Mortification Week: the nosy father, the dish of bacon, and other stories to cringe over

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 have shared here (or submitted via email) about work moments they now cringe over.

1. The Italian

This story takes place in the time when email use was widespread, but Google Translate didn’t work very well.

While preparing for my Italian vacation, I somehow signed myself up for an aggressive email list. It was in Italian, and I just couldn’t figure out how to unsubscribe.

At the time, I worked for a company where it was part of the culture to use the all-staff email list for casual, non-work conversations: cookies in the break room, an interesting book, etc. I usually didn’t participate because I was too shy to broadcast my thoughts like that.

But here, I thought, was a perfect opportunity to be bold — surely one of the many clever people at this large company could help. I would ask them to get me off of the email list, using their Italian-language skills.

Unfortunately, the email I wrote — to all staff — had a brief description of my problem, then concluded: “Can anyone get me off using Italian?” I never lived it down (and never did get removed from the email list).

2. The attack

One time, outside of my cubicle, near the coffee pot, a group was chatting. I was on a phone call with a really sexist guy, and I was getting irate I finally hung up, and went out to complain to my coworkers. I said to them, “I was so mad, I wanted to reach into the phone, grab him by the neck and yank him out.” When I said “yank,” I made the appropriate motion, and my elbow went violently behind me.

Just at that exact time, a guy was walking behind me, and I elbowed him right in the middle of his face. He fell down and put his hands over his face while he laid on the floor. I said, “Oh my God! Are you okay?” He slowly got up and said, “I think I lost my train of thought” and walked away.

The next morning he came into work, and I was mortified. He had stitches between his eyebrows and had to wear his prescription sunglasses because I broke his normal glasses.

About a month later, a couple of people from HR came over to my cube and asked if I could follow them to chat. I did, and they asked me how I got along with this guy. I told him we got along just fine. Well, it turns out that since the incident happened at work, he had to file a workman’s comp claim, and to answer the question about what happened, he wrote “Attacked by fellow employee.”

I asked him about it and he told me that he didn’t actually write that, but that there were a bunch of options to check and he said that it was the closest to what happened.

3. The disclosure

When I was applying for my first professional job, I had no idea about the best version of the truth – I was just deadly honest. They asked me for my worst flaw and I told them everything I thought was wrong with me. EVERYTHING. I didn’t get the job, of course, and the interviewer actually called one of my references and told her to teach me some proper interviewing skills. I’m sort of convinced that woman saved my career.

4. The restroom

A friend of mine had an amusing related incident when she first got a job in London (she’s American). She needed to ask her boss where the bathroom was but wanted to sound professional/maybe vaguely knew Brits don’t say “bathroom.” So, mid-morning on her first day of work, she asked him to direct her to “the restroom.” He gave her a VERY strange look and said “there’s a couch in that room over there if you need to rest.” What a first impression!

5. The dad

I was moving back to my home country (but a different city) after 20+ years abroad. My parents had moved to this new city around the same time I moved abroad and I was planning to stay with them for the first few months to give me time to find somewhere to live.

My dad offered to scope out a driving route and parking options near my new job – great. But I was mortified on my first day when one of my colleagues said, “Oh yes, I was chatting to your dad in the lobby and brought him up to see the office.” I’m in my 50s and moved to / lived in another country for decades. I didn’t need my dad checking out my job like I was a teenager! Figuring out a good route traffic-wise; helpful. Hanging about in the building lobby until someone took him up to the restricted level and let him into the office; embarrassing as all f*ck.

6. The kids

When I was in high school, I applied for a job as a in-between-theater-classes supervisor for a kids theater program for 6-8 year olds. In the interview, the manager asked if I had worked with children before. “No, I don’t really like kids,” I said. It was true. But I didn’t get the job.

7. The bacon

Once I took an entire chafing dish of leftover bacon (with catering’s permission) from a company breakfast. It was several pounds of cooked bacon. Everyone saw.

8. The strength

I applied for a summer job between junior and senior year of college. I was late for the interview and when they asked what my strengths were I said, “Punctuality.” What an idiot.

9. The bread machine

My first professional job out of college, I worked at a truly terrible place that was so soul-sucking and horrific I really believe I could write a book about it. I hated working there and was desperate to find anything that would give me even a small amount of joy. Almost everyone else working there was also a fresh grad (because they couldn’t retain employees). My team concocted an idea to bring my bread machine into work and bake fresh bread every day. I don’t know why we thought this was ok. But there we were, with my bread machine plugged in in its own cubicle. We’d mix up the ingredients and the bread would bake, but because it was an open office floor plan, the entire building would smell like fresh baked bread. We didn’t share. We’d just pull the bread out, slice it, slather it with butter and chomp away in full view of everyone. One time, the bread machine caused a shortage along the entire row of outlets and caused everyone’s computers to die. These were all graphic designers. Anything unsaved was totally lost and we were NOT popular.

We never used the bread machine again.

10. The swimsuit

The first summer I ever worked, I was working two jobs, one as a lifeguard, and one in a warehouse. The warehouse position did not have a dress code, and the lifeguard position specified that we had to be in visible swimwear at all times. As I got more comfortable in commuting between the two, I started picking up extra time at one or the other – letting a shift run late, etc.

Eventually (like eight days in), I came to the conclusion that I could earn an extra $8.75 each day by not having to change outfits between the jobs, so I started wearing the swimsuit while working in the warehouse in the mornings, before going and working afternoons as a lifeguard. Initially, I did so under sweats, but as the summer got hotter, and the heat waves started rolling in, and I began shedding my layers, one article of clothing each day. By the end of the week, I was doing the warehouse job entirely and only in my swimwear, and continued to do so for the rest of the summer.

None of the other warehouse workers, or management, ever said a word to me, but I look back and cringe – especially when I remember how the swimwear we were required to wear for that lifeguarding position was essentially a red and white version of the blue and black trunks Daniel Craig would later wear as James Bond.

11. The editing

Back in the 90s, at age 25, I landed my first salaried office job. After three months, I had my first-ever performance review. My supervisor took me into an office and presented the document for me to read while she watched me. It was riddled with typos and misspellings, so I … noted and corrected them. We wrapped up the meeting, we left the office, and she dropped her pleasant facade and ripped into me for having been so very inappropriate. (Frankly, I think she was more unprofessional than I was, at that point; I didn’t have the experience to know better.)

12. The break-up

First job out of college … executive assistant at a small professional association that worked out of a converted historic home at a prestigious college in the South. High degree of polish and professionalism expected, and I was the first person you saw when you came in the fancy front door.

My boyfriend of two years and I broke up and I brought that mess to work in the cringiest way. I had purchased a special journal just to process the break up and I would have it out on my desk all day, just writing in it every time I felt my feelings, and when I had breaks/lunch I would CURL UP on the couch in the sitting room just behind the foyer (my desk was in the foyer) and OPENLY CRY while I, again, wrote in my journal. I did this for a week, at least.

God bless the patience of my boss, who still wrote me a great recommendation when I left for grad school.

13. The flashing

This JUST HAPPENED. This is not my first job, or even my first professional job. I am late 30s and work for the government. And I just flashed my grandboss my boobs.

My direct manager was a personal friend prior to becoming my manager. And I just got a long awaited sternum tattoo (that goes between my boobs) while I was away on holiday. My first day back, he asked about it and I yanked my shirt up to show him. I was not wearing a bra, but I’d pulled my top up in such a way my tattoo was visible but my boobs were covered.

Until HIS boss, who was passing in the hall, asked what was going on, and I turned to show her … and in turning pulled my shirt more and out popped both my boobs.

I’m not sure who was more surprised, me, or my grandboss who just discovered I also have my nipples pierced.

14. The towel

I showered one morning, wrapped my hair up in my oversized towel turban and carried on with my morning routine. I never thought of it again — that is until I was sitting at my desk, working away, and I heard the office door open behind my cube. In that instant I simultaneously realized that was the CEO arriving early as usual, and the towel was most definitely still on my head. I had never done my hair and I never forgot the look on his face.

15. The ass

My colleague was writing an email to a person in another department who was notoriously frosty, let’s call her Jane. She meant to write, “Dear Jane, I look forward to receiving your assistance on Matter X,” but in the middle of typing someone came by and distracted her and she hit send thinking she’d finished her email. She had not. Instead she sent an email that said, “Dear Jane, I look forward to receiving your ass.”

Jane called instantly, thanked her for “the best laugh she’d had in 20 years” (she was in tears), confirmed that no one wanted to receive any part of her body, and was noticeably warmer to our entire department from that point on.

16. The lap dance

My significant other’s holiday party is NIIICE. Lots of good food, like excessive amounts and lavish displays of every appetizer, main dish, etc. you can think of. The same with the alcohol and open bar, there literally isn’t a bottom shelf option. No Bud Light. No cheap vodka. No Two Buck Chuck wine to be had. The dress code is relaxed and ranges from tailored suits to guys in Carhart hoodies. It’s a work party that we actually look forward to because it’s so laid back and we really do have a good time. The last one was in 2019, and it may be the last one period. Or at least the last one where drinking isn’t monitored.

At the last party, an employee’s guest decided to give his girlfriend a lap dance. In full view of, well, everyone. People around the couple were half-heartedly trying to get him to stop, but they increased to frantic levels of “OMG STOP!” once he took his shirt off and could tell he was fully committed. Eventually someone got him to stop by tackling him to the ground with his pants around his ankles and his belt still in his hand, waving it around like a lasso.

17. The fed-up boss

I was in a meeting for a new product test launch. It was really just for us to just listen to our product team describe what they’d done and how it would impact our customers. My manager forgot to mute himself and when our (admittedly long-winded) product manager launched into his speech, he said, “My GOD. Land the PLANE. I hate these people”. He then clearly zoned out, turned on music and started singing along. Four or so of us had to ping him before he realized, and abruptly disconnected. We never spoke of it again.

{ 378 comments… read them below }

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      I didn’t just laugh, I cackled. At least Jane warmed up, even if the email was mildly horrifying.

    2. EPLawyer*

      This is not mortifying. It’s awesome that it broke the ice and made working with Jane easier. All Jane needed was some good hearted camaradie.

      1. grubsinmygarden*

        Yes! Jane froze these people out for whatever reason, and she was won over with an accidental invite to her ass reception.

        Unexpectedly wholesome.

        1. AJoftheInternet*

          Maybe poor Jane wasn’t meaning to be cold but was feeling shy and awkward. Nothing like the flub of the decade to save everyone from awkward.

    3. many bells down*

      That’s why I have my outlook on a 10-second delay before it sends my emails. I almost sent my DFO “I’m shit that will be fine” instead of “I’m SURE” just last week.

      1. Orca*

        Just this morning I was typing to let someone know they had a delivery on the DOCK and…changed an unfortunate letter. Luckily caught before sending!

        1. Pisces*

          Same here, when a colleague at PastJob sent an all-hands email selling some sports tickets.

          The home team was the Mighty Ducks.

          That one got out, and I decided not to kid her that at least she hadn’t sent the email to any of our foreign offices.

        2. AnonyNurse*

          Super mild but I almost sent in a report that said “due to the treat of Covid-19” last week.

