Sept. 13, 2021

Telling Cooks They're Terrible, Leaving Cash on Tables, Handling Wet Laundry, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about telling cooks they're terrible, leaving cash on tables in restaurants, handling strangers' wet laundry, 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 answer listener questions about telling cooks they're terrible, leaving cash on tables in restaurants, handling strangers' wet laundry, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we could.)

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  • How do you tell a friend they’re a terrible cook and they shouldn't bother?
  • At a restaurant, is it OK to leave cash on the table and then leave?
  • What do I do about my family who jumps on FaceTime with other relatives whenever they're over at my house?
  • Is it OK to offer to meet someone “halfway” when I live outside of the city?
  • Should you put wet laundry that isn't yours in a dryer?
  • Aftermath: An awkward Zoom date turns into a marriage







Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian



Episode 105

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

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.

Nick: And we had so many great questions from you all in the wilderness ...

Leah: [howls]

Nick: That we have a bonus episode. So here we go. Our first question is, quote, "I have a wonderful friend who loves to cook. Every time we have a get together, he always brings a dish, and it's very much appreciated. But there's just one problem: he's a terrible cook. For years now, we put his dish alongside whatever else we're eating, take a polite spoonful and move it around our plates. But no one actually eats the food because it's not good. I did wonder if it could just be me being too picky, but I discreetly asked some mutual friends, and we all feel the same way. Is there a polite way to tell this friend that he doesn't need to go through the trouble of cooking for us every time we hang out?"

Leah: Nope.

Nick: [laughs] Yeah, that's it. Next question. No, actually, I wrote on my page. "Nope!" N-O-P-E. Exclamation mark.

Leah: [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. Because I mean, what do you—how do you do that in a polite way? "You're terrible at this thing. So please don't waste any more time doing it. Thank you."

Leah: "We've all talked about it, and we hate your cooking."

Nick: Yes. "We all had a private conversation about you, and we all decided you're terrible and you should stop immediately."

Leah: "But we're telling you to help you so you can save time."

Nick: Yes. "This is actually for your benefit." Yeah, I mean, there's no nice way to slice it, but I was thinking, okay, what can we do? Can we do anything here? Is there anything we can do?

Leah: But also, why does it affect us? They enjoy cooking, they bring it, you don't have to eat it.

Nick: Yeah, does it really affect your life? Yeah.

Leah: You could just not eat it. Nobody has to eat it. I think this person probably enjoys cooking. And also what if one day they become great?

Nick: Well, yes, I think stranger things have happened.

Leah: Right? That day you taste it, and you're like, [gasps] "They evolved!"

Nick: Well, no one is born a good cook. Everyone has to learn how to do it. This is a learned skill. And I think one question which is not really addressed is: what about the cooking is not good? Is it flavor? Is it under-salted? Is it a technique problem? Is it overcooked? Is it undercooked? Like, what actually is the problem? Because yes, this actually could just be your friend group. Maybe you're the problem. Maybe all of your friends have bad taste, and this person is producing gourmet three-star Michelin quality meals and you just don't appreciate it. Yeah, that's possible.

Leah: I think if it's something like it's undercooked and it's a poultry and you could all be poisoned, you can bring that up.

Nick: Oh, yes. If it's a food safety issue, absolutely, yes.

Leah: But otherwise, I don't know why we would step on somebody's dreams.

Nick: Yeah, true. I mean, one thing I had on my list was, if it's a potluck, let's maybe steer this friend in a better direction. So instead of, like, allowing them to bring the beef Wellington, which is maybe a little tricky, can we steer them to the fruit salad, or to the dessert or to, like, some other course, which is maybe more in their wheelhouse?

Leah: That's a great idea.

Nick: Right?

Leah: That's a nice idea. You'd be like, "Do you want to bring fruit?" [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] Do you want to bring the napkins? Yeah, so I think maybe you assign something that's in their wheelhouse. Another idea I had was if we all like getting together and eating, maybe we should do a group cooking class. Like, that could be fun. And that would be one way to maybe help this friend learn some skills and some techniques.

