Break

Unwonk - Episode 16: Break

We talk to Laura Lane and Angela Spera from This Is Why You're Single (the sketch show, book, AND podcast), learn about what definitely not to do during intermission at a play, and discuss how the produce at Trader Joe’s isn’t primarily for human consumption.

Listen with the player below, subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher (links above), or with your favorite podcast app.


Today's Guests:

Laura Lane and Angela Spero from This Is Why You're Single

Many thanks to our guests, Laura Lane and Angela Spero! 

Their book This Is Why You're Single launches on December 8. Buy it for all of your single people friends. Check it out at their site here, where you can learn all about their book, podcast, and sketch comedy show. You can follow them on Twitter at @YoureSingleShow@LauraLane__, and @speradactyl


LINKS & NOTES

Please enjoy the links to additional information relating to the questions on this episode - for people new to our show, these quotes and links may not make much sense until you actually listen to the episode:

"Who am I? ... A jerk who wants to do what’s right. But often does what’s wrong." - Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella

"I have a zillion bottles of hot sauce. I love Trader Joe's jalapeño. The whole right side of my fridge is filled with hot sauce." - Lisa Ling

[Episode Keywords: 3 month threshold, breaking up, TJ4Lyfe, stealthy sampling is stealing, community theater, acting in concert]


Episode Transcript

UNWONK PODCAST - EPISODE 16: BREAK

Hi, friend. This is a rough transcript of this episode of Unwonk. What's that mean? It means that we're just pasting the original script for the show plus unvetted transcripts of any interviews. So, you're likely to see content that maybe didn't make the final cut, maybe not see some content that was in the episode but not the original script, and run across a few typos. 

As with everything on Unwonk, the transcript below is for general informational purposes only - this is not legal advice - if you need to have a legal question answered, please seek legit legal representation. 

On this episode of Unwonk, we learn

  • What definitely not to do during intermission at a play,
  • How the produce at trader joe’s isn’t primarily for human consumption, and
  • And we talk to laura lane and angela spera from this why you’re single

This is Unwonk. We respond to your legal questions with relevant and useful information. If you would like to submit a question, please visit our site at Unwonk.com.

When you’re there, you can also find where to follow us on twitter, facebook, and whatever social things are plausibly cool this week. And make sure to tell your friends about us. But, just good things.

You can also check out our ask a lawyer column in deadspin by clicking on the banner at our site or going to Unwonk.com/deadspin.

Even though the  general information on this podcast is provided by actual attorneys, you’d be an idiot to think it is actual legal advice, and you’d also be the type of person who jumps in with the phrase “and many more” after the birthday song - you realize you’ve brought the specter of death and mortality into the celebration of someone else’s  life, right? Come on, man.

And now, our first question.

The weekend I was planning on breaking up with a guy I was dating for a few months, but then he surprised me with tickets to a play. During intermission in the lobby he seemed to sense that something was wrong and kept pushing me on it. I cracked and told him it was over. He flipped out, and started crying and yelling and making a huge scene. During the meltdown, he knocked over a stool, which then crashed into a display case full of memorabilia. Theater staff escorted him out. I stupidly gave them my business card, and now, a few weeks later, they're threatening to sue him or me for the damage to the display case and some of the apparently valuable items inside. I feel like it's kind of my fault for upsetting him - one of the reasons for breaking up was his short temper and emotional immaturity - and I don't want to further upset him by giving them his details. Do they have a case against me if they can't find him? Do I have to give them his information? (Michigan)

OK. As usual, there’s more than the legal component here. The real issue I see here is the relationship component, and we’ll have Laura Lane and Angela Spera from This Why You’re Single to cover that in a little bit. 

And for once, we have a really easy legal answer. But let’s take the slightly long way there to make it more interesting. 

