the intern who took over an office, the dragon pajamas, and other stories to cringe over/revel in

Welcome to Mortification Week, where we’ll be talking all week about how we’ve mortified ourselves at work.

To start us off, here are 17 stories people shared here in the past about work moments they now cringe over.

1. The intern’s office takeover

“At an internship, I was upset that I had to hotdesk while all other employees had permanent desks/offices/whatever. We had an available office that wasn’t being used and didn’t have any furniture in it, so I decided that would be my permanent home. I spent the morning moving furniture into the office and ‘customizing’ my space, including extra chairs for when people came into the office to meet with me (WTF was wrong with me?!). I was setting up the computer when the CEO (my direct supervisor) came in and was like no….

Thankfully he and I knew each other from a previous internship I did, and he had a pretty good sense of humor about it so I completed my internship and got a great recommendation. But good Lord that was bad…”

2. The dragon

“I work from home, and since my job doesn’t require much video calls, I used to dress pretty chill when I was at home. Then, my friend bought me a Kigurumi, aka that one piece pajama shaped like an animal, with the hood that is shaped like an animal. A dragon, in my case. A sparkly dragon.

Well, it was comfortable and warm, and one day I was freezing, and I decided to wear it while completing a project. Then our server crashed, all my team panicked, and the boss called. I was panicking, trying to remember if I had made a copy of the project, I forgot what I was wearing and I accepted the video call.

His face was priceless. Still forgetful of my outfit, I asked him to wait a sec while I was going to fetch my second laptop. I stood up giving him a full view of my dragon pajama, complete with a shiny dragon tail, of course. I realized it when I heard him choking laughing. He laughed so much he almost cried. Now I keep the dragon pajama just for sleeping, but the boss still calls me ‘the dragon manager’ from time to time.”

3. The peer feedback

“My first job would send out a peer feedback form every 6 months. The first time it came out, I wrote long, obnoxious diatribes about the supposed shortcoming of all of my peers. We had some really inexperienced managers who then forwarded the feedback, verbatim, to the people it was about. Everyone spent weeks speculating about who wrote which comments, while I tried to keep my head down.”

4. The unauthorized edit

“Listed in the ‘interests’ section of a managerial candidate’s resume: ‘shitting.’ Candidate called us shortly after applying, apologizing up one side and down the other because he’d just realized that his teenage son had made an unauthorized edit to his resume.”

5. The personal business

“My first job after college was a very straightforward clerical job, 8 am – 5 pm. Many of friends had jobs that were structured differently, with later hours or less predictable hours. So, at 5:01 pm when I was ‘off the clock,’ I would hang around at work, because I was waiting for my friends to get out of their jobs, and it seemed pointless to go home just to go out again later. AT MY DESK, which was IN THE C-SUITE, I would put my make-up on, do my hair, call all my friends (loudly) to ask important questions like ‘do you know if the hottie bartender is working tonight?’ or ‘I was going to wear my black boots but do you know if Tami is wearing her black boots because in that case I would wear my silver pumps but tell me if you think they look slutty because if so then I could wear my red sandals unless it rains in which case maybe my Mary Janes etc etc etc etc.’ I would bring projects to keep myself occupied, like plugging in a hot glue gun to work on a Halloween costume, or (this is real) frosting cupcakes that I was bringing to a party later on that night. Even though I was finished at 5 pm, there were still plenty of people still working, or wrapping up for the day, including senior leadership. I am dying thinking about it now.

Finally, the office manager started hinting that if I wasn’t actually working, I didn’t need to be at work. And I was so clueless, I earnestly wanted to know if there was a policy against it, because sometimes I saw Reginald reading a magazine at his desk while he was waiting for his ride to pick him up, or a lady who was taking an evening class one night a week would sometimes do her reading in the break room between work and class. It was a friendly, casual office and all sorts of people sometimes spent some non-work time at their desks doing some QUIET and LOW-KEY personal business, but I could not see how there was any difference between someone occasionally reading a magazine while waiting for carpool, and me turning my desk into my Own Personal Rec Room several times a week. What was I thinking?”

6. The spam

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

7. The condescending question

“Our bank was in the process of merging with another bank. During the merger process, all the teller managers had to attend meetings with people from other banks going through the same process. During the first meeting, I did my best to get to know the other teller managers and branch managers (I’m an introvert and was very shy at the time).

I started talking to the woman who was running the meeting. She was the equivalent of a district manager and was around my age (early 20s). I was really impressed with the fact that she was at this stage of her career at such a young age, because I was aspiring to rise to the same level. I asked her how she got started, what were her responsibilities, etc. During our talk, she mentioned how she was thinking of going back to finish up school (she said ‘school’ not ‘degree’). Stupid me asks, ‘Oh? High school or college?’

Thankfully she just said ‘college’ and moved the conversation to another topic. Even though she didn’t acknowledge my gaffe with so much as a blink, I still was praying a sinkhole would open up below me.”

8. The rearranged desk

“I was executive assistant to the president of a local college. She left for a business trip, after sternly telling me that I needed to be more proactive ‘managing’ the things in her office (like Christmas cards, etc.). So while she was gone, I rearranged the items in her desk drawers. I don’t think she ever got over the shock of finding that I had straightened out her entire desk, and I sure wish I hadn’t done it. I believe my time was limited after that.”

9. The ride request

“Oh the shame. One time when I was a fresh and new manager, I asked a job candidate to give me a ride after we had an interview. I had been in a car accident a couple weeks prior, and my rental car coverage time was maxed out. I needed to take the car back that day before they closed or I’d have to personally pay for it (I was so broke at the time, I would not have been able to pay). Immediately after the interview, I asked her if she’d give me a ride. She was gracious, though I’m sure she felt extremely pressured to do it. Needless to say, she didn’t take the job. I saw her at a street fair a few weeks later and gave her a hug. Why or why did I do these things? I’m going to go hide for a bit.”

10. The long-term relationship

“I was interviewing for basically a dream job and was asked, ‘What accomplishment are you most proud of?’ I proceeded talked about how proud I was for maintaining a healthy long term relationship. The interviewers didn’t push back, but they did seem awkward. I obviously did not get the position.”

11. The trouble

“I once went to an interview where they asked for an example of a time I’d resolved conflict – and I responded with a terrible laugh and said, ‘Well, I’ve caused some trouble.'”

12. The relaxed candidate

“In my early 20’s I interviewed for an admin assistant position at a small tech company. I aced the first interview, got along great with everyone, was polished and professional but still friendly. I got called back for a second interview with the execs of the company and for some weird reason I treated it like a day hanging out with friends. I wore jeans tucked into slouch boots, which I remember clearly because I PROPPED MY FEET UP ON THE CONFERENCE TABLE, crossing my ankles. I think I was even chewing — and popping — bubblegum.

In a surprise to absolutely no one but me, I didn’t get the job.”

13. The erotica

“Back in law school I was interviewing for a summer position at a state Department of Justice. My interviewer and I weren’t really gelling and I think we could both feel it…nothing horrible was happening, but the energy was down, and we didn’t really have much of a connection.

At the bottom of my resume, I’d added that I’d published a book, so as a way to build camaraderie my interviewer told me that she was an author as well. I was excited that we had something in common, so I asked what genre. She paused, laughed awkwardly, then gestured to what I realized were pictures of book covers with shirtless male torsos on the bulletin board behind her. She said, ‘Well, I write romance…erotica…’ There was a long pause as she tried to struggle her way out of the explanation, but since I just kept smiling and nodding what she ended up blurting was, ‘I write gay sex.’

Since I could tell she was instantly mortified with herself, and I wanted her to know it was OK since I enjoy a good erotica myself, and I didn’t want it to seem like I was judging the M/M aspect of it, I earnestly replied, ‘That’s my favorite kind!’

And when she kind of laughed in amazement and covered her face with her hands, I DOUBLED DOWN: ‘No, seriously! It is!'”

14. The profound misunderstanding

“As a first year grad student, I asked my grad advisor (a tenured professor) to remind me of my project deadlines because I worked better with a little pressure from authority. He gently told me that managing my own deadlines was my own responsibility. Yup.”

15. The color-coding

“I once got some very much-deserved criticism that I was taking too long (1-3 weeks) to resolve invoice issues that should have, at most, taken a couple of days to work out. The actual problem was that I was prioritizing other work that I found more interesting and only tackling the invoices when someone yelled about them.

My suggestion was to have Accounts Payable print the problem invoices for me on color-coded paper, with a different color for each day of the week, so I could see at a glance when my GIANT PILE of invoices contained too many older ones, so I’d know I needed to tackle them. My boss somehow refrained from slapping me upside the head Gibbs-style, and actually discussed the suggestion with our A/P manager – at the time, I thought she took it to him as an actual possibility and he said no, but now I think they probably had a mutual ‘this is what she said, omg wtf?!??!!’ conversation about it before telling me to consider actually getting my work done as a solution.”

16. The onion factory

“I took a year off from college and my aunt got me a job at a place called ‘the onion factory’ one winter before going back to college. It was a processing plant for onions and they had big trucks come in full of onions that were weighed and then would dump their load into the hopper for processing. Part of my job was to do data entry of the weight of the onions that had come in. They had pre-printed slips of paper that said gross/tare/net. Sometimes they only filled in two of the three sections (but it wasn’t consistent which ones were filled in). I didn’t actually know what those words meant, so I wasn’t sure what to do when only two of the three sections were filled in. This was in the late 90s, before the internet, so I couldn’t just google it. And at that time I was mortified of ‘being a bother’ and ‘asking too many questions’ so I decided to just split the difference: sometimes I put the numbers in one column and sometimes in another.

My boss didn’t even check my work until the end of the season. When she finally asked me what was going on with the data I meekly explained what had happened. This usually verbose woman was speechless. I think she was in awe of my incompetence? An entire season’s worth of data was useless.”

and last, in a place of permanent honor…

17. The infamous Joaquin/Wakeen debacle

“I had a coworker named Joaquin. At the time, I spoke exactly zero Spanish, and didn’t know how to pronounce it. I didn’t make the connection when other coworkers talked about ‘Wakeen.’ For MONTHS, I honestly thought I had two different coworkers, Joaquin (pronounced JOE-a-kwin) and Wakeen. In my head, I assigned them different personalities and areas of responsibility and everything. I sent emails saying ‘we should get Wakeen to look into this’ and talked about what Joe-a-kwin had been working on, and no one said anything, including poor Joaquin. I wanted to DIE when I finally put it together.”

{ 809 comments… read them below }

    1. HalloweenCat*

      I feel such sympathy here because I worked nights at a local TV station my last semester of college. The Station was 10 minutes from campus and my house was 45 minutes from campus. My last class ended at 8pm. So I would go to the station and NAP ON THE COUCH until my shift started at 11. I kept a blanket and pillow there. People thought I was homeless and offered me keys to their apartments but being a good midwestern girl, I didn’t want to impose and kept sleeping. in. the. office.

      1. Bee*

        Hah, see, this was absolutely normal practice at the radio station I worked at in college – but then, it was run by students. But it wasn’t weird at all to see people napping on the couches or coming in for all-nighters rather than going to the library. We all sort of treated it as a second home!

      2. Michelle*

        When I was pregnant with my first, my husband and I worked at the same tech company. I had horrible, horrible morning sickness and the medication that my doctor gave me made me sleepy. There were far too many days that I got to work, started feeling pukey, took my medicine and went to sleep in the employee lounge. Once my husband had to come and help me get to the employee lounge before I fell asleep standing up. Luckily, the owner of the company’s wife was also pregnant and they were very understanding.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        Oh, yes! I laughed my head off (and am hoping some of my WFH colleagues will wear Kirugumi on the next Zoom).

        1. Toothless*

          I have done this, intentionally! I have a black Toothless the Dragon Kirugumi and I’ve worn it on a couple work calls to be funny. Only in smaller groups, though :D

        2. SeluciaMD*

          I personally am proposing Kirugumi as our standard Zoom/Google Meets dress code going forward at Friday’s staff meeting. I feel like that would make every meeting infinitely better!

    1. Nayo*

      #13 (the erotica one) sent me into an actual giggle fit, but the sparkly dragon + boss laughing so hard he almost cried is just such a delightful mental image. I can’t choose!

  1. Caboose*

    After the year we’ve all had, #2 seems eminently reasonable. Kigus are super warm and cozy, and if it was particularly cold at home, I’d be tempted to do the same thing! (Plus the tails and buttons and whatnot make them not actually great for sleeping in, in my experience.)
    I normally wore mine as an outerwear piece, though, like how you might put on a sweatshirt and sweatpants over other clothes if you got super chilly.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I might be known as the sparkly unicorn amongst a few of my coworkers.
      Because I own something similar that looks like a sparkly unicorn, horn, mane, tail, and all.

    2. Tessera Member 042*

      One of our local newscasters got some good-natured ribbing from her colleagues for a Zoom interview during the pandemic lockdown where her significant other wanders into the kitchen behind her dressed in a unicorn onesie, realizes that she is recording, and attempts to scurry out unnoticed (it didn’t work).

    3. Anonny*

      I was like, this seems like the opposite of a problem.

      (I mean, they work from home and hardly anyone sees them, so why not wear what’s comfortable?)

    4. London Lass*

      I am actually now seriously contemplating whether to get kigurumi for my entire team as part of some kind of remote team building activity. I think they would go for it but budget could be an issue…

      1. Sandi*

        A chain store around here sells them for $15 in December, which is how I got my dragon. I last looked for one a few years ago, so I don’t know if those sales will continue this year, but they were quite reasonably priced. I wear mine when I’m chilled to the bone and for halloween.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I seriously want one, but I’m so tall it probably wouldn’t fit me. I could possibly buy one made for men, but I don’t know how long they are.

          1. NotRealAnonForThis*

            My spouse is north of 6′-4″ and finds the typical ones sold at big box retailers in the US to be an inch or two short in the leg, but not short-shanking in the torso. 34″ inseam in trousers on him. Hopefully helpful :)

    5. Hey Nonnie*

      Every time I see this story, I am convinced I NEED to get myself a Kigu. I just can never make up my mind which I would want.

      Dragon? Kitty? Panda? So many choices!

      1. MechanicalPencil*

        I was also just thinking I could use a Kigu since I’m now permanently work from home. But what to get…

      2. Artemesia*

        There is a zoom clothing rules meme going around that specifically notes that if an animal onesie is worn the animal head may be worn in the up position as long as the face is visible.

    6. Miss Betty*

      That one still made me laugh out loud and I think it should knock Wakeen out of permanent first place.

    7. Quoth the Raven*

      I’ve got a Shiba Inu, and I want to get a dinosaur.

      I actually find it super comfortable for sleeping (granted, the one I have doesn’t have much of a tail) and when it’s cold I just want to live in it, but it’s so warm I can only really wear it during winter.

    8. Lizard Breath*

      I love this story so much, I was just thinking about it the other day.
      I think what really makes the story for me is the fact that there was a big emergency and every one was so panicked.

      1. PinaColada*

        Yeah me too, I think it’s the idea that there’s this big work emergency going on but it’s so random that the boss just dies of laughter instead of immediately addressing the issue at hand. :D

    9. Toothless*

      I have a very nice Toothless the Dragon one that I’ve worn on multiple work calls :D A couple times intentionally to show it off to a small group of coworkers at a moment where it makes sense, but once or twice just because it was cold. It’s black so if you don’t have the hood up it looks like a normal sweatshirt on video.

    10. Brain the Brian*

      One of our now-retired senior directors wore a full-body squirrel onesie every year for Halloween in our office. Another arrived in a full-body banana suit once — the top of the suit bounced around with some abundance every time she moved her head. Absolutely incredible, honestly.

      1. Hush42*

        In 2018 my whole team bought different animals and dressed up as a group of beanie babies. When 2020 hit and we all ended up working from home we had a few meetings where they all decided we needed to join wearing those outfits. They were just meetings for our team only though. However, my company does a thing where they compile 1 second videos from employees each month into a snapshot of the month (which is really fun) so there’s a video from last fall of someone’s screen showing all of us dressed as animals on a Teams meeting.

  2. Snarkus Aurelius*

    This was almost 20 years ago so I guess I can tell the story now for the first time ever.

    At my very first job, I worked at a trade association in DC. We had two large annual meetings back to back but with different topics. The location rotated but it tended to be in the southeastern part of the country.

    Every year, my organization hired temp employees to hand out conference badges and swag bags. Those, uh, employees tended to be older and retired individuals who goofed up a lot but ultimately didn’t cause a lot of damage. They were only there to talk to other people and get out of the house.

    During the after action meeting, I was trying to make a joke when the topic of challenges at check in came up. So I asked, “Oh are we not hiring the geriatric society again next year?” Luckily a lot of people were talking so only a handful of people heard me. No one really reacted much, but I’m still mortified nearly two decades later.

  3. Ask a Manager* Post author

    This site has produced so many stories about people being mortified by their own behavior at work that someone who was doing some tech work for the site and needed to categorize posts by topic (differently than how I’ve done it in the site’s topic categories) had enough to create a large category called “Mortified At Work.”

    He also had a category called “Wait, What?”

    1. cubone*

      “Wait, What?” is a GREAT category for this site. So glad you have a tech person who gets AAM :D

    2. Anonym*

      I suppose it might read as a little unkind to the LWs, but I would definitely jump to right to the “Wait, What?” archive if it were available!

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Oh, man, I’m trying to imagine which letters ended up in the “Wait, What?” category. Would it be letter writers who were the bad actors (a la I ghosted my gf and now she’s boss) or situations that are just so ridiculously batshit that you’re speechless (a la my coworker took naked photos in the office)?

      1. Persephone Mongoose*

        If it mentions “WTF Wednesdays” in the comments, that to me is the spirit of “wait, what?”

      2. Xenia*

        I think any letter that Alison starts with “What.” would probably count, both in the single word sentence sense and in the “what were you thinking” sense.

      3. Disco Janet*

        How about the ones that are both? For example, calling your boss’ daughter whore. There’s one I will never forget (along with the follow up.)

      1. AnotherLadyGrey*

        My personal categorization for these types of posts is “Life Is A Beautiful Mosaic” which feels similar in spirit, LOL

    4. Jackalope*

      One post that keeps coming back to me (I will mention it here and maybe the OP can put themselves?) was from :: handwaves vaguely :: early in the pandemic, I think when we were posting about our pet coworkers. The OP had a cat who was walking on their keyboard and when the boss asked, “So what do you think of this training?” stepped on three keys, typing Poop and the enter key. The cat then stepped on the disconnect WiFi button so they couldn’t explain what happened? Anyone remember that? I got kittens a few weeks ago and I keep thinking about that and trying to be super careful what they manage to do with my keyboard!

      1. Nanani*

        That’s amazing.
        My cat knows more keyboard shortcuts than I do, and prefers the end of the keyboard with ctrl, alt, and capslock over the end with p, o, and enter.

        1. Hey Nonnie*

          My cat very frequently does something on my keyboard that makes it not type properly anymore. I have absolutely no idea what key(s) she is hitting, but I invariably have to remove the keyboard’s batteries to get it to reset and work again.

          She is also fond of my screen lock key (when I’m in the middle of a Slack conversation or Zoom meeting), and she likes to “help” when I’m writing code. That’s fun….

          She also once typed kil; to my coworker in Slack, which got a big-eyes emoji.

          1. Cat Mom*

            My cat turned off the screen brightness on my computer. I didn’t realize it until after I had contacted our IT people. I legit thought I was going to need a new computer before I figured it out.

          2. KateM*

            I had a kid who did something on my keyboard by running a toy car over it. I found out what the something was – you guessed it, by repeating the action.

          3. Wenike*

            When you say its not typing properly anymore, could it be switching to a different keyboard layout for a different country? You can set keyboard shortcuts to switch those layouts within Windows and I know one company I worked for had one set to switch the input to German, even though they weren’t a German company. I discovered it when someone called in for tech support after their kid (or maybe it was a cat) smacked their laptop keys and they couldn’t login anymore (typing the password into the username field revealed that the letters weren’t matching the keys).

            1. Kal*

              Typically in order to have the shortcut change the layout, though, you have to have already installed that keyboard layout at some point. Though some things sorta make you install them or default install more than the default one you use, so it could still be an option. This is why I am careful to only install keyboard layouts I actually am already familiar with, so if my cat switches them up and my 6s suddenly become ?s or something, I know whats up and how to fix it.

              Though that doesn’t stop the cat from finding other keyboard shortcuts I never knew existed and don’t know how to undo.

      2. A Feast of Fools*

        My newish 9-month old kitten managed to move all of my folders under a main Desktop folder while I was up getting a refill of tea and didn’t put the hard Lucite cover over my keyboard because I’d only be gone “for just a minute.”

        And by “main Desktop folder” I mean that part of my file structure is now Desktop –> Desktop –> Desktop.

        Also Desktop –> Documents –> Desktop –> Documents

        And Desktop –> Documents –> Documents

        Yes, my Documents folder is copied in its entirety under each of those.

        I haven’t had time yet to see if anything was changed or deleted in all the iterations of Desktop and Documents (and linked SharePoint folders), so it’s all just sitting there, eating up hard drive and cloud server storage space for now.

      3. Ally*

        I recently attended a whole series of workshops where the leader had a foster kitten she was caring for. Because it needed regular attention, it was frequently in the room. That kitten was ABSOLUTELY able to target his adorable little paws to the mute button.

