what’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you at work?

The comments on last week’s letter from the person who had wet her pants at work were full of  hundreds of stories from people who’d had similar things happen to them. I had no idea that stories of people crapping their pants could be so heart-warming, but they were.

So, I pose you this question: What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you at work? Please share in the comments.

{ 1,386 comments… read them below }

  1. LoverofCats*

    When I first started my job, I never knew that direct reports were called direct reports. I had a boss who liked updates sent at the end of every week and the way he worded the instructions, I thought the update was a called a “direct report” so for months I sent “Hey Bob, here’s my direct report…”

    It’s not too terrible, but I still cringe years later.

    1. Busy*

      Aww that made laugh. I was once really confused about the words “widgets” for awhile. I feel you.

      1. AnnaBananna*

        If it makes you feel any better, I only know widgets from a WordPress context, so if someone brought it up in an unrelated conversation, it would go right over my head.

    2. Quiltrrrr*

      I did the same sort of thing when our company merged with another, and then we all started getting called ‘associates’. Our manager would reference ‘my associates’. We looked up the word to figure out what exactly that meant, and one of the definitions was ‘bedfellow’. We got a good laugh out of that one!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Awwww haha, I can see how that happens.

      I have never in my life heard the term “direct report” until I started reading this blog. So if someone threw out that jargon at me in an office setting prior to that, I’d assume the same as you did.

      1. Raven*

        Same! Alison should consider publishing a glossary of terms like that for people who are new to the workforce and/or in fields that don’t always have office-y terms like that.

          1. Indirect*

            Thirded, because until I started reading Ask A Manager, I also had never heard this term…and I’ve been in the workforce since the 1970s. Surely, there are many others. The Alison Glossary: I’d buy that.

            1. Anita Brayke*

              I know, Alison, that you’ve been busy and just ended the webcast so you can have a personal life again. I just wonder, and can’t help asking…would it be feasible to start a website or list of “Ask a Manager-approved” workplaces? You could set standards that employers can choose to meet and then the employers can list jobs at places that employees know are good places to work?

      2. Richard Williams*

        we’ll need a chart for direct vs. indirect reports. it’s sort of obvious, but kind of not.

    4. Just Another Manic Millie*

      It appears that Bob never corrected you, so I guess he knew what you meant. Please stop cringing.

    5. New Job So Much Better*

      Cute! Years ago I worked at JC Penney and had to ask where employee bathrooms were… all I kept seeing were the restrooms marked “Associates Only.” Little did I know employees were associates….

    6. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      This is why we need some kind of glossary when starting a job for the first time! Just learned what “RFP” means this week, only AFTER I told my grand-boss that someone was on the phone for him about the “RFP for the proposal” *cringe*

      1. Indigo a la mode*

        On that note, I can’t tell you how much of a pet peeve it is for me when people in my office refer to “writing an RFP” or “submitting an RFP.” YOU, sir, are submitting a PROPOSAL, in response to a REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL.

        1. JuliaPancakes*

          Indigo a la mode: Based on just this comment, can I just request that we become best friends? I love this.

          1. VonSchmidt*

            I overheard an employee asking a vendor for a price check instead of a quote. He says he didn’t request a quote because we were not ready to buy it yet. Had to explain that a quote is a “price check”. He had no idea!

        2. TacocaT*

          Indigo, I also hate “writing an RFP” but only because to me it should be “writing a RFP”…which is actually what I do! I am a buyer, so it’s OK for me to say that because I do really write those buggers! And IFB (Invitation for Bids). And sole source procurements. And proprietary procurements. And goods. And non-professional services. And professional services. And construction. Lol…the list goes on :)

          1. ChimericalOne*

            It depends on whether you’re saying the acronym in your head or the full phrase (or, in some cases, turning the acronym into its own word, like everyone does with FEMA). There are soooo many acronyms where you just have to pick one. It’s an eternal struggle, IMO!

            (For anyone for whom it’s too early in the morning to brain: If people are saying “ar-ef-pee” (RFP), it needs “an” in front of it. If people are saying “request for proposal” (RFP) it needs “a.” If people say both, well, you’re screwed.)

          2. Richard Williams*

            I have an RFI out on that, we’ll see if there’s a CO or an IB.
            lord try working for a firm that does most of their work for the Feds. total alphabet soup city. had a dang sharp boss once, who despite 20+ years in the DC real estate market, admitted she had no idea what all this stood for (we were on the AEC side, she came from the developer side).

    7. AnnaBananna*

      I did the same thing with ‘dotted line report’, as in an org chart. It took me until I was literally looking at an org chart weeks later to go ‘ahhhh, dotted line report’. I felt ridiculously inexperienced professionally but this was actually 10 yrs into my career. Sad but true.

      1. Anon and on and on*

        I did this a couple years ago!

        Boss: Person A will have a dotted line report to person B
        Me: what’s a dotted line report?
        Boss: *shows org chart with a literal dotted line*
        Me: *doesn’t get it* but what does that mean?

        For the record, I still don’t get what it means. Like, the line could be purple, and they’d be a purple line report, but what, in actuality, does that *mean*

        1. Dani*

          My understanding is that a dotted line report is someone who is below you in the org chart that you do some day-to-day management of, but who is not formally assigned to you as a direct report (they have another, formal manager).

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          It’s not like purple line in that the dotted line is a metaphor for what it means: a dotted line is less substantial than a solid line (graphically speaking), and similarly a dotted-line reporting relationship is secondary to your main, “solid line” relationship to your boss or direct report. For example, frequently people who are assigned to project teams have a manager who might manage everyone with the same job title (say, all graphic designers, all fiscal officers etc.). But if these people actually carry out their work in a team in which there is a mix of job titles (say, two engineers, an assistant, a fiscal officer, a graphic designer, a project manager etc.) then the employee may have a dotted-line reporting relationship to whoever manages this team.

          1. BekaAnne*

            Right, there’s one in my org for me.

            I am line managed by C who does all my line management stuff – leave approval, personal development, appraisals, etc. But because we work in a client alignment kind of way, I have a dotted line to another manager who manages the account. P assigns me work and I work with him to manage the account. C also assigns me work unrelated to the client that I work with. P consults with C to inform my appraisal score but the final decision is C’s.

            1. Richard Williams*

              wow Beka, do C and P ever get cranky? I was in that once, technically my manager was in another office but my superior (not my supervisor) was in mine and it got very awkward a few times as my closest one (who everyone thought was a PITA) was very territorial.

    8. BigBirdHR*

      Was in a new role, and had to lead my first call with the executives (CEO, SVPs, etc).

      I was working from home, and a little anxious/nervous, so I had jumped right out of bed and got straight to work so I was extra-prepared —messy hair, face shiny with nighttime skin products, and no bra.

      I start the call, feeling pretty confident. I got about five sentences out before the CEO awkwardly clears his throat and says, “hey, um…you know we can see you, right?”

      My first reflex was to dive to the side of my computer and under my desk, which is exactly what I did—letting out a half-squawk in the meantime. I fumbled for the mouse above my head to try and turn off the camera, and they were trying so hard not to laugh (but still did). Once it was off I got back up and calmly said, “oh, sorry, no I did not realize that!”

      I Immediately put a post-it over my camera and forgot to click “no video” again.

  2. ZSD*

    A doctor put me on oral antibiotics that it turned out I was allergic to. I threw up in a trash can at work, and my grand-boss drove me to the doctor. She offered to stay with me, but I insisted I would just take a cab home.
    This was only about two months into my tenure there.

    1. ZSD*

      I should say that this is the most embarrassing event that was somewhat out of my control. I’m sure I’ve put my foot in my mouth and been more embarrassed plenty of times.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      I discovered by accident that you cannot mix antidepressants and sinus medication. Or, I can’t, anyway. I started a new antidepressant, then a few weeks later when ragweed season kicked in I took my usual antihistamine + sinus without thinking about it. Next thing I knew I was unfocused, and giggly, and yep…high at work.

      Fortunately, there’s a pharmacy nearby, so I went over and asked the pharmacist what was going on – he was the one who told me about the sinus meds. So I giggled my way back to work, because EVERYTHING IS HILARIOUS, obviously, and told my manager I should probably go home for the day. She wasn’t nearly as amused as I was, but she did agree that we would probably all be better off if I wasn’t there. Lesson learned!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I love finding out medication side effects. I have one allergy medication that I take on a daily basis during the times of the year when my allergies are normally acting up, and then I have one that I take when I just need relief right then. I can only take the second one for about 2-3 days at the very most before I start having hallucinations about spiders. Which is so weird. Thankfully it’s never caused me any grief at work but my boyfriend didn’t appreciate us tearing the bedroom apart to find a large spider that wasn’t there at 1 in the morning (This was before I made the connection).

        1. Works in IT*

          You mean waking up in the middle of the night panicking about things on my pillow is actually normal and a possible medication side effect?

          1. Yepyep*

            It is 100% a possible medication side effect! I’m on an anti-anxiety medication that revs up the part of the brain that spots patterns. Even at a normal dosage, I can often “hear” faint music or voices in white noise, and at night, shadows resolve themselves into creepy stuff if I look at them too long.

            Shortly after I started taking it, I accidentally doubled my dose for about a week, and then I was getting full-on spiders-in-the-bed hallucinations at night! Fun times.

            1. Sylvan*

              What!! That happened to me while trying different medications and I assumed it was an anxiety disorder symptom. Woah.

            2. Red Sky*

              I can often “hear” faint music or voices in white noise Wait, this is a normal thing? I hear symphonies in white noise (especially our hvac system at night) and the one time I’ve mentioned it to someone other than my husband I just got a weird look, and decided to never speak of it again. I haven’t noticed a pattern of being on medication when it occurs tho.

              1. PugLife*

                Wait, this happens to me, has been for years, since I was a kid — never been on any kind of long-term medication (except for birth control pills, but hearing classical music from the far-off ether predates that by half a decade at least).

                1. Me Too*

                  Me, too! Mainly when I was a kid. I couldn’t understand how I could hear nonexistent music that I’d never heard before.

                2. Mary Connell*

                  All these comments about hearing music. Looked down the discussion and don’t see that anyone mentioned the work of Oliver Sacks. See, in particular, his book Musicophilia. Although I haven’t read it myself, he also wrote one called Hallucinations. Fascinating, fascinating author.

              2. The New Wanderer*

                Whoa, I always thought hearing other sounds (tones, usually a repeating pattern) was something specific to the white noise machine I use. It might still be, I guess I can’t prove it one way or another since I’m not on any meds other than long-term BC, but I’ve been prone to seeing/hearing patterns in things since forever.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  The repeating tones thing could be early warning signs of tinnitus …. read up, for me it’s the reason I can’t use white noise.

                2. Barefoot Librarian*

                  I run 3D printers at home all the time and I swear I hear music in the noise they make. I’m not on meds at all so I can’t blame it on medication induced auditory hallucinations. I think it’s that the printer sounds very musical lol.

              3. Erika Nagainis*

                Yup, it’s a form of auditory hallucination , because boy oh boy you need something else to fret about with an anxiety disorder ;) (it scared the poop out of me)

              4. Pipe Organ Guy*

                Very, very, very faint suggestions of music, but never anything that comes together as a whole. Maybe it’s my brain trying to find a pattern in something completely without pattern. And it happens, when it does, only in very, very quiet conditions with white noise of some sort in the background.

                1. Story Nurse*

                  I sleep with white noise on, and used to startle awake thinking I’d heard either the doorbell or my baby crying. Then I changed my white noise mix, and the new mix didn’t have whatever tone was pinging that part of my brain, so the hallucinations stopped. Eeriest damned thing.

                2. Richard Williams*

                  and they say the best way to get a soundworm of your head is to sing along, belt it out, no hesitation. like a car in snow, turn into the skid.

              5. 30 Years in the Biz*

                This happens to me to! Not on any medications, not even vitamins. Haven’t been diagnosed with anything although a psychologist thought I might have GAD (General Anxiety Disorder) but have been able to cope with it (until I lost my 11 yr job because a new manager didn’t think I was a team player). Am in a very good new job and feeling much better. I can be a bit of a worrier.

              6. Tiny Soprano*

                Wait, what? This happens to other people? I always assumed it was a weird quirk of my musician brain! How cool are brains!

            3. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

              Me, too. Especially at night, if I have one ear in the pillow, I can hear music or people talking in the fan noise. Hey, I’m not weird!

              1. Elizabeth West*

                All I can hear is my heartbeat and it drives me crazy. THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP….

                Of course preferable to the alternative. :P

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  I remember having a fever as a child (“frighteningly high” according to my mother) and being convinced that Caspar the Friendly Ghost’s *UN*friendly bad ghost bullies were marching around my house. It was years before I realized I’d been hearing my own heartbeat through the fever headache.

                2. a girl named Bob*

                  Check your blood pressure. It might be high. My mom found out hers was high because she complained about this.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  @a girl named Bob

                  It’s not; it’s actually pretty good for someone my age. But I’ll remember that, and ask my doctor about it–maybe it’s only at night because of bedtime anxiety?

              2. Nobody Nowhere*

                Me, too, with the people talking. I think one of the cats stepped on the TV remote downstairs.

              3. Mrs. H. Kenway*

                Me too! Music and/or voices, all the time–I also sleep with a fan on for white noise.

            4. Cabbage for a head*

              “Even at a normal dosage, I can often “hear” faint music or voices in white noise”

              OMG, I’m so glad to hear this from someone else! I used to hear old Dick Van Dyke episodes, with laugh track, from my fishtank in another room. I could never make out the voices or the words, but there was the pattern of music, dialogue, laugh that was unmistakable!

              My psychiatrist and I changed my meds but the DVD connection persisted. I wound up having to get rid of the tank to make it go away!

            5. AnnaBananna*

              Benedryl does this to me too. And it lasts all morning when I wake up – but sometimes you can’t help it and need to take it, so….plaid walls and overheard random conversations in the shower? Ihazit.

            6. Skeetpea*

              Thanks, that explains something for me. I’m used to my brain trying to find patterns, and lately it’s worked really hard on mapping songs or voices onto white noise. I already have a hearing loss and tinnitus, so there’s lots of muffled sound for my brain to work on.

              1. Richard Williams*

                Skeetpea: too bad TV’s never go to off the air static, back in my 1980’s stoner days listening to intentional music while looking at an untuned screen amounted to fun on a wednesday night in the small college town I was in.

            7. SeluciaMD*

              I always learn something when I visit AAM! Thank you for explaining a thing I’ve experienced for years that I always assumed was indicative of something was wrong with my brain LOL. (And seeing so many others that have experienced this too is so heartening!) Thanks Yepyep!

          2. Bunny Girl*

            Quite possibly yes! Mine happen the most when I’m just waking up or just falling asleep. I actually came across that little tid-bit of information through some random internet reading for something totally unrelated.

          3. a legit snack*

            Hypnagogic hallucinations! I have narcolepsy and will get them sometimes if i’m too stressed. It usually comes in the form of me jolting awake thinking there’s a spider and I’m completely convinced it’s real until my brain fully wakes up.

            1. FuzzFrogs*

              Woah hey thanks for this comment! Fellow narcoleptic, hadn’t realized this was another symptom. Just last night I woke up sweating because an invisible monster started tickling me in a dream. Took me a while to convince myself that there hadn’t been any real fingers digging into my side.

          4. MsChanandlerBong*

            I take a bunch of meds, and I do some weird stuff at night. Examples:
            * Told my husband there was an elephant in the bedroom.
            * Woke up screaming that there was a rat in the bed.
            * INSISTED that there was a mouse drawing designs on our ceiling with his paw. My husband kept telling me that there was no mouse, but I was adamant. This ended with my husband jumping on the bed and yelling, “THERE’S NO MOUSE! THERE’S NO MOUSE!” at 3:00 in the morning. I was so mad that he didn’t believe me that I was ready to go down to the all-night divorce emporium and break up with him.
            * Woke up, sat straight up in bed, and said “The little boy is looking at me again.” I went back to sleep immediately; my husband was up for hours.
            * Punched my husband and told him that’s what he gets for stealing my Pyrex bowls. (He has never stolen any Pyrex from me, so I don’t know where this came from.)

            When we had a ceiling fan, I also used to wake up screaming that the man was coming for me (the ceiling-fan blades looked like a man with his arms and legs spread, at least in my mind).

            1. Susan*

              I love the image of an all night divorce emporium. The word emporium just makes it all sound so bright and colorful.

            2. Roy G. Biv*

              I have just now learned I am not the only one. I might cry….

              My nighttime waking/dreaming/hallucinating moments have taken years off my partner’s life.

            3. JJ Bittenbinder*

              I kind of love your husband for his tenacity. I’m also trying to imagine the man married to Ms. Chanandler Bong.

            4. AnnaBananna*

              These just made me laugh sooo hard. Thank you. I needed that. (and I’m so sorry about all the meds!)

            5. CatMintCat*

              My mother would do this sort of thing. More than once my father woke up fully to find himself halfway across the house at 3am to realise he’d been sent to answer a phone that wasn’t actually ringing.

              1. CatMintCat*

                I’m sure there were times Dad would have loved the All Night Divorce Emporium, too.

            6. Richard Williams*

              oh MschanandlerBong: you may want to have your meds re-torqued, my dad in his dementia has stuff like that going on (recently it’s the idea that magnets are under the floorboards, in the house he built).

        2. Casual Librarian*

          I had to call in to work for a week because I misread my allergy medication. I thought it was 4 hour, and it was 24. It turns out that when you take 6 times the recommended dosage, you get so drowsy that you can’t physically open your eyes.

        3. Environmental Compliance*

          ……I feel a hella lot better now about the weird dreams and the things I swear I’ve heard after being put on Lexapro and still taking Nasacort.

        4. Steve*

          A colleague of mine had to be taken to the hospital because apparently a very rare side-effect of gout medication is paranoia. Thankfully there was nothing embarrassing about this realization, as we were all supportive and they figured it out pretty quickly.

      2. Antidepressant Mishap*

        OMG, that is hilarious! At least your legs still worked to walk over to the pharmacy! I couldn’t even call Poison Control myself because I couldn’t make it down the stairs to get the bottle.

      3. Yamikuronue*

        oh man, medication screw-ups are great. Just a few weeks ago I had to go to the ER because I was having bizarre muscle spasms — I’d intended to go into work after but they put me on a Benedryl IV so I called off. It was super embarassing for me because, well, I kind of looked like I was… enjoying myself, thanks to the spasms being in my abdomen and making my body jerk in awkward ways.

        Another time I ended up taking my evening pills in the morning by mistake. Could barely keep my eyes open all day, kept nodding off at my desk. The first time that happened I drove myself in, but I don’t drive myself in anymore, so the most recent time I just let the team know “hey, I’m going to be sleepy today, I’ll do my best but please double-check my work, thanks”

      4. LSP*

        I had something similar happen to me after starting a new migraine medication. I stopped sleeping and after about a week of taking the new meds, my boss sent me home because I couldn’t focus on anything and had a high-as-f*** grin on my face that wouldn’t go away. It took two days to get those meds out of my system, and I couldn’t work the whole time I was detoxing. It apparently a really rare response to this medication, but not unheard of.

        1. Amber T*

          Erm… does it happen to be aimovig? I was supposed to start taking that a while ago but I’m terrified of injections (especially the thought of doing it myself). Wanna know if I should look forward to this possible reaction too.

          1. Migraine Mary*

            Aimovig has an auto-injector with a tiny needle that causes temporary minor discomfort. Much less pain than a flu shot for about 15 seconds. The shot can go into a pinch of belly fat—not a vein or muscle injection. The injector pen is pre-dosed (no medication to measure) and is given once a month.

            Sounds like you haven’t given yourself shots before, but for others who might have: the injector is very similar to the Imitrex injector.

        2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          I tried Topamax years ago for migraines and the very first day it turned me into a zombie. I could do nothing expect sit at my desk and stare somewhat vacantly. I couldn’t form coherent, cohesive thought patterns or anything. It was terrifying. Luckily, my boss understands migraines (being a sufferer too) and when I mentioned I had tried a new med, she got it immediately and let me just rest until the effects wore off.

          1. CatMintCat*

            My daughter tried Topamax for her migraines a couple of years ago. It turned her into a super depressed zombie who couldn’t get off the lounge. We got rid of that med fast! She’s on something else now that works reasonably well for her.

            1. Grack*

              Topamax turned me so depressed, I also couldn’t get out of bed. It was so immediate and exaggerated, it was almost funny. I’d try to play on my phone and have to stop because Candy Crush was too difficult and made me want to stop living.

              Thankfully I had doctors who pulled me off it fast.

            2. Amber T*

              I was on topomax for a year and it was a slow slide into depression and anxiety. I knew my brain was fuzzy (there was a time I could not add a tip to a bill… could not remember what 7+8 was. Not a brain fart that made me think it was 14 or something, just could not remember how to add). But it took having a massive panic attack over literally nothing to realize, wow, I felt like crap. Talked to my doctor who said it was rare but not unheard of – glad other people share similar stories (and are off of it!).

            3. Crafts*

              She was lucky you noticed right away! I took topamax for a decade (Tate headache disorder) and for the first few years, it was amazing and really helped. And then I got really sick for a few months and everything spiraled out of control from there. I became so depressed that I was suicidal and couldn’t work. Nobody made the connection or mentioned that topamax could cause those symptoms, so I struggled for 4 years, until things got to bad that I couldn’t breathe or stand for more than 5 minutes, I was forgetting things like my address, bones kept breaking for no reason, etc etc. finally, after tests for everything from Lyme disease to hiv to cancer, they figured out it was the topamax. I am so glad they figured it out, but I always tell people to be wary… get informed about side effects and don’t let doctors tell you you’re fine when you know you aren’t.

          2. 1 year until retirement*

            I also took Topamax for migraines. I have never felt so stupid in my life. I could not remember words. Thoughts came and went in mid sentence. I had no clue. True zombie. Hated it. Went back to Dr and had her take me off it. Lost 10 pounds though.

          3. ginger ale for all*

            I tried it too and I freaking loved it. My side effects were having incredibly vivid colorful dreams that were so happy and I could remember them for days afterward. I was in the goal for so many Stanley Cup games! I could smell the popcorn from the crowd. My doctor only gave me a 28 day supply and by the time the script ran out, the problem that it was prescribed for solved itself so no more for me. I also lost weight. I was prescribed it for heavy periods/period migraines and twenty years later, they never came back as bad as they were.

          4. Carpathia*

            Topamax was a wild ride for me.

            I’m a really light sleeper and have problems falling asleep. The first night I took it, I passed out on my boyfriend’s couch and no one could wake me up. The last thing I remembered was sitting on the couch watching TV and then I partially woke up hours later with everyone gone, TV off, dark, and alone on the couch. I must’ve been sleeping or maybe straight up hallucinating but I saw a huge winged deer figure in the living room with me and I couldn’t wake myself up or move away from it. Horrifying.

      5. nonegiven*

        Trazodone gave me the dreams that you have as you’re falling asleep. I’d sit bolt upright a dozen times before falling asleep for the night. It was always the same scary dream, too. It got better but I’ve had the exact same ones after coming out of anesthesia.

        Also, at a higher dose it made things have lines around them when I moved my head or eyes. The doctor told me it slowed how long it takes your eyes to focus. I told someone else that happened to be on the same drug and she said, “oh thank you, I thought I was going crazy.”

        1. AnnaBananna*

          OMFG. I HATE Trazadone! I took it only one time and hate the darkest creepiest most sinnister (and highly vivid) dreams of death and insects. I never dream like that. It’s usually colorful adventure. *shudder*

          If you’re taking it as a sleep med (which I was) you can also ask for Mirtazapine which is super killer. It works in like 15 min, minimum hangover when you start and zero weird dreams. I also take Lexapro and pain meds and I haven’t had any odd side effects from the mix. Just an option. It’s also a tricyc antidep like Traz.

        2. Crafts*

          OMG. Trazadone was a godsend for me, as I’ve slowly turned into a full blown insomniac. I took it for years and was fine, and then I started feeling really bad and like I had to tell my body to breathe because I wasn’t doing it on my own. Scariest thing was when it got really bad (before I made the connection) was one night when I took it and just could not seem to breathe on my own without actively thinking “inhale… exhale”. I passed out but I was afraid I was just going to stop breathing during the night. Woke up the next morning and chucked it.

      6. Cookie Monster*

        Ack, I once took too much cold medicine at work by accident and was certainly high. I called my boss for something unrelated and right then realized why I was feeling so strange-so instead of saying “hey I was calling about the smith account” I blurted, right when he answered the phone “I took too much cold medicine and I am loopy!” and then burst into giggles. He came running to my office with water and stood there and made me drink it while laughing at me.

    3. Mbarr*

      Been there, done that. I accidentally poisoned myself drinking some super-stale water. I got to work then puked all over the floor a couple of hours later.

      The worst part was that I didn’t drive at the time. I had taken a work-run bus to our nuclear power site that was 30 minutes away from my apartment. I had to:
      A) assure people I wasn’t pregnant (they panic about that at nuclear sites)
      B) Get a ride back with my supervisor.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        I hate how often people in general connect vomiting to pregnancy. I blame popular movies.

        1. Mbarr*

          To be fair, pregnancy at a nuclear power plant is a serious thing. You have to fill out forms ASAP, reassigned, etc. so they can make sure you aren’t accidentally exposed to radiation.

          1. Clementine*

            That is interesting about pregnancy at a nuclear power plant. But even the most observant person is not going to know she is pregnant until a couple weeks in, and many people won’t know for 4-6 weeks. Do they have rules for people trying to get pregnant?

            1. Helena*

              It may vary by country or organization, but when I was a radiation worker they left it up to you. If you declared you were pregnant in writing, they would pull you. If you didn’t declare it, you could be in labor and there was nothing the authorities could do to pull you.

              Keep in mind, though, workers at a nuclear power plant are not likely to be exposed to excessive radiation, as it’s well-contained in the reactor unless something goes horribly wrong. X-ray techs and flight attendants probably have higher radiation exposure than nearly all nuclear power plant workers, but those professions aren’t always regulated as official “radiation workers”.

      2. PermAnon*

        I’ve also gotten nauseous and thrown up at work – I was mortified. I threw up in a trash can in a work room and then ran into the bathroom, where I threw up again, got noticed by another lady in the restroom, and of course got asked if I was pregnant (I was not).

        1. Bunny Girl*

          This past winter I got this really bad virus that and then a lingering cough for about 6 weeks after. And I would cough so hard that if I ate more than a tiny portion of food at a time, I would throw up. So I had been really watching what and how much I was eating, but one day I was feeling good so I had an actual breakfast and grabbed a coffee on the way to work. Nope. I had only been at work about 20 minutes before I started really coughing and saw breakfast again.