So the local theater’s upset about their decimated ark of community theater keepsakes - which, like any quality local theater, presumably includes something like a sock that Wlliam Devane left behind in 1980 after performing one man show version of Steve Martin’s The Jerk - and what the theater saw was two people connected to it. That’s you and the guy you were dating - we’ll call him Pat, because that sounds like the kind of name a spazzed out emotional baby would have (note: that’s solely based on all of the Pats I’ve known and not other Pats. And if you’re a Pat I know who’s listening to this, it obviously doesn’t apply to you). 

We’re going to turn to torts for this. We’ve talked a lot about torts in our Deadspin column but not on the podcast. Torts are not delicious cakes. They are not, in fact, delicious in any form. A tort is basically a civil wrong that creates the ability for someone to sue someone else. Sounds boring, right? But think of it like that scene in the Princess Bride where Peter Falk gets Fred Savage interested in reading a book because it has Fencing. Fighting.Torture. Revenge. Giants. Monsters. Chases. Escapes. True love. Miracles. Like that book, a tort sounds boring on paper, but torts have covered things a train turntable that feeds off of human limbs, a woman crushed by a scale at a train station that had been knocked over from the blast of a package of fireworks, a man’s head getting crushed by a falling barrel of flour, and a woman fracturing her hip when a 5 year old pulls a lawn chair out from under her while she was sitting. These are just a few of the millions of tort cases that have kept lawyers busy - and yes, a lot involve trains and things being crushed. And, unlike the Princess Bride, you won’t find true love in torts. And maybe giants. That last case, by the way, is called Garratt v Dailey, where a grown woman actually sued a five-year old because she was too stupid to ensure that her ass was going to land where she thought it would.

A key word in torts - aside from torts - is negligence. I have no question that Pat was negligent. He may have a defense - maybe the meds he was on weren’t working or some other intervening thing out of his control - but that’s not the issue here. Let’s talk about you, Kimberly, and skip to what could be a couple arguments the theater might have against you. 

First, there’s something called liability for acting in concert. It means that you and Pat were a team, in cahoots, and your actions together intended to bring about crushing devastation to the theater’s commemorative porecelain thimble collection for its annual production of Our Town. I checked out Michigan law and, not surprisingly, much of the acting-in-concert case law relates to either one of the big American car companies or hunting because… Michigan. But what we get out of it is that in Michigan, to be found negligent by way of acting in concert with Pat, you and Pat would have to been acting with common purpose and design when Pat dropped his reality biscuits at the concession stand (where all the concession proceeds go to the local 4H, no doubt). 

Let’s take a closer look. You knew you were going to end it, but not at the theater. He confronted you, and you then ended it. That’s not acting in concert. That’s having a conversation.

But, the theater could argue that if you knew or should have known that he would have had that reaction, then you should be found to be negligent in causing his negligence - especially because you know that he has a short temper and probably wouldn’t handle it well. Even then, you’d have the defense that you didn’t go into the evening with the plan to cram some mentos into his diet coke, so to speak. That you were reacting in the moment would further support this. 

From a legal perspective, there’s a billion other arguments someone could make against you, but, you know what? I don’t think  any of them would really work. BUT, if they really wanted to sue you - and I don’t know what kind of collection is in a Michigan theater display case - I mean, we’re not talking about the rosetta stone at the British Museum here  - if they really wanted to, they could sue you. And it would cost you money and time to get out of it. So that should be something you’re thinking about.

One other thing - you don’t have to give them any information absent a subpoena.

And, as I said, this is less about the legal side of things and more about the relationship side. And for that, I’ve enlisted some help. We’re joined now by the creators of the “This Is Why You’re Single” sketch show authors of the upcoming book “This Is Why You’re Single” and host of the podcast “This Is Why You’re Single” and masters of consistent branding Laura Lane and Angela Spera, Laura and Angela thanks for coming on the show.

Laura:        Thank you for having us.

Unwonk:        You’ve heard the question we have.  We have a situation where woman was basically kind of forced to breakup with a guy in an awkward place and created huge scene.  If you wanna tell us what you’re… kinda what your books about it might give people an indication of why I ask you to come on this show?

