Mortification Week: the sleepover, the angry bees, and more

It’s Mortification Week at AAM and all week long we’ll be revisiting ways we’ve mortified ourselves at work (pulling comments and letters from the archives). Here are 15 more mortifying stories people have shared here over the years.

1. The shirt

“I was wearing a shirt with sparkles on a dark blue background, that I thought looked like space. Someone complimented me on it and I said, ‘It’s my Star Trek shirt! Where no man has gone before!’ Oops.”

2. Mixed up words

“Age 22, working for Fortune 10 company. Wrote the company newsletter. On that day the first-page announcement was about a blood drive. I was to type, ‘Please come give at your scheduled time’ but my brain malfunctioned and I typed, ‘Please give come at your scheduled time.’

I died a thousand deaths that day. I thank God this happened before the internet and email. It became legend. Five years later, the print shop guys were telling me about the time someone wrote ‘please …’ on the cover of the newsletter. No one even remembered it was me.”

3. New Kids on the Block

“I was interviewing at a conservative company for a position where I’d be training upper administration on a particular product. We were discussing various innovative training techniques that I’d used in the past. They asked for an example and I got up and sang a New Kids on the Block song that I’d reworded for a product, including doing the choreography from the video. The looks on their faces were like I’d started stripping. As I sat down I realized they probably wanted a verbal response, and one appropriate to the environment.”

4. Gossip

“Phone interview for a bank role. They asked about how I would handle confidential information. I gave examples of experience I had with HIPAA info and handling private information and then I blurted out, ‘But ya know, everyone gossips!’

I have no idea why I said that! I’m not a gossipy person! I think I was trying to say something funny or friendly or whatever to connect to the interviewer.”

5. The worst ice-breaker in the world

“I work at a nonprofit agency of the blind, and a large percentage of our staff is blind. At the last holiday party at my office the upper management hired a DJ and told him to come up with some ice breaker games. The only ice-breaker this DJ could come up with was a game where the players had to keep toilet paper rolls in between their legs, and another player had to use a toilet plunger to try to spear the rolls from between the other persons legs.

What this amounted to was that we had a bunch of blind people thrusting a wooden plunger at each others’ crotches. It did not end well.”

6. The gaffes

“I have a million gaffs, I’m sure, but there are three that I lay awake at night thinking about some times.

1) I worked at a cinema in high school/uni, and one day when I’d been working there for a few months, I misjudged how much popcorn I’d need for the final shows of the matinees (it was midweek in the summer and pretty quiet.) I’d cleaned the kettle already, so when an unexpected last minute rush came in at the end of my shift, I tried to convince people to get something else. And I was SO CONFIDENT about it. I’d glance at the empty warmer and laugh, and tell them, ‘Nope, sorry, don’t think I can get you a large. Maybe some nachos or candy?’ My manager freaked and jumped in to start popping more, and somehow it still didn’t twig for me that I’d made the wrong call?? Amazingly, I didn’t get fired, and eventually even made assistant manager.

2) I’d just made a career switch away from teaching, and my company was having a party to celebrate the end of a fundraising campaign they did every year. Now, some important context: I had been baptised Mormon for my husband, but I had just left the church and was also absolutely miserable in my marriage. So, after not drinking for several years, I get totally hammered at this (daytime) party, have my arm around this sleazy guy, and keep loudly WOO!-ing during our CEO’s speech. Then I would up going outside and barfing … right beside my office building, which is on a busy street in the downtown business core. Again, it’s daytime.

3) Same company, same life circumstances … I’m out drinking with some coworkers, our VP, and our COO, and I wound up aggressively sitting in the COO’s lap and asking him what his favorite dessert is. Crème brûlée, if anyone’s wondering. Served with a side of mortification.”

7. The hug

“I had an interview for a retail company. She said that my resume was amazing and it was more of a chat than an interview. I think I answered the questions really well and interviewer was nodding along. In my opinion, the interview went really well.

The interview came to an end and she told me where I could find the exit. I went in for a handshake and quickly realized her hands were full. She tried to empty her hands, but I thought she went in for a hug. I awkwardly hugged her and whispered OMG and then walked out.”

8. Noooo

“After a video team meeting today, I hung up the call and proceeded to get undressed for a shower. After a few seconds, when I was significantly but not completely undressed, I noticed that the app had frozen and was still open. The rest of my team had been staying on for a different meeting, so I prayed it had disconnected on their end and closed it.

At a meeting with our team lead later in the afternoon, she (gently) let me know that it had not disconnected and told me it wasn’t a big deal. Obviously I am DEEPLY mortified and basically want to die right now.”

(You can read this full letter and the answer here.)

9. The photograph

“A friend had finally hooked up with a guy she worked with (but who was in a different department) that she’d been crushing on for over a year. She snapped a quick selfie in bed the next morning while he was visible to send to her close friend group chat … and sent it to the big chat that included her boss instead.”

10. Name calling

“I am very bad at names. I often recognize people, but can’t remember why. I was at lunch one day with a coworker who usually works at another building, and I said to her something about how she knew So-and-So (an older portly gentleman), who was sitting at a table right next to us. She turned and looked, and said, “That’s not So-and-So.” The gentleman, who had heard me, also turned and said, “I’m not So-and-So.” I had mixed him up with another older, portly gentleman. I was greatly embarrassed, especially because he seemed to find the mix-up insulting.

From then on out, every time I saw this guy, I made sure to say his name, repeatedly, so that he would know I knew who he was. But a year and a half later, I found out I had still been calling him by the wrong name.”

11. The insult

“Many years ago I was temping, doing data entry in an accounting department. The accounts payable clerk left abruptly, and despite not having any experience, I was asked to try and cover the position until they could find a replacement. It turned out I had an aptitude for it, and the supervisor said I was doing so well and would I consider going permanent in the role? My condescending answer was, ‘Oh no, I don’t want to be an accountant.’ The supervisor, crestfallen, quietly said, ‘Neither did I,” and walked away.

After a few days’ reflection, I realised this was a pretty good gig, preferable to going back to data entry in another temp job, or my previous career in the restaurant industry, and meekly asked if the position was still open. It was, and I was hired, and over twenty-five years later I work for the same company, in the same finance and accounting department, and am myself a manager there. That supervisor was one of the best bosses I ever had, and I still cringe when I remember that exchange. She was gracious enough to never bring it up.”

12. Please hold

“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!”

13. “I’m busy”

“It was my first professional job out of college but I had been there at least a year. I was in the habit of making a cup of tea and chatting with my coworker who sat directly in front of the manager’s office. We had a new manager (one of my favorite managers so far!) and she had received a request from her boss to get something done ASAP and she asked me to do it. I replied, ‘Sure, right after I finish my tea’ and then I kept chatting until I finished my tea.”

14. Not fur

“I have 2 cats that shed like crazy and am almost always covered in cat hair no matter how often I use a lint rollers or vacuum my place. This also results in cat hair getting all over my car, chair at work, etc.

One time at the end of a team meeting, I was sitting really close to a coworker and saw what I thought was a cat hair on my coworker’s head. I was mortified that I was apparently shedding on my coworkers but didn’t want her to have to walk around with cat hair in her hair, so I told her and asked if she wanted me to get it out. She said yes, so I reached over and tried to pick it out of her hair.

Y’all … it was not a cat hair. It was just a gray hair.

My boss and other teammate just looked at each other, stood up simultaneously, and declared the meeting over. I have never wanted to sink into the floor more than I did at that moment.”

15. Angry bees

“Angry bees flew up my skirt at a company-wide picnic. At the first stings, I yelped and flew to my feet. As 80 people stared in astonishment, I yanked my long, voluminous, circa-1990s skirt up over my waist, flapping it up and down while yelping and whirling like a dervish as the insects set my nether-regions on fire. A female coworker/friend helped me to the park restroom, where I disrobed and shook out my skirt in private. Thankfully, I am not allergic, and the pain from the stings subsided far more quickly than my embarrassment.”

{ 309 comments… read them below }

  1. LolaBugg*

    Never thought I’d see the sentence “aggressively sitting in the COO’s lap” but here we are. These are all hilarious!

    1. Business Socks*

      “A bunch of blind people thrusting a wooden plunger at each other’s crotches” is the sentence I’m more surprised about.

      That said, #5 went in a different direction than I expected. As I began reading, I was confident it was going to end with the phrase “seen any good movies lately?”

  2. Cute Li'l UFO*

    The visual of #5 alone has me sitting mouth agape trying veeery hard not to laugh! That sounds like a horrible idea even for the sighted! Does this DJ just have a stash of fresh, never used plungers hanging around?

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Seriously! This activity doesn’t sound appropriate for any sort of work environment, ever!

      1. Artemesia*

        I have participated in dozens of ice breakers over the years and all that lead to me devising ice breakers that were related to the training at hand rather than highly personal — but never seen anything like this and can’t imagine anyone thinking it appropriate for anyone or that someone didn’t stop it before it started with a room full of blind people.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          I volunteered at a School for the Blind in college, and there was usually an icebreaker event before school each fall. One year, the auditorium and the annex were closed for floor refinishing, so the event planner found space at a convention center. Buses, not a problem, but the planner had a medical emergency, and the motivational speaker had a scheduling conflict. So the stand-by had games that involved taping names of famous people with hint lists on everyone’s backs. (Maybe the white canes didn’t seem like a clue?)

          When that failed to inspire the crowd, he had other plans.
          Pictionary and CHARADES.

          Later in the year, the Dean used that as an educational theme, “They CAN’T know what works best for us, so we need to advocate for ourselves and those in our community.”

          But it had been a horrendous evening, and the motivational speaker and substitute planner were utterly clueless.

          1. Amaranth*

            Pictionary and charades are a nightmare for anyone with social anxiety too. Or with little knowledge of pop culture. I rank them up there with forced karaoke.

          2. cassielfsw*

            I… What…

            Was he not paying attention to the name of the school? Did he not understand what the word “blind” means? I’m flabbergasted.

    2. Shad*

      I have heard of it as a baby shower game for the vague resemblance to the act of creation.
      Which makes it all the more inappropriate for work!