          1. pagooey*

            Bunny Girl, I’m on about week 4 of what must be the same virus, and am just commiserating. It is THE WORST.

            1. Bunny Girl*

              It is! I swear it took like two months to fully go away and the only thing you can really do is try to have a sense of humor about it. I hope you feel better soon!

        2. Natatat*

          I narrowly missed throwing up on transit after leaving work sick (threw up minutes after getting back to my apartment), and almost fainted walking to my apartment.

          For anyone other car-less people out there, if you’re getting bad stomach issues and/or nausea suddenly, don’t “want and see”, leave asap. With bussing home, you need a big window of time to get home “safely”.
          Learn from my near- miss!

          1. TrainerGirl*

            That is so true! About five years ago, I went to work on the Metro, and start feeling nauseous and “disturbed” in the gastro area. I felt very lucky to make it home. I’m glad that I left when I did. Turned out that I had West Nile virus, and had all sorts of wacky symptoms, 1 or 2 at a time.

        3. Susana*

          Why do people think it’s OK to ask you if you are pregnant? How rude and invasive.

          Also – if it’s too dangerous to be in a nuke plant pregnant, not sure I want to work there *not* pregnant!

          1. Venus*

            I don’t know if you’ll feel better about this, but if anyone is worried about radiation then they shouldn’t fly anywhere in a plane. But the airlines don’t encourage pregnant people to stop flying because they are exposed to radiation…

            I have a cousin who works at a nuclear power plant. When asked how he handles the radiation exposure, he explains that he has a long-distance relationship, and the effect from visiting his partner is worse than what he gets at work. It also helps that, unlike airplanes where radiation isn’t mentioned, his workplace is covered in detectors so they are very careful to ensure that everyone is safe.

          2. Kitrona*

            A fetus is much more vulnerable because everything is developing, so a small mishap early on can lead to much bigger problems later. Adults aren’t in the same situation.

      3. Give Me The Wine*

        Myself and two coworkers were in a meeting with a client, in the lobby of the client’s office. During the meeting, my allergies started to act up, and a sneezing fit came on. After about 3 sneezes, I decided I was going to get up and discreetly excuse myself to the restroom to get the sneezes out and let it pass. As I stood up to sneak away, I turned around and the toe of my shoe caught the leg of the chair that I was sitting in, and I began to stumble forward. I’m telling you, it felt like I was in slow motion catching myself from falling flat on my face (which I didn’t!) – but I took maybe 5 HUGE and exaggerated steps as I was trying to catch myself. I turned around and my coworkers and my client were all staring at me, and my boss started just laughing hysterically. It took months for the joking about it to die down around my office! I was mortified!

      4. Le Sigh*

        Do you mind if I ask what you mean by super-stale water? Had it just been sitting around and collected bacteria?

        1. Mbarr*

          Yeah – it was a bottle of water I drank from on a Friday, then left in my room for the weekend, and drank from again on Monday.

          … I have since improved my standards for drinking water.

          1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

            PSA: I once got thrush from drinking out of an old water bottle (in that case, probably a week old). Whatever you do, don’t google-image thrush throats. The water didn’t taste or smell funny, but MAN. Don’t be me. Don’t drink from old water bottles.

              1. De-Archivist*

                I have this (gentle) fight with my SO all the time. She thinks I’m hilarious because I won’t drink from her water bottle. I used to ask “how long has this water been in here?” and “when did you last wash it?” But now I know, and I don’t even try anymore.

                Now I feel somewhat vindicated-ish, since I’m sorry Mbarr got sick. :/

          2. Le Sigh*

            I don’t make a habit of this but am def. guilty of doing this kind of thing. Suddenly feel the urge to be way more careful.

    4. kittymommy*

      About 2 months into a new job I ended up in the ER one evening and I was by myself (I had driven there rather than be transported). The ER released me, doped up on all sorts of muscle relaxers and pain killers, and I went to text my friends who were going to take me, and my car, home. So I sent a message roughly saying “Hey the ER just discharged me. Super high on meds and probably shouldn’t drive (grinning emoj). You can come get me now – right now I’m wandering the parking lot.” to what I thought was my friend, but was instead my brand new boss. The head of the organization. I am still mortified. (She thought was hysterical after she called me in a panic and getting in her car, in her pajamas, to come get me).

        1. That One Person*

          Agreed – ready to help their employee and then see the humor in things after the fact rather than become belligerent.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Aww! Did she end up getting you or did you contact your friend when you realized your mistake?

        1. kittymommy*

          My friend came and got me. But I had to call my boss when I was home and laying down before she would go back to bed.

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        LOL. That’s awesome that she was actually getting in her car to come get you. Very sweet boss.

    5. Girl Alex PR*

      I had surgery and they gave me antibiotics I was allergic to as well. I was very, very sick but I dragged myself to my job because I was new and had already been out longer than anticipated. My agency’s director greeted me in the hallway and I threw up blood on her shoes. She drove me to the hospital and sat with me for HOURS while I got IVs and puked in a bedpan. Not the best impression, but her concern was so evident and it really made my respect for her grow. She has never mentioned it to me again.

      1. Liz*

        Wow, that is a great boss. I had a similar situation, although not as severe, and not embarrassing. I was sick, fever etc. and barely functioning although I didn’t see any issues. My boss at the time came in, felt my forehead and ordered me to go home. He said he knew something was up as I made several nonsensical errors in a letter I had typed for him.

        1. Girl Alex PR*

          She was a fantastic boss. She runs a southern state’s VA system now and I smile every time I think about the care she exhibited with me being passed on to veterans on a large scale.

          1. No Name Yet*

            As someone who works in a (different) VA, that’s great to hear that someone great is the head of a VA system!

      2. Cait*

        When I was in college, I passed out while standing at my boss’s desk while she was explaining something to me. Just one second standing there, the next second- WHAM! I hit the floor. This was in the middle of our college library. I was absolutely mortified and couldn’t figure out why it had happened until she asked what I had eaten that day (I hadn’t eaten anything all day and it was mid-afternoon). Turns out if you don’t sleep, don’t feed yourself, and don’t drink water, you’re probably going to pass out at some point. I just wanted to slink back home, but being a broke student, I had a multi-stage commute of driving + buses + walking ahead of me. My boss drove me home, stopped on the way to buy me a sandwich, gatorade, and some snacks, and sat with me until my roommate came home to make sure I didn’t have a concussion.
        After that, my boss started an informal snack box for students- take what you need, no questions asked. She never said it was because of me, but I’ve always been grateful for how much she cared about her students.
        But yes, I was known among other students as “the girl who passed out in the library” for a good while afterwards!

        1. Lkr209*

          I’ve never understood our American (Sorry if you’re not commenting from the US!) culture of college students working themselves to the point of pure unhealthiness. We expect way too much from our college students (Full schedule, working full time, (unpaid!) internships and it’s not helpful to anyone to have sick and exhausted students :( I’m so glad your boss was so kind to you and started that snack box. Some people were just meant to work with students.

    6. JanetM*

      I was given Theodur (a bronchodilator) once. I did not react well to it. I was running to the restroom all the time, and I got very confused by everything — someone would talk to me, and I’d know all the words but couldn’t understand the sentence.

      My boss kept trying to send me home, and I kept saying I couldn’t drive. Eventually, a friend came by to pick up his paycheck, and he drove me home and stayed with me until I started thinking clearly again.

      I was able to go to work the next day, but people looked at me strangely for quite a while.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        That’s some hardcore stuff. I took it for 20 years when I didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford the more modern/appropriate drugs for my chronic respiratory illness.

    7. Notasecurityguard*

      I will see you and raise you throwing up ON your boss. Turns out me and my dinner had a disagreement on whether or not it should stay in my stomach. Without warning. While I was talking to my boss.

      Either that or the time I had to tell a kid “stop jerking off in the library”

  3. Bubbeleh*

    Not a bodily function issue, but I accidentally set the time wrong on the microwave and my popcorn actually caught on fire.

    Destroyed the microwave of course, and because the microwave was in an atrium, the smell of burnt popcorn went EVERYWHERE in the building.

    And because it was burnt popcorn, the smell lingered for DAYS.

    1. Managed Chaos*

      If it makes you feel better, I had a co-worker start an actual fire with microwave popcorn – that was way worse than just the smell of burnt popcorn!

      1. Not the culprit*

        This happened at my workplace, too! Except we’re a school, so we had to evacuate 1000 kids and staff. And it was raining. And it was the middle of lunchtime.

        For the rest of the semester, whenever someone made popcorn, we were all like, “Too soon!”

        1. Atlantis*

          This happened in my college dorm when I was a freshman, except it wasn’t accidental. After the third arson attempt using popcorn in a microwave we lost all public microwaves in our building for the rest of the semester. The culprit wasn’t just setting microwave fires but also pulling the alarm randomly.

          I was glad to move out of that building by the end of the year.

          1. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Oh man, there was more than one incidence of styrofoam catching fire in our dorm microwaves, resulting in evacuating in the middle of the night.

        2. Le Sigh*

          This happened six times my first semester at college. Always in the middle of the night when someone got the munchies. 1,000 grumpy freshman and sophomores stuck outside in the cold rain, repeatedly, ready to draw and quarter the culprit. It got to the point where I started sleeping through the very loud smoke alarms.

        3. LondonBridges*

          When I was in high school, a substitute teacher put a bagel in the microwave and accidentally set it for 30 minutes instead of 30 seconds. We had the same evacuation, minus the rain luckily!

      2. Anon for this post*

        I had a former coworker who not only did this (causing full evacuation and firefighter response) but also had a separate incident that we’ll call a wardrobe malfunction. In that his, um, bits? did not remain contained by his shorts and they, um, fell out? He later became a beloved public figure so hey, there’s hope for everybody in this thread :)

      3. Ra94*

        This happened when I was in elementary school. A girl decided to microwave her small cookie for 5 minutes and it burst into flames, prompting a school evacuation and a staff member assigned to supervise the microwave.

        1. Busy*

          You’re elementary school had microwaves for the kids?

          My mom wouldn’t let my ADULT sister use the microwave for years after she did this in her new microwave lol.

          1. Ra94*

            Haha, madness, right? It was a tiny enough private school that they didn’t have a kitchen/cafeteria and everyone had to bring food from home, so I guess it was considered reasonable to provide some way of warming food up for a hot lunch.

        2. Collarbone High*

          I still laugh thinking about my friend’s dad getting his first microwave and guessing that five minutes was the correct time for softening a stale donut.

      4. Anonymous Engineer*

        Happened at my old job (before I was there) and the whole foam fire suppression system went off in the entire control building.

      5. New Job So Much Better*

        Just 10 minutes ago a coworker set ours on fire by putting a foil wrapped sandwich in….

      1. EH*

        I used to work at a place that straight-up banned microwave popcorn because people kept burning it.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          My husband’s job took it a step further and removed the microwave entirely. It’s pretty unfair that one careless person = no one being able to heat up leftovers from home, but evidently the facilities guy doesn’t play around.

        2. silverpie*

          Our building did that too, although we got an exemption for our floor to use an air popper.

    2. Kateagory5*

      Happened to a co-worker the same day we moved into a brand new building – had to call the fire dept and everything!

    3. mlem*

      My entire company had to ban microwave popcorn in every building because so many people burned it at the corporate office, the city started charging nuisance-call charges (because the fire department *has* to come out every time the smoke alarms are triggered).

      In one of the satellite offices, someone reportedly destroyed a microwave by trying to heat a Pop-Tart.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        I’ve no idea why we didn’t have microwaves at my old office (they were got rid of before I started, probably for similar reasons), but I do know that one woman set off the fire alarm 5 times making toast – before the toasters were also removed. I kept waiting for someone to set fire to the fridges, since they were pretty much the only things left in the kitchenette by this point…

    4. Madcap_Magician*

      My very large employer (~35,000 on this site) has the fire department here about once every three months because of a popcorn-in-microwave initiated fire.

    5. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Wow, and here I was thinking popcorn catching on fire was a rare thing. We got a new microwave a couple of months ago because our exec dir’s popcorn caught on fire (the microwave was so old it had a dial to set the time rather than buttons). One co-worker was out on maternity leave when this happened. When she was back in the office and we mentioned something about an event going well because nothing caught on fire, that woman jokingly asked, “Is this our new standard? Nothing caught on fire therefore everything went well?” And we assured her that yes, this was definitely our new standard.

    6. Amber T*

      The college RA in me is dying – can’t remember how many fire alarms there were in the dorms because of burnt popcorn!

      1. Yet another Sara*

        At least burnt popcorn was always better than the time someone in my dorm put a gel heating pad in one of the lounge microwaves for about 10x as long as it was supposed to be in there. It exploded and filled the entire building with the most foul smelling smoke ever.

        1. just a random teacher*

          We had someone set the dorm fire alarm off in the middle of the night cooking bacon. Since he was known to be of a non-pig-eating-if-you’re-fussy-about-it religion, we gave him so much crap about it while we were all waiting to be allowed back inside…

          At least we got fewer fire alarms than the “party dorms”. All of ours were cooing mishaps of various kinds, but the party dorms would also get drunk people deciding that fire alarms as a concept were hilarious and generating them in various ways.

          1. Bridget the Elephant*

            When I was a Halls Tutor (UK equivalent to RA), we once had a student staying during the summer who set the fire alarm off while cooking a meal in a frying pan. She didn’t leave the building so I had to go up to tell her to get out (and check if it was a real fire or just the smoke dector being sensitive). She proceeds to walk out of the kitchen *leaving the pan on the hob which was still turned on*. Another summer student set the fire alarm off by trying to cook toast in the microwave (there was a toaster right next to it).

            1. AnnieG*

              A few years ago there was a fire at the local fire station–the firefighters were cooking dinner, had to leave to respond to an alarm, and didn’t turn off the stove first.

    7. Lepidoptera*

      One of my old workplaces banned popcorn because one specific admin couldn’t tolerate it while pregnant. Every time someone made it, the smell set her off into vomiting fits. One boomer employee was super belligerent about his choice of lunch being policed because of her “life choices” (she was a very young, unmarried woman) and the whole thing spiraled downward from there.

    8. Normally a Lurker*

      One of my co-workers once put bread in the microwave trying to toast it.

      There was so much smoke. We thought it was on fire. It was not. But the kitchen did smell for days afterwards.

    9. ggg*

      Someone was using the microwave in my office to make popcorn while I was on the phone, and I was so focused on whatever I was talking about, that I did not notice that the popcorn was burning and bad-smelling smoke was emanating from the microwave, until the situation was quite bad and people were yelling.

      As an amusing footnote to the story, we put the microwave outside because it smelled so bad, and our resident equipment hoarder nearly stole it for a science experiment he was planning, because hey, free microwave.

      1. Hlyssande*

        I mean, I’ve seen someone cannibalize a microwave to make an arc welder, so I can’t really blame the equipment hoarder.. :P

    10. Wordnerd*

      Last fall, I turned on my electric tea kettle in the office kitchen and then promptly forgot about. Didn’t remember it when the emergency alarm went off. Didn’t remember it in the 15 minutes we waited outside the building. Didn’t remember it until the maintenance guys said, “The alarm was for too much humidity in this room.” There was *a lot* of steam but thankfully, no fire or broken glass. Just some tears on my end and some gentle ribbing from my coworkers.

      1. Nobody Nowhere*

        Every time my co-worker uses her electric kettle while the microwave is on, it blows the circuit for all the computers & printers in the office. It happens a lot.

        1. Story Nurse*

          I had to put up a Passive-Aggressive Workplace Kitchen Note ™ about not running anything on the same circuit as the microwave while the microwave was running. It was a bad enough problem that the note included directions to the switch box and the number of the circuit breaker to flip.

    11. Anansi*

      I had a coworker who started a fire by putting her metal coffee mug in the microwave. Apparently she had never learned that you should not put metal in!

      1. AnnaBananna*

        Actually, some metals CAN go in the micro. I learned this by accident (twice…don’t ask). Couldn’t tell you what the metal is, but it was a vape pen. So whatever they make to case a vape pe – definitely not aluminum. Steel?

        But maybe she previously used a different type of metal mug and it was fine at home. *shrug*

        1. Ananas Bananes*

          Sometimes it depends on the ratio of metal to food (and the wetter the food, the better your odds). But gold trimmed china is right!

          (Changing my username on all future posts to avoid confusion with yours.)

    12. Bubbeleh*

      I have to say that after reading all of these comments I feel very much better about myself! :)

      1. urban teacher*

        My high school student tried to microwave some crayons. They exploded the microwave. When I asked her why, she told me “I wanted to melt them.” The door came off.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          This is the craziest micro story Ive ever heard. I wonder why wax would cause that kind of impact?

          1. Lydabeth*

            Oh, I know the answer to this! I melted lots of crayons in our microwave last year making Star Wars shaped crayons for my kids’ craft fair. It turns out that metallic crayons contain actual metal, and will indeed catch fire inside your microwave.

    13. Fla-mingo*

      I work in a large building with multiple floors. One day, one of the floors was having a hotdog lunch for a fundraiser. Whatever they used to cook the hotdogs triggered the smoke alarms, resulting in the evacuation of the entire building (1000+ people). Luckily it was a nice day out, so we enjoyed the few minutes outside.

      No more hotdog fundraisers have been held since.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Hahah I just remembered that once we all had to evacuate because the fire alarms were going off. It turned out that there was a retirement breakfast being thrown, the catering company had brought in an omelette station and for some reason (they hadn’t even burned anything) it set off the alarm. We didn’t even get any omelettes. :(

      2. HSE*

        We had some social BBQ thing on the roof of our building once. Majority of the office was up there (few hunded people?) including health and safety folk. Somehow a BBQ exploded, I think one of the gas hoses was faulty. Anyway, being on the roof, there was no smoke detector. No one knew where the alarm box things were or how to activate them, so there was a good 5 minutes of yelling about evacuating before the alarms went off. I was at my desk and the first I heard of it was a panicked admin running in yelling THE BBQ IS ON FIRE and then running out again.
        In a separate incident, we had all our toasters confiscated because people kept setting off the alarm and the final straw was when there was a board of directors meeting going on and everyone had to evacuate.
        This was a big mining company whose actual slogan was about safety.

    14. Librarian of SHIELD*

      When I was in high school, we had two fire drills in one day. Turns out the first one was our regular monthly drill, the second was a teacher who was making popcorn in the teacher’s lounge and burnt is to badly it set off the smoke detectors.

    15. Cakezilla*

      When I worked in a daycare, staff used to raid the freezer for expired food (we weren’t allowed to serve it, but it was still perfectly fine).

      I microwaved a plate of chicken nuggets for too long one time, by the time I got to it smoke was coming out of the microwave, the plate had MELTED, and the whole building smelled like burnt nuggets.

      Every parent who came to pick their kids up asked why the building smelled so bad, and every time my coworkers told them it was all my fault. Which, fair enough, but I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life.

    16. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I burned popcorn once at an old job, it was so embarrassing!

      Then a few months later I burned a hot pocket and my boss got so freaked out by the smell that she called the fire department. -_-

      I swear, those are the only two times I have burned something in a microwave but of course now everyone there thinks I can’t use a microwave.

      1. Champaign Librarian*

        One of my former co-workers put eggs on to boil in a pot on the stove in our shared kitchen. Then she walked away and forgot about them for quite awhile. The pit boiled dry and the eggs exploded. I was out of the office that week but apparently it stunk to high heaven and there was exploded boiled egg *everywhere.* She retired soon after.

    17. Lizard*

      I did the same thing once! One of my coworkers brought me a Costco size bag of pre-popped popcorn after. I was so embarrassed at the time but now it’s just a fun work story.

    18. Srah*

      This happened at my husband’s work recently. He’s a fire warden, so he got a lot of the details.
      The executive director put his popcorn on for 10 minutes by accident and then left it. The microwave caught on fire, the building was evacuated and the firefighters came.

      All well and good… but then they couldn’t turn off the alarms, because the building warden and his two deputies were all on leave and no one knew what to do. Oh, and it was a Friday afternoon, around 4pm. They had to ring people at home, and I believe heads were set to roll over the leave situation.

  4. Managed Chaos*

    I’m sure I’ve had way worse than this, but off the top of my head, just yesterday, I fell while walking on stairs with a client.

    1. Classic Rando*

      At my last job I fell down the stairs twice in one month. The first time was at my home location, and though I laughed it off everyone was at least a little concerned and nice about it. But the second time I had just arrived at another location for a training, and had a fresh coffee in hand, which then exploded as I plummeted to the bottom of the stairwell. I didn’t know anyone there, and no one really cared that I’d just slid down a dozen or so steps, or even offered to help me clean it up. That location was only a ten minute walk from my apartment, but I never set foot in it again

      1. starsaphire*

        Wait, what? No one offered to help you?

        That’s… awful, and not a good indicator of an office’s culture. And I am so sorry that happened to you!

      2. Becky*

        No one offered to help? That’s terrible.
        I once completely biffed it on a cross-walk in the middle of Paris and some French gentleman stopped and made sure I was okay. And France doesn’t have a reputation for being particularly kind to tourists.

        1. Clementine*

          I know that’s the French reputation, but I can say from my experiences last month traveling in Paris with an older woman friend that we experienced numerous kindnesses.

          1. facepalm*

            Eh a car zoomed up and almost hit me in Paris once and people actually laughed. I’m sure it’s lovely, but it’s not high on my list of places I want to return to

            1. AnnaBananna*

              My mom was just there last month and said she was not impressed either. Marseille, on the other hand, she adored.

    2. Wheee!*

      Several years ago, I went to a major trade show. We were helping to set up so everything was under construction. I was walking down the hall, chatting with my grand boss and my coworker, when there was a random bit of scaffolding on the ground. I didn’t notice it at all, right up until I fell on my face as I tripped over it. The security team at the venue was absolutely insistent that we had to file a report about the whole thing. We waited for about five minutes to do it but no one showed so we just left.

      1. Mel*

        The insistence makes me think the security team might have been complaining about tripping hazards, and were excited to be able to have someone (who wasn’t injured) file a report.

          1. ChimericalOne*

            That’s my thought, too. We’ve got the same kind of insistence from some folks at my church. Someone falls? MUST FILE REPORT. DON’T LET THEM GET AWAY WITHOUT FILING.

    3. Bazinga*

      I posted below. I fell down a long flight of steps at work a couple weeks into a new job. Bled all over, broke my nose, and had 2 black eyes that NO amount of makeup would hide.

    4. Always Smile*

      I stepped out of my suv with 3 medium coffees on a tray, straight onto a patch of ice. I went straight down, hard. Someone came running out to help me, but the coffee couldn’t be saved. It was all over me, the ground and my suv!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I fell UP the stairs once while walking in front of a handsome coworker. *dead*

      Oh, and once at an old job, a vendor representative who was very good-looking (and had a sexy French accent!) came in to talk to our marketing guy. I spilled coffee all over the table in front of him. Luckily not ON him. The two of them just stared at me while I was cleaning it up, which seemed to take forever.

      If I ever meet any of my crushes, I’m doomed.

      1. Marthooh*

        Evidently you live in a sitcom!

        Prognosis: nothing really bad will ever happen to you, but you will likewise never, ever learn from your mistakes.

      2. Becky*

        Oh I’ve fallen up the stairs probably more times in my life than I have fallen down them.

      3. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Not in the office, but I once was out with friends and they wanted to approach this really cute guy but they were all shy. So I decided to be their wingwoman and marched my slightly-drunk butt over with my friends in tow. I approached the dude’s friend and said, “Hey, are you Brad?”
        “I am so sorry! You look just like my friend’s brother, I’ve been trying to figure out where I know you from all night!” (Lies.)
        “We work together.”
        “At [redacted], right?”

        Turns out the cute guy my friends wanted to talk to? Was literally the only guy I found attractive in our 1000+ person office. And it turns out he, his buddy, and I shared a lunch break and usually sat about 10 feet from each other. Which we continued to do for a YEAR AND A HALF after I embarrassed myself.

      4. Vax is my disaster bicon*

        Not to worry! On my mom and dad’s first date, she twisted her ankle off the side of her clog and fell in the gutter, pulling him down on top of her. They’re happily married almost thirty five years later, and the rate of ridiculous injuries no longer seems to go up when they’re together.

    6. Process Geek*

      This wasn’t me, but one of my dear friends fell off the perfectly flat sidewalk in front of her new job’s CEO. This destroyed her ankle enough that the CEO insisted someone get the corporate van and drive her to the ER. She spent her onboarding week (she worked remotely and was visiting the home office) in a wheelchair. Significant workman’s compensation claim in the first week!

    7. FameThrowa*

      That reminds me of one time I was riding the bus with a coworker and my boss, and we were sitting on those seats that face into the aisle. The bus hit a huge bump, and I bounced up and fell out of my seat into the aisle. Luckily, only my dignity was bruised.

    8. Blind as a Bat*

      I’m visually impaired and often fall, trip, find myself unable to visually recognise colleagues I interact with daily, have trouble at conference (VI people hate name tags – I refuse to wear one because if I can’t read yours then I won’t give you the advantage of reading mine)… there is a long list.

      Yet these pale in comparison to someone who recently mentioned that they were feeling around for something, and were surprised to discover that their colleague was quietly in an unexpected spot of the room. Which they discovered because they groped this person. So funny!

      1. ChimericalOne*

        Ha, my vision is pretty awful but I never thought of name tags as giving the other person the advantage… I guess I just assumed that everyone needed to stare, squint, and be within 2 feet of the other person to read the dang things. (And that’s assuming a short name printed in large, clear letters!)

  5. MeTwoToo*

    I finished a conversation with a patients family member and stood from behind my desk to shake his hand. My recently tailored above-the-knee pencil skirt popped at the hem and opened up from hem to waistband. I sat down quick and we both pretended nothing was happening as he left. Never used that seamstress again.

    I borrowed a tablecloth from the dietary dept, slipped out to a nearby shop for a quick costume change. Nobody in the store even blinked. Still felt awkward meeting with that family for a while though.

    1. Rita*

      How terrible for you! And also, that made me snort out loud.

      I tell my kids that if things never went wrong, we’d have no stories to tell each other…

    2. sequitur*

      I had a former teacher who told us about a time when she’d lost some weight and hadn’t realised the impact on her clothes; her skirt fell down spontaneously one day while she was teaching at the board.