      4. EchoGirl*

        Mine don’t do that (no clue why, it just doesn’t seem to be their thing), but I had the thought at one point that if I’d been working on Zoom this past year (I freelance, so there was no need), things would have gotten interesting because I have a somewhat persistent cat with a really loud, high-pitched voice (we think she’s part-Siamese) and a name that could be used for a person, so there would likely have multiple incidents of something that sounds like a baby crying followed by “Emma, hush!” “That’s enough, Emma!” “Shut up, Emma!” Could’ve gotten interesting.

    5. RB*

      Can you make that a category on the right side of the screen? I’d love to see what they put in the Wait, What category.

    6. some dude*

      I love these because it reminds me that I am not the only one who has done embarrassing things at work. It makes my gaffs seem much less catastrophic.

    7. Teapot, Groomer of Llamas*

      Can “wait, what” be an official topic? Because those are my favorite ones.

  4. Yep, me again*



    1. Yep, me again*

      BTW-I’m so not kidding. Where do I find this sparkly dragon onesie? #2 if you see there, where did it come from.


      1. TiffIf*

        Googling find me a few websites that have dragon kigurumi but I am not finding any with sparkly dragons…

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          I searched this site for “Kigurumi” and although I found the poster who submitted it (by comments in a previous collection of greatest hits), there was no link provided.

      2. LunaLena*

        A quick search came up with some Etsy sellers who make custom dragon kigurumi – maybe you could ask about getting a quote for adding sparkles?

      3. Tin Cormorant*

        YES! I would wear them all day once winter comes. I need these so much! *makes a note to look into this as a christmas present for myself*

      4. Sandi*

        The OP could have changed the story, which sometimes happens so that people feel they can stay anonymous. It could have been a sparkly unicorn, or a non-sparkly dragon, or a squirrel…

        1. Sir Freelancelot*

          Hi, OP here! It was a sparkly dragoon, my friend bought it for me straight from Japan, they found it in a store in Shibuya.

    2. FrenchCusser*

      I regularly did Zoom calls in my PJs while working from home, but they are boring with a crew neck and the ‘Chill Out’ embroidered on them did not show on the Zoom call.

    3. Ginger Baker*

      OK I cannot speak to the quality of any of these. I did a fair amount of looking but since they are all flannel there is very little shine available. Still, these were cool SO sharing:

      For a (regular) unicorn:

      Cthulhu Kigurumi:

      Non-sparkly dragon:

      This one says GLITTER DRAGON *but* there is no pic:

      This mermaid unicorn onesie is also not shiny but is rainbow and amazing

  5. YRH*

    On the #17 front, my spouse goes by their first name in some circles and their middle name at others. We’ve been in situations before where someone will talk about Sam and someone will talk about Alex and they have no idea they’re talking about the same person.

    1. StoneColdJaneAusten*

      A couple I know caused minor chaos at an event by RSVPing once as “Rebecca and Bernard Smith” and buying a table as “Becky and Barney Smith” (different names obviously.)

    2. sacados*

      I used to have so much trouble with this at my old job! I was working in Japan, which has a very big nickname culture that’s tied to personal relationships and in-group/out-group culture. So there were people in my office who had multiple nicknames, depending on who was doing the talking/what their relationship was.
      So for example there was one guy, most people referred to him by his name+honorific, which is the standard (Niizato-san). There was another group of people who were closer/more friendly to him, who called him “Nii-pon,” a diminutive of his name. And then a few other people who called him by his nickname “Gori” for gorilla (he was a very stocky, wrestler type).

      For me, as a translator/interpreter, this was VERY confusing hahaha. Especially when I was new to the company and getting to know people, you’d be in a meeting and all of a sudden someone would bust out a nickname that I’d never heard before, and I had NO IDEA who they were talking about, or even if they were talking about someone in the room or not.
      We had a guy called “Cobain” (like Kurt Cobain), another who was sometimes called Jiji (grandpa/old man), another who was “Mister” …. the list goes on lol

      1. quill*

        I’m imagining skipping a year of my high school drama department’s nickname-heavy culture, making it full of actual formal adults, and THEN adding a language barrier and ooh my gosh that’s a lot.

        (We had a guy called Potroast. I don’t know his legal name to this day, but based on the most popular boys’ names when I was born, it’s Jacob, Joshua, or Zachary.)

      2. NoviceManagerGuy*

        Six people in our Buenos Aires office was named Maria, but they all had different nicknames. So I would get asked if I could query some data for Catarina but there was never an actual person in the directory named Catarina. Extremely confusing.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I worked at a place where 90% of the staff went by middle names, but corporate mandated that emails were by firstname.lastname. 18 months in, I was still figuring out who got which email I had sent.

          1. quill*

            Ah, the fun of interfacing with Latin America, where not only did we have a lot of people going by their middle names, you get compound last names, and the corporate email is setup for a very english-centric naming convention.

            Maria Sofia Vasquez-Gutierrez, Luisa Maria Guerrero-Martinez… just write a cheat sheet if you’re gonna be the latin america liason, it will save your butt in the end.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              I might have done better in Latin America; this was in the sticks in the United States’ Midwest.

              1. quill*

                Ooof, the place where the middle name is either the secret for the fairies (or your mother) to summon you with, or where it allows the first name to hide mercifully away so nobody knows that you were named after Great Uncle Clive.

          2. Sandi*

            They used to have this in Quebec, where first names were either Joseph or Maria, but nobody actually used those names. I remember going through an employee list 30 years ago and being a bit surprised that half the male names started with Joseph, and thought it would quickly get confusing, until someone explained that it was a formality that no one ever used. Given their revolution tranquille (quiet revolution) in the 60s, I suspect that the names are very different for anyone younger than 60.

        2. Louisa A*

          My husband’s son joined his current company and introduced himself as “John”, his middle name. He was immediately informed that they already had too many Johns, Johnathans, and Johnnys, so he will be known by his first name, “Abraham”. First name is a family name and neither Sr, Jr, nor III EVER use it. He said it took a while to remember to answer to it.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I worked at a place where many of the staff were from a different country, and it was common for them to be called by both first and last name, very inconsistently. Honestly not sure if it was because one name was easier to pronounce or a cultural thing or what. So I’d meet Mr. Doe and then later someone asks about Mr. John and I had no idea they were the same person! Or I’d refer to someone as Mr. James thinking it was his last name and then get an email from jsmith and have to connect the dots.

    4. The Rural Juror*

      I was attending a graduation party for a friend in college whose name is Matthew Tyler. We all knew him as “Matt,” but I guess he had gone by his middle name until he was in high school and his family still called him “Tyler.” I was chatting with his mom and she kept mentioning how proud she was of Tyler. I thought it was so odd that we were celebrating one son but she going on and on about the other. I kept thinking my friend had a brother he had never mentioned! Nope. Same person!

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        My brother in law is like that. His wife (my husband’s sister) and her entire family calls him “Jimmy” but his actual name (which his family uses) is “Jason”. I think I’d been with my husband for 5 years before I learned who Jason was.

      2. Alexander Graham Yell*

        My brother went by Tom (short for his middle name) the whole time I was living at home, and then switched to Mark (his first name) after I left for college. I have somehow never made the transition, various members of the family are better at it but nobody in the family *only* calls him Mark. So I’ll introduce him as Tom, he’ll introduce himself as Mark, or my dad will introduce him as Mark but refer to him as Tom sometimes. It led to one very frustrated neighbour calling him “MarkTom/TomMark” which is my personal favourite solution.

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      That’s happened with my uncle who is Christopher to his friends and Donald to his family because my mum couldn’t pronounce Christopher when he was born and she was 2, then he used to get teased at school about the Donald Where’s Your Troosers song and Donald Duck. Sometimes he has done a double take not realising someone is talking about him.

    6. Jennifer Strange*

      My brother is a Jr (named after my dad) so when we were growing up our family just called in David (middle name) to avoid confusion with my dad, Walter. When my brother got to high school, the school made students wear name tags, and they used the name on the form when making them, so all of a sudden my brother had Walter name tags. At first he was upset about it, but he eventually got used to it and started embracing Walter rather than David. Now almost 30 years down the road almost everyone he knows calls him Walter (including his wife) except for family. It was confusing for my husband (who still checks in with me that it’s okay to call him David instead, since that’s what I call him).

      I also had an uncle who, growing up, I knew as Uncle Calvin. I found out as an adult that his name was actually John Michael Smith III (named after my grandfather). So why Uncle Calvin? Because when he was born my grandfather told my grandmother he wanted to name their son after him, and my grandmother replied “You can name him whatever you want, but we’re calling him Calvin”

      (all names changed to protect the innocent)

      1. turquoisecow*

        My husband had a great uncle like this. His mom wanted to call him one thing but his dad insisted on something else. So his legal name was the something else but in the family his mom and all the relatives called him the name she picked out. When he died they had a zoom memorial and all the family called him one name and the business associates another.

        1. Artemesia*

          My MIL named her first 3 sons and so when 4 was born my FIL insisted he wanted to name him. She picked the middle name. He has always been referred to by his middle name.

        2. theothermadeline*

          I had a friend in college whose parents weren’t speaking to one another when she was born. They agreed on her name in writing in the hospital and only later realized they were thinking of different pronunciations.

          They both continue to pronounce her name differently 30 years later.

    7. Funny Cide*

      I went to a somewhat casual friend’s wedding and had this happen. Was utterly confused that the bride (who I’d never met before) kept talking about some other man who she sure seemed to be in love with?!

      1. Lily C*

        I’ve been that bride! My husband has the same first name as his dad, and went by his middle name as a kid to avoid confusion, but switched over in college. Coincidentally, my own dad has the same first name, so it always feels weird to refer to my husband by that name, even though some people only know him by that name, not his middle name.

      2. theothermadeline*

        This happened to me at my grandmother’s funeral. The director said let us pray for Mary, and my head shot up thinking who the hell is Mary

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I heard of it happening at an elderly relative’s funeral. “John was a devoted husband to Jane”.

          Jane? Everyone called Uncle John’s wife Auntie Doris.

    8. Shark Whisperer*

      A friend of mine started dating a woman he met on a dating app. She didn’t want to use her real name on the app, so she used her middle name. He introduced her to us as her middle name, let’s say Jane, so we started calling her Jane. I don’t know when she told friend that that wasn’t her real first name, but we kept calling her Jane for years not realizing. Looking back, I think she tried to tell me once. We were over at their house and she also had childhood friends visiting. “Jane” said, “they know me as Mary because that’s my real first name.” and I just replied, “oh, cool” and continued to call her Jane. It was until I noticed that my friend was introducing her to other people as Mary, not Jane, that I finally caught on. I asked my husband about it and apparently he had been told by our friend about the whole middle name on a dating app thing, but, I guess, came to the conclusion that she wanted to go by Jane now? They really should have corrected us directly. It wasn’t until their engagement party that I actually changed her name in my phone, which was four years after they met.

      1. Xebi*

        I met my husband on a dating site too. His friend Tommy had bought a year’s membership as he wasn’t confident of finding someone, but within three months he had a lovely girlfriend (who he’s now married to). What to do with a nine-month dating site membership he didn’t need? Well, his friend Andy had been single and looking for a while, why not give him all the login details. So he did. But although you could change most things on your profile, the one thing you couldn’t change was your name.

        Meanwhile, I’d been chatting with this guy Tommy who seemed pretty chill but then suddenly vanished and never replied to my most recent messages. I correctly assumed he’d met someone and promptly forgot about him. Then one day I got a “nudge” from Tommy. I went into his profile to refresh my memory… that’s odd…I don’t remember him being this funny, or this handsome…

        Forgetting that I’d see the name Tommy on all his messages, Andy didn’t think to tell me until we’d actually arranged to meet up that his name wasn’t Tommy. It sure was weird when I eventually met the real Tommy.

    9. doreen*

      When I was getting married, a “Vincent” appeared on my mother’s guest list with one of the family surnames. I asked my mother who this “Vincent” was, and why I was inviting him to my wedding since I’d never met him. She told me it was ” Uncle Jimmy”. I found out many years later that it was common for Italians named Vincent or Vincenzo to go by “Jimmy”. Apparently, “Vincenzo” turned into “Cenzo” which was thought to sound like “James” and that turned into “Jimmy”. As far as I could tell, everyone in my family found out about this when they were sending out wedding invitations.

    10. Lady Oscar*

      Back when I was an undergraduate there were no cell phones, or even phones in dorm rooms, so parents had to call a shared phone for the hallway or student house and whoever was nearby would pick up. Besides the risk of having the phone randomly answered “Hansen’s Vegetable Emporium” or “L.D. Space Command”, there was the problem that many of my classmates went by names other than the ones their parents had given them. I particularly remember the fallout from a slightly inebriated male house member telling “Kit’s” mother, “there’s no Mary [Lastname] here, F off”. I myself once firmly told a parent that there was no “Joseph [Lastname]” in our house and only later remembered to my mortification that one of our housemates did have that last name…I had no idea that he was a junior, and went by something unrelated.

      We also in a house of about 10 people had three “Daves”. Fortunately, none of them went by “Dave”, but much confusion was created when people calling for “Dave” had to figure out if they wanted Bernie, Bogey, or Gonzo. Good times….

      1. Xebi*

        When I was an undergrad I once found myself at a party where (I counted) 20 people were present. Aside from myself (oddly the only woman there by that point) there was a guy called Ben, my friend Duncan whose middle name was David…and seventeen Daves.

        It was like being inside a Dr Seuss poem.

        1. Honoria Glossop*

          This reminds me of the 2010 US Men’s Olympic hockey team (oh the things my brain retains), where there were 6 guys were named Ryan, 1 named Brian, and 1 with Ryan as a last name.

    11. EchoGirl*

      I had a friend once who went by a nickname that was only vaguely related to his real name (incidentally, it was one of those full names that had an extremely common nickname as well) — say his name was Jonathan and he went by Jake. He used “Jake” so exclusively that we’d always have a collective moment of confusion when someone (like a teacher doing first-day roll call) called him “Jonathan”, and then we’d be like, “oh, yeah, that is Jake’s legal name, isn’t it?”

      Separately, there’s an American football player who used his middle name in college and uses his first name professionally. I totally get why he did it, but it can still be a little odd/confusing when you watch older videos calling him one thing (and he only went pro this year, so there’s still a lot of not-really- that-old videos using the old name) and newer videos calling him another, and you kind of have to stop and remember that it’s the same person. (The fact that there are so many instances in the league of multiple players having the same not-necessarily-common last name — some related, others just coincidence — doesn’t help matters.)

      1. Expelliarmus*

        I don’t have a dragon onesie, but I once wore an Incredibles onesie to a Halloween costume party in college!

    1. PurpleStrawberry*

      Me too. I had a pretty cringy moment this morning….was on a call with 2 different teams, and we were working through a task list. My team had knocked out several tasks, so I said “Mmmm feels so good….I love taking things off.” My brain hit me with a PHRASING!!!!!!! seconds after. I wanted to just log out and go home.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      Me too! I definitely felt like, “it’s not just me? Other people do awkward things and cringe years later?”

      The more I learn, the more normal I feel :)

  6. mreasy*

    “The unauthorized edit” never fails to get me. I am sitting here laugh-crying at my desk despite having read it so many times. Gosh I just love to imagine being that hiring manager. :D :D :D

    1. nonbinary writer*

      i mean hey once you get to a certain age, consistent and regular shitting can truly be an accomplishment

      1. Caliente*

        Having a 13yo right now, I gotta say the thought of that kid doing something like that! Fiendishly clever and man are you in trouble!

        1. Cj*

          I would have taken away the kids electronics and grounded them for at least two months. It is not at all funny to tank your parents chances at a job.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            This is why you should always lock your computer before walking away from it. Even if you think you’re completely alone.

            1. allathian*

              Also, don’t forget to read the final version of the file one more time before submitting it…

    2. Retired Prof*

      I taught college, including a course that included a major research paper. I required students to hand in a first draft which got extensive comments. I never understand why some students put my name at the top under their name (who told them to do that?) but one student had put “Nazi Professor”. She definitely got a comment about that. Turned out her boyfriend resented her working on the paper, so he edited it a bit. She was mortified.

      1. Emma*

        When I was an undergrad we were told to do this – I think it was mainly so that if the paper got dropped or left somewhere, whoever picked it up would know which member of staff to hand it back to.

        I once submitted an optional paper with the working subtitle “When Will I Learn Not To Volunteer For Things” still in the document. I realised straight away and emailed a fixed version claiming that I had forgotten to include the word count. I don’t know if my tutor ever opened the original, but if she did, she didn’t say anything and still gave me 100% – very gracious!

        1. Xebi*

          I was on the receiving end of something similar once but unfortunately for the submitter I had already opened the original copy and seen her mistake – she had accidentally included an extra N in a most unfortunate position in the phrase “waking night staff.”

          1. SomehowIManage*

            Someone on my marketing team sent me a list of products to advertise, including “crew cut socks”, but accidentally put a “c” where an “s” should be…

            1. lizzay*

              I had a female higher-up looking over my shoulder directing me to count up a list of something in Excel & I went to type =Count(… but missed the ‘o’ key…

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          At my university, we had to submit our essays into boxes in our department, with several members of staff sharing a box, so it was quite easy for things to get mixed up and having the name helped sort that out. I definitely knew one person who almost got failed on an essay because his tutor thought he never submitted it, and it eventually came out that it had got clipped to the back of someone else’s and ended up with the wrong tutor, and whoever got it by mistake didn’t notice straight away.

        3. anonymous 5*

          I will have to look up which journal this actually was, but among the stories I’ve heard of gaffes that actually made it into peer-reviewed (!) scientific journals, there’s apparently one that includes a parenthetical, “Do we *have* to reference the crappy Jones paper here??” in the middle of the intro.

        4. Recruited Recruiter*

          I am still working on my undergrad. We are required to do this. My understanding of the reason is the same.

          Several years ago, during the first time I was in college, I submitted a paper for the wrong class. The projects were similar enough that I got a C.

      2. Red Wheelbarrow*

        Both APA and MLA styles require students to include the professor’s name on the first page, so I’d be surprised if college students didn’t do this.

  7. Anonymous Esq*

    These posts are truly my favorite. Between wanting to yeet myself into the sun out of secondhand embarrassment to literal tears of laughter (13 – so so funny), I appreciate the range of these stories so much. Now, where do I get a dragon onesie?

  8. Sandman*

    I love these so much. I suspect most of us did some really dumb things we blush to think about now, and reading these always reminds me that we’re all in this dorky human thing together.

  9. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    Alison, we can ALL use a good laugh right now! Thanks so much for posting these – they’re priceless! (I think my favorite is the “dragon manager” – it’s every bit as hilarious as the recent “cat filter lawyer”.)
    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to mop up the coffee I just spat out all over my keyboard…;)

    1. Liz*

      Let’s not forget the manager who filtered herself into a potato, and couldn’t figure out how to change it. I love that so much.

      1. Thunderingly*

        My church is using Facebook live for streaming services, and a couple of weeks ago was having trouble so that it was cycling through filters during the opening prayer. So there was Pastor, praying with googly eyes, then a gold medal, then a wizard hat and beard, etc. I was laughing so hard I was crying!

  10. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    After reading #4 the only thing holding me up is this very sturdy chair. I’m weak.

  11. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    Lets hope the home of number 4 was not into corporal punishment.

  12. Bostonian*

    Accidentally hugging the CEO (not on the list) is one of my favorite mortifying tales from this site ever.

      1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

        You go on vacation, right Alison? You can just queue this sort of stuff up for a week and we’d be happy!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Maybe it can be this week. I am supposed to be writing content for the week today and am encountering serious burnout. Hmmm, this could be a message from the universe.

          1. anonymous 5*

            I hope the burnout will subside soon! And if the solution includes giving us some “greatest hits from the archives,” that sounds like a win to me. :)

      2. Sandi*

        Another one for your list:
        We get sent email updates when there are contractors doing building repairs, so that we know to expect noise and strangers. Imagine everyone’s surprise about “cocking the windows”.

        Or maybe have requests for spelling mistakes?

    1. WFH with Cat*

      Oh, the CEO hugger – one of my faves!

      I once called out, “Love you! See you in the morning!” to my boss as he was leaving for the day. But … but … that’s was a family goodnight thing, so … yeah.

      1. meyer lemon*

        I’m having a hard time digging up the details, but one of my favourites was a very buttoned-up executive type who had to record a message for the whole office, which ended with something like “Love and kisses, Veronica” and then a giant pause and “OH NO,” all of which got sent to absolutely everyone.

      2. Lady Oscar*

        I always end communications with my husband with “have fun”, specifically to avoid this issue!

      3. Pleiades*

        I work customer service and have definitely had some slip-ups. The worst one was when I was selling tickets – I’ll sometimes say “perfect!” or something similar when a customer gets the tricky card reader figured out, etc. I can only imagine that somehow I thought I’d change it up and say “love it!” in response to their request/comment/who knows (this part isn’t clear in my memory.) What is very clear in my memory is that I actually said (very cheery and enthusiastically) – “love you!”

        I was SO mortified but luckily they thought it was hilarious and laughed it off. I was blushing for like half an hour afterwards.

