Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle vacuuming on Sundays in Germany, turning friends into third wheels without warning, including gift receipts with presents, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)
Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this episode, Nick and Leah tackle vacuuming on Sundays in Germany, turning friends into third wheels without warning, including gift receipts with presents, and much more. Please follow us! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)
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Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
Nick: Do you vacuum in Germany on a Sunday? Do you bring a guest with no warning? Do you not let people off a bus before boarding? Were you raised by wolves? Let's find out.
Here are things that can make it better
When we have to live together
We can all use a little help
So people don't ask themselves
Were you raised by wolves?
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: I'm excited!
Nick: So for today's amuse-bouche, Leah, I want to take you to Deutschland.
Nick: Let's go to Germany. Let's do it. So join me on this little visualization. So you have just rented an Airbnb in Bonn, Germany, which just happens to be the home of Haribo, the famous makers of gummibärchen. Have you had a Haribo gummy bear?
Nick: So it's a beautiful Sunday, and you're sleeping in. And you've just woken up, and you say to yourself, "You know what? I would like to have gummy bears for breakfast, because I'm an adult and I can do whatever I want." So luckily, the Airbnb that you booked, one of the amenities that they offer is a five-kilo bag of gummy bears. And so you reach for this bag, and you try and pull it open, and you're pulling and you're pulling, and it's really tough plastic, but eventually, you get it open, but it rips open and gummy bears are now all over the floor. So, Leah, is it okay to vacuum up these gummy bears?
Leah: I feel so sad about losing the gummy bears. I also feel sad that an option wasn't since you're alone, can you eat them off the floor?
Nick: I mean, okay, that is something we could put on the whiteboard.
Leah: I'm gonna say no to vacuuming gummy bears, because that seems like it's gonna do bad things to the vacuum.
Nick: But remember, it's Sunday and we're in Germany. These are also clues about what the answer is.
Leah: So there is no rules?
Nick: In Germany? Leah!
Leah: It's all the rules. I'm just gonna stick with no, I'm gonna sweep it.
Nick: Okay, that is correct. It is verboten because Sundays in Germany are "Ruhetag," which basically means rest day. And stores are closed, most supermarkets are closed, and you're not allowed to make noise. You're not allowed to make any noise that can disturb other people's rest day. And that includes vacuuming in your own home. If your neighbors can hear it? No, you can't do it. It also includes washing your car in the driveway, mowing your lawn, hanging pictures you bought at IKEA on Saturday. You can't even recycle glass bottles in, like, the big recycling bins that a lot of towns have on Sundays, because that makes noise. Like, all of that, no. And it's a cultural thing, but it's also a legal thing. Like, you could actually get in trouble if you do this consistently.
Leah: Oh, wow!
Nick: Yeah. And I have a friend who lived in Zürich. And Zürich also has this Sunday rest day thing. And her landlord cut the power off to her washing machine on Sundays so she couldn't do laundry.
Leah: Oh, my goodness!
Nick: Isn't that crazy? Isn't that amazing?
Leah: I had no idea. I'm just out here having no idea.
Nick: So in Germany, yes, Sundays, it's really about, like, being quiet in this way. And, of course, there's a lot of variation. You know, cities versus towns, different regions, and also who your neighbors are. You know, if they're gonna yell at you for making noise. But generally speaking, yes, you just need to be very mindful that Sundays are a rest day, and doing household chores that make noise that other people can hear, you're not allowed to do it.
Leah: Wow. You know, I could go for a rest day. An enforced rest day.
Nick: Right? I mean, for Americans, this is, like, so inconceivable. That I can't do laundry on a Sunday?
Leah: I can't do the work that I didn't get done during the week?
Nick: I have to do all of my weekend chores now on Saturday? Oh, that's—I will need Sunday as a rest day now. Yeah. So if you do accidentally make noise vacuuming these gummy bears in your Airbnb, and a neighbor comes and loudly complains, just apologize. Say you didn't know. and don't do it again.
Leah: Whew! If you ever needed a reason to eat off the floor, I mean, there it is.
Nick: I mean, etiquette doesn't care what you do when you're alone.
Leah: I love that!
Nick: And we're back, and now it's time to go deep.
Leah: And very applicable. Not—no, let me resay that, because they're all applicable. Deep and ...