      1. Totally anonymous for this*

        I was at work and walking across the hospital’s parking lot. It was summer and I was wearing a dress without stockings. The waistband on my panties decided it was far too constricted and broke away, falling to my ankles. I just stepped out of them and kept walking to the gift shop to buy new underwear for the rest of the day. Luckily it wasn’t a breezy afternoon.

      2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        This happened to me about one year post-partum. I don’t know if I’d lost weight or my body was just weird or what. I thought I’d die. Pulled the thing up, said “I guess my clothes aren’t fitting so hot,” and went back to teaching about the New Deal. No one said a word, but one student did mention it in an eval at the end of the year.

        1. It's always something*

          My first year of teaching I was wearing a new shirt. A student kept trying to interrupt me and I kept telling her not to interrupt. Finally she blurted, “Miss, your shirt has a hole!”

          The “hole” was the entire left seam of my shirt. I was wearing bright pink bra. I borrowed a cardigan to wear for the rest of the day and now always have a spare sweater in the closet.

    3. kadi*

      Ugh! Clothing breakdowns are the worst. When I was 8 months pregnant in the summertime, my boss called me into her office. I was in black maternity dress pants and when I sat my legs splayed out to the sides. She pointed out that the crotch seam on my pants had split and a few inches of my comfy, white cotton flowered underwear were showing through. I tied a sweater around my waist and scooted out to take the train home shortly after that….

      1. Cookie Monster*

        I had a pair of black pants split in eth crotch while I was firing someone-I excused myself from the room to “get a report” and went onto the bathroom and sewed them up and went back in to complete the process.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      I split my pants at work while wearing lime green undies with a leopard print waistband.
      They were very old and I knew they were getting a little sketchy but were stupid comfortable. I was talking with a coworker in HIS office and dropped my pen. I tend to squat down instead of bend over and when I did that the pants ripped all the way down the butt crack seam to the crotch area and halfway down one thigh.
      Never been so happy to not be wearing a thong in my life.

      1. Liz*

        I’m so sorry that happened to you, but i laughed a bit. that would be me wearing similar undies and having my pants split.

      2. Alli525*

        I once had pants split up the inner seam while I was crouching to grab something on a low shelf at a grocery store. Luckily I could just hold my bags in front of me and sort of waddle the quarter-mile home, but uggghhhhh.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          I’m a part-time cashier in a big box retail store (like Walmart or Target but not Walmart or Target). Our uniform consists of polo shirts and either black or khaki pants. Shirts are to be tucked into your waistband. I’d worn the same pair of khakis four to five times a week for a few months (with regular washings). One day, about halfway through my shift, the seat of my pants ripped. Not the crotch, the seat. Being resourceful and not wanting to go home and lose pay for the rest of my shift, I got a roll of duct tape from the service desk and taped over the tear. I also wore my shirt untucked in to further cover the wardrobe malfunction and hasty repair.

          Meanwhile, our store was preparing for a visit from headquarters. All of our managers were on edge and searching for anything out of place. While I was working at one of the self-scan areas, the store manager saw my untucked shirt and asked me why my shirt was untucked. I told him my pants had ripped and lifted up my shirt to show him the duct tape on my backside. He didn’t say anything more.

      3. FabJobTag*

        This thread (no pun intended) has some awesome solutions for anyone with a wardrobe malfunction at work!

    5. nonegiven*

      I saw Nancy Reagan tell that story on a talk show, once. She had a lunch meeting, in the White House, with a couple of women and when she stood up to say goodbye to them, her skirt fell off.

    6. DiscoTechie*

      I was out on a construction site inspecting erosion control measures and was in the middle of informing/yelling at the contractor to fix the deficiencies in the silt fence when I stepped over said silt fence and caught the crotch of my pants on the metal post. Split my pants from the ankle to the crotch. It’s hard to maintain an aura of authority when your pant leg is flapping in the breeze and your underwear may be showing. Found a well placed Wal-mart and found some pants that worked. (still have them 13 years later, lol)

    7. a*

      I was working at a law office for the summer when I was in college, and I was wearing a long, straight skirt. I tripped going up or down the stairs (can’t remember which) and split the seam all the way up. I ended up stapling it back together for the rest of the day and my long bus ride home.

    8. ButtSweat*

      I was on site meeting with a big teapot maker (their whole C-suite) and I got the time wrong and my coworkers were waiting for me, so I threw on a dress (thankfully hair and makeup were done, I was only wrong by 20 min) and ran. I normally wear shorts under my dresses just to make sure that if anything happens it’s a comical story rather than the world’s worst pornography spread, but in my haste I just ran commando. We were sitting most of the day and a few hours in, I went to the bathroom and found that my dress shows sweat, so I had sweat showing on my butt… the rest of the day I stood uncomfortably by the wall. No clue if anyone noticed, but it was pretty obvious, so if anyone watched me walk away, they surely saw.

    9. LPUK*

      I was having a meeting with two male suppliers and had just welcomed them into my tiny office, squeezing past them to get to my side of the desk. I was wearing stockings and a wrap skirt and as I squeezed past, one suspender strap caught on the chair arm and took my skirt with it, flashing them my knickers and naked thighs. Nobody said anything, but it was exceptionally difficult for all of us to follow that up with price negotiations we were there for!

    10. Reasons I don't teach anymore #32*

      Late to the party, but one of my teaching internships went terribly, in part because I was sick the entire time (and indeed for the first 5 months of that year) with just virus after nasty virus. Each one would take a month to get over and then I’d get reinfected. Doctors were no help.

      Anyway in my sick haze I coughed up a loogie on a student’s paper, and couldn’t think of what else to do so wiped it off with Kleenex and handed it to her. She of course did not want it, but I only had one copy for each group, so I had to print their group a new one on the classroom printer. Which is what I should have done in the first place. I just wasn’t thinking straight because I was working sick and had been studying or working sick for months.

      Always have extra copies, friends. And delay your bloody internship if you are seriously sick.

      1. Reasons I don't teach anymore #32*

        Accidentally posted this in the wrong place, was meant to be a top level reply, oops.

  6. BeeBoo*

    I was in my boss’s office, setting up a conference call with some board members. I apparently dialed the call-in number incorrectly and instead of calling the conference call number, I called a sex line. On speaker. From my Boss’s Office. With her office door wide open so everyone heard.

      1. Amber T*

        The 1-900 got you instead of the 1-800? Damn, I’m horrible at typing phone numbers, so this is a new fear of mine!

          1. BeeBoo*

            I don’t know what I typed! I was so embarrassed I quickly hung up and then made some awkward jokes to the entire office that was now staring at me…

        1. just a random teacher*

          Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, internet was not common in homes, and I was a teenager, there were plenty of 1-800 numbers with adult content too. They either referred you to a 900 number or took credit cards. One summer, my friends and I had an ongoing project of spelling out all of the rude 7 letter phrases we could think of and seeing if we found a new one as a result (we’d just dial the resulting combination to see who picked up). Bonus points were awarded if it had a different recorded message than the ones we’d found so far (most of them just went to the same 3 or 3 pre-recorded messages).

    1. Wednesday's Child*

      I had something similar happen….but I transposed numbers in a message for my boss and HE called the sex line based off what I gave him. Thankfully we had a great relationship and he found it hilarious.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      Someone did that to my old boss as a prank! They called and left a fake name and the phone number to a sex line. He dialed it and promptly hung up, thinking he had gotten the wrong number. So then he dialed it again, and had to hang up again. So he went to someone else in the office and had them call. I heard about this second-hand but I was laughing so hard at the retelling.

    3. RandomU...*

      Could be worse… The client I used to work with, large company, was explaining to me the internal process for customer notifications going out with a phone number on it. Basically it required 3 people + 2 VPs to get a proof of the mailer and call the number before it was allowed to go to print and sent to customers.

      I said something to the effect of “Wow, that’s a lot of double checking” and that’s when someone explained that at some point in the company’s history a mailer had gone out and someone typo’d the phone number from the customer service line to a sex line.

      I’ve since instituted a similar review for anything that is customer facing that includes a phone number. Not as extensive, but I’ll call it and ask 2-3 other random coworkers to call it as well. That is a lesson I don’t need to learn the hard way.

      1. Andie Elizabeth*

        I work for a company that manages vending machines and some of our units are machines or locations we’ve taken over/bought out from other companies selling the same products. An old customer service number on some of these machines, since the defunct company doesn’t use it anymore, was taken over by a sex line. We do our best to strip the equipment and replace it with all out contact info but stuff slips through the cracks and we will occasionally get customer complaints that they called our customer service number and got…a very different kind of customer service!

      2. nonegiven*

        There are stories on Reddit about the wrong number getting printed on ads and hundreds of calls going to a private residence. Hilarity ensues.

        1. Jane*

          The worst thing is when you know a company has misprinted your number onto their receipts, tell the caller this, offer them the correct number, and then they get *really* angry because how could you possibly know who they were trying to call if this is a wrong number, and therefore you must be from the correct company refusing to help them …???

          Wrong number at least once a day. Angry wrong number at least once a week.

          1. Cathie from Canada*

            We once had a phone number close to the booth number for a local radio station. About once a week we would answer the phone and someone would scream “The Beatles” or “Elvis”. It took us a while to figure out what was happening because we didn’t listen to that station.

          2. KnightErrant*

            I worked at a store for a summer and by coincidence my cell phone number was 1 off from the store number. That was not an easy one to explain to wrong-number callers, especially since they’d recognize my name/voice and insist that they had called the correct number.

          3. just a random teacher*

            I once had a phone number that was previously the number for a now out of business skate shop. They’d paid for a year or more’s worth of listing in the phone book and some online directories before closing. I got so many calls. The phone company refused to remove the listing from their online directory on the grounds that it had been paid for until some future date. I did not have any interest in selling skating equipment and a great deal of interest in sleeping in near Christmas, but apparently that did not matter since they’d paid for it before going out of business.

            1. Not A Morning Person*

              Because the phone company owned those numbers, they should have held them out of service for the year that the ads were paid for and not given out that number to any other customer! Assuming that’s the phone directory you are referring to…

        2. silverpie*

          This happened to my family. Cheap motel with a number one digit different from ours, printed up a batch of pencils and matchbooks with that digit substituted…

      3. Cookie Monster*

        Pretty sure that large company was the one I used to work for…we did that once.

      4. OhBehave*

        Our non-profit uses conference bags. One year, our graphic designer put HER phone number on the bag. The art went through numerous proofing steps and no one caught it until they arrived in office!

      5. RVA Cat*

        Several years ago, a major bank misprinted the Braille version of their customer service number as a sex line on their ATMs nationwide.

        (I can’t help but picture Daredevil with a big ole smile….)

      6. ChimericalOne*

        My sister used to work for Dick’s Sporting Goods. A customer once asked her for the website and, without thinking, she told them it was d i c k s [dot] com (a reasonable assumption!). These days, that actually DOES redirect you to their website, but back then, it went to an adult website… The real address is dickssportinggoods [dot] com. She never found out if they actually typed it into their web browser, but she was pretty embarrassed about it!

    4. Catalin*

      I did much the same once, but it was a 866 versus 800 or 888, something very innocent. Instead of the supplier I was trying to reach, I got a robot greeting me and asking if I was ready to —- my —-. I wasn’t even sure what that meant, but I knew it was dirty! I hung up fast.

          1. Pilcrow*

            Ye gads, I almost had to replace my brand new keyboard!

            Note to self, stop reading AAM over lunch. (Nah!)

    5. Sunflower*

      I run client events including global web events. We are in the US but recently got a a new provider based out of the UK so the main numbers that auto populate at the top of the dial-in directions are for the UK (they state this but people tend to just dial the first number they see)

      After the first web event, I got a call from a client that he was connected to an inappropriate phone service when he called. I brushed it off that he had dialed the wrong number. The next one, another 2 complaints.

      Turns out the UK toll number was connecting to a chatline if dialed from the US. We called it during a team meeting and couldn’t stop laughing. I recently left my job but they were still trying to figure out a solution to this besides DO NOT USE IF IN THE US (lol)

      1. A*

        This is why phone numbers should always be presented including international dialing codes. It’s really not hard and then it’s irrelevant where you’re calling from.

    6. MonteCristo85*

      Oh, now that you remind me, I did the same thing. I had the plant manager and all the division managers in a meeting (one of my first with this level of people) and I typed in the conference number that my boss had just given me. When the person answered, I jumped across the table and swatted the phone so hard it is a wonder I didn’t break it.

    7. Artemesia*

      We had a new fax machine and it worked slightly differently from the old one. I was in on a Saturday and needed to send my ss# and tax details to an organization I was giving a speech to so they could pay me. I punched in my phone ID which we used so the billing would be credited to me and then the address. But the new machine didn’t work that way. so it sent my personal financial information to the fax machine that had a phone number the same as my organizational phone ID. It was a porn shop. The person there called our secretary on Monday about this mystery fax. I got kidded about that endlessly and of course was lucky that someone hadn’t cut a new credit card in my name that very day.

      1. LadyLu*

        I used to deal with tech support at a large medical company whose phone number started 888. Well, about half the time, I’d dial 800 and out would come an offer to hook me up with hot, horny singles in my area. A lot of the time, my hands were full so I’d be dialing on speaker. Luckily, I’ve only worked in dysfunctional spaces so everyone thought it was hilarious!

      2. Anon from the Bronx*

        Never, ever send your SS# to anyone by fax! Too easy to reach a wrong number & you would never know. Secure, password-protected email is the way to go.

    8. Krabby*

      I was running orientation for a group of new hires. Our phone system was such that you had to dial 9 before dialing out of the office. That meant we’d had a lot of accidental emergency dials when people were calling long distance. I had just finished a 20 minute lecture about NEVER doing that, complete with a very heavy ribbing of one of our VPs who had done it three times in his first month working with us and cost us a small fortune. Lecture done, I went to dial our remote office’s number so that their sales rep could start his onboarding presentation and accidentally dialed 911 instead….

      We got fined. People still make fun of me.

    9. Bopper*

      Oh we had that happen too…except the produce mgr gave the wrong number to the cliente (like 800 instead of 888) and it was a sex line as well. Oops!

    10. Renee*

      LOL! This is hilarious, embarrassing but hilarious! I accidentally called a sex line when entering a friends number wrong, I let her know that the sex line number was the same as hers and off by one number. XD

  7. StressedButOkay*

    In my early 20s, I was a temp and had managed to snag a temp-to-hire position at the organization I would eventually end up working permanently at for 10 years. But I was a temp there for about 6 months before I got hired on by the company, so I got paid for those 6 months through the temp agency.

    One day I noticed that I had gotten a huge deposit – nearly double – and contacted the temp agency. It had been a mistake, they told me it would be too difficult to reverse it but that they’d just take out the difference over a few other paychecks. Except…

    The next pay period I had almost nothing in my in account – instead of pulling X amount over X number of months, they took all of it out of one. It was right before rent was due and I just burst into some of the worst tears I’ve ever had in the office. Right at my desk, out in the open. They were all very understanding – my manager offered to loan me the money – and ended up sending me home because I just couldn’t calm down.

    It was an understandable response but I still shudder at the Waterfall of Tears and Sobs that never seemed to stop.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is mortifying and I’m so sorry that it happened to you! That temp agency is shameful, it’s not hard at all to reverse a deposit, they were just lazy or inept AF. There’s always been a clawback feature allowed on overpayments for direct deposit or companies wouldn’t ever have signed up for DD. SMH

      1. StressedButOkay*

        Exactly – they took advantage of the fact that I didn’t know any better and thought at the time that, of course, my employer would do what was best for me, right? Ugh. I was lucky that I had a wonderful support system in my family and was okay but I always think about if I hadn’t had that support system!

        1. Artemesia*

          I had a colleague who got double paid and so send a check immediately to the organization and notified them what had happened and that she had sent this check. They then clawed back the deposit as well as cashing her check so that she now was bouncing checks all over town. It was one of the reasons I insisted on being paid by check and not direct deposit for years; if you have direct deposit they can just waltz into your account and take out money.

          1. Payroll Lady*

            Just to clarify, Payroll can only take out what the company deposited. In Stressed’s case, the WHOLE deposit would have had to be reversed. From the payroll perspective, I either take the NET overpayment from the employee’s next check and make the tax adjustments behind the scenes, or take a portion each check for the next X number of checks. They only time this becomes an issue is close to the end of year, as you can not cross over years and still only take the net and adjust that way.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              That’s an internal rule, it’s not true that you have to take all or leave it and adjust later. You can always reverse something and worse case, you should reverse it immediately and submit the right amount.

              Yes, it’s work but you never punish an employee for a payroll processing error or your company is really unethical and gross, end of story.

              1. Payroll Lady*

                Unfortunately, it is a banking rule. As an employer we can ONLY reverse our original entry. This is even stated on the forms the BANK issues to employers for direct deposit. It also takes 2 days for a direct deposit to go through the ACH process and be sent to the employee’s bank for processing. In order to NOT inconvenience the employee, I would make arranges to take the difference later than to pull the whole amount and have to issue a LIVE check for the employee. This is not UNETHICAL or gross, it’s the actual regulations. I have been doing payroll for over 30 years, and would never punish an employee for my mistake, never had, but I do give the above options when I can. As you can see you “solution” would be more of an issue than fixing it in the near future

                1. NA Payroll Manager*

                  Agreed, I have never seen a bank in the US or Canada allow you to enter a partial stop payment. The transaction details have to match the original payment exactly or the bank’s system doesn’t find the transaction to reverse. You can’t just stop/reverse a random amount out of someone’s account.

    2. JanetM*

      Not me, but my brother and his wife (who worked at the same company in different departments). One pay period, everyone was overpaid for some reason that I never quite got from him. Instead of clawing back the overpayments, the company took back the *entire deposit*, and then took a day or two to fix things.

      1. Busy*

        My company did this to me last year! Double paid me. Then tried to pull it back out. I called the bank who was confused who then called my employer who had to track down someone somewhere in the world to explain what was going on. They said they would put the one check back.

        The next day, they deposited BOTH checks back in. And then I had to track down said person myself. Their solution? Mail them a check with the over-payment. This is a 12,000 fortune 500 company. Why are they so dumb?

    3. AMT*

      I’m sorry, I’m not understanding — wasn’t the original large deposit still in the account? Or did they take that back, too?

      1. StressedButOkay*

        That part’s my fault – I offered to send them a check when they said they couldn’t reverse it and they said no (??), confirmed with me what they’d take out of each pay thereafter. Knowing I was going to be losing x amount of money over x paychecks, I SHOULD have put it in my checking/savings and not touched it.

        But…when you’re 22 and have credit card bills and suddenly the opportunity to pay some off pops up…part of the reason for the ugly sobbing, tbh. The temp agency messed up really badly, especially in the refusal to take back the money then and there, but I hadn’t made a wise decision after the fact.

        1. Peachkins*

          It’s understandable though. I assume you wouldn’t have touched the extra money if the temp agency had told you they would take it back in your next pay. I too would have thought it would be okay to use the extra money as needed given they supposedly set up a way to gradually repay it.

        2. AMT*

          I totally would have done that as a young adult! Like, hey, they said they were going to take it out of multiple paychecks…right?

    4. Writerboy*

      I’m with AMT. I can’t figure out why the money from the double deposit wasn’t still in your bank account.

      1. StressedButOkay*

        Being a broke as hell 22 year old who went “well, if you’re treating this like a loan…” and stupidly relied on the temp agency following through on taking out small amounts over a set period of time instead of ALL of it at once…

        So THAT part is on me.

  8. Jessen*

    Crying over a prank where someone filled my office with balloons. I’d started the pranks. It was honestly funny, and after one or two things I’d pulled I had no right to complain. But it was just…one of those days.

    1. Jessen*

      I know some of the stuff on pranks here is controversial, but I’d definitely started it in this case! I honestly didn’t even understand why I was crying, but it just wouldn’t stop.

        1. sequitur*

          One time I was severely depressed and barely hanging on at work, and I cried because I passed a sign to a local business area while driving home that said “Innovation Park”.

        2. Jessen*

          Yup! I was pretty young (probably still am for this crowd), so I was embarrassed and furious at myself for not being able to keep it together. And for once thankful that I was the only woman in the department so none of my colleagues were going to come into the women’s room!

        3. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Once my friend cried because her boyfriend gave her a piece of pie a la mode (which she had requested) and the scoop of ice cream wasn’t round. Like, he’d just used a regular spoon instead of an ice cream scoop. I still tease her about that.

      1. That One Person*

        If it was one of those days as you said before, then understandable that sometimes the weirdest thing becomes what “breaks the camel’s back” even if on a normal day it wouldn’t be a thing. It becomes yet another thing to “deal” with on top of whatever’s been going wrong/obtusely.

        1. Jessen*

          Honestly “one of those years” might have been a better description! But the same idea – I was dealing with a build of anxiety/depression/trauma and right at that moment I really needed to sit down and relax and then there were things in my way…

        2. MayLou*

          I went to my friend’s house for lunch and was there when I got a phone call saying I hadn’t got a job. I was fairly okay about it at the time. A couple of hours later I somehow managed to pour a glass of water over my head which was hilariously funny until suddenly I was sobbing. Our emotions are weird!

          1. Nessun*

            I had some serious abandonment/trust issues come to light with a therapist only after I went to talk to her to figure out why I’d completely gone into shock watching Avengers: Infinity War. Honestly, that movie kinda broke people anyway, but my reaction was vastly worse than I’d ever thought it would be. (Kinda traumatized to see the sequel now, truth be told, even though I know now where everything was coming from!)

          2. Karo*

            My sister had just found out she wasn’t going to be able to go to her dream school because they weren’t offering her a large enough scholarship. She was fine until our brother flicked her rubber ducky off the table later that evening, at which point she had a complete meltdown. Emotions are incredibly weird.

    2. Hlyssande*

      That reminds me of the ‘Sneaky Hate Spiral’ piece at Hyperbole and a Half (link in my name) but with crying instead of rage. The thing that breaks the camel’s back isn’t necessarily logical, it just happens to be YET ANOTHER THING in the string of THINGS that sucked.

  9. Vermonter*

    I got my period suddenly, magnificently, on the train to work. (TMI? There was a lot of blood.) Absolutely ruined my trousers, but my workplace was too strict to let me go home and change, or even run to the H&M one stop over and buy a new pair. If we missed any time at all that particular week, we lost the whole ($500) bonus. So I went to work, covered in blood.

    My coworker was kind enough to lend me her “it’s freezing in here with the A/C on” sweater for the day, but that involved me somehow sidling up to her third floor classroom without letting anyone see my backside as best I could.

    That was several years ago. Nowadays I tell my students about it when we teach the puberty unit, like “yeah, this can happen to anyone who menstruates.”

    1. twig*

      I just want to say that this is so good of you to share with students! Periods felt so embarassing when I was young — and like they were supposed to be invisible and unmentioned.

      1. broke into the military by accident*

        Totally agree, it would’ve been really helpful to hear this firsthand from an adult as a teen!

        1. hiptobesquared*

          My 7th grade disaster was the story I told one of my students to help her stop crying when she wet her pants in class. My secondhand embarrassment for her was so strong but I was commited to making sure all the kids knew that bodies are weird and it happens to everyone. She came back like nothing happened, her friends hugged her, and we never spoke of it again.

      2. Artemesia*

        No kidding. I still remember being in agony with cramps in 8th grade and those awful pads with belts from those days that didn’t really contain everything at the edges and having to live through 4 class periods before lunch break and I could take care of myself. The pain, and the misery and too embarrassed to ever ask for a hall pass. I think kids today have a much lower dose of that sort of shame. But I was just humiliated by anything this personal being known.

      1. Not the culprit*

        I thought the sane thing, until it became clear that the workplace was a school – still sucks, but makes more sense. I’m a teacher and I would never expect to be given coverage to deal with something like this. (Seriously. Last week I was running to the bathroom with diarrhea in between classes for the last 3 hours of the day. No coverage available. This should not be the case, but unfortunately I’d say this isn’t unheard of.)

        1. Vermonter*

          It was a school. (I don’t work there any more.) It was pretty terrible, and since I was just a TA and it was during summer school, I would’ve hoped for a little more flexibility. But they’d already rescinded another coworker’s bonus because of a medical emergency(!) and I wasn’t going to risk the money over an embarrassment.

          1. patricia*

            Man, what I’d want to do is teach with proudly stained pants and then tell anyone who asked, “I lose my bonus if I leave to change.” Let the horrible be on them, because they are horrible.

            In reality I would never have the guts to do it. But I’d want to.

    2. SignalLost*

      Been there, done that. Wound up hoping my messenger bag would cover the stain, left the building and went three blocks up the street to the Rack. At my height it’s hard to find things that fit and I did not have the budget for anything new, so I wound up buying one of those knit maxi dresses that just fit snugly over the bust, no sleeves; I could make that work with the shirt I’d been wearing. It was a very serious change of outfit, and that was the day I learned no one at all notices what you wear – I had a meeting without two coworkers, in an org of six total, who thought maybe I’d changed clothes? I had been wearing all black before, either leggings or a short skirt with tights, and now I was wearing a rust-colored maxi dress, and they still weren’t sure.

    3. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      I once used my lunch hour to buy and take a pair of pants to a friend in a similar position. Was happy to help. Hope that someone would do the same for me if/when it happened to me.
      Your company sucks.

    4. michelenyc*

      This sort of happened to me. I had started my period that morning and had no idea that it was going to be scary heavy. I used to walk to my office. I happened to be wearing a dress that day. I was sitting at my desk after arriving about 9 and about 15 minutes felt like something was weird. I stood-up to go to the restroom and literally blood was streaming down my legs. It was horrifying. Thankfully no one seemed to notice or ignored me!

    5. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

      I got my period unexpectedly at work. I didn’t stain through my clothes, but I was caught short and had no supplies, so I went to the bathroom and stuffed my underpants with toilet paper (as one does) to ebb the flow until I could run out on my break and buy stuff.

      Unfortunately, I was wearing a skirt that day, along with a not particularly snug pair of underpants… you may be able to guess where this story is going.

      After I sat back down at my desk, I noticed to my great horror that there was a wad of bloody toilet paper lying in the middle of the floor. Yup, it fell out on my way back. And then it was just sitting there. In the middle of the busy open plan office.

      It disappeared before I could come up with a plan to retrieve it. To this day, I have no idea where it wound up. I still cringe hard when I think about it.

      1. Liz*

        I’ve had to do that as well, and I’d be feeling the same way. Even though no one would KNOW where it came from, i would and would be mortified thinking everyone knew it was mine.

        1. Long Time Reader, First Time Poster*

          I was *convinced* someone must have seen it fall and knew exactly from where it came. I just wanted to die.

