March 16, 2020

Unfollowing Exes, Standing on Escalators, Vaping in Offices, and More

Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about cleaning a roommate's dishes, hovering over people in restaurants, seating in taxis, avoiding conversations with drivers, unfollowing exes on social media, handling a coworker's after-hours messages, vaping in offices, splitting restaurant bills, telling provocative stories, standing on escalators, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)

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  • Am I expected to clean my roommate's dishes?
  • What are your thoughts on hovering over people in restaurants?
  • Where should you sit in a taxi? What do you do if you don't want to talk to your driver?
  • Should I explain to an ex why I'm unfollowing them on social media?
  • What do I do about a coworker who is contacting me after-hours?
  • How do you handle a coworker who is vaping at the office?
  • Is it OK to ask for separate checks if only one person has ordered alcohol?
  • PSA: Telling tragic stories
  • PSA: Standing on the left on escalators




Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema

Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton

Theme Music: Rob Paravonian


[Instrumental Musical Introduction]

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

Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema!

Nick: We're in New York today, and we have a lot of good questions-

Leah: Great questions!

Nick: -and they're from the wilderness.

Leah: Woo-wooooooo!

Nick: Was that a ... It wasn't a howl.

Leah: No, that was a "Woo-ooooooo!"

Nick: Okay, so our first question is: "Am I expected to clean my roommate's dishes?"

Leah: Oh, I was excited about this one.

Nick: [Giggling] Well, the word "expected," I think, is a little loaded here.

Leah: I love that we just take the question, and we're like, "What are you really asking us?"

Nick: Yep, yep ... What's your take? You've had roommates. I've had roommates.

Leah: I feel like the question is: "I don't want to have to clean my roommate's dishes." That's what I feel like the "expect" [crosstalk]

Nick: The issue here is that there's currently a dish problem here.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: There are currently dishes in the sink, and they're not my dishes.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: So, the question is - what do we do about it?

Leah: Right.

Nick: I guess the first question is - what's the agreement? What are the house rules?

Leah: Yes.

Nick: What have we decided? Have we decided anything? If we have not had this discussion about what's up, I think we need to have that discussion.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: This is not an etiquette thing. This is just a household harmony thing.

Leah: And I think that having the conversation helps with any etiquette moving forward.

Nick: True! It's a good foundation. Yep.

Leah: Also, when I read this, I thought about ... I think I must have really committed some etiquette crimes. You know, when you're in your 20s, and you're just like cavalier?

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: You're like, "Oh, I was living with people who lived probably differently than ..."

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: You just wanna ... My face turned red.

Nick: Oh, so you were the culprit?

Leah: I don't know if I was the culprit-

Nick: You were the dish-leaver.

Leah: I think I was other things. Do you know what I mean?

Nick: We'll put a pin in that.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: But I think, in general, people have very different thoughts about what is acceptable to them with dishes. Some people feel like that dish needs to be cleaned as soon as it's made dirty. Some people are okay leaving things, and then we do dishes at the end of the day.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Some people are like, "We'll do it at the end of the week." Some people ... Everybody has their own thing. I think you just want to kind of be on the same page about what everybody's expectations are.

Leah: Right.

Nick: Then, I think if we were on the same page, then, yeah, you should do your roommate's dishes, if they're there, and that's what it is because, ideally, they'll do yours.

Leah: Yeah. If they're doing yours, then you can do theirs.

Nick: Right. So, I think we just want to come to the same understanding.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Then, harmony will reign.

Leah: Harmony will prevail.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: If not-

Nick: Move out.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: Our next question comes from Maine, so maybe you know him. Josh says he wants our thoughts on hovering over people at a restaurant when you're waiting for a table!

Leah: When Josh says "hover," we know-

Nick: We know what that means.

Leah: We know what that means.

Nick: Yeah, that's aggressively, right?

Leah: Yeah, these people are rude.

Nick: Well, the people that are dining, or the people that are [crosstalk]

Leah: The hover-ers.

Nick: Hm. Now, I want to take some other side here just for purposes of discussion.

Leah: Well, if you got a coffee for six hours in a busy restaurant-

Nick: Right. I have seen people sit down at a table, and they're clearly done, and it is a very busy cafe. They know people are waiting because we're all standing over you because it's a very small space ... You are continuing on your conversation. You're like, "Oh, we're just having a great time catching up." I think, at some point, you are being rude by holding this table.

Leah: I agree with that.

Nick: So, I think in a café situation, I think we've gotta keep moving along.