  13. Dan R*

    This isn’t really that bad, but my first job out of college was a sales job with a very overbearing, bullying boss (he made at least guy cry while I was there). I am a pretty deadpan guy, especially when I’m nervous, and my boss had a huge personality and wanted all his employees to be the same.

    Whenever we had a sales appointments we would have to go over our deal in front of all 25ish people in the company, and invariably he would get mad that I wasn’t “excited” enough. I might have been broke working a 100% commission job, but I didn’t like being bullied, so I would turn my excitement meter down to zero whenever I presented. I got the point where I basically sounded comatose. Then I would drink a ton of Red Bull before I actually met with the client boost my energy to close the deal.

    Eventually we started to get along, but for a while this guy couldn’t figure me out at all, especially since I was eventually one of the better salespeople in the office. I didn’t feel too bad because I knew that if I hadn’t been a strong performer, he would definitely have relentlessly bullied me.

      1. anonymous 5*

        pretty please? I mean, I’d love mortification week, too, but I could especially use some stories of jerks getting their comeuppance!

      2. AnotherLadyGrey*

        The resignation via fish seems like it would fit in here. I frequently and joyfully think of that amazing individual.

      3. Jo*

        The story about the guy who burned a bridge in a major way by getting his own back on a nepotistic BigBoss who made him swap roles with BigBoss’s friend’s son and take a drop in salary of tens of thousands of dollars with a few days notice would be a good one to reprint for this.

  14. Paralegal Part Deux*

    When I was 27, I worked for a jackwagon of a boss I happened to discover I was related to and not too distantly, either. I kept the news to myself and never told him. When he fired me and another woman as he was sending operations overseas (he called on a Sunday night before I was to come back from vacation), I told him he was the biggest jackass God ever rammed a gut in and that Granny (my great-grandmother) was right about his side of the family being a bunch of no good back-stabbers.

    Not my finest moment.

    However, his company folded shortly thereafter, and I got to go back to school for free because he sent my job overseas.

    1. MtnLaurel*

      Oh that is perfect! The kind of comment I dream about making!!! I”m still cracking up.

    2. Palliser*

      Did you ever see him again at a family reunion and if so, what happened? Please please tell us! :)

  15. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    Oh god. I have so many.

    In my very first interview for a post-college job I somehow managed answer “what’s your biggest weakness” with “I have trouble following directions”.

    In my first fundraising job there was extremely little training or oversight, and the entire place was unprofessional from top to bottom…I once passed the president’s office while he was meeting with a donor and just BARGED IN to say hello because I was technically assigned to this donor so OF COURSE he was there to see me.

    I once approached a man and his wife in the bar of a hotel because I thought the man was one of the attendees for an event I was running. I distinctly remember telling them “Are we ready to have some fun tonight?” so yeah, I’m pretty sure they thought I was a hooker. Doesn’t help that I was 23 at the time.

    And the worst one for all kinds of reasons: I used to process the monthly donations, of which we had a grand total of one. He was an alumnus who happened to live on an interesting street name. Once at a conference I met that donor, and instead of just thanking him for his support or being a normal person, I said “Oh you live on STREET! What a great name!”… thankfully, I’ve since learned that alcohol and work events don’t mix (and also gotten PII training).

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I think it was Rain Tree Drive. It was so bad, Alison – he was talking with the president of the university and when the president introduced me I just immediately said “Oh, from Rain Tree Drive! What a cool street name!” I will never forget the look he gave me…

        I’m shocked I wasn’t fired from that job, but the sad truth is everyone else was more unprofessional than even me!

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Oh, and this was AFTER I let my even younger coworker convince me to let her give me winged eye liner…for a professional event. My boss bullied me into it because she said I intimidated the coworker so the least I could do was let her do my makeup.

        2. Anonny*

          I live in a part of the UK notorious for weird place names, so I was expecting like ‘Blue Balls Hill’, ‘Godsblessing Lane’, or ‘Piddle Valley’. Yes, these are all real.

          1. Jessica Ganschen*

            In one area of my city, there’s a cluster of streets that are all named after flowers, so Rose Street, Jonquil Lane, Lavender Court, etc, except for one street, smack dab in the middle of them, named… Sirloin Strip.

              1. Jessica Ganschen*

                I think the only way it could get better is if there was another area with Ribeye Lane, Pot Roast Street, and so on, that had a Daisy Road in the middle of it!

          2. The Prettiest Curse*

            I lived in the Bay Area for many years and NEVER stopped mentally sniggering at the neighbourhood in San Francisco called Nob Hill. There’s no ‘K’ at the front because it’s short for nobility and not … something else, but all British people are doomed to find it eternally hilarious.

            1. Le Sigh*

              Ahahaha you know, I’d never considered that (I’m American). But now it’s all I’ll think of — truly, thank you.

          3. Jo*

            In St Andrews in Scotland there’s a lane called Butts Wynd, and in Edinburgh there’s a street called Cockburn Street which is apparently pronounced Coburn Street. Also, not so much a funny one but an unusual one – near where I used to live there’s a village called Friockheim (pronounced FREEK-um) which I think is of German origin.

            1. UKDancer*

              When I was a student in Germany the train between our town and the other major town went through a place called Scheidt (pronounced shite) which amused those of us from the UK immoderately.

              1. PhyllisB*

                Not as funny as yours, UK Dancer, but in our state a lot of our towns have Native American names. One that’s not far from me is Shuqualak. (Yes, I’ll wait while you google it!!) It’s pronounced Sugar Lock. There was a train conductor filling in who was not familiar with the area who announced loudly, “All out for Squakalak!!”

            2. Le Sigh*

              On my visit to the UK, every time I encountered a town or street or anything with “cock” I had a giggle. My SO would just roll his eyes and I’d look at him and say “it’s not MY fault.”

                1. Troutwaxer*

                  I used to have a tie in the shape of a slippery dick, though I’ve never seen one in the wild. Pretty looking fish, however.

                2. allathian*

                  On a trip to the UK years ago, my friends and I had a pub lunch. We just couldn’t resist. We had Bangers and Mash (sausages and mashed potatoes with onion gravy), followed by Spotted Dick for dessert. Fun times. I probably still have a photo of the menu somewhere, this was before digital cameras, never mind smartphones.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Le Sigh, every time I go to London, I smile when the Underground announcement on the Piccadilly Line says, “The next station is [Gloucester Road, or whatever]. This is a Piccadilly Line train to Cockfosters.”

                1. Le Sigh*

                  That would truly never get old for me.

                  There is a town/village in the Lake District called Cockermouth. I didn’t visit while I was there. But I admittedly was not a grown up about it, either.

            3. banoffee pie*

              I found that street, Butt’s Wynd, when I visited St Andrew’s and couldn’t believe it! I took a photo of the sign cos I’m easily amused. I was always a bit disappointed that Cockburn street wasn’t pronounced phonetically lol

          4. Le Sigh*

            In the U.S., there’s a convenience store chain called Kum & Go and I’m completely incapable of acting like an adult about it.

              1. Le Sigh*

                According to Wikipedia, “The Kum & Go name was adopted in 1975 to unify the company’s array of stores under a single brand. It was a play on the phrase “come and go” using the initials of founders Krause and Gentle.”

                I think Come and Go would have sufficed.

                1. ampersand*

                  Right?! I feel like they knew exactly what it sounded/looked like and then when confronted with the awkwardness, they doubled down on the reasoning. Like: it’s totally okay and not at all weird because THESE ARE OUR INITIALS.

                  Still nope!

                2. Carlie*

                  I am from a city that has one. I noticed on my last visit that the signs now say “K and G” in big letters and you have to look close to see the full name in small print.
                  We also have a gas station chain called Hit and Run.

            1. Lizy*

              ME TOO. There’s two in a town that brought out one of the major other chains, so basically there’s a Kum & Go across the street from a Kum & Go and it’s seriously so hilarious I can’t even.

              But they have really good fountain drinks.

            2. Recruited Recruiter*

              This is the closest convenience store to my house. My (middle and high school) teacher wife can’t stop laughing about this.

          5. Sandi*

            From the Arrogant Worms song about Newfoundland place names:

            From Woody Point to Come-By-Chance to good ol’ Ferryland
            Come take a look at Gander, Blackhead’s mighty grand
            Don’t let the names deceive you, Newfoundland’s mighty fine
            So spend a night in Dildo if you think you’ve got the time

            Well you can go to Blow-Me-Down before it gets too dark
            Oh sorry ma’am, I should have said, that’s our provincial park
            There’s also Whippet Harbour, or maybe Butter Pot
            Or maybe I’ll just hit the pub I’m feeling like a shot
            Well you can sail on Quidi Vidi, or look at Joe Batt’s Arm
            There’s Placentia and there’s Cow Head (MOOO!), they’re so full of charm
            Get married down in Kilbride, have a party in Hate Bay
            Or have some screech in Fogo and forget about the day

          6. MsSolo (UK)*

            Round my way they were deeply unoriginal with naming, so there’s David Drive, David Street, David Road, David Terrace, David Mount, David View, David Avenue, David Grove, David Place… It does mean you can just say “oh, the Davids?” if you need to reference an area about 200mx200m. Also, because they’re terraces/back-to-backs, there’s also “Back David Grove” and “Back David Mount”, which sound like political slogans. This pattern is repeated over and over, so there are loads of batches of streets that all share the same name. Guess how well new posties get on!

            (it’s not actually David, but it is another man’s name, just in case anyone from the same area is like ‘this is hugely familiar, but near me it’s the NNNs’)

          7. pandop*

            Is there a part of the UK that’s not full of weird place names? (Wetwang, Blubberhouses etc)

          8. Persephone Mongoose*

            I’m rather fond of the town name, Pity Me, because I can just imagine the confusion when residents answer the question “so, where do you live?”.

          9. Maxy*

            I grew up in southern California and in middle school my younger sister made friends with a kid who lived in a nearby neighborhood…on Sutter Buttes Road. My middle school self thought that was the funniest thing in the world.

            Now I live in Boston and there’s a neighborhood which is notorious for attracting a lot of queer folks with a street named “Gay Head St.” Obviously, all my friends wanted to rent an apartment there (and one of them did!).

        3. Lily Rowan*

          I definitely worked on a small development team with a database guy who worked a donor event once and did something like that to multiple people. He only worked the one donor event….

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            I wasn’t even a database person! I was a frontline fundraiser! My ENTIRE job was schmoozing people! I regularly think about this moment when I can’t sleep at night.

            1. Lily Rowan*

              Oh wait, I have one of my own — I was at a community event and ran into a donor (because I heard her say her name at the sign-in table) and I was like, “OH! Mary Smith?! I’ve been trying to talk to you about Awesome Nonprofit!”

              Seriously, dude? What a nightmare.

            2. EatingDoesntTeachYouToCook*

              I get why you’re embarrassed, but I think you should let yourself off the hook. It’s not as if you said, “Oh, with the incarcerated nephew!”

    1. anononon*

      At least you managed to reply to the interviewer. I think I managed maybe 5 words total in my first internship interview. Had the interviewer tell me it was ok to be nervous and to relax. I think I managed to nod in reply. He filled the time talking at me. I obviously didn’t get the job.

    2. Koalafied*

      Oh gods, this just reminded me of a long suppressed memory of possibly the worst interview I ever had.

      I had dropped out of graduate school after completing my MA coursework (but without defending my thesis/receiving a degree) to pursue a career. My first job ended up doing massive layoffs due to financial concerns about 11 months after I’d been hired and I was one of those who was let go. I fortunately found another job pretty quickly, but it was a small dysfunctional org and about 1 year later I was job searching again and landed an interview with a larger and fairly household brand name organization.

      I didn’t realize at the time how unusual this was for a first interview/fairly junior position, but it turned out to be a panel interview that included board members! One of them in particular really grilled me like he was cross-examining me in a trial, observing that I’d dropped out of grad school, only stayed one year in my first job, and was now looking to leave a job after one year again, and asked me to explain these short stays. His very stern demeanor didn’t help my nerves, and with very little hesitation, I blurted out the same answer I had given to friends who had asked why I left grad school: “I wasn’t happy there.”

      The words were just already in my head from telling friends so many times, and was too inexperienced to have realized they were obviously going to ask about that pattern and prep an answer ahead of time, so in my nervousness some part of me thought, “Aha! I already have the answer to this FAQ on file in my brain!” Not giving a single thought to the difference in context between a friend interested in my life and well-being vs an employer assessing my future reliability as a potential hire. *facepalm*

    3. Thunderingly*

      Haha once in an interview, I said my greatest weakness was being disorganized. They still hired me!

    4. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      When I was looking for my first job, I had some dismal interviews. Two of them really stand out, 30 years later.

      In one, I asked where I saw myself in 5 years time. Turns out this is actually a good question for screening out idiots, because I said: “well, I actually want to be an architect”. It was for an entry-level IT position. The interviewer’s jaw dropped, the interview ended, and I got an angry phone call from the recruiter the next day.

      The second contender for “worst interview” was with a company that used primarily a language other than English, which I had been told about. I froze up and refused to answer in anything but English – although I understand and spoke the other language – while trying to convince them (in English) that I was perfectly comfortable with their preferred language.


      1. quill*

        Or hell, writing PAID ON DATE across the top of the invoice. (I did this when I had to scan them to a separate location and retain them onsite)

      2. Nea*

        It wasn’t invoices, but I used to color-code with a couple stripes of highlighter across the top of the page.

  16. AppleStan*


    Sorry for the all caps, but it was just that important to me.

    I’m going to save it for this evening when I can enjoy it with a glass of wine!!!

  17. sarah meyer*

    I went to an interview and for some reason the person interviewing me let me lead the way down this hallway. I thought he said “in here” so I randomly went into an office and started introducing myself. Well it wasn’t where I was supposed to go so I was introducing myself to some random person who had no idea why I was in their office. I didn’t get the job and still cringe thinking about it to this day…..

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I desperately hope that interviewer reads AAM and comments down thread that his most mortifying moment was the time an interviewee awkwardly got off the elevator before him and as he said “here, let me” the interviewee opened a random door and started introducing himself like he had already gotten the job.

  18. it's me*

    See, with #13, I feel like if you have the covers of your erotic novels on the wall behind you at your DOJ job, someone’s going to notice and/or ask about them.

    1. Oh, Yes, Anonymous!*

      I’m still trying to figure out whether the interviewee should cop to having read them or not, if, in fact, they have read them.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Right? Did she think it was less awkward for people to think she just decorates her office with sexy dudes for fun??

    3. KateM*

      And with #16, I feel that it’s partly on supervisor who didn’t check newcomer’s work until the end of season.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I agree with this. Why would you not check in at the end of the first or second week and say “do you have any questions about the record keeping system?”

        1. TechWorker*

          I do agree but it is also sort of fair to think that if someone is completely clueless they would *ask* :p obviously mgr learnt their lesson here…

          1. Dasein9*

            A lesson from teaching: the truly clueless do not ask. (Probably because they have no idea what to ask or the scope of their not-knowing.)

            It takes a few clues to even know to ask.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              From training workers, too. But the LW should have been walked through how to enter the data on the first day.

          2. Amaranth*

            I would have understood had OP just put the data in the fields as they were filled out, but they just assigned them randomly which is incredibly strange.

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I used to work for a library manager who also wrote and published romance novels. Not quite erotica, but there was on-page sex. But she didn’t display her book covers in her office, even though it was a library and having book cover art in your office is really normal.

  19. StoneColdJaneAusten*

    ” She paused, laughed awkwardly, then gestured to what I realized were pictures of book covers with shirtless male torsos on the bulletin board behind her. ”

    Like, the bulletin board in her office at the State Department of Justice?

  20. Liz*

    The dragon onesie had me in hysterics. I could totally see myself doing something like that, as I’m ALL about comfort over looks, at least in my OWN space.

    1. Huttj*

      I figure if something’s figuratively on fire and all hands are on deck, you’re lucky if people are wearing pants.

  21. Slow Gin Lizz*

    It only just now occurred to me that the person with the Joaquin/Wakeen issue probably also thinks that quinoa and keenwah are two different foods. Thanks for including that story, Alison, because it cracks me up every time I read it!

    1. Liz*

      That was me as a child, hors d’oeuvre and “or derve” I really had no idea they were one and the same thing; i’d hear someone say the word, and i’d also seen it in books (i was a voracious reader, well above my grade and age level), and it was years before I realized they were one and the same word.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        OMG, me too re: hors d’oeuvre. Totally pronounced it hors du vore or something. And I didn’t figure out for a long time that lasagna wasn’t pronounced la-sag-na. (Signed, another Liz.)

      2. Elenna*

        Now, that one I actually got, by virtue of being semi-fluent in French as a kid. Words not based on French (like Joaquin, quinoa, and Siobhan), not so much…

        1. TiffIf*

          For the LONGEST time I didn’t realize that Siobhan was pronounced Shi-van…luckily I had never tried to say Siobhan, I had only read it and in my head sounded it out as See-o-ban.

          My sister still teases me that I was a teenager when I realized “pneumonia” was how the illness was spelled and the “p” was not pronounced. I still tease her that she was a teenager when she realized that “marijuana” was not pronounced “mari-jew-ana” but had the “wah” for “j” sound.

          1. Properlike*

            Learned that just last year. In my defense, I’ve seen it spelled (and pronounced) Shevonne in other places. Like Wakeen!

            1. cacwgrl*

              Yup. I thought one only spelled the way that name is said as “che-von” because I only ever met one person with a name pronounced like that. But I feel like there might have been a Siobhan in Twilight and I definitely read it in my head as See-o-ban…

          2. Mannequin*

            I learned it in the 80s because of Siobhan Fahey, one of the singers in Bananarama (and later Shakespeare’s Sister.) Beautiful name.

        2. Margali*

          I think I was eight when I embarrassed my mom by asking out (very) loud what “Whore’s Dovers” were.

        3. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          My college BF’s friend had similar difficulties with “linger-ay” vs. “lawn-zheray” and it led to a VERY memorable round of Catchphrase

        4. New Job So Much Better*

          I went to school with a girl whose last name was Toussaint, and for years thought “Toussaint” and “Tucson” were both different places in Texas.

      3. Annie*

        Yes, same! Also, I thought “doxens” and “dashhunds” were two different breeds of dog. And the first time I ever tried to pronounce “Dubuque” was…completely wrong (apparently it’s not “Doo-buh-kway,” who knew?).

          1. DyneinWalking*

            It’s a compound word from German: Dachs-Hund (lit. badger dog), roughly pronounced dahx-hoont.

            The word commonly used in Germany for this breed, by the way, is “Dackel”.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes when I was a child I used to visit my godparents in Germany and one of the people in the village bred these dogs so I thought the word for them was Dackel and it took me a long time to realise that it was the same thing as a Dachshund. For some reason I thought that a Dackel was a type of dog they only had in Germany and not something with a different name in England.

              I was also convinced there was a dog breed called a Mallenwah (which someone else had in the village) because I’d never seen the name written down and didn’t realise it was written Malinois. That took me a while to work out as a child.

            2. TechWorker*

              Thanks – I did study German (and definitely knew Hund was dog) so when you explain it like that it makes a lot of sense :p

            3. tamarack and fireweed*

              I’m German, familiar with Dachshund / Dackel, and I thought that doxies were completely different kind of dog. Probably some minpin-chihuahua type one named after the mythical creatures.

          1. TechWorker*

            I’m 99.9% sure the last one is the wrong way round, just to catch you out more (Thames *is* pronounced ‘Tems’).

            Lots of these make us brits look really lazy lol – I’d guess quite a few of them the place was originally pronounced closer to the spelling and then syllables just get lost over time…

          2. EvilQueenRegina*

            My uncle thinks he’s funny and likes to use his own random pronunciations for words and names sometimes. He married a woman from the Philippines, and when she first came over to the UK, he would talk about Edinburgh pronouncing it “Ed-in-burg-aitch” (they were planning to go there – they were picking me up after my first year at St Andrews, and were planning to stop at Edinburgh on the way). She believed for a while that Ed-in-burg-aitch was the correct pronunciation, until the day she said it to my grandad and he corrected her.

        1. Lucien Nova*

          As someone currently living in Dubuque, that cracked me up.

          (I had sort of the opposite problem – I heard the name pronounced before I ever saw it spelled, so I promptly went and googled “Debuke”…thoroughly embarrassing, and I was even alone at the time!)

          1. Liz*

            Then you have Newark. In NJ, it’s pronounced like “new work”. In Delaware, however, it’s pronounced as “new ark”

        2. I learned something!*

          You mean “dachshund” isn’t pronounced dash-und?!? Oh dear… I’m…uh… really glad I don’t talk about dogs a lot.

        3. PhyllisB*

          I took a drama class in college, and one of our assignments was to try out for the play that was being put on, (Not to really get a part if you didn’t want it, just for experience.) One of my lines had the name Dubonnet in it. (I had never heard the name pronounced.) Well, I stood there and in all my glory I loudly declared, “Madame Du Bonnet (Dew Bonnet) will be furious!!” You could have heard a pin drop. And I had no idea I had said anything wrong until the director quietly told me the right pronunciation. I wanted to crawl under the floorboards and die.

          1. Sandi*

            They probably weren’t fans of the show Keeping Up Appearances.
            “It’s not Mrs Bucket, it’s pronounced Bou-quay”

      4. Llama face!*

        I think we are the same person. I did the same (both the reading far beyond grade level and the hors d’œuvres confusion).

