let’s talk about your mortifying moments at work

It’s almost time for Mortification Week 2023, and in preparation we need to hear your stories of mortifying experiences at work — yours or other people’s. Maybe you mistakenly emailed erotica to your team …or flashed your entire team during a video call … or gave a person two noses in an interview Photoshop test. Whatever it is, we want to hear in the comments about your stories of embarrassment at work.

And remember, mortification is universal and makes us human, and it is often hilarious.

{ 1,179 comments… read them below }

  1. NYCRedhead*

    I was speaking with a philanthropist about an organization that always did a good job in thanking their donors and in doing good stewardship. “They always touch their donors appropriately,” was how I foolishly decided to phrase it.

    1. Burning Out At Both Ends*

      …there was a fire drill that I wasn’t warned about, I tucked my shirt into my pants and zipped up and a significant bit of shirt was sticking out of my zipper and I went outside.
      Came back in after, and I then proceeded to have to stand and present to a group of college students/potential hires to tell them what I did with the company. No one told me until one of the potential hires started laughing.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Oh no, don’t feel bad! I keep saying that I think this site has nesting gremlins. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve posted something and it showed up in the wrong place, and I’ve also lost count of how many posts like yours I’ve seen, apologizing for where something was posted.

          Gremlins, I tell you! This place is infested with sneaky little posting gremlins that move our posts around and them giggle at our discomfiture! ;-p

    2. lost academic*

      I am so sympathetic! I have used similar language when on a board and discussing donor engagement. At least it sounds like the person you said that to would have immediately understood it for what it meant!

    3. Heather*

      Reminds me of my husband’s cover letter that said “I can not wait to expose myself to the work done by your firm.”

      1. This_is_Todays_Name*

        At least it didn’t say, “I cannot wait to expose myself to your company”!

        1. SadieMae*

          I once received a job application (for an entry-level data entry position) that was accompanied by a cover letter that began, “When I read about this position, I became excited.” Of course, I knew what he meant, but …

        2. Anon for this one*

          So many of the students I work with use language like that in their cover letters: “I am eager to expose myself to new opportunities.” Oh, honey, no.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Hee, I used to have a poster of a guy opening his raincoat (from the back) to a statue in a park with the caption “Expose Yourself To Art.”

        1. Glen*

          I am reminded of the month python sketch of one of the boys laughing creepily and walking around opening his trenchcoat at people who would shriek and look away, then eventually flash the camera to reveal that he was fully clothed with a small sign hung around his neck that said “boo!”

      3. Le Sigh*

        One of my former jobs had “public” in its name and you’re darn skippy I did a CTRL ALT F to check for “pubic.” It was so nice when I took it off my resume.

        1. Sbc*

          i once had an internship task of preparing a large mailing: folding, stuffing, sealing, and stamping. the org hired temps for the day to help. several hours in I realized they had used the term “pubic housing.” I was very torn about telling my boss but I did. we were asked to pause and then a little while later they sent home the temps (they still were paid for the day, this place was decent) and I was told the mailing was not moving forward.

          1. Le Sigh*

            Having witnessed and dealt with the fallout of mailing gone wrong, truly, I would have been forever grateful to you.

        2. Elitist Semicolon*

          My former school district made Eastern Llamaville Public School District keychains for all the teachers but didn’t proofread. It’s been 40+ years and those are still legendary.

        3. Not Jane*

          I have worked in the public sector for 12 years and you can be damn sure I’m checking my resume right now

    4. could have been worse?*

      Would have been worse if you were complaining about bad donor relations and said that they touch inappropriately…

    5. I don’t have a name*

      I used to work at a major children’s charity in NYC and one of our donors was the Touch ‘Em All Foundation. (I think it was founded by pro athletes and refers to running bases, but still.)

      1. Dawn*

        Every organization needs one 8-year-old boy on the board.

        Anything he starts giggling at should probably be reconsidered immediately.

          1. Ermintrude (she/her)*

            That would also be my 43-year-old woman self tittering, at least internally.

          2. Shynosaur*

            My 8-year-old girl self and my 48-year-old girl self are both just staring blankly O:)

    6. AM*

      I had an old boss say to a client, in response to a simply ‘how are things’, ‘I feel like a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest’.

      The client only had one leg. Which we all knew.

      1. Dawbs*

        Only marginally related but…
        25 years ago, when dial up routers roamed the earth, my dad got himself very VERY badly injured in an accident. Then BF and I were very involved in some of the caretaking there, so he and my dad bantered about it–dad was on crutches for literally years.

        Family gathering with 50 or so people–buffet and potluck in the barn, the older generation and the babies having been fed, my generation of cousins is all getting themselves situated and BF is meeting them all for the first time…
        BF helped my dad get a plate of food and in that miraculous moment when the whole room is almost quiet for a moment, he made a comment about my dad and my uncle being able to compete in a 3 legged race. And my cousins all stared in silent shock and horror. You know how stories talk about the whole room going quiet while people gape? it was that. And my uncle nearly falls off his bale of hay laughing. Because BF was blissfully unaware that this was the uncle with one leg. And was mortified upon finding out.

        The cousins would have been FINE with it if it was a joke that Uncle was in on–I had watched Uncle take off his leg to tease kids more times than I could count. Once they figured out he was making fun of my DAD and not my uncle, he was forgiven.
        And Uncle thought it was hilarious.

        And the BF…I married him anyhow. He has not gotten more smooth in a quarter of a century. Lets try again in 25 more years :P

        1. Phryne*

          I love this story. The kind of foot in mouth moment you can really laugh about in hindsight.

        2. Laura Petrie*

          I had a recent placement on a vascular ward.

          Greeted an amputee with the words “Hi, I’m Rita and I’ll be working with the OTs and Physios to help you get back on your feet after surgery”

          Noooooooooooo

      2. Universe Queen*

        I just gasped out loud at my desk. Sadly I could totally see myself doing this.

    7. NotBatman*

      I once overheard my husband, during a zoom interview, say “learning names is the kind of intimate touch that students appreciate.” Then I heard him finish the call and immediately go “oh nooooooooo.” He got the job, though.

    8. Foot in Mouth Syndrome*

      OMG I (white, female) did a similar thing, was at a nonprofit community event talking to someone who worked for a foundation that had recently gotten a huge monetary gift. I was struggling to make conversation and then came up with “It must be fun to be so well-endowed”! To make it worse, I was talking to a young Black man, so no doubt he thought I was not only gross but a horrible racist as well.

      I’ve worked on my small talk since then…

    9. Not Jane*

      I once thought I’d be REALLY CLEVER and sync my work calendar with my Gmail calendar. Google very kindly sent updated meeting requests to every person for every meeting that was a group meeting, in American timezones, which I am not in. Including to the Chief Commissioner, to advise him of the time change for the all staff meeting to 1am. Lucky his PA was smart and got to it before he did. Not so with others, people were replying they couldn’t make it and why was I changing all the meetings.
      I caused so much confusion in the office.

  2. none so*

    I was organizing a conference and floundering with the volume of tasks on my plate, so I asked during a planning call if someone else on the planning committee could take on some of the graphic design work.

    After a certain amount of throat clearing, one of my fellow planners reminded me that I was the only sighted person on the committee. Everyone else was blind.

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      In college, I was working a youth-in-science event. I was talking to the organizer, who turned in such a way as to trap me between her wheelchair and the wall. My leg got scraped up, not badly enough to require medical attention, but I was bleeding everywhere…and was a bit flustered, so when I tried to laugh it off, what came out? “That’s OK, I have two of ’em…”

      That is, two legs. Which I have, and still do. The organizer had maybe 0.7 legs. Hence the wheelchair. And of course, my brain graciously reminded me of this fact about 0.7 seconds after I’d said it.

      1. Jess*

        I used to say “did they finally unchain you to you from your desk” as a way to empathize with colleagues working long high volume days in public facing roles. Almost said it to a colleague of color one time (and I live in the southern u.s.) and caught myself. Never again. I’m an idiot.

        1. shellissorry*

          Once I was on a trip to Cherokee, North Carolina which is known for being on the Trail of Tears and has a Native American population whose ancestors for the most part successfully fought removal. I had just grabbed a tshirt to pack. It was my Oregon Trail video game shirt with a wagon and the caption “ You have died of dysentery”. I didn’t wear it. I bought a new shirt.

    2. Observer*

      Oof!

      On the bright side, it says that you didn’t identify these people primarily by their blindness…

      1. kjinsea*

        At my (blind) kid’s IEP meeting, the very nice case manger, who knows nothing about blindness and has never met my kid, screen-shared the IEP. My kid’s TVI, who is blind started to go over goals and had a moment where she forgot if the goal was 7 letters or 10 for something; the case manager helpfully said “I am screen sharing it” and the TVI replied, totally deadpan, “and I’m blind.” I love her so much.

        1. Fledge Mulholland*

          This reminds me of the first day I was teaching a student who was deaf. I was trying to get the class’ attention, and I said “Everyone, listen up!” This student raised his hand, and when I called on him he relayed to his interpretter “Listening is going to be a little difficult for me!” (His mischievous smile didn’t need interpretation). We went on to have a great student-teacher relationship, and I made sure to say “pay attention” instead from then on.

    3. That guy yells*

      Reminds me of the time I was new working in museum admissions. During an extremely busy event I directed a wheelchair user to a restroom on a different floor that was not accessible.

    4. Working mom of 2*

      My daughter is visually impaired, and honestly, based on what I’ve learned about the vision impaired community they probably thought this was funny lol

      1. Annika Hansen*

        I am thankful that the blind person I had to lead around our office had a good sense of humor. I get my left/right confused very easily. I messed it up a few times.

      2. kjinsea*

        As the parent of a blind kid as well, I LOVE how welcoming and funny all the blind adults we’ve met have been. The community is fantastic and I swear, so many people in the blind community have just offered me their number and said “if I can help, call me.”

        1. Hosta*

          Based on my ex and his friends, all blind, I am honestly surprised they haven’t told you to look them up sometime, and then giggled at the awkward pause.

      1. ken*

        Back in the days of directory assistance, my mother called asking for the number to American Blinds to see about getting some mini blinds at her office cleaned and refurbished. She was given the number to the American Federation for the Blind. Awkwardness ensued.

