Our friends Lizzie Post and Daniel Post-Senning come back to our table to sing of great sandwiches – but not to eat them. They also set the timer on coffee-shop loitering and resolve a tricky rent dispute in Seattle. Lizzie Post and Daniel Post-Senning are co-authors of “Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition,” and Lizzie recently collaborated on “Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette, 6th Edition.”
Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave and here to answer them this week are resident etiquette experts Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. They are the great, great grandchildren of Emily Post and join us once a month to solve all your problems, forever, guaranteed. Lizzie and Dan, welcome back.
Lizzie Post: Thank you.
Daniel Post Senning: Thanks so much. That’s an iron clad guarantee.
Rico Gagliano: Or your money back.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So Lizzie, question for you, what’s the etiquette of starting a web series about etiquette without telling your good friends who may or may not be radio hosts about it?
Rico Gagliano: Don’t deny you started a web series.
Brendan Francis Newnam: It’s called “Awkward Moments” and we don’t mean to have one here with you, but…
Lizzie Post: Let’s create some!
Brendan Francis Newnam: Tell us about “Awkward Moments.”
Lizzie Post: It’s basically tackling classic etiquette situations in a really fun, slightly edgy way. You’ve got me posing a question or a topic, like, “So, what do you do when your friend lies to you and you catch them in it? Do you call them out on it? Do you not?” And they got these great actors acting out these scenes and then you’re cutting back between advice, what to do, what not to do.
Rico Gagliano: Very nice.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, if you ever need, you know, some great voice overs, I know a couple guys who might be able to help you.
Rico Gagliano: Yeah. I have no idea who Brendan’s talking about.
Coffee Shop Camping: When Leisurely Becomes Loitering
Rico Gagliano: Alright. Speaking of awkward. Let’s move on to our listener’s etiquette questions, shall we? This is something from Chris in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I love this one. Chris writes, “How long is it acceptable to stay at a coffee shop after ordering one drink?”
Daniel Post Senning: I would go with a general guideline of about a drink per hour, but I think you could probably slide that up if it’s the kind of coffee shop where there’s lots of seating and you’re not necessarily displacing or preventing someone else from grabbing a coffee and sitting down. Maybe you could extend that time a little bit, as long as you’re getting something.If it’s a shop where people are coming and going, about a drink per hour is not a bad general rule to have in mind.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Now, why 60 minutes?
Lizzie Post: It will allow you to relax and enjoy it a little bit. I would personally say a little bit longer. I’d probably push it to between one and two hours and then I think you’re done.
Rico Gagliano: What kind of time do you have on your hands?
Lizzie Post: Dude, it’s Vermont, we got all the time in the world up here.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah, but also I work out of coffee shops a lot. I write better. I mean my problem is, I’ll buy a lot of stuff up front. I’ll get a cup of tea, maybe I’ll a breakfast sandwich and then I figure that allows me like an hour and forty five minutes, but if I bought a tea and then an hour later bought the sandwich do you have to renew it?
Daniel Post Senning: No. In some ways you’ve rented a little more time.
Lizzie Post: Renting space at the coffee shop.
Daniel Post Senning: It’s true!There is the issue of people making an office out of the coffee shop and that can definitely be a burden on the business.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I will say there are people that come with their laptops and with a stand to put their book on. And they come with their own water bottle.
Daniel Post Senning: With a space heater, a lamp.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Exactly, like law students. But, then again, some days on Sunday I’ll go read the paper for an hour and a half.
Rico Gagliano: Yeah, who are you to talk?
Lizzie Post: Me too.
Daniel Post Senning: I also feel like this has evolved over the course of time. Like in the early 90s, remember when the whole coffee shop ‘thing’ hit and the point was to just go and have one coffee and then just sit there and read for hours and hours and socialize.
Rico Gagliano: “Friends.”
Brendan Francis Newnam: Central Perk?
Daniel Post Senning: Sure.
Lizzie Post: I was like 8 or 9. I don’t remember that.
Daniel Post Senning: Oh that’s horrifying.
Lizzie Post: I’m just kidding.
Daniel Post Senning: But I feel like it’s evolved now.
Rico Gagliano: There’s a little bit more frowning upon that sort of thing.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well I would say for Chris, take your queue from the coffee shop because some coffee shops will cut off your internet after two hours for example.
Lizzie Post: I think that’s good, I love the advice.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Thanks.
Rico Gagliano: Awesome, we never need to have you back on, because Brendan’s so good at it now.
Lizzie Post: Damnit!
Rico Gagliano: So here is Robin in Brooklyn. Robin writes: “I love sandwiches.” Right there with you Robin.”At big family meals,” she writes, “like Thanksgiving or Christmas, I can’t resist the urge to take the components on my plate and a roll and construct it into a glorious sandwich form. Some people take issue with it. Am I a heathen?”