        1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

          I thought that jodphurs were jod-FIRS and deodorant was pronounced deo-DOR-rant, for the same reason. I remember my mom laughing out loud at some of my words.

          My children have also come up with some hilarious renditions of words that they’ve seen in books but never heard.

          1. Llama face!*

            Courtesy of my sister who had similar struggles:
            Hemmer-hagging (hemhorraging)
            Ski-fee (Sci-fi)

            I may also have been the laughingstock of my family the first time I said a certain female anatomy word out loud and rhymed it with Tyrannosaurus. Apparently the emphasis is on the first half of the word, not the second…

      5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        At least once a week, SOMEONE in my house excuses a mispronunciation with “Is that how you say (whatever)? I’ve never actually heard it said out loud, only read it,” because we were all voracious and advanced readers.

        1. RosyGlasses*

          YES!! I often don’t actually know how to pronounce words because I’ve only ever read them – and sometimes I hear the word in my head but if it tries to come out of my mouth I panic!

        2. Frank Doyle*

          There’s a character in the later seasons of The Sopranos who pronounces words wrong, and it’s meant to make him look stupid, but I think it actually does the opposite — it just means that he reads a lot!

        3. Koalafied*

          When I was around 16 years old I gave a statement IN COURT using the word “quixotic” – pronouncing it kwiks-ot-ic. All the adults in the room broke out in smiles, which at the time I interpreted as a sign they were all impressed by my vocabulary and precociousness. It was YEARS later before I read Don Quixote in college and realized the real reason they’d all been so amused.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Right. The first time I heard it pronounced, I thought the speaker was awfully ignorant. No, it was me. (And why isn’t it pronounced kee-hot-ic? Why?)

            2. cacwgrl*

              Wait, so is it Don “Key-o-tee”? Because I’m pretty sure that’s how they said it in that HBO News show and I’ve said it that way ever since, because as a junior in English class in HS, I definitely was too shy to ask my teacher how to say that word when he gave us a big list of books he said all smart folks should read in their lives.

              1. Koalafied*

                Yes, to the name Don Quixote being key-oh-tee. I think by Rusty Shackelford saying “despite the origin” he was meaning that even though quixotic is derived from Quixote, it’s not pronounced the same as its root origin word. (Google dictionary also confirmed this!)

              2. Clisby*

                Yes, it’s Don “Key-o-tee”, but the correct pronunciation of “quixotic” is “kwic-sot-ic.”

          1. Cathie from Canada*

            A woman I worked with told me once that the reason I had such trouble with spelling and pronunciation was the way I learned to read – she said the reading method used at my time in my grade school was to identify words quickly by looking at the beginnings and endings, rather than looking more slowly at each word and sounding out each syllable. Or maybe I was just too impatient to do it “correctly” because I has always been a voracious reader. Anyway, my sloppy way to read was faster, but it led to a LOT of inaccuracies in spelling over the years, not to mention often problems with mispronouncing fairly common but lengthy words.

        4. Lunch Ghost*

          I pronounced ‘prejudice’ as ‘pre-Judas’ while reading aloud in fourth grade. My teacher was aghast that I’d gotten to fourth grade without knowing what prejudice was. I knew exactly what it WAS, I just didn’t know how to pronounce it!

        5. My Brain Is Exploding*

          Oh that’s so hard when watching Jeopardy!! Also…. One of our family members had a client named Nguyen… They didn’t get that one right.

        6. PhyllisB*

          Same here. When my son was in college, he was always telling me, “Mom!! That’s not how you pronounce that!!” At least I was at home and no one else was witness to my humiliation.

          1. tamarack and fireweed*

            In the category of youthful misreadings, we studied some classical theatre play in high school (by Schiller I think), in German (native language). We read a passage with distributed roles, and one student was assigned to read the stage directions. When he read “mit Wehmut” (=wistfully, with nostalgia) as “mit Wermut” (=with vermouth) great hilarity ensued. The student wasn’t aware that are two different nouns.

      6. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is like Hank Green’s story about when he had to give an oral presentation about building facades and spent the whole speech calling them “fakades.”

        1. Cathie from Canada*

          One of the funniest tweets I ever saw is apparently now known as the Derrida cows tweet. Derrida is one of the greatest French philosophers, and the tweet is from musicologist Phil Gentry @pmgentry. It now has a hundred thousand “likes”, so here it goes:
          A professor of mine went to go hear Derrida speak once. The entire talk was about cows; everyone was flummoxed but listened carefully, and took notes about…cows. There was a short break, and when Derrida came back, he was like, “I’m told it is pronounced ‘chaos.’ ”

      7. Information Central*

        Not quite the same thing, but as a kid I thought “ornery” and “arnry” were two different words thanks to Kansas accents.

        “Arnry” meant something along the lines of “cutely mischievous”, which I figured out by hearing it frequently used to describe little me.

        1. Caboose*

          Ornery is one of very few words that I wind up saying with an inexplicable Boston accent. Unless I concentrate, it’s not even as clear as “arnry”– I wind up with “ahnry”. The other main example is Worchester (and Gloucester, too). It means I can say Worchestershire sauce very easily, but it sounds exceptionally weird if I refer to any of these places in conversation.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            I’m in England and live in a county which borders both Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Over here they are pronounced “Wooster” and “Gloster” – I had picked up the Worchester pronunciation existing somewhere along the way (possibly even here) but I can see myself having a Wakeen moment in the US if I hadn’t.

            1. Slow Gin Lizz*

              Here in Massachusetts, those two towns are also pronounced Wooster and Gloster (or Woostah and Glostah if you’re heavily Boston-accented) so you’d be just fine here. But a town near me, Woburn, is a mystery to everyone outside the state. It’s pronounced WOO-burn (or, again, WOO-buhn) and my company’s PO box is there and everyone out of state who calls to get our mailing address pronounces it wrong. I’ve only been here a few months but I wonder how long it’ll take for me to get tired of explaining it. (And now I feel bad for all my friends who actually live there.)

        2. Mannequin*

          My mom’s side of the family came from Texas and I too had to figure out that ornery and “awnry” were the same word.

      8. Jessica Ganschen*

        For me it was kayoss and chaos (pronounced “chowse”), and when I asked my mom what it meant, it took her a good few minutes to figure out what I was talking about.

        1. Dasein9*

          There is an apocryphal story about Derrida giving a lecture on cows.
          The audience was confused, but that’s nothing new at Philosophy lectures, so folks just listened carefully and took notes.
          After the break, Derrida returned to the lectern and clarified, “This word. Apparently, it’s pronounced ‘kay-oss’ in English.”

          1. Cathie from Canada*

            Oops sorry — I just posted the Derrida Cows tweet above, when I saw your comment too.

      9. TechWorker*

        As a child I fsr thought the name Christian was pronounced starting with ‘Christ’ because I didn’t know anyone with that name. Now it strikes me than ‘Christian’ and ‘Christianity’ obviously do get used and don’t start with Christ so I have no idea what my logic was there (I don’t remember being confused about those words, though perhaps they just didn’t come up much in primary school).

        1. Lucien Nova*

          The interesting thing about this is that in several languages (Greek and Japanese, just off the top of my head, and I recall a few others but not which ones) the name Christ is pronounced the same as the Christ- prefix. English weirds languages.

        2. Liz*

          I remember as a child, a classmate who’s name was Sean. And I thought it was pronounced as “see an”

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            My grandad made so many jokes about the actor “Seen Bean” that I’m surprised anyone in my family can correctly pronounce that name.

          2. Mannequin*

            I knew a kid in grade school who spelled it Shaun before I ever knew anyone who spelled it the more traditional way, and so when I met someone spelled Sean thought it was some weird alternative thing.

      10. Formerly Ella Vader*

        When I was a kid, I read about rich people who had chauffeurs. But I also listened to grownups around me talk about jobs that required a “shoafer’s licence”, which I thought was a totally different word for someone who drove a small truck around town.

        1. meyer lemon*

          It occurs to me only now that chauffeur just means “heater” in French. The internet tells me that this etymology comes from steam engine days, which makes sense!

          1. Brave Little Roaster*

            In Quebec, they still say “chauffer” (show-FAY) for “to drive” but in France they use the verb “conduire” (cone-DWEER). My French teacher loved to tell the story of a guy from France who was studying in Quebec- when his female classmate asked for a ride, he thought she was asking if he would “warm her up.” :O

      11. JanetM*

        For me it was “rapport” (which I’d seen in books) and “rapore” (which I’d heard).

        Also, it was within the last year that I learned how to properly pronounce “hegemony” and Helen Mirren’s last name.

      12. Jules of the River*

        This was also me as a kid. I thought it was pronounced “horse divorce”. I believe I also talked about a series of novels featuring a Detective Poy-rot.

      13. Elizabeth West*

        My mom’s friend said that years ago she went on a date with a guy who asked her if she wanted to have any “hor dervies.”

        1. Filosofickle*

          Yeah…I had always heard yamaka or yahmuhkuh, something like that. So I’m reading a Faye Kellerman book , which features a detective whose wife and kids are Orthodox, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it in print. I kept thinking what is a yar-mule-k?! Took me most of the book for the lightbulb to go off and connect them.

    2. Elenna*

      Wait, is that how you pronounce it? TIL

      (I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “quinoa” out loud.)

    3. PT*

      I’m convinced that whoever wrote the Progressive commercial where they ask people to pronounce Quinoa and someone yells out Wakeen! is a reader of this blog and did it as a subtle shout-out.

      Hi, commercial writer, if you are here!!

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Wait, what? There’s a commercial with that in it? ALISON SHOULD GET ROYALTIES!!!!!

      2. Bee*

        That one makes me laugh every time – especially since it IS the correct phonemes, just reversed!

        1. Koalafied*

          That commercial is hilarious in general. I must have seen it 250 times to date and all 250 times I have cracked up at the final scene, where the woman starts reading the wall decor plaque that says, “No fussin’, no cussin’-” with extreme gusto, and before she gets to the last line (“and no messin’ around”) the instructor wordlessly practically slaps the plaque out of her hands into the garbage can. Oh man. It’s so good.

    4. Biscuits!*

      I don’t know if it’s been mentioned before, but Progressive has a series of commercials about young homeowners turning into their parents. There’s one that always makes me think of this story because he’s got “quinoa” written on a board and he’s asking people to pronounce it. One person shouts out “wakeen” and I just giggle every time.

      1. Garrus von Barrus*

        My husband and I always pronounce it “queeno” because of that commercial! “It’s a queeno!” And now I have to really think about the correct pronunciation if I need to say it out loud to anyone but him.

      1. Zephy*

        Haulin’ Oats would be a good name for either a bluegrass or Scottish trad Hall & Oates cover band.

        Imagine Maneater with a bagpipe solo.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          OMG, Maneater with a bagpipe solo would be AMAZEBALLS and if there are any bagpipers on here please do it!!!!

      2. AnotherLadyGrey*

        I referred to and thought of a candy that had been popular at my elementary school as “Nalanlators” for many, many years. Nobody ever noticed or corrected me since it sorta sounded right. When I saw “Now and Laters” written down I was absolutely gobsmacked. I think I was in my twenties.

        1. Just @ me next time*

          It wasn’t until well into adulthood that I realized there was no such thing as standing with your feet “shoulder with the part.”

    5. Merci Dee*

      My daughter loved the cartoon series The Wonderful World of Gumball when she was younger (actually, now that she’s older, we both love it), and they had a scene in an episode entitled The Loophole that addressed this:

      Mr Small: No, you’re saying it the wrong way, it’s pronounced kwin-O-a!
      Larry: It is pronounced KEEN-wah.
      Mr. Small: Kwin-O-a!
      Larry: KEEN-wah!
      Mr. Small: Fine. I guess we’ll have to settle this the new-fashioned way . . . . (both pull out their phones to Google the pronunciation . . . . when the internet doesn’t work, they decide to settle it the “old-fashioned” way, with a slap fight.)

    6. TimeTravlR*

      I once transcribed dictation for my boss and he used the word minutiae. Except he said Min-yoo-tay. I couldn’t help it, I had to tell him how to pronounce it. Fortunately he was very thankful and he was the one who was embarrassed that he’d been saying it wrong all those years.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        When I mispronounced a word once, someone told me, “If you know what a word means but not how to pronounce it, that’s a sign you learned it by reading, which makes you smart.” Made me feel better.

    7. Frank Doyle*

      I thought that “pneumonia” and “neumonia” were two related, but distinct illnesses. Because my mom would always say (up until I was like, twelve) that if I didn’t put my clothes on after my shower, I’d catch pee-neumonia. She was saying it to be funny and hadn’t realized how consistent she’d been about it.

    8. The Prettiest Curse*

      Not pronunciation-related, but until I moved to the US as an adult, I thought Washington, D.C. was in Washington state. To be fair, the differences between the American states did not feature on the curriculum at my school in the UK. (Sorry, Americans, I know this misconception is a real howler to you.)
      My husband is American and he once asked me why I didn’t know a specific thing about some random state in the Midwest and my reply was that there were just SO many states. Anyone who memorized all the state capitals, birds, songs and whatever else at school really has my admiration, because that’s a LOT of information.

      1. Formerly Ella Vader*

        Oh, and I was an undergraduate at a co-op job when my cubicle-mate mentioned that her brother had studied at Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore. So I asked something about whether she’d visited him on the west coast. ‘The west coast?” “Yeah, isn’t Baltimore in Oregon?” She explained that it wasn’t, and I eventually figured out that I had somehow migrated “Baltimore Orioles” into “Baltimore Oregon.”

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        There is a song we learn in elementary school music class which lists all the states in alphabetical order. I may or may not have sung this song to my classmates during my semester abroad…

        1. obleighvious*

          I have never learned a song which lists all the states in alphabetical order! I am jealous!

      3. Charlotte Lucas*

        Having lived in Washington State, I can confirm that there are Americans who don’t know the difference.

        And I know someone who was once told that sending something to New Mexico would incur international charges. Nope, it is in the US.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I have a friend in NM and can confirm, many people try to tell her she doesn’t live in the US.

        2. HBJ*

          It is shocking the number of Americans who don’t know that AK means Alaska and not Arkansas. (For the record, Arkansas is AR).

          Or similarly to your example, think that Alaska is not part of the US.

          1. MeleMallory*

            When I was telling my sorority sisters that I’d be going to grad school in Hawaii, one of my sisters told me she wished she would be able to visit me, but she couldn’t because she “didn’t have a passport”.

        3. saf*

          Living in Washington, DC, I often have to convince people that we are:
          NOT located either in MD or VA.
          Yes, we ARE part of the US.

    9. we say Ope here*

      I was an adult when my mom finally told me that there were not two different words for the long piece of paper you get at the cash register after you buy something. I actually thought there was both “ree-sehpt” and “ree-seet” (not realizing that receipt is pronounced “ree-ceet”). Sigh.

    10. Chickaletta*

      Joaquin/Wakeen reminds me of my very first job in high school, my manager was Javier, he was the first person I met with that name. One day I needed to ask for a schedule change but he wasn’t available, so a coworker suggested I just leave a note on his office door. I did, addressing it to “Haviay” for all to see. I could feel the cells of my stomach dying when I learned how his name was spelled later on. What makes it worse is I lived in a part of the country with a high hispanic population, revealing me to be the sheltered white girl I was. Thankfully he was a kind person and let the incident pass without a word.

      1. At the seaside*

        I always thought there was a difference between a quay (said kway) and a key. The kway that I read about was more picturesque and the key more commercial in my mind.

      2. Birchtree*

        I have never ever written in here but just wanted to say y’all are my spirit animals. I NEVER pronounce anything correctly because I always read but not hear the words. Knowing there are others out there, I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER NOW!!

        1. KateM*

          Try having English as third foreign language mostly learnt by reading. You really don’t want to hear me talking.

      1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        I’m learning to crochet and my daughter keeps calling it croquet :)

    11. Jay*

      We took our daughter to Paris when she was 15. A few months before we left she texted me “Can we go to Versi when we go to Paris?” She was mostly interested in shopping so I Googled VERSI PARIS….and texted her back “Do you mean ‘Versailles’?” because that’s what Google asked me. And that’s what she was referring to. She took Spanish in high school and was, um, not well-read in European history so when one of her friends said she’d love it she wrote it the way she heard it….

      1. lizzay*

        Way back when (clearly before phones or the internet) my mom had a friend who took a big Italian trip with her husband, visiting all kinds of places. Well, she was so disappointed they weren’t able to locate Florence on their map (yeah, see where it’s going?). Later when she got back, my mom commented on some lovely tea cups or something that had ‘Forenze’ stamped on the bottom, which she ‘picked up in this lovely Italian city when we were over there.’ My mom had to break it to her that she’d been in Florence.

    12. Dr Rat*

      Speaking of quinoa, what about the poor word acai, pronounced ah-sah-EE? Can’t tell you how many times I refer to it only to have people finally figure out that I must be a poor fool who can’t pronounce uh-KAY or whatever they think it is.

      On the other hand, I had both seen the word macrame spelled on paper and pronounced out loud when I was a kid, so the first time I had to say the word macabre out loud, I figured it had to be mack-a-bray. Come on, they look practically identical, right? Macrame, macabre…I wanted to crawl under a rock when I was gently corrected.

    13. Spencer Hastings*

      It was at an embarrassingly advanced age that I learned that “tagine” was not just an alternate spelling of “tahini”, but a different food altogether.

    14. Slow Gin Lizz*

      And I also now wonder if the Wakeen in question was Wakeen Feenicks? Or his alter-ego Joe-a-kwin Fo-nix?

    15. Misled about misled*

      I have an embarrassing amount of Wis which I never made the connection between the spoken and written form, but the one that comes to mind is misled. In my early twenties I was still convinced it was my-selled. I knew the word mislead, but I failed to make the connection, and believed there was a synonym: misle

  22. Mental Lentil*

    Dragon costume? Check
    Shitting on a resume? Check
    Asking your entire department whether or not you want to blow the biggest load ever? Check

    My week is made! Thank you, Alison!

    1. Emi*

      “Why does it say ‘shitting’ on your resume?”
      “I think it adds a little something, don’t know?”

      1. PhyllisB*

        The first time I read this (resume one) I started laughing so loud my family thought I had lost my mind, Couldn’t help wondering what happened to that poor boy who did that.

  23. Catherine*

    Ugh I have one from when I was getting my master’s, fresh out of getting my bachelor’s degree. I was the youngest in my cohort at 21, and still lived with my parents. My professor was saying something about how were adults and independent, we pay our own bills, etc. and for SOME REASON I found it important to inform him that, actually, no I did not pay my own bills, and that I still very much considered myself a young adult. He just laughed and said, “I’ve never had someone disagree with me that they’re not an adult.” What possessed me to do that? I still cringe.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Why did this make me think of the letter where the coworker derailed a whole meeting to insist she had kids only to admit they were her cats?

          1. Max*

            I feel like the thing about convincing the intern to ditch the company provided shuttle in the update to that letter is significantly worse.

    2. Empress Matilda*

      Oh my gosh. I love you so much for this! It’s exactly the kind of thing I would do, because I definitely do not have a filter between my mouth and my brain.

  24. Elenna*

    These are all AMAZING (and I also want a dragon pyjama now, fortunately my workplace very rarely does video calls).

    1. Elenna*

      Also I could totally see myself doing the same thing as the Joaquin/Wakeen person! There aren’t a lot of Spanish (?) names where I live so I don’t really know any of them. Although I hope someone would let me know that I was messing up sooner, lol.
      (I also just recently found out how to pronouce Siobhan, because there was a swimmer in the Olympics with that name… I’d seen it in fics before and always thought it was Sigh-ob-han.)

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I learned a trick for this! Any time I have to call a customer and I feel iffy about the pronunciation of their name I google “pronounce (insert name here)” and usually the first result will be a youtube video of a person saying the name. It’s brilliant.

        1. TechWorker*

          Also IMO totally fine to ask the first time you meet someone – it’s possible for some spellings to have multiple pronunciations and I’d rather ask than guess and mess it up!

          1. TimeTravlR*

            My actual first name is not pronounced the way it looks and I sincerely appreciate when people ask.

        2. Nanani*

          That works great until it doesn’t – you meet a Rachel who pronounces it like RaCHELLE or encounter a new-to-you name that coincidentally occurs in more than one language tradition or something.

          The only person who can tell you how to pronounce their name is the person themselves, and they may or may not be flexible with variations on it.

          1. Old Woman in Purple*

            One of my daughter’s high-school friends was named Janet….pronounced JaNETTE.

            1. of course it's me, obviously*

              my husband’s aunt was named “Jo-Ann” except it was spelled Joan. But her husband called her “Joan”.

        3. Zephy*

          Oh, that’s way better than what I do, which is to avoid the person’s name at all and plow forward with whatever my call is about if they don’t react with utter confusion to “Hi, this is Zephy with University Department.”

      2. meyer lemon*

        I’m still working on Caoimhe (pronounced ~kee-vah). Intellectually I know the spelling and pronunciation but my brain does not want to merge them.

        1. Cj*

          I’ve seen a lot of spellings that don’t match the obvious pronunciation, but that one really makes not sense to me at all. No matter what country the name is from.