        1. not a guild writer*

          “no ma’am, this is the FEDERATION for the Blind”

          “well I don’t mind paying a higher rate for union workers, I just need some people to please clean these window coverings!”

          LOL

  3. Nowwhat465*

    If you lived in New England during 2020, you were not only dealing with the pandemic but also a large amount of stink bugs. During a Zoom call, a bug flew into my hair while I was on camera. My colleagues got to see me scream, flail, and proceed to fall out of my chair. The recording of this moment still makes the rounds once or twice a year, though I have learned to laugh along with it.

    1. PhyllisB*

      When I was a long distance operator we worked at small consoles inside a semi open cubicle. One day I was helping a caller when a huge tree roach fell from the ceiling and landed on my arm. I jumped up flailing. my arm and screaming. I just disconnected my customer, no way I could explain that.

      1. KOALA*

        I had a silverfish fall and start crawling towards me while on a call with a member. I was literally standing in my(rolling) chair. I told the member what was happening and to excuse me for a sec while I freaked out and called over the floor supervisor to remove it. The member was very understanding and laughed with me once I was composed we finished the call.

      2. 3DogNight*

        As a 911 dispatcher in a very small town during the last millenia I did the same thing. But on the radio, talking to local police, sheriff’s dept, fire dept, ambulance, wildlife, animal control, state police and the jail. 25 years later, it is still talked about. And is part of the reason no one works alone overnight anymore.

        1. anon24*

          Now I’m wondering if any of the times I’ve radioed into 911 dispatch and been told to “standby” was because the dispatcher was dealing with a creepy crawly emergency. And here I assumed they were busy on the phone or with their computer haha

      3. Ally McBeal*

        I once worked at a financial services company in a rather old building in NYC, and one day I was just chilling at my desk when a huge cockroach fell from the ceiling onto my desk next to my phone. I could do nothing other than scream until the CEO (who I was temporarily assisting while he was between admins) came running out to see what was wrong and scoop it off my desk.

        At the same job with the same CEO, I was once moving apartments and it made more sense to lug a bag to work on the subway and then to my new apartment after work than it would to walk that bag from my old apartment to the new one. It was a very heavy bag and a really bad day for public transit, so when CEO got on the same elevator on the way into the office, I guess I was visibly stressed out because he offered to hold my bag. He took the bag… looked down… and saw that it contained my ENTIRE liquor collection. I had some ‘splainin to do.

        Fortunately that CEO is generally a very chill dude because he was so gracious about both encounters.

        1. Petty_Boop*

          I’m impressed your entire liquor collection could fit in one bag. Mine takes up an entire bar in the study AND the 2 cabinets underneath it! When people come over for the first time they invariably ask, “are you an alcoholic??” and I respond, “If I were, would all those bottles be mostly full?”

          1. Ally McBeal*

            Well, my apartment was 330 square feet. Not much room to store ANYTHING, let alone liquor. Plus I was also drinking down some of my supply with my soon-to-be-ex-roommate, so maybe what I brought to work was the bottles that were full or mostly full.

            Someday I hope to have an impressive bar… but I’d have to make more money and also own a home for that.

        2. Never Boring*

          Once upon a time, I worked for a company that was headquartered in a building that was half decrepit warehouse. (It was surrounded by a steadily gentrifying neighborhood, and shortly after this story, was sold to a developer and is now very expensive loft condos.) One day while I was at lunch, I was cold-called by a recruiter. As I listened to the voice mail, I saw a large rat running across the floor maybe 20 feet from my desk. That was when I decided to call the recruiter back. (I got the job.)

      4. SadieMae*

        I used to do live radio broadcasts at a station that was housed in a very old, deteriorating building that had bugs and mice. One day I was on the air, in mid-sentence, when a very large roach skittered across the desk and dropped into my lap. I stood up and started brushing wildly at myself, of course, but I kept reading the report I’d been reading. I was leaning waaaay over so I could stand up and brush at myself and stamp my feet and shake out my pant legs while still being able to read the pages and speak into the mic. The producer said afterward that other than hearing a very slight pause, he wouldn’t have known anything was going on. Maybe I was in so much shock and terror that I just mentally zoned but my mouth stayed on autopilot? Anyway, I was just glad I didn’t cuss on the air!

      5. PhyllisB*

        In the interest of being brief, I didn’t tell the rest of the story: being in this partial cubicle, no one else could see what was going on until I started my Roach Dance. (You could see the tops of people’s heads, but nothing else.) When I did this, my supervisor came running over asking, “what the h***is going on?!” After I explained, she said, “With all that carrying on, he probably died of a d***cardiac arrest!!” Then walked away shaking her head. I always wondered what my customer must have thought. I’m sure he had quite a story to tell. One of many times I was glad we couldn’t see each other.

      6. Siskapoo*

        You didn’t think it might be worse to cut the call off while screaming in panic?!

        Imagine the other person’s unresolved curiosity and wondering if he just witnessed someone’s demise

    2. JP*

      I came dangerously close to a similar situation. I was on a safety committee meeting, but thank God I was muted and my camera wasn’t on. A centipede fell out of the air vent above me and directly in front of me on my desk. I screamed and ran out of my office. A coworker helped me deal with the situation. My boss was so bummed that no one on the meeting got to witness the scene.

      I generally like bugs, but centipedes have entirely too many legs for me to deal with.

      1. H3llifIknow*

        Many are also toxic! If you see one in Hawaii, they’re like 6-8 inches long–and look around because they travel in pairs, so if you see 1, there’s another lurking nearby!

          1. H3llifIknow*

            That is hilarious AND accurate, but I definitely focus more on the roaches and centipedes than the spiders…. Shudder.

      2. Ann Onymous*

        I agree with you, JP, entirely too many legs. When I was a teenager, we had a walkout basement where we would frequently see house centipedes. My sister once yelled for my dad to come kill the “freaky bug” and that’s what my family has called them ever since.

        1. Dawn*

          I adore house centipedes, but that’s largely because I know what their prey is, and they are ridiculously-efficient killers of bugs I actually don’t like.

          They’re clean (as in, not disease carriers,) they much prefer to hide themselves out of the way, and they will track down and end roaches, bed bugs, silverfish, termites, and many of the other home pests you really don’t want.

      3. Quill*

        Centipedes are a bit much for me (though I will usually catch them under a cup after a judicious retreat) but Millipedes for some reason aren’t? I think it’s because they’re slow. Which is the same reason I prefer Tarantulas and giant orb weavrs to most other spiders.

        1. Robert Poste's Child*

          I feel the same way! I adore millipedes, but centipedes…yikes.

          After reading Dawn’s comment above “… they will track down and end roaches…” I may have to work on this.

      4. AnonAtLaw*

        Not an embarrassing work situation, but when I was in college some friends and I went swimming at the local pool. A centipede fell out of a tree and down the front of my suit, and I freaked out and proceeded to pull the front of my suit down and lean forward in an attempt to get the centipede out from between my boobs, of course flashing a pool full of families/small children in the process.

      5. Bruce*

        Not mortifying as such but: There was some work being done at my office and a ceiling tile above my desk was removed for access… I was sitting there at my computer and a black widow spider slowly lowered itself down from the overhead space on a web line… I got a cup and escorted her outside!

    3. Quill*

      Honestly “the one who freaks out about bugs” is not the worst reputation to have around the office…

    4. CV*

      I’m thanking my lucky maple leaves that I live in the great white north where creepy crawlys are usually small and easily dealt with.

    5. Pumpkin215*

      I think there could be an entire post about bugs!

      I was once on a initial phone screen when I saw a giant spider hanging from my curtain rod. I became so distracted that I could not answer questions. I was too busy watching where the spider was going and afraid it would change direction towards me. Finally, I had to tell the interviewer I had to go and the reason was “giant spider”. I’m not sure she believed me and I also never got a call back.

    6. Sunshine Gremlin*

      I live in a large desert city where we get grasshopper plagues every so many years. Our last one was so bad, we made international news. It was like walking through a rainstorm made of grasshoppers. More than once, during that plague, I sprinted into work while sobbing.

      1. FreeNowAndforever*

        Please tell us what city that is so we can all make sure never, ever, ever to move there.

      2. H3llifIknow*

        We had a similar issue when I lived in Albuquerque in 78ish, but with MOTHS. You’d open the mailbox hundreds would fly out, before I went to bed each night I’d go on Moth patrol in my room. They’d be in the curtain folds, the dresser drawers. They’d come out of the car vents when you turned it on. It was awful. Now, in the midwest we get the Cicadas. I use one of those big clear “bubble” umbrellas to walk anywhere during the periodic Cicada rebirth.

    7. Meghan*

      Okay, I was thinking my most embarrassing moment was when I flipped over my knee scooter until your story reminded me of this: I have a pathological fear of moths/butterflies. I have no idea why, but it’s deep rooted. (And I know it’s weird, but illogical fears are… illogical)

      I was a manager at a clothing store which had perfumes in a glass case under the cash registers. I was working the internal cash register (furthest from the exit to the register area), RINGING SOMEONE OUT, when (I would say) a simple grey moth dived at me.

      I lost all sense and vaulted the waist high perfume case, dodged the woman I was ringing out, and sprinted into the fitting rooms.

      My customer was shocked but good spirited about it. One of my employees was very concerned for me. And one of my older coworkers was laughing so hard she peed her pants.

      All in all, not my best moment. (Nor was it exactly Wanda’s)

      I finished checking the customer out once my employee guaranteed the moth was gone.

      1. Twill*

        I would have been the coworker who peed their pants. Unless it was a spider. In that case, I would have sprinted over the counter while knocking people out of the way to escape

      2. This_is_Todays_Name*

        It is NOT weird. I have the same thing! We were on vacation once when one of those HUGE lunar moths the size of a bird was flying around the open air restaurant. I was trying to keep an eye on it when it disappeared…and my entire table of about 12 people got VEWY QWIET. I said,”it’s on my back isn’t it” and they were like “yep.” I began screaming “GET IT OFF GET IT OFF GETITOFF” but nobody else really wanted to touch it either. Finally my son shoo’d it away with a napkin or something. I was TRAUMATIZED, I tell you. The locals all were looking at the crazy old white woman like “What is wrong with her??? It’s just moth!”