        1. facepalm*

          Wow. Can’t believe I’m almost (mumblemumble) years old and this never occurred to me. Thank you!

      2. AnnaBananna*

        Oh sweetie. I had the same thing happen to me in high school. I wasn’t embarassed though, I was TERRIFIED to be connected to said wad. I did what I could to be discreet but I’m pretty sure my friends knew what was up and they were just too nice to say anything. I still cringe thinking about that day.

    6. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

      That happened to me once. The worst part — I didn’t quite notice right away! I knew it would be starting soon, and my periods usually started very lightly, so I was wearing a panty liner and thought that would catch it if it did start early. So when I felt the signs of it starting, I thought it would be okay even though I could tell it was heavier than usual.
      Thankfully, it was the end of the day and almost everyone had already gone home. I work on a university campus, and there was one lone student still hanging out in the lobby. When I walked through the lobby on my way to the restroom, he glanced casually at me and then did a double take. He half got out of his seat like he was going to rush over and make sure I was okay, then he hesitated (probably when he realized I was fine) and sat back down.
      When I got to the restroom, there was blood all over the front of my pants. How did it end up on the front and not the back? No idea. It was a LOT of blood, though. Like…do you know that gif from The Shining of the wave of blood rushing out of the elevator? Yeah, like that.
      I was able to drape my jacket casually over my arm and hold it over the stain on my way out. I went home completely mortified, but also thankful that almost nobody saw it.
      That poor student. I think he thought for a second that I was dying or something.

      1. only acting normal*

        Oh, the front of the pants. :-{
        It’s the pantyliner: sometimes they just kinda *funnel* it rather than letting it go with gravity.

        1. Copier Company Admin Girl*

          This! I understand so hard. Thought I was the only one who experienced The Unfortunate Funnel.

      2. Another Liz*

        I once had my period start unexpectedly during high school graduation. I wasn’t a senior that year, but I was in band AND chorus, and because our school colors were red and white, they had us all wear white. I had bought a white skirt specially for this day. I realized I was leaking during Pomp and Circumstance, but then I had to get up and walk over to the risers to sing the national anthem with the chorus, then walk back to the band to play some more tunes. I was convinced that literally the whole school could see the stain, and who knows. I had a friend in the clarinet section who lived a block away from school go to her house and get me a cardigan to wrap around my waist, and sat in my band chair for what felt like FOREVER after the ceremony was over, with a friend or two keeping me company; then I had to awkwardly walk back to the building with the cardigan around my waist in front of my crush, who asked me why I needed a sweater on a 90 degree day.

      3. Rectilinear Propagation*

        I used to regularly have issues with the blood going up the front (especially if I sneezed). I was so glad when Always put out those plus size pads because they were long enough to protect my front and was so mad when they discontinued them.

        My theory at the time was that I was bleeding faster than it could absorb and thus going everywhere. That and/or how I was sitting at the time.

    7. Zombeyonce*

      I would so want to just walk around like nothing was wrong with stain on full display and if anyone said anything, I’d tell them I wasn’t allowed to do anything to change without losing out on a huge amount of money. Make the company look bad and consider changing their policy rather than you being the one embarrassed.

    8. President Porpoise*

      Not me, but a friend. She started a very heavy period unexpectedly and bled all over her office chair. She covered it up with a cardigan, and came to see me at the end of the day in a panic about what to do with the chair. Being young and easily embarrassed, we opted for the not ideal option of switching chairs with one in an abandoned cube. The stained chair eventually disappeared. I feel bad for whoever found it.

      1. Hlyssande*

        When we moved to our current office, I found that the standard chairs all have light brown seats. And promptly bought myself a black towel for the office just in case because I get horrible periods.

    9. Girl Alex PR*

      I just had this happen recently! I was already at work when BOOM. It was not pretty and I had nothing to cover up the stain on my near mile walk to my car to go home and change.

    10. Dare*

      The only time I had to actually go home and change my pants from my period, it was 5 AM and no one was there. I now realize how fortunate that was…

    11. A.*

      I started my period during life guard training. We were all standing on the deck when it happened. I didn’t realize at first what happened because we were dripping from the pool. I quickly tried to run to the bathroom but one of the lifeguard instructors called out after me inquiring if I was ok because of the blood.
      It was awful. They moved us to the other side of the pool in order to disinfect the area where we were previously standing. It was day 1 of a 3 day training. I did not want to go back but I had to if I wanted to work that summer.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I did theater and dance in school. A friend of mine got her period ON STAGE while wearing a WHITE leotard. I felt so awful for her.

    12. Nyltiak*

      I was having some issues with my period (what, bleeding like Niagara falls with satsuma-sized clots for two months is abnormal?). I had been controlling it OK with a combination of pads and menstrual cups and dark pants, but one day, I stood up at my desk to go to class (grad student) and there was a *woosh* flood of blood. Soaked my (pink galaxy print) leggings down my inner thighs to my knees and spilled onto the floor of my office. That I shared with 2 dudes. Luckily no one was in there at the time, and I ended up using my *this office is often freezing* lap blanket to mop up the blood PUDDLE. Luckily the red flood mostly blended into my leggings. I stopped at the single person bathroom to change all my products, and walked the 10 minutes to my car praying no one would notice the stains. Then my professor (male, and also my advisor) gave me shit for leaving early/skipping class and I told him that I had had a personal emergency and had to leave and he still seemed skeptical of my absence. UGH. Damned uteruses.

      1. atgo*

        Ohhh this. I love the menstrual cup, but had 1 time when I was first getting used to it that it just dumped out while I was using it. Total disaster (not at work).

        Hope you’re doing better now – 2 months sounds awful and scary.

    13. AmyRo*

      I used to live in East Africa, in a country where it was common for women to wear colorful wrap around their lower half (like a long skirt). In rural areas, you needed to cover your legs, so I got in the habit of keeping wrappers in my purse, desk, etc. When I bled through my dress at work (badly – thanks paraguard!) I just tied it around my waist and claimed I’d spilled my lunch.

    14. Oh My Glob*

      This seems like the thread to share my period-at-work mishap. Bonus for misdirected text embarrassment!

      I was dealing with (what I now know was) undiagnosed endometriosis symptoms, one of which is this charming thing called “flooding”, which… well, the Shining elevator scene has already been referenced. Heavy bleeding, often all at once. Think the volume of liquid as if you’d wet your pants, but red. Thankfully it was contained somewhat and I made it to the bathroom. But my outfit was unwearable. I had my phone on me, so I texted my wife something like, “Flooding accident. :( :( Bring me new undies, leggings, skirt, jacket ASAP. PLEASE!!!” I’m nearly naked in the only employee bathroom, mopping literal puddles off the floor, and she’s not responding. Maybe I have no signal in here? I check my phone to see if the text sent, and how long it’s actually been. But it’s not even there! WTF??

      Then, with a sickening lurch in my stomach, I realize that I hadn’t sent that text to my wife. I’d sent it to the last person I’d texted… which had been my coworker on my way to work that morning. So now my 50-year-old single male coworker knows all my business. At least if he knows what flooding refers to… and if he doesn’t, he probably thinks I peed my pants.

      (Later, all clean and changed, I mumble something about the wrong text at him, and bless him! he said, “Oh, I figured it wasn’t for me, so I deleted it without reading it.”)

      1. Dan*

        That is such a graceful way for him to handle that situation! It allows for you both to move on without any awkwardness. Vs if he says something like “it’s no big deal” I’d feel much more embarrassed and more of a need to explain the situation. I’m going to remember that as something to use.

        Or maybe he actually didn’t read it!

      2. Tiny Soprano*

        It definitely does seem like the period thread!

        Mine wasn’t a flood, but rather cramp-related. Naproxen-style anti-inflammatories don’t work very well with my voice, so if I have an opera rehearsal I have three choices – a) call in sick, b) take the meds, feel kind of better, but drastically reduce my ability to sing, or c) ride out the cramps but be able to sing. There was one sitzprobe (final music rehearsal) that I absolutely couldn’t skip, but fortunately the conductor was a friend so I warned him that I was taking option c and it’d be weird. I spend the whole sitz in the foetal position on a chair with a large cup of tea and a heat pack and got some really weird looks, but hey, I could still sing (between groans.) It sucked, but if it’d been a bigger company I wouldn’t have got away with it.

    15. Howtu Comment*

      Wow. And you remained so calm. I would’ve made it a point to sit in EVERY managers chair and on the side if their desks, and stand in front of them and back up a little.

  10. broke into the military by accident*

    I was 22 and 3 months into a new job. (Not my first big adult job, but almost.) I’m trying to keep it vague, but it was day 1 of a hugely important event in a public/government building and while trying to make it to my company’s room with some materials, I accidentally got stranded on a floor that was supposed to be locked down and classified and only accessible to certain people in the freakin US military. I have no idea how I got there but once I did, all the doors were locked and I couldn’t get out. It caused a huge security panic, basically everyone in the building at that time found out about it, and everyone was mad at me, but in hindsight my coworkers and I think it’s hilarious.

    1. Lore*

      I got locked in the stairwell at my very first job interview ever. I was in college and it was for summer temp work so the stakes were thankfully pretty low, but still mortifying. The place was on the second floor and I just sort of assumed it was rude to take the elevator to the second floor. Then I got stuck in the un-air-conditioned stairwell, sweating in my interview clothes (the fire exit was not to the lobby but to outside and alarmed), until security noticed me. I don’t think it was more than about 10 minutes but very stressful!

    2. Magenta*

      I got locked in a bank by myself.

      I was an investment adviser at a bank, working in an office upstairs one Saturday. That day they all left within about 5 minutes of the branch closing and forgot to let me know. I came out of the office about 10 minutes after closing, everything was dark and the alarm started blaring. The alarm company called and shut off the noise when I explained who I was, but the door was locked and they couldn’t reach any of the key holders and it would be 3 hours before they could get there.

      I ended up sat on one of the sofas with a book waiting to be let out and ignoring all the people knocking on the door of a dark bank and asking if I could just pay a cheque in for them.

      Luckily after about an hour the courier arrived to pick up that day’s cheques and I left when he did.

      It never seemed fair that I got the teasing for that one and not the people who left me locked in.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        I had been working for a bank for 7 years when someone handed me what we thought was a remote door opener…. turns out it was the silent alarm button I never was told about. Cops swarmed the place.

        1. it_guy*

          I worked at an office that had a foot powered silent alarm switch at the receptionists desk. Whenever a new receptionist would start they would forget to tell them about it, until they kicked it accidentally. About once every 4 months, the police would show up for no reason.

    3. Elle*

      As a summer intern at a law firm, I got locked in the toilets at the court, and had to call reception at the firm, and ask them to ring the court and ask them to send someone to let me out. This was post mobile phones, but pre widespread mobile internet. A baffled police officer came and sorted the door out.

    4. it's me*

      The power went out in our building (and the surrounding area) JUST as I entered the elevator, preparing to leave for the day. I was stuck between the second and third floors for almost two hours by myself. I kept worrying no one could hear me, and would forget I was there. (This was before that story about the maid in NYC who was stuck in an elevator all weekend, but.) I couldn’t make calls (except through the phone in the wall—did you know that line doesn’t go to authorities, but to… the elevator company? I didn’t), or get on the internet on my phone and also didn’t want to run down my battery, I was hungry, and I needed to pee. I kind of threw some tantrums when I was able to speak to someone and got an indication anyone could hear me. Finally, the firemen arrived and helped me in an undignified jump three or so feet down to the floor just below. The property management company sent me a small cake. Then a week later, I was (coincidentally) laid off!

      1. Becky*

        I once got stuck in an elevator and had to use that phone, but in my case it was campus security for the university I was at that answered it.

    5. MerelyMe*

      I got stuck in a locked stairwell at one of the local teaching hospitals, because I was hand-delivering confidential committee material to a faculty member and couldn’t get out of the building the way I came in due to perpetual construction projects. Fortunately that stairwell had a back door to a records room, and the door had a doorbell. It took a while for anybody to answer it, because apparently nobody ever used that doorbell and the people in the records room didn’t know there was one. But eventually somebody answered the door and rescued me.

    6. JKP*

      Once I was supporting a client at their birth. When they moved her from the birth suite to post-partum, the husband went to get stuff from the car, the nurse pushed the new mom in the wheelchair, and I followed behind with the new baby. But the nurse took a path that apparently led towards the outer doors of the hospital, so the lojack on the baby slammed the door in front of me to prevent kidnapping, so I couldn’t follow them. Never been in that hospital before, so I was wandering the halls with this woman’s newborn looking for someone to help me find my way back to them and every time I took a turn that might lead me towards the exit of the hospital, the door would slam and lock in front of me.

      1. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

        Oh man, not good. Amazed the nurse transporting the mom didn’t notice!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        It took me a minute to figure out “lojack on the baby.” That would make a great band name.

    7. Checkert*

      I recently started a new project at a govt agency. It was my third day on client site but had visited several times before so I was feeling confident in how the building is laid out. I entered the stairwell near the elevators and…..none of the doors had handles to get out, including the one I had juts entered. It’s an emergency/utility stairwell and there were no phones, no way of notifying anyone you exist other than banging on a door until someone saves you. Luckily, just the week before I had visited a local brewery that had given me a cool bottle opener key chain, one skinny enough to fit between the door and door jam yet strong enough to pry the big metal door open. Once again, beer saved the day!

    8. Montresaur*

      this absolutely cracked me up; you had me at your username. I can only imagine how freaky it must have been at the time.

      1. broke into the military by accident*

        hahaha thanks! i cried a lot at the time but my ANGELIC more senior coworker completely covered my ass so it wasn’t a big deal after the first few minutes.

    9. alannaofdoom*

      Similar thing happened at a former employer – I worked for a retail company and we were had just started a new initiative where we essentially sublet a portion of one store to one of our vendors. There was a separate cash register for the sublet area, and the employees staffing that area was on the vendor’s payroll, not ours. First day of the sublet, the vendor’s employee was in the bathroom when the store manager closed up, and the store manager wasn’t used to having another staff member to keep track of. So of course the vendor’s employee got locked in, and because it was the first day of an entirely disorganized initiative, she didn’t have contact info for anyone who could let her out, and didn’t know where in the store to look for emergency contact info. She called 911 and the fire department broke through the front door & security gate to let her out.

    10. Wrong-Way Corrigan*

      Several years ago, I had a part-time job that was fully work-from-home but required quarterly all-hands meetings at the main office, in the evenings, when the building was mostly locked down. Halfway through the second one of these meetings — the second time I’d been in the office at all — I ducked out of the conference room to find a restroom. I have a terrible sense of direction, and there were no signs posted for visitors, so I started wandering around… until I realized I’d left the office suite and was locked out. At that point, need for a restroom had overcome my sense of professional responsibility, so I went downstairs to the lobby (nothing there) and then outside, locking myself further and further out from the office all the while. (To this day, I don’t know why I went outside — I think I thought I’d seen a restroom in the parking garage? Definitely wasn’t firing on all cylinders that night.) Outside, in desperation, I realized it was probably time to just leave. Thankfully, a restaurant at the strip mall nearby was still open and had a public restroom.

      This had no professional repercussions at all — I don’t think anyone in that meeting recognized me or even knew I was gone — but I still feel like the stupidest person in the world. Who thinks there might be a restroom in a parking garage?

  11. Squeeble*

    Several years ago I got my period while sitting at my desk, and I mean, it was a completely unexpected FLOOD. Went all the way through to my desk chair before I fully realized what was happening.

    By some miracle I happened to be wearing a dress made out of a really lightweight synthetic material that was kind of a pink-and-black splotchy pattern all over, so you couldn’t totally tell it was soaked through with blood unless you were really looking. I hustled over to the restroom, prayed that no one else would come in, and rinsed out the back of my dress in the sink after cleaning myself up. Had to toss my underthings in the trash. Then I grabbed some paper towels and went back to casually, quietly clean up my (thankfully all-black) chair.

    It was the end of the day and the middle of summer, so by the time I got to the bus stop my dress was nearly dry. Oh, lord. It was terrifying and it could have been SO much worse–what if I’d been wearing white jeans??

    1. Lyn*

      this happened to me too – but the chair wasn’t black, and I was the receptionist. Luckily my boss sat right behind me and while I was in the restroom, swapped my chair with another one and left my chair in the breakroom and called facilities to come clean it. I loved her – she was the best!

    2. Rainy*

      I have such a horror of light-coloured trousers from when I was younger and sometimes when my period started it would, instead of being a few drips and some abdominal twinges, allowing me to rush to the washroom and take care of things, be a few minutes of violent cramping inspiring retching and sometimes actual vomiting, and then a just a massive flood, much like the elevator scene in The Shining, which swamped everything I was wearing.

      I never actually bled through anything light-coloured, mostly because I absolutely stopped wearing light trousers at the age of 15 out of dread.

      1. Anononon*

        I’ve not had a period for years (lucky me, the contraception I’m on means I just don’t get them), and maybe this explains my ex’s (female) friend who took one look at my white jeans and went ‘ooh, very brave’ in a slightly disapproving tone :D

        1. That Californian*

          A friend of mine is an OB/GYN, and she said it was the fashion for all the other OB/GYNs in her hospital (in Austria, if that matters) to wear white jeans when they weren’t required to be in scrubs. Specifically, white jeans, and that fashion didn’t carry across to the other doctors in the hospital. I’m fascinated by this! Like, are they signalling how deeply they understand menstruation that they have such confidence? Are they reacting to the large amount and variety of bodily fluid they must encounter daily by dressing in the least-bodily-fluid-friendly article of clothing?

          1. MayLou*

            I was a student midwife for a couple of years and at my university and several others the students wore white uniforms. The qualified staff wore much more sensible dark blue. We were *novices assisting with births*, who on earth chose WHITE?

        2. JustaTech*

          Is that what they mean? I thought my friends just expected me to get food all over my pants!

      2. Liz*

        I’m 53, have showed no signs of menopause, and STILL each month have to plan my outfits during that time. No skirts, no light colored pants. Nope. And I don’t have particularly heavy bleeding but i’m just so fearful that ONE time i do wear something i shouldn’t, there will be an issue.

        1. Rainy*

          I’m 43 and if my maternal history is going to be reliable, I still have NINETEEN YEARS of this BS left. I’m so over it.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Same. Though Flo is becoming the slacker employee, she sometimes gets really fired up and skips the preliminaries. I’ve been keeping a pair of underpants in my bathroom and in my purse, just in case.
          Not complaining, though; I’ll be sad when she goes.

      3. Syfygeek*

        I haven’t worn light colored pants, skirts or jeans since I was 15. And I had a hysterectomy over 25 years ago. Nope, still no light colors.

        1. Rainy*

          I had a Mirena for 5 years and didn’t have a period and the lightest I went was STILL just a pair of mid-tan denim capris.

        2. Iconoclast in California*

          Same type of thing here. I tossed out my last pair of tan pants over 20 years ago, and I had a hist almost 15 years ago. (Best thing I ever did for myself – I had fibroids, and my periods were so awful that I ended up taking off one day every 24 days.)

          Of course, I have IBS *and* stress-based incontinence also, and those are different risks to light colored clothes…

      4. Artemesia*

        Whenever I see these bike racers in white shorts, or gymnasts in white costumes etc etc I immediately think of the embarrassment that can ensure so easily in a 100 km bike race with cameras on your butt or when doing that backflip. I’d never choose a costume with tight white pants.

    3. Esme Squalor*

      This happened to me years ago at a baseball game with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and his mom! I went to the bathroom and then accidentally reenacted The Shining elevator scene in the stall–while wearing white pants. Amazingly enough by saturating my pants with sopping wet paper towels repeatedly, I was able to get everything out, and I waited for my pants to dry in the bathroom. By the time I walked out, you’d never know what had happened, but I’d missed about three and a half innings, so my boyfriend and his mom were understandably concerned. I was mortified. I think I just kept reiterating everything was fine while attempting to change the topic until they got the hint and went with it.

      Looking back, though, it was pretty much best case scenario.

  12. V*

    I tried to dye my dark brown waist-length hair purple one Sunday night. Unfortunately I did not believe the instructions about not rinsing it in the shower. My hair looked vaguely purple. The rest of me much more so. Scrubbing did nothing. Crying did nothing. I didn’t feel I could call in purple so I went to work. Years later I still got “Violet, you’re turning violet!” comments from one co-worker.

      1. SometimesALurker*

        Me too. Now I’m tempted to start using that as shorthand for a confusing reason to be out (even though in V’s context it was very clear!) “Oh, I can’t tell my boss I have an interview, better call in purple.”

    1. Amber Rose*

      I did that last year! Only it was that I didn’t rinse it enough, so as I started to sweat the dye in my hair leaked out and turned my neck and chin purple. So awkward.

      I don’t know if you know this by now, but rubbing alcohol/makeup remover will usually take the worst of the dye out of your skin.

      1. SignalLost*

        Did that. Dyed my hair blue, went to work at my hot n’ sweaty warehouse job, sweated blue.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          Next time use ash. As in burned stuff. For some reason, it acts like an anti-dye on skin. I learned this from my exboyfriend’s roommate who was really into dyeing his hair odd colors as a teen (as was I, but I wasn’t lucky enough to learn this!) and was kind enough to share the info when I accidently got dye all over my hairline.

      2. Urdnot Bakara*

        Had this happen to me! My sister helped me dye my hair red the day before I was supposed to be at a major outdoor event, in the summer, in Texas, and I was helping a constituent fill out a paper form when I just….. started dripping red sweat all over the form. Really fun!

      3. AnonEMoose*

        Nail polish remover might work, too. Although I’d try to avoid more sensitive areas with that.

        1. EH*

          I’ve used non-acetone nail polish remover successfully for this! It’s less harsh but still works pretty well. Mostly, though, I dye my hair on Saturdays so I have time to deal with any coloring issues before I go to work Monday. :)

      4. iglwif*

        I dyed my hair red a summer or two ago–Manic Panic Infra-Red, to be exact–and I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed and rinsed but nevertheless I was sweating red for … a while.

        The day after the dye job I was on a bus and noticed that a person across from me was giving me serious side-eye. Only then did I realize that the beads of sweat running down my face and into my collar (alas, totally normal for me in the summer) were bright red O_O

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      I didn’t feel I could call in purple so I went to work.

      Thank you for that eloquent description! You made my day with this. :)

    3. CommanderBanana*

      Aah! Exfoliating can help get dye off of your hands and skin – I use Overtone in the shower and it turns my hands blue but using body scrub takes most of it off (does tint your nails a bit though).

    4. That One Person*

      Reminds me of recently my mum talking about a planning meeting she’d been in and on the sheet they had groups of desks colored in to signify different departments. At one point she wanted to talk about a specific set of desks and (more out of amusement than anything) referred to them as “the Purple People” and had to refrain from giggling as they were therefore known as “the Purple People” for the rest of the meeting.

    5. Zombeyonce*

      I had a version of this in high school when I would color streaks of my light hair different colors with food coloring. (My mom wouldn’t let me use actual dye in the only thing teenage me could come up with.) I learned what a bad idea was when it rained one day. Just imagine a 16-year-old girl walking around with streaks of blue red and green all over her clothes and forehead and neck and arms. Classy.

      I never did it again without checking the weather report first after that.

    6. SaraV*

      Reading this at lunch while Prince’s “Purple Rain” plays over the radio at the restaurant I’m at. XD

    7. Alli525*

      I had my hair dye job MANGLED by a trainee colorist once (that was the very last time I ever went to an Aveda school) – what was supposed to be auburn ended up pumpkin orange, because the colorist didn’t listen to me when I told her how my hair processes color. This was also on a Sunday so I called in sick – couldn’t call in orange! – and had it redone on Monday. Even the train ride into the salon was nerve-wracking, but I live in a city populated by lots of weirdos and actors, so I just tried to convince myself that everyone assumed I did it on purpose.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      I can relate! I started dyeing my hair when a former colleague commented that I was looking a bit peaked – realized my hair had just enough white in it to make me look half dead. (It was not a good look, particularly given that I was not quite 30 at that point). Anyway, all was well until a couple years later, when I couldn’t find my usual dye two days before an important interview. So, I used the next closest shade. The next day at work, people kept asking me if I was okay, and suggesting that I should lay down or go home. I was kind of miffed / mystified – I mean, yeah, I’d been up the night before, but wasn’t ILL! Finally, I happened to go into the bathroom and caught a look at myself in the mirror. Turns out, the dye that looked fine at home under regular lighting gave me emerald green highlights under fluorescent lights. Also, it turns out that I look like death only partially defrosted in emerald green. I ended up getting an emergency hair appointment and having my hair stripped and redyed. Cost me a bundle, but I was looking good for the job interview, and actually got the role.

    9. Iconoclast in California*

      ROTFL! I occasionally dye my (short) hair purple, but the dye still sometimes gets on my face and ears. Rubbing alcohol and a specialty remover help me.

      But when I rinse my (now purpled) hair in the shower, the shower wall looks like I blew a hole in Barney. I keep meaning to get a picture

    10. Your friendly Claims adjuster*

      I used to dye my hair purple, loved it and miss it! Once when I went to the boxing gym the next day, the purple started coming out with my sweat a bit- I wound up accidentally dying the fingers of my white boxing gloves purple where I had them pressed against my forehead. Always knew which gloves were mine after that…

    11. HereKittyKitty*

      Hard relate. I routinely have rainbow hair- it’s pink right now and for WEEKS it’ll bleed onto my neck and face. A morning routine is usually a makeup wipe at the neck. I have pretty bad lighting in my bedroom and was running late so I went to work, did a meeting and it wasn’t until I was out of the meeting my boss let me know one side of my face was tinted pink. I had slept on my hair.

    12. The Other Katie*

      At one point I thought I’d like to try red hair, so I chose a nice dark red shade (black cherry or something). Alas, that was the first time I’d ever dyed my hair permanently, and I didn’t realise that my fine, naturally blonde hair wouldn’t take the dye well. Day 1: Black cherry! Day 2: Starting to fade. Day 3: Splotchy. By the end of the week I looked like Ronald McDonald, and there I stayed until I bleached my hair back to blonde a week later. (I couldn’t do it earlier because I didn’t have the cash for the box of dye.) That was an excruciating week.

  13. DCompliance*

    I had the investigate something that happened at a strip club. (A dancer bashed in a windshield with her shoe). I had to go to the strip club’s website, which brought up a ton of X-rated pictures. I had to explain to by boss I was not looking at porn at work.

    1. Manders*

      I’ve had this happen too! I have to check a lot of websites for work, which means sometimes I land on a porn site randomly. And I work in an open office.