            1. Lucien Nova*

              Irish would probably beg to differ and say Latin letters don’t do what they ought. :)

          1. meyer lemon*

            I think it’s actually standard pronunciation, but it’s based on Irish orthography, so English pronunciation rules will not get you very far. (“aoi” is pronounced like “ee” and “mh” is pronounced like “v”, at least in this case, which helps me remember)

      3. A Feast of Fools*

        I have a neighbor whom I’ve met a couple of times in person but communicate frequently with in our neighborhood’s email group. Her name is spelled Wanetta.

        Imagine my surprise when, the first time I met her, she introduced herself as “Wah-nee-tuh”.

        All of my elementary school English lessons came back in a flash: “Double consonants after a vowel signify a short vowel sound,” and I damned-near corrected her on the pronunciation of her own name. Thankfully, my brain clamped my mouth shut before that could come out.

        1. Carlie*

          I have an opposite-Wakeen with that one. I have a relative named Juanita and one named Wanita. I never met either, and for a good 30 years I thought they were the same person when I heard anyone talk about them.

  25. Thomas Merton*

    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.

    1. L.H. Puttgrass*

      I love this story. It has humor, pathos, and a surprise uplifting ending. It’s perfect. Two thumbs up!

  26. Rage*

    #6. Yeah, I had 2 former coworkers (one was the freaking CEO) who honestly couldn’t identify a spam or virus email. Or even an ad banner on a website.

    Example #1
    Coworker: Yeah I got this thing on my screen that says I’m a winner. How can I be a winner? I haven’t entered any contests.

    Example #2
    Coworker: Hey I got an email from Wells Fargo that says my account–
    Me: Just delete it, P.
    Coworker: But it says I need to update my–
    Me: Just delete it.
    Coworker: But I don’t have an account with Wells Fargo and–
    Coworker: But–
    Me: Listen. There are people out there who send tens of thousands of emails to random email addresses, hoping that at least one of those people actually HAS a Wells Fargo account and will be stupid enough to click on the link and enter their account information, thereby allowing the sender to access their account and steal all their money.
    Coworker: But…but that’s DISHONEST!
    Me: *epic facepalm*

    Example #3
    CEO: Hey, this is weird, all of these email windows keep opening and closing on my screen and–
    Me: *drops phone and sprints to his office* *unplugs entire system*
    CEO: What was that all about?
    Me: You got the Fizzer worm. How did you get the Fizzer worm? Did you click on a link in an email from an unknown sender?
    CEO: Of course I did! The subject line said “Today is a good day to die” and I was worried it was a suicide threat by a client…
    Me: *Note to self: never do IT for mental health counselors ever again*

    1. quill*

      So at the job I got one year to the day after graduating college, I was passed a laptop that, upon opening any internet browser, greeted me in a language I did not know, with a wall of pictures. Specifically, pictures of genitalia. Of the type that is usually described as “unsolicited.”

      Naturally my first thought, as we did not have IT, was that I could not bring this obvious virus directly to my boss, who was loudly in an important client meeting. Nobody was available to train me or fix my computer at the time, and the longer I went without mentioning the unmentionables the more likely someone was to ask why I hadn’t.

      So I “borrowed” a coworker’s laptop claiming that I needed it to google how to fix the internet, and spent 5 hours manually removing the Venereal Virus from my laptop’s guts using the .run command.

      At the end of the day my boss was done talking loudly to clients and I said I thought that my computer didn’t have an antivirus installed, did he have the disc or the installation code?

      My boss: “Just google an antivirus and use their trial version!”

      Friends, I stayed in that job for two years and every minute of it was a mistake.

      1. Rage*

        Yeah, I stayed at the one featured above for almost FIFTEEN. Not every minute was a mistake, but a significant portion certainly was. Especially toward the end.

        1. quill*

          But were you greeted on your first day by a full frontal assault? I imagine most jobs hide their dysfunction for at least the first 8 hours!

      2. Dr Rat*

        “But…but that’s DISHONEST!” I knew someone once (pre-Net era) who believed everything they ever read in print because “they couldn’t print it if it wasn’t true.” Pressed further, the reason was “because they would get sued.” Yes, so if the National Enquirer prints that Elvis is dating Bigfoot, which one of them is going to sue for defamation?

    2. Allypopx*

      The CEO of our company thinks it’s a security issue that her email gets spam (which is caught by the spam filter). We’ve had to have several conversations with IT focused around the ‘enhancement’ ads she receives.

    3. Firecat*

      I released a trojan at my very first job in my first month. Everyone was gracious about it. I however noticed what in ok t was as soon as it clicked and I unplugged to he network core and computer within a few seconds but it was already in the system.

      In my case it was an email from our ceo saying that I need to review these reports.

      1. Cathie from Canada*

        One of our IT people actually appeared in our office one day (finally) and started giving a co-worker an extremely hard time about how she had turned off her computer “the wrong way” and therefore somehow given everyone else a virus – yes, I know, this didn’t make any sense at all to me either.
        So I told him that, in the future, if IT didn’t come up when we asked them to, then maybe we would just get our co-worker to turn off her computer again…..

    4. Xenia*

      Ok, I actually feel bad for #3, because if he’s a mental crisis counselor then he really does have to interpret that sort of email differently and take it seriously. In the same situation, given the options between “might be spam” and “might be an actual suicide threat from my legitimately at risk population” I would probably have opened the unknown email too.

      #2 made me bang my head on the wall very gently though because wow. Just…wow.

    5. Recruited Recruiter*

      At my first job (I was the clerk and phone operator), our (very managerially intelligent) office manager clicked on a link in a fake Verizon email and gave the entire office a cryptolocker through her emails. I was “engaged to wait” for almost 3 days while they purged the virus from the entire system. My only job duty I could do was answer the phone, and inform people that our system was down, take a name and number and offer to call back. It took me two weeks to get through 3 days of call backs in addition to doing my regular job.

  27. Annie*

    I will never forget the time I cheerfully referred to myself as a “grammar n*zi” in a job interview…with the Jewish Studies Department of a university.

    (It was a work-study job; I was 18; I immediately wanted to sink through the floor; I somehow got the job anyway and have never used that term again.)

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Ooooh. I like that imagery. Like Robin Hood, but for verb tenses and comma placement.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          “Batman” is who I usually point to for vigilantism… but Grammar Batman is one of those phrases that I just can’t process.

          1. Llama face!*

            I am now imagining Grammar Batman as a cousin of LEGO Batman and it is making me smile.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      Thank you, I had a similar thing recently that I’m not yet in an emotional place to share, but this helped. (Though I am 2×18…. but it still helped.)

  28. Dutch*

    Didn’t they make #1 in the 80s, with Michael J Fox!

    Only he got away with it for longer!

  29. Sauron*

    During my first year at a corporate job, a nutritionist gave a presentation about helpful tips to stay healthy, manage weight, etc. I was boxing a lot at the time and finding it hard to keep my weight where it was (boxing REALLY jumpstarts your metabolism and I wasn’t happy losing that much weight!) but instead of talking to the nutritionist AFTER the presentation, I decided to ask in front of everyone “What if, unlike most people, you’re trying to GAIN weight and not lose it?” Mortifying, horribly worded, SO RUDE, I still cringe thinking about having done that and I hope to heaven nobody remembers it.

    1. Over It*

      I mean, while the way you responded is a bit cringe, you make a very valid point! In the U.S. people tend to operate under the assumption that everyone is always trying to lose weight, which is a toxic mindset to have. The collective we should be finding ways to talk about healthy nutrition without putting an emphasis on weight loss (or gain, or maintenance) unless you are going for individualized nutrition counseling with a qualified professional. I hope that nutritionist learned something from your comment :)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Agreed! I’ve known people who were naturally underweight & had to work to put on weight.

        While dealing with people assuming they had eating disorders & doctors whose advice was useless. (Eat more! Ok, more what?!)

        1. Lucien Nova*

          *raises hand* Yes, hi, that was me for years.

          Turned out my body was slowly poisoning itself via not processing waste and once the proper medication was found, weight happened!

          (It still baffles me that so many people either thought it appropriate to try and convince me I was anorexic and bulimic, or told me I still didn’t look thin ENOUGH when you could count every rib.)

      1. Jean Marie Downing*

        I think it is the ‘unlike most people’ that takes it to a cringe place. Otherwise, totally reasonable and valid question.

        1. Sauron*

          Yep, that’s the part that kills me. I think if I had just asked about healthy ways to maintain or gain weight, it would have been fine. But the “unlike most people” carried a meaning I did not intend and I felt like I’d implied all my coworkers needed to lose weight. Yikes.

    1. Dr Rat*

      I was glad I wasn’t on a call because I didn’t laugh out loud, I just made a loud ridiculous noise that I’m not sure there is a term for in English. Somewhere between a cackle and a hoot. Very rain-foresty sounding.

  30. FrenchCusser*

    I was on an interview committee where we asked ‘Tell us about a conflict you had with a coworker and how you resolved it.’ One candidate answered, ‘I’ve never had a conflict, everyone likes me.’

    I sat there thinking, ‘No, sugar, not everyone likes you.’

    Maybe understandable if they’d been in their 20s, but they were in their 50s (also told us voluntarily all those things HR told us we couldn’t ask, like age, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity – yes, they worked all that in unprompted)

    They did not get the job.

    1. Overeducated*

      But maybe a sign that this is not the best question? I have always had to answer in terms of “here is an example of a time I disagreed with a coworker about how to approach a challenging work problem,” but I am never really sure if they’re trying to ask about resolving interpersonal conflict, which I feel like is rare in my experience because it involves going beyond professional relations. But I suppose people also have different thresholds of “Sally disagrees with me, why doesn’t she value my experience and contributions?!” vs “Joaquin disagree with me, I guess we should talk through our reasoning to see if we can agree,” in which case Joaquin might be feeling personally attacked while Sally feels like it’s just a normal work discussion.

      1. Cj*

        I agree. I would assume the meant an interpersonal conflict, not a disagreement on how to handle a work issue. I’ve never had a personal conflict with a co-worker (although I had a major one with a boss).

        1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

          But it’s also a bit like someone who answers “tell me about yourself” with their actual life story as opposed to their work history at the start of an interview. (I get that not everyone understands those norms and the most inclusive practice is to be as specific as possible in crafting the questions in order to avoid these kinds of misunderstandings, which is absolutely true. Still, there’s a bit of a “common sense dictates answering as though you want to be hired by the people asking you questions about how you are at work” component that this candidate completely missed.)

          Plus it’s a classic example of confident vs overconfident. “I’m great and never have problems.” is an extremely unhelpful answer for a hiring manager looking for a sense of what you’re like in the workplace. Or at least it’s unlikely to help the applicant.

          1. Overeducated*

            Sure, I get why that’s a bad answer, but the question itself implies that conflict is a regular part of the workplace experience. To me it’s not, I have to really think about how to answer that question in a way that’s kind of what they’re asking but faithful to my experience. Conflict is just a very strong word.

    2. Joielle*

      Haha this reminds me of an interview committee I was on a while back and we were asking candidates about times they’d had their writing edited and how they handled it. One candidate said that he always strives to write perfectly the first time. And we were like… ok… but can you talk about times when your work has been edited by others? And he insisted that it had never happened, that all of his writing had been perfect.

      I wanted to tell him that I had read his cover letter and that was certainly not the case. But I refrained. He did not get the job.

    3. Recruited Recruiter*

      I am now a recruiter for a field where nearly all of our blue collar applicants are conservative and are positive that they must say all of these age, marital status, children, country of origin, etc. (unprompted) in interviews. I really try to get them to stick to answering questions, but every single interview, we get all of that. Plus side is that in this conservative field, the statements are almost always the same except age, so it’s really easy for our hiring managers to ignore.

  31. I still wince*

    In one of those horrifying moments, when I was in my early twenties, a colleague politely told me that my thong was visible.

    I went into the bathroom and dealt with it. By getting rid of the thong.

    To this day, I grimace. WTH was I thinking?

    1. Obviously Anon*

      I wouldn’t say I’ve gone commando at work…but I also wouldn’t say I’ve *never* gone commando at work…

      There was one time I got my period unexpectedly, and it was easier to put in a tampon and ditch the underwear for the afternoon. But there have definitely also been times when I’ve done it just for fun!

      1. I still wince*

        I have a bad feeling you could actually see entirely through my skirt, and they then knew what I had chosen, but I threw out the skirt when I got home, and I’ve repressed it ever since. Lord have mercy.

      2. LaLa762*

        Oh lord Jesus! First month? in a new job and realized you could see the pink and red stripes (hearts? Was it hearts? Dear God, don’t let it have been hearts) through my white pants.
        Went into the ladies’ and took them right off.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Reminds me of the time in music school when I had to wear a dress for master class and absentmindedly put on very dark blue underpants under a white shirtdress. Without a slip.

    2. TechWriter*

      Ah yes, the time I forgot to pack a bra after my sweaty exercise wintertime commute (I was not wearing a sports bra because “it’s just going to get sweaty and stinky anyway”). Shower, go to get dressed… note lack of bra.

      That was how I discovered a merino wool buff is stretchy but restrictive enough to make a passable bandeau bra under a blouse. With a healthy amount of decorative scarf to further obscure the situation, because I’m not exactly flat.

      Luckily I interacted with relatively few people on any given day, so it was mostly about my own comfort. I maaaay have mentioned my discovery to my boss though. (We had a pretty friendly relationship, but I’m sure I made a lot of minor office faux pas that she let slide in my early days.)

    3. A Feast of Fools*

      Oh, dear.

      I interned at a household-name consumer drink manufacturer in 2019. My co-intern and I always got to the office before anyone else and we were standing in a long hallway by the elevators on our floor one morning when one of the Senior Managers (Director?) of another department got off the elevator by herself and walked past us down the hallway.

      In white, summer-weight capris.

      And a short jacket.

      With an only-slightly-longer blouse under it.

      Neither of which came below her hips.

      The two of us can still tell you the pattern and color of the thong she had on, from both the front and the back.

  32. Empress Matilda*

    These are all amazing, but #5 and #12 are my favourites. I’m glad they have both matured in the meantime, but I am VERY glad they have both decided to share their stories with the internet!

  33. I'm Not Telling*

    I’m far to old for this to have happened but it did, so I am anonymous but…
    I was yesterday years old when I discovered La Joe-La California is La Hole-Ah.
    Because I was watching a cop show with the subtitles on… the words came up a little before the audio and read them about a second before the speaker.
    What are they talking about? I thought the murder was in La…OOOH. OMG,
    I am become Joe A Kwin.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      … it’s not La Hoy-Ah? (not trying to be a smartass, I swear. Legitimately asking. But I also come from a state where we have Des Plaines, pronounced “Dess Planes” like aviation, and it sets my teeth on edge every time.)

                1. Elenna*

                  I have no idea where La Jolla is, but in any case based on my (somewhat shaky but reasonably decent) French, the French would not pronounce it with an H. I’m pretty sure that’s a Spanish thing?

                2. A Person*

                  Reply to Elena: La Jolla is near San Diego. (California is replete with mispronounced place-names.)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Keep in mind that French pronunciation was changing during the time they named (or, mostly, renamed) places in the Great Lakes region.

      1. I'm Not Telling*

        I’m crying right now.
        This is HILARIOUS.
        And why we have screen names.
        Can mine be asshoya?
        I ain’t even mad at it. I tried.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        New World Spanish: La Hoy Ya.
        Castellano: La Hoil Ya.

        In Castilian Spanish, ll is often like ly, the same way ñ comes across in other languages as ny or ni (Enseñar, to teach, sounds like N-sen-yar.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          La Jolla is in San Diego, and its spelling and pronunciation are both Spanish settlers’ mangling of the Kumeyaay name. Castilian Spanish doesn’t have a lot to do with it.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            True. The audience is global, though.

            In Andalucía and the New World, La Jolla would be pronounced the same as “la joya,” “the gem” or “the jewel.” Having never seen the name in print somehow, I thought La Joya was its name and that it was a particularly pleasant place (though a corrupted native name hardly surprises me).

            I used to tell coworkers that I’m full of useless information, until I started getting conscripted onto trivia teams.

        2. Nesprin*

          Or in argentine spanish it’d be la hoysha
          That ll letter maps to many different pronunciations across the latin world.

      3. Two Dog Night*

        OMG, Des Plaines, Joliet, Marseilles, Cairo…. Illinois should seriously not be allowed to use non-English names for its towns.

          1. Hellokitty*

            That’s like Cairo Georgia – we have to say all the time – ‘Like the syrup, not like the city in Egypt.’

        1. Anon and on an on*

          Pennsylvania has North Versailles (Versales), Dubois (Dooboys), Chartiers (Sharteers) and but I think Intercourse makes up for most of those.

              1. ecnaseener*

                Sorry – hit send too soon on that and just now noticed that my follow-up comment didn’t go through!

                Viking Diva answered my question in the meantime, I was going to say “Wait, I thought it was D’Moyn?”

            1. SaraV*

              Live in the area, and was confirming my work address with someone out of state on the phone. They said “Dez MOYN-ez”. I just said “Yep! ‘Deh MOYN’.” kinda upbeat. I might have heard their “silent” embarassment over the phone.

        2. Caboose*

          Colorado has Buena Vista.
          Pronounced Byoo-nah Vista.
          We also have a Louisville pronounced Lew-Iss-Vill. Sometimes people will call it Louie-ville, but always in the same joking tone as saying you’re going to “Tar-jay”. At least Louisville makes it clear which state you’re talking about, but Buena Vista is just… a travesty.

          1. Forrest Rhodes*

            Born in Colorado, raised in Southern California, visited back and forth often.

            Took me a while to adapt: in Colorado, I had to be taught “BYOO-nah” Vista; I was giving it my SoCal Spanish pronunciation: “BWAY-nah” Vista. My family enjoyed my always seeming to get it backward.

            Also, many years later, a friend visiting me in L.A. said they wanted to visit other friends who lived in “In-KYE-no.” Puzzled me for a while until I looked at their address book: it was Encino, “En-SEE-no.”

            Place names are fun.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            My favorite terrible joke for like 30 years now: how do you pronounce the capital of Kentucky, Louie-ville or Lewis-ville?

            (The answer, of course, is “Frankfort.” Which I may or may not be spelling correctly.)

        3. Just here for the free lunch*

          Ohio too. Lima (like the bean), Milan (MY-lan), Rio Grande (RY-oh Grand)

      4. Camille*

        I grew up in Iowa, where the capital is Des Moines (pronounced Duh Moyne). I moved to Chicago and definitely pronounced is Duh Plane for quite some time. The way they pronounce it “Dez Plainez” is like nails on a chalkboard to my ears.

        1. Mannequin*

          That’s how my mom pronounced it, even though it’s supposed to be pronounced the Spanish way.

      5. 2e asteroid*

        I spent a good portion of my young adulthood completely mangling the pronunciation of Des Moines, because I had friends who lived in Des Plaines.

        Darn Midwesterners can’t even settle on a consistent mispronounciation schema for French names…

      6. Lizy*

        Oh y’all…

        Nevada is pronounced “ne-VAY-duh”
        Bois d’Arc = bo-dark
        Weaubleau = wee-blow
        Miami = mi-ah-ma
        And Kearney street is “kar-ney”

    2. Nelle Jefe*

      … are we talking about La Jolla? Because I thought it was pronounced ‘la hoya’.

      1. Lily C*

        And once you get the hang of the Spanish place names in SoCal, come up to San Francisco, where many of our streets are Spanish-origin, except when they’re Portuguese!

    3. RosyGlasses*

      We had a website client and I pronounced it La JOLLA for almost a year before someone corrected me. *facepalm*

      1. I'm Not Telling*

        That’s EXACTLY what I am talking about. I never had to say it out loud (which is fortunate, because I even typed it phonetically INCORRECT, so I feel you, RosyGloss.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        That’s okay. I was today years old when I learned it’s not pronounced “La JAH-la,” and even now that I know the correct pronunciation I’m still having trouble not hearing it that way in my head when I see it.

    4. Merci Dee*

      Yes, it’s pronounce La Hoya. I googled to double-check, because that’s how I always thought it was pronounced, too, and it is.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      A few years ago, I took a road trip around California with family members visiting from the UK. They were using the British-accented GPS on their phone. Listening to the cheery British GPS voice mangle almost every place name with a Spanish origin was … interesting. And it also made me worry that we’d get lost. (We didn’t.)

      1. Elenna*

        Oooh, yeah, English GPS trying to pronounce Quebec place names (not to mention the French words for north, south, east, west, street, etc) can also be… interesting… especially if you speak French and know how they’re supposed to be pronounced!

        1. Linley*

          I went to a family wedding in France with my mother a few years back and, although we both speak French (and it’s her first language…) she got an English speaking GPS for the rental car that mangled all the place names into absolute incomprehensibility. I had to sit there and translate all the directions. Never doing that again! I’ll get a French GPS the next time.

      2. Rebecca Stewart*

        My area has a lot of German road names since it had a lot of German people settle there in the 19th century.
        I had a full, “Wait, WHAT?!” moment in the car listening to Boyfriend’s old GPS try to pronounce “Mitthoeffer” (we locally say MITT-hoff-er). It was…unique.