Laura:        Yeah well our book is a dating and advice in humor book called “This Is Why You’re Single” where we talk kind of about just relationships in general and things that guys do wrong, things that girls do wrong, things that nobody is doing wrong and really just have to do with what it’s like to be dating now in this modern age.

Angela:    Right.  And we’re trying to approach this kind of a light funny way that doesn’t make people go bad about themselves and just kinda make people laugh and learn a little bit.

Laura:        Yeah, you know.

Angela:    Wait one thing that you said that when you said that Kimberly was forced to break up with this guy.  And this is where we will… where we really kind of put up [inaudible] she should have never gone to the theater with him.

Laura:        Yeah.

Unwonk:        Right.

Angela:    She should have never gone and also if she did finally did decide to go maybe she thought really bad for whatever reason she didn’t think that he had any friends he could bring last minute like she should have pretended she was sick first of all.  But maybe she went. Even when you sense that something was wrong she just never should have done it in intermission.

Laura:        Yeah and she was just putting it off too long and then she could have take

Angela:    Yes.

Laura:        Because I know in her mind she was like this is a great idea.

Angela:    Yes.

Laura:        We’re gonna go back to the second acts and peacefully sip through the grand finale. 

Angela:    After we broken up.

Laura:        Like she was just… she must have been like at that point she couldn’t take it anymore

Angela:    Yes.

Laura:        She should have taken care of it long ago.  But we’ve all been in that situation.

Angela.    Yes.  There’s no way that that was her plan.  Her plan was to break up with him at intermission but regardless of that like his behavior it seems insane.

Laura:        Yeah.

Unwonk:        I took the city out so it’s just Michigan but I know what the city is and I did some research.  And based on the time period I think the play was the touring cast of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella does that change you’re…

Angela:    You are such an investigator.

Unwonk:        Yeah.

Angela:    Oh my God.  

Laura:        There are probably children everywhere.

Angela:     It’s like a Disney… I mean Rodgers and Hammerstein is not Disney but like whatever, a fairytale…a fairytale about love.

Laura:        Right.

Angela:    Like an epitome of what we all strive for.  And to break-up at the intermission during a fairy tale… 

Laura:        Maybe that was pressure…

Angela:    Yeah I have nothing…

Laura:        This is not Prince Charming.

Unwonk:        So let’s talk about the place because it struck me it’s a very similar… I want to get your thoughts on kind of even if you are gonna do this somewhere you’re gonna do it.  So when I was about twenty-five this is right actually at the end of law school.  I’ve been dating women similar period of time for three months not very serious, or so I thought.  And we were on… in Boston the subway is called MBTA I don’t know if you’re familiar with Boston.  And it was the Green Line which is essentially a bus with metal wheels that goes underground so subway is kind of stretching it and right when the train stop she turned to me and just said you don’t want to go out with me anymore do you?  And being stupid I just turn to her and said no.  Right when I said that the door is open and she ran away.  So I was forced to do this kind of chase through the government center or whatever stop it was.  And the other piece of Boston you don’t know about is this thing called City Hall Plaza which is essentially an eleven acre plaza.  This huge vast expanse of stairs and it’s just gigantic you almost see the curvature of the earth.  So I caught up with her we sat down and kind of ended it.  And that’s where I learn don’t break up with someone in the large open place.  Not because of them because you have to watch them slowly walk away like a ship slowly going towards the horizon with the sad peanut song going through your head.  Frankly I should not have done that.  So what are your thoughts about kind of good places or bad places if you are going to go through with this?

Angela:    Wait one thing is I find it so interesting the few months you said that you’re with that girl for three months and then this story is also few months.  Like there’s something about the life three months break-up that’s so bad because you’re not just quite attached yet you probably realize the battle month because this wasn’t going anywhere so…

Laura:        Right.

Angela:    You’re not really on your end that invested so you don’t mind breaking up with somebody abruptly whereas if you’re with somebody for two years it’s like you wouldn’t have the conversation about this.

Laura:        Exactly.  Public places are really hard like my worst break up that I ever did that I do not recommend was I was going out with a guy for three months and I thought it’s pretty serious after three months it’s just… I don’t know we spend so much time together went on a few trips and we went abroad to Europe and we were in Paris the City of Love and the trip went horrible…

Unwonk:        Oh no.