      1. Sleepless*

        We played it at a baby shower once. This was a really great crowd for it because it was a same sex couple. I don’t know which was funnier, one of the moms (jokingly) going “I don’t get it. Is this a straight thing?” or the great-grandmas going at it while howling with laughter.

        1. Elenna*

          Yeah, I can see this being a fun thing among (sighted) friends who enjoy that style of humor. Definitely not for work though, even putting aside the significant percentage of blind staff and the resulting chance of injuries!

  3. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Wow, I know that “it’s full of bees” is a thing we say about terrible workplaces sometimes, but for poor #15 it was literally full of bees!

    1. Artemesia*

      NOBODY is going to ever think that anything #15 did is inappropriate — I mean a skirt full of bees yikes.

      1. quill*

        The “grandchild of a beekeeper” part of me is all “what did you do to the poor bees, sit on them?” and then my rational brain is all “Uh, she DEFINITELY could not have stayed to find that out, Quill!”

        1. Zelda*

          I harbor a suspicion that it was yellow jackets– they’re ground-nesting, so it is possible to step into a nest unwittingly, especially in an outdoor space that doesn’t usually have crowds of people stomping around. And they’re mean SOBs.

    2. Melissa*

      All I can picture is the scene from Ever After with the blonde stepsister and the stepmom and the queen, and blonde stepsister has a screaming fit, calms herself down, and primly remarks ‘There was a bee”

    3. SnappinTerrapin*

      My experience wasn’t nearly as embarrassing, as I was in an open field, but I came out of a pair of Liberty overalls pretty quick one time when I caught a lizard running up inside the leg. Caught him just above my knee, but didn’t think I’d be able to back him down.

      1. Worldwalker*

        A story from my misspent youth: Many years ago, I owned a rather decrepit mobile home. My bedroom was actually a room built onto the side of it, with no heating save a “duct” built of taped-together boxes I ran across the hall from the bathroom. Because I sleep like an octopus in convulsions, I will kick off the covers no matter how cold it is; therefore, I finally just deployed the sleeping bag I used for camping. I also was raising Siberian hamsters for some reason. And I had a cat. All of these things converged when I woke up in the middle of the night to realize I WAS NOT ALONE IN MY SLEEPING BAG. I demonstrated that it is possible for a person to leave a mummy-style sleeping bag without unzipping it, rather like a bullet leaves a gun barrel, and at a similar speed. When I woke up fully, I realized that my cat had inserted a live hamster into my sleeping bag and sat back to watch the fun; I swear she was smirking.

        1. Jessica Ganschen*

          I can picture this so beautifully in my head, and I desperately wish I could turn it into a little three minute cartoon.

  4. Spotted Kitty*

    I wouldn’t have been bothered by #2’s typo. That particular spelling of “come” doesn’t make me think of anything bad.

    1. ThatGirl*

      It’s not the typo – OP didn’t spell it differently – it’s the word order. “come give” has a totally different meaning than “give come”…

      1. nonbinary writer*

        I think Spotted Kitty is saying that “come” spelled traditionally doesn’t always connote the, er, smuttiness that its homophone does, even with that word order.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          It actually can be spelled either way. The “come” spelling is as a noun right there in the ol’ Merriam-Webster.

            1. KayDeeAye*

              Oh, I got that – sorry I was unclear. I was trying to let Spotted Kitty know that although the noun “come” doesn’t have any smutty associations for them, it absolutely does for other people…including the folks at Merriam-Webster. :-)

        2. Edwina*

          The thing to remember is that was apparently years ago, and years ago, as I remember clearly, the word was always spelled “come.” The shorter spelling only started maybe 20 years ago.

    2. SnappinTerrapin*

      The alternate spelling is Latin for “with.”

      However, the Latin spelling is more of a colloquial spelling for the meaning of reaching a goal, which would more properly be spelled with the common English verb for arriving.

      1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        Many English villages are called Something-Cum-SomethingElse. Causes problems with internet filters etc.

  5. Former Retail Lifer*

    I’m enjoying these so much. Unfortunately, I work alone in an office and my desk is right in front of a large window that people frequently walk by. So many people have seen me cracking up…alone at my desk…today.

    1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      I am forwarding these columns to the 3 people still in my office, b/c they could hear me cackling to myself yesterday. In my defense, these ARE all about work!

  6. HollyPhoenix94*

    If anyone wants a toilet roll ice breaker that’s less risky than number 5, here’s one I’ve played before. Bring out a toilet roll and tell the participants that for *insert invented reason here* this is the last one in the building. Get them to take as much as they think they’ll need for the duration of the event. Then come clean, it’s not actually the last one but now everyone has to give one fact about themselves for every sheet they took. Works best on a multi-day event as then the gullible types take loads!

        1. Duckles*

          This is an icebreaker we used to have in kids at camp. I would not translate it to an office.

    1. TechWorker*

      Where are you where you can play this without someone just being like ‘we need to go shopping’? Honestly I would find this setup bizarre :p

      1. Just a Cog in the Machine*

        Not to mention, it’s set against women from the get-go. Not only do we frequently use the bathroom more times in a day (from my experience) because our bladders are generally smaller, we use toilet paper each time we go.

        1. quill*

          Also, the, you know. Monthly biohazard uses more tp.

          Also the number of men who don’t wipe after peeing and don’t wash their hands should be way more shaming than “taking more toilet paper than others” but apparently it’s not!

        2. Nanani*

          This. Even if someone wants to argue that getting women to talk more is better – still no.
          It’s an ice breaker not meeting floor time.

          Not to mention the embarrassment of earnest people who take a lot because of a medical condition, which should be way off limits.

      2. Bilateralrope*

        Especially if someone goes and invokes their health and safety laws. Which I would.

        And I would learn more useful things about my coworkers than the game going as planned would tell me.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Unless like me you run into the person who has seen this ice breaker before and warns you.

          (Happened at college Freshman Orientation – the girl beside me took one sheet and warned me it’s a crummy icebreaker – take one sheet.)

      3. Worldwalker*

        As a general rule, doing *anything* that is likely to single out or embarrass people for a medical condition — whether that’s IBS or the menstruation (a word that does not need a euphemism any more than IBS does) — is a bad, Bad, BAD idea for any group function. This is the sort of thing that is likely to leave some participants in tears, other participants furious, and absolutely nobody happy. Definitely not an icebreaker.

        Icebreakers should revolve around things like someone’s favorite movie, not how much toilet paper they need.

    2. A Genuine Scientician*

      No. Just no.

      I have IBS, and there is absolutely no way my coworkers need to know how much toilet paper I think I am likely to need for any particular length of time.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        Same. I think it’s a clever idea on one level, but I’d be silently freaking out about having to choose between “prepare for a sudden attack just in case” and “take very little in order to avoid calling attention to my temperamental gastrointestinal organs.”

      2. Bilateralrope*

        But think of the fun you could have seeing how many facts you could get out of describing it. If you want to make sure nobody here ever tries this “game” again.

        Fact 1: all my facts are chosen to make you regret picking this game
        Fact 2: I have IBS.

        Seriously though, I understand you wanting to keep all this private. It’s probably best to just toss the roll into the trash when it’s your turn to take pieces.

      3. Amaranth*

        Nobody should be thinking about their coworkers wiping themselves. Seriously, the bear commercials even gross me out.

    3. Dr. Rebecca*

      Yeah, no.

      I was the gullible one at a baby shower when I was a late-teen, and took like 6 or 8 squares (it didn’t help that the set up was “take how many you think will be enough” and no one defined “enough”…) and when it was announced that we were going to be giving baby care tips I did my best but they quickly and abruptly moved on after I had said two things. Because I was…like 16 or so, and wtf did I know about babies? It still stings like 24 years later that I was basically set up to fail that ‘game.’

      1. nonbinary writer*

        Any game where the point is “hahaha, you believed a lie I told you” is not one I’m interested in playing.

      2. Exhausted Trope*

        Happened to me too at a bridal shower. I took about 20 sheets but being 16, had only 1 bit of advice – – be sure to bake his favorite cookies. In retrospect, it’s actually not bad advice.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        They did it at my college orientation too – fortunately I was tipped off by the person next to me. Her fact was “I knew this was an ice breaker game.” My fact was “I was told this was an ice breaker game as the roll was being passed around.”

        We were not popular for the rest of the day long orientation.

        1. Jessica*

          You are my heroes. This is a disgusting, terrible icebreaker and I applaud everyone who has deliberately subverted it.

        2. Amethystmoon*

          There’s always saying completely mundane facts like, “I need to sleep 8 hours a day” or “I prefer to drink coffee with breakfast.” But yeah, I can see this going completely wrong at work and also, there are people from other cultures for whom this would be hugely taboo.

        3. Caboose*

          I firmly believe that the primary purpose of icebreakers is to get people to bond as they commiserate over how much the activity sucks.

          1. Kal*

            My experience with icebreakers would confirm this as the best case scenario.

            With a lot of horrible ones I was so busy trying to find a way to be the least humiliated I could be in the situation to care what anyone else was saying and it left me seriously antisocial for the rest of the event. So if anything, those icebreakers just built up ice that wasn’t there before.

    4. Famethrowa*

      Oh jeez this brings back bad job PTSD. When I was training for a temp job at a major banking company, they pulled this stunt in my training class. Luckily for my socially anxious self I only took one piece!

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Each of my facts would likely be a coded insult to the person conducting the game.

        Although with my coworkers, I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see someone produce a roll from a purse or bag and start an auction.

    5. TechWriter*

      Ugh we did this in my dorm floor. Though they just said “take some TP” with no context at all.

      Guess how many squeals of “OMG I LIKE JACK JOHNSON TOOOOO!” this game provoked?

      1. Elenna*

        TBH I feel like “take some TP” with no context is arguably better than lying to people about being out of TP. They’re both terrible icebreakers though.

    6. Stephanie*

      LOL, they did this on the most recent season of The Good Fight; first time I’ve seen that icebreaker!