        1. Xebi*

          Reminds me of the (Dutch?) tourists who tried to ask my dad directions to Rotherhithe, London, which is pronounced pretty much as an English speaker would expect, “ROTH-er-hyth” with both th’s as in “the.” They plumped for “Roh-teh-hee-teh” and it took a few minutes to sort that one out.

      3. Zephy*

        Google Maps’ nav voice doesn’t do well with acronym or abbreviated names. “PGA Boulevard” comes out as “peegah boulevard” every time.

      4. Lucien Nova*

        Oh lord, GPS antics.

        I think my favourite GPS bungle of all time is when ours pronounced Maquoketa (muh-KOH-keh-tah) as “ma-kwoh-KEE-tah”…

        1. SaraV*

          Ahhh, fellow Iowan.

          We also have Nevada (Neh-VAY-duh) and Sigourney. (SIG-gur-ney)

          I’d like the GPS try to attempt Keosauqua. (key-oh-SAW-kwah)

          1. Lucien Nova*

            *high-fives in Iowan*

            I’ve got to convince the parents we need to take a drive and see just how many names our GPS can bungle.

        2. Tessie Mae*

          My favorite FPS bungle of all time is the street name Fairlane. Simple, no? Apparently not. GPS pronounced it “Fair Lahn Ee.” Really?! We drove past the road and circled back and had a good laugh when we figured it out.

          1. Lucien Nova*

            There’s a road here called Rosedale. Pronounced exactly like you’d think.

            GPS says “ROSS-dale”.

    6. Dr Rat*

      I live fairly close to La Jolla California (hi, Alison!) and the spelling/pronunciation always confuses people. But nothing like Jamacha, which is a town, a neighborhood, several roads, etc., in Southern California. English speaking people try to go with JAM-atcha. Spanish speaking people try hahm-AH-sha. It’s actually a Kumeyaay word and locals pronounce it HAM-uh-shaw. We get confused tourists all the time, driving down Jamacha Road, vainly looking for the elusive Hamashaw Road.

  34. Just @ me next time*

    When I first got a cell phone as a University student, I recorded a voicemail greeting that said something like “Hi, you’ve reached [Just @ me next time]. I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you leave your name and and a message, I’ll call you back later….Unless I don’t like you. Then I won’t.” I added the last part because the first part reminded me too much of the voicemail greeting my father always had on his work phone and I panicked and wanted to seem less stuffy.
    Two years later, when I was searching for a part-time job, I still had the same stupid message. Just days after I accepted a job from one place, I got a voicemail from another store I had applied at saying they were interested in interviewing me. I was too anxious to call them back and say I was no longer looking for work, so I just didn’t reply. Even after they left me a second voicemail saying they really wanted to hear back from me. So not only did I totally ghost this place, I did so after my voicemail repeatedly broadcast my immaturity to them.

    I also cringe so hard remembering this one cattle-call-type interview I attended when I was in my early 20s. A local store was opening a new, bigger location and they needed a temporary crew of people to set up the new store, plus they would be keeping a handful of staff on after the new store opened. I went to this interview utterly unprepared. One of the questions was something about handling conflict, and I think the answer I gave was related to playing board games with my horribly competitive (now ex-)boyfriend. And then there was the dreaded “What’s your biggest weakness?” question, to which I replied, “Hmm, that’s a hard question…[one minute pause] … I guess I’m bad at data entry?”
    I was so devastated when they only gave me two shifts a week doing set up of the new store and cheerfully told me “Nope, you’re done!” when I asked if they would need me after the store’s grand opening. I really thought that out of the 200 people they hired from the cattle call interview, I was going to be one of the six to get a permanent job.

    1. quill*

      It took my mom and I four years to convince my brother to change his voicemail from “Hi, you’ve reached [name], if you don’t know what to do now I can’t help you. Beep!”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My ex’s vm was “If you teach a man to build a fire, he’ll be warm for a day. If you set a man on fire, he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. You know what to do!” WHILE HE WAS JOB HUNTING. It may come as no shock to anyone to learn that he was unemployed for four and a half of the seven years we were together.

        I am wiser in my partner choices these days. My husband’s voicemail is “You’ve reached (name) at (number). Please leave a message.” And he has a job. :-P

    2. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

      Oh man, this reminded me of my voice-mail message in college:
      I got pretty good at mimicking that pre-recorded voice you get when when you call an out of service number, so I recorded myself saying, “I’m sorry, but the number you have dialed is unavailable due to: Alien Abduction. Please leave your name and number, and they’ll return your call as soon as they are able.” Set it as my voicmail and promptly forgot about it.
      Until I applied to work as a lab assistant for a new professor and got a voice-mail from him asking me to call him as soon as the aliens returned me.
      I was not nearly as mortified as I probably should have been (I’m no sure I actually bothered to change it, figuring the damage was done).
      Luckily the professor had a good sense of humor and took me on anyway.

      1. Carlie*

        One time in college, a friend grabbed and answered my phone with “Joe’s Mortuary! You stab ’em, we slab ’em!
        It was my grandmother.
        That was the only time she ever called me at college.

        1. PhyllisB*

          My dad was a real wise guy and he would always answer the phone something like “Joe’s Pool Hall, Eight Ball speaking!!” Or his personal favorite, “It’s your dime!!” (This was MANY years ago.) One day my sister’s nursing instructor called, and she was NOT AMUSED!! He answered the phone like a normal person for a whole two weeks after that.

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          When I was at university, I was using MSN Messenger on my grandad’s computer while visiting family for Easter, and forgot to sign out. It happened that my actual laptop needed to go in for repairs during my break, which meant I wasn’t able to use it on my own machine, and it happened that if my grandad, uncle or aunt was using the PC there, it was signing in as me and people were trying to message me, but I only found this out right before I went back for the new term, so I had to explain to people when I got back.

          On the first day of classes, I was supposed to be going to a friend’s after my lecture, and it happened that one of my relatives had used the computer and signed in as me again. Friend messaged whichever relative it was saying “Okay, I know you’re not EvilQueenRegina because she’s in a lecture. F off!” To this day I don’t know which of my relatives she swore at and hope that whoever it was never actually read the message.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      When I was at university we all had our own landline extensions in the rooms in our halls of residence, and my ex’s friend had set up a voicemail greeting with something about “if you want to join my Communist party, leave a message” (I can’t remember the exact wording, this was about 20 years ago) – I do remember that someone from the university had to call her about something official and was not happy.

  35. PJ*

    The coworker who couldn’t recognize spam made me laugh & think of a coworker of mine.

    She was a great worker, warm, funny and a font of wisdom, but she definitely struggled with some of the tech tools of the office circa early 00s. I was her team lead and therefore always had to help her out of a jam (and bite my tongue/lip to stop laughing). She thought you had to talk into the mouse to make it move.

    Anyway, we had a issue with her trying to use the internet and unwittingly engaging with malware or porn. She didn’t always get the URL correct and that created problems. I’ll just mention one of the sites she tried to bring up was for Dick’s Sporting Goods – you can figure out the rest.

    1. ZSD*

      Wait, why did she think you had to talk to the mouse? Did she know you *also* needed to put your hand on it, or did she just sit there talking to it and wait for it to respond?

      1. PJ*

        We could never figure out why, but when she did it the first time a few of us could not keep our composure. I shamefully admit to a long, cackling laugh.

        I assume she didn’t have a computer at home, though this was circa 2000 so it was pretty normal to have one by then.

        We worked back office admin at a bank and she had checks in her desk from the year I was born. It was a VERY sudden transition from paper to a more virtual environment. But she got the hang of it, and did great.

    2. TiffIf*

      She thought you had to talk into the mouse to make it move.

      My whole family regularly quotes “Hello computer!” from Star Trek IV where Scottie can’t figure out how to use such a primitive computer and thinks the mouse is a mic for talking into to use the computer.

      1. BadWolf*

        With my coder coworkers, it’s pretty common to burst out a “Hello, computer!” when you’re sitting beside someone trying to debug or code review, etc and it freezes briefly.

    3. Wired Wolf*

      Oh, my mom did that…the second (and last) time it happened she actually called me in to “look at this website, this doesn’t look like (I think she was trying to get to Blick art supplies…)” O_o Much yelling and a thorough virus scan of the computer ensued. I had to enable parental controls on her laptop for a week (and lock her out of my desktop) while I explained what went wrong and how to Never Do That Again.

      1. PJ*

        I did work flows for my mom, who only ever went to AOL, eBay and about three other sites. Mapped it all out from “Step One: Make sure power cord/outlet is on.” That stopped the ten phone calls a day for tech support!

        (And Mom got really frickin’ good at eBay, too. In the last few years of her life, she was making some serious bank selling on there.)

  36. Anonymiz*

    These gave me a much needed laugh! Just to add my own not quite as interesting stories into the mix, I work in a bank call centre and some of the things I said to customers in my less experienced years I now cringe at. I had one customer complaining about a charge and getting into a state saying we were stopping her feeding her kids, including yelling ‘If you charge me this fee my child will be dead!’ and noticing she had a direct debit for broadband on her account I said ‘Why are you paying for internet, if you can’t afford to feed your children?’ Not my most tactful moment…And in response to a customer who said ‘ other banks don’t do this’ I said ‘We’re not other banks’. And when I had a customer complaining we’d declined her card, I said something like ‘If we didn’t complete security checks properly and you were defrauded as a result, you’d be the first on the phone to complain’. So yeah, I’ve learned to be a bit more diplomatic over the years…and use a filter between my brain and mouth to keep any less than professional comments in my head!

    1. Rejected RFP*

      I’ve been thinking a lot about how ‘the customer is always right’ mentality creates such a toxic environment for service employees…maybe if more customer service reps were honest, people would be less mean to them. Right now it’s just punching down–punching someone who can’t fight back.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      I used to work in a bank call center. I answered a call one night and the (very male, very privileged) customer started by saying “I shouldn’t have to press 1 for English; I live in the United States and I pay taxes.”

      Readers, I hung up on him.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Didn’t the founders debate making English the official national language and drop the subject because it didn’t have enough votes in the 1780’s? I want to say it was German that was actually the front runner at the time.

        … nevermind; that’s not exactly right. I’ll post the link in reply.

      2. TiffIf*

        I really made my brother-in-law sit back and think when I made the argument that the First Amendment must inherently cover the choice of which language you speak in.

      3. PJ*

        I will deny this if ever asked in a court of law!

        But when I worked at AT&T I’d get a jerk like that almost every day.

        We had dedicated language lines and I *accidentallyonpurpose* would always be sure to transfer anyone being very racist/sexist/homophobic to those lines.

        They were welcome to their opinion, but I was NOT going to be the one to hear or acknowledge it.

    3. pony tailed wonder*

      I have a part time job at an arena where they have a lot of graduations. Years ago, a guy asked me where the best seats were located and I gestured to the long ladies room line and said that those seats over there are the most popular. Thank goodness he laughed.

  37. TechWorker*

    When I was a receptionist at 19 I couldn’t afford a tube ticket, and buses were cheap, but the commute was two buses with a walk in between and meant I had to allow about an hour and three quarters to get there, even though on a good day with smooth changes it was about 50 minutes. (On reception, 5 minutes late was like serious conversation offence). So, I bought a cheap mountain bike off gumtree and cycled to work. They didn’t have a shower, (I would just get changed in the toilet and spray some deodorant) so firstly I cannot imagine that I didn’t smell (though no-one complained..?).

    Worse, when it rained, I would hang my clothes off the radiator in the side office. After probably a month of doing this, the CEO had to politely tell my boss (office manager) that the office got used for client meetings and having wet socks on the radiator was not ok. All so obvious in hindsight….

    1. Spicy Tuna*

      My dad used to cycle to work. He would put a change of clothing in his backpack. It would get all rumpled up and someone had a chat with him about looking presentable!

      1. I'm Not Telling*

        I worked at a place two miles from home and walked. Super casual jeans and t shirt place, and I took my time. Moved into a company in the big city. Had to take the bus. The bus stop was a mile from my house. It drove the other 2 miles into the city, and left me a mile from the office. And so I was introduced to wash and wear. My moms directed me to dresses that shook out of my backpack with no wrinkles.
        Yes, I was dressed like my mom, but I was not wrinkly.

      2. TechWorker*

        Yeah I definitely carried my (fairly smart, certainly smarter than I’ve ever had to dress in my tech job) work clothes in a backpack too – I can’t really remember how that worked tbh but maybe I just left my blazer at work all week…

        1. TiffIf*

          Coworker who is an avid cycler made a goal one year to not ever use his car to get to work (would use public transit if the weather was not good for biking) but we work in an office where there are showers and most people in my department wear jeans (or shorts) and t-shirts.

          And it turned out that he made that goal at the beginning of 2020 so when we went to all remote in March…

      3. Jackalope*

        Yeah, I bike to work too in normal times and one of my requirements for clothing is that it must either be a) clothing I can bike in, or b) clothing that will still look presentable after having been crumpled in the bottom of my bike bag.

  38. Cj*

    I’m confused on letter #1. If all of the other employees had offices/assigned desks, why would you have needed to hotdesk, because no other employees would be taking up the open desks or cubes or whatever they were? Couldn’t you just have taken the same one everyday?

    1. TimeTravlR*

      Not the original writer on that one, but in my office we have dedicated space for hot desking. It’s really just two long tables with monitors and place to connect your laptop. No privacy at all. I can see why someone would prefer a regular workstation or an office. But maybe not to that level!

      1. The Rural Juror*

        One of my first jobs was for an office at a courthouse when I was 18. I didn’t really sit down that much unless whatever filing I was doing needed to be sorted first. There was a long counter at the front of the office where the clerks would help the general public. It had 4 or 5 chairs, but there might be only 1 or 2 clerks assisting people at any given time. The customers might be coming in to pay a ticket, get a marriage license or a passport, or to pay court fees. I would sit at the unoccupied space at the end of the counter nearest the door. Some people in line would just stand there waiting and watch me doing my sorting. It was so unnerving! This was back in the day of flip phones that didn’t really offer any kind of entertainment, so it’s not like people carried around something in their pocket that could occupy them. So they would just watch me instead. I took to sitting on the floor in the vault to do my sorting instead. People thought that was weird for me to do, especially because it was a cold concrete floor, but I felt more at ease there where no one was staring at me. I was not sad to leave that job when I went off to college!

      2. MadisonB*

        Yeah, it sounds like the original writer went overboard and should have asked permission to use the space, but I also don’t necessarily think the writer was completely, mortifyingly out of line. I had to hotdesk during clinicals (which was more like bouncing between conference rooms, hallway chairs, and empty client rooms), and, in a job soon after college, I shared a desk with a coworker while a part-time undergrad work study got his/her own dedicated office space… It was all around horrible and felt pretty devaluing on both occasions. In the hotdesking situation, I literally worked out of a bag; on a few occasions, I went to use the restroom or meet with a coworker, only to find my hotdesk space taken over by confidential “DO NOT DISTURB” meetings, and I had to stay 1-2 hours late so I could get my bag (and car keys). I learned that I had to carry my bag (MY OFFICE) with me everywhere I went, even if it was just to go pee. So, seriously, if there’s an empty, unused space, why not use it? Maybe not completely move in and take it over with furniture acquisitions, though…

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve worked in places where only the full time staff had assigned stations, which meant part time staff had to use whichever station happened to be available on the day they were in the office.

      1. Elenna*

        I think Cj is understanding the letter to mean that LW was the *only* person hotdesking (since it says that all the other employees had assigned spaces), so every station should have been consistently either used or not used, so LW should have been able to just pick a station (NOT an office!) and always use that one. *shrug* Maybe there were other interns that just aren’t mentioned, or maybe LW had to remove all their stuff from their desk each evening and wanted to be able to personalize a bit.

        1. Just @ me next time*

          That’s assuming everyone works the same schedule. If people have different days off, it may be that there is always one desk empty (because one person is on a scheduled day off), but that desk is different every day.

          My organization has a call centre where it works like this. There are maybe 40 employees and 35 desks, so the newest five people are always hot-deskers. We have modified work weeks, so most people work slightly longer days in exchange for having an extra day off every 2 weeks. To maintain staffing levels, your scheduled day off is based on seniority (the most senior people usually have a Friday or Monday for their day off, and the least senior are stuck with a mid-week day off). Between that and vacations (also staggered based on seniority), there are always enough empty desks each morning that the hot-deskers have somewhere to work, but they’re almost never working at the same desk more than one day in a row.

          1. Recruited Recruiter*

            This was my thought as well. My aunt worked at a tech support call center that worked this way.

    3. Anthony J Crowley*

      I was in an office like this for a while. Up to about a year before i started everyone had allocated desks. But then they ran.out of desks, so if you started after that, you were SOL. There were no “hotdesking” desks or anything so you just had to hope someone was on leave.

      Desk-owning people were supposed to mark their desks with the return date when they were out of the office. As I’m sure you can imagine, this did not work terribly well and I cried more than once about it.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      I’ve been in numerous offices where the setup is something like “this is the intern area” (hotdesks for whatever interns are in at any given moment), while the employees all had set offices/desks. If this person was the only intern, they could’ve had the same spot everyday, but still not an office. Donno if that’s what was going on here.

  39. NakedSleeper*

    Ooh, I think I have one for this. My first office job started having a “jeans day” once a week, and for some inexplicable reason (it wasn’t an overly formal office in the first place) I got really excited about it. In fact, I enthusiastically told a group of my colleagues that “on jeans day, I get up and put on jeans right away, instead of putting on my pyjamas like usual!” …thus revealing what I was NOT wearing to sleep at night, as one colleague pointed out to the group. Took quite a while to get over the embarrassment of that one!

    1. Firecat*

      It boggles my mind that most people don’t sleep in their birthday suit. It’s healthier for you in every way.

      1. quill*

        It boggles me how many people DO sleep in their birthday suit given the existence of roommates, domestic animals that may or may not want to be in your bed, the proportion of the population that has a monthly scheduled exit of biological fluids…

  40. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    Way back in the days of phones being attached to the walls and small businesses only having 1 lines I worked in a daycare. We were allowed to use the phone briefly during naptimes for can’t wait tell after work type calls. You know setting up doctor appointments, etc. One coworker was famous for hogging the phone line the entire nap period to just chit chat with her friends. Did this on multiple occasions. Well one day I actually had to make a call. I don’t remember if it was to the mechanic, the bank, doctors what it was but I had to make the call that day during nap period. Start of nap CoIrker is on the phone, 10 minutes later CoIrker is on the phone. Repeat ever so often. 2 hours later towards the end of nap time I pick up the line hear a woman’s voice and say “CoIrker When you get of the line please let me know as I have a very important call to make thank you” And I’ll admit I had a tone when I said this. It was not CoIrker on the phone. It was Owner. Who had just been told about Relative that was being helicoptered to the hospital. I got deservedly reamed for that one but so did CoIrker when Owner realized that she had been making almost daily hours long private calls at work, which included long distance.

  41. Nesprin*

    When I was an intern, my boss had a desk in the lab and a second desk in an actual office. When he went on his honeymoon, we (the interns) harvested his lab-desk for the new cadaver table.

    1. quill*

      Oh god oh god oh god

      This is so much better…? Worse…? than the time I responded to my boss and a biosample supplier’s call by saying “If this ISN’T jaundice then you harvested a sample from Homer Simpson!”

      There was a loooooong silence after that one.

  42. Lana Kane*

    I have seen #5’s example in people who are not exctly new to the workforce – mainly not seeing the difference between their behavior and what other people are doing, and asking for proof that it’s not allowed! I’m glad that LW recognized their mistake later – not everyone does!

    1. Spicy Tuna*

      My last employer had a rule about no sandals / flip flops. Someone got really irritated about this rule and started arguing with the HR director over it. The HR director’s office was across the hall from mine. I happened to walk in during this discussion – I would walk to work wearing flip flops, but change as soon as I got to my desk. My arrival turned into their discussion into an argument as the employee was trying to use me as an example of someone wearing flip flops and the HR director was trying to point out that I was literally changing my footwear at that very moment!

  43. Just Here for the Free Lunch*

    When I was in college I had a summer internship with an awesome mentor. We would occasionally joke around, but one time we were meeting about a report that he had asked me to summarize, and he asked whether I had understood some aspect of it. Without thinking, I replied “Well, I CAN read!” He got very quiet, and I was extremely lucky that I got out of it with just a short lecture on professionalism. I’m still mortified thinking of it.

  44. Ingalls*

    This was in the 80’s. Our company hosted an annual party which involved taking us all to a major sporting event when the home team was playing and then a meet and greet after with all the players. The alcohol flowed freely. I was inebriated and sitting at a table trying to look sober. The president of the company came up to me and asked if I was driving. I said “No, I’m just waiting for Rex (co-worker) to quit staring at Julia’s (another co-worker who was very well endowed) breasts so he can give me a ride home.”

  45. Palliser*

    Ohhh, I have a new one from today! One of the things I do is recruit new members for a professional association. A prospect told me that he wanted to join and asked for a reminder of where he could get the on-line application. I sent off a cordial email with the requested information. Literal hours ago he wrote back and mentioned that the link was a story about Jake Gyllenhaal instead of the new membership application. Earlier today I clicked on a story about celebrities not bathing in NY Magazine, and that is what I sent to the prospective client. It’s good to know that mortification can follow us throughout our careers!

    1. Murphy*

      Oh no! I know how easily copy paste errors can happen. I’m just a click away from doing this.