      1. Snickerdoodle*

        Lol, I think that would make it LESS likely you were looking at porn, but I guess you never know!

    2. Magenta Sky*

      I spent a couple of hours documenting what an employee had been looking at on a company computer, so he could be fired by the numbers. Most of the web sites had enough xxx in the URL to know exactly what they were, but some were more . . . cryptic. And I was told to be thorough (I ended up with dozens of pages in small print, with no duplicates, for one week of activity), so I had to visit those sites. But my boss told me to do exactly that, do I didn’t find it embarrassing in the least.

    3. Hyacinth Bucket (Pronounced Bouquet!)*

      DCompliance, I don’t know what you do for a living but based in this anecdote I feel like you have many more stories to share.

      I also ended up on several adult websites while doing conflicts checks for a law job. IT found it hilarious, because I blush ridiculously red and I was sitting there looking like a tomato while I explained that I was doing my job.

      1. DCompliance*

        -Doctors selling “hot” socks out of their office.
        -The time someone wanted to prove they were a good manager by submitting pictures of themselves with a tiara and sash on Boss’s Day.
        A guy whose prior accident’s included falling off an Zamboni and being hit from behind on the log flume ride.

        …none really fit the embarrassing bucket.

        1. raktajino*

          Someone was selling stolen socks? …Why? I can’t imagine the markup possibilities are very lucrative.

          1. DCompliance*

            Well, doctor’s offices and hospital can be cold. A nice pair of fuzzy socks can come in handy. Anyway, he denied the allegation and there was no evidence that say otherwise.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          “Pssst. Hey, buddy. Wanna buy some hot socks?” *opens one side of trenchcoat*

    4. 8DaysAWeek*

      I used to have to man the support email box at work. And because it had a generic address like support@company.com, it would get tons of porn spam which would infect my PC with viruses. Randomly throughout the day, the viruses would display large naked pics on my screen and I couldn’t close them fast enough. Sometimes I had to just turn my monitor off and wait a while until it died down.

      Thankfully the company knew this was a “thing” and didn’t reflect badly on me.

    5. PB*

      Oooh this reminds me of something that happened recently. I wouldn’t call it embarrassing, because no one saw it, but it could have been. I work with rare books professionally. A couple months ago, I had to research an item that turned out to be a piece of historic erotica. The item itself was text-only. The websites and articles I was looking at for information were very much not. One even had a kind of fascinating drawing of, uh, male genitalia constructed to look like an ostrich, being ridden by a man in military garb. It was amazing.

      There had been a post on AAM in the days prior about never looking at porn on your work devices, and here I am, sitting at my work computer in broad daylight gazing at dick ostriches.

      1. mrs whosit*

        Oh! A coworker of mine recently searched for obsidian to illustrate something to her students, and it turns out that brings up pictures of dildos (even with safe search on!). Thankfully she was able to navigate away without any uproar.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        In one of my hobbies, I look at medieval marginalia regularly, looking for good, documentable heraldic charges. So. Many. Dicks. In. So. Many. Forms. Anyone who thinks porn is something new is delusional.

      3. CooKoo*

        Now Googling “ male genitalia constructed to look like an ostrich, being ridden by a man in military garb”…

    6. AMT*

      I worked with a criminal defense client who took illegal upskirt photos of women in public places. I had to go through a CD full of them with a computer screen that faced the hallway. That was…a door-closed day.

    7. oona*

      I have to look at a lot of websites for work too, and porn is just accepted as a hazard of the job at this point. It is surprising how many seemingly safe domain names turn out to be hardcore porn though.

      1. Syfygeek*

        Back before home internet was commonplace, I took my son to the Library to use the PC. Turns out googling Xmen is not the same as XXXmen.

        And I was the one typing.

      2. MsChanandlerBong*

        I found this out the hard way back before Dick’s Sporting Goods managed to buy dicks dot com. It turns out that Dick’s Sporting Goods was using dickssportinggoods dot com for their URL, and um…somebody else was using dicks dot com.

      3. C*

        Site owners let their domains lapse and they get snapped up by porn sites.

        Back in the old days before Google’s algorithm got smarter, we’d regularly come across porn sites whose site titles & meta data in Google indicated they were real estate listings or home improvement stores or whatever. IT had our names so we wouldn’t get fired for it. Nobody took advantage, as far as I know.

    8. TeapotDetective*

      Part of my job involves documenting suspicious transactions, so I’ve had a fair few moments of “what in the world is this charge… oh. OH. Nopenopenope not on my work machine.”
      Only takes a few of those before you learn. Popping the url into Google is usually enough to tell me what my customers have been spending their $39.95 on. :P

    9. Venus*

      I have been told that there is someone at the patent office who has a sex-related technology specialty. It makes sense, as someone needs to review computer parts, and I guess for someone else it’s… vibrating dildos. From what I understand, the job requires doing research to see if something similar is already being sold, and going to conventions.

  14. Mbarr*

    I was a coordinator for a bursary program. I was having a bad self-esteem day, so I wrote myself a personal email from my work email, chastising myself for getting into that mindset. It was full of self-insults, loathing, etc. Then I emailed it to myself… But I accidentally copied a student on the email.

    I. Was. MORTIFIED.

    I tried and failed to recall the email. She was very sweet about it, replying that she wouldn’t tell. I was so embarrassed I didn’t even reply.

    1. Queen of the File*

      Oh wow. I think I hurt myself wincing on your behalf. I’m so glad the person you accidentally copied was discreet!

    2. EH*

      So, a while ago we were adding a new team to the cluster of small teams I work with. Everybody got brought to the office – our remote folks flew in, the new team drove down from their office a couple hours north, etc. We had several days of presentations, to familiarize everyone with everyone else’s product and whatnot.

      So, we’re all in the biggest conference room, about 25 – 30 people squished in. Seats at the table are full, and people have wheeled in office chairs to sit behind the folks sitting at the table. I’d wound up right in the front near the screen, and during someone else’s presentation, I knocked over my half-full water glass. Just… bam. I reached for it without thinking and sort of punched it instead of grabbing it. Water everywhere on the huge table. And I’m trapped, with everyone looking at me.

      The guy closest to the door ran to the kitchen and got a roll of paper towels for me. Who was the guy closest to the door? OUR VP. The highest-ranking dude in the room. Fetched me paper towels. While I sat there, mortified. I wanted to die. I spent the rest of the week being very, very deliberate about picking up my water.

  15. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    I caused the entire building to be evacuated by burning toast, on a day when all of our senior stakeholders were in the building for a meeting.

    1. Jay*

      I did that in college – at 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning during finals. I was not popular. I also was violating four different rules about appliances in dorm rooms, so I ended up on disciplinary probation. My mother’s reaction: They put you on disciplinary probation because you can’t cook? Luckily for me, she thought it was hilarious. Unluckily for me, she thought it was so hilarious that she told everyone in town and when I came home for the summer, everyone knew.

      1. Becky*

        I accidentally got the not-approved-by-facilities toaster oven removed from my work breakroom. Someone had put their personal toaster oven in the breakroom and everyone used it, but we weren’t supposed to have personal appliances in the breakrooms–just the company provided microwaves and Keurig. I used the toaster oven but when I turned it off I accidentally pushed the dial past off so it set it to 60 minutes. And it started smoking. And got the building evacuated. And got the guy who brought the toaster oven chewed out by facilities. And got an email sent out company-wide reiterating the policy that personal appliances should not be put in the breakrooms.

      2. Charlotte Collins*

        Someone in my college dorm did this with popcorn at 2 in the morning during finals. In the winter time (Midwest).

        That entire floor was a problem and nobody was allowed to live on it the following year. They dispersed all the residents to other locations. And I think some were told that off-campus housing was probably the best choice for them.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Oh, and it was an 11-story tower. So we had to walk down all those flights then wait for one of two elevators to take us back up again.

    2. Anon for this*

      Oh god I did this a couple months ago, but luckily there weren’t any important meetings going on. Just, you know, students trying to sleep (I work on the bottom floor of a college dorm).

    3. Cymru*

      Coworker story.
      Multi-tenant office building and the fire alarm went off for an office that works with dangerous chemicals.
      Orderly evacuation of the building. Firefighters give the okay to go back in and leave.
      My coworker had put some toast in the toaster just before the fire alarm went. I guess she puts on really long but usually is there to watch it so it doesn’t burn.
      The poor firefighters had to come back and turn the alarm off just as they had gotten back to their station (the nearest station is down the block).

  16. Period Cup Awkwardness*

    For anyone that uses a period cup, you know what kind of awkwardness happens in work restrooms (or any public restroom for that matter!). Specifically referring to the weird noises.

    1. Anon2*

      The worst is when the automatic flushers refuse to flush a second time… I swear, some people probably assume a medical emergency happened in the stall.

      1. LB*

        For anyone who doesn’t know, most (if not all) toilets with auto-flush have a manual flush button as well! It’s perfect for situations like this. Sometimes they’re damn near invisible, though.

      2. Yes.*

        OH MY GOSH YES! Have you seen Amy Schumer’s latest special? She has a line about the Diva Cup… so true.

        And the noises! I try to cough at the right moment…

        1. Period Cup Awkwardness*

          LOL!!! Soooo awkward! I have both a large and small size and the large is EXTRA loud. my goodness!

      3. Amber T*

        We have one toilet that I swear gets triggered by flecks of dust, so in the normal course of a 20 second pee, it’ll probably flush 2-3 times before you need it to. I once made the mistake of using it when my stomach was not the happiest with me… lost count how many times it flushed automatically after 10.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      YUUUUUP! I mean I love mine, it definitely work for me, but changing in “public” is certainly an adventure (I try to avoid it when possible). Especially because I haven’t been able to keep my hands pristine yet, so sometimes you have to do the best you can with tissue paper and wait in the stall for the sinks to clear so you can wash your hands without being labelled a serial killer.

      1. Period Cup Awkwardness*

        I have had some very intimate moments with my period cup as well as accidentally spilled it all over the floor. lololol

        1. Sam Sepiol*

          Oh gawd I’ve dropped mine into the toilet (at home thank God) but never yet spilled it on the floor!!

      2. Close Bracket*

        I grab a paper towel or two and dampen it in the sink before going into the stall. Then I can clean up my hands and I don’t get blood on the stall door handle or my pants when I am done.

        1. Tasha*

          OT, but I learned to take a water bottle into the stall with me when I was using the cup. Good for rinsing the cup and your fingers.

        2. Mollie*

          Oh My Gosh, you just gave me an oh duh lightbulb moment. I don’t know why I never thought to take the papertowel with me. It would save me so much grief.

          1. Liv Jong*

            I too really appreciate these tips and will probably use mine more than I do now, which is not as much as I think I should.

    3. EtherIther*

      I’ve never had that issue! Or maybe I have, I suppose I figure once we’re in a restroom, all bets are off when it comes to noises!

    4. Emma*

      Oh man! This is why I basically never mess with mine in a public bathroom – being able to leave it in for 12 hours at a time is part of the appeal!

      1. Period Cup Awkwardness*

        You can still get toxic shock syndrome from period cups – it’s the collection of bacteria that can cause it (although its still very rare). I empty mine out every 4-6 hours at work, regardless of flow.

        1. Period Cup Awkwardness*

          except when I’m sleeping unless I need to. I’ve had moments where I wake up in the middle of the night and have to empty it out.

    5. GMN*

      Oh americans please get proper doors for your bathroom stalls! The 3/4 doors always freak me out when I’m in the US.

  17. Amber Rose*

    Most of my embarrassing things have not happened at work, thankfully, and the work ones are very silly.

    Most recently I tried to page someone and all that came out was a croak. I guess I should have been drinking more water. The whole building heard “beep beep… *crrk gasp ack*.”

    Long, long ago as a teen who experienced embarrassment much more acutely: It was lunch break at Big Box Store. I crouched down to open my locker, put myself off balance enough that I couldn’t stand back up again, and toppled over with a crash. Everyone in the room stared at me. It was awful then, though when I look back I just shake my head.

    1. EmKay*

      I must be tired because reading your “beep beep… *crrk gasp ack*.” made me laugh until I cried. My mouth is stull twitching uncontrollably.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Haha, well it’s good it made you laugh. I’ve made a thousand pages or more and that’s the first time I ever did that, so I was pretty surprised. xD

    2. Gandalf the Nude*

      Oh, I once paged someone and went back to singing along to the radio afterward. I didn’t realized I’d forgotten to hang up, so I accidentally serenaded the entire office and warehouse. I got to the end of “Hotel California, and everyone started clapping. I could have died.

    3. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      This happened when I was in my early twenties. It was one of my first full-time jobs, and being naive, innocent and trusting, I was easily fooled by this.

      I was filling in at reception during lunch one day, when I received a call from someone who asked to speak to a person who did not work there. The caller said this individual was meeting with one of the executives and asked me to page him because it was very important that he speak with him, so I made the announcement: “This is an all-page for [name]”. Then I heard laughter.

      The caller had asked to speak to a Michael Hunt, who preferred to be addressed as Mike and could I please use that name when paging him.

  18. Liz*

    Ladies! I have to say with all the “peeing after having babies” stories on the last one. Please go see a pelvic floor therapist – that does NOT need to be your normal life and can often be easily fixed with just a couple physical therapy sessions.

    1. Yikes*

      I was surprised to discover that in Europe, pelvic floor PT is a standard part of postnatal care. The women of Europe sneeze freely!

    2. Tasha*

      AND know that my physical therapist’s instructions focused on much more than kegels. Important, yes, but there’s lot of other muscle training that’s helpful. I was going to post this on that other thread but waited too long. PT was much more helpful/practical than OB-GYN.

    3. Teach*

      Peeing, leaking, urgency (gotta go right now!) and pain – all totally workable with pelvic floor PT!

    4. Hamburke*

      Pelvic Floor PT devotee too! Although I had very few problems in that department after babies, I ran into a random muscular problem when my youngest was 9 and went to pt then with excellent results!

    5. I heart Paul Buchman.*

      I agree it’s worth trying (Michelle Kenway’s website is brilliant) but this isn’t a fix for every problem. My prolapse isn’t going away no matter how often I Kegel.

  19. Lore*

    I got locked in my office once, so thoroughly that building services had to disassemble the door from the outside to get us out.

    Full story: I was a long-term temp who was lucky enough to have a teeny office. My fellow long-term temp came in, closed the door dramatically to tell me something I absolutely needed to know before we went into a meeting with our mutual boss. When we tried to leave to go to said meeting, door was jammed. We tried a few things, then had to call said boss and tell her why we were late and ask her to come try to let us out, thinking maybe the handle would work properly from the outside. No such luck. She called building services; they tried to no avail, and ended up having to call a locksmith to take apart the handle from the outside (somehow it had gotten stuck in such a way that the retractable part was jammed into the frame rather than the notch where it was supposed to close). The whole thing probably took about an hour and a half? Which was awkward because the office was literally so small that with two people in it and the door closed, you couldn’t swivel the chair. Fortunately the boss found it hysterical.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Oh man, I’d repressed the memory of the most embarrassing thing to happen to me at work and reading yours brought it back.

      I went to the bathroom just before closing time, and when I came out, all the lights were off and everyone was gone. I walked slowly towards the front door, but I set off the damn motion alarm. So alarms were blaring all over the place and scaring the hell out of me, and I was locked in. I managed to leave from a side door, but then I couldn’t get it locked behind me, and I didn’t want to leave the building unlocked, so I sat on the steps and cried.

      Which is how my boss found me a few minutes later, having been alerted to the alarm going off.


      1. Kelli with an I*

        I had to open one morning and accidently set off the alarm at my work. The code was one number different from my pin number. My boss came right when the police arrived.

    2. aceowl87*

      Something kind of like this happened to me, but I was in class in college and the door got stuck! We couldn’t get out, so the professor was googling the number to campus security on the projector when we managed to flag someone down in the hallway from the window to open the door for us. We all thought it was hilarious when discussing how we were going to explain possibly being late to our next class.

    3. Olivia Mansfield (formerly Mallory Janis Ian)*

      One of our grad students got locked in the single-stall bathroom and had to escape by pushing out through the old, unused door behind the refrigerator into the kitchenette. We reported to facilities that the door needed to be repaired, and told the dispatcher about the guys’ escape through the spare door.

      The facilities repair team showed up and broke into the bathroom by removing and climbing over the wooden transom over the door. The one guy was up on a ladder leaning into the transom opening going, “Where is he?!” I guess the dispatcher failed to mention that the student had already escaped, and the facilities guys thought they were on a rescue mission!

  20. PB*

    I’m a librarian. Once, early in my career, I was bending over in the stacks to look at something. When I stood up, my pants snagged on the metal shelf behind me and tore, right down the behind. I had a jacket I could tie around my waist, but the get to it, I had to walk back downstairs, through a work room, through the public reading room (where we had several researchers!), and through two galleries. There was nothing to be done than to do it…

    (Fortunately, my boss was very understanding of my need to run home!)

  21. Chelle*

    When I started at my company we had assigned WebEx numbers, so if you worked with multiple customers, you had to request a second one and then pay attention to who you gave which number to (if you scheduled two meetings at the same time with the same number, you would end up with just one meeting).

    I was presenting on-site at one client, while dialed in to a WebEx, and I had accidentally used the same number as I used for my other client’s recurring touchbase. So halfway through the presentation, people from a different organization start calling in and saying who they are.

    Fortunately, my supervisor was on the recurring call, and he said “everyone on the line from [org] drop off and I’ll send a new invite” but god, it was mortifying.

  22. Anon For This*

    I momentarily forgot that when you delegate a meeting out of our work calendars, and include comments, that the delegatee AND the chair can see those comments. So I delegate this meeting to a coworker with a note that says “can you please attend this terrible meeting for me? I’ve been going to it forever and still have no idea what the heck it’s about or why we need to be there”. Imagine my surprise upon receiving an email from the chair’s director calling me out for the comments, asking me to explain myself, and passive-aggressively offering to walk me through the purpose of the meeting. This director and I were not fans of each other to begin with, and my stupidity did not help the situation*.

    In that moment I truly understood what it felt like to almost die of embarrassment.

    *To be fair, it really was a terrible meeting.

    1. bdg*

      my supervisor does this a LOT. not as much now that i pointed out to her that it changes the invite for EVERYONE, but still. a lot.

  23. Flat Penny*

    An overly touchy coworker once noticed the tag was sticking out the back of my shirt, and tried to tuck it in without saying anything while I was at my computer. Her hands were very cold. I don’t think anyone had ever heard me swear before (I’m pretty good at keeping a lid on it in the office) or even raise my voice, but I absolutely screeched “F#CK F#CKITY F#CK!” when I thrashed away from her. In an open office.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      I am now stifling giggles at my desk, because I can just picture myself reacting in the exact. same. way.

    2. Clorinda*

      This is a very proper reaction to being unexpectedly touched. You don’t need to be embarrassed at all.

    3. Jules Verne*

      This reminds me of a weird coworker who used to come up behind me and like, not touch my shoulder, but start to *massage* my shoulders when he needed to ask me a question. It sounds weird to type that out but it wasn’t like, sexual or overly aggressive, just kind of lightly pinching my shoulders to get my attention. After he did that a couple of times and caught me by surprise, I just took his hands off my shoulders and turned in my chair so he could ask me his question. I think that’s when he was new, and he doesn’t do that to anyone anymore thankfully.

    4. SignalLost*

      Someone I was friends with at a previous job decided to surprise me by touching my back to make me jump when I didn’t know she was there. (FTR, the relationship was one where I was fine with this level of joke/prank.) She, however, didn’t know that I have a severe sensitivity/panic reflex to neck touching, and she was very close to my neck. She touched me, I froze, and elbowed her in the gut as hard as I could. (This is an improvement; I’ve bitten people who’ve touched my neck before.) I wasn’t the least embarrassed I did it, and she, when she could stand up fully and breathe normally again, said she deserved it completely. I was still embarrassed to be caught out that way, even with someone I had a close friendship with.

    5. TooTiredToThink*

      I’m sorry that I just died laughing. But yeah; I hate when people do that to me too. Just tell me my tag is up OR ask permissions. Its not that hard.

  24. Eeyore's missing tail*

    I think this will count as work story – I as attending a conference that my boss required me to go to. At least he (or some account there) paid for it.

    I was at a research conference as a young MS student and my boss told me he had been talking to a professor at another institution about our research and he wanted me to talk to him as well. I’m awful with names, so of course I forgot and assumed my boss would find the professor and introduce me. I’m at a poster session with some of my research and this young looking guy in very casual clothes walks up and asks me about my lab’s research. I give him our normal talk about he lab and my research. I noticed that his tag said the institution where the professor I was supposed to meet was from. So, in normal student talk, I asked him who his major professor was, because he looked really young and was wearing shorts. I missed what he said the first time, so instead of asking him to repeat himself, I asked my question again. He told me he was a professor. And then the light went off in my head and I said “You’re the professor my boss wants me to meet, right?” And he nodded his head. I tried to play it cool for the rest of our conversation, but I wanted to crawl behind my poster. Everything was forgiven and he bought me a drink later that night. I think he got a big kick out of it.

    1. Melly*

      Honestly, this happens to women all the time (ME, I constantly get asked if I’m a student at academic conferences), so it’s pretty satisfying that it happened to a guy.

      1. Save One Day at a Time*

        And women tend not to wear shorts because of it (she says in a dress and sweater after being asked if she was 17 multiple times this week)

  25. Allison*

    I had a mouth, no lie, full of canker sores, so I got this numbing gel called Kanka to help with the pain. But one day I felt really woozy, and knew I’d used the stuff a touch more frequently than you’re supposed to, so I legit thought I was about to pass out and fall into a coma. I let a nearby manager know what was happening, she notified a Director in the office who also happened to be an EMT and have some emergency medical supplies, he came to check me out and give me peace of mind that I was not about to die.

    And I don’t know if it was a coincidence or sadly related, but a couple months later I was notified that my contract, which was currently extended through the end of the year, would not be extended into the next year. After contracting with the company for over two years, being extended quarterly like clockwork. I know these things happen, but they never gave me a straight reason why . . .

    1. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      Used to happen to me all the time, until I figured out the top three culprits:
      Tartar Control Toothpaste
      Brown coating on ibuprofen
      the ibuprofen coating was the worst, because I used to take the ibuprofen for the pain, and it would spiral out of control until I had 4-5 dime sized cankers.
      Eventually when it happened on my gums, my dentist sent me to an endodontist, and “have you been taking ibuprofen with brown coating” was his first question!

      1. patricia*

        Holy heck, I have a couple cankers after a fairly (for me) heavy ibuprofen heavy weekend and I always take the brown coating ones! I never knew! Thanks for the tip!

      2. Clementine*

        What is it about walnuts, as it’s not a huge problem for me, but I have an association with walnuts and canker sores too.

      3. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I didn’t know about the ibuprofen thing! That’s going to be an amazing life hack.

        Also, when you feel one coming on, start taking L-lysine twice a day. It shortens the life of the sore and keeps it from getting severe enough to be super painful.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          I thought Lysine is for all herpes related viruses? And I thought canker sores were related to Ph and/or bacteria? Now I’m confused….and intrigued.

            1. Kelsi*

              I thought cold sores were caused by the herpes virus, and canker sores were something different.

              I mean, I get them both, so it’s sort of moot to me, but.

      4. Carolyn*

        Any mouth products with Sodium Laurel Sulfate are a big no if you’re prone to canker sores. I make sure to purchase products without that. Didn’t know about the ibuprofen thing, though…thanks for the tip!

        1. Howtu Comment*

          Pretty much all toothpastes have sodium laurel sulfate, Sensodyne is one of the few that doesn’t, I think Rembrandt had a sensitive version that didn’t.

  26. NeonFireworks*

    We had Important Guests about to visit from an organization we sometimes work with, and my two supervisors had been making noises about pairing me up with them. On the morning when they were set to arrive, I woke up to the news that a distant friend had gone to a group of mutual friends blaming me for her erratic behavior. I wrote a calm email setting the record straight (I wasn’t involved), and although I suspected it would blow over, by the time I got to work, I was feeling frazzled and secretly furious. One of my supervisors visited my office and asked me to come to hers. She grilled me about a small detail that I hadn’t realized was a problem, and although I immediately said I understood and would make things right, she (maybe under the influence of Important People about to walk in) kept pushing and telling me that the damage was done and was completely irreparable. It turned into a lecture about my supposed irresponsibility, and I couldn’t take any more stress and broke down in tears. Fortunately, things ended there – but only because the Important People were waiting outside my supervisor’s office in a narrow hallway with no alternative exit. She sighed and said I needed to get going. It was still incredibly obvious that I had just been crying, so I walked by the Important People looking straight down at the floor and pretending I had no idea who they were. I’m not sure how the visit went. I went home and narrowly talked myself out of quitting on the spot, but obviously no one ever mentioned the Important People to me again.

    1. Iconoclast in California*

      Hope you found a new job after that. A boss keeping at you until you cry isn’t a very good boss.

  27. MissGirl*

    I was walking outside to meet a customer coming in and walked into a glass door. Luckily, while it hurt, it didn’t leave a mark. The customer was kind enough to pretend he didn’t see it.

    1. Snark*

      I watched someone do this just the other day. It made a delightful DWONK sound. I quickly pulled out my phone and began texting so the person didn’t crawl into a hole.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        We have seamless glass walls at my office! They had to put stickers all over the walls so people would stop walking in to them. But the doors have stickers on a different location. Cue boss, loudly making fun of the stickers, walking directly into the closed glass door. Oh, the delight.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          That’s why offices that have walls like that usually have one nice skinny frosted line across the glass right at eye level.

        2. Cheri*

          In our office there are several rooms with glass sliding doors. One day I noticed one with a sticky note placed right at eye level that said ‘Door is closed :)” and knew immediately what had happened.

    2. JokersandRogues*

      There was a side entrance to our building from the parking garage. You badged in and then turned to the right immediately to walk down a long corridor to the elevators. I had been out a day or two for sick I think, and they installed glass doors at the turn from the entrance. Frame-less glass doors. Walked straight into the glass at full speed. Hideously embarrassing but also seriously painful. My forehead hit first luckily and not my nose so just a bruise on my head and a bit of a bump on the lower bridge of my nose.
      The person behind me was part of building management and was really concerned about me. I said I’d be ok, but they might want to put in a line of frosted glass or a logo or something so people didn’t fly into it like birds.
      Next day there was a sign, and the day after that there was a logo.