    7. Anonny*

      For some reason, I thought this was going to be a variant on The Minister’s Cat, where you had to pass around a roll of toilet paper and come up with a reason as to why it was the last roll in the building. Possibly in alphabetical order.

    8. Former Teacher*

      No, please don’t do this! I once encountered this ice breaker at a teacher’s retreat and it was as awful as you’re probably imagining.

    9. RagingADHD*

      I would think the gullible people would be the first to just pull out their car keys and go to the store.

      Honestly, I have never, ever seen hokey “icebreakers” of any kind make people more comfortable or improve the dynamic, except for the shared relief that it’s over and shared secret loathing of the organizer.

      Just let grownups have normal conversations, or lead a relevant discussion. Maybe ask thought- provoking questions about the actual work.

      1. Foxgloves*

        The only “icebreaker” I’ve seen actually work is asking people to go into pairs and tell the other person something interesting about their name, who then later reports that back to the group- it can be about their first, middle, surname, anything! Most people (in my experience- of course, YMMV) are quite happy to talk about their name, and you can go as in depth or as surface level as you feel comfortable with. Like, you could do “Oh my name is John but actually everyone calls me Jack, just because I prefer it” or “So I’m named Foxgloves because my mother was a super keen gardener and while she was pregnant saw these beautiful purple flowers…” or just “My name is Oliver and it means ‘of the olive branch'”. Added bonus is it makes it a lot easier to remember people’s names.

    10. Rachel*

      Or it will be the people who are on their periods or dealing with any number of private issues you should not forcing them to feel bad about. This is just really weird.

    11. DataSci*

      So, shaming people with periods or with gastrointestinal issues is all in good fun then? No thanks!

    12. Splendid Colors*

      They did this in the season opener of The Good Fight, as part of the orientation day for the new associates.

  7. EAH*

    When I was 22, I got hired for two separate jobs (one at a theater, one at a bookstore) where the dress code was no jeans. I was just out of college, living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, had a mound a student debt, and both of these jobs paid minimum wage. I also had a collection of cheap dresses from forever 21 that ranged from club wear to sundress. My solution to this dress code was to wear those with a series of thrift store blazers. I’ve been blessed with a pretty full rear, so those skirts were often a few inches higher in the back than the front. Over a series of months BOTH of my managers from both jobs pulled me aside to take about my inappropriate work attire, and I straight up ignored both of them, and refused to spend any money on new work clothes. In hindsight, I’m torn between being deeply embarrassed and also kind of missing the piss and vinegar of being 22 and blatantly having the attitude that if you want me to dress like a professional, pay me a professional wage.

    1. Caaan Do!*

      Absolutely the piss and vinegar over embarrassment option. I wish I had been as confident in my 20s!

      1. EAH*

        I really was dressing like I was going to a frat party (but with sensible shoes and a ponytail) every day. But I still stand by my assessment that a “cheap” pair of non jean pants was at least $20, which was close to three hours of work after taxes and I was barely scraping by as it was, and they could have let me wear my black jeans if they were so worried about my booty distracting customers!

        1. Constance Lloyd*

          Minimum wage warrants minimum wardrobe requirements! Especially when most minimum wage jobs provide your wardrobe.

    2. Jessica*

      Hell yeah! At my annual review when I was about that age and was a bank teller, I got told that I should dress more professionally, and I don’t think I said anything, but I was super offended. (I remember exactly what I was wearing that day, too.)

      This was the same job that had a staff meeting and laid down the law to the tellers about No Sleeveless Garments, after summer was already well underway and I had just bought an expensive sleeveless sundress that I thought I was going to wear to work.

      30 years on, I still agree with this: “if you want me to dress like a professional, pay me a professional wage.”

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        When I was a 22 year old bank teller, a customer who was wealthy because daddy was wealthy scoffed at a pair of coworkers walking by and muttered to me, “Somebody needs to tell these guys there’s nothing worse than a bad suit.”

        Now, this customer was not only a regular, but consistently the biggest jerk I dealt with each day. So I stopped counting his money, stared right into his eyes, and deadpanned, “I feel like there’s nothing worse than being paid $9.00 an hour and being told you have to wear a suit to work.” I proceeded to hold eye contact for an uncomfortably long amount of time, until he gulped out a brief, “Touché,” at which point I returned to counting his money.

        From that day forward I was the only teller he would go to, and he was no longer such a massive jerk.

        1. anonymous 5*

          Brilliant response–and holy cow I admire that you were able to have that composure at 22!

          1. Constance Lloyd*

            I was very much out of f*cks to give at that job. And 8 years later I married one of those guys in a bad suit, so it all worked out!

        2. Oy*

          You are my … (searches for gender neutral synonym for “hero”) … lionheart!
          (um … lioness heart?)

  8. Doogie Howser*

    I abhor the whole “let’s laugh at people who believe what we tell them” schtick.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I find it’s only fun when someone gets them in a lot of trouble, or at least really worried, by taking them at their word.

    2. Worldwalker*

      Especially when the person doing the telling is a manager, trainer, or some other superior.

      Do they not think how this is likely to affect their future relationship with the people whom they have just made fun of for believing what they say?

  9. knitcrazybooknut*

    The callback on #2 just plain old kills me. I love incidents that become legends for so long that the name of the original instigator fades from memory.

    1. dogmom*

      But which NKOTB song was it? Was it “Hangin’ Tough” with the overhead arm swing? Was it “The Right Stuff” or “Step by Step”? I have to know!

  10. Mel*

    My job usually doesn’t involve going to see clients and it’s typically very casual dress. But, my boss was trying to reel in a big account and thought it would be good for me to come along. I wanted to look professional, so I work a cute A-line dress and white shoes with 4″ wedge heels.

    I knew the location was still under development, but I didn’t realize we’d be hiking around what was still essentially a giant farm. Just the tottering around the grounds in my white shoes would have been bad enough, but at the start of our tour he let his dogs out to come along with us and they both immediately ran over to me… and jumped right up my skirt.

    He literally had to call the dogs off and put them inside, because I couldn’t move quickly enough on the rocky lake shore he’d brought us out to, to get away from them. Nightmare. Total nightmare.

    1. Anat*

      Me too! Oh, but she should of all the people she made deliriously happy that day, if only for a few minutes.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My first thought on #2 (after I stopped laughing uproariously) was, this might’ve been the only corporate newsletter in history that everyone at the company actually read!

  11. EchoGirl*

    Oof, tons of sympathy here for 10. I have a lot of trouble putting names to faces and tend to mix up people who look similar (I suspect I probably have some degree of face blindness; I know I see facial characteristics on some level, because I can for example tell the difference between an extremely accurate drawing of a face and a more haphazard one, but I don’t register those details about specific people). I always feel really bad if it’s someone of a different race than me or if it has to do with a trait that’s generally considered rude to comment on (like weight), because I don’t want people to think I’m subscribing to an “all X people look alike” trope or insulting them, I just don’t perceive the subtle distinctions that most people use to tell each other apart — I swear I’ve made the same mistake with people who look similar to me! (Seriously, I have a close friend who strongly resembles me, and I once mistook a stranger for her.)

    1. CatGirl*

      I have a degree of face blindness and struggle to learn to recognize co-workers. More than once I’ve introduced myself to someone only for them to tell me we know each other, we’ve worked together for years. I once had a very important meeting with two of the three higher-ups in the company and I didn’t know who I was talking to.

      1. Worldwalker*

        I like conventions because of name tags. It saves me making a face-blind fool of myself.

        I once couldn’t recognize someone who’d been my roommate for the previous summer in an apartment I sublet.

        1. DivineMissL*

          I don’t notice faces at all. I dated a man for 5 months and he was insulted that I didn’t know what color his eyes were. I only know now that they are blue, because I remember him telling me (at the time he was insulted) that they were blue.

          1. Kal*

            This is making me currently contemplate what color my partners eyes are. We’ve been together for over a decade now and… I would guess they’re brown? But its fine because they would also have trouble guessing what mine are, since we’re both utterly face blind and get that its just not how our brains work.

            1. Edwina*

              My husband shaved of his beard after having a beard for 20 years and I completely failed to notice!

    2. Sleepless*

      I am fairly face blind. I have had dozens of gaffes and near misses like this. As you say, the worst is when it’s someone of a different race or a plus size person. It is a horrible way to live.

      1. Caboose*

        Somewhat relatedly: It’s really common for people to be bad at telling people from other races apart, and it’s also something that’s really harmful for BIPOC, because it can be so reductive. (Every plus size Black woman I’m friends with has been told repeatedly that she looks like Lizzo, regardless of any of her features, for example.)

        I am aware of these things, and have been for years, so I try to be careful with what I say. I am also terrified to Google things that seem simple.

        For years, I felt tremendous guilt over the fact that I thought Donald Glover and Childish Gambino looked so much alike.

        1. Recruited Recruiter*

          I feel you Caboose. I didn’t realize for years that Donald Glover and Childish Gambino looked were the same, and was wondering if they were twins or something along those lines.

          1. Caboose*

            It’s good to know I’m not alone! I was so embarrassed by what I assumed was some subconscious latent racism that I was too afraid to ever ask anyone about it XD

          2. Selina Luna*

            I thought until corrected that Donald Glover was related to Danny Glover. He is not. They don’t even look alike; they just have the same last name.

          3. SarahKay*

            At university I (a white woman) felt terribly embarrassed and guilty that I knew a pair of black men, Neil and Eamon, that I could never tell apart. Whenever I’d see one of them I’d just do a big “Hi, how are you?” and not use their name.
            After about two years of this I got chatting to someone who shared a flat (apartment) with Neil, and I confessed that I couldn’t tell Neil and Eamon apart. The bloke I was chatting to nearly fell over laughing; when he finally composed himself he explained that in fact Neil and Eamon were one and the same but used different names depending on which group of friends he was hanging out with.

        2. SnappinTerrapin*

          I understand what you are talking about. There is even a cliche for it.

          I’m particularly sensitive to confusing names and faces of minorities, because, let’s face it, I’m an older white man in the Deep South. I understand the assumption.

          The older I get, though, the harder is is for me to keep ANYBODY’s name and face straight.