  46. Thefted*

    One time the IRS emptied my bank account. They took every last dime I had. My dad’s name was on the account (I was only like 24 and it had never seemed necessary to take his name off before then) and they were after him for tax evasion. I stood in the hallway to call him and I ended up screaming at him… a lot. My boss just walked out of his office, put his hands on his hips and stared at me until I went outside.

    I did eventually get my money back.

    1. Anon and on an on*

      I called my parents house from the office one day with a question. My brother was visiting, oh good, I meant to ask if you X. He starts yelling at me about how he’s too busy or some other nonsense.
      So I explained to him that I was at work, but I’d meet him later to discuss it and hung up.
      At least that’s what I recall.
      My coworkers, on the other hand, remember my boss coming over to my cube eyes bulging and asking me to take it outside.

  47. Emily*

    I think #5 is such a good example of why managers need to be clear and direct when giving feedback. It was OP’s first job out of college, so they were still learning work place norms. Instead of the Office Manager hinting about OP not staying after 5pm, it probably would have been a lot more helpful to OP if the Office Manager had been more explicit and explained the difference between OP doing something quiet at her desk occasionally after 5pm, versus loud phone calls and working on messy personal projects, and would have saved OP a lot of embarrassment in the long run.

    1. Anon and on an on*

      I had a great mentor boss in one of my first post college jobs. I’d only had one long-term (nine months) office job before that.
      I’d put little beavis and buttheads figures on my bulletin board, resting on push pins. Came back after a day off, they were on the desk. Set them back up. Came back from lunch. They were down again.
      She realized I wasn’t getting it and told me that I couldn’t do that in the front office.
      And a bunch of other stuff that I just did not pick up on.

  48. Cj*

    #13: Maybe saying it was your favorite kind was kind of odd, but I don’t know why the interviewer would have been mortified at the question or her answer it since she had the book covers on display that would have given at least a hint that they were erotica, if not necessarily gay erotica.

  49. Spicy Tuna*

    I was on a very, very long Zoom call with the entire C-Suite. I got what I thought was a flavored seltzer from my fridge. It turned out to be an adult seltzer. The president of the company keyed right into that, before I had even noticed. Now I’m referred to as “Miller Time”. Thankfully, I am a contractor and not an employee!

    1. BadWolf*

      This cracked (hee) me up. I feel like it was a “This meeting is way too long” sign from your subconscious.

    2. Tessie Mae*

      Years ago I brought a can of what I thought was caffeine-free Diet Coke to work and put it in the fridge. When I later went to take it out of the fridge, I realized it was not Diet Coke, but a can of beer. The two cans were the same colors, something I had not noticed before. Luckily, I noticed this before actually opening it and drinking any of it in the office.

  50. Sun Tzu*

    I have never mortified myself at work. Didn’t need that. I have been mortified enough by mobbing, colleagues’ incompetence, shady job contracts, low salaries, and exploiting bosses.

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      I thought this post was going to end in a joke, or that they were being sarcastic. I’m disappointed!

  51. PivotPivot*

    Back in the 90s, I was working at a law library and one of my jobs was to call around to find and borrow other references, books, texts, pamphlets, whatever the lawyers needed to act as a source of authority in their cases or briefs. Once I had multiple inquires going with other law libraries and a government agency. I was looking for this resource about types of rock. In petroleum based industries, this could be really important to know what type of rock a company was dealing with.
    I got confused about who was calling back and after one of my inquiries called back saying they didn’t have the government-produced geological rock resource, I snapped back, So you mean to tell me if I have all these rock on this land, there is NO way I can tell what kind they are? There was about two seconds of silence. Then the poor lady I just shouted out said, Sorry? (I did call back later and profusely apologized.)
    Mortification doesn’t even begin to cover it.
    It’s been 25+ years and I still remember this with utter shame and the knowledge of even at the time, Whoa, not good. At. All.

  52. It’s a Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SuperAnon*

    I’m a female engineer, and we were recently working out a disassembly issue, where we use features called “jackscrews” to push parts apart.

    On a call with operators, manufacturing leads, and my own junior design engineer/mentee, I asked “will this be enough space to jack off of?”

    I kept going and pretended like nothing happened but I’m so glad we had cameras off for this particular meeting. I put my head in my hands for the remaining 10 minutes.

      1. Wisteria*

        Someone once directed me to get a strap on. As in, put on an ESD strap. I have no idea how I kept a straight face.

    1. Hawthorne*

      This is a mood.

      We giggle in the office sometimes when we have to say words we don’t use a lot. For me, it’s whenever we have to talk about nipples or duty (doodie).

    2. TypityTypeType*

      Reminds me of my own little horror story: Years ago, I was helping a non-computer-savvy colleague over the phone and trying to explain that I wanted her to power her computer all the way down, using the on/off switch, and not just log off Windows. She wasn’t getting what I meant, so I kept trying to put it in different ways: “Use the the on-and-off switch. I mean the hardware switch that’s actually on the tower. The hard on-and-off switch. No, the hard…”

      You can see where this was going, and that’s where it went. And I had no idea until I saw a (male) department head standing there grinning at me. I must have turned every possible shade of red, and I think I sputtered something into the phone and basely fled the building. If it had been my boss, I don’t think I’d ever have come back.

      This was about 1998 or so, and I still die a little whenever I think about it.

      1. UKDancer*

        I think the funniest I have was not at work but at a dance class when I said something indecent.

        It was a tango class. I’d not danced with this chap before and he was a bit reticent. We were doing this step where he brings his leg between both of mine and displaces my free leg so it does a circle on the floor. He wasn’t getting it and I wasn’t feeling the signal from his foot to move mine because he was being so tentative. So I said to him “You need to come between my legs if you want to move me.”

        He went bright red and stopped dancing and it took me a minute to realise what I had inadvertently said. I thought it was hilarious but he couldn’t look at me for the rest of the class.

    3. zutara*

      I used to work in a plumbing and electrical supply store. Common work-related objects/terms included:
      – nipple extractor
      – self-rimming lav
      – ballcock valve
      – male and female fittings

      When I worked at a blood bank, phlebotomists would sometimes need to check the blood flow during a blood donation by using scissors clamps to strip the line. This would often confuse donors as a phlebotomist would shout for a colleague to “Come strip for me.”

    4. Trespassing Schmespassing*

      So many of these in technical roles! Current job involves a lot of talk about strippers (as in opposite of absorbers) and I’m always suppressing giggles about it. Also got a memorable lesson as a young engineer about why you start up equipment rather than turn it on. lol

      1. PhyllisB*

        That reminds me of a time my sister told her husband to turn on the radio. He walked over and said, “I love you, radio!!”

    5. Lady Oscar*

      I used to work at a zoo, and employees would call over the zoo-wide radio to inform their supervisor when they would be unreachable by radio, in case there was an emergency. My all-time favorite radio call was when one of the keepers leaf-blowing in our African Wild Dog exhibit eschewed the usual phrasing of “I’ll be off radio on the blower”, or “I’ll be off radio blowing in [name of exhibit]”. Instead he said, “I’ll be off radio blowing dogs.”

      I and the two female colleagues I was with at the time managed to be professional about that for approximately 30 seconds. Safety first, dude, but TMI….

  53. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

    Along the lines of #10, when I was first starting out in my career and interviewing, I would be asked the question “Tell me about yourself” and I thought this was an invitation to talk about where I was raised and my upbringing. I just had no idea, no one had taught me about interviewing and it was before you could get this advice from the internet. I cringe so hard remembering that now.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      Sigh. A very seasoned applicant (read: old enough to know better) answered this question by telling me about all her kids… She has 12.

      1. KateM*

        If she has 12 kids, she may be old enough, but may not have interviewing experience (when would she have had time for that?).

      1. zutara*

        It’s supposed to be a lead-in for talking about your background in relation to the job and what your job goals are.

  54. Butter Makes Things Better*

    The “terrible laugh” re: the Trouble one made me do a spit take. Hilarious.

  55. PunkAssBookJockey*

    One time during an interview I was asked to name the person, alive or dead, that I would most want to have lunch with. I blurted out JonBenet Ramsay without even thinking of it. Shockingly, I did not get the job.

    In my defense, that story was EVERYWHERE during my formative years and I really want to know who did it.

    1. Dr Rat*

      The correct answer is: “The live one. The dead one probably wouldn’t have much to say.”

  56. Anonymous Hippo*

    I’m still mortified about bringing my violin to work and playing it for someone on their birthday. Granted, they had been asking me to for nearly 2 years, but I still shrivel up a little inside when I think about it.

    1. Choggy*

      We made one of our coworkers who was learning the violin to play it for us, he was so embarrassed he would only play it behind a wall, without anyone looking at him. That was his first and presumably last concert he ever gave.

  57. Salad Daisy*

    Names – I had a classmate who, whenever the teacher would call on them, would reply “Wait!” Eventually everyone in the class started calling them Wait. This was in 5th and 6th grade. We were such meanies.

  58. catwhisperer*

    Quick context: 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… 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.

    1. Llama face!*

      My mom was at a conference once and, just before the session began, saw a long hair on her very prim and proper fellow attendee’s upper chest. So she helpfully tried to pick it off her chest. Well, as soon as it reached its full length it sproinged back into a curlicule and the lady- in a very offended tone- gasped, “It’s attached!”. My poor Mom apologized immediately of course but then she got the giggles and had to sit through the entire session while desperately trying to hold them in.

    2. Dr Rat*

      Could be worse. I worked at a hospital many years ago when those peel-and-stick earrings were a fad. Male nurse comes in with his earring, and another nurse asks if she can see it. He says Sure, and she reaches up – and rips the poor guy’s earring right out of his ear, tearing the earlobe completely in half. Blood everywhere. He’s screaming, she’s saying over and over, “I thought it was a peel-and-stick!” Um, maybe make absolutely SURE, first?

  59. drpuma*

    Is it intentional or a happy accident that the heading for each of these sounds like it could be a Seinfeld episode? Either way I am here for it :D

  60. Dinoweeds*

    OOoooohh I have one! Except is was my super kind/likeably awkward IT guy. He works remotely from us and a lot of the time he can just use Team Viewer and take control of your computer to fix whatever was going on. He was helping me out like this one day and went to the browser to type in Google dot com and accidentally typed in Booble dot com! My whole screen was covered in very NSFW content and I about died laughing. Luckily he laughed it off and closed the tab right away but I could tell he was pretty mortified.

  61. Campfire Raccoon*

    I once got drunk at a country club Christmas party and filled up my purse with fish forks. Presumably for my toddlers to use? No one said anything about it, so I thought I was in the clear. Unfortunately I left my purse unattended at the next Christmas party and when I got home, it had a generous handful of fish forks in it. My husband SWEARS it wasn’t him.

  62. C-R-I-N-G-E*

    One of my biggest cringes from early career days is when someone was demoted from a people manager position but I was completely clueless about the way staff announcements about firings, demotions and position changes are made, or how to read between the lines on corporate memos. I can’t remember if the staff memo was in the style of “departmental reorg, oh by the way Jane will be doing this other thing now” or if it was “Jane is moving to this exciting (but clearly lower level) position, we’ll have more on that job they used to do later” but either way, I was totally clueless about what was really going on.

    Later that day I was in the lunchroom for a coffee break and the person in question showed up too, so I decide to get chatty and ask all kinds of questions, like didn’t they like their old job any longer and what made them excited about the new thing? It sounds so interesting! (Meanwhile Jane had to smile and nod when she presumably wanted to be alone for a few minutes) Shudder.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’ve known people who have purposely taken demotions. But they’re usually pretty vocal about it.

  63. Mitford*

    During college, I was a part-time bank teller working 4:00 to 7:00 every day at the drive-through window. The lobby closed at 4:00, and all of the other workers went home once they’d settled out for the day and locked their cash drawers in the main vault. Because I worked by myself on the later shift, I was supposed to leave my cash drawer in the small vault behind the teller line, shut that vault and spin the dial to make sure it was closed, and then do a bunch of end-of-day tasks before departing that included turning off lights and, most importantly, turning on the alarm system.

    Well, one day, I forgot to make sure that the small vault was well and truly shut before turning on the alarm system, which caused a silent alarm call to be made to the county police department. I exited the building just as three county police cars came tearing into the parking lot with their sirens on and their lights blazing. I immediately put my arms up in the classic “don’t shoot me” position and got to hear six burly police officers talk about the idiocy of 19-year female bank tellers. They had to take a report, because businesses could be fined for too many false alarms, and escort me into the building so I could shut that damn vault and re-set the alarm.

    All this is by way of saying that, if there wasn’t a police report for all the incidents listed above mine, did they really count, LOL?

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      To be fair, that is an awful lot of responsibility for a part time teller!

    2. BadWolf*

      Leaving you alone at the end of the day at the bank sounds generally ill-advised, even if it’s the drive-through!!

      On the plus side, I guess you tested the system!

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’ve worked somewhere where seasoned employees accidentally set off the alarm. (Hint: Make sure ALL the staff is out before setting the alarm & closing the door.)

    4. New Job So Much Better*

      After working in a bank for 7 years (mortgage department) — was looking for the remote that opened the glass security door so I could go to lunch. It was typically on the front conference room desk, so I asked our part time IT guy to pass it to me. 5 minutes later the bank was swarming with police– turns out the remote was actually one for the silent alarm system. Which I hadn’t known we even had…. for 7 whole years…..

    5. Clisby*

      We still rib one of my nephews for having a police record at age 4 – by pulling the fire alarm switch at a county library branch. The incident actually showed up in a police roundup in the local paper – it didn’t name him, but his mother put it in his scrapbook.

  64. Phil*

    When I was a very young and very green recording engineer for a major record label I once told the head of A&R-the guy who signed the artists we recorded-that he didn’t know what the fork-but I didn’t say fork-he was doing.
    And I kept my job! It turned out he really didn’t know what he was doing and I really did.

  65. Murphy*

    When I worked at an animal shelter and there was a snowstorm, they wanted someone to spend the night at the shelter to take care of the animals in the morning in case the roads were too dangerous to travel that early in the morning. I ended up doing it. I’d never opened before, so someone quickly walked through what to do in the morning, including bringing buckets of water into the dog play yards and unlocking the door so you don’t lock yourself out. I was like “yeah yeah, I know.”

    I decided to carry the bucket in one hand, and a dog in the other to bring them out for their morning potty break. Obviously I had no other hand to unlock the door and ended up locked out. I called our assistant director and she said “We talked about this…” I was like “Yes….*sigh* I know.”

  66. logicbutton*

    I just die thinking about how much trouble the teenage son in #4 must have been in.

    #11 is flawless, a perfect anecdote.

  67. nonny nonny*

    A few months into my first full-time job, I was one of the interviewers for an open position, with my boss.

    The candidate asked a perfectly normal question about the culture of our team, and my boss, quite reasonably, suggested that I answer the question.

    What you have to understand is that the morning of this particular interview happened to have been a staff meeting dedicated to checking in with each team member to see who needed help, problems, we were having, etc…and there hadn’t been time for me to speak. This, in my head, was the context.

    So when my boss asked me to talk about the culture of the team, I looked at her blankly and blurted out: “Are you making fun of me?”

  68. Fluttervale*

    Once, long long ago, someone handed a resume back before online apps were a thing.

    He had shortened Assistant Manager to AssMan several times.

    Wasn’t hired for several other large red flags.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      This reminds me of an old book about a teacher, Up the Down Staircase, where the principal’s assistant would send out these huffy memos signed “J.J. McHabe, Adm. Asst.” and the protagonist always referred to him as “Admiral Ass.”

    2. Recruited Recruiter*

      The Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience has this several times in one of the seasons. A main character gets promoted to Assistant Manager, and another main character won’t call him anything but AssMan.

  69. Shan*

    These were all amazing! The personal business one has me absolutely cringing with secondhand embarrassment. I can absolutely picture myself doing that back in the day.

    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. A somewhat normal sight here when the Stampede is on, but it was not Stampede. WOO!

    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 favourite dessert is. Crème brûlée, if anyone’s wondering. Served with a side of mortification.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I think this is a wonderful display of why. But what great internet stories, Shan, thank you for sharing!

        1. Shan*

          The dessert one is a real favourite among a few of my current coworkers that I trusted enough to tell, two companies on. It helps that it’s been over a decade!

      2. Shan*

        I’ve actually had to quit drinking because I developed a major intolerance (in retrospect, those might have been early signs…), and I have to say, it’s a relief knowing I don’t have to worry about adding to the list of nightmares!

  70. Que Syrah Syrah*

    Oh noooooooooo. I have one that, to this day nearly 20 years later, makes me want to crawl into the nearest hole and die. This one is REALLY bad, folks.

    So, when I was in college, I worked part time at a nonprofit in a huge east coast city. It was very small and I supervised the volunteer program there. One of my managers, a very sweet woman we’ll call Mary, once had told me a horrible story about how her father, when she was a kid, had died in the Lockerbie terrorist attack on PanAm Airlines. It was actually my first time hearing about it. I was significantly younger than everyone in the office so I had no memory of it, and it was so sad to hear about.


    A year or so later, Mary invites the whole office to her husband’s gig downtown, and her siblings (she came from a large family) are all going to be there. We get into the club, and it’s OUTRAGEOUSLY loud. I can barely hear anything. She brings me up to her (large group) of family and introduces me, as her husband’s band starts a cover of a new song. I don’t recognize it, and say so.

    So everyone starts laughing, because I’m only 19 and “still a baby,” and everyone starts making fun of me (good natured) for being so young. And then Mary, IN FRONT OF EVERYONE AND HER SIBLINGS, starts laughing and says, “seriously, guys! QUE SYRAH SYRAH DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT LOCKERBIE WAS!”


    So I stood there, watching them all laugh, and I have NO idea what to do, or WHY they’re laughing and talking about this and I am just horrified. But this is a my manager, and everyone is looking at me waiting for a reaction, so finally I cave and go “….I…I’m sorry! I’m sorry I didn’t know, I was really young when it happened and I just didn’t know about it! She told me about a year ago. I’m so sorry about your dad.”

    Silence. Everyone is staring at me. My blood runs cold.

    Mary, bless her heart, reaches over and touches my arm.

    “Que Syrah Syrah, I said THE ELECTRIC COMPANY. Not Lockerbie.”

    The song her husband was covering had been from The Electric Company.

    I don’t remember how I removed myself from that interaction. I think I blocked it out. Somehow it got smoothed over and the night moved on, but I wanted to die, come back to life, die again, and was trying to think of how I could avoid ever talking to my manager, or seeing any of her siblings, ever again.

    I truly, truly doubt I will ever top this. I still absolutely die inside when I think of it.

      1. Que Syrah Syrah*

        Beyond. She was actually INCREDIBLY gracious about it and didn’t hold it against me, but still. That was cold comfort.

        1. Jackalope*

          I don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but…. I lost my mom when I was elementary school age, and while for the first few years it was traumatic, I eventually got used to it. At this point it’s hard for anyone to make a throw-away comment like that which I will find painful. Not to say that I don’t still miss her and grieve her loss, just that stuff like that doesn’t bother me. Talking with other people, I think that’s the same for many of them. So fingers crossed that none of them were hurt by your comment and just found it amusing. (Doesn’t mean you won’t still feel embarrassed, but they were probably fine with it.)

          1. Que Syrah Syrah*

            Thanks for this. Yes, they were all actually very gracious, and I think everyone knew the circumstances were the culprit here (I cannot tell you how loud it was in there and how easy it was to mishear what people were saying). Plus I was so mortified, so given those two things together I think they kind of took a “I think the embarrassment here is punishment enough for this poor kid” approach to it, which I was very grateful for.

            I’m sorry about your mama.

  71. Thursdaysgeek*

    CIO was asking for ideas for the company saving money. I wanted to reply with _something_ and the only thing I could come up with was that the automatic paper dispensers in the toilet dispersed a lot more paper than was needed to dry our hands – we could save money by shortening that by an inch or two and people wouldn’t even notice.

    Did I mention that I’m a software geek? For a company that has many, many offices in multiple states, with many different hand drying setups? Saving a couple of dollars a year in one location, having absolutely nothing to do with computers, is not quite what she was looking for, I think.

  72. CW*

    Back in the late 1970s, my aunt, who was just starting her career as a dietitian, had an interview for a potential entry level dietitian position. The first interview went normally without a hitch. The second interview? Her potential “boss”, who was male, told her to go to a certain place. It it turned out to be an orgy. No kidding! She darted out of there fast and never looked back. That job was definitely not legitimate.

    In case you are wondering, my aunt ended up taking another job not too long after and ended up staying there for 36 years before she retired in 2016.

  73. AnonyNurse*

    I have a dragon onesie story! I was invited to participate in an event at a hospital held every year in October. I got there and discovered that everyone was wearing costumes, staff, volunteers, kids. I was the only person not. They forgot to tell me as I’d been invited directly by a specific person, not part of the normal process. I was sad. Played it off. But sad.

    The next year, I wore my dragon onesie. Showed up, all proud. Bright green onesie. Neon green sneakers. Whole bit. The adults weren’t wearing costumes that year. I was the only adult wearing a costume. All the kids still were.