      3. Tattooedballerina*

        Not nearly as entertaining of a story, but I also have a moth phobia and when I was a retail store manager we sometimes ended up with large moths (like bodies a couple inches long) that would enter the store on shipments. I once had a customer offer to remove the (dead) moth from the shelf I was organizing because she could clearly tell I was panicking about the situation.

      4. Brain Flogged*

        I never knew that moths could be so big before I saw one big as a bat (and very trapped on the curtains). Took me a while to set the damm thing free, as it was not a very smart moth. Had to personally escort it out of the house, and I was not happy about that.

    8. bug hijinx*

      Luckily not recorded, but witnessed by very senior people…

      I was attending an outdoor dinner in Florida with a number of senior members of the organization at the end of a training course I was assisting with. A large flying bug came across the table toward me, and I both screamed and jumped practically into the lap of the head of a major function. Luckily he thought it was hilarious and only brought it up a few times.

  4. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    I was trying to email my resume to a manager for a job I REALLY wanted, but accidentally attached a different file containing a poorly photoshopped image of my cat driving a Mario Kart race car. Didn’t realize it until she replied saying she hadn’t received my resume, and I checked my sent mail. Shockingly, I did not get an interview.

    1. nm*

      I had a friend once who was on the opposite end of a similar experience: she was recruiting college students for some on-campus job, and was expecting a recommendation letter from a professor for a particular applicant, but instead received a jpeg pic of an olive garden receipt.

      1. Three Flowers*

        I feel that in my higher ed bones. Trying to catch up on miscellany after a conference, and you email your expense receipts to a recruiter and your recommendation to a bookkeeper. Three months later you realize your reimbursement never came through, because no one pointed out that you cannot expense a student, no matter how good.

    2. amoeba*

      Hah, well, I’m sure it was a bullet dodged – if the hiring manager had any sense of humor, this should have ensured an interview for you!

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Yes, Mario Cat!! I would’ve given you not only the interview, but the job, just based on that!

    3. Artemesia*

      A similar event now has me opening every attachment before I send as well as making sure I name every attachment that will be sent. It could have been worse; they probably would have interviewed the cat.

      1. Zephy*

        100%. Part of my job involves basically uploading half a dozen PDFs to a database for each client. It’s the same six or so documents for every client. I have a naming system for my files that probably looks cumbersome and redundant to outsiders but I have definitely accidentally saved and uploaded Jane Smith’s XYZ to John Doe’s account. So, now every file name is smith jane xyz.pdf, smith jane abc.pdf, smith jane qrs.pdf. They’re all saved in the Smith, Jane subfolder, which itself sits in a folder for the current batch of files, because sometimes I have repeat clients.

    4. My Name is Mudd*

      Sorry Pool Noodle, you don’t get an interview. But is the cat available at 3:00 on Wednesday?

      1. EAW*

        I once accidentally said that “it was so great to hear” about the news of a former colleague’s death, when that was NOT at all what I meant! I actually liked this colleague!

        In my head it was supposed to be more like “it was great of you to notify everyone,” because the news had gone out via a professional association in the field and I was talking to the head of that association. As soon as I said it I realized how awful it sounded, but in classic mortification fashion we were already getting off the elevator and the was no time to correct myself.

        To this day I always wonder if the association head thinks I had it in for the former colleague…

        and was trying to convey something along the lines of

    5. WomEngineer*

      I had one like that for a college scholarship application. But instead of a random file… it was the guy’s own resume.

      I had been in a robotics program in high school, and several U.S. colleges had scholarships for robotics alumni. One in particular asked for a CV (not a resume) and included a sample for formatting. When I sent my application to “J Smith,” I accidentally attached the sample, which happened to be his. I ended up being an alternate for the scholarship, and I wonder if the email is why.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        This happens ALL THE TIME with my students to the point I send a warning email before the paper is due.

        During the semester, I send out “ClassName Paper Requirements,” that includes the instructions and outline for the class paper. At least once a semester, a student will turn in my own instructions to me rather than their paper, probably because they’ve named their paper, “ClassName Paper.”

    6. Rose*

      I’m dying to know what these files weee names that you mixed them up… sorry for the situation but this made me laugh so hard.

    7. Kayem*

      I’ve done something similar but not as charming. In this case, it was my electric bill, which downloaded with an automatic filename of LastnameFirstnameDate.pdf, which was also the file format I used for resumes. They emailed me to let me know of the error. I replied with an apology and my actual resume but I never heard back. I’m guessing they didn’t believe the part of my cover letter where I said I was a stickler for details…

  5. CTA*

    A small mortification. I was changing careers. It was my first job as a web developer at a startup. One day, the Project Management team was performing demos to small groups of employees. When I arrived at the conference room, there was wine. The wine was leftover from a meeting they had with clients. They said we could help ourselves to wine. I poured myself a cup. It was one of those small disposable wine cups. I was the only one who took the wine! I was a little embarrassed (I’m in the US). FWIW, it was past lunch already…and I did not help myself to seconds.

    1. saskia*

      Maybe slightly uncomfortable since no one else took any, but it doesn’t seem that weird to me

    2. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

      Sorry, but if someone says you can help yourself to wine, and you do, there is no reason for you to be mortified. Now, if no one had said anything and you just grabbed the bottle, that would be one thing, but THAT did not happen.

      1. NotBatman*

        That did happen to me as an intern! A few other (college-age) interns and I were ushered into a conference room with wine on a table, and told “please wait here and make yourselves comfortable”… which we took as invitation to start drinking. In retrospect I have no idea why we thought the company would leave 6 bottles of wine and 40+ glasses for three interns to use while waiting for less than an hour. I’m cringing even to remember it.

  6. LadyAmalthea*

    I worked in a store that had caller ID. I saw a name come up that was nearly identical to that of a lovely Orthodox Jewish gentleman who used to work for us, now owned his own store closer to home, and called frequently for business reasons and said “Hello, my love! Happy 19th day of the Omer!” It wasn’t him, but at least the caller got a good laugh and knew what I was talking about.

    1. Tantallum99*

      Oooof I’ve done some variation of this so many times. I misread the caller ID and answer, “heeellooooooooo” and get some other random Mark R.

      1. Clem fandango*

        Same! I once answered someone ELSE’S phone while sitting at his desk with “heeeeey Rick” in like…a goofy voice? And it turned out Rick was cold transferring a call from a very confused client.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        Hah, a colleague ran into this but with the true caller ID – one of the doctors I worked for picked up a female staff member’s phone and called her main office down the hall to ask a question. The receptionist saw what appeared to be a coworker friend calling, and picked it up with “Hey girl, what’s up?” The (female) doctor flustered, then chuckled, and said “Oh, no, it’s (Dr. So-and-so)” and asked the question.

        The receptionist later just said she was relieved she wasn’t more jokey and didn’t answer with “What do you want?!” or “Hey beeyotch” or similar.

    2. Stevesie*

      I once had a third party IT for a customer call in, his ID was something like “Party Posse”. I assumed it was a joke (we’ve seen people who made their called ID Spiderman, so seems plausible) and pointed it out with a little chuckle while on the call. His response was so cold I decided to Google him after. Turns out he was a part time wedding DJ.

    3. LadyVet*

      My mom used to keep her number unlisted, so I got into the habit of answering calls that came up as “Unknown Caller” at times she usually called with “Hey (nickname)!”

      Then one time shortly after Hurricane Sandy, it was my gynecologist’s office calling to reschedule an appointment.

    4. NotJane*

      At a previous job where I took all of our client’s orders over the phone (this was pre-internet) one of our clients was a really good friend of mine from high school. My boss didn’t know this, and happened to be walking past my office door to hear me answer the phone with “Hey whore, what do you want?”

      1. anonymousfortoday*

        Love this.

        I recently returned to my second job in retail, the same store where I’ve worked off and on for several years. Upon walking into the back room, I loudly greeted two of my coworkers, who I have known and been “work friends” with for years, with “what up, sexy bitches?!”

        Maybe I should have noticed that the door to the manager’s office was closed, and kept my volume down, but I did not. Later, I realized the manager had been onboarding a new employee during my enthusiastic greeting. I never heard a complaint from anyone, though, and I’m still there!

      2. Never Boring*

        I used to do backup reception for an office with a large proportion of Spanis speakers. My boss had a hilarious husband who would occasionally call her at work to ask about some logistical thing, and I knew his voice pretty well. Or so I thought – once I passed the call to her and told her it was her husband, and it wasn’t. She answered with a silky-smooth “hola, mi amor!” Hilarity ensued.

    5. Penelope*

      Once when I was a (paid) intern at a non-profit organization, I picked up a call from what turned out to be the chair of our board of directors with the spiel from my other job: “Thank you for choosing McDonald’s. Can I … take your order please?” I realized about halfway through that I was saying the wrong spiel, of course, but figured it was better to keep going than try to work my way back out of it.
      He immediately asked for a Big Mac meal, then told me he had worked his way through college working the grill at the same restaurant.
      Every time I picked up when he called after that, he recognized my name and “placed” a ridiculously complicated order.

    6. Sanity Lost*

      My sister and I love answering “unknown callers” with joke answers as almost all of them are telemarketers. She answered the phone with “Guiseppes Pizzeria and crematorium where yesterday’s loss is today’s sauce”!

      It was the Pastor’s wife….

      We are both in our 40’s, so no excuses

  7. Former Greenhouse Goblin*

    I got tongue tied helping a customer. My brain wanted to say “you’re so welcome” or “it’s fine”. I ended up saying you’re so fine.

    1. jaydub*

      I had a similar mix up when answering the phone. Mixed up “Can I help you?” and “Could you hold?” into “Can I hold you?”

      1. Lydia*

        I love this brain short circuits because they ALWAYS come out the most awkward. It’s not just a random jumble of words that make no sense. No. It has to be an actual sentence that is the worst possible sentence to utter.

        1. Former Red and Khaki*

          Off topic but my favorite instance of this is when a soccer player nailed the goalkeeper in the face with a kick, and her brain was trying to say “Are you okay?” and “I’m so f**king sorry” at the same time, and she ended up screaming “Are you f**king sorry??” in this poor girl’s face. I to this day can’t get that whole story out without cry laughing.

          1. Grandma Mazur*

            This story absolutely made my day – I am on a train and laughing/crying so hard people are staring.