          Oh for the want of an H.

    4. OrigCassandra*

      Jane is awesome. I kind of love Jane for not flying off the handle over something that was pretty obviously a random mistake.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Like how do you get the towel to stay ON. I try that and if I move a muscle the towel comes flopping down. So #14 I am IN AWE of your skills.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        SERIOUSLY I even have one of the microfiber ones that buttons in the back and I don’t think I could get all the way to work with it on

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t have a problem getting them to stay on, but I’m on the tall side and sometimes like to make the towel as tall as possible, so thankfully I’d probably bonk into a doorframe before getting too far from home.

        2. Admin Asset*

          Today I Learned…

          That the microfiber ones are supposed to button in the BACK! I had no idea! No wonder it looks/feels weird…

          1. nobadcats*

            I have a couple that, after you twist up, there’s a little loophole to tuck in the end of the twist in the back. I often wear them during the day or at night if I’m doing a deep conditioning for my hair and scalp.

          2. Michelle*

            I have a few of these and I definitely button them in the front (and that’s how they were in the photos on the package.) I don’t even know how you’d button it in the back.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I have one which is specially designed and has a button t the back, and it does hold up really well, although it does depend a bit on exaclty how long my heair is – it’s too heavy atthe moment as it’s pretty long, but when it’s shorter the turban/wrap stays up great. If I wash my hair first thing at a weekend I can easily have it up all the time I;m drressing,maiking and eating breakfast and clearing up.
        I’ve never left the house with it on but I could see it happening…

        Normal towel however, no chance at all.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Tip with long hair: twist it into the tail of the towel that goes up and buttons. It spreads the weight of the hair out a little bit better.

      3. quill*

        Towel? Can’t do it. So I use an old cotton long sleeve T-shirt and I can only imagine the CEO of current job seeing me wearing a faded Scrabble t-shirt with the cuffs torn off, perched sideways around my head and probably tied into a very inelegant series of knots.

        1. SpaceySteph*

          I also use a long sleeve tshirt and I went to wake up my kid this morning she goes “are you wearing that to work?” and I thought she meant my clothes so I said yes but she actually meant my tshirt-hat and then she laughed at me. I didn’t wear it to work, thank goodness!

          1. PhyllisB*

            This reminds me of a friend who was an apartment manager. When she went to the beauty salon the next couple of days she would sleep with a pair of panties on her head (does the same thing a satin pillowcase does.) One of her tenants called in the middle of the night; their apartment was on fire. She dashed out, dealt with the fire, the fire department and such. Got home and glanced in the mirror. She still had the panties on her head.

        2. iNot*

          I also use a t-shirt to dry my hair. Typically I wrap it up as a headwrap style so if I do walk out with it on I’m still stylish lol.

          1. Zephy*

            I do something similar. Soft, stretchy tee shirt that gets tied in a knot right at the front, like a bulbous unicorn horn. In the time it takes me to dry the rest of my body, it absorbs enough water from my hair that it’s no longer drippy but still damp enough to style. All of my shirts for wearing are pullover-style, though, so I would never accidentally leave it on and leave the house like that. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

        3. nobadcats*

          I cut the short sleeves off of old t-shirts to use as a headband when washing my face at night.

      4. sb51*

        Ditto! Although I have actually intentionally had my hair up in a towel in my office at work, but that’s because we have an on-site gym and are very casual, and me putting my long hair up in a towel for a half-hour after a workout rather than dripping everywhere or damaging it with a blow-dryer is totally cool. But it falls down every five minutes or so.

      5. Merci Dee*

        Back when I used to put my hair up in a towel (before I learned that’s a no-no with naturally curly hair), I had an old beach towel that I used for this. It was about the thickness of your ordinary facial wash cloth (think of something along the lines of those beach towels you get from Walmart for $2.88 — technically the length and width of a beach towel, but hardly thick enough to dry yourself off after a swim). I could twist it pretty tightly multiple times, so the twist never worked loose and the towel was thin enough that it never made a huge bundle on top of my head once I flipped the tail of the towel over. I used that sucker all through high school and then part-way through my college years before I got wise and really learned how to treat my hair so that it wouldn’t go crazy and frizz all the time.

        1. Sally*

          Wow! I didn’t know I shouldn’t be putting my curly hair in a towel after a shower! Maybe what I do isn’t so bad – I put it in the towel so I can walk to my bedroom without dripping all over. After I put on clothes, then I take it out of the towel and put it in a bun (again to eliminate dripping all over me when I go to my home office to work). I’m going to have to look into this…

          1. Merci Dee*

            After I get out of the shower, I typically wrap my towel around my shoulders to help with the dripping, and then I put my potions in my hair and use a wide-toothed comb to distribute it evenly while I’m still in the bathroom. After I do that, I’ll take the towel and gently squeeze it once along my hair from the scalp to the ends. Then I run my fingers through to break up the plastered-down-and-wet look. Then I just let it air dry until I’m ready to head out the door, when I put in a fabric hair band to keep it pulled back from my face (which also helps with getting masks on and off easily). My hair isn’t usually fully dry until about 9:00 or so, so after I’ve been at work for about an hour. But it’s shoulder length, so that isn’t even a problem. Our office is a polo shirts, trousers, and tennis shoes kind of place, so damp hair has never been an issue for anybody here.

          2. Media Monkey*

            look up plopping (part of the curly girl method). it’s fine to do with a mictrofibre towel or an old cotton tee and much better than rubbing your hair with the towel.

        2. quill*

          Ooof, yeah. Never did that, but using a t-shirt is much better for curly hair. And I’ve gotta take it down before it’s fully dry, or I get fuzz.

    2. All Het Up About It*

      I actually live in fear of doing this. I have some that stay wonderfully and I am a person who is if not officially ADHD, is very easily distracted… I could totally see me doing this.

      I mean, I’ve driven to work in slippers before.

      1. Omskivar*

        I once managed to go to work, clock in, and get about an hour into my shift before a co-worker noticed how I was dressed and informed me that I was wearing my pants inside-out.

      2. Displeased*

        Same! I have done all sorts of things, from mismatched shoes to under eye mask still on my face.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        When I lived alone in a studio apartment, I had a small mirror on the inside of the front door next to the “don’t forget your lunch” message. (Unfortunately it didn’t stop me from leaving with one blue shoe & one brown.)

        1. Catie*

          This is making me feel better- I’m so glad I’m not the only one who’s gone to work in mismatched shoes! (My colleagues laughed at me)

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have ended up on video meetings with a turban towel on without thinking about it (luckily nothing high-stakes, and usually I notice in my camera preview and whip the towel off my head as my Teams is joining the meeting), but I work from home. How you get out of the house and all the way to the office with a turban still on is a total bafflement to me, because that button is Very Noticeable pressing into my head. :P

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Now that my hair is past my shoulder blades, I can see how a towel can stay on without me remembering. But I’d never be able to get in my car with a towel high up on my head. I just wouldn’t fit through the door or be able to sit straight? how did this OP make it to the office? how do you get dressed without noticing there’s an entire towel?

        1. Ferret*

          I’m pretty sure this was just someone who showered at work – that’s relatively common in the uk if you cycle in

          1. CreepyPaper*

            Can confirm – have cycled to work, showered, turban’d my hair and then got distracted by work enough that I’ve forgotten to remove it until someone said ‘towel, Creeps’ and I was like ‘ah nuts’ and removed the towel.

            1. Books and Cooks*

              Sorry, just have to say…my husband and I just discovered What We Do… a couple of weeks ago, and have been walking around saying “Creepy paper! Creepy paper!” to each other ever since.

        2. CoveredinBees*

          I could do it and have nearly left the house with one on before. My hair isn’t particularly thick and is a bit above my shoulders. I used one of those twisty turban towels that holds itself in place and is much lighter than regular terrycloth. Also, never underestimate the power of not being a morning person. I once found myself pantsless in my hallway (inside my house, luckily not an apartment building) because I’d selected a pair to wear and then just walked off.

        3. Sally*

          I could totally see myself getting to the car with the towel on my head, but the extra height (plus the rearview mirror) would make it clear that I wasn’t ready to drive to the office just yet.

          I have gotten to the car with my Crocs slippers on. And when I lived in the city, I was out of the building and halfway to the subway before I realized I was wearing slippers (or maybe flip flops). That day, I just said “screw it” and went in to work with my slippers/flip flops. I kept a shoe rack under my desk with several pairs for work, so it wasn’t too bad. There have been days where I ended up wearing my sneakers all day – just forgot to change when I got to the office.

          1. Macropodidae*

            I went into work a couple of months ago with my slippers on. They’re those fuzzy slides ones with an actual sole. I was getting donuts for the guys when I realized and also said “screw it.”

            My boss just laughed at me. But I work in the office for a landscaping company so we’re very casual. I currently have three office ducks. They’re finally getting their real feathers in, they were just fuzz buckets when my boss got them.

      2. Emmy Noether*

        I’m convinced that’s the entire point of the camera preview. Noticing head coverings and lack of clothes one has forgotten.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      I often sew in my underwear because I’m trying on as I go. I have not yet answered the door or gone out to get the mail without forgetting to throw something on but I’ve come perilously close.

        1. Books and Cooks*

          That’s what I thought she meant–that she sewed underwear into all of her pants! But then the “trying on as I go” confused me.

      1. quill*

        Altering pants: answering the door is a problem, but so is potentially sitting on a lost pin.

    5. Kayem*

      I could maybe see that happening with me if I wrapped my hair in a towel. I use thin towels that stay put really well, plus I wear a head scarf every day with my hair pulled back, so I’d likely not notice much difference in the way my head felt.

      On the other hand, unless I was wearing a button up top and bra that specific day, there’s no way I wouldn’t notice as soon as I tried to pull something over my head.

    6. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’ve had a lot of anxiety dreams about this exact scenario! I am out and about and suddenly realize I still have my towel on with wet hair.

      Whereas in real life, this would be impossible because towels-on-heads are awkward, uncomfortable, and fall off on me.

  1. anonagaintoday*

    I’ve got one. Years ago I had ordered an expensive pair of sunglasses from a high fashion designer. The delivery needed a signature. Instead of just telling my boss I had to be home to sign for a delivery, I used messenger on my computer to ask one of my friends, “What’s a good, boring thing to say I need to be home to sign for – I can’t tell my boss I need to stay home to sign for sunglasses.” She later wrote back, “I don’t know – maybe an appliance? Groceries that need to be refrigerated?” Well – my laptop was the one we were using at that moment in a major department meeting – with my whole screen mirrored on the big conference room screen – and her reply and our whole exchange popped up on the screen for all to see. Oops. I was mortified. Luckily my boss is cool and just asked me the next day, “So what kind of sunglasses did you get?” Now I know enough to not give details and just say I need to be home for a delivery/signature!

    1. Somebody Call A Lawyer*

      Oh dear lord, I would have sunk into the Sunken Place immediately, without prompting or tea-stirring. I am impressed you survived!

  2. Anon all day*

    Oh my god, the bathing suit one is like dreams I have where you’re just walking around with no top, and it’s completely normal and fine, and then you realize it’s not.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Former teen waterpark worker here, at one point you do totally forget you are wearing swimwear, as you and everyone around you is in the same thing. Now in my 40’s I cannot fathom not taking that suit off ASAP, but I recall going to parties/dinner wearing my suit still.