          I hope the sincerity of my apology and embarrassment is obvious, because I do try very hard to respect people enough to keep their names straight, despite my weakness.

        3. Wisteria*

          I can’t tell that identical twins are identical. I can tell they look similar, but they don’t look any more similar than other similar looking people do. And frankly, a lot of people look really similar to me.

        4. Worldwalker*

          Starting in infancy, we learn to differentiate between the people most like ourselves — that is, our family members. That’s why someone can, for instance, tell their identical-twin brothers apart when nobody outside the family can. Other people don’t matter — they’re not likely to feed the baby, and that’s all the baby really is concerned about.

          And if someone has a distinctive feature not found among our immediate family members — red hair, a big nose, dark skin, whatever — we tend to pay more attention to that than anything else. It distinguishes them from what we know. So everyone with a big nose must be Charles de Gaulle, right? That’s how the people-identifier in the back of most people’s minds works.

          Except for mine. I’m face-blind. You put Charles de Gaulle in a T-shirt and jeans, and I’d be “who’s that guy with a nose like Charles de Gaulle?”

          So no matter what ethnic group we come from, the people we can most easily differentiate are the people from our own group, because that’s what our families looked like. Depending on how good we are at identifying people (face-blindness is just the end of a spectrum) we branch out from there.

        5. nothing rhymes with purple*

          Oh nooooooo, This made me crack up laughing. You told this with perfect timing.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yup. No ability to visualize here, which means I’m total crap for visual memories too. (But I’m EXCELLENT with voices.)

      When my current household got together, there were a few awkward moments, since both my husband and my might-as-well-be-my-brother housemate are six foot four dudes with similar builds, glasses, dark hair and adorably scruffy beards. (And even beyond my innate terrible-with-faces-ness, they do just naturally look enough alike that I regularly have to explain to people that they’re not biologically related, and while my husband does HAVE a twin brother, -a- this isn’t him, and -b- husband and his twin don’t actually look anything alike.) It does help now that we’ve all been living together for five years and that housemate’s hair has gone full on silver fox.

    4. Meep*

      I’m face-blind as well, and I could totally see myself doing that. I cannot recognize people out of context. I can barely manage to recognize my own kid, let alone acquaintances. I feel for #10.

      One of the most relaxing things about the current pandemic is that this source of mortification is no longer applicable.

      1. Botanist*

        Oh, man. I have mild face blindness, and it was a huge relief to figure out that it’s a thing. But I never know when it’s going to hit, which is the strange thing for me. I will remember all kinds of conversations I have with people I have just met but I won’t remember their name OR their face until prompted.
        The worst one was when I was in the PICU with my toddler- I was stressed, exhausted, and trying to be a vigilant protector and advocate for my very sick boy, but I was struggling to keep straight all the people who came in to the room, what they were there for, and if I’d seen them before. It was rough!

        1. Edwina*

          Aw, that must have been so incredibly stressful! I’m sure no one expected you to keep everyone straight, there are SO many people! After all, most of the nurses and doctors probably just called you “Mom”!

    5. LC*

      I feel you, it’s similar for me.

      I do notice/see visual characteristics, I just have a really hard time keeping that association to a person the second they’re out of sight. Definitely not limited to new people either. Ask me what color my husband’s eyes are, I dare ya. (My god that’s mortifying even just typing it out.)

      My memory for names isn’t too bad, but that just means I might know their name but I wouldn’t be able to point them out in a room with other people.

      (Except for the times when I can picture their face without a problem and pick them out visually in a second, but their name just. won’t. stick. That happened with some of my husband’s coworkers/friends, which is the same thing when you work in restaurants, way too often. There was one gal that I would see once a week for months before her name finally stuck. I felt terrible because she is an absolute sweetheart and I always really loved hanging out with her. It did finally stick though!)

      1. Mannequin*

        I met a woman at a club I was a regular at, who I thought was AMAZING and wanted to be friends with. I couldn’t remember her name to save my LIFE. I got so embarrassed asking again & again, that I finally started asking other people to remind we what it was. I saw her once, often twice a week for months before it stuck, and the kicker?
        She had the exact same name as MY SISTER ::utter facepalm::

    6. Green great dragon*

      oh yes, feeling this. Luckily all my most embarassing ones have been people the same race as me. So far.

      I am loving the zoom meetings with everyone’s names there on the screen.

    7. why are faces*

      You know that show “Orphan Black”? I sincerely had to ask my friend whether each new character was one of the clones, because I sincerely couldn’t tell they were the same physical person. (Rachel had totally different hair! Come on now!)

      1. Worldwalker*

        The reason I prefer to watch movies at home (streaming/DVD/whatever): I can ask my husband “hey, is that the guy we saw in the last scene?” Because if actors change their clothes, I can’t recognize them. This makes things really confusing, needless to say. Unless there’s something really distinctive about a character — the only bald guy, for instance — I’m usually confused.

        This may be why I like the Avengers movies so much: the superhero costumes make it easy!

        1. Mannequin*

          IRL, I often won’t remember meeting someone unless they have something very distinctive about their appearance, voice, mannerisms, etc that lodges in my brain like a pushpin.
          I’m not quite face blind, but have a fun combination of innatentive ADHD, dyspraxia, and dyscalculia that has similarly embarrassing results.

      2. Lady Oscar*

        I had the worst time trying to watch Band of Brothers with my husband. Everyone has short hair and is in uniform and is addressed by some combination of name/rank/nickname at different times. I could never follow the plot because I could only identify maybe two of the characters consistently, and I think one of them was actually two different people. I love the old anime Legend of the Galactic Heroes, which conveniently identifies all the participants in the space war with little chyrons every time they appear…I think all war shows should adopt this!

        1. Mannequin*

          OMG, band of brothers was confusing to me as well and I had to keep getting prompts from husband at first too.

    8. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Fellow face-blind person here! I was psyched when I met someone at a party who had it even worse than I do, and she told me the name for our condition: prosopagnosia. Does that make us all prosopagnostics?

      Fun vaguely-remembered fact: people with our condition apparently tend to be really good at visualizing text, which is true at least in my case — I can often remember where on a page something was written, so I’m quite good at skimming. If I remember right, the same part of the brain processes details of text and faces, and if you’re really good at one of those, you might be really bad at the other.

      Real-life mortifying prosopagnosia fails for me include initially not recognizing a couple of people I had known and worked closely with for YEARS when they changed their hair and/or didn’t wear glasses, having an entire conversation with someone thinking I was talking with someone else — no wonder that didn’t make any sense! — and (the absolutely most mortifying) accidentally hugging someone who I thought was a good commuting buddy but was actually a new hire.

      1. SyFyGeek*

        My world just shifted. I have this same thing- I’m not alone or crazy.
        I’m horrible with remembering faces, as in walked right past someone I’ve worked with for 3 years at a work thing when I knew she would be there.

        But I can remember text, and remember what part of the page it’s on. Which is great when I need to tell someone we’ve already covered it in Document X, on page 2, half way down.

      2. Botanist*

        Um, that’s fascinating about visualizing text. I have mild face blindness, and I’m an excellent skimmer. I also really struggled to learn Spanish in college until I realized I had a disconnect between what I was hearing and what I was visualizing in my mind. Best example is that I’d go take a test with an audio portion and wonder why they kept saying the word “kay” that I had never learned in class. I finally figured out that they were saying “que” but I would actually see “kay” in my head and get confused.

    9. Oy*

      Today I interacted with someone (of my own race) who I didn’t recognize. Annoyed, he said “we’ve met hundreds of times!” Aaargh face blindness.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I’ve learned over the years that sometimes I need to pretend that I don’t remember things about people because it comes across as creepy stalkerish to people who don’t know me well enough to know that this is just default memory for me. I’m not obsessed with you, I just….remember things.

        “Yes, we met once before at the X convention 9 years ago. At the time, you were working on Y. How did that end up going?” is apparently disturbing to many people you had a single 10 minute conversation with once before in your life.

    10. allathian*

      I can recognize faces fairly well, including POC, but I’m absolutely hopeless with names. So I frequently recognize people, but I don’t remember their names. This happens to coworkers I’ve worked with for years, as well. Unless I interact with someone frequently, I’m unlikely to remember their name. That’s why I’m so happy that my employer requires people to use profile pictures on Outlook/Skype/Teams. Even when we’re just emailing each other, it’s a lot easier to put a name to the face when we meet in person.

    11. frystavirki*

      Yeah, I also have problems with this, including with a former classmate who became a college roommate (she changed her hair and was wearing much more casual clothing to move in, so I didn’t recognize her and introduced myself to her again) and once, memorably, my own father. We were in a crowded store and there were a lot of very similar looking older men! But if I can mistake some random store man for my own father, it can happen to anybody. I had a lot of problems of the “hug a woman in a store thinking she’s your mom, actually she’s a complete stranger with similar clothes and a brown bob” variety as a child, now that I’m thinking about it.

      1. Botanist*

        Heh. You’re reminding me of one of my favorite family stories. My mom was the oldest of six siblings. When her youngest brother, my Uncle C got married, my Aunt L came from several states away to attend. She didn’t make it out ti visit family very often at all and most of us hadn’t seen her in several years. My Aunt M saw Aunt L for the first time right before the ceremony and went up to give her a hug, exclaiming, “it’s so good to see you!” Then she saw the blank look on Aunt L’s face and said, “you don’t know who I am, do you?” After a hesitation, Aunt L said, “Well, I have a lot of cousins . . .” We have laughed about the fact that she didn’t recognize her own sister. I wonder if there could be an element of face blindness in there now.

      2. Mannequin*

        I went to a memorial and introduced myself to someone I’ve eaten decades worth of holiday dinners with at my best friends house, simply because he’d cut his waist length hair into an above the ears style.
        Once ran into a girl I’d hung out with nearly every weekend maybe 3 or 4 years earlier…she’d gained a little weight & grown out her hair and I couldn’t remember who she was AT ALL.