Nick: So for today's question of etiquette, I want to talk about buying a car, which you, Leah, have recently done.
Leah: Yes. And I would like to say—because I posted something on my Instagram about it—many of our listeners messaged me with very helpful links to articles and podcasts. The Were You Raised By Wolves listeners were like, "Hey, I've got ideas!" So helpful! I just want to throw that out there.
Nick: Very nice!
Leah: Very nice. I so appreciated it.
Nick: Very thoughtful.
Leah: Because it was a new world.
Nick: For me, the last time I was shopping for a car, you still had the option of whether or not you wanted manual windows or electric windows.
Nick: So that gives you an idea of how long I go back.
Leah: I love my cars, they've been Jeeps, they've been used. And my last vehicle did not have an air conditioner, and ...
Nick: Oh, God!
Leah: ... I was just—and in New York! And I was like, "We're gonna roll the windows." You know, you never get above, like, 35. You can't go fast on these streets. So you're just, like, moving your hands. But I loved it. So I've never been on a car lot and experienced this array of anxieties.
Nick: So, in thinking about this through the lens of etiquette, part of what I was thinking about is that so much of etiquette is about being mindful of other people's feelings and time and space. And it feels like, at least the stereotype about buying a car is that the people who are trying to get you to buy the car are trying to violate your time and your feelings and your space as a technique to get you to actually, like, buy something. And so it's sort of like having to hold a boundary. How to do that boundary setting we talk about so often.
Nick: In a situation where somebody's trying to get you to do something because they know that you want to try and be polite, and they're using that to their advantage.
Leah: They're using that to their advantage. They're using that you know less than them. [laughs] You know what I mean?
Leah: I don't know what all these things are.
Leah: You're, like, just sitting there Googling stuff, calling people. And so I think that it's that, what you said, and then it's also our cultural—we don't talk about money openly. And all of a sudden, you need to be able to talk about money comfortably and openly. And so it's like two very uncomfortable things if you're not used to telling people "No" constantly or talking about money at the same exact time while you're making this huge investment.
Nick: Yeah. And so much about etiquette is, like, having the script. Like, that's what etiquette's kind of about is, like, we all kind of know what's happening and we all know our part to play. And so when we all know our part to play, we all feel comfortable. But we don't buy cars all the time. That doesn't come up all the time for us, and so most of us don't have the script. Like, we don't know actually how to act in this little play.
Nick: So, okay. So walk us through your experience and what etiquette tips you learned.
Leah: The money part, I reached out to a bunch of friends, and they just talked about money with me. Which for me is like a thing I feel uncomfortable doing, that I think I need to get over because it's not helpful. I don't think it's rude.
Nick: So, like, you were kind of deciding between, like, oh, should I buy or should I lease? Like, what numbers make sense for me?
Leah: Yes. You have to know your money.
Nick: And so being able to talk to one of your friends sort of openly and honestly about the money thing in advance was a useful thing.
Nick: Because I guess we do have this sense that in etiquette world, we're not ever supposed to talk about money with our friends. But I think actually that's not true. And this would be an example of when it's okay.
Leah: Yeah, I think us feeling like it's true is working against us, because how are we ever gonna learn?
Nick: Yeah, that's true.
Leah: But I mean, I didn't put it—I asked them if it was okay if we had this conversation. It was a friend who'd recently purchased a vehicle, so ...
Nick: Hmm. So I would think for everybody listening, ask for permission before having this conversation with your friends. Like, is it okay if I picked your brain about this topic, this financial topic. And then if they say yes, then, you know, off to the races.
Leah: Yeah, that's exactly what I said.
Nick: So okay, we get to the lot, I guess. And now it's about, like, setting boundaries, because they obviously want to push your boundaries and make you buy a car. And maybe you weren't ready to do that.
Leah: Yeah. You're actively working against each other. They want you getting a car that moment, they want you to pay the most, you want to pay the least.
Leah: And have time to think about it. So it's like your needs are exactly opposite. You know, a lot of my research I could do before I got there. And I knew what I wanted to pay.
Nick: Right. But then when you show up and now you're actually standing face to face with somebody, did all that go out the window?
Leah: It was very hard. I'm going to say it straight up, it was very hard for me. I had to say things I've never said in my life that felt so rude.
Nick: Like what?