      I’d like to think if I had a second job at the time I would have changed…

      1. Pisces*

        True story. A female lifeguard changed clothes after her shift, then went outside and saw two young boys doing something they shouldn’t be.

        She ordered them to stop, and they challenged her authority to tell them so. She yanked up her pullover to show them her lifeguard swimsuit . . . and then remembered she’d just changed out of it.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          The gut instinct to yell “NO RUNNING” at any kids who are running anywhere, not just the pool deck, gets super ingrained in you at a certain point, and is hard to fight off. But yes, when you work 40 hours a week in a swimsuit it stops being a swimsuit and just becomes your default outfit. All the people you work with are wearing it, you just become totally blind to it. Though when I finally got a job that wasn’t lifeguarding I remember telling a very confused coworker I was excited to be able to wear a bra to work for the first time ever.

        2. Migraine Month*

          I’m imagining the two boys saying, “Wow! That’s a really convincing argument… Would you be open to having this same discussion again in the future?”

          1. Books and Cooks*

            Hahaha that’s exactly what I was picturing! “Yes, that’s authority, all right. We bow to your authority! Both of them!”

    2. Mouse*

      I have this dream ALL THE TIME! I always wake up feeling so uncomfortable on those days, and definitely dress more modestly than usual.

    3. UKDancer*

      I have this dream fairly often. Then usually I wake up and spend a few minutes trying to work out who saw me with no top on before I realise that it was just a dream and didn’t actually happen.

    4. Letting it all hang out*

      Hah! I used to have dreams like that all the time in my teens. Then I spent many years as an active naturist and those dreams either never recur or totally don’t bother me.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      This is one of those nightmares that I’ve never had and have always wondered about- they seem to be yet another common experience that I’ve missed out on (although I can’t complain about missing them- presumably they’ve been replaced in my dream ecology by “I have to get this koi back to water why does no one see/care that there is a dying fish”).

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Anxiety dreams are so weird. They take on a lot of forms! I do have the topless one occasionally. But more often it’s getting lost in endless hotel corridors and having forgotten that I have to move out / go on a trip.

        1. Grace Poole*

          Yeah, mine are always school-related, where I can’t find my class and I’m wandering endless hallways, or I forgot to go to class and am going to fail. Then I wake up in a panic and remember that I’m in my 40s and don’t need to go to school at all.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            I had a variant of this one for years after college: I had somehow been signed up for a science class in a big lecture hall in the basement of the old science building (dimly lit, narrow halls) and got notified of the final scheduled for it on the day of. I then had to navigate swarms of people in the dimly lit halls at the last minute to get to a classroom I’d never been in to take the final for a class I’d never attended. Yes, that’s a nightmare.

            I finally don’t have those as much anymore – I’m over 60.

            1. The Bat*

              The “take a final for a class you haven’t been to all semester” is my spouse’s recurring nightmare, too, 15 years post graduation.

              1. Humble Schoolmarm*

                I have this one too and a variant where I get a call from my first part-time job telling me I’m late for my shift (at a job I haven’t worked in 15 or so years).

          2. California Dreamin’*

            Mine is that I show up at my high school and realize it’s the day of my finals and I haven’t been there all semester and don’t know where my classes are. I’m in my 50’s. Lol.

          3. E. Chauvelin*

            I have the school ones and sometimes think in the middle of them “It doesn’t actually matter if I don’t get to this final/never came to class, right? I already finished school and have a graduate degree.” But only once did I ever get as far as realizing I was in a dream before I woke up.

          4. wittyrepartee*

            I keep having this one where I find out that I didn’t actually graduate college, and then I find out that I also didn’t graduate high school, and then they send me to middle school. I have a masters…

        2. The Bat*

          YES the hotel corridors one. I also have tons of being late/lost at the airport dreams.

      2. Katherine*

        I’m kind of in love with your dream of beached koi. I have the naked dreams a lot and would like to switch, if you wouldn’t mind.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I would be delighted to trade stress dreams. The Contract Is Sealed. The koi will begin appearing to eat your stress in short order.

    6. Elenna*

      For me it’s always “I have no pants” instead. That or the dream where I suddenly realize it’s almost exam time and I’ve done no work in one or all of my classes.

  3. Ell*

    I don’t see the problem with the bacon one – I take food home from staff events all the time, and if they left an entire platter of bacon, that’s on them for ordering too much bacon.

    1. Meep*

      Last week we had a going away party for our former President. He is still on the BoD and will be very much part of the company, but he was moving to California to be closer to his son so he stepped down as President. As I have known him the longest, I dealt with the catering in my free time. I ordered extra food so he and his wife wouldn’t have to worry about dinner as he was leaving literally the next morning.

      I don’t know what possessed our new CTO who had been there for less than a week to decide he could shovel food into his leftover container, but he did in full view of everyone. He did it after everyone had eaten and there was plenty left, but I still find it amusing, nevertheless. It comes down to time and place.

    2. Essentially Cheesy*

      I might be internally surprised if someone claims a “large” portion of leftovers from a catered lunch – but I would not say anything. You never know who has food insecurity.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      Mostly I am jealous – a chafing dish full of bacon sounds like a dream come true

    4. Beth*

      There was an extensive discussion in the comment thread on that one — the person was going through a very bad financial patch, the catering staff had urged them to take the extra bacon, which would have been thrown away if they had not; it went into the freezer at home and helped feed the family for months. Really NOT a cringe moment, or should not be.

      1. Cmdrshpard*

        With the explanation behind it it makes sense.

        But in most companies leftovers stay at the office for employees to enjoy, or leftovers get spread between different employees. It is understandable to a certain extent if one person taking all the leftovers home would get some side eye.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          In my office it might be like one person grabs the extra donuts and another takes the leftover biscuits or something, but unless you’ve got a bunch of Tupperware lying around it seems logistically difficult to actively divvy up all the leftover food evenly. Presumably the catering included more than just bacon, so I don’t think one person taking all the leftover bacon would go down that weird anywhere I have been.

          1. Xaraja*

            I worked at a small company (about 20 office staff) where we literally did have plastic containers on hand, both to store food for people to access the next day but also for people to take home. You were supposed to bring them back but even if you didn’t there was always more building up in the cupboards. We couldn’t hang on to silverware (real, metal silverware) but we couldn’t stop collecting plastic food containers.

      2. JSPA*

        I’d have assumed it was going to a homeless shelter. And now I’m thinking back to all the times I took extras to the shelter, and wondering if people thought I was taking it all for myself…which might explain some attitudes. Sigh.

      3. Campfire Raccoon*

        As the OP, it is cringey because (sadly) not every one is as kind you. I have had years to think about it and why it embarrasses me and why I would take the food in the first place. Now I find it embarrassing because it showed a lack of general awareness of how taking the bacon would be perceived by my coworkers and superiors. This was a good-ol-boy construction company where every spare space of his office held a Fredrick Remington, a Moran, or Terpning. Women still wore pantyhose even in 115+ degree weather. I feel like I should have read the room better.

        Practical me still thinks there was nothing wrong with taking the bacon: waste not, want not! Professional me recognizes I probably presented myself in a way that hampered my ability to advance my career there. Sure, I know it was a toxic environment and I’m better off having moved on – but the lack of situational awareness/understanding the company culture makes me want to **meep** and hide under a blanket. Que social anxiety!

        Bacon is still delicious, tho.

    5. Asenath*

      I’m just baffled that they had any bacon left over. The more expensive options tended to get eaten on site as soon as served in my experience. I can see everyone saying/thinking “Bacon! They NEVER order bacon” and descending on it like a plague of locusts. Once the event is completely over, any excess food would be taken home or shared with workers who weren’t attending, so that wouldn’t cause any talk. Walking out with it before the event ended sure would. We often had to stand guard at the tables during the actual event.

    6. Meow*

      I also see zero problem with it myself, but I can also totally imagine some Judgey McJudgerson witnessing it and saying something like, “That’s an awful lot of bacon, don’t tell me they’re going to eat all that themselves” and making that LW feel bad about it.

    7. Just Another Starving Artist*

      Yeah, in my experience, lower-level/entry-level employees are basically begged to take surplus food home and it’s just assumed they’ll be sharing it with roommates or family.

      If it were a CEO making $300k/year taking the tray before lower-level employees had the opportunity to do so, then I can see a raised eyebrow or several, but any old average employee? Take the food, it’s fine.

    8. Zee*

      If I saw someone picking up a whole tray I’d probably just assume they were helping clean up.

  4. Snarkus Aurelius*

    I had a former boss who REALLY fancied himself a progressive feminist and social justice activist except he really wasn’t. He had all sorts of terrible biases about women and minorities, but if you ever confronted him…well…he epitomized every terrible white person example in White Fragility.

    Anyway, we were doing an icebreaker once, and the question was “What TV show or movie are you watching right now and why do you like or hate it?”

    Boss said, “Killing Eve. It’s such a great show!”

    Without missing a beat I asked, “Isn’t that a show about strong, independent, and intelligent women who are trying to take down corrupt systems set up and run by men? I mean why would you…?” and I trailed off.

    It was awkward. I do not regret it though.

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        My husband’s best friend is That Guy, and a few years ago I finally had enough. When a guy mansplains feminism to you (and I minored in Women’s Studies)…… now, he doesn’t come into my house any longer.

    1. Anon and on and on*

      I love this and need to share the awkward blurt moment.
      My best friend’s husband is kind of a jerk. He knows it. We all know it. He’s also a foot taller than I am and I am nearsighted.
      I was walking by him in the kitchen. His ball cap caught my eye. There was small embroidery by the ear.
      “Why does your hat say Dbag? I mean, I know, but how did they know?”
      My friend basically fell on the floor laughing.
      I was so serious about my question, I didn’t even realize what I’d just said.
      He was totally like, “whatever,” and said what the brand actually read.
      Which I have forgotten, because the moment overshadowed it!

    2. not a doctor*

      Late, but this confuses me for many reasons, not the least of which is that doesn’t describe Killing Eve in any way whatsoever.

  5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    Re: #15. A month ago I got a call from my brother asking me to run to the nursing home to check on my mom. she’d been physically ill the day before, and he was going to stay with her, but he had a back spasm. No problem, that’s why I live a block away and anyway, I was WFH that day.
    It’s all well and good now, but at the time, 11 am, I was trying to tell my boss and coworker I may be out longer and might need a back up. So I started a teams message to my boss and text to my coworker. Then decided to text message my boss, too. I’d stopped the Teams message at, “Have to go to the nursing home to give moms some gin”
    not finishing the “ger ale” part.
    Was happy I didn’t send it, but we laughed about it later.

    1. Purple Penguin*

      Not me but a colleague many years ago was writing to IT to request a better processor in the laptop they were getting specced out. Unfortunately autocorrect changed “Is there a reason I can’t have a Pentium?” to “Is there a reason I can’t have a Penis?” Yes, they said, there is a reason.

      1. Ariaflame*

        I mean though, WTF. What company just lets anyone into a restricted area just because they say they’re related to someone who hasn’t even started working there yet??