Leah: Also lovely. I would also be fine with completely ignoring it for the rest of my life and just having not eaten food.

Nick: Yeah, I mean, because there's no way to—yeah, like, have we tried measuring? Did you know there was a list of instructions? Maybe you should follow those.

Leah: [laughs] I immediately thought of that, I think it's Byron, but I just thought of it so we can look at it up after, but it's that, "I've laid my dreams before you. Go lightly because you tread on my dreams."

Nick: Oh!

Leah: Like, I feel like let's not stamp on our friend's dreams. I think it's like, "I laid my dream before you as a quilt." I don't know. You get the idea. And so let them live in this world where they want to bring food to their friends.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, I think that's all you can do. And there's no polite way to say that somebody is terrible at something. Yeah, well, I was also thinking, like, let's say this is karaoke and they're a bad singer. I don't think we all as friends go up to this friend to be like, "You know what? You're terrible at that Journey song. And so we've all decided you just don't have to bother anymore." Like, that's the equivalent. And they enjoy singing bad karaoke, and so let them. It doesn't affect your life.

Leah: And I do love some bad karaoke, to be totally honest.

Nick: Yeah. Don't Stop Believin.'

Leah: I'm just a small town girl.

Nick: Okay. [laughs] So our next question is, quote, "My husband and I just left a restaurant. He used cash to cover the check plus a generous tip. However, he left the bills on the table with the receipt instead of handing it to the server. We walked out without saying goodbye. He doesn't think it's rude. Rather, he argues that it emptied a table sooner rather than later, in deference to those waiting. I worried that someone might take the cash off the table, but he said he had surrounded it by glasses, so that was unlikely. I'm worried about whether or not this was rude and any other potential problems. Your thoughts?"

Leah: When I'm eating outside, I'll hand the money to the server, because I do worry that, you know, it could blow away. People are walking by.

Nick: Sure.

Leah: When you're inside of the restaurant, I don't think it's as big of a deal.

Nick: Yeah. And also, I think it also depends on what type of restaurant it is. Like, if this is your local diner, that's one thing. If this is like, L'Effervescence in Tokyo, I think, like, that's another thing. So I think the style of restaurant also kind of maybe has something to say about how money is exchanged or left. And also whether or not there is an envelope. Like, I feel like leaving cash in, like, one of the little envelope-y things is one thing but, like, creating a little fortress of glassware, I think that's also, like, a separate thing.

Leah: Well, often it's just in the flippy folder.

Nick: Right. But there was no flippy folder here. So this was like a little fort made out of glasses.

Leah: Which I appreciate the effort on that, honestly. I love a fort.

Nick: Yeah. No, it's very whimsical. Sure.

Leah: Whimsical! I do think that it really could go either way inside a restaurant, because often, like, people are in the middle of running around. And if you—I will always sort of like as I'm walking out wave and, like, point to the table like, "Oh, is it." You know what I mean? So we have, like, this eye contact.

Nick: Hmm.

Leah: That they know that I know that I'm leaving, and that I've left it on the table. But often, your waiter or waitress is running around. And if you just—you know, and then they can grab it, because a lot of times nobody from the restaurant is gonna pick up your cash and run out.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, I think if we're worried about theft, like, if that's really what it's about, theft, then yeah, I think outdoors maybe we don't want to do that. Okay, fine. Indoors? Yeah, is someone from another table really gonna, like, grab it? I mean, that would be bold.

Leah: Would be very bold.

Nick: I'm sure it happens but, like, it'd be bold. And also, I think the fancier the restaurant, the less likely it is that you would just, like, be so impatient and needing to leave that you had no choice but just to leave the cash and walk out. Like, chances are that server is going to be available to, like, grab the money from you.

Leah: Right.