Leah: "I don't want to pay that." "Can you run the numbers if I did it this way?" So I had to keep sending them back. So they're like, "We got to run something else?" And I was like, "Yeah," you know? And then we agreed on one thing, and then it seemed to no longer be there. So I had to be like, "Excuse me, I think this is—" I also to mentally process things, I have to see it.
Leah: So then I would write down what they said and then refer back, which I think drove everybody crazy. Because I would be like, "Oh, over here, you said this." But it's just how I remember.
Nick: Oh, I think that's good advice for everybody. Yeah, to write things down and have notes about a conversation.
Leah: Yeah, it really worked in my benefit because they'd be like, "I didn't say that." And I'd be like, "Oh, no. But I wrote it down right here. You for sure said that."
Leah: But I had to say things like that, which for me, it's just business. And we all got what we wanted. I bought the car, and they got my money and I got what I wanted. So it worked out. But every time I had to say that, I honestly felt sick to my stomach. At one point I said—I can't even say what I said. It was so gross. It was so aggressive.
Leah: I said that I was gonna go next door to Jeep. I was like, "I can always just go next door to Jeep."
Nick: [laughs] Wow, aggressive! Wow.
Leah: It was really aggressive. This was so far out of my—and then I was like, "Ah!" We left, and I was like, "I got to pull over and get tacos because that was unbelievable."
Nick: And I think it's a good lesson in that business etiquette and social etiquette are actually a little different. And I think a lot of the rules for, like, social interactions don't apply when it's business. You can just say no. And be polite about it, be nice. You don't have to be rude about it. But, like, saying no directly? Totally fine. Like, that's fine. It's all business. We're not trying to be friends with these people. We're not adding them to our Christmas card list. It's, "I'm sorry, I don't want to pay this." Or, "That's not what we talked about," or "I can't afford that," or, "I'm not interested in making a decision today." And I think you could just clearly say those things in a business context. Business is business.
Leah: It's very hard.
Nick: So I think having back pocket sentences would be very useful the next time you buy a car. Just like those sentences ready to roll to basically set boundaries and make it clear, like, what's gonna go down. So things like, "Oh, I'm not gonna be buying a car today, I'm just looking." And you will have to repeat this over and over until everyone's just exhausted. But you just have to repeat it and that's fine.
Leah: That's what it was. It was like, I'm repeating this until everyone's exhausted. What's making me feel good right now is that these are all the things I did. It was just so—that's the perfect word. It was exhausting because it's out of—but I did it. I said it. I repeated it.
Nick: Because, like, we're not living in a world in which, like, you just give in and do something you don't want to do just for the sake of being, quote-unquote "polite."
Nick: That's not a world we want to live in.
Leah: No. At all. And that was the world I didn't want to live in. So I was like, we're saying these things, but it definitely came with a few stomach bubbles.
Nick: So do you think the next time you buy a car it'll be easier? Or do you think it'll just be the same sort of feeling?
Leah: I think it'll be the same feeling, because I actually really liked one of the guys a lot. I felt good about the person who helped me. I do think that it's a stressful situation.
Leah: And unless I—you know, hopefully I get a little better at it, but still repeating those things next time, still gonna be difficult for me.
Nick: Yeah. I think we just want to repeat, like, "Thank you for your time today. I now need some time to review things at home. I will be in touch on another day if I'm ready to move forward." I think you could even write that down on a card and just read it. Or maybe even hand it out. Like, print out business cards and just hand it out to people.
Leah: It is weird when you have to repeat things. That's what feels weird.
Nick: Yeah, because it feels so unnatural. But it's also weird for them to keep asking.
Leah: It is so weird!
Nick: [laughs] So there's that. But are you happy with your car?
Leah: I am. I'm very happy with my car. Also, Nick's gonna come visit me, and I'm gonna go pick him up.
Nick: Oh, you're gonna pick me up at the airport? Airport pick up? Oh, that's luxurious.
Leah: If you fly into Burbank, I'll pick you up. LAX ...
Nick: Oh, LAX, no. Oh, I see.
Leah: [laughs] LAX depends on the time.
Nick: You think I'm coming to visit you and I'm gonna connect somewhere?
Nick: You have not met Nick Leighton.
Leah: You can actually fly direct into Burbank.
Nick: I mean, I don't even want to fly commercial.