    3. Becky*

      I haven’t done this with a glass door, but I did do it once with a screen door. Except you don’t thunk against a screen door so much as bounce. I bounced off the screen door and landed on my butt.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I took out an entire screen sliding door doing this at my house when I was a kid. That’s why you don’t run from the living room to the backyard thinking the sliding glass door being open is all you need to check for. You can’t even brace yourself for a fall when your whole body is blocked by a screen while falling to the ground. So many bruises…

    4. Black and blue*

      Oouf! We have pillars in our office. Brightly coloured, large pillars. I was trying to multi task, talking to a colleague behind me and walking to my desk…I hit a pillar so hard that the corner edge went straight between my breasts and into my face, breaking my glasses… It quite took my breath away and I must have made a loud grunt because when I recovered, the whole office was looking, waiting to see if I was going to cry…
      The walk of shame to my desk was awful but thankfully, blurred!

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        I walked into a pillar at my first job! They were huge concrete things, but I saw a cute guy, and well, 17YO me had priorities…

        It will not surprise you that I was a bookish kid whose first job was at the public library.

    5. It's Business Time*

      I have walked into 2 glass walls at work (different workspaces), the second time was only a month ago, I made such a loud noise too that everyone turned to look. I was once out to visit some clients and went into one of those revolving doors and took too large a step and my head hit the glass door. People outside smoking heard the loud bang and turned to see me rubbing my forehead. Oh well

    6. The Other Katie*

      I did this once at a salon where I’d just gotten my hair cut. I got distracted by the mirror as I was admiring my new ‘do and *whack* right into the door like a seagull. It was like something out of a terrible comedy film, really painful and yet at the same time hilarious. I still don’t know how to feel about it.

  28. Permanent WTF Lines*

    I was on one of those juicing diets for a couple days. While sitting at my desk working along, I crapped my pants! It was totally unexpected and awful! Luckily, I lived about 5 min from my work so I ducked out to go home. My boss was in a meeting so I couldn’t really say anything, plus my situation was urgent. After I got home and showered, I called my boss and filled her in on the situation, and told her I wouldn’t be returning that day. That’s my limit, if I lose control of my body for the day, I’m done! Luckily she was understanding and we joked about it the next day!

    1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      I have IBS, so I’ve crapped my pants before. The first time it happened, I was going to see my little brother in a talent show, and I let out what I thought was a fart on my way to take my seat. I ran to the bathroom, determined that my underwear was not salvageable… and stuffed it in the bin where you put used tampons and pads. I think my thought process was something like, “Well, it’s all gross biohazard material anyway,” but honestly I was just panicking.

      I went commando for the rest of the night, and I shudder to think what happened the next morning when the janitor cleaned the bins!

      1. LB*

        This happened to me on an international flight for work. It turned out I was getting sick and had a really high fever, but it was mortifying. Fortunately the flight attendants were super nice about it.

      2. Frinkfrink*

        I came down with norovirus at work a few years back, and lets just say I’m eternally grateful that not only did I have an office to myself, but it was 30 feet from the restroom, and nobody was between me and it. I did the same thing with my underwear after wrapping it up in as much toilet paper as possible, shoved paper towels down my pants just in case, and went straight home.

      3. Kitrona*

        We’ve had stranger things in the bins, I promise you. (I don’t clean the bathrooms at work because I can’t mop but I hear about the weird stuff from the people who do. I guess having dislocated a shoulder has some upsides?)

    2. CMart*

      I trusted a fart when I should not have just this week and deposited a tiny nugget into my underpants. I just froze in shock.

      Luckily it was still very early in the morning and I had been walking to the bathroom anyway, and it was thankfully not um, messy. Just the knowledge that it happened has been enough to mortify me for a lifetime.

        1. CMart*

          I’m 6 months out from having my second kid, and idk if it was all the pregnancies and childbirth or just the steady march deeper into my 30’s, but I’ve officially decided to stop trusting them as well. When I have control over the toots, at least. My ability to hold them and be stealthy has also deteriorated alarmingly.

          1. patricia*

            A) I trusted a fart well before my childbearing days and it turned out to be liquid rather than gas. At work. Amazingly, this is NOT my most embarrassing moment- that’s below. (I don’t think anyone saw, even without anything to wrap around my waist- I just booked it to my car and took the rest of the day off).

            B) Since my second child, my ability to be stealth is absolutely zero. Which is kind of annoying, but I’m also way more comfortable just saying “excuse me” if something I’m trying to slip out ends up rather more obvious.

        2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

          In the game the Sims 4, your sim can fart and burp if you have the parenthood expansion pack. However, fart when the poor pixelated person’s bathroom need is too low…

    3. TooTiredToThink*

      I’ve done this before as well. And same; I’m done for the day. Thankfully its not a regular occurrence.

      1. jolene*

        Not at work, but I learned doing morning spin class to stop having cream in my coffee instead of full fat milk. Made things just that bit richer, including what you think are farts but aren’t. Just a small PSA for anyone thinking of switching to cream…

    4. Permanent WTF Lines*

      So glad I’m not alone! If you are familiar with KMart, my “craptastic” incident happened around the time the “I shipped my pants” commercial came out. My boss emailed it to me the next day, it was pretty fitting!

    5. Iconoclast in California*

      I suffer from IBS, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had the hershey squirts. I wear a long incontinence pads and that usually contains it. However, sometimes I overflow past that and ruin my underwear and pants. I’ve gotten really good at cleanup of self, clothes and restroom stall. For me, the first warning is a rumble in my guts and a fart. I then have at most a couple minutes to get into the bathroom and ready to release.

      I keep a spare pair of underwear and spare pads in my desk, and I’m *very* careful what I eat, only trying new stuff at home.

      It sucks.

  29. Rat Racer*

    I embarrass easily, so it’s hard for me to pick through the library of anecdotes that still make me cringe. But there was a time when I was newly pregnant (hadn’t told anyone yet) and fell asleep in a meeting. A meeting of like 4 people (including my boss). We were just having a conversation and suddenly I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I heard my boss say “Rat? RAT??” and I startled awake, spilling water all over myself. I blurted out “Sorry! I’m pregnant!” which was a really weird way to let my office know…

    1. Rat Racer*

      Oh wait – I thought of another that’s much worse! This was after said child was born, and I was working from home on a Friday, while my mom watched my infant daughter. I was on a conference call and thought I had muted my phone. I picked up the baby, who was cooing at me from her bouncy seat and said, very loudly into the phone “Uh oh! I think someone pooped!”

      1. Esme Squalor*

        This reminded me of a professional conference I was attending virtually a few years ago where someone neglected to turn off their mic when peeing. The whole auditorium, which was dead silent at the time, was suddenly filled with the unmistakable echoing sound of urine hitting water and porcelain. It was awwwkward.

        Malcolm Gladwell was the keynote, and when he walked out on stage a couple minutes later, his opening line was, “That wasn’t me.”

          1. Esme Squalor*

            I’m still not convinced it wasn’t him. I’ll be honest, “I once heard Malcolm Gladwell peeing when he forgot to turn off his mic” is a story I’ve told before.

        1. Hlyssande*

          When my mother worked in medical records a local hospital in the 70’s, one of the doctors pranked her by pouring a bottle of water very loudly into a toilet while asking for records over the phone (long cord I guess?).

      1. Busy*

        These are winners. BTW I am glad I wasn’t the only one who would pass out early in my pregnancy!

        1. HereKittyKitty*

          At the very end of her pregnancy, my manager would curl up on the floor behind her desk and take a good 5 min “nap” because she was so exhausted. We sell gymnastics mats and I desperately wanted to grab one for her and also wished we had an actual maternity leave that was paid because she was TIRED.

    2. Person of Interest*

      I once had a colleague who called in for a staff meeting, let her phone unmuted, and fell asleep, snoring quite loudly. The boss tried to get her attention by calling on her by name kind of loudly but no dice. We agreed to just hang up and let her figure it out, because we were all just laughing every time we heard a snore.

    3. Arts Akimbo*

      Aaaugh, the mike unmuted!!! I was in a remote professional development class full of up-and-comers and a couple of industry bigshots, and I had my mike muted because I was moving papers around making noise. Then I got up with my laptop to go plug my phone in to charge in another room, and per my reflex, I “muted” the mike… only it was now unmuted.

      So the whole class got to hear me say “Hi Sweetie, I’ve just got to plug my %&^*ing phone in,” and then smooch my spouse a couple of times before the person running the meeting managed to get my attention. A younger me would have died of embarrassment. Me now is just glad it wasn’t an audible toilet flush!

  30. Audrey*

    I have two:

    -At my old job I walked in on my boss using the bathroom. I saw…things. This would almost be fine if I never had to see him again but he’s a great guy and we’ve kept in touch over the years.

    -At my current job, I hit a coworker’s car with my car in the parking lot. Nothing horrific, but enough to leave a scrape. I didn’t know whose car it was at the time. I left a note on the windshield with my phone number and info. This guy claimed he didn’t see the note and angrily confronted me at my desk, within listening distance of my boss and other coworkers.

    I find it hard to believe he didn’t see the note because I saw him out the window taking pictures all around the car (which is normal of course; I did the same). I think he intentionally wanted to embarrass me. If he’d decided not to go through insurance I was planning on giving him more money than whatever the estimate was to compensate for the inconvenience of it all. I’d cleared it with my husband, financially we were good to this. But he didn’t trust me to pay and it went through insurance instead. Fine.

    For awhile afterwards I tried to be friendly, say hi when I saw him at work, and he was always standoffish. One time I said hi to him in the kitchen and he looked right at me and said nothing, so I’ve stopped trying since then and don’t even make eye contact with him.

    All of this was very embarrassing, especially the notion that he probably told all of our coworkers about it. But come to find out, most of my coworkers think he’s a jerk too.

    1. Woopsies*

      Just curious – he claimed he didn’t see the note. Then how would he know you were the one that hit him?

    2. MayLou*

      My wife uses a wheelchair and a few weeks ago she opened the door of the accessible toilet to discover someone using it as his private pooping chamber. Hopefully that’ll teach him not to take advantage of the only wheelchair-accessible toilet in the building (or if he had a legitimate reason for using the disabled toilet, which he might have had, to lock the door!).

    3. CooKoo*

      He’s a terrible human. I’m sure your co-workers sympathized with you. I can just imagine how dysfunctional all his relationships are.

  31. Manders*

    Soon after I was hired at my current job, I was describing a weird job interview with a company I’d turned down to my boss. I went into a lot of detail about the bad Glassdoor reviews, the sketchy-looking office, and the job offer that would have had me illegally classified as a contractor during my probation period… and then he realized the company I was describing was one he’d founded.

    Fortunately, he knew it had turned into a big mess after he left and told me so, but for about 10 minutes I wanted to sink into the floor.

  32. AfT*

    One of my front teeth is false, and on two different occasions at two different jobs, the crown has fallen out in my mid-workday lunch, causing me to need to make an emergency trip to the dentist (and to need to show my boss why I’m leaving)…

  33. straws*

    My boss drove us to a meeting about 30-40 minutes away. It went well, and then I fell asleep on the car ride home. It turned out that I have narcolepsy, but it was so embarrassing…

    1. a*

      I have done this! I absolutely could not keep my eyes open. Like one minute I was looking out the window and the next I was groggily waking up and trying to get control of my drool. At least I only fell asleep on the way back…

    2. Zombeyonce*

      This is why I never want to ride anywhere with coworkers. I get motion sickness and my automatic defense mechanism is to fall asleep whenever I’m a passenger it a vehicle just to keep me from getting sick. I’m pretty sure this would happen to me if I ever drove with anyone for more than about 20 minutes, so you have my sympathy.

    3. DaniCalifornia*

      If I am not driving and there’s not a lot of conversation going on, I am the first one to fall asleep in the car! It’s even worse if I’m in the back seat and can’t hear. It happens!

    4. Amber T*

      When I was an infant, my mom would drive around to lull me to sleep. Great for her then, not so great for me now, since I immediately become super sleepy if I’m not the one driving and music isn’t blasting.

    5. Rebecca in Dallas*

      I always fall asleep on road trips! There’s a reason why parents drive their babies around to lull them to sleep.

      Once a coworker fell asleep in the car when we were driving from one site to the other. He didn’t wake up when we got to the destination so we all sat there for a while debating how to best wake him up without embarrassing him. We finally settled on getting out of the car, then one of us shut their door really hard (not slamming exactly, just loud enough that it might wake a dozing passenger). Sure enough, he woke up and got out of the car like he hadn’t been sleeping!

  34. bunniferous*

    I used to work for a florist. Someone was apparently looking up porn after hours on the front desk computers. So one day, I am working (probably keying in orders) when an x rated pop up ad appeared.

    Took us hours plus a call into the FTD system helpline to take care of THAT issue…..

  35. BeeBoo*

    Another one, although it didn’t happen to me, I was there to witness it in all its glory.

    I had a co-worker who could not tell the difference between a spam email and a real email. She was constantly getting viruses on her computer. Our IT director finally told her she had to call him before opening any new emails from people she didn’t know. Shortly after, she went to call him, but accidentally clicked the “all page” button on the phones, so broadcasted to the entire office was, “I just got this email and I don’t know what to do. Do I want to blow the biggest load ever?”

  36. Antidepressant Mishap*

    It turns out that I can’t take antidepressants because they give me symptoms of bipolar disorder and cause motor function impairment.

    Of course, we found this out after my first dose when I, INCREDIBLY high, wrote one of my colleagues that I couldn’t stand up or use my legs and it was SO HILARIOUS!

    She was a friend, but…still.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      HIGH five for the antidepressant mishap! (Pun intended, and my story was posted above at 11:13.)

  37. Fenchurch*

    This was quite a few years ago. I was working in a call center at the time. I needed to ask a senior member of my team for some clarification on what a caller was calling about and for some reason instead of saying “let me place you on hold” I said “let me hold you”.

    It was hard to recover my composure for a moment there!

    1. Susan*

      I had to give a status update that included talking about new hardware for a datacenter move, to my boss and his direct reports. Included was the phrase “big disks”… and yes – that is not what I said.

    2. Not Gary, Gareth*

      Oh man, I have had so many of those!!! For some reason, even though I consider myself a relatively articulate person, I just occasionally lose every last ounce of my tiny mind while talking on the phone.

      Once time, on a call with a client, I bobbled a sentence so badly that I just ended up saying “You know what, let me transfer you to someone who speaks English” and put her on hold. Luckily she found the whole thing hilarious (and so did my co-workers).

    3. OhBehave*

      I’ve said, ” I love you.” to random peeps after a friendly phone conversation. Rarely anyone I knew well.

    4. sam*

      I once mixed up “let me pop you on hold” and “let me put you on hold” and ended up with “let me poop you on hold”. Yikes

  38. Murphy*

    I actually think most of my embarrassing moments have been outside of work!

    This isn’t humiliating, but I was embarrassed. I was in animal care andwe had these terribly crappy mop buckets that our supervisors resisted replacing for a long time. It was a busy time right before a shift, so I went to change out the water in both buckets. I was bringing the especially crappy one back from the mop closet, the wheel got stuck, an it tipped over, pouring several gallons of hot bleachy water all over the floor, and my shoes, in front of tons of people. I said “Dammit” and there was a mother with her child right around the corner and she seemed annoyed by my language. I cleaned everything up, refilled the bucket, and worked the rest of my shift with wet bleachy shoes.

    1. SherBert*

      I once loudly and vehemently told my boss to go F himself and turned around to see customer standing behind me. I apologized to the customer profusely (never to my boss… he was an @$$) and she said, “I’ve always wanted to do that!”

  39. Anonforthis*

    Mine happened relatively recently. I’ve been at my company for 2 years and have a generally good reputation, so fortunately this didn’t hurt me significantly. But due to obligations both in and outside of work, I was slowly starting to experience burnout symptoms. One day, I was tired, plus my alarm didn’t go off for some reason, and I overlept on a work day. I was woken up 9:30 am from DEEP SLEEP to my coworker calling me asking “Where are you???!” And no, it was NOT A DREAM. I was horrified at myself. I apologized profusely to my manager, who was very kind about it. I then took some days off to recover from burnout. Fortunately, things have progressed at work as normal, I’m doing good work and I think most of my coworkers have moved on, but I’m still haunted by this.

    1. NeonFireworks*

      This happened to me too! And on a day when I was supposed to chair a meeting at 7:30 AM. Nothing to be done about it and my boss shrugged it off, but my subordinates were panicking and I felt AWFUL.

    2. jDC*

      Makes me grateful for my boss. I usually get in early as it’s just easier with traffic but have slept past my alarm maybe twice. Both times called my boss and he had zero problem just said “take your time, it happens”. He also has let me email him late the prior night and say something about not being able to sleep due to a horrible cough and needing to take NyQuil which will make it impossible to be in on time. He truly just says no problem. Nice to have someone actually care.
      He even took me to the ER once (picked me up form home) due to sudden, HORRIFIC, abdominal pain AND stayed with me and helped and spoke to the drs for me (a uterine cyst had ruptured). We work on healthcare so it’s less of a trauma to him but still way beyond normal boss behavior. Forever grateful.

    3. President Porpoise*

      Oh man. My first office job was very generous with holidays – we got all of the bank holidays and then two weeks at Christmas. My second job was much less generous. I discovered this when I woke up at 10:30 AM on Columbus Day, excited for my day off, only to have three or four messages from my boss, starting at 8:15 AM, wondering where I was and if I was ok. I got written up for that. I was young and thought that all offices were required to be closed on bank holidays.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        I know someone who did something similar. Thankfully she found out at literally the last minute but she was super bummed about not getting the day off.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        At NonprofitJob years ago, a colleague didn’t show up on Columbus Day and no one could reach her. We spent half the day extremely concerned that something had happened to her. Finally, someone got hold of her–she thought we had the day off and was outside working in her garden, far away from the phone. When she came back to work the next day, we were all like, “Welcome back to the land of the living, Susan!”

      3. Howtu Comment*

        I’ve done the opposite – found out very last minute that’s the office was closed.

    4. Classic Rando*

      I used to sleepwalk as a kid, and though I grew out of it, I still have some related sleep tendencies. Occasionally, when I’m very overtired, I’ll actually turn my alarm off in my sleep. Thankfully I don’t do it often (like once every couple years), and I work from home so once my manager calls wondering why I haven’t logged in yet, it only takes a few minutes to get to work, but still.

    5. socrescentfresh*

      That’s literally my recurring nightmare. And now that I know it actually happens sometimes, it’ll probably recur even more.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      I slept through my alarm several times and showed up to work after 9 (our start time, which was enforced, was 7:30). Since I was new, I was only verbally reprimanded but I made an agreement with a couple of coworkers that they should call me if I wasn’t there by 7:40 because there’d be 100% chance I was still fast asleep.

      I also did the thing where I assumed we got Jan 2 off and just didn’t show up for work. I got very familiar with our work calendar after that!

    7. Rebecca in Dallas*

      That has happened to me before! So embarrassing. And then later that day I got stuck in a freight elevator. When my boss heard what happened, he said, “Well, that’s what you get when you’re late.” It was not my day!

  40. FatWalda*

    I was interviewing for a teacher position at a vocational school, and it was going well. The interviewers had me seated in this tan faux leather chair that, I thought, was making my backside sweaty, but I shifted and realized it wasn’t sweat– I had gotten my period unexpectedly, and soaked the seat. There was no way to hide it, as soon as I stood up it was going to be a crime scene, so I very casually said “well, it appears I’ve bled into your seat, and this is gonna be awkward in a moment.” They were very gracious and have me Lysol wipes to attend to the damage. Somehow I still ended up getting the job, and I’ve just been promoted to assistant director. That damn chair is now in my office, unscathed.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      Thinking about it, your calm handling of that issue might have contributed to you getting the offer. Or, at least, if I’d been at the other side, I’d have been impressed, as well as empathizing with you.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Agreed. that is the comment, most professional way you could have dealt with that situation. It makes you look really good to be able to deal with something embarrassing in such a matter of fact way.

    2. Yvonne*

      They were probably impressed by how you handled the situation, I know I am. I would probably have burst into tears.

    3. LabManagerGuy*

      I think you may have handled this in the best way humanly possible, under the circumstances. I, certainly, would have marked it as a point in your favor (“Able to handle sudden, difficult situations with grace”).

      I also laughed, hard, at the fact that the chair is still in your office.

  41. MakinItToFriday*

    I was in early one morning and juggling a laptop, charger, notebook, and very large, very necessary iced coffee on my way to a meeting room. Well, the coffee didn’t quite make it and fell right out of my hands on to the floor with coffee and ice everywhere (and in a brand new office space!). Not terrible, until the CFO turned the corner and insisted on helping me scoop up ice cubes and wipe up the coffee. Fortunately, he’s a very nice guy and I took it in stride – now, there’s no way he doesn’t know who I am!

    1. CoffeeIsNotAlwaysMyFriend*

      What a nice CFO! I had a similar coffee-mishap, back when I was an executive assistant.
      I was in a meeting with all of the company’s department heads, my boss and the CFO where I was supposed to take minutes of the meeting. They had one of those big thermos with coffee on the desk for everyone to use. It was an early meeting so I desperately wanted coffee. Unfortunately I did not know how to, well, operate the thermos and instead of just pouring it, unscrewed the lid partly. Of course, when I tried pouring it in my cup, the lid came fully off and coffee splashed all over my notes. Needless to say, I was mortified.

    2. Anon for this*

      Oh my lord, you just flashed me back to a horrible memory I’d completely buried. A few years ago, a big multi-partner non-profit project was launching with funding from one of the big foundations, and my org was one of the partners. The chief grantee hosted a reception for all the partner orgs, and I drove over with some colleagues to join. There were several VIPs from my field in attendance. We all had to awkwardly stand and mingle while holding paper plates. At one point, I managed to accidentally flip my plate and COVER the floor of the chief grantee’s nice office suite in soft cheeses and crackers. I’m writhing in discomfort just writing this, and I can totally see why I buried this memory.

    3. blaise zamboni*

      Oh my god…

      One time, I set the Keurig to brew my coffee and then popped into the bathroom next to the kitchen, per my norm. Only I forgot to put the mug in the machine, so it just spewed out an extra-large mug’s worth of hot coffee all over the counter and the kitchen floor. Of course, the kitchen is visible from our treatment area, so more than a dozen clients and all of my coworkers saw it happen and then watched with amusement as I exited the bathroom and realized my mistake. I didn’t live that down for weeks, it was so mortifying.

  42. CatCat*

    I went about my day at my new job with the back of my skirt caught up in the skirt’s waist band. My new boss (kindly) alerted my quickly red-faced self.

    1. July*

      Related: I once left a bathroom stall with my skirt tucked in my tights. A stranger who worked in my building took it upon herself to free it for me. Instead of thanking her in a “weird that you touched me but okay” tone of voice, I somehow got so confounded by the whole experience I said “thanks, Mom!” and kissed her cheek.

      I left without washing my hands.

      1. crazystupid*

        My former boss was rushing to an important meeting and had a long trail of TP streaming from the waistband of his pants. I stopped him, detached it and walked away to the trash can without saying anything. I hope he does not remember this.

    2. em*

      This happened to me while on dismissal duty, so I was in the front lobby with tons of students and parents around. Someone asked if my skirt was supposed to look like that and I was just kind of like “…yes?” (because obviously I hadn’t noticed anything was wrong!) and she just smirked at me and walked away. After that I realized what she meant and fixed it, and then later when she walked by again she acted all smug and said “I knew it wasn’t supposed to be like that.” I had thick black tights so you couldn’t see through them or anything, but years later I’m still mad she couldn’t have just said “oops, your skirt!” instead of mocking me about it TWICE.

    3. Snickerdoodle*

      I’ve almost done that twice but mercifully been alerted by someone kinder than I am. I then learned to use the mirror to check.

      I specify “kinder than I am” because I recently saw a coworker I dislike leaving the restroom with toilet paper stuck to her shoe, and I didn’t say a word but watched as she trailed it all the way back to her desk.

  43. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Either the time I tripped, spectacularly, and did a face plant or the time I got blindsided by a migraine and threw up on the floor because my boss was in the bathroom and I couldn’t make it outside.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        I’m pretty good at managing them (had them since I was a kid), but every so often one barrels through and hits me like a freight train. That was one of those days.

        Luckily, it was a retail job and the floor was tile.

      2. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I have a fear of this! I work in an open office plan and once had to grab my trash can and bolt into my boss’ (unoccupied) office. Thankfully I just dry-heaved but once the nausea had passed, I went home for the day (with a plastic bag on my lap just in case).

    1. Iconoclast in California*

      I now realize that the new mini garbage can at our desks in our new (open plan hell) office can serve as a convenient barf bucket.

    2. Amethyst*

      OMG, the faceplant reminded me of the time I misjudged the number of stairs leaving a building (at school; my nose planted in a book I was reading at the time), took an extra step that was unnecessary, staggered a few more steps, and veered off the pavement onto the grass where I gave myself a few scrapes on my nose and upper lip and a blood fountain came from my nose.

      I went back to school a couple days later with a swollen nose and lip and was told by a teacher that my classmate reported that I’d “cracked my head open” in my fall, and to see the actual damage done, she said she’d worried about me unnecessarily for those two days I missed class, lol.

  44. zimmertaco*

    I walked around a crowded office all morning with a pair of lacey panties stuck to my black fleece jacket. Static FTW. How could no one say anything!

    1. President Porpoise*

      In college, my husband was once walking to his class, and thought he had a sock stuck in his pants leg. He reached down to pull it out and is was a pair of boxers. The cute girl that he was standing next to when this happened looked scandalized.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        A previous boyfriend of mine went to work and spent most of the day with an itchy spot on his leg. When he finally investigated, he dound a pair of lacey underwear stuck to the inside of his pants from static cling in the laundry. It could have been much worse.

    2. SherBert*

      Not work-related but we were once walking through K-Mart and a pair of panties worked their way out of my friend’s pant leg… she just kept walking! LOL

    3. willow*

      This one got me the most! And I am imagining they weren’t wadded up or folded over, but were fully splayed out in all their glory!

      1. zimmertaco*

        Oh yeah. I pulled the jacket out of the drier and clearly wasn’t paying enough attention. It was certainly mortifying, but I figured since everyone else spent all day pretending I wasn’t displaying my underwear that I could continue that legal fiction and live the rest of my life pretending I had not done so.

  45. CatCat*

    Also, first day at a new job, I showed up at the wrong location. Pretty sure my new boss thought I was a moron. But it all worked out fine in the end.

  46. Temperance*

    A few years ago, my commuter train was replaced with a bus. One morning, I apparently sat in bus cleaner/deodorizer (yuck) and just thought that I was sweaty.