        1. MJ*

          Ha. My dad is very personable and often gets people to do things for him. Several years into the job my colleague still asks how he is doing. :)

        2. Jenn*

          In the 1970s my grandmother managed to talk her way onto an Air Force Base (that had nukes and so should have been VERY secure) to visit my dad, who had only been stationed there a few months and was still relatively unknown. Some people just have that talent (I did not inherit that ability unfortunately!)

        3. Ness*

          Eh, my workplace is “restricted” in the sense that members of the public can’t just walk in, but anyone can enter if they are escorted by an employee, show their ID, and walk through a metal detector. I could definitely imagine someone offering to escort a new employee’s dad.

        4. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          I mean, define “restricted area”. With the ubiquity of easy to use RFID cards a lot of offices restrict access to just the main floor of the office. They won’t actually care that an escorted dude in his seventies is looking around a bit, but for general security it’s restricted.

          I’d agree it would be weird to let someone into, like, a classified government lab, or an area that generates company secrets, but “restricted area” could just as easily mean the cube farm.

    1. Tafadhali*

      Yeppp… I don’t know if it’s because my sister works in theater and in an ice cream shop and my brother was a restaurant bartender for years and now works for my dad’s company and my dad is so used to full access to their work, but he never stops talking about how weird it is that he doesn’t get to come visit me and dropping hints about seeing my office. I work in schools, so there really does need to be a legitimate reason for my dad to do a walk through of the library!

    2. Rainbow*

      My mum would 100% do this. Also, 4 years ago she was visiting me, and we bumped into my big big boss in town, so I was forced to introduce them. For whatever reason, she still asks me every few months how he’s getting on with life.

      1. Fm*

        To be honest, I feel like in your 50’s it comes back around from embarrassing to sweet. In your 20s-30s I’d be embarrassed, like my coworkers would think I couldn’t take care of myself. But I feel like at your age it was probably more obviously “my dad is goofy.”

    3. pancakes*

      My stepdad wouldn’t go into the office, but he would totally do the route and then tell me it should take me 18 minutes and 37 seconds to drive to work each day, or some other ridiculously precise number I would instantly forget.

    4. Empress Matilda*

      Ohhhh, yes. I work in the head office of a large, well-known retailer, and my father shops in the stores at least a couple of times a month. He has been going there for as long as I can remember, so it’s not connected to me in any way.

      And it seems that every time he goes in, he starts chatting with the staff, and inevitably tells them that his daughter works in head office. I work in an obscure policy area – it has zero impact on the retail staff, and most of them haven’t even heard of the type of work I do. So I promise, your friendly neighbourhood CSR does not care *at all* if some random customer’s daughter works on some random team in head office. But, I guess my dad is proud of me, so it’s hard to complain even if it is a bit embarrassing!

  6. raincoaster*

    About twenty years ago I was PR director for a big writing conference. That year our theme was poetry, and we invited the Poet Laureate among other eminences. After the big Poetry Panel (to a packed house of about 200 people plus more in the hallway eavesdropping) I went up to the front of the room where the famous poets were all sitting to thank them. Took my time, shook all the hands, turned around to leave and realized that my skirt, which was short and made of stiff cotton, had flipped up at the waist and I had just mooned the most important poets in North America. And the entire room of 200. I was wearing a hot pink thong, too.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Oh no! I can imagine your mortification at the time, but I do appreciate you sharing the story!

  7. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    #17 made me laugh just as hard as the first time I read it. Absolutely priceless!

    1. Katiekins*

      This time I laughed even harder. Perfectly written inflection and story. Great job, OP.

    1. Prolix Prolix*

      The Bread Machine is 100% something I would have done in my twenties and thought was great. Until the power went out. CRINGING

      1. Pomegranate*

        In all fairness, graphic designers should have a back up power banks at each work station! For non-bread machine power outages:)

          1. Antilles*

            I understanding being ticked about OP causing the power shortage but also this is a life lesson about why you need to save regularly.

      2. Asenath*

        We had rules about what appliances we could have, and people would be assigned to go around looking for illicit toasters and kettles. They would have really had a fit about a bread machine! Some of us just kept our toasters hidden except when in use. My section did have a mysterious power outage once, but by the time they came to investigate and fix it, all that was there were the perfectly legit microwave, mini fridge and giant photocopier/scanner/fax machine and emailer.

      3. pancakes*

        A coworker and I did go through a brief phase of cooking ourselves little feasts on a George Forman grill when I was in my 20s. I love the idea of these people eating their buttery, fresh, warm bread at lunch, haha!

      4. MusicWithRocksIn*

        We 100% would have done this at my first professional job, if any of us had the idea or a beadmaker. I also 100% can imagine partaking in the b*tch eating crackers complaining that the rest of the office did in my third professional job.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I once brought a rice cooker to work. To be fair, I plugged it in by the microwave, & it was to cook rice for an office party we were having later that day.

      I added a cinnamon stick, some cloves, & some ginger to the brown rice I was cooking to go with the main dish I had made. Apparently, smelling it cook got to some people. I did not have to bring any rice home with me.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I honestly love the bread machine idea, but maybe only at a very small office where you can share the bread with everyone? I would totally work somewhere that had fresh bread every day!

      1. The Bat*

        There used to be this old house on my university campus that had a small department in it. It was my dream to move my group out to that office so I could bake for them during the work day. Honestly, this is still my dream.

      2. Gumby*

        Yep, we did that at one company where there were only 17 people in the office. But we plugged it in to the kitchen. And everyone could have some. Fresh buttered bread at 3 p.m. is the *best*.

  8. WomEngineer*

    #5 reminds me of my first internship away from home. My parents were helping me look at apartments and the commute to work. So we pulled in front of the building, and they really wanted a photo because of course they did. After some begging I obliged… and security came out to say they don’t allow photography.

  9. Sharpiee*

    Another American English/British English fail: I’m American and worked in London for a while. I told a co-worker that I liked their pants. Pants means underwear there. That was fun.

    1. Ari*

      I was helping with costuming for a play and I asked a male actor if he wanted to wear suspenders. I was vaguely aware that “suspenders” is British for “garter belt” but I thought it was the kind of thing where it means both? It does not.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        That question would have been totally appropriate if you’d been doing costumes for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but otherwise … no.

      2. UKDancer*

        Yes there’s a line I read in a Buffy fanfiction which I still remember because it went “Giles was wearing black pants with suspenders” which given Anthony Stewart Head also played Frank N Furter gave me the most hilarious visual imaginable of the chap in Rocky Horror getup.

    2. The Original K.*

      “Craic,” pronounced “crack,” means “fun” in the UK. My former UK colleagues would say things like “that’s good craic” or “it doesn’t matter where you are, you can make your own craic” and we Americans would laugh because it sounded to us like they were talking about drugs.

      1. londonedit*

        It’s mainly Irish, that one, but it’s an expression that’s made its way into British parlance as well.

      2. Beth*

        It’s from Ireland originally; Gaelic. In particular, it’s the fun that happens when you get together with your friends, and there’s talking and laughing, and usually drinking and music.

        I still giggle at the memory of a friend from Dublin talking about how great the craic was, how the party had such grand craic, etc.

        1. The Original K.*

          Yes – my employer’s global headquarters were in Ireland. I should have been more specific.

        2. Timothy (TRiG)*

          If you dig into the etymology, it’s actually Northern English crack, was borrowed into Irish (and respelled craic to match Irish orthography), died out in English, and was borrowed back from Irish (usually retaining its Irish spelling, as English tends to do with borrowed words, though it is occasionally seen spelled crack).

          Language is fun.

      3. redwitsch*

        For a lot of English speaking people is confusing, when Czech say fakt/fakt jo? (basically seriously, really?) – it is czeched out word fact, but when Czech pronounce it it sound like fxxk/fxxk you. Cue English speaking people thinking we are cursing a lot. 8D

    3. MsSolo UK*

      I mean, we’re all exposed enough to American English I don’t think anyone would really bat an eyelid, but there are some words that will still get a snicker afterwards, like fanny. Subtly different part of the anatomy over here!

    4. Ophelia*

      Oh, yeah, when asked about my weekend during my first few weeks living in London, I DEFINITELY announced to a break-room full of coworkers that I’d bought some great new pants.

    5. MJ*

      Oh, I’d forgotten about telling my new colleagues I’d dropped my boyfriend’s pants off at the dry cleaners. Cue a bunch of very confused people until I remembered they were “trousers”.

    6. Empress Matilda*

      At the resort I used to work at, the owner for some reason insisted on calling napkins “nappies.” The English and Australian staff never stopped snickering at that!

    7. BluntBunny*

      Actually it’s only in the south of England where pants= underwear. In the north pants=trousers and we would call underwear undies, knickers or boxers instead.

      1. pancakes*

        Who calls them smalls? Maybe that’s Australians but I think parts of the UK as well.

        1. Mornington Cresent*

          Not sure- I’m in the midlands and I’ve heard that around here, at least a little. Along with shreddies and undercrackers, both of which I think are hilarious.

      2. Poppy*

        Nah, not in Yorkshire. Pants are underwear here.
        I think it’s more of a north west thing to say pants and mean trousers? Or maybe further north than Yorkshire.

        1. Empress Penguin*

          Yeah, I’m pretty confident pants is a North West regionalism. My ex was from Greater Manchester and his family used pants to mean trousers, but I don’t know anyone else who does.

          1. BubbleTea*

            Yes! I’m from Yorkshire and just moved to Greater Manchester, and was rather thrown by the sudden increase in pants references (in relation to baby coming home in spare clothes, not just random street chat).

      3. happybat*

        Go further north to Scotland, and I am pretty confident that pants = underwear again in most cases. Trousers, troosers, troos and keks would all be American pants, except of course that keks can also be underwear!

        My favourite American/British confusion has got to be rubber/eraser

    8. Vio*

      I got a bit confused reading this site originally due to some of the terms being different here in UK. the one I remember most is PIP which I later found out was something like Personal Improvement Plan in US but is actually a disability benefit payment here (Personal Independence Payment) which most people have to jump through a lot of hoops to claim (not literally of course, since many physically can’t but the Department of Works And Pensions take the assumption that everyone is faking unless they go to extreme lengths to prove otherwise) so it was quite strange to read about people being upset to get a PIP when it’s usually a cause for celebration here

        1. SarahKay*

          May I hop into your car for the drive by, because that’s a sentiment I can definitely get behind.

      1. Very Social*

        I mean, having to literally jump through hoops does sound like something a disability benefit payment system would do. You must jump through the hoop to get your payment! Oh, you can jump through the hoop? You must not be disabled, so you don’t need payment.

        1. Vio*

          they do like to use as many catch 22s as they can get away with. attend the appointment for a disability assessment? you must be well enough to work! too ill to attend and you get sanctioned for failure to attend

    9. Alice*

      Same- I was a Brit new in the states. I was gathering stationary and asked my boss very loudly several times for a rubber. His face turned progressively red before he spluttered “what!?!?”…and then I realised. We never spoke of it again, and I quickly learned the correct US terms!