Nick: But I mean, if we think about a credit card receipt, it's kind of the same idea, right? Like, we sign the credit card receipt and we leave. We don't necessarily ensure that the credit card receipt is handed to the server, right?

Leah: Yeah, the only difference is that it's cash.

Nick: Right. So it's the cash detail.

Leah: We always leave credit card receipts.

Nick: So it's just the theft question. That's really what we're concerned about.

Leah: Well, I guess if we've signed the receipt, there's already been that moment where they handed us the bill, we gave them our credit card, they returned it. So the closing out has already happened.

Nick: Or we're deeper into the process.

Leah: Yeah, there's been some recognition from both parties that ...

Nick: That I know I owe this money.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And I'm not just leaving.

Leah: And also, like—because it could also—this isn't said specifically, but it could also be, like, a feeling of an open-ended relationship. Like, we came, we ate together. I didn't say goodbye. Whereas when you have the credit card and you've signed it and I mean, they give it back to you, there's always that moment of like, "Thank you so much. Thank you so much." So it has closed out that interaction.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So maybe that's a part of the—which I think is why if you leave cash on the table, there can always be, like, a wave or, like, a point. Like, so we acknowledge that.

Nick: Yes, I think that's very astute. I think that's what our letter writer is getting at, the fact that it feels incomplete.

Leah: Mm.

Nick: And that we didn't really tie it in a bow, and we didn't leave graciously. And we didn't thank our hosts. Like, it's missing that final detail like, "Thank you so much for a lovely evening." It's just, like, eat and run.

Leah: Yeah, I think that's what she's feeling.

Nick: Hmm. I mean, I think that's valid. And so I think from an etiquette perspective, yes, I think if you can wait to tie it into a bow, say your final goodbyes, make sure that all the transaction details are taken care of, I think that is nicer than just leaving cash in a fortress of glassware and, like, walking out. Okay.

Leah: But I think you can also just grab their—if you make eye contact and some sort of acknowledgment, you'll feel better.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: It doesn't have to be a full thing.

Nick: But would we allow just leaving cash, no eye contact the way out? Are we okay with that?

Leah: I don't think it's, like, horrific in any way.

Nick: Yeah. I think in terms of etiquette crimes, yeah, I'm not exactly sure what the crime would be.

Leah: I think it's just more of a personal preference.

Nick: It's not as gracious.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: But it's not rude.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Okay. And there's a distinction.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah. So all right. So it's not rude, but it's not necessarily gracious. Okay, fine.

Leah: I think those are perfect word choices.

Nick: Okay, great. So our next question is, quote, "I come from a big family that is spread out pretty far geographically. Whenever my parents visit a sibling or vice versa, their immediate urge is to start FaceTiming all the other immediate family members, rather than sit and enjoy the company of the people they are with. I find this quite insulting when I put in the effort to host them or travel to their home. How do I address this behavior?"

Leah: I think the way to address something like this is always to start with the positive. Like, you would like to have, like, a certain amount of time with them, however you want to say that.

Nick: Right.

Leah: Just where you get to be present, and then let's bring everybody else in.

Nick: Yeah. I think before we get there, though, I think there's sort of two parts of this. One part is just the general concern about people using devices in social settings. Like, just being on your phone when you're actually with somebody in person. So I think there's a little bit of that in this letter. And yeah, I think that is rude in general. It is rude to be on your phone when you are actually, like, with somebody in person socializing. So I'll give you that. And then I think the second part of this is there is a precedence in terms of who deserves your attention. And the person that's physically in the room with you, that takes precedence over somebody on the phone or an email or a text message. And if you get a phone call or a text message, you can acknowledge it if it's like an emergency, but then you apologize profusely to the person that's, like, physically in your presence and be like, "Oh, I'm so sorry. You know, I'll turn that off." Or, "That was an emergency," or, "Excuse me, I have to take this." But then you get back to the person in front of you. And so I think that is also a problem here, because we are not doing that. We're prioritizing the people on the FaceTime.