Laura:        [Inaudible] including the fact that he did not get us a hotel.  I was like… I was on my [inaudible].

Angela:    Trip adventures

Laura:        Yeah.  I had a journalism job at that time and we ended up crashing on the floor of a friend from high school who I have not talk to in like seven years maybe not that… maybe like five years.  But either way we ended up breaking up but then you’re stuck with the person you talk about with your story watching her slowly walk away.  I was like stuck with guy for another three days after had just decided to break up then we’re on Air France flight back home and one of the stewardess says oh you guys were together you’re not sitting together though like on [inaudible] France like we never set sit lovers apart.  I’m like made us sit together and the guy is not to have about this conversation with the story like oh I just broke up with this guy please don’t sit us together lovers never sit apart.  I will never forget that.  

Angela:    There’s this couple that just went viral that broke up on the plane and the entire plane was like live blogging their break-up.

Laura:        Yes.  

Angela:    Do not do it in the public or in the airplane.

Laura:        Right.  Just try to wait until you get back from that trip but in general Angela you feel strongly about not breaking up and have a [inaudible].

Angela:    I don’t think you should.  I mean we have been talking about this earlier and like obviously they are dangerous person she implied that he kind of have anger issues like I understand the instinct to not to do it in public to protect yourself but otherwise they’re just kind of a normal, non-aggressive individual I think that you owe it to both of yourselves to be in private where you can say what you want to say because even I don’t like having a serious conversation at dinner if I feel like a table is too close to me.  

Unwonk:        Right, right.

Angela:    You know you censor on what you say and if you’ve been with somebody for three months…

Laura:        Three months is not that long.

Angela:    But you still… they might not… they might… this might be coming out of nowhere for them that’s why you always give them your [inaudible] while you’re waving out and you might not feel comfortable doing that knowing that somebody is like somebody is listening like oh my God do you heard those people are breaking up this is great.

Laura:         Some people like what’s called ex interviews when they break-up like I remember when I broke up with Greg the first question that he asked was like well you  know since we’re now broken-up I just wanna… I just wanna ask you a question that you know  just for the future relationships like how am I in bed.  That’s what he asks me.  Like an exit interview like you do for a job, he wanted to know how he was in bed.

Angela:    That was his priority.

Laura:        That was his priority and I wanna make sure I’m getting in bed for my next girlfriend which of course I wanted to help him out, right at that time.  So like an example if you can’t ask questions like that if you’re… if you’re very… sitting very closely

Angela:    Right.

Laura:        In New York where we live tables are inches from each other I don’t know if you’re in the mid-west like an Appleby’s somewhere maybe got like five pizza the next table and they wouldn’t be able to hear you and maybe breaking up at the restaurant is an okay thing to do.  But for the most part I agree, yeah.  The going to the apartment is that…

Angela:     And that’s the other thing I think if you’re the one doing the breaking you should go to their apartment… that way you can choose when leave and you don’t have to throw somebody out of your apartment…

Laura:        Which is so smart…

Unwonk:        Yeah going back to the restaurant thing I was dating a woman in New York for again three months, it’s that magical number and every time I tried to… I set up like a brunch let’s go to brunch and there be table too close and you know I go this aint gonna work and then the final, the third time we went to a restaurant was gonna break-up she surprise me by bringing her father.  

Angela:    Oh my God.

Laura:        Oh my God.

Unwonk:        And then still didn’t do it.

Laura:        Then when you eventually broke up with her she probably thought that she… she probably thought that [inaudible] you know introducing you to her parents do sound which have nothing to do with it, you know.

Unwonk:        Right.  So I mean you’re kind of lead to it earlier basically you think that Kimberly kind of misplayed it or maybe sounds to me she was just taken… taken aback.  But maybe she shouldn’t put herself in the situation in the first place.  

Laura:        Yeah I mean I hate bring Kimberly…

Angela:    Right.