    10. Poppy*

      I heard a similar story (possibly apocryphal) about an American woman working in a British office. It was time to decorate for Christmas and she volunteered to help decorate the tree, and announced that she would “need to remember to wear pants tomorrow”. Everyone thought she made a habit of going commando.

  10. WellRed*

    I laughed out loud at the last one. That boss speaks for so many of us, silently screaming land the plane!

  11. CatPerson*

    Bacon person: Everyone saw. Everyone wished they had beaten you to the bacon. Because…bacon!

  12. Pop*

    My husband’s grandmother pulled a #5 when we bought a condo a few years ago. When we met our neighbors a few days after move in, two of them had already met his grandma because she was walking around the property “looking” at it.

  13. RuralGirl*

    #11 I’ve read this twice and still don’t think it was weird. Why did your boss bring you into another room to read a document and then balk at corrections? Not that I like realizing I’m wrong, but I’d much rather one of my staff tell me than something get to another level with typos. And if I don’t want anyone to point those things out, I tell them proactively (think, “I will edit for typos later, I’m looking for content feedback at this stage.”).

    1. Amtelope*

      The document was the employee’s own performance review. Which they proofread for errors, rather than responding to the content as feedback about their job performance. It’s just not a proofreading moment.

      1. Unaccountably*

        This is correct. It’s hard to imagine a less proofreading moment than your performance evaluation.

        The whole transitioning between rooms thing is weird unless OP has to have her evaluations done in a SCIF for some reason, but I… don’t think you need a whole lot of professional experience to realize that your performance review is not an editing or proofreading test.

        1. Captain Swan*

          I actually did edit my performance review once. My boss had listed me as Mrs. LastName instead of Ms. LastName. He knew I was married but didn’t know I went by Ms. He was newish and it had never come up. I mentioned it, We chuckled about and he changed it.

    2. Lurker*

      The document was the letter writer’s performance review, not a document the boss wanted proof-read.

    3. kittycontractor*

      I get the feeling there were other people there. So maybe not so much a “hey come into this office and read this paper” and more of a “please join this meeting and read this document to everyone”.

      1. Anonym*

        Oh goodness, I hope there wasn’t an audience! That would be wildly inappropriate from the boss.

        1. Cmdrshpard*

          I think the point is there were other people present at eh performance review, when the employee started correcting it. That is why the boss took the employee aside (to an empty room) to let them know it was in appropriate, rather than doing it in front of others.

          1. AJoftheInternet*

            No, I read it as them going into an empty office to read it, and then the boss thinking for some reason it was “correct professionalism” to meekly accept that, then take the OP out and yell at them in the regular working area.

    4. Anonym*

      Oh, I had assumed it was presented as “this is your performance review, please read it and respond” and then OP proceeded to edit, which is a pretty clear misreading of the situation. But if the boss just handed it over, no-preamble, no context, here you go… much likelier to happen, if still embarrassing. But presumably OP’s name and the document purpose were somewhere near the top?

      Either way, boss should have gently corrected once she realized OP had missed the purpose of the meeting, not waited and then pounced assuming the worst! Very clear that it was a misunderstanding from someone new to the workforce.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        But the boss absolutely didn’t do the review correctly, either. You have to actually discuss the review, not just hand it to someone. (Which did happen to me once. It showed me how checked out my manager had become at that point.)

        So, everyone is wrong, but boss is the most wrong.

    5. No Soup for You*

      #11 If your job was as an editor/proofreader, I would think the errors on your performance review were intentional to see if you could spot them. Otherwise, I have found that it’s never a good idea to correct your boss.

      1. londonedit*

        I highly doubt it even then – editing tests are common as part of the interview process, but springing a stealth editing test where the document is your own performance review and you’re meant to know that you should be correcting the errors would be absolutely unheard of (unless the boss was completely off their rocker).

      2. Unaccountably*

        I would think that putting deliberate errors on a performance review would be a complete waste of time, and also, frankly, a jerk move. If you want to give someone a proofreading test, give them a proofreading test. Make it a pop quiz if you’re really, really bored that day. But it would be both unproductive and mean to put people in a situation where their basic social skills and understanding of workplaces will cause them to fail a test of their job skills.

        Which they will, because the vast majority of people will correctly spot a performance review as a completely inappropriate place to point out your boss’ errors.

    6. Captain Swan*

      My guess is that the document was the written copy of the individual’s performance review and that the boss was giving the individual a chance to review it before they discussed it. The boss probably didn’t mean for the individual to copy edit the document.
      The boss should have checked it before giving it to the person to read to avoid this type of situation.

    7. Rainbow*

      I understand this person tbh. I don’t have full on OCD but I have some compulsions; probably something to do with my neurodivergence! I have had to learn not to correct everyone’s typos as if they were my own the instant I see them. Now, I just “say” the correction in my head so that I “act” on it within my own head, instead.
      On the plus side, I am very good at proofreading!

  14. Alex Beamish*

    “Jane called instantly, thanked her for “the best laugh she’d had in 20 years” (she was in tears), confirmed that no one wanted to receive any part of her body, and was noticeably warmer to our entire department from that point on.”

    Absolutely brilliant. Snorted out loud. :D Thank you for that Monday morning smile.

  15. calvin blick*

    #9 makes me think of my brother. He had a fairly well-compensated sales job, but he wanted to take his career in another direction so he didn’t really care about the long-term impression he made. He was a top performer so he could get away with almost anything. Eventually, his desk had a whole row of hot sauce bottles, maple syrup, and somehow, a waffle maker which he would use at his desk. Apparently a director would occasionally ask whose desk it was but would back off once they realized he was one of their stronger sales reps.

    1. Frickityfrack*

      Meanwhile, my boss has been pushing for us to get an air fryer (to go with our microwave, keurig, electric kettle, toaster, and two fridges for 4 people) and possibly a popcorn machine?? I said hard no on the popcorn because I really don’t want our office to smell like that all the time, but I’m about to give in on the air fryer because why not? Barely even noticeable at this point.

      1. Cmdrshpard*

        I highly recommend an air fryer/toaster oven combo. We have s toaster oven and it is a great supplement to a microwave.

        You can heat things up in the microwave then if things need toasting/broil you can finish it in the toaster oven.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          My office has a toaster oven and it is the best thing ever. I cook frozen spring rolls in there sometimes and it is so much better than the microwave.

        2. Frickityfrack*

          I love my home air fryer. Mainly I’m opposed because A) we have so little room left with our current OTT setup and B) my boss spends WAY too many hours a day here, and I feel like more cooking options doesn’t actually discourage that. I’d like her to go home occasionally.

    2. pancakes*

      I worked with a guy once on a long-ish freelance project where we had a daily meal budget if we worked enough hours, which we often did. He preferred to use his for breakfast rather than dinner and it wasn’t long before he had a fortress of maple syrup containers all around his computer. The place he’d get delivery from gave him something like 4 plastic containers of it with every order and he’d only use half of them.

  16. JHunz*

    I absolutely love #9. I worked a soul-crusher for a couple years and I would have loved to have had some fresh bread.

  17. LifeBeforeCorona*

    The bread machine is the clear winner. I make bread and there is no better smell in the world. I’m laughing at the image of people eating fresh baked bread with butter! at their desk no less while others who don’t get any can only watch in envy. Blowing out the outlets was just icing on the cake.

    1. londonedit*

      I was merrily reading thinking it was someone wearing a full swimsuit under their outfit and eventually ending up with the swimsuit looking like a tight vest top with some shorts or whatever. I was not prepared for it to be a bloke effectively wearing Speedos to work…

          1. Becca*

            I was imagining women’s until the disambiguating line, but was definitely imagining some sort of bikini.

          2. MusicWithRocksIn*

            I spent the entire time reading going “I know that usually these stores should be gender neutral – but it this case it really makes a difference, man or woman???”.

            1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

              This has nothing to do with anything, but after glancing at your username, I accidentally read the first word of your post as “Yip!” *covers face with hands*

    2. Essess*

      Oh, I NEVER figured that out. The entire time I thought it was a woman’s 1 or 2 piece, then at the end I just assumed it was still a woman’s 2-piece but with a trunk-like bottom half.

    3. SpaceySteph*

      I was also imagining a women’s one piece suit and very confused why they couldn’t just throw on a tshirt and bottoms over it, why it had to be sweats, etc. Also half expecting the anecdote to end with a raging yeast infection.

      I still don’t understand why they didn’t wear a shirt though, and then its just a shirt and some very red shorts and not really that weird?

      1. TK*

        I have trouble believing you could work shirtless in a warehouse for months and no one would say anything. If nothing else, there’s going to be a safety issue with that much exposed skin in an environment with that much potential for injury.

        But as you note, just a shirt with swim trunks isn’t really that odd…. so I’m confused by the whole story.

        1. LW#10*

          In hindsight, I don’t know how I got away with it – it wasn’t like I was subtle. The only thing I can say is the warehouse in question had a very relaxed attitude towards safety concerns, and a lot of other shady business practices going on, so there was a strong sense of “that is probably someone else’s problem” about anything we saw – and I guess no one ever decided that maybe I was theirs?

          1. TK*

            That’s… bonkers. There was obviously a high level of dysfunction in a workplace where you spent most of a summer literally working shirtless in a warehouse environment and no one ever said anything to you. To me that’s the most startling part of the story, not your mortification!

            This is actually sort of a story I can totally see someone telling if they’d quit there and go work at, like, a warehouse that actually cared about safety… “my last job was so messed up, one of the high schoolers they hired for the summer worked shirtless for 2 months and no one ever said anything to him.”

      2. LW#10*

        16 year old me’s thought process: The matching shirt is part of our guard uniform. How am I supposed to wear a shirt that doesn’t match? What if the guard shirt gets damaged? I bet they’ll make me buy a replacement with my own money. What if one of my favorite t-shirts gets damaged? I’ll definitely have to buy a replacement with my hard earned money then. Skin heals, torn fabric is forever! There’s no dress code, what are they going to do about it?

        16yo Me had a lot of issues based around poverty, pride, and clothing. And also believed that the essence of cleverness was running straight through the first loophole he saw, never pausing to consider that maybe that attitude was the core of the old saying about nature always being able to invent better fools, common sense being uncommon, and a host of other things related to the follies of youth.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I almost did something similar. I got all ready to go, put my make up on, did my hair, put on my top, and then got distracted and walked out the door in a pair of Jack Daniel’s boxers. Luckily realized my mistake just up the road.

  18. Captain Swan*

    6. The kids.
    Very Bridget Jones Diary. In the movie, Bridget says something very similar in an interview.

    1. Bob-White of the Glen*

      That’s what I thought of too.

      It’s what some of us would like to say, but don’t dare.

  19. TG*

    OMG – loving these.
    So Idk why I thought this was fine but someone at an old job and I commandeered an office that was sitting empty.
    I think we did ask but we put bean bags in and lights, lava lamp, boom box.
    We called it the “Babe Cave” and hosted Friday after work parties in there with alcohol.
    The best was when the CEO would come
    and hang with us! We had VPs in there etc.
    They finally assigned the office to someone so there went the “Babe Cave” but we had a blast while it lasted!