Leah: Yes, I would agree. I feel like whenever it's somebody's parents, it's like this hard sort of line to walk because it's your parents, so you have to be like, "Hey, guys. Can we—" do you know what I mean?

Nick: Yes. And I get that there's enthusiasm. We're together, we're family, we want to catch up with everybody. Like, that all makes sense. So I get how we got here. So I think we can be annoyed by this, but I think there's some things that we can try.

Leah: Absolutely.

Nick: So what's on your list?

Leah: My list was to go in for the compliments first. To be like, "I would just love to spend, you know, a little time with just us to catch up so I can be more present." You know, often it's hard when you got a phone going and it's hard to focus. You don't have that, like—so let's get a little one-on-one time first, and then we'll call in.

Nick: Yeah. On my list it was: let's schedule the Zoom. Let's schedule the FaceTime. Like, "Oh, tonight at five, we're gonna get everybody on the call," and, like, have a designated time when everybody's gonna do that. And so that it can be this sort of contained online time.

Leah: Yeah, I like that very much. You could even say if they say things like, "Oh, but I just want them to let you know we got here." Be like, "I'm gonna—I'll text everybody, let them know that you're here. And then we're all going to do a Zoom at, like, five o'clock."

Nick: Yeah, I think that's nice. The other thing you could try is, you know, a lot of people make family members put phones in the box. Like, it is increasingly common at, like, Thanksgiving, that everybody is forced, like, to put their phones in a little shoebox that gets put away for the evening.

Leah: Mm!

Nick: And so that everybody, like, has to participate and can't be on their phones. So you could try that. See how that goes. You could force people to put their phones in a box.

Leah: Yeah. You could also try just being like, "Hey, guys. Let's just wait to get on the phones. Drives me crazy." [laughs]

Nick: Yeah. Although, I mean, how long are these calls going on for? Like, is it all day long? Is it actually live streaming? Do we actually have the iPad at the dinner table with, like, Uncle Jasper, like, live streaming the dinner? Like, is it 24/7 these FaceTimes? Or is it just, like, you know, half an hour, 45 minutes? Can we just tough it out and just let it happen?

Leah: Well, I think it's gonna happen. It's just they don't want it to happen right away. Like, they want to have some moments with them when they first get in the door, you know?

Nick: Oh, you think it's just that it's happening so quickly upon arrival?

Leah: That's how I read it. I'm visualizing the parents walking through the door, and they immediately get on the phone. "Oh, hey!" And they're flipping it to everybody. And our letter writer just wants, "Hey, can we just get, like, a little time together first?" That's how I read this.

Nick: Ok, okay. Well, if that's the case, then as a host, you need to structure the arrival a little more tightly. Like, "Oh, welcome! Let's all have cake on the patio right now. It's all set up. Come outside. Be busy with holding forks instead of your phone." Like, maybe you could create some sort of activity that takes their immediate attention.

Leah: The other thing that you said totally works, when they come and be like, "Hey, let's hang for a minute. We'll Zoom at five o'clock."

Nick: Or, "Come outside, we're gonna play cornhole."

Leah: Or shut down your wi-fi?

Nick: Oh! And then you actually put those jammers around your house, cell phone jammers.

Leah: And be like, "I guess it doesn't work anymore."

Nick: "Yeah, weird. Hmm. But I think it's gonna start working at five o'clock."

Leah: "You actually have to hang out with me now."

Nick: Oh, that's the best answer. Yeah. No, you need cell jammers. Okay. Yeah, do that.

Leah: This one's way out of the pocket, but Nick and I are suggesting cell jammers.