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            my personal favorite from the interwebs that I am guaranteed to have a giggle fit reading every time:

            So, I MEANT to say “oh crap, I left my phone in my car,” but what I ALMOST said was “oh no, I left my cone in my phar,” and damn, wouldn’t that have been embarrassing, but I caught myself, and what I ACTUALLY said was “Ah, my fart cone.” So anyway

          3. Universe Queen*

            I’m absolutely crying laughing!! I keep picturing one soccer player bent over the poor girl screaming “Are you f*&king sorry? Are you f&*cking sorry?” and the goalkeeper is like “Yes! Yes I am! I’m sorry!!”

        2. Mouseketeer*

          I did this in my first job, at a counter service restaurant where I had to call out order numbers for pick-up. But my brain was fried from switching back and forth between that and the register. So I said over the intercom in my best announcer voice, “Thirty-three cents, please. Thirty-three cents.”

      2. Lumos*

        I said ” I love you too” to a patron over the phone once. It made no sense with our conversation. My brain just completely mistranslated what they had said and I was staring at a text that had just come in from my husband and said that. SO MORTIFIED

        1. Zinnia*

          I’ve been on the receiving end of that with patients before. Woman said “I love you” at the end of the phone call after I told her about her prescription refills. I chuckled to myself and felt happy for the rest of the day. I just took it as a well-wishing.

          1. NotBatman*

            Oh good. I did that to my boss once, and 5 years after leaving that job I’m still mortified.

      3. Dawn*

        I ended up asking a client one very exhausted day, “And can we use your cell that’s on fire?” (the number on file)

    2. popko*

      Was doing a swallow x-ray with a patient, and instead of my typical “Now I want you to take a bite of this for me,” what came out was “now I want you to take a bite of me.” The radiologist laughed. :(

    3. Dragon Tea Smithy*

      I tried to say “No problem” or “You’re welcome” and what came out was “Your problem.”

    4. cleo*

      I love these. Mine isn’t particularly embarrassing but it still makes me laugh when I think of it

      Decades ago I worked at a local coffee shop (now closed) called Cafe Classico. We were supposed to answer the phone “This is Cafe Classico, how can I help you?” but I accidentally answered it “This is Clafe Cassico” and I was sooo confused when the customer laughed and said “no, it’s not.”

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        My SIL and her husband were talking about getting new flooring and seeing what Lumber Liquidators had for them. In conversation, both of them started calling the store Liquid Lumberdators and getting progressively confused with themselves.

        1. Anonymous Toast*

          My feeble brain struggled with grocery chain Stop & Shop. It’s definitely Shop & Stop.

    5. Elsewise*

      Not work-related, but I was once at a drive through and tried to order “chips with the nacho cheese sauce” and instead ordered “cheenis.” Yes, it did rhyme with the anatomical term for ding-dong. Yes, I did get laughed at through the speaker and then again while I paid and picked up my food. Yes, my partner does still make fun of me for it.

      1. peon by choice*

        have you ever seen that meme that says “I’m into fitness…fitting this pizza in my mouth” or something to that effect? I was at work and was telling my coworker about it, but my brain combined pizza and fitness so I said “fitting this [anatomical term for ding dong] in my mouth.”

      2. Seaside Gal*

        I pulled up to the fast food speaker and the order taker asks what I’d like to order. I answered: “Something delicious”. My son and I still laugh at that one.

    6. hedgehog*

      I’ve probably told this story here before, but I got mixed up selling tickets to a customer. I was in the habit of saying “perfect”, “wonderful”, or “lovely” as an acknowledgment to their ticket order…. but when combined with a “thank you”, I very very loudly and confidently sang out “Love You!” and promptly died of shame. And they definitely heard me, because they laughingly replied “love you too!”

    7. Quill*

      I’ve done some pretty epic lab terminology scrambles.

      Centrifuge = tilt-o-hurl for samples
      PCR = DNA Slow cooker

      The words are just… gone by hour 7 on a friday afternoon.

      1. Elle*

        I LOLed at DNA slow cooker. I have been looking for the words “heat block” and ended up saying “you know, the hot guy. the hot library tube guy.” Much to the confusion of my colleagues. Especially embarrassing as I am a WRITER.

        1. Quill*

          Oh,the number of “you’re a writer, shouldn’t you know words?” incidents is off the charts. Things come out of my typing fingers FINE. My mouth? Different story.

          1. Ermintrude (she/her)*

            RELATABLE.
            I’ve got a massive vocabulary and a brain bwhere random words take themselves for breaks every so often and I’m flailing to remember relatively simple terms. Argh!

            1. Sanity Lost*

              YES!! Or someone asks you what a specific word means and your brain goes ??? It means (word!)

              1. Not Jane*

                Love it. I usually say to people, “I’ve had 2 children and COVID, there’s some words that are just never coming back into my brain”.

            2. ThisIshRightHere*

              Same. For the life of me, I could not remember the word for carwash. Yes, this is after I described to the listener, “I forget what it’s called…y’know, the place that washes cars.” Oof.

          2. I Have RBF*

            Oh, geez.

            I had a stroke in 1995. I had to change careers because of it. Recovery came with a lot of aphasia, including swapping of whole words with sound-alikes that had zero relation to what I was trying to say.

            One of my greatest assets is my ability to write coherently about my work, explaining processes, creating knowledge bases, etc. I was taking CFR published lab methods and putting them into plain, bullet point processes regularly. While I’m not a tech writer, I do a lot of tech writing in both my old and new careers.

            So imagine my mortification when I’m going along, trying to verbally explain things, and the person I’m talking to is looking at me like I’ve lost my mind. Yes, folks, full-on aphasia garbage. Think something like “Then you need to add the precipitating reagent to the recovered sample train” coming out as “They you knee two aid the prevarication real estate to the recumbent simple trail.” If I was lucky words actually came out, if I wasn’t, I’d end up stopping and swearing. (Yes, folks, the only words that came out unmangled were sear words.) It also happened in writing, and made me look completely incompetent, like I was just throwing random words on a page.

            This happened repeatedly, to the point that whenever I wrote something I would have to review it a few minutes later to see if I swapped any words for weird alternates. I had to start rehearsing verbal explanations so I didn’t just spew BS.

            It’s gotten much better in the intervening 20 some years, but it still rears its ugly head when I’m tired, stressed, or hangry. (Yes, hangry is deliberate wording.)

            1. Quill*

              Mine is probably related to the family brainweird. Or the PTSD. All I know is that it’s great for making my bosses think I am a complete dingus because it kicks in the minute I think someone might be judging my competence…

            2. Dawbs*

              that sounds frustrataing and still kinda funny.
              I’m fortunate that my migraine aphasia is (usually) limited to just not having words. There’s a gaping maw where the word should be…and I just pretend I”m quizzing students.

              They have no idea that when I say “there’s that thing…that green leafy things do… when sunlight is made into food” and they say “Photosynthesis” that I was lacking the word for that. Also, they usually don’t realize I also lost the word for plant.
              My boss knows it’s what I”m doing, but the students don’t!

      2. Bibliovore*

        “Centrifuge = tilt-o-hurl for samples” can be all too accurate!

        My father’s lab had an ultracentrifuge, and those can generate a million or more g of acceleration, no exaggeration. One day someone — who was doubtless completely mortified by this! — neglected to balance the sample container before starting the machine. Once that container attained sufficient spin speed, it burst out through the side of the machine and through that room’s cinder-block wall, then ricocheted around in the next room for several minutes before things got quiet enough that people dared enter to survey the damages.

        1. Chief Bottle Washer*

          Oh lab mortification is a special type, isn’t it? I managed to condense oxygen into a liquid and destroy some important lab equipment in the resulting explosion as an undergraduate. Boy was I embarrassed! And also lucky I was not injured.

          1. DataSci*

            Were you trying for nitrogen? That’s a terrifying story. Glad nobody was seriously injured.

          2. Quill*

            Favorite artifact from my last lab job was “and here is the magnet-on-a-stick of shame. Kept as a reminder of what happens when you autoclave non-autoclavable plastic.”

        2. Elitist Semicolon*

          No lie, I kinda wish I’d seen this. Through a cinder block wall is EPIC.

      3. Elitist Semicolon*

        I couldn’t think of the term “exhaust fan” once and instead said, “you know, my kitchen fume hood.”

    8. CV*

      I’m certain I’ve shared this one before, but back in 2006 I had a 3 week period of 3 part time jobs overlapping and I was a little brainfried because they all had a different spiel for answering the phone. I was at one job and picked up the phone and just couldn’t remember where I was or what I was supposed to say, so what came out was, “… [City]??” in a very puzzled voice. The caller laughed at me and I laughed at myself once I realized what I was doing.

      1. I Have RBF*

        Yep. Stress, fatigue and hunger will often take my vocabulary out behind the woodshed and just thrash it.

    9. The Other Katie*

      Working at a certain fast food place, late at night one night. We had just been talking about my co-worker giving her nibling a bath for the first time and how cute it was when the headset triggered for the drive-thru. Somehow, for some reason, my brain wires crossed and I asked my poor victim “Could I take your bath?”

    10. Sabrena*

      At the end if a call with client, I said, love you, bye. Awkward silence since I had just spoken with my husband on the prior call and was still thinking about our conversation. I started apologizing and the guy started laughing. I have since paused before ending a call so as not to be on auto pilot and say anything other than goodbye.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        LOL I’ve done similar, but with a couple of co-workers on my immediate team.
        Luckily, we are all women and moms and totally understood the Fried Brain that led to the mixup.

  8. GigglyPuff*

    I had just finished a virtual presentation about my section of work to a genealogy association. During Q&A someone had written in asking about our social media handles, the moderator phrased it as “what’s your social media?”….I gave an awkward laugh and said I didn’t use it. Ten seconds later I realized they meant what the work social media handles. I think I even said “oh how embarrassing” aloud before telling them where to find our social media info on our website.

    1. Zephy*

      I work at a college, and at a certain point in the admissions process we need to get students’ Social Security numbers. We use it to match things like transcripts and FAFSA information, to ensure we’re looking at the documents for the correct John Smith. Some years ago, I had a young man call me at the instruction of his coach to provide his identifying information, and I asked him for his social, and he gave me his Instagram handle.

      1. run mad; don't faint*

        I’ll admit the first time someone asked me for “my social”, I was taken aback. I had no idea what they meant!