Nick: And we're back. And now we have some questions from you all in the wilderness.
Nick: So our first question is, quote, "A friend—who is also a colleague—and I decided we wanted to see a movie together the following day. The day of the movie, we texted back and forth to coordinate the time we'd meet at the theater. I arrived first and waited for him in the lobby. Then I saw him enter with a date. That's right. I was third-wheeled without knowing. My next words from across the lobby were, 'Are you kidding me right now?' The only response I got was, 'Sorry!' with a little bit of a sheepish grin. I'd come to learn that they'd only been dating for a few weeks and it wasn't serious. I'm fine to be a third wheel if asked, but this is the third time this has happened to me. Is it me?"
Leah: It's such an interesting final sentence, "This is the third time it's happened to me."
Nick: [laughs] So before we get to that, let's just define "third wheel," because I think—is that an American expression, maybe? I don't know. We have international listeners.
Leah: Oh, I think that's a great point. Because it seems like, "Oh, of course!" But you never know.
Nick: So I mean, a third wheel is like, if there are two people on a date and a third person shows up, that's the third wheel.
Leah: Or in this case, if the other person shows up and then you get third-wheeled.
Nick: [laughs] Right. So yeah. I mean, my first thought was if this has now happened three times, if it's three times with the same friend, then the problem is him. But if it's happened three times with other people, then the problem is you.
Leah: That is such a very important differentiation.
Leah: Is this three different people, or is this one person?
Nick: And I did write this person back asking to clarify that point, and I did not hear back, so we will be left with the mystery.
Leah: Oh, hanging! We're left hanging. I did write—and I think that it's always rude to change the parameters of a meetup without telling the other person.
Nick: Totally. But then I was thinking—and I wanted to actually ask you specifically—like, why is it rude? Because on some level, we're going to the movies. We are sitting in a dark room, not talking to each other or interacting, watching a movie. So on some level, like, what difference does it make? But I think we agree this is super rude.
Nick: So what is it, though? What is the kernel of rudeness?
Leah: I think it's just that we agreed on a thing.
Leah: And you're changing the thing. Even if we're sitting in the dark, it's still different than what we had decided.
Nick: Right, I guess that's what it is. It's like, we had an agreement and you broke the agreement. And it could be trivial, but you still broke the agreement.
Leah: And it could be totally fine. They just want to know in advance.
Nick: Yeah, it's being asked.
Nick: Yeah, you just want to be asked. Right. So okay, let's talk about the two possibilities. One is that it's the friend who keeps third-wheeling you. Same person, always bringing a different date, not telling you. What do we do about that?
Leah: I think you could just say to the friend, "You keep third-wheeling me. You got to tell me in advance."
Nick: [laughs] Right.
Leah: "I don't know if I'm, like, your third wheel. Or is there a reason? Like, do you feel—are you running people by me? Do you feel more safe when I'm there? Why do you keep third-wheeling me?"
Nick: Oh, that's very charitable.
Leah: You know me. I'm all about charitability.
Nick: Very charitable. Yes, I think a direct conversation with the friend and being like, "Okay. Three times now? Come on, what's happening?"
Leah: What is happening?
Nick: Now, if it's three different people, I mean, what is that about?
Leah: I mean, I don't even know.
Nick: I mean, that feels statistically very difficult.
Leah: I would almost—you know those movies where people go back and they ask everybody they ever dated, what was it about me that was wrong? I would almost want to call everybody and be like, "Hey, this is just for a study. Why do you third-wheel me? I just want to know."
Nick: Mm. Okay, so we want to do a little survey. Okay, I like that, yeah.
Leah: Just because it's very interesting if it was three different people.
Leah: I mean, have you ever been third-wheeled?
Nick: Yeah, I don't think I have either.
Leah: I mean, I've been third-wheeled, but I knew I was being third-wheeled.
Nick: Well, right. Yeah, yeah. No, the surprise third wheel, the surprise tricycle.
Nick: That's what I'm gonna call it.
Leah: Oh, I thought we were riding a bike. And I don't do this.
Nick: Yeah. So if it's you, then are you forgetting that they're telling you? Are you just such a cool, low-key person that they just assume you won't be bothered?
Leah: I think it's that one.
Nick: Yeah, it could be that.
Leah: I think it's that you're too casual and cool. And I mean "too casual" in a very complimentary way, because I wish I was casual.