  20. T. Boone Pickens*

    Ha I remember #17! I’ve honestly used “Land the plane” a few times in the course of conversation when something is getting long-winded!

    1. Abogado Avocado*

      $17 made me squirt coffee out my nose. (Fortunately, I’m WFH and only the cat saw.)

    2. Fluff*

      Yes! We had a similar unmute comment by a programmer and it still makes me giggle. “OMG, put the landing gear down. Doooooown.” before he realized the little microphone was not red.

  21. TG*

    #12 – I have to admit the imagery made me laugh and I feel like it would have been awesome sauce if you also had been playing like Natalie Merchant or massive break up songs too. And I also pictured Diane Keaton from the movie where Jack Nicholson breaks her heart and she cried continually and rather hilariously for several days after…

  22. Dara O'Briain Fan*

    #7 reminds me of the Dara O’Briain (Irish comedian) bit about Tayto Crisps. Google “Dara O’Briain Tayto Crisps” and the clip is on YouTube. It’s hilarious (as is all of his stuff).

  23. ScruffyInternHerder*

    Attacked by coworker – I’m not short and I don’t have a small “wing span”. And I just checked – exactly how close was this coworker to you?!?!?

    I’m not doubting the LW over the incident, I’m just wondering why oh why this coworker was walking in LW’s personal space?!?!?!

    1. ecnaseener*

      I was picturing him trying to slide past the group talking. If they were in a hallway or something, they could easily be taking up enough room that you have to pass within a few inches.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      As someone who has committed several unlikely injuries to myself or others – I fully believe it could have happened with no social faux pas on anyone’s part lol

      I just tried it with my elbow at a slight angle and I could definitely bean someone on the face trying to squeeze by me. Granted I’m quite bendy.

    3. Asenath*

      Oh, it could happen easily if someone was trying to pass behind a group in a narrow space like a corridor, and one of the members of the group swings back her arm. I’ve had people absorbed in their conversation appear not to notice I was coming from behind, with practically no space, and saying “Excuse me! I need to get through here!”.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Yep, and the OP is probably taller than the coworker as well.

        Not work-related, but my best friend punched me in the eye under similar circumstances – twice, in the same evening!

        1. Sally*

          I was getting on the subway and taking off my backpack at the same time, and I punched a woman right in the face, and I think I bent her glasses. I felt terrible and apologized profusely. She looked dazed for a second and said she was OK. We both sat down, other people got in, and the aisle filled up between us, and that was that. I was amazed that she seemed to unfazed, but it was NYC, and really, what else could she do? I guess she could have yelled at me, but she didn’t.

        2. Minimal Pear*

          I’ve done it dancing too enthusiastically at a high school dance to my friend-date. I really liked the song, she was much shorter than me… I felt awful.

          1. Books and Cooks*

            I managed to clock my husband in the eye the other day…during what was, let’s say, a time when he was definitely focused on the opposite of pain.

            I also have long nails, so it is definitely not the first time I’ve accidentally injured someone when innocently trying to touch them or take something from their hand or something. (They’re not insanely long or anything, and I’ve kept them long for just over thirty years now, so you’d think that sort of thing wouldn’t happen anymore, but…)

          2. Books and Cooks*

            I managed to clock my husband in the eye the other day…during what was, let’s say, a time when he was definitely focused on the opposite of pain.

            I also have long nails, so it is definitely not the first time I’ve accidentally injured someone when innocently trying to touch them or take something from their hand or something. (They’re not insanely long or anything, and I’ve kept them long for just over thirty years now, so you’d think that sort of thing wouldn’t happen anymore, but…)

            Oh, and as a (very) shorty myself, I can say with confidence that your friend was used to it.

    4. Phony Genius*

      Am I the only one who expected the guy they struck to be the same guy they were talking to on the phone?

    5. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      I was once working in the lab, trying to get some software to integrate properly with some hardware. I finally got it working, leaned back a bit in my chair, and threw my arms up in triumph. Unbeknownst to me, my group lead was hovering behind me, and I smacked her in the face!

      1. allathian*

        Can’t say I have any sympathy for her, I hate to work in spaces where people can just walk behind me. I haven’t experienced any trauma, it’s just that I have a larger personal space than many people, and my personal space is largest behind me, I get vaguely uncomfortable if anyone approaches me from behind and is closer than about 6 feet away. Needless to say, I took the distancing requirements imposed by Covid as a silver lining.

    6. anonymous73*

      Just sounds like poor timing. I’ve never injured anyone before but have knocked things over when talking if I’m heated or worked up. I’m Italian, so use of hands (and sometimes arms) is required when speaking. The crazier the story, the bigger the gesturing.

  24. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    #11 is my favorite. I get the cringe, but that totally warrants a high-five.

  25. kiki*

    Oh the bread machine story was so relatable. I feel like I did (and maybe still do) a lot of stuff like that. Where something is not explicitly unprofessional, but why would somebody do that in a professional context? And the answer is for a fleeting moment of joy.

    1. korangeen*

      I’m sure I would enjoy work a whole lot more if I regularly had fresh bread. Oh man, maybe I should get a bread machine…

    2. Meow*

      I was completely unshocked by the breadmaker and was wondering what the big deal is, because people in my office do stuff like that all the time and no one bats an eye. But your comment reminded me that I live in a joyless bunker of an office so that must be why. For example:

      1. Before we moved buildings, one group had an office completely covered in vines. Someone’s office plant grew out of control and they just… let it. It don’t know how they cleared it all out before we moved. It was like a jungle.

      2. Another group had a daily ice cream bar and an Xmas tree with pink slips hanging from it. Granted, they knew they were all getting laid off in a few months, so they were feeling especially bold.

      3. A coworker of mine was frequently visited by a C level just to chat, but there was never anywhere for him to sit. So my coworker brought in a lawn chair, which he decorated with royal red pillows and a literal red carpet leading to it.

      4. Finally, my confession – I had a fish tank. It started out as a simple, pet store betta tank, which isn’t unheard of for an office, but then the more I read up on Betta care, I realized that despite what the pet stores sell you on, Bettas are real fish that need real fish care. So little by little as I tried to improve life for my little friend, it turned into a 5 gallon tank with heater, bubbler, filter, the works. It also required biweekly water changes which was difficult to do in an office without grossing people out. The jerk still died. A coworker suggested guppies instead. I knew it was out of control, but my coworkers all encouraged me! I felt like I was bringing a tiny bit of life and joy to the place.

      1. pancakes*

        Are y’all hiring? I’ve worked from home for a while but I really like the idea of having a place where I can unload my plants that are becoming a bit too Bond villain in scale.

  26. The Prettiest Curse*

    #4 – During the first few years I was working in the US, I’d sneeze and colleagues would say “gesundheit!” I hadn’t taken German at school and had NEVER heard this expression growing up in the UK – probably due to lingering stigma from WWII about using German words/phrases. So I had no idea that it was a German word.

    Eventually, I concluded that they were saying “Godzilla”. I have bad allergies and tend to sneeze loudly, but thought this might be an obscure American insult – maybe my sneezes were bad enough to flatten skyscrapers?? I eventually worked it out after a conversation with my American in-laws.

    1. CaptainMouse*

      I’m US northeast and have lived here all my life. Mostly I hear people say G-dblessyou. The only people I know who say Gesundheit as first choice are my family and my husband’s family. But in each case there is a German/Yiddish connection.

      1. Rain's Small Hands*

        Its really common here in my part of the Midwest – but the population is heavily German and Scandinavian. We also really do say Ope! instead of “excuse me” and something that sounds a lot like Uffda in exasperation.

        1. quill*

          Grew up in wisconsin, currently perplexing my coworkers every time I tell them I’m just going to sneak past to get to the printer…

          On the bright side, it’s kept people from elbowing me in the face?

          1. Rain's Small Hands*

            Ope! Just gonna sneak right past ya here, ya know.

            Yes, that is a real English sentence that is said with some frequency here in my part of the world.

        2. sb51*

          It’s funny, it took me forever to figure out what people meant by “Ope” — and I totally say it, I just would have always transcribed it as “whoops” (even though there’s definitely no “s” sound on the end).

          1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

            I thought it was the cutest thing when my son started saying it at about 2…until I realized that meant it had crept into my vocabulary (I’m a transplant here).

      2. Minimal Pear*

        I’ve heard a lot of people saying it–I think in their case it was because they didn’t want to say “bless you”.

    2. Rara Avis*

      I grew up saying gesundheit because my grandparents spoke Yiddish. I have continued to use it because I’m not religious , so I prefer saying “Good health” to “(God) bless you.”

      1. Books and Cooks*

        It is a lot more rare, though, at least IME. My (British) husband and I suspect that’s for the same reason as the OP mentioned: a distaste for anything German-related a few decades ago, that just carried on. I lived there for about ten years, and I don’t think I heard it once (but that was in a rural area, too, which was more conservative), whereas I heard it all the time growing up in the Midwest and, while less commonly, other areas of the US, too.

        But I agree no one ever seemed to think it was unknown, and my husband, when he moved to the US in his early twenties, knew what it meant. Guess it depends where you live/d, like so many things?

  27. NYCRedhead*

    LW#1: was it the Trenitalia email list? I was on it for years until I also Google translated “unsubscribe “!

  28. oops*

    It was my first big-girl job at a very formal bank. I was singing to myself because my man had just told me he loved me. Well, I wasn’t paying attention and waltzed directly into a plate glass wall, HARD. Like, bounced off the glass. Ah, love.

  29. Sarah in CA*

    Re #2. I did something similar in high school but I was sitting on a bench so it hit him quite a bit lower……..

  30. CleverUsernameGoesHere*


    I think the most mortifying thing I’ve had happen at work was several years ago in the late 00s (aughts?). I was in IT working as desktop support, so I was frequently in and out of every department’s area throughout the office of ~700 people.

    On the day in question, throughout the morning, I had been repeatedly squatting to pick printers off the floor of our storage room (it was old printer disposal day). I was summoned to assist another IT staff with an issue in our traffic department. After we addressed the issue, my colleague took me off to the side & discretely informed me I had a wardrobe malfunction.

    Turns out all the repeated squatting & lifting of 40 lb printers caused me to rip a giant hole along the seams in the crotch of my pants. I had spent a good hour in the traffic department with everyone having a clear view of my SpongeBob boxers.

    Thankfully the same colleague who discretely informed me also covered for me with our supervisor as I took an early lunch to go home and change trousers.

  31. Embarrassing internship moment*

    I had an editorial internship at Marie Claire. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were coming out with Baby Mama. They had interviewed each other for a feature in the magazine. My task was to travel to 30 Rock, pick up the tape from some assistant, go back to the office, and transcribe it into a Word doc. Well I put the tape in, my headphones on, and to my dismay, all I heard was two men interviewing each other! I thought it was the wrong tape or that they played a cruel joke on us for some reason. I went to my supervisor and explained the situation and almost caused a big kerfuffle, but then someone realized that the tape was just on half-speed…. once we sped it up to normal speed, I heard that it was indeed Tina and Amy. I was mortified. Also, at the same internship, I just assumed I’d have off for spring break because I was getting school credit, so the same supervisor explained that I should’ve given them more notice or just not taken off at all.