    I went to a meeting, and noticed that the bus smell was lingering in the room. I assumed that it was in my nose, but then I slowly realized that nope, it was me.

    I did get SEPTA to pay for the new dress that I had to buy to get through my networking events that night, lol.

  47. michelenyc*

    My mom had used the restroom at work and she walked out of the bathroom with the paper toilet seat cover tucked into her pants.

  48. Peaches*

    Mostly just crying at my extremely toxic OldJob, and not caring if anyone saw it. I was a 21-year-old fresh out of college working for a huge, multinational company. I sat in a cube within a large, open office and would just start crying at my desk when I was having a mental breakdown . Sometimes, this was several times a week. The job itself definitely warranted the emotions I was feeling, but in retrospect, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t at least find somewhere private to cry. :)

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      Ooof. I had a boss at Toxic OldJob who would start BAWLING at her desk when “her neck hurt.” Except it was obviously faked for attention, and nobody responded.

  49. OnTheSpot*

    Many years ago I’d just gotten a job at a university admissions department. After a few days the department head was back in the office and we were going to meet for the first time. He walked over to my desk to shake my hand and as I reached out, I knocked over a 16-oz bottle of soda and it soaked the front of his pants.

    1. MtnLaurel*

      I did this just last year! Only it was coffee and went all over my supervisor. :-( He was wonderfully gracious about the whole thing but I kept hoping the floor would swallow me up.

  50. Scrooge McDunk*

    I spent many years working customer service for a newspaper, and one of my duties was to make service checks on customers starting or restarting their subscription. A short, simple call I’d made hundreds of times: “Hi, it’s Scrooge from the Herald. Just calling to make sure you got your paper today. Great, thanks! Have a good day.”

    And then one day it happened. My mouth revolted against me, and what came out instead was: “Hi, it’s Scrooge from the Herald. Just calling to make sure you got your pooper today.” There was an interminable 30 second pause, then the poor lady on the other end of the line burst into uncontrolled gales of laughter. She laughed so hard she couldn’t answer my (incredibly mangled) question. I guess it’s good I got a customer with a good sense of humour?

  51. seriousmoonlight*

    A week or two into a new job, I stood up from my desk to shake someone’s hand. As I did, my chair rolled away and when I went to sit back down, I ended up flat on the floor. Weirdly, I was actually kind of proud that I was not as completely mortified as I would have been in the past, and I look at it as a turning point in how I handle public embarrassment.

    1. Emma*

      I did this! I was brand new – I was still in induction/training, but I’d done some aspects of the work in my previous job so I got going quickly with those bits.

      I was doing some paperwork with a client, at a desk in the open front office, in full view of my team and the waiting room full of clients. I got up to photocopy something, went to sit back down, misjudged the location of the chair in relation to my arse, and wound up on the floor. I started laughing my head off, which is a good tactic as it stops other people feeling awkward, but I was pretty red-faced inside!

      I’ve been there a couple years now, and my team are used to me. Recently I made a comment about being a klutz, something like “You know what I’m like, you’ve all seen me walk into walls” and everyone in the room either smiled to themselves or, in one case, actually nodded.

      1. Crazy Cat Person*

        Oh, me too – both missing my chair and ending up in an embarrassed heap on the floor, and being a well-known klutz. At my last job, it got to the point that whenever there was a strange noise in the office I felt the need to clarify whether or not it was caused by me dropping, tripping over, or walking into something!

      2. RubyMoon*

        Office klutzes unite!
        Some highlights from my blooper reel:
        1.) broke my nose trying to drink from a coffee mug. I sneezed and slammed the rim of the cup into my nose. oh…so many sippy cups left on my desk after that one.
        2.) broke 2 ribs falling on top of a pallet of crankshafts, which I backed into because I was trying to manipulate an oxyacetylene welding rig around a stock delivery. I remain supremely proud of the fact that I did not lose control of either bottle at any point in time. Still got called Princess Shop-rocket.
        My least favorite, and most embarrassing:
        I worked at an office on Main Street, Right across from the state Capitol. There was a little courtyard/square with a fountain, some shops, and a fantastic deli at street level on the side of the building (Eagle Sq anyone?) that ended up being the “smoker’s lounge” for us and another office in our building (like…5 or six of us total). Right across from the Capitol. Near a seriously awesome deli. Smoking with a coworker one fine lunch break, and the Governor strolls by and stops to glad-hand, etc. I step back from shaking his hand, slip on the snow, and go a** over teakettle halfway down the hill to fetch up in the deli’s bushes, missing one shoe, my glasses and any dignity. Thank heavens I wore pants that day!

  52. beagle mama*

    I was wearing platform shoes at work (it was the late 90’s, lots of fashion tragedies). I was standing at a colleague’s desk chatting when I turned one of my ankles and toppled over into the hallway. My friend had looked away for a moment, so all she knew was I was there one minute then gone (half wall cube) but the other folks in our pod saw me laid out like I was in an episode of AbFab.

    1. [insert witty username here]*

      I have a bad habit of fidgeting/rolling my ankles/shifting my weight when just standing still and I was doing so one day wearing heels one day while standing talking to a coworker and I literally just fell down. Like a felled tree. And I’m not a small person. Luckily, there weren’t too many people around but I wanted the ground to just swallow me up *facepalm* I’ve since been better about being able to stand still and making sure I have a sturdy stance….

      1. Hlyssande*

        I also roll my ankles standing still, or walking on flat surfaces, smooth floors, all sorts of places that normally wouldn’t happen.

        In college, I remember standing at the finance office’s service window waiting for the nice lady to pull up a record for me, and bam – ankle rolled, I toppled like a tree. I’ve also done it standing up from a chair while holding a bunch of papers which resulted in them going everywhere while people looked at me in horror.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I do too! In my case, I have very loose ligaments and have had to have PT to help with the issue. But I’ve also had people comment when I’ve been wearing high-heeled shoes. Unless I’m wearing no shoes, I will do it no matter how high my heels.

    2. Indigo a la mode*

      Imagining your coworker looking up and around at your magic POOF disappearance is making me tear up with suppressed laughter. This is amazing.

  53. giraffe*

    Make sure you close out of your personal email, work email, chat programs, Buzzfeed quizzes, and *everything* before sharing your screen!!!!!!!

    I’ve had a couple of minor embarrassments but nothing as bad as my one coworker who forgot he was sharing his whole screen during a call, and IM’ed another person in the meeting to complain about a third person in the meeting. We all just sat there silently in horror watching our screens. (well, it was a conference call, so I don’t know what everyone else was doing.)

      1. giraffe*

        I was new and the guy who did it was about to retire, and there were a lot of Office Politics going on. I thought about sending him an IM to let him know, except then everyone else would see that too, and the politicking was such that it seemed like a bad idea for me to be so publicly in his corner — so I chose to just let it ride. It was so awkward!

    1. [insert witty username here]*

      I’ve had someone forget to close out a screen share with me and then they messaged someone else to talk crap about how stupid and fat I am. You bet your arse I grabbed screenshots. Our mutual boss was NOT pleased.

      1. Jules Verne*

        Oh noooo that’s terrible, but at least you got screenshots!!

        I work with PHI at my job so I’m very conscientious to immediately end a screenshare as soon as I’m done. Most of the time I’m viewing someone else’s screen, so it’s more for their privacy than mine. Still, I live in fear of messing this up one day…

    2. JokersandRogues*

      I messaged someone and didn’t realize they were presenting. I was complaining about someone next to me who was on the phone and was LOUD and said,” He’s repeated the same thing for the third time! Even I know by this point!”
      Unfortunately, she hadn’t shut off here IM, and it appeared in front of the management team like magic. Everyone in there knew exactly who/what I was talking about. So embarrassing for both the presenter and me. Didn’t get in trouble, she said they just laughed, but still.

    3. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      Once shared my screen for a conference call with the document I was writing describing why I was seeking a new position with the company. Oops.

    4. The Original Karen from Finance*

      This is my fear! Every time I start a GTM or WebEx I close out everything except the browser/GTM and the agenda (if any). OMG I have second-hand embarrassment for your coworker.

    5. Snickerdoodle*

      HA! I guess I’ll stop worrying about my embarrassing desktop background, then. (It’s a silly animal picture, nothing NSFW, but not exactly appropriate. But nobody has ever commented!)

    6. Anon E. Mouse*

      My husband and I usually chat on G-chat throughout the day. One day he was complaining about how the people in his office (very small company) were driving him crazy.

      Later that day, I messaged him, “Are your coworkers still being annoying?” Yeah, he had his screen projected to show everyone something.

    7. Howtu Comment*

      My company switched meeting software. For about two months every meeting had a least 1person who didn’t realize they had to disable their camera, otherwise we could see them eat, goof around, & most memorable pick their nose.

  54. YB anon*

    In no particular order:
    1. Had an incident very similar to the lady last week who peed her pants. I was 19, wasn’t paying attention close enough to my body’s signals, and all of a sudden I had to pee RIGHT THEN. Enter frantic attempts to get to the elevator on my rolling chair discreetly to get downstairs to the bathroom. Oh, and to make matters worse, the only person I could call to my rescue was my mom, who also worked at the same office. She was a champ that day. I’m surprised I came back to work the next day. By some miracle there were not many people around and I think no one other than her knew.
    2. Spilled part of a beverage on a colleague from another company during a convention dinner. I was still fairly junior, and that might have been my first convention (many years ago, can’t quite recall for sure). I was sure my picture would show up next to the word “mortified” in the next version of Webster’s dictionary.
    3. While making small talk with my company’s president (who has twins) and finding out that her sister also has twins, I asked “Oh, do twins run in your family?” – there are a lot of twins on my paternal side of the family, so I thought it might be something we had in common – she politely responded that no, they were the results of IVF. Wish I could have seen the shades of red on my face.

    Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m still embarrassed about all of these. My embarrassment does not die down easily. I still relive embarrassing incidents from my childhood for goodness’ sake.

    1. YB anon*

      Oh, yeah, then there’s this one:
      4. I was doing research at a county courthouse. Being the odd sort of person that I am, I had stopped on my way in to chatter to a squirrel running around a tree (I’d like to think it was not super obvious to anyone more than a few feet away) when a colleague from another company walked by and basically caught me in mid-conversation with a squirrel. To make it even better, I said something to her like, “Oh, wow, I bet I look really (r-word) right now.” The r-word was well out of my regular vocabulary by that point because it’s terrible and hurtful, and I try to never say it, especially not in public. But my brain decided that was the word I wanted to use to describe myself at that moment. Yep, that still feels like it only happened yesterday too. I’m going to stop trying to remember these now. Ugh.

          1. Rosie M. Banks*

            When I was in grad school, I was taking a walk around the neighborhood. I turned a corner and ran into a professor of mine who was having an animated conversation with a dog. Dog: Bark! Bark! Bark! Professor: Bark, bark! BARK! He looked like he wanted to die of embarrassment when he saw me. Honestly, I had never liked this professor before that moment, but this moment of silliness made me like him a lot more.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              I talk to my dogs all the time – they’re rescues and were very noise reaction when they were adopted, so I kept up a steady stream of chatter when we walked so they could hear that I wasn’t alarmed and it seemed to help…except now I can’t stop doing it.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Oh I talk to animals all the time! So far I haven’t been caught. I did get caught chasing a squirrel once (not in a mean way, I was pretending I wanted to pet it).

    2. Dragoning*

      I’m terrified I’ve been making all sorts of awkward conversation now….why did the company president mentioning IVF embarrass you so much?

      1. YB anon*

        I don’t quite understand how/why it embarrassed me. A lot of times I think my embarrassment is illogical, but it doesn’t stop it. I guess by IVF being brought up, it then brings to light that she presumably had fertility troubles, which is sort of the opposite of my assumption that twins ran in her family. FWIW, she probably didn’t think anything of it but man I just felt so awkward.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          I think if she were uncomfortable talking about the IVF/fertility issues, she would have just said “No.” IVF isn’t anything to be ashamed about–amazing how many more families get to have kids because of it–so I don’t think she was dinging you at all. :)

        2. Howtu Comment*

          Twins through IVF are super common. The number of twins is going up because of it. It is so common is just not embarrassing, it is just a trivial fact.

    3. Esme Squalor*

      Don’t give yourself a hard time over the IVF exchange! You really did nothing wrong there, and I think the onus was really on the president to make that moment not awkward.

    4. Mona Lisa Vito*

      I did the same thing with an IVF situation! My boss was in her early forties and it seemed like ALL her friends were having twins (she talked a lot about going to baby showers, going to see new babies, etc). I brought up what a coincidence that was and got a very cold response about ladies of a certain age using IVF. It was very clear that I hit a sore spot. So cringey!!!

  55. Betsy Bobbins*

    This was back in the 90’s when I was a young woman. I was teaching an aerobics class during the summer in a studio that was only cooled by fans. Needless to say it got very warm and everyone was sweating pretty heavily. My attention was focused on the men and women in my class so I didn’t notice, until it was almost over, that my white sports bra was was completely wet…and very transparent. There was absolutely nothing left to the imagination, I might as well have taught the class topless.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      As someone who worked in the fitness sector, I can tell you that was both an OSHA violation (for employees) and a facility safety violation (for the participants) so it is not your fault in the slightest.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I love that I first read your comment as her see-through bra being an OSHA violation, and not the lack of air conditioning.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I also read it that way, and was honestly bemused at how in the world a see thru bra would concern OSHA.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            Me too. I reread it a couple of times wondering if it was the studio’s uniform that they forced her to wear or something. Silly brain!

  56. Justin*

    My very first day at my previous job, I was coming off of a really toxic job where my sleep had been affected. I had started taking an occasional sleeping pill to get any rest.

    The night before this job, I was tense, but in a good way, because it was to be my first big boy job with benefits and such (at least excluding time in other countries with better healthcare).

    So I took a sleeping pill at midnight, figured I’d get some rest.

    Shortly after I took the pill, I heard a bunch of trucks outside (I lived in Manhattan). I was a little confused because it was a lot more traffic than midnight usually gets. So I looked at my clock and it was…. 6.

    My first day of work was starting at 9. The pill doesn’t even really knock you out until an hour has passed. So I was very, very, very, sleepy for pretty much my entire first workday. I told my boss… a few days later.

    Note: Always look at the time before you decide to try and knock yourself out.

  57. Lady Rhyall*

    I was the receptionist and was getting coffee for a super important client and forgot that the coffee nook was kind of set back into the wall of the hallway. I asked if he wanted sugar and turned to go get some down the hall in the kitchen and fully slammed straight into the wall with all the power of an overeager receptionist whose job depends on pleasing clients. I cut my eyebrow so bad that blood trickled down my face and my knee was so screwed up I couldn’t walk without limping. It was a Friday so by Monday I had a beautiful yellow and purple black eye and a big old cut right through my eyebrow like Khal Drogo. Mortifying.

  58. top secret name*

    2 things at my first job out of college, when I was 22.

    1. Felt off on my way into the office, vomited in the bathroom on the floor near the drain, but not in the stall. Had to go find the office manager and say “I threw up in the bathroom, we need to call the cleaners.” Honestly I was so sick (out with stomach bug for 3 days) I didn’t realize I should be embarrassed until I was better.

    2. At that same job, we had clients come in from out of town and someone decided since they were all dog lovers we’d get them dog treats from the fancy bakery across the street. Then we had to sit and watch as the lead client ate one.

    1. Yvonne*

      Wouldn’t it be funny if one of the other comments was “I was on a business trip and our hosts, knowing i was a dog lover, kindly gifted me fancy dog treats. Only I didn’t realize what they were at first and ate one, right there in front of everyone.”

      1. Esme Squalor*

        Now that you point that out, that really is the more embarrassing half of that story!

  59. Blood Fountain...*

    Back in the days before ear buds were big, I had my headphones on at work, plugged into my computer. Suddenly, I realized I was going to be late for a big meeting with my direct boss and his boss. I was coordinating so I could *not* be late! I popped up from my chair… but the headphones had other ideas. Instead of coming off, they dragged my laptop off the edge of the desk which whiplashed my head straight back down, and I smacked the tender part of the bridge of my nose right on the edge of the desk. Blood fountain. I grabbed a paper towel and went to the meeting, covered in blood, mascara everywhere from tears that would not stop, and a rapidly swelling nose. They both asked if I wanted to reschedule, but honestly it was too hard to get on the director’s calendar, so I powered through. Nose wasn’t broken, but I had two black eyes for the next week.

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      Yikes! I’ve accidentally ripped out my earbuds so my speakers suddenly started blasting punk rock through the office. Your story is so much worse!

  60. Anon and on and on*

    Let’s see, slipped and fell in the lobby while on crutches = ambulance ride. Passed out and fell on the floor by my desk (people thought a cabinet fell over) = EMTs stage whispering “any chance you are pregnant” while putting me on a stretcher and ambulance ride. Standing on a wheeled chair to talk over cube wall, spinning and crashing to the ground (on my birthday) =/= ambulance ride, just “that’s what you get.” from coworker.
    So the most embarrassing thing happened about 15 years ago. I called my parents’ house to ask my mom something, my brother was there and I asked him something. Somehow our thirty odd year old selves ended up in a sibling whisper/screaming match because (trust me it was all his fault!) he was being an ass. I hung up on him but then my boss came over and told me to keep it down, people were commenting. and to not let that happen again.
    I wanted to die.

  61. Lepidoptera*

    Called 911 THREE TIMES in one day while trying to call the parent office in Switzerland.

    There’s a reason to avoid using 9 for getting an outside line, folks.

    1. Lady Rhyall*

      Yes! I used to get calls at the switchboard from the 911 dispatch calling back because “someone from this number” called them. I could never tell them who it was (because I didn’t know) and they seemed exhausted by this issue.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      I was a 911 operator for a brief time. You would never believe how many people dialed 911 when they meant to dial 411. If it happens, just stay on the line long enough to tell them you dialed wrong, and all should be well.

    3. CoveredInBees*

      This happened at my apartment building! They’d just put in the fancy new intercom system that would call our phone line to let people in. Also, you could dial 911 from the keypad to reach the management office if you needed them, since this was when almost nobody had cell phones. Apparently, I was the first to call and it went as badly as expected. Even though I explained the situation, they had to send a police car by. The code for reaching the office was changed quite promptly after that.

    4. Jady*

      My previous job moved locations shortly after I started there. The new office was setup so they had to use the 9 to dial out.

      For about 6 months we’d get an officer at the building at least once a week. Multiple times a week in the very beginning. Not an exaggeration in the slightest! The policed warned the company multiple times they’d be fined if people kept doing it. It would die down for awhile and then start happening again!

      As far as I know, no one knew who was doing it.

      I was friends with the (only) IT guy in our branch office. He was FURIOUS every time it happened. He didn’t have a way to figure out who was doing it, and he said multiple times that the office couldn’t change to use a different number than 9. (Probably company red-tape over technical ability.)

      It was pretty entertaining to watch from afar.

      1. Tivs*

        A few months ago I dialed 9 to get out then accidentally hit the ‘0’ button on my way to the actual number. I was doing some other boring task on the computer while absentmindedly navigating through the robot tree on my way to a live person on the other end. Then I got to the live person, said “Hi, I’m calling regarding a teapot account for…

        “Um, this is the operator at your telephone company. You dialed zero before the number.”

        “oh god, I’m sorry…”

        “Would you like me to connect you to the number you were trying to reach?”

        “uh… no… I can… do it”

  62. AnonGoodNurse*

    This didn’t happen to me personally, but I witnessed it. Years ago, I worked in a small law firm that was located in a small house with 1.5 bathrooms. The bathroom in the back was really a closet with a toilet a sink. We usually kept the door closed when not in use because it was directly adjacent to a storage area and the kitchen and nobody wanted to be staring into a water closet whilst eating lunch. We weren’t supposed to use the bathroom in the front because it was for our clients. Every morning around 10 am, one of the attorneys would boldly stroll into the closet bathroom for his daily business. He’d be in there for about 30 minutes.
    We’d recently hired a new paralegal. One morning, she went to use the bathroom, but wasn’t aware of the attorney’s daily, erm, appointment. Apparently he didn’t bother to lock the door. I was in the kitchen and heard loud screams from both of them when she opened the door to the bathroom to find the attorney sitting on the toilet reading the paper.
    She slammed the door and the left the building. We weren’t sure she would ever come back, but eventually she did. (And yes, he learned to lock the door after that…)

    1. Liz*

      well, serves him right. You want privacy, lock the door. Seems kind of entitled to me to think that everyone should know his “appointment” schedule :)

  63. Chuck*

    I work at a medical center, currently with fellows, previously with residents. Residents are full doctors who have their MD but still need additional training, so our department runs its own clinic. I go to that clinic. Everything’s fine and all the doctors who have seen me have been professional.

    Thing is, the residents’ fax number is listed as the academic office fax number, AKA the office I and all my coworkers worked in. This was something we have been trying to get fixed ever since I started working there. One day while I was out notes from my checkup, including some pretty sensitive GI information, came over the fax machine. My coworkers saw it and put it on my desk instead of faxing it through.

    The good thing is, once I emailed the clinic to say that this was a HIPAA violation and I didn’t want it to happen again, they got the numbers updated.

    1. TurquoiseCow*

      My current office has a fax machine, and set it up so that everyone in the office gets a PDF of whatever has been faxed, so you don’t miss anything important that you might have if you didn’t walk over to the printer/copier/fax machine. Mostly we get advertisements.

      Recently, however, one of my coworkers hurt his leg and was out for a bit while it was healing. I guess they asked him for a doctor’s note, because the doctor faxed in a note saying he was going to be out for a while because of an injury. There was nothing seriously embarrassing on it, but I made a mental note to tell my doctor not to fax information over if I was ever in that situation.

  64. Alianne*

    My first year as a paralegal, I bent down to feed some paper into the shredder…and heard the seat of my pants rip. To add insult to injury, it happened ten seconds before a client arrived, and it was the day I was wearing…colorful undergarments. I somehow managed to walk them into the conference room without ever having my back to the client, and explained the situation hurriedly to my boss. Since my commute at the time was 45 minutes one-way, I just tied my jacket around my waist (boss was 100% sympathetic) and forged through the rest of the day.

  65. SubwayFan*

    I had to be on a call for a massive company-wide customer-facing event that was coming up and it happened on a day I needed to work from home. My computer audio wasn’t working, so I called in from my cell phone and put myself on mute, since I was mostly listening to catch some key info to bring back to my team. During a long side discussion, I thought I’d pop down to the basement to swap the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Except my washing machine drained at the time into a shop sink, which decided to be plugged up and had overflowed all over my basement floor.

    The obvious solution was to hang up the concall, but I was panicking so I just said to myself, okay, I’ll call my in-laws next door on the land line and see if they have any Drano to drain this shop sink, and then I can get back to the call. I take out one earbud from my cell phone thinking it’s still on mute, call my father in law, and I’m screaming about the water, and there’s the splash of all the water, etc. And then suddenly, from my remaining earbud, I hear someone shout “WHOEVER IS HAVING A PLUMBING EMERGENCY CAN YOU PLEASE GO ON MUTE!”

    Of course I hung up then. The good news is by not being on computer audio, I had only shown up as “Guest” in the general con call, but I was mortified, and for the next year I would compulsively check my mute status on any call I was on. I later checked with someone else I knew who was on the call and he assured me no one knew it was me. I now use this story as an intro to con call etiquette whenever I’m training interns. (I also called a plumber and got my washing machine drain reconfigured.)

    1. Lepidoptera*

      I once had a colleague log into a conference call from her car while driving her toddler son home from daycare…he screamed “I NEED TO POOP” twice before she finally muted.

    2. Peaches*

      Hahah oh no! That is always my biggest fear with conference calls. I too meticulously check to make sure I’m muted.

    3. iglwif*

      Oh noooooooooo

      I work at home and I have a dog, and he naps most of the day but whenever there is any slight disturbance in the Force–such as, oh, someone daring to walk around in the hallway outside our front door–he barks.

      I mostly stay on mute during conference calls, but recently I was listening, unmuted but not saying anything because I didn’t have anything particular to add to the conversation, and he was quiet and then suddenly BORKBORKBORKBORKBORK

      And the person running the call said “Oh! Igl *is* on the call! Sorry, Igl, I didn’t realize you were here.”

      (This is not helped by the new conference call system which asks you to record your name, but doesn’t use it except when you leave the call. So it’s impossible to tell when someone joins the call or, when they do, who they are.)

      1. crazystupid*

        Someone not on mute once ordered a large number of hamburgers at a drive through while called into our CEO’s all-hands meeting. It was 9 am.

      2. Yet another Kat*

        My dog LOVES to bark when I’m on a call, but generally will only start baking when I start speaking (I guess he is jealous of my attention?). Needless to say, I rarely dial in to calls from home when I have to present…

        1. FoxyDog*

          My cat does this. I can’t talk on the phone or to my dog without a accompanying MEOW MEOW MEOW.

      3. SherBert*

        My grand boss was calling into a weekly staff meeting recently because he “had to work from home.” Turns out he was getting his car inspected, and we knew this because we could hear him talking to the mechanic while we were trying to hold our meeting….

      4. LessNosy*

        I work from home as well and have very vocal cats who have spoken up during multiple calls! One of the first times it happened, I answered the phone and one of our sales managers I was working with at the time was on the line. I got out “Hello, this is LessNosy” and then my MOST vocal cat got right in my face and let out a huge “MRRROWWW!” Sales manager laughed it off and I now think it’s hilarious but I was mortified at the time!

    4. patricia*

      It wasn’t my work but my husband’s- he was at home listening to an all-hands call for his division at a very large multi-national corporation, and I happened to be working at home at the same time. He was usually really good about muting his phone and it was clear he wasn’t speaking, so I started asking him what he was listening to and making fun of the speaker (I said he sounded like a tool and kind of pretentious, which in fairness he did). My husband was like, well, he’s the Big Cheese of this division, and then he started getting IMs that he wasn’t on mute and everyone around the world had heard our conversation. The only reason I didn’t die RIGHT THEN is because the floor didn’t swallow me up like I prayed it would. Thank goodness I don’t actually work with those folks. I might never have recovered.

  66. Samwise*

    While a grad student doing secretarial work in a large academic dept (not my own, thank goodness), running errands, see a middle-aged woman with a friendly face heading into the copy room. I walk up to her and say, Hi! could you help me out and xerox these handouts for Professor X? She suddenly looked extremely unfriendly and coldly responded, I’m Professor Y — just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I’m a secretary.