Leah: If it's packed and you're just hanging?

Nick: Yeah, but then there is the line where you need to hover, in some instances, because you need to get that table when it's available. There are times when you gotta slide in.

Leah: Right. It's so stressful. I'm so stressed.

Nick: Right? So, these are our thoughts, Josh. These are our thoughts on hovering.

Leah: I mean, is the person leaning into you? That's rude.

Nick: Physical contact is not polite.

Leah: You also don't want someone standing over you!

Nick: Lording over? Yeah, that feels uncomfortable ... Yeah. Also, I think when you're close by, people know you're waiting.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I think they get a sense of the personal space boundaries sort of being intruded upon, and they get the signal. So, I don't think we have to get too close to make the point.

Leah: Right.

Nick: Right. So, I guess that's that.

Leah: Wow, we really walked the middle line on that one. [Laughing]

Nick: Uh, well, I think we gave good advice.

Leah: No, I think so, too.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I'm just saying it really could go either way depending on the situation.

Nick: Now, Josh, for Maine- in Maine, I feel like there's more room in restaurants around tables. So, I guess the question is - how close are you that you're hovering in a 5,000-square-foot [crosstalk]?

Leah: Yeah, because I immediately visualized that somebody was just kind of lording over him - you know what I mean? - in this big space; in which case, it's like, "Back it up!"

Nick: Right. Yeah. If that's happening, then let's not do that.

Leah: I feel like it's very New York to have these tight places where you have to run to the table, you know what I mean? I can't even handle that. When places are like that, I gotta go. I'm not- I can't be run- it's too-

Nick: It's savage.

Leah: It's too much anxiety.

Nick: Yeah, and in New York, sometimes, hovering is just standing in the only spot.

Leah: Yeah, you don't even mean to be hovering. It's just-

Nick: I know I'm at the bar, also; and also, I'm at the door.

Leah: I'm also in the bathroom.

Nick: Right. So, that's just where I am. Sorry. Our next question is: "When I'm riding by myself in an Uber, taxi, or Lyft, is it rude to sit in the back seat? I usually sit in the back, and I don't like the awkward small talk, but I feel bad when I don't talk. Is it rude to not talk to my driver?" So, two questions here - very different. For me, I sit in the back.

Leah: I think everybody sits in the back.

Nick: There are some cultures that you do sit in the front. I don't think those are in the United States.

Leah: No. I also think that if I was a driver and somebody got into the front with me, I would call a friend and be like, "Just so you know, I picked this person up; they sat in the front; this is their name - if I go missing."

Nick: Also, often, they always have stuff on that seat. Like, I know if I'm ever taking a taxi or something, and there's four of us, and I have to sit in front, that's a whole office. That's a whole-

Leah: Yeah, people put their stuff there!

Nick: There's all sorts of stuff that they have to move around, and they're annoyed, yeah. So, I think sitting in the back, I think that should be the default.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Yeah. I always sit in the seat behind the passenger seat.

Leah: Me, too.

Nick: So, I'm diagonal to the driver. I can see the driver. That feels like the safest spot in the car. I think people do recommend you do that. Yeah, do that.

Leah: Yeah, that's also where I sit.

Nick: Now, the second question - do you have to talk to your Uber driver?

Leah: I always say, "Hi, how's your day going?" And then-

Nick: Okay. Well, you should definitely say hello.

Leah: Definitely say hello!

Nick: I think we start with that.

Leah: Well, I recently got into a Lyft, where I said hello, and the guy didn't talk to me.

Nick: Interesting, and this was ... why?

Leah: I don't know why.

Nick: Okay. Now, sometimes, there are drivers that are hard of hearing, and it'll tell you in the app-

Leah: But it'll notify you, though.

Nick: Yeah, yeah, but it wasn't that.

Leah: It was not that.

Nick: He just didn't like you.

Leah: He just did not ... I mean, I hadn't been there long enough to figure out that you don't like me, you know what I mean?

Nick: Right? Fine for you to arrive at that at the end of the ride, but to-

Leah: But to not like me from the get-go-

Nick: Outta the gate! But, also, this is not safe. Did you not confirm that this was your car with the driver?

Leah: Oh, no. He spoke to me when I got to the car. He goes, "Leah?"

Nick: Okay.

Leah: So, we had that-

Nick: That was it.

Leah: So, I know he ...

Nick: You make contact; you get in the car, and you're like, "Hello?" and he ...?

Leah: Nothing.

Nick: Okay. Many people would kill for that experience!