    12. Jessica Ganschen*

      Mine isn’t too bad after I’ve known people for a bit, but the first couple weeks are a struggle. In fifth grade, I made great friends with a girl at a meet-your-class-before-the-school-year-starts event, and sat with her on the bus on the first day. On the second day, I accidentally snubbed her for the entire ride because she’d taken a shower that morning and looked just different enough with wet hair that I had no idea. Luckily, she didn’t seem to notice and perhaps thought I was just tired.

      I also had a problem when I got to my first duty station in the Air Force. The uniforms have everybody’s surnames on them, but my work in maintenance meant that we usually took off our jackets and worked in our t-shirts instead. It really didn’t help that the majority of my shop was 20-something white men, either. I remember talking to someone and then very confidently declaring to someone else nearby, “Isn’t that right, Smith?” only for him to say, “…I’m Jones, actually.”

      1. Mannequin*

        And a bunch of 20 something white men in a job that *requires* them to wear the same clothes & hairstyles! LOL! I’d be confused too!

  12. Me*

    # 9 I would leave the planet. Immediately. No one would ever hear from me again. That is a fake your death and start over somewhere off the grid in a commune under a different name.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Right? She told us and I think I full-body cringed. So painful! She wanted to die of embarrassment and her friends at work teased her relentlessly. Her boss actually didn’t say anything to her about it until 9 months later when she requested a transfer to the now-BF’s office. He called her into his office to discuss it and said something along the lines of, “We all know how excited you were when the relationship started, I’m happy to help you move out there to be with him.”

    1. SarahKay*

      Yes, as a customer I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if a cinema told me the popcorn was gone and suggested an alternative. OP sounds like they were friendly and polite when they told the customers ‘no’ so even if it was the wrong call, I think they went about it in the right way.

      1. Mannequin*

        I’ve been to so many drive throughs that told me ‘no shakes right now, machines off for the night’ that it honestly wouldn’t faze me either.

      2. Kal*

        As a customer, being told that they’re out of X is pretty normal.

        But from having friends who worked in theaters, I can see why the manager reacted that way. Popcorn is so cheap to buy and make that it has a huge profit margin, so the theater would much rather have a garbage bag or 3 full of stale popcorn to throw out at the end of the night instead of missing some sales. But theaters are notoriously bad at training their employees, since they often run on a system of churn and burn with young employees, so this is the sort of mistake that will have be made numerous times by numerous undertrained employees. And that lack of training has definitely been the cause of many far worse mistakes than this.

        So basically, I agree that its not something I’d consider mortifying either.

  13. Alldogsarepuppies*

    I’m hoping tomorrow we get the GREATEST HOLIDAY DATE STORY OF ALL TIME. I always will need to read that.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Thank you for that link – I am rolling! The choices of characters for the letter’s roles was inspired!

      2. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Longer than I expected (based on the original) but well written. I LOLed several times.

  14. Thru-hiker Wannabe*

    I was hoping the sleepover story was going to be the one where the LW ran into her boss in the apartment where she had the one night stand.

    1. Boring Nickname Rachel*

      I don’t understand what was mortifying about #1! Someone explain the goof to me?

      1. Wisteria*

        “where no man has gone before” with respect to her shirt could be taken as a reference to virginity

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          I think that’s actually an awesome, witty comment, OP#1! NSFW, of course, so understandably mortifying in that context, but that is the kind of snappy comeback I wish my 22-year-old then-virginal self could have made in other contexts.

  15. Ali G*

    #15 thank you for reminding me to take my Epi-Pen to my husband’s company picnic next weekend! Eeek!

  16. RunShaker*

    After reading #12, I remembered when I worked in a call center for a very large bank, “C”. I hated it but it paid ok, I worked part time while I was finishing up my degree & had benefits. The customers calling in were a nightmare. I was lucky that some of my calls weren’t monitored. Some of my cringy, favorite things I’ve said to customer that was angry over fee “don’t get your panties in a wad.” Another that we sent her monthly statement but it’s bank’s fault that she didn’t read it so I told her “you can lead a horse to water but can’t make horse drink the water.” I was in my early 20s and this was my second “real” job. I’m lucky I didn’t get written up and/or fired.

    1. Pam Adams*

      Ha! Once I handed a complaining customer a job application! (Fast food- “why is the service so slow?”)

      1. Sleepless*

        I can really sympathize with that, honestly! I’m in charge of replying to our animal hospital’s Google reviews. I could barely contain myself when somebody griped about having to wait on a Sunday afternoon. “I can’t believe they only have one vet working today!”

        There is a nationwide shortage of veterinarians and we are all working our heads off.

        Draft 1 said, “Your lips to God’s ears, lady! Seriously?”

        Draft 2 said “If you know any unemployed emergency vets, please have them send us a resume!”

        Draft 3 said something about an extraordinary caseload and our sympathies for their wait.

        1. Caboose*

          When I was at ShoeBrand, I was in charge of doing the same for all the ShoeBrand stores in North America. someone left a review complaining that the store had closed 30 minutes early. On Christmas Eve. In a southern state. When it was snowing.

          It took me a while to come up with a way to respond to that one that wasn’t just a link to the Wikipedia page for A Christmas Carol.

        2. Clumsy Ninja*

          Ha! I work Saturdays at one clinic. There were just two of us there at the time. I had to call in sick the previous Saturday (gave them a heads up two days before that this might happen), and as it turned out, the other person couldn’t cover. So the following Saturday, I saw an appt at which the owner passive aggressively told me how inconvenient it was that their appt the week before was cancelled because then they had to seek out emergency care for something that we could’ve handled during normal hours. I just said, “Well, trust me, no one wanted to be exposed to me that day. And there are only so many of us available.” Then went on with my exam.

        3. Free Meerkats*

          I can feel this one; I spent 7 hours sitting in the emergency vet’s parking lot Monday evening/night. Just got back from picking up kitty and taking her home. Stage 3 CKD…

          If only the vet schools weren’t so difficult to get into, creating an artificial shortage. A friend from high school wanted to be a vet, got zero bites on her applications after getting her Animal Husbandry BS, but was recruited by multiple medical schools.

          1. Lucien Nova*

            My sympathies about your kitty, Free Meerkats. Had one with polycystic kidney disease myself; best fluff ever and I still miss her.

            Gentle hugs if you would care for them.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Ughh – had that person one night when I was working the front desk at a hotel, on an impromptu full house night by myself (because I had sent my coworker to Urgent Care with what I was fairly sure was Strep Throat, which it did turn out to be). Guy kept wandering through the lobby randomly demanding things and being upset that he generally had to wait for me to be free every time. During his third tantrum the night porter (who was also the housekeeping manager) told him that she was sorry about the waits, but due to unexpected bad weather and illness we were far busier than a normal Tuesday night. She was way more diplomatic than I was capable of at that moment.

    2. Me*

      Frankly, that kind of customer service should be allowed. Way too many entitled people walking around that need a good proverbial smack back to the reality of their issues is their own stupid fault.

    3. nothing rhymes with purple*

      I currently do customer service.

      1) you are my new hero
      2) I need to promptly forget I read this before I break one day and follow your glorious example.

  17. Boring Nickname Rachel*

    I don’t understand what was mortifying about #1! Someone explain the goof to me?

    1. nonbinary writer*

      I’m not sure I do either! Unless it was from a time where being into sci-fi and “nerd things” was more looked down on than it is now?

    2. FD*

      It implies that the OP has not been sexually active with a man before (e.g. ‘no man has seen under my shirt’). It’s not what the OP meant, but it’s an awkward comment to respond to in a work setting!

    3. Crazy Book Lady*

      It’s a play on words. She was riffing on the Star Trek intro, but it ended up sounding like her chest was a place no man had ever gone to before.

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      I think the implication is that no man has ever seen/touched her breasts? I could see it being taken that way at least.

  18. Goose*

    There are only two good ice breakers:

    1. In partners or group of three, everyone has one minute to introduce themselves. Then the other person has to introduce their partner to the group.
    2. Two truths and a lie.

    Caveats: This has to be a small enough group where 1) everyone needs to know everyone’s name and 2) there is a time limit for responses, because otherwise the last few people never get to go.

    1. Elenna*

      Two truths and a lie is surprisingly fun, IMO! And also has the nice benefit that people can pick what topic their statements are about, so if something is a sore subject you can just not mention it without actively dodging any questions.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        We’ve played the 2 truths and a lie game in Toastmasters before (at year-end parties). It’s one thing that can be easily done over Zoom that requires no special skills other than speaking.

        The only really good icebreaker I can think of is the 4-6 minute speech, but hey, not everyone is in Toastmasters.

        Another fun game to play on Zoom is a virtual scavenger hunt. You can either do A-Z or just find a word that doesn’t have repeated characters in it that relates to your group of people. But make sure at the beginning to state that items cannot be drawn on paper, or on the computer, etc. because someone will think outside of the box and try to get around having the items physically there.

        1. Green great dragon*

          We did a version of that which was oldest thing in the house, last thing you bought, etc, so didn’t even need to worry about trying desperately to think of something beginning with D. And got some really interesting items!

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Another good one I had recently (new overall manager – wanted to have a meet and greet with all the floor staff). She asked for normal info (name, which team are you on, how long have you been on this shift) and then what TV series, book series, or author are you currently binging. I thought that was fairly innocuous – and discovered that two thirds of my shift all binge the same show (yes I’m in the group too).

    3. Humble Schoolmarm*

      I like People Bingo (each person gets a bingo card with innocuous personal trivia and you need to go around the room to find someone each trait applies to). As long as you do a little pre prep and keep the squares to descriptors like « has seen all the Star Wars movies » and « stopped at Timmies on the way here » it has a nice combination of fast, easy and generates some decent small talk.

    4. Afac*

      I am becoming fond of ‘tell me one boring fact about yourself’. You control what you tell, and by definition, it doesn’t have to be interesting. I think it takes the pressure off having to think of something ‘good’. But I tell you, most peoples’ boring facts are actually very cool.