  9. Irish Teacher*

    Not really amusing but when I worked retail, there was a button on the cash register thing for British pounds sterling. At one point, I accidentally hit that while inputting the money somebody gave me. Doesn’t sound like that big a deal, except that neither the manager nor the district manager who happened to be in the office when I was explaining this after my shift knew how to fix it and change it back to euro.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Similar panic and confusion reigned at my (English) retail job whenever anyone tried to give us Scottish money. Cue cries from the customer of: “It’s legal tender, you have to accept it!”

      1. Dawn*

        Oooooh, I’ve had a bunch of those in retail in the past. That’s one of those persistent myths, that businesses have to accept any legal tender.

        My brother in Christ, we can literally refuse a sale for any reason so long as it’s not discriminatory.

      2. Sharpie*

        At least Scottish notes are a similar colour scheme to English ones! I was most confused when someone gave me an Irish £10 note when I worked retail – it was a gorgeous green and purple and I had to check three times it had £sterling printed on it before I put it in the till!

      3. pagooey*

        I worked in a bookstore that often saw Canadian customers come down across the border for a weekend of shopping, when the US dollar was very strong. We accepted Canadian currency, and had a printed table of exchange rates *taped to the counter* in the pre-internet dark ages. But I had no idea what to do when a kid asked me if he could pay with “a loonie.” (The Canadian dollar coin has a loon, the bird, on it, but I’d never seen one before. Now I know that they even call the $2 coin a “twonie!”)

        1. NotBatman*

          When I lived in a tourist-heavy part of northern U.S., we’d all just treat Canadian pennies like they were worth 0.01 USD, Canadian dimes like 0.1 USD, etc. I did it; the local businesses did it; it wasn’t correct but it was faster than converting and (in the true spirit of money) it worked because we could all agree on it.

          1. DataSci*

            And when it’s small change nobody really cares that a Canadian quarter is only worth 23 cents or whatever. (I grew up close enough to Canada that we’d get Canadian coins back as change every so often). Places wouldn’t accept Canadian bills, but coins were fine.

          2. Elitist Semicolon*

            Same in my hometown when I was growing up. Sadly, that has now changed in most places and they won’t take the Canadian coinage anymore.

      4. Ingrid*

        I once had a customer trying to pay with Scottish money. In the Faroe Islands. (uses Danish Kroner.)
        He was very insistent it was legal tender. (Maybe he thought he was in the Orkney Islands?)

      5. Media Monkey*

        OMG as a scottish person living in england, it’s incredibly irritating when people won’t accept scottish money. it absolutely is legal tender.

        1. Xero*

          I don’t want to be “that” person but, Scottish notes are not legal tender even in Scotland.

          Legal tender has a narrow technical meaning which has no use in everyday life. It means that if you offer to fully pay off a debt to someone in legal tender, they can’t sue you for failing to repay.

          In Scotland, legal tender is only royal mint coins.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I completely agree, I even suggested that we should have something visual to refer to (the notes were so infrequent it was hard to remember what they should look like) and that there should be a UV light to check the notes. However the managers said they didn’t want them and if there were any in the tills, it would be classed as a shortfall.

  10. Pangolin*

    I was hurriedly sending an email on my phone to a high up person of a major funding body for the organisation I worked with to let her know I was running late for a meeting and would be there soon. The person’s name was Cynthia. I started writing ‘Hi Cynthia’, realised after the first four letters I had made a typo and pressed the u instead of the y. ‘Oh dear’, I thought to myself ‘How unfortunate’, and then for reasons not even my terrible brain or traitorous fingers understand, I pressed send instead of delete.

    1. Seashell*

      My spouse sent a voice-to-text text to a co-worker that referred to another co-worker, and the other co-worker’s name had auto-corrected to a swear word. Luckily, the recipient of the text was understanding.

    2. Relentlessly Socratic*

      OMG, I am ded.
      My former coworker was named Trudy, and people would indeed, on occasion, mistype the u and the r.

      1. TaraGreen89*

        I used speech-to-text to contact a very nice co-worker (old enough to be my grandfather) about a scheduling thing. Hi Carl became Hi Darling – and I clicked send before I noticed. Many laughs were had.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I had a coworker recently who accidentally sent a text that “bitch” was handling something rather than Mitch.

      2. Ann Onymous*

        Not voice-to-text, but autocorrect. My mom had a coworker who’s name got autocorrected by Microsoft Word to “Ding-Dong Pie”.

        1. catsoverpeople*

          Oh, wow, I should NOT be reading these at work! Thank you for the ab workout I just got while trying to suppress the giggles!

        2. Lily C*

          Our office’s voicemail-transcription-to-email software hears my boss’s last name as Mr. Big Daddy.

      3. Turdy*

        Small children of my acquaintance have often called me Turdy. It’s phonetically much easier to say.

    3. Three Flowers*

      This is the funniest so far. I’ve now laughed at it three separate times! “Oh dear, that’s unfortunate” and the the traitorous fingers. :D

    4. Panicked*

      I had to get up and shut my office door because I could not contain my laughter! I’m so sorry that happened to you, but holy heck, that is HYSTERICAL.

    5. Ally McBeal*

      If it helps even the tiniest bit, that was almost certainly not the first time she’s seen that typo.

      Sincerely,
      a Pubic Relations professional

      1. Rien Diem*

        Ahhhh. I felt this comment. Once I was sending out an email to 20K recipients. The subject line was supposed something similar to: “Thanks For The Overwhelming Public Support!” I swear I double-checked that email 20 times before it went out, but what actually went out was: “Thanks For The Overwhelming Pubic Support!” I didn’t even realize until an hour later when a coworker texted me a screenshot of the email and the comment, “I’m not sure I feel comfortable giving anyone overwhelming pubic support….”

        1. ENFP in Texas*

          I was taking a class on Public Health and learned this lesson when doing one of my assignments. Spellcheck does not flag “pubic health” as a typo… :o

      2. Anonymath*

        I feel this. I’ve recently been assigned to a joint position with Public Health. I can’t wait till I mess that one up.

      3. metadata minion*

        Hot tip from another former pub(l)ic services employee — it is possible to remove words from most applications’ dictionaries. Unless you work in sexual health or something and might actually need to use it, remove “public” from your dictionary so it flags as a typo!

      4. pagooey*

        I’ve been an editor for almost 30 years. Catching your first “pubic/public” is a career rite of passage! It ought to grant you a merit badge, honestly.

        1. anonymousfortoday*

          I once caught it in the training manual of a very stuffy office job where I lasted barely a year before being let go. Perhaps I was not the right person for the job, but I found the “pubic” typo and they can never take that away from me.

    6. KTB2*

      My sister’s name is Cynthia and that literally happens to me almost every single time I type her name. Fortunately, auto-correct usually has my back these days

    7. beep beep*

      I’m so glad I’m working from home today, because the only one I’m disturbing with my suppressed cackling is my very annoyed cat.

      My brain’s image of Cynthia is the Pokemon Champion, and I can’t stop giggling at the thought of her receiving that very unfortunate email.

      1. NeedRain*

        my giggling drove my cat off the couch! My former cat used to bite me for laughing too hard.

    8. FashionablyEvil*

      If it makes you feel any better, I have made this typo with a colleague named Cynthia before. On more than one occasion. (Although, most thankfully, I never hit send.)

      I think there’s something about the muscle memory–“cu” is a more common letter combo for me to type than “cy” and the U and Y are right next to each other on the keyboard…

      1. Petty_Boop*

        I had a coworker named Charles who went by Ches, and his last name was an Italian name beginning with Vi… more than once I didn’t realize that his name had been autocorrect to “Cheese Victim”

        1. something about sharks*

          This one broke me. I was barely holding on, and then I hit “Cheese Victim” and literally cried with laughter and had to step outside to recover.

      1. NotJane*

        I was once replying to a text from a fairly new coworker and I meant to type “I won’t rat you out” and it autocorrected to “I won’t eat you out”. I was DYING of embarrassment but thank god she found it hilarious and she’s one of my best friends now, lol.

    9. Minor mortification only*

      Very minor but makes me laugh: I’m a woman and was chatting with a coworker who has joined us recently — his girlfriend will be moving to the state later this year but she was visiting that week. We’d been talking about weekend plans and I asked “your girlfriend is leaving on Saturday?” Because he’d mentioned that to someone else when I was near but wanted to make sure I had it right. He said “oh, she is? Good for you!” And five seconds later I realized he had misheard me and thought I was announcing my girlfriend and was coming out to him. I repeated “your girlfriend” and he got there but — made me laugh. Overall nice since I am bi — I’m just also single!

    10. Anonymask*

      This one broke me. I was stone faced through most of these, and then this one hit. Goodness gracious, I’m so sorry for ugly cackling.

    11. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      I work in the awards industry. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve come one button press away from permanently engraving that very typo on a Very Important Award. So far I’ve managed to catch it every time *knocks on every wooden surface in 10-mile radius*

      1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        I’ll tell you one I DIDN’T catch until my boss brought it back to me wheezing with laughter: it was supposed to be “Baptist.” It was “Baptits.”

    12. Pumpkin215*

      A friend of mine was doing speech to text to a coworker, while driving.

      It it was too late correct her opening line of “Hello Stupid…”

      1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

        This was the first comment in this thread to make me laugh out loud!

        1. Oui oui oui all the way home*

          I managed to contain myself reading all the other funny comments, but yours was irresistible!

    13. Hosta*

      I meant to text the doctor that the patient was requesting analgesic. The phone – my work-issued phone! – corrected it to anal jello.

      The patient did not want anal jello.

    14. Laure001*

      Not as good as all the wonderful examples here, they made me laugh aloud several times, but once I wanted to send someone, “Actually, lemon is anti acidic” and thanks to autocorrect, sent “Actually, lemon is antisemitic.”
      She was very confused.
      We were both volunteers at the same Foundation so not exactly a coworker.

    15. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      I worked somewhere that routinely abbreviated “customer” to “cust”. I was sitting just far enough from the screen on my first day shadowing someone as he entered notes to have my eyes go extremely large as I misread it.

      I paid strict attention to that abbreviation the whole time I was there.