Leah: Then, leaving, I said, "Have a great night!" Nothing.

Nick: Nothing. Okay. I mean this is not terrible.

Leah: It is what it is.

Nick: Yeah. But, yeah, how do you shut down a conversation with somebody who's chatty?

Leah: I really have trouble with this because I don't want to be rude.

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: A lot of times I have work to do. I've gotten in such conversations, where I feel like I end up knowing a person's whole life. You know what I mean? Then you're like, how did this happen?

Nick: I've been on a lot of rides that are a lot of oversharing. Yeah.

Leah: I don't mind a good overshare, when I'm in the mood. You know what I mean?

Nick: Right.

Leah: I still remember this great Lyft ride in Los Angeles with this man who- his girlfriend was really treating him very badly. I mean, I got the whole ... You know what I mean?

Nick: Uh-huh.

Leah: I still think about him. I hope he cut her off, you know what I mean?

Nick: Okay ...

Leah: But sometimes, when you're clearly trying to work or something, and you don't want to be rude, it's really hard to just be like, "Don't talk to me!"

Nick: I don't think you start there.

Leah: Oh, definitely don't start there.

Nick: I think most drivers are sort of attuned to people's conversation style, so if you're polite, and you sort of answer questions politely, but don't add questions of your own, then I think most drivers sort of get the hint, and we're gonna have a quiet ride.

Leah: I do think with- I don't take a lot of Lyfts, and I don't take taxis because I've had so much ... I think, often, with women, a lot of times, drivers- I've had a lot of drivers, where it just immediately gets personal really quickly.

Nick: Oh!

Leah: Then, you just don't want to have to throw up those boundaries, when you're just trying to get somewhere. Then, you also don't want to have an argument about it. So, you're like, how did I get put in this situation again?

Nick: Okay ... So, there's no solution to that.

Leah: No. I feel like there should be a way to be like, "I don't want to have ..."

Nick: I mean, you would've set that boundary ... I think it is polite to basically say, at some point, "I'm so sorry. I have some work to do on my phone, so I can't chat." I think you could say that, if you needed to.

Leah: Yeah, and then just lock into your phone.

Nick: Yeah. Which, P.S., that's what you're doing anyway.

Leah: Right.

Nick: That's what everybody's doing in the back of the car, so I think that's fine.

Leah: I do think women probably- if we did a ... If we did where we polled people-

Nick: We're gonna do a listener survey.

Leah: Yeah. My guess is that women get caught up in conversations they don't want to be caught up in, more.

Nick: Oh, sure; oh, as a society? Oh, sure.

Leah: Well, and also in cars. Then you're stuck in this situation, where somebody's telling you that you should be married.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: You wouldn't believe the amount of times-

Nick: That this comes up for you?

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yes, as a man, I do not experience this to the degree you do. Yes. Also, I think for you, you've talked about how conversations take a turn very quickly.

Leah: Yeah. All the sudden, you're like, what just happened?

Nick: Where just we're having polite pleasantries, and then, now, it became overtly something.

Leah: Yeah, because I always want to know how people ... "Hey, how was your day?" You know?

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: Just like a nice little ... Then, everybody goes about their-

Nick: But then it becomes inappropriate.

Leah: Then, all the sudden, you're like, what just happened?!

Nick: Yeah. No, this definitely does not happen to me as often as it happens to you. So, I'm sorry that society is unequal in that way.

Leah: I do think we can find ways for people to still feel polite, and put up-

Nick: Yes. I think just saying like, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I have to send this email on my phone, and I can't chat at the moment."

Leah: Yep.

Nick: That's polite and fine.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Yep. Our next question is: "I recently ended seeing someone after around four months due to realizing I didn't have the time or mental bandwidth to make the relationship thrive as I wanted to. We didn't end on bad terms or negative reasons. We still follow each other on social media, and this person is an avid poster. I know I'm entitled to unfollow them to facilitate my own healing, but I feel compelled to reach out to them, explaining ..." Leah's already shaking her head, "... but I feel compelled to reach out to them, explaining why I'm unfollowing them as it would mean unfollowing them without providing an explanation, and I still care about this person. Is there actually an etiquette basis for reaching out? And, if so, how might you advise going about this sensitively?"

Leah: Why don't you give us your opinion, Nick?

Nick: So ... Basically, a couple thoughts. One is when a relationship ends, I think, if it's amicable, the best thing to do would be to mute them.

Leah: Yes.

