Brendan Francis Newnam: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave and often we post them to totally unqualified famous people, but this time we’re calling in the pros: Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. They are the great, great grand kids of Emily Post. And, from their base at the Emily Post Institute in Vermont, they tackle the most diabolical of etiquette dilemmas. They are co-authors of Emily Post’s “Emily Post’s Etiquette, the 18th Edition.” You can also catch them hosting the podcast “Awesome Etiquette.”
Lizzie, Dan, welcome back.
Lizzie Post: Thank you so much for having us.
Daniel Post Senning: It is a pleasure to be back with you.
Lizzie Post: We have missed you guys!
Brendan Francis Newnam: I know, it’s been a long time, no talk.
Lizzie Post: I know.
Rico Gagliano: And for no really good reason, we have to say. And actually, this leads us to our first question, too. We were wondering, when this happens, you know, people fall out of touch with people, what is the appropriate etiquette for reconnecting with a friend that you haven’t communicated with in a long time?
Lizzie Post: What we just did is great. A little catch-up, a little reason as to why, maybe. But let’s face it, it happens sometimes. It’s OK to say, “I’m just so happy to be back in touch with you! I can’t wait to get together!”
Daniel Post Senning: You gave me some great advice the other day. Lizzie was saying, “You know, in that moment when you think of someone, just pick up the phone and call ’em!” Like let that moment of inspiration, when they occur to you, drive the interaction.
Rico Gagliano: What if just by chance, for whatever reason, it seems like it’s just an opportune time for you to get back in touch with them. Like you do happen to have a business question or it-
Lizzie Post: I think play it depending on who the friend is. You can either say, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you because I had this subject matter or this favor or this whatever on my mind, but let’s catch up first.”
And sometimes you have to do the opposite and put the business side of it first. “I really want to catch up with you personally, but I do have a question for you professionally. Do you mind if we tackle that?”
Rico Gagliano: Ugh, that makes you feel like such an opportunistic jerk [laughs].
Daniel Post Senning: No!
Brendan Francis Newnam: But it depends on what the proposal is. Because if someone’s an expert in something, like etiquette, and you have an etiquette question, it’s OK to be like, “Hey! I’ve been meaning to catch up, but there’s something you’re good at.”
Lizzie Post: Right. And the other side of that is if someone did that to you, wouldn’t you be like, “No! I’m just so glad to help out.” You’re happy to hear from them, right? You’re not like [with a sardonic tone], “Oh my gosh. Look at you.”
Rico Gagliano: Yeah, but then I would second guess why it took them so long and come up with a whole string of drama’s in my brain. But that’s maybe me [laughs].
Speaking of which, maybe let’s get to some people’s etiquette questions and see what their problems are.
Daniel Post Senning: How convenient. You’ve got a bunch of etiquette questions ready for us.
Lizzie Post: Yeah, you got some etiquette questions for us, thanks guys, we’ve had a great summer, just in case you were wondering [laughs].
Rico Gagliano: “We just wanted to catch up.”
The rules for tipping hotel housekeeping
Brendan Francis Newnam: This is from another New Englander, Joshua, in Medford, Massachusetts. And Joshua asks: “During the work week I pretty much live in different hotels all over the country. Should I be tipping housekeeping? I understand it’s not a great job and they deserve the tips, but I already pay a hefty price for the hotel. I want to do the right thing. Please help.”
Daniel Post Senning: Joshua, in a word, yes.
Lizzie Post: This one’s easy. Yes!
Daniel Post Senning: Tipping housekeeping is easy and fun.
Rico Gagliano: Well, let’s not over sell it. But yeah.
Daniel Post Senning: And it is a really common courtesy, but it’s one that not everybody observes so I really appreciate the question.
Lizzie Post: There’s a slight tweak to this that if you’re really traveling a lot and you’re really strapped for cash, one of your options is to put your “Do Not Disturb” [sign] outside, so that you’re not getting housekeeping service for the whole week and just tip on the last day when they clean up before you leave, or whatever.
Rico Gagliano: But, along these lines, there’s a difference, maybe, between housekeeping which comes in, does some dirty work in your room and then there’s like, somebody who comes up and brings you tube of toothpaste. Do you tip that guy too?
Lizzie Post: Yes, you tip that guy too. But that’s like a dollar or something like that.
Rico Gagliano: Yeah, but then I’m asking for three tubes of toothpaste next time.
Lizzie Post: Well, you’re just weird.
Rico Gagliano: That’s true.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, his teeth are horrible.
Rico Gagliano: I need a lot.