Nick: Yep. No, that is the correct etiquette answer, so that is that. So our next question is, quote, "My city is pretty spread out, and we have lots of traffic. And even without traffic, it's still a 30 minute drive from where I live to downtown. Friends often connect me with new business contacts, and sometimes they even set me up on dates. If we aren't meeting at someone's office or at a specific location for a meal or event, I'm always torn about how to set up our first get together when the other person doesn't live or work near me. Does it sound rude if I recommend we meet somewhere in the middle? Sometimes I will try to just recommend a few places located geographically between the two of us. But I don't really know the hotspots outside of my area, so we might end up somewhere not great, which I then feel really bad about having recommended. After agreeing on a day and time to meet, what's the proper etiquette to pick the place to meet in both business meeting and date scenarios? Often I say nothing, and then end up doing most of the driving. Is this just a normal, big city problem or am I being difficult?"

Leah: I had a four-part answer on this.

Nick: Four parts! Oh, that's a lot of parts!

Leah: Well, it's divided in between date and work. I feel like these are actually very separate.

Nick: Yeah. No, that's very true. Yes.

Leah: So for the date one ...

Nick: Mm hmm.

Leah: ... I would say, "I love this place around me. It's this" blank. "If that's too far from you, let's pick a place in the middle. I'm not familiar with all, like, locales in that area. Do you have any suggestions?" So you've said let's meet. You've already picked a place that's near you that you like as your option A. And as your option B, let's meet in the middle. But you've already told them, I don't know a lot of places. Do you have any suggestions?

Nick: Perfect. Yes, I think you're giving a little of column A, column B. If they wanted to meet you all at your location, how wonderful. If they're not into that, halfway is totally fair.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah, I don't think you need to be doing all the driving. No.

Leah: And I think you can just straight out tell them, "Do you have any recommendations? I'm unfamiliar with this area."

Nick: Yeah, and if you end up somewhere terrible, well, then you're off the hook because you already set the expectation of, "I don't know any places in this area. I'm just Googling."

Leah: And then you guys can just both laugh about it together.

Nick: Yeah. Yeah, if it turns out to be some horrible restaurant. Yeah.

Leah: And then it could be like an adventure you go on on future dates where you just move through restaurants in that area, in the middle ground, looking for places.

Nick: Hoping to find one that's decent.

Leah: Yes. Yes.

Nick: Okay. [laughs] It's like geocaching. And then in a business context?

Leah: I think in a business context, it's who's the client? Are you taking somebody out, or are you asking somebody for a favor? Like, I recently asked—I was asking for advice on something, wanted to meet in person. I drove to them. I'm asking them to do a favor.

Nick: Yes. You would not be like, "Oh, can you do me a favor, and also can you come to me?"

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah. Which happens all the time.

Leah: Oh, it does. And I'll be like, "No!"

Nick: So rude. It's like, "No, wait. Wait a second. You want me to do something for you, and you want to inconvenience me further by making me come to you? I'm sorry. No." Yeah. But people do think this way. So don't. [laughs]

Leah: And then if it's just like a work meeting, I think, again, let's pick a place in the middle. "I'm unfamiliar with the area. Does anybody have any suggestions?"

Nick: Yeah, I think that's fine. And is this a normal, big city problem? I mean, I think it's a New York thing. I'm sure it's an L.A. thing. I think it's an—but I'm sure it's also an everywhere thing. Even if you live in a small town, you can always meet somewhere in the middle.

Leah: Everywhere that I've lived, including in Maine, you know, you know people and they're like an hour and a half away, and then you're just like, "Let's meet in the middle." Or, "Is anybody driving through? Let's do it on that day," you know?

Nick: Yeah. Yeah. But I think the general etiquette idea is like, how do we show consideration for the other person's time?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: And so definitely, like, minimizing everyone's time on the road. Yeah, I think that's very mindful and very polite. So, yeah, I think that's totally good.

Leah: Perfect.

Nick: So our next question is, quote, "I feel in my heart of hearts that I have committed an egregious etiquette error, so here I am asking and repenting. What is the proper etiquette for this situation? A little background: we don't have a washer and dryer in our apartment, but luckily my mom lives nearby and has graciously offered hers for our use. So we frequently go over to her house to do our laundry. Typically, there are only two people living in the house—herself and my brother, so the washer and dryer are usually not occupied and we have free reign. However, for the last few months, my mom has been having friends live with her. Friends I don't know very well.