Nick: Not unfollow. I think that's the nice baseline approach. If it has ended, and it's not amicable, the person that is the dumpee is entitled to unfollow. The dumper should mute. What the dumper should not do is continue following this person and liking their posts. Why are you doing that? Do not like posts of people you are not interested in dating anymore. The recipient of those likes finds that very confusing.

Leah: Yeah, I agree with that.

Nick: Don't do that!

Leah: Don't do that to people.

Nick: That's not nice! So, I think that's the baseline. I think, for this, we just mute. We just leave it there.

Leah: Yeah. I think you just mute them.

Nick: That achieves your goal. No problem. Then, I think, in 6 months, a year, anytime you think about it, you could unfollow at some point down the line. Okay, bye.

Leah: You don't tell them that you're muting them.

Nick: You do not tell them!

Leah: They don't know?

Nick: No. It's fine.

Leah: You just mute them, and then you don't see their stuff.

Nick: Yeah, and you do not owe them a conversation about unfollowing them on social media.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Presumably, you've already had the conversation about, "We're not dating anymore." That was the conversation. So, I think they know there's some closure here. That's my thoughts.

Leah: I agree with you 100 percent.

Nick: Yeah? Anything to add?

Leah: I do have some thoughts because I think, sometimes, people want to explain to the people- they want to explain it for them, not for the person.

Nick: Okay, like, "I want you to know that I'm unfollowing you because ..."

Leah: Yeah, because I don't think the person hearing it- it doesn't help them in any way to know.

Nick: Yes. There's no upside. It sounds like we're not in a great place with this breakup and that there's some unfinished business.

Leah: Even though they say they still care for each other ... I feel like that's just a complicated ... That's why I think the muting is perfect.

Nick: Muting is perfect, but in this question, there's like, "Oh, we're done. I don't have the bandwidth. I still care for them, but I don't want to follow them anymore, so I can emotionally heal."

Leah: Right.

Nick: A couple different currents that are maybe conflicting, so it does feel like there's something unfinished; because let's say you were gonna say, "I'm unfollowing you, and I want to have a conversation about it." What is the conversation?

Leah: Yeah. You're just unfollowing me.

Nick: "I'm unfollowing you because we broke up." Unless there's more to say, in which case, if there's more to say, well, then, do we want to say that? But that has nothing to do with the social media.

Leah: Yeah. That's what my take away was - the person- you're just unfollowing them.

Nick: Right.

Leah: So, it's not really a conversation.

Nick: Right.

Leah: So-

Nick: But mute ... Mute is your friend.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: That works for all platforms. You can mute on Twitter; mute on Instagram; mute on [crosstalk]

Leah: You can block's people's phone numbers, and they don't know it; they just keep messaging you.

Nick: Great. Yeah, a lot of avenues. So, I would do all of those, and I think that's the right way to go. Our next question is: "I have a colleague who regularly checks in after work hours; 7:30 p.m. on a Friday; 9:15 a.m. on a Saturday; 6:00 a.m. on a Thursday. It's usually a quick, 'Hello, thought you might find this interesting,' with a link, or sometimes it's a, 'How was your day - 1 to 10?' [ugh ...] or, 'What's a highlight from this week?' [Ugh!] I give 100 percent when I'm at work and very much try to check out when I'm at home and be engaged and present with my friends and family and focus on my life outside of work. At first, I responded fairly quickly. Then, it became a bit more delayed. Now, I sometimes completely refuse to respond. Am I being rude by not responding, or is he being rude by interrupting my time away from work?"

Leah: The second time I read this, I had a completely different thought than the first time.

Nick: Oh! Okay. Well, while you're contemplating which lane you want-

Leah: No, I think it's two lanes.

Nick: Oh, okay.

Leah: Well, both of them have the same answer, but in the second time I read through, I wanted to be like, "Are you sure this person isn't ...?"

Nick: Oh! You think there's flirting? Do you think that's it?

Leah: "How was your day - 1 to 10?"

Nick: I don't ...

Leah: "Thought you might like this" at 6:00 a.m. in the morning?

Nick: "What's the highlight from this week?"

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, these struck me as a weird questions.

Leah: These are not colleague/work-related questions.

Nick: They also sound like a little ... You know those people who do coaching, like career coaching? These feel like career-coaching-y questions.

Leah: But they're coming in at not-career-coaching hours.

Nick: True. Okay, so you feel like there might be ...?

Leah: Well, the second time I read it through, I was like, is that a possibility?