  32. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    Two spin-off stories:
    #1: My first year in the US, not yet familiar with all of the colloquial language, I was chatting with a coworker who had a son close in age to my oldest (mine was 4 and his was 3). He complained about how his son would never sit still and always kept him and his wife running around. I said “oh mine is very easy, he’s happy to just sit in a corner, playing with himself” and was then surprised when Coworker quickly ended the conversation and left. I MEANT LEGOS

    #4: back in Home Country (Russia), friend of a friend worked a summer job in college, as an interpreter for a group of US tourists. The group had to travel between cities overnight by train. They asked friend-of-friend where in the train car the bathroom was, and f-o-f, envisioning a full bathroom with a bathtub, shower etc (and probably thinking “who knows, maybe in America streets are paved with gold and there’s a hot tub on every public bus, so that’s what they’re used to”), told them that the train did not have one. Tourists panicked, thinking they would have to hold it overnight till their destination.

    1. J.B.*

      For a kid I would have exactly gotten what you meant by #1. (I mean, kids do also play with themselves in the other way but mainly in the bath!)

    2. Books and Cooks*

      Yeah, your coworker in #1 is kind of a stick, IMO. I can see why he thought you meant the thing he thought you meant, but to end the conversation and leave like you’ve just said something TMI/offensive instead of assuming it was an idiom issue or you just phrased it in a different way, instead of ignoring it? Not very nice. (Unless he was about to burst into laughter and didn’t want to hurt your feelings, but even then, he could have been better about it.)

      In other words, that was on him, not you!

      And hahahaha on “no bathroom” on the train, that’s a good one!

      1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

        This, I would have assumed they meant playing by himself, if I even really registered it.

  33. Cobblestone*

    Here’s mine:

    At my government workplace, a new director had just started. Other than a brief introduction to staff, she was given a few days to settle in with the managers before holding a larger “meet-and-greet” with the rest of the employees, of which I was one. In the days prior to the meeting, I would see her in the cafeteria or in the hall, and I once bumped into her in the washroom, as our offices were in the same area of the building. We struck up a short but innocuous conversation about the weather at the sink, and she was lovely.

    A few days after that was the larger meeting with all the staff. Everyone introduced themselves to the director, and explained a little bit of what they did, and in some cases, mentioned where they had worked with the new director previously or how they knew her. When it was my turn, I said brightly, “I’ve seen you in the bathroom!”

    Fortunately, she chuckled — and so did a few of my other coworkers. The worst part was, I didn’t even realize what I had said until much later, as I was much too nervous and rambling about my workplace role to notice how much of a creep I ended up sounding like. The rest of my coworkers never cast it up to me later, but I can assure you, I have never forgotten.

  34. Gibby*

    I live on a golf course. I was interviewing not long ago and the interviewer asked me if I lived on said golf course. Interviewer: I play their often, or in my case I don’t swing, I hack. Me: Then I have your balls in my back yard.

      1. Gibby*

        HA I can’t remember a single thing from the interview except THAT! No call back, no surprise! lol

  35. wut*

    #13…I…cannot imagine lifting my shirt up to show anyone anything at work, let alone my boss, no matter what our previous relationship was…and why did you turn to show your grandboss??? In a sea of past cringes, this one flummoxed me.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Right? My clothes stay very firmly in place at work. I’ll send them a picture later if they’re that interested.

    2. The Original K.*

      I had exactly this thought. Maybe accidentally if I were taking off a layer and the shirt underneath came with it, but intentionally lifting my shirt to show a coworker (or my BOSS) anything is just not something I’d ever do.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes, like in the Fleabag job interview scene. I rewatched just now and the guy says something like, “it’s a mistake to think that will get you very far here,” haha.

    3. chellie*

      I have been in the same organization (admittedly of 3 people) for a long time, so we know each other well, and I absolutely showed everyone my (breast cancer) surgical scars and radiation burns. At work. Although I did not show the tattoos (radiation markers).

    4. Vivian*

      I was also absolutely baffled by this one, but then remembered my own lapse in judgment. When showing my ex-boss a folder of costumes I had made, I unthinkingly included a picture of myself in a 1940s style bikini (which was, indeed, a costume I had made). No motivation behind it, just a sleep-deprived choice.

      I don’t think it’s a good idea to undress in front of your boss, to any degree, for any reason. But we all make mistakes!

      1. pancakes*

        That’s not on par with flashing them, particularly since 1940s style bikinis are going to be more modest than many more contemporary ones. I’m not saying it was a great idea, just that it’s not a comparable bad one.

  36. fine tipped pen afficionado*

    thank you to everyone who shared your shame. you really brightened my day.

  37. Rona Necessity*

    Once I pointed out to my boss that he had a little something on his forehead. He was Catholic. It was Ash Wednesday.

    1. Omskivar*

      That reminds me of working bingo at a casino. People would come in straight after Mass on Palm Sunday, clutching their palm leaves, and then just leave them there. Leaves EVERYWHERE.

    2. The OG Sleepless*

      I did that once. There were only two Catholic family in my small Southern town, and if I recall they went to church in a nearby larger town. So, result being, I had never seen ashes on someone’s forehead on Ash Wednesday until I was in my late 20s, and I committed that particular gaffe with a relatively understanding coworker.

    3. Audiophile*

      The number of times I’ve almost done this. I’ve had to pause and remind myself that it’s Ash Wednesday, and I should know this as someone raised Catholic.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same! Even better, I still practice my family’s Shrove Tuesday traditions. Apparently, I forget what that’s about in 24 hours! (But doughnuts are so much more fun.)

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      At least all you did was mention there was something on his forehead, I once had a coworker grab a Clorox wipe and try to scrub off my forehead on Ash Wednesday.

      I wasn’t very happy, but HR was beyond LIVID. I know a long talk was had – the employee was very snarky around me for the remainder of his time there. He was fired about six weeks later for lack of performance and inability to treat his coworkers with respect.

      Of note, some of the Lutheran Synods also do imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday, not just the Catholic Church.

      1. Eurekas*

        I’m United Methodist, and often have ashes imposed on Ash Wednesday. Although, usually in the evening, so for most of my day I don’t have the ashes.

        But one year in grad school, I went grocery shopping afterwards, and the cashier decided I looked young and kind enough it wouldn’t be too embarrassing to ask what was up with the stuff on people’s foreheads.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          In my case the pastor held both a very start of the day and an end of the day service with imposition of ashes (he did put them in the shape of the cross in the early morning service). I had been asked and answered lots of questions that day before “the jerk” (and HR knew because they were walking down the hallway when I was fending jerk off), and the questions didn’t bother me. It’s to be expected if you do something very visible in an area where that visible display isn’t part of the dominant faith.

      2. BubbleTea*

        Anglicans too (Presbyterians?). I actually hadn’t realised it wasn’t a standard thing across most Christian groups.

      3. Books and Cooks*

        I’m a lapsed Catholic, and I can’t decide what’s more offensive: that he decided to physically scrub your forehead of the ashes, that he decided to do it without asking or anything, or that he tried to do it with an effing Clorox wipe!! Who decides it’s a good idea to smear (even seriously diluted) bleach over another person’s face? (Or to clean another person’s face in general, when that person is not your spouse or small child?)

        I’m glad HR happened by at that time, and he got in trouble for it! (If I’d happened to see that happening, *I* would have been the one being fired.)

    5. eat_more_bees*

      I was raised non-religious, and had never seen the ash before I started working at a sandwich shop right next to a Catholic university in my teens. Only my painful shyness kept me from telling the first person I saw that they had a smudge on their forehead. After the third customer with a mark, I finally said something to my coworker, who thankfully clued me in.

  38. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    Re: #10

    Your situation could have been worse. You could have been wearing Speedo.

  39. Atalanta0jess*

    Ok, but I love the route-checking dad! How very dear.

    And fresh bread would indeed make every job better. Maybe just share next time. ;)

  40. Tracer Bullet*

    This was about 20 years ago (damn, I’m old) when I was working in PR and our receptionist had called a sandwich shop to order subs for the office. I wasn’t paying attention until I heard her exclaim, “Is it really 9 inches?!” I just about collapsed on the floor.

    1. Pisces*

      I knew of an attorney who quit a job when he was assigned a research whether a 10-inch hotdog could legally be advertised as a foot-long.

  41. CoffeeFail*

    Re Disclosure. I applied at Starbucks. Go in for the interview. They ask me to describe what I love about coffee, what my favorite kind of coffee is…and I explain that I actually hate coffee but I love the cranberry orange muffin and the iced chai except that the chai gives me stomach problems. I did not get the job.

    1. anonymous73*

      Honestly it’s kind of stupid that you need to like or drink coffee to work there. It’s not like people are coming in off the street regularly looking for recommendations…

      1. Valancy Snaith*

        You don’t need to drink or like coffee to work there at all. Many employees do not. But people do ask for recommendations very regularly. Every single day, the register person gets asked for a recommendation. It’s super common.

  42. Connor*

    First internship in college and they asked for fun facts, hobbies, etc. They also asked for nicknames. I didn’t know that meant Bob if your name was Robert, etc. I put down a nickname my uncle had called me thinking it was another fun fact thing. I think HR realized I didn’t understand and thank god they left if off the welcome email

    1. Jen MaHRtini*

      HR person here, you are far from the first or last to do that. Most of us appreciate the giggle it gives us.

    2. Lozi*

      This reminds me of a friend who put their college nickname on the form when signing up for a conference with a professional organization. It was printed prominently on their name tag, so everyone at the conference, and thus the whole professional organization, assumed they really went by the nickname.

  43. Spillz*

    Can think of so, so many from my very first professional job at a prestigious non-profit.

    We had an open office layout, and at the end of the day on paydays, I used to take pride in calling the student loan servicer to pay off large chunks of my student loans (say a couple hundred bunks at a time). I called because there wasn’t a way at the time for me to pay the loan online and have it apply towards the principal, but also because I was so financially *responsible* and wanted people to know it. CRINGE.

    I also used to take home leftover catering food from this job in Tupperware. Would fill up a few containers at the end of the day (but I do think I tried to wait until the end of the day to do it).

    It was also a fairly casual office, but not super casual, and I recall one outfit I had was skinny moto jeans with leather jackets and boots. Not the best look with everyone else wearing cardigans and dresses.

    Admittedly not great all around!

  44. soontoberetired*

    #16 is one of the many reasons why drinking at work events can be a really bad idea. but this is way worse than the stories I have of co – workers who vomited at the VPs feet at a sponsored work trip to a sporting event. Holy *******,

    1. Le Sigh*

      Yeah, I have to say, “Eventually someone got him to stop by tackling him to the ground with his pants around his ankles and his belt still in his hand, waving it around like a lasso” really painted a picture. It did leave me with some questions though:
      1. Was the girlfriend was playing along or cringing?
      2. Was the song “Pony” playing and that’s what got him started? Because there was a window of time post “Magic Mike” when far too many guys were inspired to reenact that dance at karaoke.

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      Indeed. Had a co-worker get drunk at a company event…punched a cop, had to get bailed out by the director, also the venue wouldn’t let us come back. (He kept his job, but was ribbed mercilessly about it for years.) No thanks. If I’m going to get piss drunk and embarrass myself, I’ll do it in front of strangers, like a sensible person.

