Etiquette, manners, and beyond! In this bonus episode, Nick and Leah answer listener questions about being forced to host against your will, inviting yourself to events, reheating leftovers at the office, and much more. Please subscribe! (We'd send you a hand-written thank you note if we had your address.)
QUESTIONS FROM THE WILDERNESS:
THINGS MENTIONED DURING THE SHOW
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO...
Hosts: Nick Leighton & Leah Bonnema
Producer & Editor: Nick Leighton
Theme Music: Rob Paravonian
Nick: Hey, everybody, it's Nick Leighton.
Leah: And I'm Leah Bonnema.
Nick: We had so many great questions from you guys in the wilderness-
Nick: -that we have a bonus episode. So, here we go! Our first question is: "My husband and I have had quite lengthy debates, and I'm talking years' worth, on the topic of reheating leftovers in the office. I enjoy and take pride in cooking healthy and yummy dinners for our entire family to enjoy. My husband likes to take his lunch to work most days to save money, but he seems to never take leftovers. He claims that he does love my cooking and that it's no offense to me, but he feels that it is impolite to make a sort of smell in the office, even if it's a good smell, and he would rather take the extra steps to compile a sandwich or a salad. Thoughts?"
Leah: You know, with this question ...
Leah: It felt like there was a question under the question.
Nick: Ohhh, I'm feeling like there's some subtext. Mm-hmm.
Nick: Mm-hmm. Yeah, a little bit. Yep.
Leah: I wanted to be like is the question - is it okay to reheat things in the office?
Leah: Or is she asking ...? I feel like there's a question about whether or not her husband is somehow dissing her cooking.
Nick: Yeah, yeah. No, there's definitely that flavor, for sure. I mean, in general, the number-one complaint we get from people about office etiquette is the whole smells in the office thing, like the guy who microwaves the tuna. We hear about that a lot. I do like the instinct that we are going to try and be courteous to our colleagues and not stink up the office. Totally on board with that, but I feel like the husband doesn't like the cooking.
Leah: I also think he might not be a reheater. Some people, deep inside their souls, don't like reheating food.
Nick: Oh, that's a type of person? Just like, "I'm just not a reheat type of guy ..."?
Leah: Yeah. Some people I've noticed, they just don't want to do it.
Leah: And I kind of think this is a "to each their own" thing.
Leah: My parents love leftovers. They make food to have leftovers.
Nick: Oh, like, I'm gonna make a double portion of this thing so we can eat it again.
Leah: Yeah, or they'll make a food that they know they can then make into another food from the leftovers.
Nick: Ah, leftover alchemy, yes.
Leah: But some people are just not into leftovers.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, that could be this guy-
Nick: -and he's just sort of using the smell as an excuse for why he doesn't want to do that.
Leah: He's sidestepping-
Leah: -what he's afraid might sound hurtful.
Nick: Yeah. I mean, I guess we take it at face value that the husband likes the cooking, because I think one possibility is that the husband's lying to you. He doesn't like your cooking at all; didn't like it at dinner last night; definitely doesn't want to have it again, if he has the choice. I think that's on the table.
Leah: Well, it's also possible that our letter-writer's feelings are hurt.
Nick: Oh, for sure. No, the fact that this letter has been written at all means that she's not in a great place with the idea that her leftovers are not being taken to the office.
Leah: Because I feel like we're pretending it's a debate about whether or not it's appropriate to reheat.
Nick: [Giggling] Right.
Leah: That's why it's all falling under this debate question, but I don't think that's really the question.
Nick: Yes. The question is - should my husband take my leftovers?
Leah: Yes, and "I think he should, because it makes me feel bad."
Nick: Right. I think our show is about etiquette, not necessarily relationships. So, this might be outside of our purview. Like, "Oh, should I get a divorce?" We don't know. That's not a question you come to us with. "Can I do it on a Post-it note?" We can weigh in on that.
Nick: There is a fine line for where we can weigh in and where we can't. If the question is- should I take leftovers to the office if I don't want? No. And your husband is saying no politely, and that's a good etiquette response, and we would leave it there.