Lizzie Post: Okay, so you’re… what? Like at the Thanksgiving, the holiday table, and you’re sitting there stacking stuff onto a roll eating with your hands?
Rico Gagliano: What’s the problem?
Lizzie Post: Boo. Hiss.
Daniel Post Senning: I see the problem.
Rico Gagliano: Really?
Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah!
Rico Gagliano: Okay, maybe it’s because I’m from an Italian family, but we put everything on sandwiches anyway.
Brendan Francis Newnam: At the table? You can’t put pasta on a sandwich.
Rico Gagliano: Well that’s true.
Lizzie Post: This is the thing: at the table, in this kind of a setting, this is the time to use your silverware. Dan had a great idea of maybe eating a smaller portion of food at the table and then, like, offer to go help with the dishes, and make a seconds leftover sandwich for yourself.
Rico Gagliano: I see.
Lizzie Post: I think it comes down to messiness and using your hands to eat as opposed to using your silverware in front of others.
Brendan Francis Newnam: That’s what I was going to ask. Technically what is wrong with it? Instinctively I’m like, “This person is a heathen! Sorry, Robin, this is unacceptable.” But what are the rules?
Lizzie Post: Eating is a gross activity.
Daniel Post Senning: Lizzie’s father always says eating is a gross and intense activity.The intent of good manners is to not gross out the people you’re with.
Lizzie Post: Which she says she is doing in the question.
Rico Gagliano: Yes, but this is assuming that the Thanksgiving or Christmas meal is this big formal thing. Like, to me, Thanksgiving especially, it’s your whole family, it’s kind of rambling, it’s a little ramshackle. There are kids running around and it’s kind of like a time to relax and let everything go.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And make a sandwich at the table?
Rico Gagliano: You’re acting like that’s the end of the world.
Brendan Francis Newnam: In most places this is still probably the most formal meal of the year for many households and it just seems odd to kind of like treat it like a tailgating party.
Daniel Post Senning: That’s the spirit of it. The answer’s in the question: “People tell me I’m a heathen.” People are upset by this, so the question.
Rico Gagliano: Some people.
Daniel Post Senning: This behavior is offending other people this person eats with, so why not avoid that behavior for this one time?
Rico Gagliano: I say get a new family, they’re snobs.
Brendan Francis Newnam: You can join Rico this year, Robin
Rico Gagliano: I love sandwiches!
Brendan Francis Newnam: I love sandwiches too.
Lizzie Post: I do too!
Brendan Francis Newnam: I mean I was sued by the Earl of Sandwich for going by that name a little bit in high school. But, you know, this is like wearing a sweatsuit to church. Shouldn’t be going to church on Christmas in a sweatsuit.
Lizzie Post: Bingo.
Daniel Post Senning: Should I sing the sandwich song?
Lizzie Post: There’s a sandwich song?
Brendan Francis Newnam: This next question comes from Ryan in Seattle. Ryan writes: “I was recently dumped by my live-in boyfriend. I have been staying at my parents’ house ever since, while he continues to sleep in my bed at home. This arrangement will continue until the end of next month. Should I feel obligated to pay the full amount for rent? A reduced rate, or nothing at all?”
Rico Gagliano: Man, that’s tough.
Lizzie Post: Let’s bear in mind, Ryan starts us off by saying he was the one that was dumped, right? So how did they wind up in the arrangement where he’s paying all this rent? Personally, I would not be okay with that. Ryan, I say that you two need to decide whether you’re going to pro-rate it, do a day by day thing, for how long you’re actually in the apartment until… but man, you need to have the conversation, because right now your situation is not fair to you.
Daniel Post Senning: And I can think of a number of ways you might resolve this, but I love the way Lizzie started with saying you need to have a conversation, it needs to be candid, and you need to be honest with people about what the realities of the situation are because money is not something you can necessarily just create more of. If there’s not enough there to handle certain things, you need to be really up front and honest with people about that so you can all decide what to do.
Rico Gagliano: And we are coming up on the end of our time. Let’s go out on something a little more upbeat.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well first of all, good luck to Ryan.
Rico Gagliano: Best of luck to Ryan.
Lizzie Post: Yeah seriously. Good luck.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And I agree Rico, let’s hear the Sandwich Song.
Daniel Post Senning: Sandwiches are beautiful, sandwiches are fine. I like sandwiches I eat them all the time. I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch. If I had a hundred sandwiches I’d eat them all at once.
Lizzie Post: What about at brunch?
Rico Gagliano: Daniel and Lizzie, thanks so much for showing out audience how to behave.
Lizzie Post: Oh thanks guys.
Daniel Post Senning: Oh you’re most welcome.