      1. pancakes*

        Sensible people learn to hold their liquor or know their own limits along the journey to adulthood.

  45. Deborah*

    It’s such a good twist for #1 – I’m expecting mortification in Italian, but the poster managed it IN ENGLISH.

  46. Ann Lister’s Wife*

    I was interviewing for a promotion at the company where I already worked. They flew me to head office for a formal interview— first time I had visited the corporate building. Recruiter (cis male wearing a sweater) was giving me a tour before the interview & offered to carry my briefcase. I said “that’s okay, it wouldn’t match your blouse.”

    So much cringe

    Still got the job though!

  47. Susie*

    To the 3rd story: this highlights my issue with asking about weaknesses! It’s a fake question that expects fake answers and you’re never truly getting anything out of it. Employers need to stop asking this entirely. It’s either used to punish people or get fake answers that are rehearsed.

    The the person who flashed their boobs. I would have never created an opportunity for boobs to be out at work!! What about a picture of the tattoo?! This wasn’t a true accident because pulling up your shirt should have NEVER happened to begin with. Take a picture, leave your boobs securely inside your clothes OMG!

    1. Sally*

      In the ’90s, a friend at work wanted to show me his new tattoo – which was at the top of his thigh. I wanted to see it, so he unzipped his pants and yanked them down to show me, and right then someone else walked into the breakroom! My friend wasn’t even embarrassed – he just pivoted to show the newcomer his tattoo. I thought that was awesome!

      1. eat_more_bees*

        Ha, a friend of mine at work in the Aughts did the same thing in the back room at work, except it was on his hip. His was Gambit from the X-Men!

    2. pancakes*

      It can only be used to “punish people” if they handle it badly. Not getting a job after handling an interview badly isn’t exactly punishment. Candidates don’t strictly have to give a “fake” answer, either — what’s wrong with giving a proportionate one, closer to a personal sales pitch than self-sabotage? I realize some people have a really hard time navigating things like that, but it seems to me the solution is for them to look more closely into whether they’re truly being asked to self-sabotage. Self-sabotage is seldom necessary or appropriate. If it looks tempting, that should be a cue to slow down and reconsider.

  48. Russell T*

    This post reminds me of the very funny Pathetic Geek Stories website
    Readers would send in real life, mortifying stories from junior high and high school and the site’s owner would turn them into cartoons. Hysterical. The site is dormant but still available.

  49. Sally*

    When I was in college, I did some part-time temping. One assignment was as receptionist/phone answerer at the tiny office at the warehouse of a beer importer/distributor. The owner really liked me and tried to give me beer every week and handbags occasionally (I assumed he also imported those). Being the unworldly (aka “dumbass”) student I was, when I injured my foot and couldn’t get it into a shoe, rather than…I don’t know, maybe wearing a shoe on one foot and a slipper on the other…I decided I should go to work barefoot. My boss had a client visitor that day, and they both clearly thought it was very strange that I had no shoes on, even after I explained why (I don’t know how I could have thought that was OK!). This was a Friday, and over the weekend, I got a message from the temp agency that my assignment at the beer distributor was over. What a surprise…

    1. Sally*

      Oh! I just thought of another one. This was during the summer between high school and college. I was my first office job – in a LAW FIRM. I had a bad sunburn on my back, so I decided I couldn’t wear a bra under my work clothes. During the morning, my skin was still hurting a lot, so at lunch I went shopping and bought a fairly casual strapless dress and wore it for the rest of the day. I think I also wore a shrug that came with the dress, but it still didn’t cover my front. Two of my female coworkers pulled me aside and told me I couldn’t wear a strapless dress, AND I couldn’t go braless at work. They were very nice about it, but I know I provided them a lot of amusement with my mistakes.

  50. Rat Racer*

    I missed the opportunity to post my most mortifying moment in last week’s comments, so I’ll post it here: when my daughter was an infant, I worked from home on Fridays while my mom watched the baby. It was a lovely set-up because I could nurse her and hold her occasionally while still getting my work done. One Friday, I was on a conference call – one where I was mostly listening, but would occasionally ask a question. After asking a question, I forgot to mute myself, picked up the baby, and said very loudly into my headset “Uh oh! I think somebody pooped!” Never living that down.

  51. Sbc*

    I was between jobs and a contact I didn’t know well offered to have coffee with me. She is well-regarded and well-connected so this was super nice of her. I was waiting outside the coffee shop on a warm day and as she I arrived and we headed in she asked “can I help you zip that up?”

    I thought she meant my purse, which was full enough it didn’t really zip and so said “no thanks, it’s fine for now” and then realized MY DRESS was unzipped in the back. She did zip it up for me and very politely pretended like it had probably been pushed down by my purse while I was walking over. We continued with our meeting and she was so nice and helpful, though I ultimately found my next job another way. Our paths will likely cross again and I don’t think either of us will ever mention it.

  52. Sz*

    In response to 4, here’s mine:

    Pakistani here, so I use British English. I was assigned to the US office of my employer for a week or so.

    I wasn’t fully aware of the differences between British and American English back then. I cringe when I think of the time I asked a colleague for a “rubber”, and how they must have thought what an idiot I was for getting confused between “can” and “can’t”.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Oh wow, asking for a rubber is amazing! It’s interesting how even within the same language regional slang words can have such VERY different meanings!

  53. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

    I’ve mentioned this in comment threads before (I think)…

    I had just started my first job, fresh out of college. I’d been there maybe six months, when my manager told us he was throwing a holiday party at his house. So I and my SO dressed up all nice and went to his place on the appointed evening. EXCEPT… I had the date wrong, and we were there one day early.

    I wanted to crawl into the deepest hole I could find.

  54. A Genuine Scientician*

    In a class I taught some years ago, students were assigned colors (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow) to divide them up on various tasks.

    One class session, a student asked a question where the answer was going to be dependent on their role for the week.

    I did not think through the implications ahead of time before I, a white person, asked a racial minority student “What color are you?”

    Thank GOODNESS I realized it as the words were coming out of my mouth, so I got to see a very distinct change in facial expression as I tacked on “Are you the Blue person in your group? Green?”

  55. Lady Kelvin*

    Some folks in my office had an air-popper for popcorn and would make popcorn pre-pandemic. I was also pregnant with my first child and craved popcorn like it was my job. The smell would waft through the building and I would be so angry/hungry/seriously jonesing for some popcorn. I was tempted to walk around and find the culprits and ask them to take pity on a pregnant woman, but I suffered in silence instead.

  56. PSA*

    These are pretty amazing. And I’m all in with a story if ever there’s a column dedicated to “it was so bad I quit on the first day.”

  57. Seashell*

    Wouldn’t British people know what was meant by bathroom? I don’t use the word flat for apartment, but I could figure it out in context.

    That one reminded me of when I was on vacation with my kids (in the US), and the teenager tried to find the bathroom at a restaurant. The waiter pointed him in the right direction, but he came back and said he couldn’t find it. When I had to go, I looked for myself. Turned out that the bathroom was labeled WC and my son had no idea what that meant.

    1. londonedit*

      Yep, we’d know what was meant by bathroom – but I can definitely see people being tripped up by ‘restroom’ like the chap in the story was.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      Yeah, I did a double take at that one – we do use bathroom, and it would have been more easily understood than restroom to be honest.

    3. Lexi Vipond*

      Bathroom would be mildly odd out of context – it’s usually used here for a room in a house with a bath in it, or at least a shower, not a room with just a toilet, so it might take me a second to catch up, or in the office I might want to clarify that they weren’t actually looking for the shower.

      ‘Restroom’ has no local meaning, though – I would _probably_ remember it was an Americanism before suggesting the common room (breakroom?), but I wouldn’t be surprised by someone else being caught out.

  58. PhyllisB*

    This reminds me of a friend who was an apartment manager. When she went to the beauty salon the next couple of days she would sleep with a pair of panties on her head (does the same thing a satin pillowcase does.) One of her tenants called in the middle of the night; their apartment was on fire. She dashed out, dealt with the fire, the fire department and such. Got home and glanced in the mirror. She still had the panties on her head.

  59. Cyberspace Hamster*

    #4 reminds me of one of my first jobs at a department store. Important background info – I live in NZ, I believe in the US you say “flip-flops”. We call them “jandals”, across the ditch in Australia it’s “thongs” but here that’s another term for a g-string.

    So I was working in menswear one day when a lady came in and asked about where to find thongs. Reader, we didn’t get many tourists in that town – I was UNPREPARED! I think I went some shade of bright red. I know there was a long awkward pause while my brain scrambled to figure out why she might ask in menswear for that and I was in the process of stammering something about the lingerie department when my coworker came to my rescue with the proper translation. Thankfully they all laughed it off otherwise I think I might have had to flee the country (just not to Australia!)

  60. ECBeace*

    #10- am I the only one who thought the bathing suit wearing warehouse worker was a woman until the last sentence?

  61. Alexis Rosay*

    Just last week I actually went on a work trip and forgot to bring shoes. I only had flip-flops and slippers with me, because I was wearing slippers at home in the morning and forgot to take them off before I went to the airport. They are really comfortable slippers! I had to do a presentation on a stage and everything. I went to every airport retailer but turns out that airports don’t sell shoes.

    Thankfully my field has a pretty casual standard of dress. The slippers have a hard sole and I’m hoping they just looked like particularly frumpy shoes.

  62. Sociallyadept*

    My new boss had just started maybe a few weeks ago. That week, she was going to be off on Friday to attend a loved one’s funeral. I knew this, she had told me.
    On Thursday she phoned me and we discussed some work matter. As we’re wrapping up the call I hear myself say in a very chipper tone “enjoy your day off!!”. Then I hang up.

  63. Mooosy*

    Americans – we do understand what both restroom and bathroom mean, so don’t worry about asking for either. Anyone who says they don’t is just being pedantic. We normally just say toilet, loo, or even “facilities”.

  64. withheld*

    That holiday party sounds like one at a place where I used to work. They paid really badly, but somehow the staff parties twice a year were at super high end venues in an expensive city, with basically unlimited food and booze (all really great stuff)- -I’m sure there were people committed to making up the salary difference in free alcohol at these events. When I was hired, my first-day HR onboarding included a word about how much booze would be available at events and concluded with “we don’t want your name to come across our desk after the holiday party” (for reference, I work in higher ed, so this not typical of work culture more broadly– this institution was “different”. I had a lot of fun at that job (am not even a drinker so the parties weren’t even much of a perk)– had great colleagues and the work was engaging and rewarding, but being able to swipe unopened bottles of top-shelf booze from the open bar with just a wink at the bartender just wasn’t the retirement savings plan I was looking for.

  65. Former_Employee*

    I love the person who committed premature emailification and I love “Jane” who took it so well. There’s nothing like a good laugh to bring people together.

  66. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    Until HIS boss, who was passing in the hall, asked what was going on, and I turned to show her … and in turning pulled my shirt more and out popped both my boobs.

    I’m not sure who was more surprised, me, or my grandboss who just discovered I also have my nipples pierced.

    Oh my God, so much second hand embarrassment.

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