Nick: [laughs] Right.
Leah: I think people know that if they change the parameters on me when I show up, I'll have a breakdown. And they're like, "We can't bring extra people. Leah's already brought enough hand sanitizer for only one person." [laughs]
Nick: All right. Well, that's our answer there, I'm sorry this happened to you.
Leah: Me, too.
Nick: And continues to happen. Hopefully, this is the last it happens. But if it doesn't, you know where to find us. So our next question is, quote, "Is it rude to not include a gift receipt with a gift? Or when is it necessary?"
Leah: I wanted you to answer this one. It wouldn't ever occur to me that it would be rude to not include it.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, a gift receipt for anybody who doesn't know, is you go to a store and they give you a receipt that doesn't have the prices on it, but it still has, like, a barcode, so that you can include it with the sweater and give it to the person. And if they want to exchange it for a different size or something else, like, they can do that more easily. Gift receipt. So I don't actually think I've ever really given gifts with gift receipts. I've certainly received the gift receipts from, like, the aunt at Christmas, but it's not a thing I do regularly. I don't think it's rude, though. I don't think there's anything rude about it.
Leah: I don't think it's rude either way.
Nick: And it's definitely not necessary.
Leah: I don't think it's rude either way, period. I do think sometimes, whether I give—if I was to give, it would be because of the particular relationship I had with the person. Like, I didn't know them that well, or this item was a real guess. You know what I mean? And I wanted them to get the right one. It would be dependent on the situation, but I don't think it's rude or not rude.
Nick: Yeah. And I think it is not an excuse to be sloppy with the gift-giving selection. Like, this is not your opportunity just to go into Target and buy a bag of kibble and being like, "Well, there's a gift receipt. So you go back to Target, exchange the kibble for, like, something you actually want." This is not your opportunity just to be lazy.
Leah: No. I think it usually has to do with sizing and things like that.
Nick: Yeah. Usually this is like a clothing thing, right?
Leah: Or like a color thing. If you bought something for somebody's house and you didn't know. So you're like, "Hey, I got the gift receipt in case I got your colors wrong."
Nick: Bingo. Yeah. So our next question is, quote, "I have a problem with a friend group that I'm a part of: they are truly terrible hosts. For example, if you invite me and other members of our group over to your home on a Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m., am I being presumptuous to assume that you would provide some sort of refreshments? I didn't think so. But there we were, no food, no drink, and we were barely even acknowledged as guests at all when we walked through the door. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.
Nick: "On other occasions, they sometimes stop for fast food and bring just enough for themselves, or suggest ordering food only after everyone has been there for hours and is now hungry because they have not offered anything. I'm not asking for champagne and caviar at every get together, but I do not think it is expecting too much to be offered some crackers or a glass of water. Or at the very least, make it known that there isn't going to be any food provided so we could eat something beforehand. They seem to be stuck in a very college-kid frame of mind when it comes to hosting people, even though we, at 28, are the youngest in the group by far. My husband says that maybe they just don't know they're being terrible hosts. But personally, I can't see how they don't know. One, because they're grown adults. And two, because when I have them over to our home, I make sure everyone is well taken care of with ample food and drinks, as I've always been led to believe that any host should. What is going on here?"
Leah: I just want to say I think my favorite sentence is, "And we were barely acknowledged as guests when we walked through the door," because it's such a—when I was reading it, I felt that I saw, like, them walking in, and then people not even saying hello as if they weren't even there. And then they just went in and sat down and were like, "Hello?" It was just such a funny visual. The idea that people would just, like, open the door and, like, walk away from you and be like, "Figure it out."
Nick: I was picturing walking into someone's home, and there are people playing video games on a brown corduroy couch.
Nick: That's what I was picturing. Yeah. So I guess the first thought I had was, being rude has nothing to do with age. I know quite a few kindergartners who have much better manners than a lot of adults I know. So I don't think there's any relationship between age and politeness.
Leah: I agree.
Nick: So there's that. And how do they not know? I mean, some people just don't know. That's what this show is. A lot of people listen to our show, they don't know. And then they listen to our show and then they know. So, you know, how would you know? If you don't grow up in a household that does certain things, like, when would you learn it?