Nick: Whether or not this is damaging to your marriage, uh, ya know, I don't know.
Leah: I don't think it's damaging to the marriage. I just think it's a thing that should be discussed without the guise of "Is it rude to reheat leftovers at the office?"
Nick: Yeah. Don't try and make this an etiquette thing. They're hiding behind etiquette.
Leah: They're hiding behind etiquette.
Nick: Oh, so they're using us!
Nick: Oh! I feel used! Oh ... This is a question for a different advice show, yeah.
Leah: I'm happy to answer. I love [crosstalk]
Nick: Yeah, we'll answer anything, anyway. Sure. That's not going to stop us, but, yes, this is not an etiquette question. Okay ...
Leah: I mean, it's guised under an etiquette question, which Nick already answered, and that's that most people - of the complaints we get about office stuff - hate smelling reheated foods.
Nick: Right? Right. Thank you. This is a polite response etiquette wise. Beyond that, you're on your own.
Nick: Our next question is: "I socialize quite a bit with a few of my neighbors and always host our get togethers because I have the biggest house and yard. Plus, I love to have people over. One of my neighbors can always be counted on to bring her token spinach dip," and then, our letter-writer adds the weary face emoji, which I feel like is important for you to know out there [giggling] She continues: "Where my issue lies is in her insistence to take it back home with her when she leaves, and she's never the last guest to leave, meaning there are other guests that could continue to enjoy the dip, and because she's a neighbor, there is no hardship in me simply returning the dish to her the next morning. This happens with her every time, and I can only interpret this as her lack of proper etiquette. I'm unsure how to approach her to kindly leave behind for all to continue to enjoy. I feel like she should at least offer to transfer what is left into one of my dishes, or perhaps I should just ignore it and chalk it up to her upbringing?"
Leah: I would ignore it. A) I love spinach dip. Let me just say that right now.
Leah: B) What are you going to say?
Nick: Well ...
Leah: I mean, you could say ... Sometimes people have anxiety. A lot of people do things out of anxiety. You know what I mean?
Nick: You think that's ...? We're gonna blame anxiety on taking spinach dip early?
Leah: No, but maybe she could have a thing about not getting pans back. So, you could possibly be like, "Hey, if you want to leave that for everybody, I'm happy to bring it over." I wouldn't say it in front of other people.
Nick: Mm-hmm. Okay ... I mean ... You could say like, "Ohhh, Lisa's here! Everybody, Lisa's here. Get the dip while you can because Lisa's gonna take it with her ..."
Nick: "... So, if you want some spinach dip, get some now! Got a few minutes ... Spinach dip!" Yeah ... So, that's an option.
Leah: Or you could be like- you could transfer it when she's leaving. "Oh, hey, let me ... I wanna grab some of that before you leave. Let me transfer it."
Nick: One thing I was thinking is the day before the party, drop off an empty dish at her house, so that the entire dip is done in your pan, and then she comes over with the pan, which happens to be yours, and then obviously, it just stays because it's your pan.
Leah: Then, when you drop it off, you say, "Hey, this is so you can leave it, if you wanna leave early." Is that what she says when she drops it off?
Nick: Uh ... Oh, uh ...
Leah: Because you can't just leave it ... You have to say something.
Nick: [Giggling] Eck ... Yeah, I guess, what is the reason why I'm giving you an empty pan the day before?
Leah: "Here's a pan so you can just leave it. If you want to leave early tonight, you don't have to worry about getting your pan back."
Nick: Yeah. Okay. I think we could maybe go in that direction. Yeah. Okay.
Leah: I also feel the other option is ignore it.
Nick: You could ignore it. Also, the weary face emoji was used, which indicates you're not that into the dip.
Leah: [Giggling] Well, I think she's not that into the person.
Nick: Well, there's also probably that, yeah.
Leah: Which I think colors the entire situation.
Nick: I don't like the idea that we're going to blame someone's upbringing, because here's the thing - we all have different upbringings. We all learned etiquette or not learned etiquette. Where we come from doesn't matter. It's just where you are today. Who are you as an etiquette person today? What is your current state of etiquette? That's what we're concerned about. What happened in your past, or your upbringing? This is immaterial.