  11. some days you're the bug some days you're the windshield*

    I was temping as a receptionist in a rather empty office that echoed. It wouldn’t be abnormal for me to only see people briefly in the morning and then have no human contact until I went home. With the exception of the young man in a different office building that would bring over the post meant for the people in mine. Anyway, he came in one day and when I stood up to collect the post from him I queefed. So loudly that it echoed. We both stood there silently making uncomfortable eye contact for what felt like 200 hundred years. Neither of us acknowledged what just happened. He looked like he wanted to die laughing but was really restraining himself. I felt myself go scarlet and desperately wanted to say “That was a queef, not a fart! You cannot anticipate a queef!” but like is one really any better than the other? So I just thanked him for the post and he quickly left. Needless to say, I am glad I was a temp and have never seen that man since.

    1. Alice in Blunderland*

      BWAHAHAHA this has definitely happened to me, although in a slightly more, ahem, intimate setting (not at work, of course!). In my case it WAS a fart but for some reason I thought that interrupting the action to clarify that it was a queef, not a fart made it… better somehow?

      1. some days you're the bug some days you're the windshield*

        The internal debate of which is more awkward has haunted me. I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who has thought it wise to clarify as though someone might think one is better than the other!

      1. dontgoogleitatwork*

        probably not! so you know, a fart is the noise made when you get air trapped in the hole at the back. for women, we’ve got another hole, and air can get trapped there too, and…. queef’s your uncle, etc.

        1. Artemesia*

          I would find that more embarrassing than admitting to a fart. It is of course, all bad.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, me too. One of my favorite things about WFH is that I can fart when I need to. I don’t think I’ve ever queefed, certainly not at work.

      2. The Shenanigans*

        Not at work, no. REALLY no. But Urban Dictionary will be your friend when you are home.

      1. Oh noes!*

        In the context of the unfortunate messages in this thread, that too is a great autocorrect…

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I did a queef while the yoga teacher was adjusting me!!
        As she repositioned me, well, you get it. Her face was right there!

        I did not know if explaining which it was would help or hurt!

        1. Properlike*

          This is like those posts where you change ONE letter in a rock band’s name… but I like this version much better. Especially because it starts with something already embarrassing (though natural!)

    2. Anonymask*

      …and now my eye makeup is ruined I laughed so hard. I’m so sorry this happened to you, but thank you so much for sharing.

    3. The Other Katie*

      This was the point at which I had to get up and walk away, because I was concerning the cats.

    4. LCH*

      ahahaha, i too have queefed at work. but either no one noticed or they were just lovely discreet people. it’s awful when you’re walking along and it just won’t stop.

    5. Numbat*

      I have occasionally debated, in my mind, whether it is better or worse to say “that didn’t come from my bum!”

    6. all gold and silver*

      These things happen. If it’s any consolation, I take it as a compliment when someone rips one while I’m teaching a yoga class– that means they’re relaxed. The point is, human bodies are hilarious.

  12. Clefairy*

    Many years ago, I was 18, working for Disney on a college program as a Custodial Hostess at Epcot. I was assigned a rare overnight shift to deep clean the corporate lounge in the defunct Wonders of Life Pavilion for a random buy-out. I was by myself, in an area that had been closed for years, in the middle of the night, with only some shadowy maintenance lights on because I didn’t have access to turn on the actual lights, doing deep cleaning in a room inexplicably decorated with a terrifying circus/clown motif. On top of all of that, in my excitement to get to access a long-closed area of the park, I researched the pavilion and learned that the closed ride Body Wars was rumored to be haunted. I didn’t normally believe in ghosts, but with the overall spooky atmosphere, that knowledge didn’t help and I was honestly super scared and uncomfortable. So, to make myself feel better, I was belting uplifting Disney songs at the top of my lungs while vacuuming. I turned around, saw a literal ghost, and screamed bloody murder while falling to the ground clutching the vacuum. As it turns out, it wasn’t a ghost, it was my manager coming to check on me, and I hadn’t heard her enter between the hum of the vacuum and my scream-singing. She died laughing, I died of embarrassment, but besides that, I survived my spooky night at the Wonders of Life haha

    1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

      That’s amazing! I remember that pavilion. I loved Cranium Command.

    2. Oh noes!*

      “It’s the circle of li-AAAAAAAAAAH” is what my brain came up with here.

      Seriously though, which song were you singing? We have to know!

      1. Clefairy*

        This was almost 18 years ago at this point so my memory is hazy, but I think it was Once Upon a Dream from Sleeping Beauty hahaha

    3. Defective Jedi*

      Thank you for the laugh, Clefairy! The part that really got me was “clutching the vacuum” – way to use what you’ve got.

  13. Anonymouse*

    In April 2020, I was working from home as so many of us were. Was on Zoom at an all company meeting, with my dog on my lap because it was the only way to keep her quiet. She decided to express her anal glands for the first time ever on my lap while I was talking, so the company got to hear “What the fuck *dog’s name*” and even once I muted myself, I forgot to turn off the camera so they got to see my look of disgust at the stench I was suddenly enveloped in.

    She never expressed her anal glands again, and I also stopped having my camera on in large meetings where I wouldn’t be able to explain my facial reactions easily.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      GAAAAAAAAAAAH as the mom of a dog with small dog butt problems, I am so sorry. Mine expressed her glands once at home when she got startled, and OH MY GOD. The stench of a thousand dead fish.

      1. Anonymouse*

        How on earth does that awful of a stench come from such small creatures. HOW.

        I will say, she’s recently very unexpectedly over the rainbow bridge, and I’d give anything for another round of horrendous butt smells if it meant she was here. Please give your dog love for me.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          I’m so sorry, Anonymouse! I will give her extra cuddles today (she’s snoozing my lap).

    2. Not Jane*

      Oh man I feel this one. I was on a large external group meeting with people I barely knew. Camera on but mic off. My son decided to fall down the stairs behind me. I said “are you all right” still looking into the camera, but was on mute. Suddenly a few of these people speak up, “oh you’re on mute was there something you wanted to add”. Not being able to think quick enough I unmute and just say “no it’s OK my son just fell down the stairs”

  14. argus*

    My mother, who is delightful but has no filter, moved in with me during the pandemic. My desk was right outside of her bedroom door. One day, I was starting a zoom call with my new team and as I said to them, “Good morning, how are you today?” she walked out of her room and thought I was talking to her. She loudly replied, “You know, last night I pooped in my panties!” I could not hit the mute button fast enough and I have no idea what, if anything, the rest of the team heard.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      This is the one that brought tears to my eyes. Everyone at the hairdresser’s thinks I’m deeply strange.

    2. Catalin*

      Related: During a visit, young nephew (3? 4?) was having his quiet time in a bedroom, I was taking a meeting in the adjacent bedroom via speakerphone laptop. I was in the midst of the meeting when he hollers, “I HAVE TO POOP!!!!”

      Mute, sadly, does not work retroactively.

      There was a mild talking-to about professionalism in the workplace (this was pre COVID, so really, really not great).

  15. anon for this*

    Not very funny, I’m afraid.

    I made a possible mistake a few months into my previous job, and decided to be upfront rather than hide it. I ran it by my manager, who didn’t think it was a big deal. I was still feeling guilty, though, and wanted to be transparent, so I contacted the unit head a level up. Mistake. She sent me a harsh email, and demanded that I show up at her office. While she started out by being upfront that she’d made the exact same error a few months after she joined us back in the day, she was so unhappy with me for doing the same that she chewed me out for nearly an hour. By this point I was embarrassed and getting close to tears. I managed not to cry, but at that point she looked at me with baffled contempt and said, “Don’t look so worried!

    I dislike having my face micromanaged. However, I decided to let it go. I stopped the unit head’s office to drop off unrelated paperwork the next day, and she spent 45 minutes repeating most of the criticism from the previous day. I went home that evening with my morale lower than it’s been at any point in my career.

    I do not work there anymore.

    1. some days you're the bug some days you're the windshield*

      What on earth!?! Thats a horrible way to treat someone who is trying to own a mistake. I hope you are flourishing wherever you are now!

      1. Sbc*

        I had been laid off and went to coffee with someone in a related field who had many good connections. walked to the coffee shop and was sitting outside when she walked up. she said “oh, it looks like your bag may have pulled on your dress” and reached around to ZIP MY DRESS for me because I apparently had not done it myself (there was no problem with the zipper, I checked later) and my back and bra had been exposed from the waist up the whole walk over and when meeting her. she was incredibly courteous, coffee went well, she gave me some good advice, and I wrote her a nice thank you note with no mention of the dress situation. ALSO several years later I was at an child-focused event with my friend and her kids. my friend went to the bathroom so I was waiting outside the bounce house in case her kids came out. the same woman from the coffee came by. first I couldn’t place her and had the awkward conversation one has in that situation (“great to see you too! how has your summer been going?”) and also she knows I have no kids so what was I doing lurking outside a bounce house? she must think I am the weirdest person on earth.

    2. Observer*

      I do not work there anymore.

      I’m glad to hear it. I mean, you probably should not have contacted her to start with, but her response is weird and weirdly terrible. And she sounds like a terrible manager, as well.

    3. Petty_Boop*

      Lesson learned: When your manager says, “No worries; it isn’t a big deal” … LET IT GO.

  16. Sassenach*

    My first week on the job in the year 2000 and I had very little computer and internet experience. I opened an email and sent a virus throughout the entire company. Fortunately their IT at that time was not savvy enough to realize I was the one who did it but I was mortified.

    1. Salad Daisy*

      Oh yes. I was a new employee and a 5000+ employee company and also new to using Oracle. I did something wrong and managed to crash Oracle for the entire company for a few hours. Our IT was definitely savvy enough to realize I was the one who had done it, but for some reason I never got into any trouble.

      1. can't think of a name*

        There’s a sysadmin rule that if a junior/new employee manages to crash everything, it’s the fault of whoever gave that employee the ability/access to do so.

        1. Observer*

          This is exactly what I was going to say.

          It should not have been possible for you to do this much damage.

        2. I Have RBF*

          Yep.

          Also, there’s a sysadmin axiom that if you have never caused a production outage you are still very junior, or you never do anything.

          It’s still a butt clench when it happens.

      2. Quall Callity*

        To be honest, they were probably embarrassed. If a new employee can crash the IT infrastructure of a 5000+ person company in their first week, that’s really IT’s fault and oversight.