Dealing with self-checkout slowpokes
Rico Gagliano: Here’s something from Phillip, in New Rochelle, New York. Phillip writes: “If you’re in line to use one of those self-checkout machines at a supermarket, and the person ahead of you has finished paying but is bagging their items slowly, and you have one item and want to get going, is it OK to move in and start scanning your item even though this other person is still standing there at the machine?
Daniel Post Senning: If you can do it without disrupting or disturbing them. If you could just like do the scan and pay and be gone, but, I mean-
Lizzie Post: No, they’re still there getting their gro… pulling the bags off from the thing! You’re stepping on toes.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I’m with Lizzie on this one. I mean, if you’re in that much of a rush you should have gone to a convenience store. You know what I mean?
Rico Gagliano: But isn’t there kind of a middle ground here where you’re just like, “Excuse me, I just got one item. You mind if I slide in here?”
Lizzie Post: Is it really gonna make that much difference to the amount of time?
Brendan Francis Newnam: Exactly.
Rico Gagliano: I know, it’s only 10 seconds, but the amount that your blood pressure rises, you might be putting years back on your life.
Brendan Francis Newnam: I think if you’re rushing around that much you’re gonna have a heart attack anyway.
Lizzie Post: Yeah, and therapists everywhere are excited to get new clients.
Brendan Francis Newnam: And I do feel like with etiquette we’re talking about what makes a civilized society. And, yes, there will always be people that are faster and stronger, but the whole point of civilization is that they don’t just get to run rampant over everyone.
I just picture, like, someone pushing aside an older person because they need to get their Funyuns.
Rico Gagliano: From this small etiquette problem, we have like gotten all the way to the apocalypse of the civilization.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Here’s something. I have a question for you guys. Can he start eating his Funyuns before he checks them out? Is that ethical?
Lizzie Post: Well, ethical is totally different but that’s store policy.
Rico Gagliano: Yeah, of course you can. As long as you swipe the little bar code, you can break that bag open.
Brendan Francis Newnam: So there you go, Phillip, you can, if you’re so impatient, you can eat your Funyuns. I don’t know why you’re buying them now, but that’s what we’re saying you’re buying.
The “leave no trace behind” principle for party trash?
Brendan Francis Newnam: This next question comes from Samantha in Oakville, Ontario. The question is: “A friend and I were recently invited to a board game night. On our way to the host’s house, we stopped to grab some take out food for ourselves since everyone else at the gathering had eaten already. We ate the food at our host’s home, played games, had fun and left. A month later, the host invited us to another board game night but also said, quote, ‘Try not to leave your garbage at my place like you did last time.'”
Lizzie Post: Whoa!
Brendan Francis Newnam: “I’m confused. We put the take out in the host’s indoor garbage bin. Seemed like all was well. Does the host expect us to take the trash outside? Thoughts?”
Daniel Post Senning: Sounds like they do.
Lizzie Post: Yes, that’s what that host is expecting. No, I don’t really think it was right of him or her.
Daniel Post Senning: This is a host desk dance question for me. I could definitely see a perspective where a host might say to themselves, “I wish someone would take that fast food packaging that they brought with them when they leave. My apartment smells like cheeseburgers.”
At the same time, I don’t think it’s appropriate for that host to call the guest out and tell them not to do it again. I think it would be a courtesy for a guest to maybe do that. To not leave a bunch of their trash behind.
Rico Gagliano: What?!? If you’re hosting a party, you take out the garbage!
Lizzie Post: No, no, no!
Brendan Francis Newnam: You provide them a bathroom. You provide a trash can. You don’t make them take their trash out. You’re not camping!
Lizzie Post: Well, no, of course. But they’re bringing in extras!
Brendan Francis Newnam: Defend your position.
Daniel Post Senning: I would say that, as a guest, I’m trying to minimize my impact. I’m trying to do everything I can to not be a burden on the host. As a host, I’m trying to do everything I can to put my guests at ease.
If a guest left that fast food packaging behind, I’d put it in the trash and…
Lizzie Post: I would never call a guest out on that.
Brendan Francis Newnam: No way.
Lizzie Post: But in response, what she should do is if they want to go to this party again, just say, “Duly noted. We’ll make sure that happens if we bring take out next time.” And if they don’t wanna deal with someone who’s acting like this, then just say, “Oh, don’t worry, we’re not able to come anyway.”
Rico Gagliano: There you go. A polite middle finger. Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning, thank you so much for telling our audience how to behave.
Lizzie Post: Thank you guys.
Daniel Post Senning: Thank you for having us.