Leah: I like that very much.
Nick: Yeah, so ... I think let's not blame the upbringing.
Leah: Even though the name of our show is, "Were You Raised by Wolves?" [laughter]
Nick: But that suggests that, yes, were you raised by wolves, and have you learned nothing since?
Leah: No, I know. I'm kidding. Also, we all know that wolves actually function very well.
Nick: [Giggling] Sure. It's like the Maya Angelou quote. Let's bring Maya into this. Doesn't she have that famous quote, which is like, "I did then what I knew how to, and now that I know better, I do better ..."?
Leah: I agree. A) I love that quote, and B) I think you're absolutely right.
Nick: So, I took the dip early because that's what I knew how to do, but now that I know you're not supposed to do that, I leave the dip.
Leah: Yeah, I think you just write it off to she doesn't know that you don't do that.
Nick: Yes. Yes. I think, if you wanted to say something, which was something other than, "Lisa's here; get your dip while you can!" you could just pull her aside and be like, "Hey, we really love your dip. Would you mind just leaving it, and I'll bring your pan back tomorrow?"
Leah: Yeah, that sounds perfect.
Nick: Yeah, and if it's a nice, value-neutral, nonjudgmental tone that we talk about so often, you'll get away with it.
Leah: The tone you just had was fantastic! It was so perfect!
Nick: Yeah, so ... Cut and paste that. Our next question is: "I work from home right now in a 9:00-5:00 setting, and my boyfriend has been working at a big box store from 3:00 to 10:00 p.m. Having him here to hang out with me on breaks has been really nice and sweet. However, while I work, I like to pop on some wireless headphones and listen to podcasts and music. I also tend to get really sucked into my own little world when I work and often don't notice what's going on outside my desk area. This means that when he comes into the bedroom where I work to say hi, I get startled, and I usually jump and say something like, 'Oh my goodness! I didn't see you!' My boyfriend is offended every time I jump and points out that I should know that I'm not alone in the house and therefore shouldn't be jumpy. I'm a jumpy person, and I can't really change this about myself. He suggested that I don't keep my headphones on while I work so that I can hear when he's approaching me. I don't want to do that, and I think it's okay that I jump, and he should just get over it and not take it personally. Is it rude that I jump when he comes into the room, even though I know he's in the apartment with me? Should I orient my desk to face the door so I definitely know when he enters the room, or should I not have to change, and he's just going to have to not take my jumping personally? Help!"
Leah: You said earlier, there's this fine line between relationship questions and etiquette questions, and I don't know which line I'm coming in on this-
Leah: -but I have a definite definitive answer on this.
Nick: Okay, ooh! Leah's definitive! Love it!
Leah: The definitive answer is he gets over it. You're working.
Nick: [Giggling] Yes.
Leah: It's not something to take personal.
Leah: You're focusing. You have your headphones on. He needs to not only not to get offended when you jump, he needs to not come in.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, there's that.
Leah: That's just non-negotiable. I say this as a person who lives with their significant other, and we had to negotiate people taking things personally that were just the other person's habits. And also, I have a lot of my girlfriends call me, and they're like, 'This happened when we had to move in together,' and this seems to happen a lot, where one person gets offended with the other person's habits. At the end of the day, it's just work. That's how a person has to do it. The other person has to move on!
Nick: Yeah. Yeah. The idea that, "Oh, you know I'm in the house, so you shouldn't be startled ..." What is that? Come on! What is this?
Leah: Yeah, you're focused on work. That's not ...
Nick: What do we do about this, though? We acknowledge that the boyfriend needs to get over it. Okay. But I have some ideas for things we can try. One idea is we could get a mirror on the desk, so you have a rearview mirror, so that if somebody is coming up from behind you, you'll probably see in the corner of your eye in the mirror. Maybe that's an idea. Another idea is put a bell, like it's a hardware store, or a deli, that chimes when you open the door. Put one of those on the door so that any time the door opens, you know, a doorbell goes off, so you're alerted. Or we just set rules, which is if I'm going to go on break, I'll come find you and we'll say hi, and when I'm working, that's off limits zone.