Nick: I think, now that you've brought that up, that is a possibility, yes. I had not considered this.

Leah: I still have the same answer either way, but sometimes things feel inappropriate, and we don't know why.

Nick: Mm.

Leah: Obviously, this person doesn't like this because they wouldn't have written it in.

Nick: True.

Leah: So is there another level of why it feels inappropriate - because it feels overly friendly? Not that they're ... That's not a work question.

Nick: Presumably not. Yeah, so I guess one question that was not answered is - is this email? Is this text? What is this? Because I think the response can be a little different based on the medium. Like emails, I think you have a pass to not respond until the next business day.

Leah: Yeah, business day. No problem.

Nick: Texts do seem more intimate and have a higher sense of urgency.

Leah: Why did I read this as an email? [crosstalk] it's not there; it says 'regularly checks in.'

Nick: Yeah, I think I kind of just assumed it was an email, at first, but it could be a text, yeah. But, if it's a text, it is a little harder to ignore texts, sometimes; but I think not responding until you're in business hours, I think, is a fine solution.

Leah: Also, if somebody is texting you at 9:15 on a Saturday, or 7:30 on a Friday, you know what I mean? These are home times.

Nick: Yes. Yeah, I think it ... Something else is going on here. Something else is going on here ...

Leah: I feel like something else is going on here, and this person's-

Nick: We cracked the code.

Leah: -"Spidey sense" is up.

Nick: Yeah. I don't think our letter-writer acknowledges that. I don't know if they know that that's what's happening. I think our letter-writer- this might be happening.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah. I think, actually, that's what's happening.

Leah: I feel like that's what's happening.

Nick: That's definitely what's happening now. So, okay, now we have somebody who is flirting with you.

Leah: We've decided-

Nick: Yep, that's what's happening.

Leah: -regardless of how you feel about the situation.

Nick: Nope! That's it. You're wrong. This is happening. Okay, what do we advise? I guess the question is - do we want to be interested in them? Probably not.

Leah: No.

Nick: Not getting that sense. So, we now need to turn someone's advances down.

Leah: Well, even if it's not advances; even if it's just work-time stuff-

Nick: Hey, Leah, what was the highlight for your week?

Leah: Right, at 6:00 a.m. ... You don't have to answer it. You can answer during-

Nick: I'm gonna text you tonight at 11:00 p.m. and be like, "1 to 10, how's it going?" [Giggling]

Leah: I would answer that. I would actually answer that, and I'll tell you exactly what I'll be doing at 11:00 p.m..

Nick: So, I think you do not need to respond in real time. Definitely not. I think you can respond during business hours, 9:00 to 5:00.

Leah: I think respond during whatever your business hours are and respond to the questions that are business-colleague-related.

Nick: Okay. "What was the highlight of your day?" "The PowerPoint I gave on the Clemens account?"

Leah: Yeah, I would assume that that's what that question means. Then, also, if it's a link, and it's related to your jobs, or your industry-

Nick: But if it's a lovely hotel in the Poconos ...

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Maybe not.

Leah: I mean!

Nick: Okay.

Leah: We see right through this colleague.

Nick: Okay, we've got your number! Our next question is also office-related. Oh, and this is from our superfan, Patti!

Leah: Patti, we love you!

Nick: Patti!!! ❤

Leah: [Laughing] Patti ❤

Nick: Patti ❤

Leah: ❤ Patti.

Nick: In my head, what I was doing was doing an emoji, but then I said the word. I don't know.

Leah: No, I actually caught it. I felt the heart and was-

Nick: I was saying emoji. Sorry, I don't think that's a thing that language is doing yet, but English is getting there.

Leah: No, but I actually saw it when you said.

Nick: Aww. So, Patti, we love you! Patti's question was: "I have a question concerning vaping in the workplace. I feel like it is the same as smoking in the workplace. Recently, a new coworker started in our small office, and although he doesn't vape with the boss close, he does a lot when the boss leaves the office. Obviously, he must know it's not permitted, or he wouldn't vape in the boss's view. So, with all the bad press concerning vaping these days, is it okay to tell your coworker to take it outside as kindly as possible? And, if it is not received well, is it okay to let the boss know?" What do you think, Leah?

Leah: I never like the idea of letting the boss know.

Nick: We don't wanna start there.

Leah: Yeah, because, you know, that's ... I feel like you maybe try to handle it amongst yourselves first.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Or if you feel you have to let the boss know, I wouldn't name names. You know? I just don't ...

Nick: Oh, we know Chad's vaping in the office.