Leah: I guess our letter writer is hoping they'll learn it by seeing how the other friends in the group do it, like, when they come over to their house.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, it would be nice if they were more observant and aware of the norms in their group, yes.
Leah: Sometimes I think to myself, "What just happened? How do these people not notice?" And then the charitable read is: they don't know. And then the other read is: they are not thinking about other people.
Nick: Could be that.
Nick: But also, it could just be that this is super casual. Like, this is just a really casual group. Like, not every time I have friends over am I offering a full spread and cocktails and all that, you know? It depends on who the friends are over. Like, if you came over and you brought your own sandwich just for yourself, it would not bother me. I'd be like, "You want a plate?" But that would be fine because that's our relationship. So it could just be that they think their relationship with the group is more casual than you do.
Nick: And you're wanting a certain higher level of formality.
Leah: Which I think the only thing really to do is to just not go over if it bothers you.
Nick: You could do that, or know that this is the deal. Like, if you want to go over to their house, eat first. You're not gonna get crackers.
Leah: Nick is always giving very pragmatic answers.
Nick: Well I mean, what do you want to do? You can either be friends with these people or not. Like, those are your choices, right? So, you know, you can't, like, have a heart-to-heart with them, being like, "You guys are terrible hosts." I don't think that's really an option.
Leah: No, it doesn't seem like an option. I just thought the idea of not going over there, because this person is clearly—it's bottled up, you know? And once things get bottled up, like, you've been irritated many times, sometimes you can't let it go at that point. And the only thing you can do is change your behavior, which is not going.
Nick: Yeah. But in general, just as a reminder, when you do have people in your home, it is nice to offer them some sort of refreshment. So definitely a glass of water. That's nice. Coffee, tea, a drink of some sort. Anything you got in the fridge. Like, it is hospitable any time you have somebody in your home. And that includes friends, that involves somebody, you know, fixing your cable box. Like, anytime there's somebody in your house, like, it's nice to offer them something. So I would encourage you to do that.
Leah: I have seltzered every single person who has come into our home to set things up. "You want a seltzer? Do you want a seltzer? Seltzer for the road? What kind of seltzer?" [laughs]
Nick: [laughs] I love that you seltzer people.
Leah: Well, a lot of time, you know, people don't want to do it while they're working, so it's a closed—I also offer water. But I've noticed they want a beverage, but they're not gonna drink while they're working. So that way the seltzer's close. They can take it with them, pop it back in the car. You know what I'm saying?
Nick: Oh, it's a roadie.
Nick: Got it. Okay.
Leah: So I don't want them to feel obligated to be hydrated now. I want to give them the option to hydrate now or later.
Nick: Very thoughtful. And we are thirsty for your questions, so 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: [singing] 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'm gonna vent!
Nick: Ah! Bring it. I'm ready.
Leah: I also want to do a—it's like a new kind of vent, which is a, "Phrases I don't like said to me."
Nick: Love it. Love this innovation.
Leah: This has been said to me twice in recent memory, and the phrase is, "I was just trying to help you out."
Nick: [gasps] Oh, interesting!
Leah: A) condescending.
Nick: Very. Yeah. Well, there's no other way to say that.
Leah: Why would you ever say that? Also, in both circumstances, what the person thought that they were doing to help me out put me in a very much worse situation.
Nick: You mean it wasn't helpful?
Leah: It wasn't. Not only was it not helpful, it made me so angry on both—I was like, "You made the whole thing way worse. Also, why are you helping me out? Also, who are you?" Like, what?
Nick: Yeah. Who asked you?
Leah: Who asked you? Also the idea that I wouldn't be able to handle something myself. I think also slightly related, sometimes women get uncomfortable when other women are having a conversation where maybe they disagree, so they jump in. And then because they were like, "Oh, you were disagreeing." I'm allowed to have conversations with people without a third party jumping in to smooth it out. Like, you're not my mom!
Nick: So you're having a conversation with somebody, and you're disagreeing politely. And somebody will jump in trying to, like, mediate?
Nick: So it's unsolicited.
Nick: And then at the end of that unhelpful advice that they offer, they're like, 'Well, I was just trying to help you out."
Leah: Yeah. In both situations, it was made significantly worse.
Leah: And they both were just like, "I was just trying to help you out."
Leah: Thank you so much for flying in from the American Justice League to help us lowly, lowly humans who don't know how to walk around in this world and talk to people without you.