Laura:        I think she’s to blame this guy the way…

Angela:    The way he reacted was clearly not appropriate.

Laura:        It was horrible yeah I mean after three months it’s not like your wife for ten years with three children told you she was cheating on you and is leaving you and she did that at intermission.  It’s like a girl you’ve been dating for three months.  For you to start throwing things in a theater it’s like hello here comes surprise and nobody video tape this and it went viral and was like hello of course she wanted to break up with you.  Look at how you’re reacting...

Angela:    Right.

Laura:        Look at your temper you can be in a long-term relationship with somebody that get that upset and has that type of physical reaction to things, no way.

Angela:    If security has to be involved in your break-up.  It’s probably your fault.

Laura:        It’s probably your fault and you… yeah it’s probably your fault.

Unwonk:        The legal issue I think there really isn’t a legal issue of that she had to be concern with from a dating ethics perspective should she has on his information to the… to the theater to shake them off her tail?

Laura:        We disagreed on this one.

Angela:    I think she should.  Because clearly I mean even it was an accident and he was upset he knocked over the bench that I have some sympathy for him.  But the fact that security was involved he was so flustered that he couldn’t even give them his information he was clearly making a scene.  I… if I were her I would have very low sympathy at that point.  And I would just kind of give over his information and bid and watch my hands off it.

Laura:        And for me I don’t think she should give his information but not for the reason that she doesn’t want too like in her email it look like she said she doesn’t wanna further upset him by giving them his details which I think should be [inaudible] from her concern like I said she’s only been dating this guy for three months, he acted in an absolutely just crazy manner.  She shouldn’t worry about upsetting this guy.  This guy… this guy should be worried that he completely… he should be horrified and so embarrass with his behavior…

Angela:    Right.        

Laura:        But I also think that she shouldn’t give his info because like she would want this to blow over and she doesn’t wanna get involved [inaudible] like throwing… she doesn’t need to help these people that are trying to sue this guy like she doesn’t need the help of them in anyway by if they wanna track him down that’s their responsibility to track this guy down or the police’s responsibility over whoever else is involved.  I don’t think it’s her responsibility to pass along his info.

Unwonk:        Right.

Angela:    She should just unentangled at in any way she can for this situation.

Laura:        Yes exactly she try to like we move away from the situation but don’t be worried about upsetting him.

Angela:    Yeah that would me my last…

Laura:        Yeah exactly.

Unwonk:        Yeah.  And one thing that bugs me she doesn’t say whether she stayed for the rest of the play.  

Laura:        Luckily it was Cinderella because she knows what happened.

Angela:    Right.

Unwonk:        Excellent.   Hey Laura, Angela thank you so much for coming on the show and talking about this issue.

Angela:    Thank you for having us.

Laura:        Yeah.

Unwonk:        The book “This Is Why You’re Single comes out on December 8th.  And Elizabeth if you email me your address I’ll send you a copy.

The book This is Why You’re Single comes out on December 8. And, Elizabeth, if you email me your address, I’ll send you a copy of the book.

Like I said, Elizabeth, this was a pretty easy solution from a legal perspective - I think your biggest concern would be getting sued and having to spend money on a lawyer to get out. 

But the bigger issue is how this came about and the best way to handle getting out of a relationship, which Laura and Angela helped to flesh out. 

I hope everything turns out OK, whether you sell out Pat or not. And, most of all, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Elizabeth, for supporting local theater. Also, get your shit together next time this happens.  

I was shopping with my roommate at Trader Joe’s last week. We were in the produce section for a bunch of stuff and I picked a couple of grapes and ate them but didn’t buy the grapes. She says that this is stealing. I think it’s socially acceptable sampling - usually you see a sign in a produce section that says no sampling if they don’t want you eating stuff. Who’s right? Me or my roommate? Also, she’s not my girlfriend so it’s not like there’s any anti-bias in her calling me out for this. 

Wow. Alright. Without indicating where the answer is going to come out, Brett, I’m going to guess that 99% of the people listening are absolutely appalled at this question. Like, every aspect of it. And there are so many layers here, not even counting the actual legal answer.