  67. CoveredInBees*

    I almost stabbed the head of my agency, now the governor of my state. I got called to a meeting ASAP on the “executive floor” where I was basically never supposed to be. The layout was entirely different from the rest of the building, so naturally I got lost. I turned a corner at a t-junction with an uncapped razon-point pen one hand while carrying a stack of binders. just as he and his security walked by. I stopped inches from accidentally stabbing him and almost fell backward. He glared at me and kept walking without saying a word. I thought I might be fired but luckily (?) he never bothered himself with the lower pay grades, so I was safe.

  68. Tonya*

    I have a fear of geese so an obnoxious coworker got a fake one from a garden store and put it under my desk. I pulled out my chair when I got to work and screamed so loud that security and several others came to check it out. Our COO shook his head and asked why I would think it was realistic that a live goose would be under my desk. I was 22 and had worked at this job for two months so I was mortified.

    The best part? The coworker was mad that she couldn’t return the fake goose to the garden store and wanted me to pay half. I refused of course but shudder. Had to endure a few years of her pranks.

    1. iglwif*

      Has … has that COO ever met a goose? IME, it is realistic for them to be anywhere they damn well please because they do not care about your stupid human rules.

    2. Peaches*

      I too am terrified of geese. I would absolutely have the same reaction if someone put a fake goose under my desk! Also, your COO’s comment is silly to me. Seeing something you fear doesn’t allow reason to kick in before having an extreme reaction!

      My husband and I were on a run last year near a pond, and there was a particularly large goose standing next to the running path. From distance, I said to my husband “that goose is staring us down, we need to turn around and run the other direction.” He thought I was being silly, so we carried on. When we got to be about 10 feet from the goose, he CHARGED towards us. We’d never ran so fast in the other direction! I have despised geese ever since.

      1. JustaTech*

        I’m not afraid of geese, but I have a very healthy respect for them, especially when they have goslings. To avoid a flock of geese with goslings I have 1) run into the street, 2) run through a group of very large men having an intense conversation.

        Do not mess with geese!

      2. Artemesia*

        A colleague of a relative was bitten by a rabid fox on the golf course while golfing with the relative and several other colleagues — he ended up clubbing it off his leg with the golf club and it was caught and tested and he had rabies shots. My charming relative got one of those realistic stuffed fox toys from FAO Schwartz and hid it under his desk to the delight of all except the guy with the rabies antibodies.

      3. Sleepless*

        I’m a little scared of geese too. I eat lunch at a small, lovely park. The ducks are cute, but the geese make me nervous. One was giving me quite the stink eye one day when there was a school group nearby, and all I could think was that if it actually came after me, I was going to make a full-on scene in front of all those kids.

    3. Macy's Addict*

      Wow. I’m glad she at least had to pay for her prank, albeit not in the way I would’ve expected. Sorry she was so obnoxious. You’d think she’d tone it down after that one.

    4. Esme Squalor*

      What the hell is wrong with your coworker that she wanted you to reimburse her for a mean prank she pulled on you???

  69. Jemima Bond*

    1) Pale trousers. Arsenal playing at home. Say no more. (Except that praise be to the work gods that I was in a role where it made sense to have spare jeans/top/sweater in one’s drawer or cupboard.)

    2) Leant over too far to point at something on a colleague’s screen to help him; chair toppled over and yours truly was flat on my back looking up at an open plan office full of horrified faces, attention drawn by the loud crash. Gravity, thou art a heartless b!tch.

    c) shift/overtime related sleep deprivation – you know when you are so tired you just. Can’t. Cope. With the smallest upset. So when someone was a bit testy with me on the phone I had to rush to the loo in tears and my manager saw. Fortunately he was a good kind man and was only concerned I was ok so I felt better after I explained. But I was months into my first ever grownup job and I was mortified!

    1. Hermione'sAtTheLibrary*

      Re a:, that is the best euphemism for having a period I have ever heard — new to me as I’m in the U.S.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      Yw, just thought I would share a “charming” British euphemism! For interested persons, it’s based on the fact that popular London soccer team Arsenal play in a strip that is all red…

    3. Hills to Die on*

      My favorites came from my 14-yo daughter and her friends:

      1. Japan is attacking (big red period on the flag)
      2. Satan’s waterfall

      They crack me up.

  70. Jay*

    My first day at work with bifocals on, I walked into an exam room, greeted the patient, glanced behind me to locate the wheeled stool, and sat down, as per usual. I completely misjudged the location of the stool and sat right on the edge It flew backwards, slammed into the door with a huge bang, and I sat down hard on the floor. The patient screamed and my entire office staff poured into the very small room, some holding emergency equipment. I was of course wearing a skirt…..oy.

  71. Jan Levinson*

    I was doing a week of training at our corporate office for a new position I was in, with eight others from around the country. We were all seated at individual desks in a ‘U’ shape, and corporate employees would take turns giving presentations from the inside of the ‘U’.

    One day, I was reaching across my desk to straighten my laptop, and managed to bump a full, open Diet Coke can off of the guy next to me’s desk. The can dropped right in the middle of the presentation area and spilled/fizzed EVERYWHERE. Coincidentally, I work for a cleaning supply company, and one of the corporate employees used the spill as an opportunity to show everyone how great one of our products worked at removing dark stains from carpet. :) Luckily, everyone was lighthearted, and many of my fellow trainees teased me saying, “did you do that on purpose so Mr. Corporate Employee could show us how well Product X works? That made me feel better, but I was still pretty mortified!

  72. ThatGirl*

    Last summer my manager, who I really liked, either got let go or decided to leave of her own volition really abruptly on the same day that a new person started and I was left overwhelmed to train the new person all on my own. We got through the week as best we could and at some point in the next week or so I met with my new/temporary manager to discuss what had been happening. At this point my brother was also in the hospital so I had a lot of stress and I started crying out of nowhere, completely embarrassed. To top it off I cried in front of her a second time a few weeks later, she was very nice about it, but the last thing I wanted was to be That Lady Who Cries A Lot.

  73. je parle très good français*

    Not quite at work, but in an interview. I majored in French in college and speak the language very well (not quite fluent, but very, very proficient). I applied for a job at a call center for French language customer support. Naturally, some of the French-speaking support agents spoke with me during the interview.

    I forgot every single word of French I knew.

    I spluttered and tried to form coherent sentences, but in my panic, my brain just went NOPE and threw all French out the window (ou, la fenêtre). My answers went along the lines of, “uh…je…parle…français…” instead of the lovely French I usually spoke. Basically, my answers sounded like “I speak goodest French, real good, the best.” I think my face is still red from embarrassment from that moment, and that was almost five years ago.

    (Oh, and I most definitely did not get the job.)

    1. Treecat*

      Oh NO, I feel you on this. I also speak French quite well and I have also had experiences where my entire brain was just like “Quelle langue? Pas cette langue!” and abandoned me when I needed it.

      Solidarity cringe.

    2. nnn*

      That happened my very first day at a bilingual job! I did fine in the interview, but in the job, facing customers, I just froze!

    3. KMM*

      Bahahaha! This too has happened to me. I took French in high school and we planned a * big * France trip for after graduation with the whole family. Everyone was counting on me and had to listen to me rave about my fluency for weeks leading up to the trip. We land and jet lag was not my friend and I forgot everything I ever learned. Reading and writing french well is one thing, but I didn’t have enough conversational practice up to that point. By day 3 it was better but boy those first two days were ROUGH and I was soooo embarrassed! I still love the language though and ended up picking it up as a college minor and still find ways to use it today =).

    4. Washi*

      I feel you. I speak another language at work and these are some of the things I’ve said accidentally:

      “When I don’t understand, sometimes I just smile and throw my head.”
      “Sophia brought us all little skulls back from vacation.”
      “I’m going to go pee at my desk now.”

      1. Lola*

        I’m crying at my desk right now. I also speak another language at work (French, actually) and when I’m really tired or have been in English brain for too long, this must be what I sound like to my colleagues. When I’m in French-English translation brain for too long, I can’t speak either language.

  74. Junk Food Octopus*

    Not probably the *most* embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me at work, but did truly happen this morning… Siri on my phone likes to occasionally randomly FaceTime the most inappropriate people (my best friend’s new husband, or my great uncle). This morning at 7 am while in my pocket it FaceTimed a consultant I’ve been working with lately – and then my stupid iPhone froze so I couldn’t even hang up before it went through! She was an hour behind in a different time zone (so, 6 am her time) and answered the call, I had clearly woken her up. I felt terrible and briefly considered suing apple for this stupid Siri face-timing crap; luckily the consultant and I are close and she’s butt-facetimed me before so I hope later today she’ll laugh at it. I did send an apology email though…

  75. Theophania*

    I collapsed at work last summer after projectile vomiting all over the bathroom–turns out I was passing gallstones that decided to go through my pancreas. I asked a coworker to call site medical and he stayed with me while I collapsed on my desk, apologizing for the inconvenience the entire time. Ended up being ambulanced out and landed in the hospital for months.

    Do not recommend.

  76. Jamie*

    During my first job out of law school, I went to a conference. I was sitting at a swanky dinner with these nice palazzo pants (they were in then!). But, when I excused myself to go the ladies room, when I stood up, I stood on a leg of my pants and my pants fell down. All the way to the floor down. I yanked them up and ran out of there. Thankfully, this was during dessert, so I really don’t think anyone noticed after cocktail hour and dinner. If they did, we all pretended it didn’t happen.

    1. SherBert*

      I got out of a taxi once, after a date, and the stiletto heel of my shoe went into the hem of my mid length skirt… dragging me down to the curb! My date seemed a little shocked, but I just laughed. There may have been wine involved!

    2. Lily*

      I too have been betrayed by wide-legged trousers. I was almost grateful when fashions changed to a slimmer profile several years ago. I had a particular pair of trousers and a particular pair of boots that just did. not. work. together. I caught my toe in the cuff of the oppose leg multiple times before I learned that they were a bad combo. The worst was when I was confidently striding down the hallway at work, carrying a full mug of tea and a two inch stack of loose papers. Naturally, I got caught in my own clothes and went straight down, like a tree. Massive thump, tea and papers everywhere, heads popping out of offices up and down the hallway. I bruised both my knees and my pride, but was otherwise ok. At least until I headed out at lunch time to buy some ice packs, tripped on the stairs outside the building, and wrenched my shoulder catching myself on the handrail.

    3. FoxyDog*

      I never actually pantsed myself, but I did learn the hard way that maxi skirts and rolling desk chairs don’t mix.

  77. Octothorp*

    I work at a children’s hospital and was singing to get a child’s attention. His parents requested a specific song I was surprised by, but who am I to judge?
    “Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games…”
    They died laughing, they wanted “WALKING in the jungle, not Axl Rose.

    1. Nurse Ratched*

      This absolutely made my morning! (And I sing the Beatles and old school country to my peds patients!)

  78. iglwif*

    I was 22, working in my first full-time job, and didn’t have enough vacation days yet to bridge the gaps not covered by Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, and my employer’s floating holiday days, so I was one of only a few people in the office/manufacturing building on, let’s say, December 29. We used to short-cut through the stockroom part of the warehouse (not the part with actual forklifts buzzing around!) from my unit to the lunchroom on the far side of the building, so I did the same that day, not realizing that with almost no one in the building, the alarms on those doors had not been disarmed as they normally were during working hours.*

    The main Physical Plant guy showed up, along with the police, as a result of my triggering the alarm. I was MORTIFIED.

    *To be completely honest, I did not even know there were alarms on those doors. Have I mentioned I was only 22?

  79. Have you tried rebooting?*

    My first job post graduation was a low level tech support gig in a giant open floor plan office very low cube walls surrounded by plate glass windows on an upper floor of an office building. There was zero privacy, and the noise level could get rather loud with folks on the phone and otherwise talking to each other.

    It was my first week of work, and I was wearing a rather comfy but slick pair of pants. When I sat down in my rolling chair, it flew backwards and hit the safety bar in front of the plate glass windows. Meanwhile, my posterior hit the floor, hard. It made this loud, ringing thud like some sort of doom bell.

    All 50 people in my area seemed to stand up like a coterie of prairie dogs, peering over their half walls. I wasn’t hurt, but I was beet red from embarrassment. I never wore those pants again.

  80. SigneL*

    I was striding across the lobby of our building when I caught my toe on something (no idea what) and lost my balance, in a kind of running crouch. I then cannoned into two Very Important Doctors, and we all went down. Fortunately, they were very nice about it (“the Cowboys need you!”), but, oh, my. It was pure luck that no one was injured.

  81. hiptobesquared*

    I crashed the entire network on accident. I work in IT and my boss was on vacation and I had to call him to fix it. Nothing got deleted and people were really chill (other than teasing me) – but it was down for a few hours.

  82. Sleepytime Tea*

    I had to interview for a promotion with my own team, and the whole thing was honestly a farse (the job was mine and everyone knew it, but you know, whatever). I then needed to “interview” with our senior legal counsel since I’d be working with him directly (again, a formality, as we had worked together frequently).

    We are walking to his office, and I fell down the stairs. He of course freaked out and asked if I was ok. I popped up, laughed a little, and said “this is why I hold hand rails” and kept on moving. But I was dying inside.

  83. Hats Are Great*

    I have four kids and I was a little overtired (one of them was a baby at the time), so I spend a lot of time taking care of small children and being “mom.” This is my only excuse for what follows.

    I was talking to a colleague at the end of a meeting, noticed he had schmutz on his cheek, and I LICKED MY THUMB AND WIPED IT OFF HIS CHEEK without even registering what I was doing.

    We both jumped back in horror and I apologized profusely. Fortunately he was a pretty good friend (our families hang out socially outside of work) so we were able to laugh about it afterwards, but I wanted to DIE ON THE SPOT.

    1. Liz*

      I had a CW almost do that to me! I had pen on my arm, and she went as far as to lick her finger, and move towards me to wipe it off, and then realized, jumped back, and apologized profusely! I just laughed and as we were friends it wasn’t a big deal but she was MORTIFIED.

    2. Auntie Social*

      That’s okay—my friend with 3 young kids and her husband, my husband and I went to dinner because she needed “adult conversation for God’s sake”. The entrees arrive, and Bar starts cutting my husband’s meat and talking to him like he’s 4. And doesn’t stop even though we’re all trying to stop her. When she realizes what she has done, she starts trying to mash it all back together so the entree looks whole, but now it just looks sort of sat-upon. Her husband calmly said “we’re gonna get Bar out more often. This has been good for her”.

  84. Bruise Campbell*

    I once coughed so hard I peed my blue jeans on a light colored fabric chair in the presence of several coworkers so I quickly grabbed my water bottle and “accidentally” spilled it on my lap, no one was the wiser.

  85. HailRobonia*

    I got a call from a number that looked a lot like my husband’s phone number, so I answered “hey sweetie, what’s up?”

    It was actually a faculty member calling from across campus.

    1. Becky*

      When I was a teenager my family had just sat down to dinner and I was asked to say Grace. Only the phone rang right then so I picked it up, and said “Dear Heavenly Father”. Luckily it was my Dad and he started laughing.

    2. SherBert*

      We used to tell co-workers it was their wife on the phone when it was really the grand boss. Their reactions when they realized who it was were epic!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        My wife and my grandboss have nearly the same name (different initial letter). Think Jamie/Amy. Also, my wife works for the same library system. One day my coworker leaned through the office door and said, “Sparkly, Jamie is on line 2 for you.” I wondered why she hadn’t called my cell, but picked up — and thankfully didn’t say “Hi, sweetie, what’s up?” like I usually did. It wasn’t my typical “Thanks for holding. This is Sparkly.”, but it was a lot easier to come back from plain “Hello?” when the first thing I hear is, “Hi, Sparkly, it’s Amy.” in not-my-wife’s voice.

  86. Cat Burglar*

    When I was 14 my neighbors hired me to take care of their pets while they went on vacation. It was my first job. A few days before they left I went over to their house so they could give me instructions and a house key. They told me to come over twice a day (once in the morning, once in the evening) and I would start next Tuesday. So that morning, my dad dropped me off at the neighbor’s house so I could feed the pets before he drove me to school. It was dark and raining and I had trouble getting the key in the door. After I finally got the door open, the home alarm went off and I heard people upstairs panicking and yelling, “who’s there?!?” I thought the house had been broken into, the neighbors were still at home and thought I was a burglar.

    Turns out there was a small communication error. The neighbors forgot to mention were LEAVING Tuesday and I wasn’t supposed to start until the afternoon. Thankfully, they were nice about it and I took care of their pets for many years after that.

    1. BadWolf*

      Hey, at least they knew you were taking the job seriously! They said Tuesday, so you were there on Tuesday.

    2. Former Borders Refugee*

      I was once petsitting for neighbors, and locked their key in house. My dad got to teach me the fine art of popping a lock with a credit card.

      1. Esme Squalor*

        In my college dorm, the outside doors had such crappy locks that it was easier to pick them with a credit card than actually use our assigned keys. In my two years living in that building, I don’t think I ever used my outer door key.

    3. just a random teacher*

      Urgh. I was a petsitter for a while, and I grew up in a household that had deadbolts on the door between the garage and the house, which we always locked at night so that burglars couldn’t break into our house using a garage door opener.

      My clients instead had a regular twist-the-thing-on-the-knob-to-lock-the door doorknob on the door to the garage, but no deadbolt. (My childhood home, for the record, did not have one of those. We had a deadbolt and no other lock.)

      I locked it before going to bed, because one Locks The Garage Door Before Going To Bed in my world. Their lab liked to go on walks before the coffee had kicked in in the mornings, and it completely didn’t occur to me that this kind of lock would lock behind me even if I didn’t have a key to lock it with. I pulled the door between the garage and the house shut, shut the garage door with the key code, and took the lab on an early morning walk while semi-conscious. Upon arrival back at the house, I discovered my error. I did not actually have a key to their house because they’d told me the code to the garage number pad instead of giving me one. The (confused but enthusiastic) dog and I got to hang out in their car in the garage while we waited for their other/previous pet sitter (who had a key to their house) to come over and unlock the house for me so I could get back inside.

  87. Lora*

    This happened when I was a student, so not sure if it counts, but anyway.

    I was TA-ing for my department and one of my tasks was making the chemical solutions for various classes. A big component of the Organic Chemistry labs was synthesis for pharmacology studies (it was the ’90s, pretty much as soon as you matriculated with some kind of Organic Chemistry graduate degree, you got a job in pharma), and the chemistry closets were chock full of USP grade starting materials and reagents. So what I did was relatively tame, all things considered, but still embarrassing.

    For some reason, the department decided that all us geeky, pasty nerds needed more exercise and demanded that everyone enroll in some kind of fitness classes on top of our regular curriculum. The only one that fit my schedule that semester was weight lifting. I was a scrawny little thing and lifting weights 3x weekly resulted in some serious muscle strain as the class was taught by the hockey coach. I had to go to work directly after weight lifting and could barely move my arms without pain.

    But, aha! The active components in muscle rubs are menthol (from peppermint!) and eugenol (from cloves!), which we had in abundance in the chemistry stock room. And I knew these things were soluble only in organic solvent or ethanol – and we had loads of neat dry pure non-denatured ethanol in the stockroom, too, and I had the key! (Universities lock up their pure ethanol stocks religiously and only give keys to workers who are not thought to be as stupid as me, evidently.) I poured myself out about 30 mL of neat ethanol and spooned in about 1/4 tsp each of menthol and eugenol, stirred it up and wetted a paper towel with the resulting solution, then rubbed the wet paper towel all over my aching shoulders, arms and chest.

    At first, it worked beautifully and a cool numbness spread over my knotted muscles. Ah. blessed relief.

    15 minutes later my entire upper torso was absolutely numb and my arms were putty. I could barely hold myself upright. I sat down in the student lounge, thinking I’d just rest a few minutes and wait to get acclimated to the numbness before going back to work.

    3 hours later I was blushing furiously and asking my Anatomy & Physiology professor for help because I still couldn’t feel my entire torso or arms. When she was done laughing, she back-calculated the approximate overdose and said I should give it another few hours before going to the ER, though she wasn’t sure what the ER would realistically do. By the 6.5 hour mark, I could at least feel my stomach again, and it wore off completely overnight.

    And that is why 1) herbs and Natural Products aren’t harmless 2) self-medication is not the best idea ever. On the plus side, I went on to a long career in pharma, so…

    1. ZSD*

      I appreciate that one of these stories involves someone using the real skills they’ve developed for their job.

    2. MarsJenkar*

      As the late, great Terry Pratchett once pointed out, “Belladonna is an herb, and arsenic is natural.”

    3. whomever*

      Ah, but this is why the chemical students give the best parties! Because they do bring out the pure ethanol. To this day when I meet a chemist I ask “drugs or explosives?” because everyone I know who was into chemistry did it to make one, the other, or usually both…

  88. Anona*

    I used to have a habit of chewing on my pens at work. One day, I chewed on a blue fountain pen, and it exploded in my mouth, directly before a staff meeting. My teeth were blue. I locked myself in the bathroom, and, after several minutes of scrubbing on my teeth with paper towels and actual bathroom soap, they were mostly not blue and I went to my meeting.
    I don’t chew pens anymore.

    1. Southern Yankee*

      Wow! I’ve chewed on a cheap ballpoint, but I can’t say I’ve ever chewed on a fountain pen. I use fountain pens all the time and have had enough ink leaks/explosions to relate. The metal image of that happening in your mouth is amazing!

  89. NewWorkingMama*

    I used to have to go to *big important conference in Vegas* and all the meetings were in individual suites. I was a super young woman at a conference where the average attendee was a middle age male. Needless to stay I stood out and was remembered.

    I was on my way back to the suite our company, and was on the phone with my mom. I got out on the floor, walked to the end of the hallway where the room was, didn’t check the number because it was the last one in the row. Right as I was about to use my key, the door opened and a guy held it open for me. I didn’t know the guy but it wasn’t unusual because they were having meetings all day and I wasn’t involved in all of them.

    I walked into the suite only to find it was set up completely different to our suite. My brain literally broke. I was standing there with four men staring at me and me staring at them in total confusion. And then one of them said, “NewWorkingMama? We don’t have a meeting today.”

    I had literally walked into the wrong suite that (thank goodness) was currently occupied by a client we had met with the day before. I spouted some excuses and scurried out the door and to the correct floor and room where I died of embarrassment and avoided that client for the rest of my tenure at the company.

    1. Flat Penny*

      I once made a wrong turn, walked into someone’s office, politely told him “you’re not stairs” and walked out again before he could say anything.

    2. Name Required*

      I don’t think I get why this is so embarrassing. It sounds like you just accidentally walked into the wrong room, which happens all the time at conferences … or am I missing something?

      1. Nicelutherangirl*

        Yeah, I ‘m a bit puzzled, too. Given the elements of the story – Vegas, middle aged men, young female employee – I was expecting she was going to be welcomed into the suite as the “escort” one of them had hired for after work hours, or catch a co-worker in flagrante delicto.

      2. socrescentfresh*

        I thought the story was going to be that the man held the door open thinking NewWorkingMama was the prostitute he’d ordered. I’m a little let down, but it’s probably better that wasn’t what happened.

  90. ChemistryChick*

    Hoo boy. I’ll share two things that have happened to me.

    At my previous job, I was sitting at a round break room table with two co-workers having a coffee break. I had just taken a swig of coffee when one of them said something hilarious. I tried to hold my laughter, but ended up just spit-taking coffee right between the both of them so thankfully they didn’t get the full blast, but they did get hit with over-spray. I was mortified haha. Thank goodness we were all pretty good friends so they didn’t hold it against me but oh my goodness.

    At my current job, I ate something that didn’t agree with me over lunch. Made the mistake of trusting a fart and crapped myself a bit. Thank goodness only my husband was around and we have a washer/drier at work. Penguin waddled my way to the bathroom, rinsed my underwear as best I could then sprinted back into the lab to toss them into the washer, which is a front loader with a clear door. I spent the next 20 minutes of the quick rinse cycle desperately hoping no one would come by to peek in the washer and see my lone pair of underwear tumbling around. Thankfully, no one did and I was able to dry them in peace. Going commando in jeans as a women is not something I’d recommend.

      1. Chemistry Chick*

        Haha some of the best advice my mother gave me was never trust a fart. Clearly I failed that time

        I’m also so glad that I’m not the only one this has happened to.

        1. whomever*

          Oh it happens to everyone. I keep a complete change of clothes at my desk (mostly because I bike 8 miles each way to work, and do occasionally forget the change for when I shower when I get there), and I will confess to using them for this reason.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      My SIL doesn’t wear underwear ever. She also has Ulceritive colitis (sp???)and has been newly diagnosed with Crohns.
      As I have had a child, some really interesting periods, and lived a life with moments of fart trusting my first thought was “but what happens when X happens???”

      1. Chemistry Chick*

        Oh man. My hubs has UC that’s under control with meds and I can tell you, he would never ever ever go without underwear.

  91. Stackson*

    I was teaching English to a roomful of sixth graders in elementary school in Japan when I bled through my tampon. I was too embarrassed to know what to do and wasn’t quite sure how to ask the homeroom teacher in Japanese if I could excuse myself for just a minute, so I just kept teaching. I walked around the classroom for what was probably another 20 minutes before the class ended, checking on students’ work and (I thought) surreptitiously checking my pants to see how badly I’d bled through them (very badly). I’m sure now I was pretty obvious about it, though at the time I thought I was so sneaky. As soon as the class was over, I grabbed a textbook and held it over my backside as I rushed down the stairs and across two buildings to the teacher’s room where I could get some supplies and clean myself up.
    Fortunately, I was wearing brown pants that day, so I don’t think it ended up being that noticeable after I cleaned everything up, but the next class I went to, I had a fifth grader follow me down the hall looking at the back of my pants. I’m sure he heard about it from someone in the first class, but no one ever said anything to me about it so I just tried to forget that it ever happened. I’m cringing now just thinking about it and it was almost a decade ago. Ugh.

  92. Emi.*

    In my first week back from maternity leave, I got up to put a couple bags of milk in the freezer and didn’t notice that my pumping bra had velcroed itself to the back of my sweater and was dangling/flapping against my legs.

  93. notanexpat*

    There’s a lot from the first job I had that involved, like, clients.

    1) Tasked with getting an org chart from the client. Silence when I asked for it. Joked: Much as we love working with you guys, we need to know who else is there. More silence.
    2) Paying field staff in a rural area with no ATMs. Afterward, one of them gently suggests not waving cash around in a public space again. I manage to adhere to this particular piece of common sense for the rest of our time in the field.
    …OK, well, I’m sure there’s more, but that actually gets it out of my system.

    1. Wren*