        People make mistakes—especially new employees—and measures have to be taken by management and IT to ensure that those mistakes won’t be serious or long-lasting.

    2. Veryanon*

      Oh, I did something similar – I accidentally sent out a company-wide email once that crashed their email servers. It was 1999 and we were all still figuring out email as a corporate communications tool.

    3. Rara Avis*

      In training for a new job in Silicon Valley (but not tech-related) in 2001. Was handed a new laptop, with a string of instructions. Sat there baffled until I got brave enough to say, “How do I turn it on?”

    4. Love to WFH*

      It’s not universal, but there really is a common code of decency in IT on things like this. There’s an element of “there but for the grace of god, go I”.

  17. UKgreen*

    I’m a trainer. A few years ago, I was facilitating a session in a smaller-than-was-really-needed training room, and in walking from one area of the room to the other I manged to trip over the leg of a flipchart stand, sending the flipchart and me flying. The flipchart knocked into one of the delegates, who leaned over to try and avoid it and in doing so knocked an entire 2 litre glass jug of water all over the table, ruining lots of notebooks, narrowly missing quite a lot of electrical devices, and making several people look like they’d Had An Accident, and before anyone could catch it the jug fell the floor and shattered into thousands of pieces.

    We sure didn’t need an icebreaker, anyway…

    1. SomeFlourishLotsofBlots*

      Oh-the visual of this is so clear in my head I about fell off my chair laughing!

  18. Dust Bunny*

    I worked for awhile at a place whose phone number was similar to both my home phone number and to the phone number of my previous employer, who was in the same industry (though in the next town over so not really a direct competitor), and it was a constant struggle to not give them my own phone number on callbacks. I messed up a few times but always caught and corrected myself before I hung up.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      And also, I remember now, structurally somewhat similar to my driver’s license number. I am already bad with numbers so I had to concentrate really hard to get this right.

    2. Thomas*

      I mixed up my home and office postcodes all the time. Only the last two letters differ. I’m sure they still have laptops labelled with the wrong postcode, doh.

      Phone numbers would be way more embarrassing though.

    3. Kacihall*

      I have a few numbers I have to give out on a regular basis. I’m good with remembering numbers – not so much with repeating them out loud. I keep several stickies on my desktop and pull up the right phone number so I can just read it instead of recite it. I’ve only given the wrong number once this year (it was this morning :( )

    4. CV*

      All of these stories are making me remember my many ridiculous moments.
      Years ago, I got a voicemail inviting me to call an employer and arrange an interview for a job I had applied for (yay!). I returned the call, got voicemail and in the moment forgot my own telephone number. I floundered a bit, said, “I’ll call you back” or something along those lines, died of embarrassment and cried a little, and then called and left a second voicemail with my phone number (I mean, what did I have to lose?).
      I worked there for 4 years. The week I started the HR manager said that they *all* thought my VM was ‘cute’ and made them laugh. Cue more embarrassment.

  19. Alianne*

    During my first month as a paralegal, I was learning on the job and flying by the seat of my pants. I signed up for an online seminar on using a particular program. Tried to log in and couldn’t, there was some issue. I was swearing under my breath and trying all the computer tricks I knew, and in the heat of all my frustration, the moderator said kindly “Your speaker is at least working, because we can hear you. Would you like to sign up for next week’s seminar instead?”

    I apologized profusely, closed out the window and died at my desk for five minutes. Then I signed myself up for next week’s seminar and figured out the issue. This is my 10th year as a paralegal, so I feel only one mortifying learning experience is a good record.

    1. Casey*

      Probably better than the colleague of mine who dialed into a meeting while driving.

      Presenter: “we’ll just wait a few minutes for everyone to join”
      (A minute of collective awkward silence)
      Road Rage Rob: “fucking GO, you moron”

      Presenter: “I’m sorry, did I hear y—”
      Road Rage Rob: (muffled car honk noises)

  20. TongueTiedJo*

    I was once trying to explain how we had lost data due to an equipment issue. Three times I tried to say “machine x malfunctioned” and all 3 times out came “malfuction…oh no im sorry, malfuc, malfuc… THE MACHINE STOPPED WORKING.” By this point everyone was laughing so hard, no-one listened to the rest of the explanation….

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      DYING over here. I’m sorry I shouldn’t laugh at a mortifaction but this is hilarious. And if I worked with you, I would assure you that this is nothing to be mortified over.

    2. Ama*

      I had something like that happen to me only I was presenting at a conference (it wasn’t a planned presentation, we had just had small group discussions about pieces of the larger issue we were there to discuss and I was reporting out my group’s ideas, but I was standing up at a podium in front of a lot of people). It was definitely embarrassing, but I tried to think of it as everyone got a nice laugh out of it so it re-engaged people at a point where the collective energy was really flagging.

      I no longer remember what word it was, though.

      1. Ellie Lou*

        I worked as a Senior administrative assistant for a medical transport company many years ago. At one of our facilities, an employee committed suicide by hanging themselves in the office and was discovered the next morning by the operations manager. As you can imagine, this was extremely traumatic for the entire operation.

        I spoke to the manager later in the day to express my condolences and offer any help from our regional office (where I worked). I ended our conversation by saying “Hang in there”. It wasn’t til we ended the conversation that I realized what I had said! Luckily, the manager didn’t hold that against me but I still kick myself over this.

        1. allathian*

          Oh no, I’m so glad the manager didn’t hold it against you. Metaphors can really misfire sometimes.

    3. Ermintrude (she/her)*

      This sort of things happens to me too often in different situations. Words, talking – ugh!

  21. Irish Teacher*

    Oh, actually, I have another one. I was showing one of my resource classes (a 1st year group, so 12/13 year olds) the docudrama on Charlie (an Irish political leader, noted for his corruption and his control of his party). Anyway, the SENCO, who is head of my department walked into the room, just as the titular character was on a four-letter-worded rant.

    She was like “what are you showing them?” and I said we were just watching Charlie. She replied, “that doesn’t sound like Charlie…actually, it does sound like Charlie.” (The first time she meant it didn’t sound like a historical docudrama, the second time she meant it did sound like the politician in question who was also known for his colourful language.)

    I mean, it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t like she or anybody in the school was going to object to my students hearing a few bad words, but…yeah, still a bit embarrassing.

    1. Artemesia*

      In the US you would be in the neighborhood social media for days and probably get fired.

      1. Rex Libris*

        This is just what I was thinking, assuming it didn’t go viral nationwide with some organized “concerned parent” group. Our pearl clutchers have weaponized social media to a terrifying extent.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        Eh, a corrupt autocrat? Sounds like Charlie would be well at home among the Americans clamoring for school censorship…

      3. Expelliarmus*

        Normally I’d believe you, but in my 9th grade Orchestra class we were watching Titanic (we were playing My Heart Will Go On in our next concert), and our teacher had to step out for some time, meaning no one was there to fast-forward past the nude drawing scene. No one got fired, but for all I know that had to do with the fact that said teacher was retiring after that school year anyway.

        1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

          Freshman English. High school. Brand-new teacher, fresh out of college. Romeo & Juliet. She’d gone with a film version with Act III, Scene 4 played nude. She mentioned it beforehand, and that she’d be skipping it. This was her favorite version, since the director had specifically looked for unknown actors to increase the chances that the audience would see Romeo and Juliet instead of Oh Here’s That Famous Actor, and she thought it was a worthy tradeoff.

          When the time came, she paused it, instead of stopping, before hitting fast-forward. So we students were treated to a fast-forward version of the scene, with our teacher frantically slapping her hands over the various body parts as the actors scrambled around the screen. The class was in hysterics.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      When I was a student teacher, a fellow student and I both agreed to plan lessons for each other so as to halve the crippling workload. I usually gave her lessons a good look over and watched any video clips she’d linked and they were usually all excellent. Well, one particular day I was really up against it and hadn’t had a chance to watch the very short clip which was part of the lesson. Turned out she’d linked a rap interpretation of a Shakespearean passage. Oh my god, the language was foul. Not especially offensive to me, but quite adult, very sweary and not really suitable to the twee village community the school was in. Obviously that was the day the usual class teacher decided to park herself at the back to mark books while I taught her darlings, and she made a huge deal out of switching it off and making tsk tsk noises a few seconds in. The kids were not bothered in the slightest. When I raised it with the other student, she said her teacher and students had all been fine with it!

    3. Rara Avis*

      Colleague of mine was showing a similar age group some historical movie with unexpected nudity that she forgot to edit out. When it popped up on the screen she jumped up to block it out, but she forgot how projectors work — the scene was still visible, just on her back now.

    4. Mister_L*

      The religion teacher at one of my schools once told us the story of how the students had convinced him to watch “The Exorcist”. It happened to be the day the school inspector decided to perform a random check.

  22. erika*

    I am an executive assistant. My leader had just come back from a three week around the business world trip, visiting customers/partners in 5 or 6 cities. We had a friendly, casual relationship so his first Monday back I pinged him on chat, intending to say “Your wife must have been happy when you got home on Friday”. Only I mistyped “home.” Instead I typed “some.”

      1. AnonORama*

        Not me, but my friend had been talking with a coworker about Valentine’s Day and the coworker’s family’s penchant for sending each other lots of cards (or leaving them around the house for each other), and my friend saw the person the next day and said “Happy Valentine’s Day, did you get some?” Meaning cards, of course.

  23. AstridInfinitum*

    At a recent leadership program, we were doing “bucket talks” where you are given a topic to speak on and then have to talk for a short period of time. In this case, it was 60 seconds. I am very comfortable speaking in front of a group. As a professional development facilitator, I do it a lot. So I was feeling pretty confident going into my first bucket talk. I got a topic that I was actually excited about! If I could invent a new holiday, what holiday would I choose? I had done an activity with an afterschool program in a previous job where I had the kiddos do this exact exercise and then create something that would be used during that holiday. So I already had an answer: Caturday.

    On Caturday, everyone would act like a cat! I explained to the group that you could do so many fun cat-centric things like take a nap, or knock things off of tables… or SHOW PEOPLE YOUR BUTTHOLE. As those words left my mouth, my soul also escaped my body. The room erupted in laughter and I’m pretty sure I turned scarlet. MY BOSS was in the back of the room. Luckily, everyone thought it was very funny and I haven’t got teased too hard since then. Still. What the actual hell was I thinking? My next bucket talk was about favorite childhood books, which, thank GOD, did not involve buttholes.