Leah: I like number three.
Nick: Number three is good.
Leah: I love that you come up with multiple options.
Nick: I mean, I like a bodega bell. I'm not mad at that.
Leah: Well, it still jumps her.
Nick: Oh, yeah, that's true. That would probably really startle you, too. Yeah.
Leah: Also, you know when you're on a roll and you're focusing, which is why she has her earphones on, you know what I mean, you're in your zone! Every time you get pulled out of your zone, you gotta ... I think you should explain to him one time, "I'm in my zone. I love you. I appreciate spending time with you. I appreciate you want to visit me. I'm in my zone when I'm working, and it pulls me out. I don't want to have to do that." I love your idea - "I'll come find you when I'm on breaks. You just can't come in," and that's the end of that.
Nick: Yeah. I think from an etiquette perspective, we want to set boundaries and a polite way, and then we want to respect everybody else's boundaries.
Leah: I love it.
Nick: Easy peasy. Harmony has been restored.
Leah: It might take a few days of that person being ... I mean, when you say harmony has been- it might take a few days of that person being uncomfortable or kind of edgy about it. "Oh, I won't come in because you're ..." and you just go, "Okay. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it."
Nick: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think the boyfriend's gonna get pouty [crosstalk]
Leah: He'll get pouty, and then you just be like, "Thank you so much," and then, you just do your thing and do not cave!
Nick: Yeah, this is a good line to hold because this is also work.
Leah: It's work!
Nick: This is your employment, so it's sort of like, we do need to have even stricter boundaries around that, I think.
Nick: Our next question is: "I need help with an awkward conversation." Ooh, I love it. "A coworker asked me what I was doing that night and I told her that myself and another coworker were going for dinner. She then proceeded to invite herself by saying, "Well, it'd be great to join you guys. Does that sound good?" I panicked, and I gave some lame excuse that we weren't sure where we were going or for how long, and I think she could tell that she just wasn't wanted. I felt bad because she's a great person, but we don't have anything in common, and I'm very protective of my free time. Should I have let her come?" I feel like this happens to you, maybe ...
Leah: [Giggling] You're probably right.
Nick: [Giggling] Okay, what's your feeling of this?
Leah: Well, my first feeling was the woman shouldn't have invited herself.
Nick: Well, yeah. I mean, that's an etiquette crime, yeah.
Leah: I feel like, often, as we always say, our letter-writers feel guilty because somebody else did something and then they got into a position they weren't ready to handle because they didn't have time to think about the correct response.
Nick: Yeah, and just to clarify, inviting yourself to things is rude.
Nick: We don't do that-
Leah: We do not do that.
Nick: That's called a self-invite. That's not a thing we do. Please don't do that.
Leah: If you are trying to make new friends or meet people in the office ... Say somebody was like, "Hey, we're going to this thing," I think you could say something like, "In the future if you do a group event ..." because this is not a group event. This is like a friend date. This is two people!
Nick: Yeah. I mean, we happen to be colleagues, I guess, but we're going to dinner and we're friends, and we also happen to work with each other. Yeah, it's more that vibe.
Leah: Yeah, but you could say ... Because I understand, sometimes, people are trying to make new friends and socialize; you could put out the vibe to somebody that, in the future, if they're ever looking for a group hang, you'd be interested.
Nick: Yeah. Like, "Oh, I love that place! If you guys ever go there again, let me know."
Leah: Yeah, but this is ... You could just say, "Oh, we're doing ..." When people ask me where I'm going, and I get the idea that they're going to ask to come, I say - when it's true; if it's just two people ... Because two people is a catch up. It's a one-on-one.
Leah: I say, "We're just ... Oh, I'm going with Lisa. We're catching up. We haven't seen each other in a long time." That way, it's clear what it is. It's not a work hang; it's a deep friend talk, and that's a different thing.
Nick: Yeah, and that feels like a reasonable explanation for why you can't come.
Nick: Yeah, I like that.
Leah: They shouldn't even ask after that because you've made it clear.
