is. You know what I mean?
Nick: Yeah, you wouldn't put the burden on me to prove it to you.
Leah: I mean, I just—I can't. Just apologize to people and own up to your mistake, and that's—we all make mistakes. We're adults, you apologize, and then we move forward and it's not a big deal.
Nick: And in etiquette, it's never the crime, it's the cover up.
Leah: Cover up!
Nick: You know, etiquette mistakes happen. You know, we all make mistakes. None of us are perfect, let me be the first to admit that. But it's how you handle those mistakes.
Nick: And by not taking responsibility and not apologizing profusely for even creating the suggestion that I didn't believe you, then yeah, this is a major etiquette crime.
Leah: So rude. And it just had to be a little apology. "Oh, I'm so sorry." Boom!
Nick: Would you accept an apology now, or it's too late?
Leah: I mean, now we're done.
Nick: [laughs] Okay. And scene.
Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?
Leah: Well, I learned that there is a nefarious diagram going around the internet, dishonestly telling people that they can signal for a "complaint book."
Leah: Which is in air quotes—with their knife and fork.
Nick: And you cannot. And I learned that you are genuinely not anxious in art galleries.
Leah: There's one place.
Nick: We found it! Well, thank you, Leah.
Leah: Thank you, Nick.
Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. I'd send you a handwritten thank-you note on my custom stationery if I could. So for your homework this week, I want you to consider supporting us on Patreon. This show does not make itself, everybody. so go to our website, click on "Monthly Membership,"and you can learn all about it and see if that's something you want to do. And we'd really appreciate it.
Leah: We would so appreciate it
Nick: And we'll see you next time.
Nick: All right, Leah. It's time for Cordials of Kindness, the part of the show that you make us do, but I only give you 30 seconds to do it. Ready, set, go!
Leah: So today is actually my anniversary.
Nick: Oh, happy anniversary!
Leah: Thank you so much.
Nick: Is it paper or linen or wood?
Leah: It's 15 years.
Nick: Oh, crystal!
Leah: So I just wanted to say a huge thank you to my partner for an amazing 15 years, and I'm so grateful that we get to go on this wonderful adventure together.
Nick: Oh, that's very nice! And for me, I want to read a lovely review we just got, which is, quote, "This podcast is a perfect storm of awesomeness. Funny, educational and oh so needed. Also, they are self-depreciating, practical and thoughtful as they think through situations and offer advice, which is so refreshing. And maybe most importantly, they have validated most, maybe all of the annoying human behaviors that make me crazy. No small achievement."
Leah: [laughs] I love that.
Nick: That's very nice. So thank you. It's very nice to know that we are making a difference.
Leah: So lovely!