Leah: Okay. So, then I just wouldn't go to ... I do feel like you absolutely have the right to say, "Please don't vape inside."

Nick: The rules for smoking and vaping, I think, are the same.

Leah: Yeah!

Nick: So, even if you're stepping outside, you should not do it at the entrance. You should step down a little ways.

Leah: I mean, people are vaping everywhere.

Nick: Yes, and you shouldn't do that.

Leah: You shouldn't be.

Nick: Right.

Leah: It's hard, but I feel like you could just somewhat be like, "Hey, can you just vape outside?"

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: Just walk over and say that.

Nick: Yeah, I think you are within your rights to say that, yeah.

Leah: I think just a direct- they know that they should be vaping outside. That's why they're not doing it when the boss is there.

Nick: Yeah, so they know.

Leah: Then, I think the second thing to do - before the boss - is that, sometimes, I think you can leave a general sign- like a sign. You write, "Somebody is vaping in the office. The smell bothers me. Do you mind vaping outside?"

Nick: So, a passive-aggressive ...

Leah: It's not passive-aggressive because it's, "I don't like it." I'm putting out a public warning. I've already talked to you. The next thing- I don't want to go to the boss, you know what I mean?

Nick: Okay, so this is a stepping stone-

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Slight escalation.

Leah: Next one- that would be the next one.

Nick: Okay, and then, we go to the boss and be like, "Can you say something to Chad?"

Leah: Do you think that's passive-aggressive?

Nick: I mean, generally speaking, it is difficult to write a note in the office about coworkers' behavior that does not feel passive-aggressive.

Leah: Okay, I see what you're saying.

Nick: Like, "Your mom doesn't work here. Clean up your own dishes!"

Leah: Right.

Nick: Or bathroom notes. I mean, if you googled 'office bathroom signs,' there's a-

Leah: Oh, I'm gonna go home and google [crosstalk] because it sounds really exciting.

Nick: There's quite a lot of material. Yeah. So, I guess, just saying something to this coworker, and be like, "Hey, would you mind just vaping outside?" I think we all get why you want that, and I think they should accommodate this.

Leah: Yeah, and if they don't-

Nick: Then, I guess- I think you could just go to the boss, at that point, and be like, "Chad is refusing just to respect the office air, so please have a word with him."

Leah: Right.

Nick: I think that's fine, because this is not necessarily an etiquette thing, at some point.

Leah: Well, I mean, it is in that it's shared air, and it's ...

Nick: Yes ... I think, also, this colleague would want to respect his coworkers, as well, and would not be wanting to do behavior that disturbed them.

Leah: Oh, that's what I'm saying.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: On their end.

Nick: On their end, yeah. Everybody has their part to play here.

Leah: It does feel ... I hate walking up to people and being like, "Can you not ...?"

Nick: Mm-hmm, but in the office, where you have to do this day after day?

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Yeah

Leah: And you're breathing it in ...

Nick: Yeah. This is an okay occasion.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: Yeah. Our next question is: "We regularly have dinner with a group of old friends, only one of whom drinks alcohol. We normally split the bill evenly, but how can I get him to open a bar tab and pay for his own drinks? He has expensive taste and drinks a lot."

Leah: I feel like this happens a lot.

Nick: Oh, all the time, yes, and it's never close. It's always the bill difference is usually pretty substantial.

Leah: Yeah, because when people drink, they drink nice liquor; they drink a few. You know what I mean? It's a ... I think you could just be really direct about it.

Nick: Yeah, I think you have a couple different choices. I mean, I think if this is a group of 'old' friends, your relationship is such where like you probably can be more direct than if this was like a work dinner.

Leah: Yeah, I think you could just straight-up be like, "Hey, Chad, you always ... Since you're the only drinking, how about you get the drinks, and we'll split everything else evenly?"

Nick: Yeah, I think you could just say. I think the occasion is to do it quickly when the bill comes, so it's just sort of like done.

Leah: And no judgy in it, just really quick-

Nick: Yeah, just a quick toss aside.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Be like, "Oh, you had drinks, so we'll just do it this way."

Leah: "Then, we'll all split the rest of it evenly."