Nick: Well ... But someone who self-invites themself is going to follow up and ask.
Leah: Yeah, and then I would just repeat again, "Oh, we're catching up. We haven't seen each other in a long time. We have some ... But in the future ..." Then, you say, "In the future, if we do a group thing, I'll for sure invite you."
Nick: Yeah, I think that's nice. Also, when you tell someone no, not leaving them empty handed is kind of nice. The idea of, "Oh, in the future, there might be this extra thing that I'll do with you ..." That's nice. On the flip side, if you are in this office situation and you want to hang out with your colleagues, don't invite yourself to their thing, invite them to something that you're planning. You could do that, too.
Leah: I love that.
Nick: You're allowed to plan things and invite things. You don't always have to be the guest. You can be the host sometimes. I think that's also something just to note. I don't like making up excuses, though.
Leah: No. I think it's because she wasn't ready.
Nick: No, she panicked. Yeah, I get that. Yeah. She wasn't ready.
Leah: That's why I think the "This is a catch-up" thing always is ... Have that in your pocket.
Nick: Yeah, that's always solid. Our next question is: "My parents want to come to my house for Thanksgiving this year because my sister and I both live in the same city, but my house would be better for cooking and hosting because it's bigger. I am a vegetarian and my family is not, so I usually just have plain mashed potatoes and bread for dinner on Thanksgiving. This year, I want to make a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner because I don't know how, nor do I want to cook a turkey, or have my house smell like cooking turkey. I'd love to have stuffing, gravy, and all the other Thanksgiving staples made vegetarian. This is something my family does not do and historically has gotten very touchy about. My sister is the most upset about this idea and has mentioned that she would rather host, but my parents have made it very clear that they would have it at my house because of space. Am I out of line for not wanting to have turkey at Thanksgiving that I'm being told to host? I've suggested that my sister bring something, if she would like to, that would accommodate her dietary preferences. It's one meal, one day of the year, and I have a hard time understanding why it's such a big deal to not have turkey, and why I should be expected to cook one. Is it rude to put what everyone else might consider the main dish, and is arguably the most difficult thing to transport, on my sister? Should I just suck it up, open a window, and let my mom and sister into my kitchen to cook a turkey and just be glad it's not a ham?" Wow.
Nick: [Giggling] So, what should we do?
Leah: I feel like I'm coming in definitively on this one, as well.
Nick: Wow. Who are you, Leah Bonnema?
Leah: I know! Who am I?!
Nick: Who are you?
Leah: It's your house. You have been a vegetarian for 15 years.
Leah: You shouldn't have to cook meat because you're clearly- it's a part of your lifestyle. You don't do it!
Leah: You're being kind enough to be like, "If you guys want to bring meat, that's fine." You don't want to cook meat? In my mind, that seems fair. I don't know why either they can't have a vegetarian dinner, or you go to your sister's house. I feel like there's two options here, but she's supposed to have it at her house and cook meat. It's like, "Well, we can cook meat. Just go to the other place!"
Nick: Yeah. I mean, in general, hosts are allowed to set the terms of their event that they host. You know, a host gets to decide who's on the guest list, what the menu is, the time and date. A host gets to choose all these things. I think a question here is: is our letter-writer the host, or is she being treated just like the community rec center and being asked to put out some folding tables, and it's just sort of like the venue for this thing, and all these other people are really the hosts? Who's hosting?
Nick: It seems like our letter-writer is being told that this is happening against her will. I don't love that! That feels not correct here.
Leah: I agree with you 100 percent. Then, it's also people who don't eat meat do so for a myriad of reasons, but often it's because of a choice they've made because they feel a certain way morally about it.
Leah: I don't understand why that has to be infringed upon!
Nick: I think that we need to have some discussion here with the family. I feel like we need to have some conversation and some compromise here. Like, "If this is happening in my house, then we're not going to cook the turkey in my house, but you may bring turkey if you wish." I feel like that would be a fine compromise. "I will have turkey in my home. I just would rather not have my oven used to cook it."
Leah: I think that's more than fair.