Nick: "And today was the first day I encountered a sticky situation regarding the use of her laundry room. I showed up in the morning to do laundry, only to find out that there were clothes in the washer that were wet and had not yet been transferred over to the dryer. Everyone was already gone for the day, so my thought was that they were forgotten in there. I assumed nobody would want their clothes to become musty and stinky as clothes are wont to do. So I was faced with a predicament: do I dry their clothes for them? This was my initial thought. But upon inspection, some articles of clothing did not appear to be dryer safe. But there were no tags to verify that. My next step here would have been to contact the friends and ask them what they like me to do with their soggy bits. But in this case, I didn't have their phone number and was unable to do so. So after contemplation, I made the executive decision to hang dry all the items just to be safe.

Nick: "But then, as I was taking out the load of laundry, I found something that complicated matters: underwear. This would potentially be crossing a personal boundary. I know many people would be uncomfortable with and embarrassed by the idea of someone else handling their delicates. I myself would not want a practical stranger pawing my panties. And with my previous solution of hang drying their laundry, the horror would only be exacerbated by the items in question hanging on the drying rack and flapping in the wind, so to speak. By this time, I was at a loss, as well as in a rush to get my laundry done before work. So hesitantly, I decided to remove their clothes from the washer temporarily and start and finish my own laundry. Once done, I put the still wet clothes back into the washer and closed it on up, knowing that by the time they got home that evening, they would probably need to wash their clothes again due to the stench. All day I've been going over this situation in my head, and I'm at a loss at what I should have done in this situation, but I have a distinct feeling that what I did was most certainly not the right move. Thoughts?"

Leah: A) I love this letter. I love all of our letter writers. I particularly relate with this letter writer because of the multiple levels of thought going into this.

Nick: Oh, full journey. Absolutely.

Leah: Full journey. I relate, I get it, I love it. The mental torture. Trying to do the right thing. What's the right thing? Oh, this is a complicated other—you know? And at the end, it's like you weren't there. This can't be the wrong thing because it would have been this way if you hadn't done laundry.

Nick: Yeah. So I think at the end of the day, bottom line summary, executive summary, that's correct. The thing that happens as if you weren't there. That's, I think, fine. Right?

Leah: I think it's totally fine.

Nick: The status quo is, like, the right etiquette answer.

Leah: I also think that we should in the show notes tag, though, #Dryer.

Nick: Yes. So in a previous episode, we did have sort of a vaguely related question of, like, how long should you leave things in a dryer before taking it out, like, if you're in a laundromat and it's not your stuff in the dryer.

Leah: And I had, like, a meltdown about it, about when I should do it.

Nick: Well, what's interesting about this laundry question, like this wet laundry question, the dryer question is, as a society, we have yet to agree on the rules. We have not come to some consensus about what you should do about wet laundry that feels abandoned, or dry laundry that feels abandoned, and what you should do. Like, it's really interesting that we have not come to some agreement about this.

Leah: I also think this person would appreciate, whose clothes was in there, that you didn't dry clothes that weren't for the dryer.

Nick: Yes. I feel like I am not interested in somebody drying things of mine that should not be dried.

Leah: So I think you should just feel like, "At least I didn't dry things that shouldn't be dried."

Nick: Yes.

Leah: "I thought it through. I didn't just mechanically put it in and dry. I thought about their items. I came to the conclusion that this was the best decision. And I'm going to stand strong, because the most important thing was to not ruin their non-dryables.

Nick: Yes. And so having things that are wet that might need to be rewashed? Like, that feels fine as a conclusion.

Leah: It also would have been that way if you weren't there.

Nick: Right. Although here's the thing: we couldn't reach these people because we didn't have their phone number. Could you reach your mom who has their phone number? Like, was that on the table? Why didn't we do that?

Leah: But also, is it your responsibility? They left these clothes in the washer.