First, at Trader Joe’s, most of the produce is so locked down that its packaging is the modern equivalent of a Gordian knot. I’ve seen the clamshells that the grapes are packaged in, mostly made of what look’s like the bulletproof plexiglass shielding a Citibank teller’s upper body. That makes it kind of hard just to casually slide your hand in and pluck a couple grapes. And the TJ’s grapes are on medium packaging difficulty. Have you ever tried to open a bag of Trader Joe’s sliced mushrooms without having them explode like a fountain pen at cruising altitude? 

Second, even if there was no packaging on the fruit, just because something is sitting there doesn’t mean you can just take it. That’s not how stores work - that’s not how anything involving buying anything works. Even at a buffet - where you can, in fact, shove everything you want in your face - there’s got to be some minimal human interaction - even just a nod from a service person who only gets an automatic 8% gratuity because all they do is bring you drinks. Even worse - by saying the fruit is free game because there was no barrier between its tempting flesh and your quivering hand, you’re putting the blame on fruit. That’s right, Brett. You’re victim blaming table grapes. Shame on you.

Third, you don’t need a sign to tell you not to take something that doesn’t belong to you. You know at the store, how there’s a bunch of people standing at lslands passing people’s items through a fantastical laser device, after which the customer pays and then gets a receipt. That is where the magic happens, Brett. That - sir - is where you’re no longer committing a crime. This is how being an adult works. I think even the most rudimentary monkey societies have cashiers - It’s pretty clear across all mammals Brett.

By the way, I remember my first trip to Europe how all the cashiers are seated in chairs, and thought, how civilzied. Flash forward to 2015 and we’ve learned that sitting kills you. Go America, Stand up and scan items for immortality.

Fourth, if you’re getting more than a few little things at the Trader Joe’s produce section - you said you were getting a bunch of stuff - you might want to consider that Trader Joe’s produce is scientifically designed to act as ballast to level out any imbalances in the store itself so the carts don’t go rolling all over the place. It’s not actually meant to be enjoyed by humans who like flavor. You know the general rule to stick to the edges of a grocery store because that’s where the healty stuff is? Well, that’s why Trader Joe’s isn’t called a grocery store. It’s call Trader Joe’s, where the good stuff is in the middle. Except for the sample station in the back corner.

And anyway, what’s your non-relationship with your roommate have to do with this? And what’s an anti-bias? Does that just mean a bias but one you don’t like?

Look. Unless it’s clearly there to be eaten by customers - in a bowl with toothpicks, or being doled out by someone with a hairnet like at Costco, it’s stealing. And also, wearing your own hairnet doesn’t count. Is it big stealing? Probably not. Does the store care? I don’t know. But that’s not what you asked. I’m with your non-girlfriend biased anti-biased roommate on this. 

Also, specifically at TJ’s - all the produce is pre-priced, meaning your not just stealing from the store, but also whoever buys the container of flavorless TJ’s produce you just pilfered from.

That said, if you are going to “sample” the way you do, do it at whole foods, their margins can take the hit from your lawless world of sociopathic fruit gorging.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Unwonk. 

And thank you again to our guests Laura Lane and Angela Spera. Check out thisiswhyyouresinglebook.com, and look for their book this is why you’re single on december 8 wherever books are sold, except possibly some christian science reading rooms (though that’s not confirmed).

Speaking of which, please visit our site at Unwonk.com to ask your questions, and for lots of bonus material about the topics on today’s episode. You can also find us on twitter, and facebook, and you can also - well, this is mandatory - tell everyone you know to listen and subscribe.

And don’t forget check out our deadspin column, updating every couple-ish weeks. 

On the next episode, we learn:

  • How I was a pioneer in the early 1990’s of breaking up by sending an email, 
  • How it was - it turns out - always an asshole move to break up by email, but not as bad as doing it by text turned out to be, and
  • 8 disruptive ways that future technology is going to let you break up with someone like a coward.