Nick: And it should be said - the turkey is the least exciting thing on the Thanksgiving table. If there was a Thanksgiving dinner and there was no turkey, I would not be upset about it. I'm so much more interested in all the other things.
Leah: The sides are what really make the meal.
Nick: That's where the party is! Yes!
Leah: The party's in the sides!
Nick: Totally! So ...
Leah: I just got so hungry.
Nick: Yeah, I was like, oh, when is Thanksgiving?
Leah: First, we started with spinach dip and now we're on to Thanksgiving sides.
Nick: And spinach dip? Not a bad Thanksgiving side!
Nick: I feel like I would want to do that. If they're like, "No, we're going to do turkey, and it's going to be in your oven," then I guess you could let them do it, but you don't have to be the one to cook the turkey. I don't love that, but ...
Leah: I don't love it. I don't know. Sometimes, I think you just have to dig in with people and say, "It's more than fair if I'm telling you to bring the turkey, or you cook it at [her sister's] house, and I'll go over there."
Nick: Yeah. Although, I suspect that we have decades of this family dynamic happening. Is this the year we finally draw the line? Maybe.
Leah: Why not?
Nick: Maybe. Yeah, I guess. Start now. Better late than never. I guess that's my thought.
Leah: It's not rude to say you're not cooking a turkey in your oven.
Nick: Yeah. I think you could draw that line if you really felt strongly about it. As an aside, what is your favorite side?
Leah: MMMM! I only get one?!
Nick: That's it.
Leah: I love stuffing, but I love MY stuffing.
Nick: What's your stuffing?
Leah: The way I make stuffing.
Nick: Some Maine way of stuffing with like blueberries?
Leah: No [Giggling] but it has celery, and onions, and apples, and raisins.
Nick: Oh ... The correct answer, though, is mashed potatoes.
Leah: Okay. I mean, it's a great- [Giggling] It's a great side. I'm not going to say anything negative about mashed potatoes.
Nick: It's a solid choice. Yeah, can't go wrong with potatoes.
Leah: I also love- I think both mashed potatoes, and stuffing is that much more delightful with cranberry sauce. OOOOOh!!!
Nick: [Giggling] Okay. Our next thing is a new segment-
Leah: [Singing] WHAT new segment?
Nick: -that we're calling Aftermath.
Leah: [Gasping] The drama!!!
Nick: This is where we will go back, and we will follow up and see what happened. Was our advice good?
Leah: WHAT HAPPENED!? Did you follow it?
Nick: Yeah, did you listen to us? Was it a terrible result? We want to know! For today's Aftermath, you'll recall there was this person who had someone who wanted to carpool with them and-
Leah: Oh, yes!
Nick: -we don't want to carpool with this person. We don't like them. The question was: "How do we get out of it? How do we not carpool with this person?" We basically told her that, "Sorry, we've got a good thing going, and we just don't want to mess up our routine, but here's somebody else you could carpool with!" That was our advice; just politely say no and give a plausible explanation, which was partially true, and then try and pass her off. I emailed our letter-writer, and I asked: "What was the Aftermath?"
Nick: She says, "Thanks for asking. After my colleague initially brought up the idea of carpooling with me and my other colleague, to which I did not really say much, having been caught off guard, she has not brought it up again. I would say that maybe she read between the lines, but she's just not a "read between the lines" type of person. I can say that if she does bring it up again, I will be prepared, and I'll be prepared to say that I've talked with a colleague I normally carpool with and she and I decided that it would just throw off our routine that is working so well for us and, so sorry, but, as you suggested, I might mention the option of checking with some other specific people." I think we nailed it!
Leah: Nailed it! She's got it in her toolbelt, ready to go!
Nick: Yeah! It's in the back pocket. It's on standby. She's ready. She's prone. That's a success.
Leah: Very exciting!
Nick: Another satisfied customer, yeah. Do you have any questions from previous episodes? You wanna know what happened? How'd it work out?
Leah: [Whispering] What was the Aftermath?
Nick: Let us know. You can let us know through our website, and you can also send your questions there, or you can leave us voicemail, or send us a text message, (267) CALL-RBW (267-225-5729) We'll see you next time!
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