    5. Cat Tree*

      I played a game once where each person wrote down a little known fact about themselves. They were shuffled, then the group tried to guess who each one belonged to. I liked that because each person got to decide what kind of topic they were willing to share with the group. It was also really interesting. One person had a huge collection of Disney stuff, one person walked her cat on a leash, and one person had 8 kids.

    6. KittyCardigans*

      Oh god, I actually HATE that first one. We do it almost every year when new people join our staff, and it’s the most painfully boring icebreaker. Two truths and a lie is slightly better, but what would really be great would be the boss introducing the new people briefly and then letting everyone mingle, preferably with snacks.

      I have enjoyed trivia “scavenger hunts” in the past, where you have to go around to a bunch of people and try to figure out who belongs to which fact. But I know that’s a lot more work for the organizers than the two you mention are.

  19. Cookies For Breakfast*

    I have a story similar to #3, which I’d be too easily identified by. Let’s just say it’s also connected to a training company, and to a request to demonstrate a creative training method in an interview.

    In hindsight, that company was probably a cult in disguise (they had me sit alone in a room to watch a video about “creating a movement”, write notes about it, and then share the notes with them). Part of me must have been thinking they might embrace the weirdness. The other part of me knew the job was way beyond my experience and I had nothing to lose.

    I’m embarrassed enough by it that I’ll take the exact details to my grave, but on balance, there are smaller missteps I made that make me cringe way more!

  20. Paris Geller*

    Oh man, #10 reminded me of one of my more embarrassing moments–not work related, but school. This was during my junior year of college, and I was having lunch with a friend I hadn’t gotten to hang out with much that semester. We were catching each other up about our classes and I was telling her about how I had began skipping this particular professor’s class because he was so monotone and boring, even though it was in my major, and I could gather everything I needed from the reading. I never skipped class before or after this (because hello, college is $$$$$$), but I just couldn’t handle it, and I was getting close to the limit of the number of absences I could have for the semester (my college had a campus-wide attendance policy). I never mentioned the professor’s name, but I went on at length about the class with specifics including the reading. Well, we were sitting at a booth and when we finished and got up who was behind us? Yes, Mr. Monotone himself. I was mortified–and also a model student from that day on (and I did, indeed, make an A in the class).

  21. Basma*

    When I was 17 or so, I spent a summer working two jobs — one at my high school pool where I was a lifeguard and swim instructor, and the other at a medium-sized pet store. My day usually started with opening up lap swim at the pool at 6 am and then working a full day before heading over to the pet store and working there until closing at 8 or 9 pm. So, I was exhausted much of the time but most especially when arriving to the pool in the morning.

    One morning shortly after arriving at the pool, I groggily answered the phone and, fully on autopilot, said “Thank you for calling [Pet Store], this is Basma, how can I help you?” I realized what was happening about halfway through but by that time I was just a horrified onlooker unable to stop myself from finishing the sentence. The worst part was that it was my very intimidating pool boss on the other end and he was not gracious about it. This was 20 years ago and I’m still pretty haunted by it.

    1. Sleepless*

      Oh, honey, I’ve heard lots of people who work two jobs do that! Sorry your boss was such a grump about it. That really wouldn’t have bothered me too much.

    2. Le Sigh*

      Your boss was a jerk. Full stop. I’ve done the same thing and it’s not great but it happens.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        It’s really common for customer service reps to do that when answering their personal phones!

    3. BradC*

      Ha! Similar story: I worked at McDonalds through most of high school, then one break from college I took a job at another fast food restaurant, and (somewhat predictably) once answered the drive-through with “Welcome to McDonalds, may I take your order?”
      My coworkers laughed, but the guy in the car was being a total jerk about it, facetiously insisting he should be entitled to a Big Mac, and wouldn’t let it drop.

    4. Sanity Lost*

      …or when you somehow mangle the two together “Thank you for calling Gopher Depot” ….yeah…. Then your brain does this odd freezing thing where you have no clue where you are or what to say next.

      Been there done that

    5. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      Eh, not too bad. I took a virtual business German class to brush up, because I couldn’t attend the in person crash course I wanted. Guess who then said, “[Agency], this is [name], how can I help you?” in the wrong LANGUAGE a few times?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That reminds me of the time at OldExjob when I had to call a customer in Quebec. I took French in college but didn’t get far and I only remember words and phrases, maybe a sentence or two. So I had “Hi, I’m calling from XYZ Company in the US about the widget shipment” all ready to go.

        When they answered the phone “Bonjour,” my brain automatically cued up “Bonjour, comment allez-vous” in return. This triggered a volley of rapid-fire French and me hastily crying “No! No! Anglais, s’il vous plait! I don’t speak French!”

    6. OyHiOh*

      20+ years ago, I worked in the call center for a doll company known at the time for its “pleasant” call center staff. We were well trained, well paid for the time and region of the US, and had better than average call center benefits. It was one of the best professional jobs I’ve had. And to this day, when I pick up the phone in a work context, there is a tiny piece of my brain that wants to say “thank you for calling Famous Doll Company, my name is Oy, how can I help you today?” before I catch myself.

    7. Jessica Ganschen*

      My parents trained me and my sisters to answer our home phone in the format, “Hello, Ganschen household, this is Jessica, how may I help you?”, and I definitely almost answered the shop phone with that spiel while I was in the Air Force multiple times. Once, I got as far as “Ganschen” but managed to head myself off and turn it into “Ganschen speaking, [Section] Shop,” which is basically a reversal of how we usually answered the phone.

  22. Names*

    Name calling.

    I have brain damage from Bipolar disorder and can’t remember names. I’ve outright introduced people using the wrong names. Therefore, it doesn’t bother me at all (there’s nothing that can reverse the cognitive deficits).
    To everyone else: realise disability exists and don’t get weird over whether someone remembers your name.

  23. Normally Super Professional*

    I’m so glad to see I’m not the only person who’s gone in for an inappropriate hug before I realized what I was doing! I never even saw the person again, and I still want to die whenever I think about it.

    1. Caboose*

      I did this once as a kid when someone was reaching over my head to hold the door for me. It was at church, so it was an adult I at least sort-of-knew, but still! Why did I assume that he was going for a hug??

    2. Squirrel Nutkin*

      Accidentally did this as a student job candidate. I had flown out to another city to interview to work with a very kind older man, and after the interview, he and his wife showed me around the city all day and were totally lovely to me. I guess they felt sort of grandmotherly and grandfatherly to me, because I went in for the hugs and then was like, OMG, what did I do?! I did not get that job.

  24. EH*

    Loving all these stories. It triggered a memory of one of my own:

    I used to work at a newspaper and became good friends with one of the restaurant critics, so she used to sometimes take me with her to review places (free food, score!). The critics weren’t supposed to reveal they were there to review a restaurant, and in my head I always overdramatized the necessity for TOTAL SECRECY. I felt like a spy! One day, my friend took me to a small Thai restaurant for lunch. It wasn’t busy, and the proprietors were very chatty and friendly, so in the course of our meal it came up that we worked together. At the end of the meal, as we were standing at the counter paying the bill, the friendly owner asked, “So, where do you two work?” My friend was busy signing the credit card form and didn’t seem to register the question, so the owner looked at me, smiling. I panicked! I felt like if I said we worked at the newspaper, the GIG WOULD BE UP! But I couldn’t think of a lie, either, so I just stared at her, sort of smiling, and said NOTHING. It was the worst! Finally my friend just handed back the credit card slip and said a cheerful goodbye, and we left. We both died laughing in the parking lot, and I resolved not to take on a career with the CIA.

  25. Albeira Dawn*

    I was a student representative at a faculty-student senate meeting where my fellow student representative, referring to the very accomplished president of our school, said “If she can’t produce the document, we’ll have her by the short and curlies!” In front of our very distinguished and accomplished professors. My mouth was fully agape. I was on various committees for 4 years and no one had ever said anything that bad. The students in charge of the school council ended up talking to him about it — he never grasped how completely inappopriate it was, apparently.

    1. Astor*

      For a really very long time I assumed it referred to the hair at the nape of your neck, like how you’d pick an animal up by their scruff, to the point where it still takes me a moment to realize that’s not actually what it means!

      1. alienor*

        My dad used to say it all the time, and I was well into adulthood before I realized it wasn’t just an innocuous expression that meant the same thing as “I’ve got him/her over a barrel.” (I mean it *does* mean that, but…)

  26. The Starsong Princess*

    All this talk of mortifying incidents brought an oldie back for me. Many years ago in the ancient pre-cellphone days, I was working at a store in our local mall. At the end of the evening, my father and sister both arrived to pick me up. They had a brief but vigorous argument about who was supposed to be picking me up. Then they stalked off, somehow both managing to not take me with them. I, then a shy 16 year old, had to beg my manager to drive me home. He very kindly agreed and off we went, with me trying to make awkward small talk. When we arrived at my house, there was my father and sister in the driveway, still arguing vigorously about whose fault leaving me behind was and who had to go back and retrieve me. For months afterward, my manager would check in with me at the beginning of the shift to make sure I had a ride home. I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until I finally got my driver’s license.

    1. Yorkie Dad*

      ahhhh my sympathies! My sister and I accidentally did this to our younger sister once – I was driving and we were bickering in the car, I heard the sound of the door handle, and kept bickering. Started driving off (still bickering) before realizing my little sister had tried the car’s broken door, went to walk around to open the door that actually WORKED and then watched us drive away.

  27. Longtime Lurker*

    Enjoying these so much. Here’s one from my mother-in-law (who is a great person who can laugh at herself, which is why we enjoy this story so much)

    She worked for many years as the office manager in a busy medical practice. The office was setting up with a waiting room, then a window to where the office staff worked, and then behind their area was a group of offices that the doctors used. There were windows from the doctors offices to the reception area, so that meant office staff could see who was in there and who was with patients in the exam rooms.
    My MIL got a call from another doctor for her boss, Dr. A. Dr. A had been expecting the call, and she saw him in his office through the window, so she tried to put it right through. However, he was in the middle of something so he held up his pointer finger in the well known “one minute” sign.
    My MIL, on the phone: “I’m sorry Dr. B. Dr. A can’t speak to you right now, he’s giving me the finger.”