Nick: I see.
Leah: I can't handle that phrase. It's just so condescending.
Nick: So don't do that.
Leah: "I was just trying to help you out."
Nick: Well for me, I would like to help everybody out with this vent. So often we're asked, "What is the point of etiquette? Like, why should I bother? What's in it for me?" And etiquette is really the lubricant that makes society work better. Because when we all know what's happening, when we all know what to do, it just works better. Like, for example, we have all agreed to drive on the right side of the road. That's etiquette. We don't have to. That's not an innate biological thing. But we have agreed as a society that we drive on the right. And doesn't it work better that we do this? That we just don't drive wherever we want? No, it works better. And etiquette is this. It's the thing that make things work better.
Nick: So I take the bus all the time in New York City, which actually surprises a lot of people. They're like, "You take the bus?" And it's like, "Yes, I take the bus. My life isn't all croquembouche and Bottega Veneta."
Nick: So I'm taking the bus because it's sometimes the fastest way to get places. And I cannot tell you the number of times this past month that people just will not let you off before they get on. And it's like physics. Two objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time. I don't make the laws of physics, but, you know, don't hate the player, hate the game. So it's just remember that it works better. It does work better if you let people off a bus before you get on. And I know it's very tempting. You want to rush to get a seat, you want to shove people aside. You somehow think the bus will leave sooner, as soon as you get on it. Like, whatever's going through your brain, I get it. It's very tempting. But if you can just stop for a moment and just let people off, there will then be more room inside for you and everybody else. So I would just like people to remember this because I think we need this reminder.
Leah: Oh, I'm so glad you reminded me. It's so frustrating. I can feel it. I can see the doors opening and people pushing in, and you're like, "I got to get off!"
Nick: Yeah. It's like, "Where do you want me to go? And how do you think this is better? Like, what part of you thinks that this is more efficient?"
Leah: Yeah, you're gonna, like, climb up over the top and around them? It's ridiculous.
Nick: Yeah, like what?
Leah: They were just trying to help you out.
Nick: [laughs] And no, thank you.
Nick: So Leah, what have we learned?
Leah: I learned some days in Germany, I'm not using a vacuum cleaner.
Leah: Or a washer/dryer.
Leah: Or a garbage disposal.
Nick: I mean, garbage disposal? If it's so loud that your neighbors can hear, yeah, don't do that. And I learned that you will eat gummy bears off the floor.
Leah: Of course I would. [laughs]
Nick: [laughs] Well, thank you, Leah.
Leah: Thank you, Nick.
Nick: And thanks to you out there for listening. If I had your address, I'd send you a handwritten note to my custom stationery.
Leah: He would!
Nick: So for your homework this week, we want your etiquette questions. Do you have questions for us? Oh, yes, you do. What have you always wondered about? How are things going with your roommates or your family members or your mother in law? Is everything hunky dory, or is there something we can help with? We have some thoughts. So please send us your questions 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: I think I actually texted you from his office. I wanted to do a shout-out gratitude thankfulness to—when I first moved to New York I didn't have dental, and I had, like, a bad cavity filled in college. And I was very—I get very nervous with people touching my mouth. And I went to NYU Dental School, and the person who was, like, the head professor, when he started his own private practice, I was his first client.
Leah: And it was like one of my longest relationships in New York. And he's just always been so incredibly kind and good to me. And he was one of the last people I saw when I left New York, and I started crying in his office. But he's just—you know when people take the extra care about things you're nervous about to, like, really pay attention? He's just the best.
Nick: Well, that's very nice.
Leah: Thank you, Dr. Kalata.
Nick: And as a reminder, you can send us some Cordials of Kindness—Cordialsofkindness.com. And we got this lovely message, which is, quote, "My daughter lives in Texas and I live in Florida. And your show each week is our favorite topic of conversation. It's hard to always have great conversations, even with somebody you love so much, when they live so far away. But you always give us great things to talk about, and we adore you. And Leah, we quote you all the time and say, 'What just happened here?'" Leah, how do you say it?
Leah: [laughs] You know, I get so swept up in the moment, I can't—let me just think of something that just drives me crazy. What just happened here?
Nick: Nice! So what has happened here is a really nice letter from you guys. So thank you.
Leah: That's so nice!