Nick: Well, but we're trying to do something courteous, and so if we wanted to try and reach out to be like, "Hey, what do you want me to do?" We could reach out to mom and be like, "Hey, there's wet laundry. Like, what should I do?"

Leah: Solid.

Nick: And then maybe she could connect you with these people.

Leah: Solid.

Nick: Like, that was not mentioned. So I'm just highlighting that as something that could have been done.

Leah: Mm-hmm.

Nick: And then the other thing is, are we assuming that they're gone for the day? Like, we don't know these people. Maybe they just ran down to Jamba Juice for a smoothie and are coming back in 20 minutes? Why do we assume that they're gone for the day?

Leah: Well, either way, if they're coming back, then they'll wash it.

Nick: Right. And how do we feel about, like, the hanging delicates and underwear of strangers?

Leah: Well, I can absolutely see myself doing this.

Nick: Yes, you would do this, but I don't know if that's correct.

Leah: I know, and then I would leave and I'd be like, "Did I just hang those people's underwear? Are they gonna think I'm insane?"

Nick: Yes and yes. It's probably how that would go. Sure. Yeah, I mean, I don't love that idea. I mean, also hang drying stuff? Like, some stuff should go in the dryer. So now it's, like, all wrinkly, maybe. I don't know.

Leah: That's why it's such a hard call. That's why I think back in the washer.

Nick: Back in the washer, yeah. But it would be nice if we could come to some consensus as a society about the default setting, so everyone just, like, knows how it should go. Like, if you see clothes in the washer, if you need to use that washer, the wet clothes should go back in there when you're done. Maybe that should just be the rule. And a dryer? It's done, you give it five minutes. Five minutes, one second, you're allowed to take it out if the person hasn't come back. Maybe that should be the rule. Like, it would be nice if we could just agree on something.

Leah: Across the board.

Nick: Because, like, etiquette is all about giving everybody the script about how we're supposed to behave in all these different situations, because when we have the script, we feel a little more comfortable about, like, what we're supposed to do, what other people are supposed to do. And we don't have the script here. And that's why everyone's, like, a little anxious around laundry.

Leah: I had—this week, actually, I went out to the laundry room, and one of the washers is under repair and somebody left their stuff. And we just talked about this when we did the other episode with the dryer. I timed it. I was like, "I'll give it 30 minutes."

Nick: 30 minutes!

Leah: 30 minutes.

Nick: So you have clothing in the washer. The wash cycle has ended.

Leah: Ended.

Nick: No more circulation happening, no more agitation. Buzzer has buzzed. You wait for 30 minutes for the person to come?

Leah: I was like, "I'm gonna give it 30 minutes."

Nick: Okay.

Leah: And, you know, I'm still making friends in the building. I don't know what the protocol is.

Nick: And you waited in the laundry room?

Leah: No, no. I just went back to my apartment and I was cleaning. So it didn't really—I was not under a time crunch.

Nick: What if somebody swooped in and grabbed that washer?

Leah: I decided—I went through all the choices, I decided I would rather that happen.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I'm gonna give this person to—it was also a day where I had the whole day.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: The day was, I was working from home. I was cleaning. I had time.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So I exit. I come back 30 minutes later. It's still in there.

Nick: I think you have permission.

Leah: I go to take it out, and then I think to myself, "I'm gonna give it five more minutes."

Nick: What?

Leah: And as I leave it, the woman comes out and I was going to leave for my five minutes and I go, "Oh, are you the—in the washer?" And she says, "Yes." And I said, "Oh, great. I'll come in." And she goes, "Oh, thank you so much for leaving my stuff in the washer. I appreciate it." She goes, "Did I leave it long?" And I was like, "35 minutes." [laughs]

Nick: [laughs] And did that sink in for her? Did she realize that that was pushing the bounds?