    It wasn’t until after the call when Dr. A was like “WHAT did you tell him I was doing????” that she realized what she had said.

  28. calonkat*

    #8 in the link posted as OP* if anyone else wants to search for her comments. And I don’t remember back then, but I just checked and the host DOES have the ability to turn off someone’s video now.

  29. Caaan Do!*

    Oh my, 6.3 reminds me of a co-worker (CW) at ExJob. For context, I worked at a security company and security as a sector can have…..some problems with work-appropriate boundaries. Also, our company was fine with people getting leathered at work nights out, within reason (Obviously a complete oxymoron, but to demonstrate there was a lot of leeway given to certain behaviour at that company)

    Also, to be clear to number 6, I am NOT comparing you to her, just that the lap sitting brought up some memories.

    When CW was new, at our christmas party that year she put a bucket on our Director’s head, sat in his lap and dragged her skirt up to show her legs off – calf only, and I can’t believe I have to specify that, but not showing her pants or anything – saying ‘not bad for over 50 eh?!’. She then proceeded to do the same skirt-dragging thing to other colleagues. Multiple. Times. I think she’d been there about 2 months at that point.

    The company put on a big weekend getaway a few years later. CW had become a bit of a legend at that point at work do’s (see above point about security), so her manager pulled her into his office to warn her that she was not to get too drunk to the point where she’d embarrass herself, his department and/or the company. She promised she would rein herself in.

    CW proceeded to get so drunk there was video evidence of her trying to dance with a guy and she pulled him in for a spin and he fell on the floor. At which point she tripped over him and fell on his face so he was under her skirt. There were no injuries, just major embarrassment at this point. She later on the same night managed to fall so badly she broke her leg, came in the following Monday and resigned effective immediately.

    It was quite the ride.

  30. Not Weird Weird But Like Exciting Weird*

    My best friend in high school often worked the drive-thru on Sunday mornings. She was thinking about how much she loved working this shift, so when the next customer arrived to order, she blurted out, “Welcome to McDonald’s! Can I love you?” Luckily, the couple in the car thought it was hilarious.

    1. Le Sigh*

      I’ve said so many awkward things, but the one that lives with me wasn’t me, but the sales person — my mom and I walked into the perfume section of a department store and one of the sales people greeted us with, “Hello, ladies, would you like to smell good?”

      I have no idea if that’s what he meant to say, or if he meant to say something a little…less awkward, but my mom and I were already in a silly mood and just burst out laughing. I kind of felt bad, the guy was trying, but I could not help myself.

  31. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Been totally remote for more than a year, with cat office mates. I was petting one of my cats, who has an overbite and will sleep with his fangs out, during a meeting.

    I proceeded to say, “Are you sleepy? Are you? Yes, you are! Look at your fangs!” then made up a little song with just the words “kitty fangs!” in it.

    I was not muted.

    1. ceiswyn*

      I think I love you.

      It’s probably a good thing for my job security that I lost my last cat, Sirocco, six months before the start of the pandemic (it wasn’t so sad; he was over 20). In my gaming days, I was terrible at muting and the other members of my party used to hear a LOT of cat-related talk. To the extent that a muffled scream from my end of the conversation would get the response “Hello, Sirocco!”

  32. Anon for recognizable mortification*

    There are so many word mixup mortifications, and I’m not surprised! Here’s mine:

    I was being trained on a process by someone I didn’t know very well, and I already had it in mind to turn the existing written outline of the workflow into comprehensive directions, so I was paying close attention and trying to catch every detail and nuance. The person training me was fairly thorough and I knew she was very busy so I felt bad taking up more of her time with questions for the purpose of writing up documentation for situations that might never arise. Also, I have a habit of stumbling over words. It gets worse when I’m nervous or pressured.

    We were nearing the end, and I had one last quick question, or a brief question, as it were. What came out was: “I have a queef question.”

    Dead silence for a moment. I could see the trainwreck coming as I was talking so had an extra moment to plan, but STILL somehow I said the word again as I tried to recover: “No, not queef, *brief*.” She had the good grace not to laugh or comment on it, but I was ready to quit that job, move far away, and start completely over.

    Please, heed my warning and choose one word you always use so neither your brain nor mouth thinks it might be okay to say both at once. However, if you do someday commit this same gaffe… please write about it in the Friday thread so I know I’m not alone.

    1. Soup of the Day*

      Trying not to cry-laugh at my desk right now. I’m so sorry, but also, this is so funny.

    1. Worldwalker*

      There are a lot of CPAs that make the same error. (what do they do — count hairs?) If I’m looking to hire a CPA, I want one who at least gets the name of their profession right. Getting *that* wrong does not demonstrate that they’re meticulously detail-oriented, y’know?

  33. sometimeswhy*

    #7 – Candidate for an internship tried to hug me after an interview! I am Not A Hugger and am pretty adept at avoiding and blocking them so I did and then we sat down and she got some free professional advice.

  34. alienor*

    #14 my daughter and I have two cats, and a year or two ago she reached over while we were watching TV one night to pluck what she thought was a cat hair off my leg. Turns out it was a very long leg hair (I apparently hadn’t shaved in a while) and she accidentally yanked it out by the root. Ouch!

  35. PinaColada*

    Ahhh, I love these so much! Okay I’ll share mine:

    One of my first jobs in college was waitressing, and I worked at a chain restaurant that had a bar in it. The policy of this restaurant was you were supposed to check the ID of anyone who looked under the age of 30.

    One day, a group of 3 couples came in and sat at a large round booth. I proceeded to take the initial drink orders…the first woman, then her date…the second woman, then her date…and then, when the third woman placed her order, I said “Oh, can I see your ID?” The other women looked at each other and started tittering: “I guess WE don’t look like we’re under 21, do we! Charlotte, you just look so young over there!”

    Innocently, I said, “Oh no, the policy is that we’re supposed to check anyone’s ID if they look under 30.” (In my mind, I was explaining don’t be silly, your friend doesn’t look 21.) It wasn’t until they looked at me with complete DAGGERS in their eyes that I realized I had inadvertently insulted them TWICE.

    I meekly left the table and it was awkward during every interaction after that. And that was the day I learned that if you’re going to check one person’s ID, you better check everyone’s ID!

    1. Gumby*

      I have been asked if I wanted the senior discount at one particular chain of stores twice (two different locations). I… am more than a decade to young to qualify. But thanks.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        I got asked if I wanted to participate in a survey about “issues important to seniors” when I was in my early 20s! When I said I was too young the poor survey taker apologized while backing away slowly…

      2. Janet*

        I was given the senior discount at the grocery store when I was 40! I told the cashier I didn’t qualify for it, and she said I probably would soon. Kind of funny, I think it was senior discount day and she gave it to me by accident.

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      Haha…when I was cashiering at sports events they were VERY strict about alcohol sales and whenever I saw one of the alcohol monitors eying me I would completely lose my head and start checking the IDs of anyone who lucked under…oh…about 70.

    3. Jean Marie Downing*

      Ha. I once went for sushi with a friend and I was carded and he wasn’t.

      (To be fair to the poor waitress, this part was really not a gaffe. Although I was late 20s and hadn’t been carded much recently, he is probably 8-10 years older than me and clearly didn’t need it. Also, my hair was in braided pigtails)

      Anyway, he made a joking comment about it and the waitress proceeded to explain that ‘my skin just looked so smooth.’

      It was amazing and one of my favorite memories.

    4. Evil*

      Omg, this happens to me a lot! I’m a young-looking woman (to be fair, I am only 25), and as a result, I often get carded. I’m friends with a lot of bearded dudes, for some reason, and when we go out, sometimes I get carded and they do not.

  36. Free Meerkats*

    I was at a conference one November and at an evening social with people I only see at this conference. One of them sometimes tends to ramble when she tells stories and I’d lost the train on this one long before she said, “So, to make a long story short,” Before she could finish that statement, I piped up with, “Too late!” There was laughter, I left the table for a bit while the embarrassment dissipated.

    We’re still friends.

    That was the same one where we were sitting in the hotel bar when a local barfly decided that with my white beard and hair I look like Santa and decided to aggressively sit on my lap and tell me what she wanted for Christmas. Loudly and in great, salacious detail. It involved Santa…

  37. Worldwalker*

    #15 is basically the definition of evil bees.

    (odds are they were yellowjackets, by the way — those often nest in the ground, are frequently very aggressive, and can sting multiple times)

    I’m allergic. I would have stripped to the skin in front of a Methodist ladies’ tea if I had to. Some things are more important than modesty … like having a skirt full of evil bees.

    1. Angry Bee OP*

      Angry bee OP here — thank you, I believe you’re right that they were yellowjackets. It happened way back before I developed an interest in wildlife, at a time when I’d have called anything with wings and a stinger a bee. I’ve since wondered what they really were, given the level of pain and my location relative to the ground.

  38. Mimmy*

    As someone who works with blind people (state-run voc rehab training center), #5 had me cracking up. I don’t think an icebreaker activity like that would go over too well with my coworkers either!

    #15 (angry bees) – yup, that would be me as well!! Despite not being allergic, I am TERRIFIED of bees!!

  39. Liz H*

    I just remembered something that felt really embarrassing at the time, but after reading all these stories I feel like I’ve lost track of if this counts as an objectively embarrassing tale. Curious what others think.

    I was interviewing for my teaching job at a university about an hour’s commute from my house. It was a day-long interview with a teaching demo and various meetings that I felt had all gone pretty well but not perfect, and I didn’t in any way feel positive I’d get the job. My last event of the day was a chat with the chair of the department, a man whose last name was, say, Hartfield (not a weird last name, but also not a super super common one).

    He was telling me how he commuted, too, and it was manageable. He told me the name of the small city he lived in. I must have felt the need to have a specific response to this (I don’t know why), so I said “oh, [small city’s name], I like that city! I used to go there a lot because my doctor was there, but then she switched her practice to [different city].”

    The fact that I thought this was an interesting thing to share with him is weird enough on my part, but then in response he said, “Do you mean my wife, Emily Hartfield?”