Nick: Yeah. I mean, depending on how close it is, you could have this person leave the tip to try and make up the difference. That's kind of an option.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: If it feels like that's not going to be successful for some reason, I think you could ask for separate checks at the time when you're asking for the bill. Be like, "Oh, hey, can we grab the bill, and can we have separate checks?" You could do that, or you could take the bill, yourself, and be like, "I'll Venmo everybody," and then you just Venmo this drinker what he owes. That's something. Or ... Oh, I've got lots of ideas! Or you could pull the waitress aside at some point during the meal and be like, "When the bill comes, can you just automatically bring us separate checks?" That might be an option. That might be aggressive. I don't know. How do we like that?

Leah: I don't know. I think, as somebody who was a waitress for a long time, I always wanted to know if people were doing separate checks up top-

Nick: Oh ...

Leah: -because I'd put it in ... You put it in the machine separately.

Nick: Oh, I see. Okay, so the best option is, when the bill comes, casually be like, "Hey, let's do it this way."

Leah: Yeah, because you're not ... What has happened in society is people who are saying the logical thing end up being that they feel like they're the rude one.

Nick: Yes.

Leah: Like asking people to smoke outside-

Nick: Right.

Leah: -or when you're the only person drinking, asking somebody to pay for their drinks.

Nick: Right.

Leah: But you're actually not being rude.

Nick: No.

Leah: And I think that this person knows that.

Nick: That's an excellent point. This should go on a pillow-

Leah: It's a very long pillow.

Nick: We can make big pillows. Yeah, that concept of the person that is just sort of stating the obvious about how the world should be working is somehow considered the rude person for identifying this wrong. This is a flaw in our society.

Leah: Yeah, and it's not you, and this person knows that.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I don't think that ... Just say it like there's no judgement in it. "You cover your drinks, and then we'll just split the rest evenly." Boom!

Nick: Boom. Done. Yeah [crosstalk]

Leah: It's also not a discussion. You're not asking them to cover their drinks-

Nick: Yes.

Leah: -they drank their drinks.

Nick: Yes. This is- we all agree on those facts, yes. In general, I think when we're dealing with the whole bill-splitting thing - I think we've maybe chatted about this when we were talking about brunch - is the faster the whole conversation can be, the better. We do not want to belabor the 'how we're gonna do it' conversation. So, it just needs to be like a ninja, like, "This is what it is." Done.

Leah: Get it done!

Nick: Yeah. You're in. You're out. So, check- "Oh, you're doing this. We're doing this. That's what's happening," so there can be no conversation. That's the most polite way to do it.

Leah: Yep.

Nick: Okay, great. Finally, we have two PSAs. The first PSA comes from Leah, who observed something this week and wants to share.

Leah: I did observe something-

Nick: Okay.

Leah: -it happened twice within a very short period of time-

Nick: Two is a pattern.

Leah: Yep. So, I was like, "We should bring this up."

Nick: Okay.

Leah: Both situations, there was people who were non-parents telling stories that involved children that were not happy stories, and the people who were parents, it obviously viscerally bothered them.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: They were both new parents, and they were like, "Oh, this story is ..."

Nick: A little uncomfortable.

Leah: "... a little uncomfortable." Then, the person kept continuing the story.

Nick: Oh, so did not take the hint.

Leah: In both situations!

Nick: These are different storytellers?

Leah: Different storytellers, different situations, different parents.

Nick: Oh, okay. So you have a good focus-group sample size.

Leah: Yeah, it was ... So, I was like, oh, this has happened ...

Nick: Okay.

Leah: It wasn't like the story had anything with the story- it was just like this news thing that they thought was crazy. There was no important-

Nick: Right.

Leah: -and it was like, I think you could just drop it.

Nick: Yeah, we don't have to tell the story.

Leah: It seems like not only an etiquette breach-

Nick: Mm-hmm.

Leah: -but ...

Nick: It's an etiquette breach. Yeah.

Leah: Oh, it's definitely an etiquette breach, but it's also like, don't upset people [crosstalk] when they've spoken up?

Nick: Yes. I mean, the etiquette crime here is that someone has sort of sent you a pretty clear signal that you should discontinue your current behavior.

Leah: Yes!

Nick: And you just do it anyway.

Leah: You just did it anyway, and I assume it's because that person is not a parent, so didn't understand how real it feels?

Nick: Maybe not. Yeah, I guess parents, I think, have such empathy for children, in general, that kicks in.

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: I'm not a parent, but I understand this is the case-

Leah: I can imagine!

Nick: -that the idea of hearing about another child in danger of being harmed is a very visceral, yeah.

Leah: Yes, and you can understand that.

Nick: But I think, in general, when we're ever telling a story that involves some sort of tragedy, we never know what people's backstories are or what they have in their past that might relate, like a fire, or a death, or whatever it is.