Leah: She was like, "Oh!" But then she thanked me again for leaving it, so I felt like I'd made the right decision because it clearly was important to her that nobody touched her stuff. And I didn't lie about how long I'd waited. I didn't try to make her feel—but I didn't say it in a rude way. I was like, "Oh, I've been check—" you know?

Nick: Here's just a factual amount of time that I've been waiting for you to return to your laundry.

Leah: But I felt like it was, like, a good—I felt good about the interaction. Like, I didn't touch it. I read the room right. It was just the items that I felt were like items you wouldn't want people to touch. It was also because of the items in it.

Nick: What was she washing?

Leah: Well, you know, some things just feel more personal, you know?

Nick: Well, if they're very personal, then you should set a timer and you should return when your wash is done.

Leah: No. Absolutely correct. I just like to come in on the side that was very polite. You know what I mean?

Nick: I think waiting 35 minutes was very polite, yes.

Leah: But then I also was like—she was like, "Oh, it just finished, right?" And I was like, "No."

Nick: [laughs]

Leah: And then we got on okay. Do you know what I mean? I feel like it went well.

Nick: It definitely went well because you went above and beyond what was required of you. So okay.

Leah: You know, we may be in a situation where the two of us have to work together to do something, and then now we've had, like, a functional conversation where everybody was happy.

Nick: Yeah, you never know when you might actually be in an escape room with this woman and have to use teamwork to solve puzzles.

Leah: [laughs] Yes. Yes! And now we'd be like, "Oh, we already had a conversation." We worked through it together, we had a polite time. We ended up laughing. We both were having crazy days. We made friendships. It was perfect.

Nick: All right. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Leah: It does.

Nick: So our next thing is aftermath.

Leah: Aftermath!

Nick: So from time to time, we like to go back in time and see how did things work out? Was our advice good? Was it garbage? Do we make things better? Do we make things worse? Are you in the witness protection program now? Should we be in the witness protection program now? So we got a voicemail during the time when Zoom was very new for a lot of us. You know, not a lot of Zooming happening. It was a new thing. We were all sort of figuring it out. So we got a voicemail from a woman, and this actually never made it to air but I wrote her back anyway. And she said that she was on this date, and it was a group date and it was very awkward. And she felt sort of ignored by her date. And at one point she, like, left to go get some Chapstick and she, like, was like, "Oh, did he even know I was gone?" kind of thing. And she just felt like she wasn't getting enough attention, and it just felt a little rude. And her question to us was like, "Should I address this? Should I say anything? Like, what should I do? Like, what are your thoughts?" And so I basically wrote back and I said Zoom dating is super awkward for everybody.

Nick: Like, no one knows how this works or what we should do. And, like, it's new for everybody, and just like give the guy another chance. And so this woman just emailed us and she says, quote, "Over a year ago, I reached out to you about how to process an awkward virtual date, and you encouraged me to give grace in light of the times. I've been meaning to email you to share that I ended up marrying the guy from that awkward date. I'm so glad I gave him another chance. We've become great friends and we're enjoying our marriage." And then they set a lovely photo of their wedding. Everyone looks gorgeous. And where was our invitation? Obviously, we'd never invite ourselves, but if we were invited, we might have shown up. So that is amazing. I don't think we've ever had advice that worked out that well.

Leah: I'm so excited by this. Nick, you were the catalyst for true love.

Nick: I mean, there's a first for everything, yeah.

Leah: I love it! I love it!

Nick: Yeah, so that's obviously lovely. And yeah, any other marriages we are responsible for? Let us know. I would definitely be interested.

Leah: How wonderful!

Nick: That's truly wonderful. So I think the lesson here is, you know, give people the benefit of the doubt. You know, it's not a bad idea to give people second chances sometimes. And love wins.

Leah: And Nick gives great advice.

Nick: Not always, but this time it worked out.

Leah: [laughs] Yeah. So do you have any questions for us? And we'll try our best. Let us know. You can let us know through our website,, or you can leave us a voicemail like she did, or you can send us a text message: (267) CALL-RBW. And we'll see you next time.

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!