    I turned red and was like, “Oh. Yes. That’s her.”

    Yes. His wife was my doctor. I hadn’t even thought about the fact that they had the same last name. To make it somehow worse, she was my gynecologist. Not that I think she would have violated doctor-patient confidentiality and talked about me to him, but still. It was just a weird, uncomfortable interaction that was totally unnecessary.

    I did get the job. I subsequently switched gynecologists. It was just too weird.

    1. mrs whosit*

      Would it feel embarrassing if it weren’t a gynecologist?

      I think I would’ve felt weird in this situation, too, but not because anything really embarrassing had happened.

  40. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    A former professor of mine went sort of viral at my college. She was teaching over Zoom, and everyone knew about and liked her medium-sized rescue mutt, who is an absolute vacuum around food. Whenever you drop something, bam! Dog is right there. And dog cries and yells and is generally dramatic about meals well before they even start.

    Anyway, dog and human had a silly ritual of whine for food ——> mom sings little song about food ——> dog gets and eats food. So, one evening, the professor was meaning to go live on social media to give a short bit about communication, as that’s her subject.

    Fed dog right before so dog would not bug her, and accidentally recorded the minute or two right before the social media bit instead of what she was meaning to.

    Yep. Almost 90 seconds of “here you go! Pupper food! Pupper food! Pup-per food!” as a song.

    1. Lady Oscar*

      I’m glad my husband and I are not the only people who have a pet feeding song! In our old house, before work we would carry the cat’s bowl from the kitchen to her room singing the “food song” (“Food, food, food, food, food, food, FOOD!”) in ceremonial parade followed by Her Catjesty. I dunno if it entertained her, but it was pretty fun for us.

  41. Jenny*

    I have a good story…not sure if anyone reads all of these comments though ;)

    I am from a small city in the midwest. As part of my job, I was assigned to do audits at hospitals in Alabama. One particular day, I was at an inner-city hospital in downtown Birmingham. I am not kidding when I say that I was the only Caucasian person I saw all day and being from a small midwestern city that was a first for me. (And frankly gave me really good perspective on things.)

    Lunch time came and I go to the cafeteria and grab lunch. As I am going through the line, it feels as if everyone is wondering who this white person is! ;) So I try to quickly go to a corner table and read my paper. Except the heel of my pump plants and I start to fall. It was a glorious fall. More than 10 years later, I still see it in slow-motion, but I remember arms flailing and furiously trying to catch my balance. But it wasn’t to be, I landed right on my ass and my tray of food went flying in all directions. Of course, I am mortified beyond belief. A really nice teenage kid (maybe 15) is right there to help me up and make sure I am OK. No one wants me to get up since I might be hurt (nothing is hurt except my pride) and everyone insists on getting me more food. But I sort of look fondly on the story (because it is really funny) and also because there is no way a sweet 15 year old boy would have helped a 30 year old in the town I lived in. No way. And all of those people showed an outsider a lot of grace. I’ve tried to show that same grace in my life and haven’t always been successful.

  42. Newsletter Checker*

    Oh my God, the newsletter one reminds of an incident I stopped from happening. The head of school had sent out a long Smore newsletter to students, which included a notice that we had a Twitter account now. Next to it she put the Twitter logo. However, the logo she had grabbed was actually the Twitter logo edited to say “Titter” and the bird had boobs. I noticed this within five minutes of the newsletter going out and frantically emailed her that the Twitter logo had breasts. (I was a new teacher and dithered for maybe a minute about how to word it and just sent something very direct in the end.)

    It was a live link so she changed it before anyone noticed, hallelujah. She had me check the newsletter before sending it out for the next year. Legends are still told of the Titter incident… I’m just glad I caught it before a parent saw it.

  43. BruceWayne*

    #2 After reading it I remembered something I did very recently. My manager is a a very nice guy, and some of the team members tend to take advantage of his nicety while working from home. He was late one day and there was big mess up at work. I was in the office and rest all wfh. Me and another guy of us were literally trying to fix things while business was urgently asking for updates. I sent a message saying people didn’t bother while our manager wasn’t around to the team chat instead of only to the other guy helping. Everybody suddenly started looking into the issues and started helping. One senior guy started acting strange with me from that day onward, but I really don’t care. My manager said it is the truth and not to worry when I apologized to him.

  44. ceiswyn*

    One year, in the middle of a deadline crunch, I used a Bank Holiday weekend to go visit my parents.

    After using the Monday to drive home, I was surprised to see on Facebook that some of my friends were working. It turns out that had I actually clicked the details on my calendar, I would have seen that “Bank Holiday (…” expanded to “Bank Holiday (Scotland and Ireland)”.

    Reader, I do not live in Scotland or Ireland. When I FINALLY logged into my work computer I had a lot of explaining to do…

    1. ceiswyn*

      (Is there a special category for describing a mortifying incident in such a way as to accidentally trivialise centuries of conflict? Does anyone have an extra large hole I can crawl into and try to pretend none of this ever happened? )

    2. Jessica Ganschen*

      Ooh, my dad once did something similar. He was an officer in the Air Force, and thus got all federal holidays off. His very first year as an officer, June 14th rolls around, which is Flag Day. So he’s at home, doing whatever, when he gets a call from his boss, demanding to know where he is.

      “Well, it’s Flag Day, isn’t it?”
      “Yes, but Flag Day isn’t a federal holiday!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        One of my coworkers at NonProfitJob did not show up one morning. Turns out it was Columbus Day, which, in some companies, is a floating holiday (but not this one). They called and called to no avail and were just about ready to send the cops over when she finally called in. She’d stayed home to work in her garden, away from the phone, because she thought Columbus Day always meant everything was closed. Meanwhile, we all thought she was dead.

        We gave her so much shit when she came in the next day. It became a running joke: “Jane’s taking a day off; must be Columbus Day!”

  45. Ash*

    I was working as a college intern at a political non profit. I answered the phone and a famous journalist was on the other line and I sort of unprofessionally fangirled on the phone with her (she took it in stride and thanked me for the compliment on her book). I then had to tell her an acronym—TDS. She misheard the letters the first time so instead of saying something like “TDS as in Tom David Steve” I said “TDS as in Turn Donkey Shit.” Why did those words pop into my head?? Shit indeed.

  46. SSK*

    I once went on a job interview for a part time gig at a local historical society in a town I really love. I was in my mid-20s and the position was relevant to my graduate school degree so I went in for an interview. It was winter, and it was one of those days where there’s terrible wind. I parked a block away from the building, but even that short walk was enough to whip wind right into my eyes and leave me with tears streaming down my face. The place didn’t have a lobby or anything, and they were technically closed when I was interviewing, so I had to wait for someone to let me in and wasn’t able to freshen up (in retrospect I should’ve asked to use the rest room)–I essentially spend the first few minutes of the interview sniffling as tears ran down my face. When we were done, the man who interviewed me went to get my coat and when he held it out to me, I for some reason thought he was holding it open so I could put it on. I proceeded to slip one arm in at a time, while the other person who interviewed me stood there awkwardly, and I realized right after arm #1 that I had made a mistake, but it was too late. I got a rejection letter in the mail a few weeks later.

  47. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    Oof, pretty sure I’ve told this story on here before but I’d memory-holed it until this post reminded me: once I was interviewing a remote candidate and I needed help with the videoconferencing setup in the meeting room, so I requested IT help. My IT colleague did her thing while the candidate patiently waited, and once we got set up and my colleague left, I cheerfully tried to say “I had to call in the big guns” and “I had to ask for help” at the same time and it came out “I had to call in the help.” I still want to drop to the floor and army crawl out the door when I think about it.

  48. Cat Lady*

    Oh god, all of this reminds me of something I did at a job I had a couple of years ago.

    One of my direct reports was doing a report during a staff meeting on his personal projects/things he had currently going on. Just keeping us up to date on how teapot development was going, stuff like that. As he wrapped up his segment, he asked, “How are we all feeling about my current plan?”

    Right at that moment, I felt a huge yawn coming on. It was after normal working hours and I was exhausted. Thinking my microphone was off, I let out a huge, vocalized yawn that lasted several seconds.

    Everyone else went dead quiet. Then I heard my report say “well, I guess that sums it up for Cat Lady.” Yep, my mic had been on, and I had just let out a huge yawn seemingly in response to my report’s question. I apologized to him over IM profusely afterwards, but things were still super awkward between us for days afterwards.

  49. Anon for this*

    I’ve got two. One is mine.

    My story – next-door neighbor pulled some strings and got me an interview at a Fortune 100 company where he worked. During the interview, the hiring manager said “we use (popular programming language) here, and I see you are currently using (much less popular language), but we’ll train you.” Instead of being appropriately thankful and enthusiastic, I said “I’ll do my best but you know, the older one is, the harder it is to learn new things” I was 35???!?!? and am still learning new things almost-20 years later without any issues? I have no idea why those words came out of my mouth. I tried to explain it to him in my thank-you email that I hadn’t meant it, but it was too late, I did not get a call back.

    Somebody else’s that I was reminded of by #10 – a coworker asked my boss about boss’s recent trip to Africa, but Boss had not traveled to Africa at any time in his life. Coworker somehow kept insisting that Boss had. A small group of us had gathered around the two of them, trying to figure out where the mixup was coming from. It turned out to be another guy of African heritage in our department that had gone on the trip. If I were that coworker, I would absolutely leave the planet. He looked like he was really willing to.

  50. MCMonkeyBean*

    OMG Number 10 would give me nightmares for the rest of my life. I’m always so nervous that I’ve forgotten someone’s name even though most of the time I actually haven’t.

    Number 11 confuses me as that sounds like a perfectly normal interaction. I mean, the “neither did I” was an odd thing for their boss to say IMO (just kind of an awkward overshare), but if you were temporarily filling in for an accountant it seems fine to say that was not your long-term career plan when asked to make it permanent. I am an accountant and would not find it remotely insulting for someone to tell me that wasn’t what they wanted to do. Unless there is some tone information missing, like you said it in a disgusted or offended manner, then that really seems like a normal thing to say IMO?

Comments are closed.