Leah: An accident.

Nick: Accident. So, hearing a story that is sort of related to something that's happened in your past can be very uncomfortable. I think you always want to just be mindful before you tell an anecdote that has some sort of element of tragedy; just be like, "Is this the right audience?"

Leah: Yeah, and if somebody goes as far as to be like, "Ewww!"

Nick: Yeah. We want to end this story.

Leah: Pull it back!

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I'm sure I've done this.

Nick: Yes, I am sure I've done this, too, because I just talk a lot. So-

Leah: Yeah.

Nick: -inevitably, at the odd of averages, statistically speaking, I'm sure I've done this, but I think it is good to be mindful.

Leah: I just- since I saw it back to back in two different conversations-

Nick: Weird!

Leah: -with what involved four different people.

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: I just found it to be very- an interesting thing to be aware of.

Nick: Yeah. So, the PSA is just be mindful before you tell a story that has sort of an edge, and then, know your audience; then, if your audience gives you a signal, [crosstalk] back.

Leah: Yeah, just because it's not something that upsets you doesn't mean it won't upset the person.

Nick: Bingo! Speaking of being upsetting, our second PSA comes from John in New York. He just wants to vent, and, you know, this is a safe space. So, John says: "People who stand on the left side of the escalator ..."

Leah: Period!

Nick: Full stop.

Leah: [Laughing]

Nick: Uh-

Leah: I saw this, and I love John.

Nick: Yeah, John. We feel you.

Leah: Oh. My. Word! I see people on the left side of the elevator, and I think-

Nick: "What are you doing over there? What's going on?"

Leah: What happened?

Nick: Yeah.

Leah: "Did your system shut down on this side, and you can't physically move to the right?"

Nick: Because we all know ... I think we all know this information.

Leah: It's the same people that drive slow in the left lane.

Nick: Uh, yes ... But I think this is worse than that because we all understand, when you're on an escalator, where you're supposed to stand and how you're supposed to pass people. We know. Everybody knows this information. This is not new information to anybody. If you do a survey of a thousand people, I think they will all tell you where you stand, where you pass. I think everybody knows - this is universal information.

Leah: It's unbelievable.

Nick: Or, counter-point, does anybody not know?

Leah: I think there could be like one person who doesn't know.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: What if they'd never been on an escalator?

Nick: Ever!

Leah: Ever.

Nick: Okay.

Leah: I'm gonna give that one person a pass.

Nick: But I feel like if it was your first time on an escalator, you would want to look at what everybody else is doing to know how to do it, right? You'd want to see like, oh, what do I do?

Leah: One would, yes.

Nick: Right. So, yes, the standing on the left is very annoying. In New York, I find this happens a lot with tourists mostly. You can always tell the tourists, when they're doing this. They're leaning, and they're chatting, and they're all that ... Then, they're always a little disgruntled, when you're like, "Can I get by?"

Leah: "Can I pass?"

Nick: Yeah. So, this is maddening, yeah.

Leah: I don't know if tourists know that you have to stand to the right.

Nick: You don't think?

Leah: Well, why are they doing it then?

Nick: Well, I mean, why is anybody doing anything? [Laughing] Where do you want to start with that? But I think, if we don't know, let's just say it - You stand on the right on an escalator, and you pass on the left.

Leah: Pass on the left.

Nick: You do not stay stationary on the left.

Leah: No, you move!

Nick: You're moving on the left. If you're not moving, you're on the right.

Leah: Mm-hmm.

Nick: That's it.

Leah: You're definitely not standing in the middle taking up space.

Nick: You are definitely not in the middle holding both handrails. That's not what we're doing, no.

Leah: Which I've seen.

Nick: Right. This rule also applies to people movers in airports.

Leah: Oh, yes!

Nick: This definitely applies to people movers in airports, yeah.

Leah: I love John. John's coming in hard. He's not even gonna write the full sentence out.

Nick: Nope! Nope! Just, "People who stand on the left side of escalators."

Leah: Period.

Nick: Done. So, do you have questions for us, or statements? We would love to hear them, so send them in. You can send them into our website,, and we have lots of other options of how you can get information to us. So, DM us, email us, text us, leave us a voicemail. We'll take it all.

Leah: Nick's taking texts with people in real time!

Nick: I love it!

Leah: Real time!

Nick: I love it! If I'm on my phone, and I've got time, happy to answer you. So, send them in, and we'll see next time!

Leah: Bye!

Nick: Bye!

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