    But. It was actually absurdly fun and the kids gravitated towards me. Part of the event included the chance for family pics with a professional photographer. At the end of the day, one of the kids sheepishly asked the photographer, “can I slay the dragon in my picture?” So they grabbed me and we took a whole series of pics of the hero slaying the dragon (me). And I have copies of the photos and I love them. And then the photographer took professional style head shots of me. I committed fully and put the dragon hood up and everything. I don’t use them cause … context. But yea. It was great.

    I wore it last Halloween for all zoom meetings.

  74. Trespassing Schmespassing*

    I got lost on my way to an interview for my first big kid job after college. The job was at a remote location, so I thought I had prepared well by looking up directions on Google beforehand and printing them out to take with me (back in the dark ages before there was good GPS on every phone). Well, it turns out Google was wrong. It sent me down some sketchy back roads, which I knew was wrong, but I was worried that if I backtracked and tried to find another way, I’d end up being late for my interview, so I pressed on. The roads got progressively worse, and at one point I passed a gate (which had been left open) so I knew I was on the site but technically trespassing. Welp, really committed now. I finally made my way to the site proper and see the parking lot, but my instructions said I needed to check in at the guard gate so they could call the person I was interviewing with. I was already on the inside on the wrong side of the guard gate! Way too late to back out now. So, I drove out the exit side of the guard gate (not stopping like I was clearly supposed to), flipped a U-turn and pulled back up to the guard gate entrance. The security guard (who had clearly watched this whole stunt) walked out with the most confused look on his face. I just rolled down my window and cheerily announced, “I’m here for an interview!” The guard stared at me for several seconds before apparently either deciding to take pity on me or that he wasn’t paid enough to handle this kind of nonsense, and he proceeded to give me my visitor pass and call my interviewer. Whew, I made it! Except then I notice that a guy in a cart has been sitting and watching this exchange at the gate (and probably saw me sneak in the back way too). This grizzled older man proceeds to follow me as I go to park and when I get out of the car, he blocks my path and asks who I am and why I’m there. I once again stuff down the overwhelming panic at being busted and tell him I’m there for an interview. He says he knows my interviewer and will walk me up to his office. I hang my head and follow him in. We get to the interviewer’s office and he tells me to stay outside for a minute while he talks to him. So there I am standing awkwardly outside the interviewer’s office while this guy presumably tells him all about the insane person who snuck in the back way to get here. I seriously considered just running away at this point. But, a few moments later, grizzled man re-emerges with a big smile on his face and tells me, “Good luck on your interview, kid!” and then walks off. The interviewer gives me a complete poker face so I have no idea what he is thinking, and he ultimately just carries on with the interview as if nothing had happened (thank goodness!). I have no idea how I remained so calm, but I nailed the interview and got the job! The grizzled guy turned out to be one of the nicest coworkers and an all around really great human being. He always gave me a hard time about how I snuck in for my interview, but he never would tell me what he had said to my interviewer (and future boss) behind that closed door while I sweated it out. At least I got a great story out of all that stress and embarrassment!

    1. ecnaseener*

      Hah, I’d bet money that he just said something like “yeah I brought your candidate, watched them come in and they got turned around so I showed them the way, ok see you later!”

      1. Trespassing Schmespassing*

        You’re probably not far off. Thinking about it in hindsight, he was probably actually telling him that they need to check the back gate and make sure it gets locked up! lol Of course at the time, I was so busy wishing the floor would swallow me whole that a practical matter like why the gate was unlocked to begin with didn’t even cross my mind.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      When my cousin was still working as a lawyer, she once had to meet with a client in a prison. It was the first time she’d been there and met this person, and she didn’t know where she was going, but when she got there she saw a group of people walking in, so just followed them. Turned out they were using a staff entrance, but they didn’t question her and just waved her through with them, no problem. In the end she wandered around lost, with no sign of anywhere to sign in to meet the guy, and in the end she stopped some man to ask for directions. The man was absolutely horrified that she had got that far without being questioned.

      1. Jessica Ganschen*

        A beautiful accidental application of the Bavarian Fire Drill! I remember reading a story from someone who managed to get into restricted areas in a hospital at age eleven (though a tall eleven, they said) by following people with keycard access, carrying a coffee, and generally looking tired/put out.

    3. BadWolf*

      Maybe he was telling him that you were cool under pressure — you didn’t yell at the guard that their site was stupid and confusing and ruining your life by making you late. You didn’t scream at the future coworker “Do you know who I am????” when they asked why you were there or make up some ridiculous lie about what was going on.

  75. Abogado Avocado*

    When I was a baby lawyer working for a large law firm in the big city, one of our corporate clients was arrested by the police in the middle of a business meeting. Because I had expressed interest in criminal defense and we had evidence of mistaken identity and I knew the judge, the firm sent me to rep the client. So, after I get the client released on his own recognizance a very short time after arrest and get the prosecutor to agree that the case looks like an out-and-out dismissal, I’m feeling pretty plucky. But the firm’s longstanding, well-paying client is deeply embarrassed and not a little outraged at the cops’ stupidity (which might have been avoided had they done the least bit of investigation, but I digress). Therefore, instead of congratulating me for my “great” lawyering at getting him released from the pokey with the promise of a dismissal (really, the least any lawyer would have done), the client vents bitterly and at length about the justice system.

    To which I respond: “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.”

    Why he didn’t fire me right then and there, I will never know. I cringe inwardly to this day at my total lack of compassion. Yes, I subsequently got his case dismissed and expunged. But still!

  76. Liz H*

    I have so many…

    A few years ago I was teaching college physics to a mainly male class, as is typical. I was explaining something about stats and distribution and drew a bar chart that was one tall bar in the middle and two small bars on either side of it. The students snickered, and I looked at it and laughed, thinking they thought it looked like an erection, rolled my eyes, and said “okay, perverts, let’s move on” to which a bunch of them started REALLY laughing and explained they had thought it looked like a middle finger, what did I think???

    In another class I taught for a solid 5 minutes with my skirt tucked into the waistband of my tights.

    Another time I didn’t realize my projector screen wasn’t frozen on lab instructions, but was showing my computer screen. My students were working on a lab, independently, and I was sending a message to a friend about my elderly dog. The whole class watched as I typed “she really isn’t particular about where she poops.” (This happened to be a class with a lot of pre-vet majors, so they very much understood once I explained.)

  77. Coffee every morning*

    Oh, these remind me of my own moment. 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. I got written up for that and DEFINITELY learned my lesson.

  78. EggyParm*

    I graduated smack dab in the middle of the recession with a degree in Speech-Communications (writing and delivering speeches). Job openings weren’t exactly flowing my way so I decided to expand my job search in adjacent fields and I came across an opening for a junior editor at a local photography studio. I’d taken a single Photoshop class in college and figured I could ace the job because if I didn’t know how to do something I could use my textbook as a reminder of what button to push. Optimism of youth and whatnot.

    I showed up for the interview in a full suit along with a pearl necklace that Mom insisted would make me look like a more “mature” candidate. The only employees were the owner, his son, and their bookkeeper. The son and I sat down for what felt like a pretty easy interview. I showed him a few items I’d made in college and tried to sound like I knew what I was talking about it. At the end of the interview he told me there was just one last step to the interview — a quick test of my skills.

    He showed me into the back office, pointed to a computer with a few high school yearbook photos on the desktop, and asked me to give them a quick edit so he could get an idea of my editing style. I felt my palms go sweaty. That Photoshop class happened freshman year and I made a B- so my confidence was not high. I sat down, he walked off for a bit, and I made my move. The first photo was a redheaded teenager with a few zits so I decided to edit those away, only somehow (and I really don’t know how) I gave the kid TWO NOSES. I pressed Control + Z but I swear nothing happened. The noses stuck. I tried the blur tool and then they were just blurry noses. I added a few color filters, changed the color of his shirt (like that was going to help) and went back to trying to get rid of the second nose when I heard a voice in the room.

    It was the owner. He said, with such kindness, “I think you might have made a doozie out of this one. Are you sure you know Photoshop?”

    I was so mortified! Why did I take this interview? Why did I even try this editing test?

    I stared back, gulped, and said the first thing that came to my mind, “I HAVE DIARRHEA!”

    Then I ran. I just ran out of the door in embarrassment. I even left my portfolio on their desk.

    To this day, I have thought about that interview. They must laugh about it on the regular because now that I’ve been on the hiring side of things I know I would die of laughter if that ever happened to me. And, of course, any time something embarrassing happens in my family someone yells out, “I have diarrhea!” to much laughter and cheering.

    1. TechWriter*

      Ok, yours is the one that finally had me laugh out loud. The third act diarrhea twist got me.

      1. EggyParm*

        It has become a running joke in my family to yell, “I HAVE DIARRHEA!” whenever something awkward occurs. Glad I can at least give a laugh to a wild experience.

    2. Miss Curmudgeonly*

      I’ve laughed at a lot of these, but yours, yours is the best. The visual of the student with two noses, then blurred, then changing the shirt color….omg, I’m snorting with laughter again.

  79. Jamboree*

    Mine is not as colorful of some of these, but equally mortifying for me. Back in the olden days i carried a pager for work. But it went off so often that I eventually set it to vibrate, and then began referring to it as my vibrator. Then I learned about *actual* ones and realized I needed to move away and change my name. (It was not a religious org but my boss was a former Jesuit priest.)

  80. Boof*

    Full disclosure; Joaquin/Wakeen confusion happened to me when I first encountered the name, although in a way that wasn’t totally obvious to everyone else at least XP

  81. Silicon Valley Girl*

    Well I just learned my eyeliner is NOT waterproof because I’m crying with laughter here!

  82. RedinSC*

    Are we sharing stories?

    Back in the late 90s I was having a hard time getting a job, but the tech boom was in full swing, so I got a job at a start up doing customer service. The place offered free emails that a business could brand to their business. Anyway, once I got this guy on the phone and he was being so rude and mean and obnoxious and well, dude, it’s free email, in the 1990s, don’t run your business off of that! But he was so abusive, I asked him to hold, and turned to my office mate and said, “Gawd, this guy is being such a dick…” then I hear from the phone, “I can hear what you’re saying”. OMG! I then take him off speaker phone, ask him to hold and press hold this time. Gather myself together and get back on the phone and tell him that I can transfer him directly to my manager and I apologize.

    He actually continued on with his business, and was very polite and did not ask to speak to my manager. WHEW, crisis averted, but I learned my lesson. Never say anything disparaging about anyone unless I’m clearly away from my office.

  83. Biotech girl*

    My mortification story involved a large poodle,
    Many years ago I was a Senior industry analyst at a major Wall Street firm based in New York. The head of investment banking of my industry and I traveled to California to market our company (pitch our services) to a promising startup company. Both my Banker (male) and me (female) are wearing formal suits. I was in skirt suit. We where meeting with the Startup CEO. He was in jeans which was not unusual for a tech CEO in Cali, but in his office was a giant black poodle, the was unusual, but whatever… As I start my presentation, reviewing the industry fundamentals, the dog walk over to me and start to enthusiastically masturbate on my leg!, this dog was the size of a small pony! I keep a poker face while the tech CEO pulls the dog off me and places the dog at his side. I resume my presentation and by the time I managed to get to the next slide the dog is back at work on my leg!!! The CEO then ask me if I am having my period because the dog is very exited… I nod yes and the dog is finally removed from the room. I finished the presentation. I don’t think we ended up getting the deal, but at least we did not have to tell the CEO that he could not bring the dog to meeting with potential investors….

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      Less a large poodle than a HUGE ass (the CEO. Jesus, WHAT was he thinking not controlling the dog and making it YOUR fault??)

  84. A Genuine Scientician*

    This is third hand (told to me by a good friend as a thing that happened to a family friend), but:

    Matt was working as a substitute teacher in San Francisco. One day, the elementary school he reported to had all the children wearing nametags. One little boy’s nametag read Fruit Stand (I don’t know if this was one word or two; I was told the story orally). Matt figured the kid had weird hippie parents, and the most professional thing to do was just treat it as if it were a completely normal name, and calmly referred to the kid as Fruit Stand all day, despite the weird looks from the kid and the muffled laughter from some of the other students. Until the end of the day when he was helping them all get ready for their buses home, and he noticed that all of the kids who took the bus had the stop they got off on on the back of the name tag. Fruit Stand? Had his name tag on backwards. Fruit Stand was his bus stop. His name was something like Adam.

  85. Elizabeth West*

    I think the dragon pajamas one is my favorite, but the email lady made me laugh the hardest. And it was really nice to see Wakeen again, hahaha.

    The onion OP’s boss should have checked in with her employee. I can’t imagine working for a whole season and not looking at someone’s work even once.

  86. Nacho*

    My first job was at a call center, so coverage was important. I somehow got it into my head that I could just skip my breaks and go home early, so for about 2 weeks, I’d just do that, and leave half an hour before I was scheduled to. That might be one of the reasons my temp contract was very suddenly ended shortly after.

  87. jesicka309*

    First full time job at 22 and I was studying part time. I was doing a course in statistics and marketing analysis, and I needed to conduct a survey and analyse the results for an assignment.
    At the time, I was fairly disgruntled with my job and feeling pretty salty at the lack of upwards movement, and decided to use my survey to ‘send a message’ to the managers & other staff.
    My survey had lots of really leading questions like ‘Are you unhappy with the lack of upward movement in our CI department’ and ‘on a scale of 1-10 how dissatisfied are you with your current role’? Along with some pretty identifying demographic info like position level, age & gender.
    I then emailed it to the whole department (30 people) and even sent reminders out. Surprisingly people did answer it! My manager pulled me aside at one point to ask how I was doing and questioned me on the integrity of my survey, whether I realised the message the survey was sending to people and the answers I would be getting. I got very defensive and told him my survey was fine and I’d be happy to share my results with him.
    He shockingly didn’t want them!
    I also shockingly got a good result on my assignment – I had flawless analysis of my data and pointed out my own biases in asking the questions…at which point I realised my huge mistake and kept my head down the next year I worked there. Send a message….what was I thinking.

  88. Sally*

    In my first internship during college, I had a supervisor/ manager who I looked up to and had enormous respect for. On the last day of the internship, we were having a casual chat and he was giving me a few recommendations ( join XYZ professional body, watch this movie, read this book etc.) and he ended by joking ”if you don’t, I may …” and I blurted out ”you will never talk to me again” He laughed and continued to say ” … I may not give you a good reference”. He was clearly joking (and said so) and I wanted to tape my mouth shut lol.

  89. Dennis Feinstein*

    I HATE hotdesking so I love LW1.
    I would’ve been very annoyed at having to hotdesk with an office sitting empty. :(

    1. Pam Poovey*

      I might not have been so brazen about furnishing the place but I’d definitely try to camp out in an empty office

  90. Waiting for tenure*

    No 14 doesn’t seem to fit on this list at all. I had a very similar conversation with my grad adviser when I started my PhD! If anything it looks more like tenured faculty trying to shift their own responsibilities…

    1. ecnaseener*

      Yes I was wondering about that. I haven’t been to grad school but it doesn’t seem that outrageous, especially if it was framed more as “hey, I’m setting a deadline to show you my draft of X in 2 weeks, will you hold me to that? Don’t let me wiggle out of it” vs just “can you remind me about all my deadlines?”

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, I don’t know anything about grad school but I would have thought that was not an unreasonable ask of your advisor. I mean, in my full-time job our bosses still periodically check in with deadline reminders to make sure our team is on track!

  91. London Calling*

    #15 – as an actual AP person who at her last job had a VERY manual system, I have to say that IMO this idea has some merit. There’s the lateral thinking that you can see at a glance how old some invoices are instead of having to leaf through them to check the date or have them in a labelled folder. I wouldn’t have dismissed it out of hand if it was proposed to me, that’s for sure.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Definitely – but it doesn’t sound like they dismissed it out of hand, so much as considered whether it would solve OP’s problem of deliberately neglecting the work and concluded it wouldn’t.

      1. quill*

        Also if the changing the paper would be worth it. I might consider changing paper color once a month or once a week to keep EVERYONE up to date, but daily???

  92. LemonLime*

    I worked a receptionist job in high-school and part of my job was sending thank-you notes to donors and clients. There was a printed address list, preprinted thank you notes and names. All I had to do was copy this info. down. However, in my infinite wisdom, I decided the frivolous information could be ignored. Thus anything like Apt 100, NW, SW, NE, State road, Building B, etc. was left off all the addresses. I can only imagine a lot of people never received their thank-you notes.

    1. quill*

      Oooooh nope.

      So I used to, under great duress, do international shipping.

      The formats that I was given addresses in, as well as their character limits, did NOT play well with fedex’s shipping fields. Specifically one that said “behind the X building, Cairo.”

      Fast forward a few months from sending that, when covid hit.

      Fedex, in march: All shipping to egypt is suspended.
      Fedex, in april: Still suspended!
      My boss, in may: hey where’s the egypt package?
      Me: fedex says they won’t touch egypt with a 49 1/2 foot pole, boss.
      My boss: Call them.
      Fedex: What is this package of which you speak? It doesn’t exist in our systems. *much rigamarole* Oh, that’s an undeliverable address. No, it’s not because covid, it’s because that’s not an actual street address, I don’t care if we made a delivery there before.

      Me, the blood draining from my body: hey boss, fedex says we gotta send a new package.

  93. Spicy Tuna*

    This happened to a close friend of mine from college. He was on his way to an interview in a big city and suddenly, URGENTLY, needed a bathroom. The closest place was a Chinese restaurant, so he barged in and tried going directly to the bathroom, which was at the top of a staircase. The manager was trying to block his way as he was clearly not a customer. My friend pushed past him and made it to the bathroom, but didn’t make it to the toilet in time. He had explosive diarrhea all over his suit pants, the bathroom, etc, etc. He was in there for quite some time, cleaning his pants, cleaning the toilet, cleaning the walls. What a disaster. He never made it to the interview and I think he probably never returned to that neighborhood of the city! This happened about 30 years ago, so we all laugh about it now but it was very not funny at the time!

  94. Spicy Tuna*

    At my first job out of college, I worked with a very sexist supervisor. He thought women existed just to look good. I would constantly be written up for my attire (khakis and a polo) by a man that wore khakis and polo to work every day. The list goes on with this guy’s questionable behavior, but that’s a topic for another post!

    At any rate, he hired a young woman to do our filing. She was very attractive. We were dubious, but she made extremely short work of a ton of filing, so we were all pleasantly surprised. She was there for about 2 weeks before we discovered she was dyslexic. Nothing wrong with the dyslexic, just maybe don’t hire that person to do filing? It took months and months to undo all of the mis-filed files.


    Ok this one really really really makes me cringe to this day. I have NO IDEA why I thought this was a good idea, a good joke, a good anything… oy, ok.
    So I was in my mid twenties and had this coworker whom I was on jokey terms with, Karl. Well Karl loved, loved loved his garden and was especially proud of his cucumbers which were small and prickly. He’d bring them into the office and show them off and give them out and make pickles out of them etc.
    One day I decided to put together a sign for his cucumbers, like a funny little farmer’s market sign. Here’s where it gets bad. I type ‘Karl’s Cute Cucumbers’ and then to go one step further I change it to Karl’s Kute Kucumbers and then shorten it to KKK. Karl btw is black. So it’s ironic, if not silly, if not funny that his produce stand has the name KKK because….
    No. Just no. I printed this big old colorful ad with pictures of Karl and his cucumbers and KKK all over it and gave it to him.
    For some reason Karl did not immediately punch me in the face or report me to HR. He just gave a mild laugh and politely listened to me as I explained my fantastic humor because IRONY, right? I just CRINGE! I can only hope Karl thought it was an idiotic joke made by an idiotic coworker. If you’re out there Karl. I’m sorry.

  96. Spicy Tuna*

    OK, now that I’ve started, I can’t stop! I’ve been in the working world for a LONG time!

    I had the Wall Street Journal on my desk and my boss came into my office to chat about something. On the front page of the Journal was a photo of Hamid Karzai. My boss picked up the paper and made some comment about Afghanistan. I mentioned that Hamid Karzai looked like one of our co-workers. My boss thought this was hilarious and true and wrote Co-worker’s name above the photo of Hamid Karzai (and I should point out here that our co-worker was not Afghani, Muslim, or from the Middle-East). Boss departed my office. I got busy and forgot about the WSJ sitting on my desk. Co-worker came into my office. We had a whole discussion about something and he departed, at which point I noticed the WSJ on my desk with Co-worker’s name written above the photo of Hamid Karzai. Co-worker never said anything and to this day, I sincerely hope he didn’t notice it there!

  97. SeekYou*

    Love all of this so much! #17 kills me, and I can relate! I worked for a large company, and we didn’t see each other in person very often. At our annual convention, they gave a special presentation to a person who was retiring. It was then (four years into my job) that I realized this person was actually TWO people: the other woman was her wife with a mildly similar first name and the same hyphenated last name. Like imagine Rhonda Baker-Smith and Rachel Baker-Smith, so really not that much the same. They both worked for the company in very different departments and looked nothing alike. I have no idea how I bungled that up so poorly. They must have just been very gracious when I would send emails to the wrong person. Ugh.

  98. lizzay*

    But #4 (side note: Alison, you really missed a good one by not putting #4 at #2), did you call the guy in for an interview?!?

  99. Pam Poovey*

    #4 never fails to make me laugh. I think it’s my favorite anecdote on this entire site.

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