    1. Bread Crimes*

      Caturday would be the best holiday, though. So much more interesting than Talk Like A Pirate Day. Especially the part involving naps.

      1. AstridInfinitum*

        No, to them I suggested “Scream loudly until someone brings you food.” Appropriate and fun.

    2. Cowgirlinhiding*

      This made me laugh so hard, I had to get up and leave my desk. I have a shirt that says every day should be Caterday, so this it close to home. So sorry you had to be mortified this way.

  24. LZ*

    I was in a weekly major project update meeting (30+ people), normally for these things everyone is cameras-off and on mute except for the presenter. My cat jumped into my lap and hit the space bar as he did so, taking me off mute in time for the whole meeting to hear me tell him that he was SO handsome and a VERY good boy (in the kitty voice of course).

    And yesterday I was talking with my Director about finalizing and publishing a testing document, and I said “I’ll approve the deliverable once you tell me where to stick it”. He laughed.

    1. zinzarin*

      Your cat is both devious and smart; 100% he knew what he was doing: ensuring your team knew without any doubt how smart and handsome he was!

  25. Catgirl*

    My story: I soiled my pants at work – unexpected diarrhea – and, since I walked to work at the time, had to walk home in soiled pants.
    Friend’s story: On a Zoom call she told the (female) presenter in the chat “I’m fangirling you so hard right now!” and autocorrect changed it to “I’m fingering you so hard right now!”

    1. StolenJeans*

      I also, uh, soiled my pants one morning on my way in. In my defense, I had just started eating meat again after YEARS of not eating it, and it was still messing with my stomach in ways I couldn’t anticipate. But I was on public transit knowing it was coming and just didn’t make it to a bathroom in time. I managed to duck into the mall bathroom and throw out my underwear and clean up, and very luckily at the time was working at a charity that gave clothes to the homeless. Which meant we had a whole room of clothes. I snuck in the back door and grabbed a (new) pair of underwear and donated jeans and changed in the bathroom – very glad I was the first one in. Otherwise I probably would have just gone home, even though I was the only person with keys that day. (Later, I did buy a whole new multi pack of underwear and a few pairs of jeans to donate because I still felt awful taking clothes from people who needed it, but I tried to remind myself that in that moment I definitely ALSO really needed it!).

      Horrifying experience and to this day I won’t eat a hot dog if I have to be somewhere the next morning, even though I’ve now been eating meat for like four years and my body has mostly calmed down about it!

      1. Dawn*

        Yes you 1000% were a “person in need” at that exact moment, no shame for doing what was necessary to be appropriately clothed and not covered in, well, you know.

        1. coffee*

          If I had donated clothes and they wound up saving someone from that situation, I’d still consider that an absolute win.

    2. Blanket Fort Forever*

      Blew Diet Coke thru my nose while reading the second one – absolutely with it!!

    3. Ally McBeal*

      Just one more reason to never download Zoom to my phone… autocorrect doesn’t happen on the desktop app!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I regret to report that it does! At least on the Mac version. I have had multiple fights with the Zoom chat autocorrect, usually when I’m referring to names of our programs during Board meetings, which it will correct to the nearest word it knows. I hate it a lot.

    4. Anonymous Target Shopper*

      This story involves #1 rather than #2. Years ago, I had a job that required an annual physical, including blood work and urinalysis. Employer even had an onsite medical office where the physicals and sample collection was done. One year, I was sent to what I came to refer to as the ‘bad bathroom’ to collect my urine sample.

      I’m right-handed, but the toilet in the ‘bad bathroom’ was so close to the wall on the right side that I couldn’t really reach down and under, and I was forced to switch hit. Somehow, in my weird contortion, I wound up (mostly) peeing down my leg, which then wetted my light tan pants. Totally obvious pee stain.

      I had brought some workout clothes that day, and luckily a lot of people weren’t on-site yet, so was able to grab my gym bag and change into my capri leggings. But obviously those wouldn’t really do for a semi-office job. So I went to the nearby Target and bought a pair of canvas pants. I was too embarrassed to change in the Target bathroom (why??? no one knows), so I decided to change in my car before going back to work. (Why I didn’t just wait to change until I got back to work is another unanswered question!)

    5. no weapons, fair deal, your rules*

      Alison could do a post asking us about the times we pooped our pants as adults. It would reach 5,000 comments at least.

  26. Pangolin*

    I was running late for a meeting with a high-up person named Cynthia in a partner organisation and was hurriedly emailing to explain. I started writing ‘Hi, Cynthia’, then after four letters realised I had made a typo – put a u where there should have been a y. I registered this, thought ‘how unfortunate’ and for some terribly reason, when I went to press delete, I tapped send instead.

  27. RLC*

    Not me, but a colleague: back in the era of flip charts, whilst making a Very Important presentation with outside agencies, colleague absentmindedly put the uncapped end of a dark purple marking pen in her mouth. The ink stained her lips, teeth, and mouth and was impossible to hide.

    1. Dr. Dinah*

      In my first year working as a junior doctor in the hospital I managed to do this with the wrong end of a leaky biro and ended up with blobs of black ink all over my lips, teeth, cheeks, and scrubs. Somehow I didn’t notice and not one of my colleagues thought to tell me, plus there was no time for a bathroom break (with a mirror) all day, so I only realised why patients had been looking at me funny all day when I got home.

      1. Butterfly Counter*

        I had something similar happen to me, but not at work.

        I get sent makeup samples every month. One month, I got a new lip gloss. I thought it was sheer and a little tinted. No. It was very much an opaque, fully-colored lip gloss. To try it, I slathered it on my lips, but didn’t check the mirror.

        My husband came home shortly later, gave me a quizzical look and we talked about our days. Later, when I looked in a mirror and saw that I had lip makeup like Heath Ledger’s Joker, I asked why he didn’t tell me. He said, “I thought you meant to do it that way?”

        Yes, I have a husband who thinks nothing of me applying lip gloss like a six-year old after getting into the sugar…

    2. Ally McBeal*

      This has happened to me more times than I can count – fortunately never while presenting, though.

  28. nope*

    Twenty minutes ago I had a discussion with one person and the entire time thought she was another person due to her having recently dyed her hair the same color as the person I thought she was. All of this went down in front of my boss, and I just want to sink into the floor.

    1. Evergreen*

      Oh gosh! I feel you on that. I had an interview in to work at a place I’d previously interned at (but there wasn’t a role available when I was done with the internship). The panel included someone who my mentor and I had worked closely with. I greeted her by my mentor’s name! Just complete slip up. She didn’t seem to notice but I sure did and quickly corrected myself and apologized

    2. MsM*

      I had something similar happen a couple of weeks ago. The worst part is, coworker politely corrected me, and then I DID IT AGAIN. No idea how long it’ll take to walk past her desk without cringing, and now I’m calling everyone with brown hair that length whose identity I’m not 100% certain of “hey, you” just in case.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Eh, someone just told me she called me by the wrong name at an event a couple of weeks ago, and I have no memory of it! I probably noticed it at the time? No one cares, it’s fine!

        My poor coworker was definitely mortified, so I was glad she mentioned it.

    3. Dawn*

      This honestly happens fairly regularly to those of us who have, oh, a whole subset of visual and/or processing disabilities, and people are usually really understanding if you just explain it up front (and if you don’t have an actual diagnosis you can just explain that your brain doesn’t always process facial features (true) and you sometimes get used to relying on other cues.

      It’s a full-on nightmare for me every time there’s some big event in the world and everyone on social media changes their profile picture to the same picture of a flag or whatever. I lose all sense of who everyone is.

    4. Myopia*

      My first day in a new job, I was introduced to approximately 65 people and promptly called the CEO (who was a surly sort) the wrong name. CEO harrumphed. Other Guy said genially, “Well, it’s understandable – we are both fat, bald old men!” CEO’s face turned to thunder. It was OK for Other Guy – he was on the verge of retiring – but it took a long while before the CEO stopped seeing me as the cause of his public embarrassment.

  29. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    I was on the phone with a client and my son comes running into the room and yells “MOM, CAN YOU WIPE MY BUTT?!”

    Thankfully this was the height of the pandemic and the woman I was speaking with was also working from home with small children and thought it was hilarious.

    1. Kacihall*

      oh lord I have had the exact same thing happen. why is it always when we’re on the phone/zoom with clients when they yell?

    2. Anonymath*

      My son’s was “MOM, I JUST MADE A HUGE POO ON THE POTTY,” and it was in front of the virtual class I teach, but otherwise, yup. The students thought it was hilarious.

    3. Relentlessly Socratic*

      A colleague was on a Zoom, and her new puppy (undergoing, uh, puppy training, why can’t I remember the word?) came up to her and she said loudly not realizing she wasn’t muted “Do you have to go to the bathroom?”

      I’m still dying.

  30. hardlycore*

    This happened to me about ten years ago during law school recruiting. I was fried from a ten-hour day of interviews and was writing thank-you emails to my interviewers for the day when my husband announced he was going to bed. “Love you,” I told him as he left the living room – and then the wires in my brain crossed, and I signed a thank-you email to a (frankly pretty handsome) male senior associate “love, [name]” and hit SEND.

    I immediately realized what I’d done, freaked out, and decided to resend this interviewer the email with a normal signature, hoping he would just think it double-sent and not look too closely at the original. Didn’t get the job, but it turns out that firm was a horrific sweatshop even by biglaw standards.

  31. Leslie Lemon*

    I once sent out an all company email about our upcoming Flu Shot Clinic. Unfortunately I titled the email Flu Shit Clinic and hit send before proofreading.

    1. saskia*

      hahahahaha! That reminds me of when I emailed our pool of workers about a difficult-to-cover shift and said to “let me know if you can help with this shit”

      1. catsoverpeople*

        Hah! If you were my boss (and, you know, we got along and shit) I’d have responded “sure, I can help with this shit! Can you help me with some other shit next time we work together?”

        1. saskia*

          hahahah I would’ve loved that. One of the employees did tell me about the mistake, and we had a good laugh about it together

    2. mucky_fortifier*

      I once received an all company email that talked about building repairs, and mentioned cocking the windows. I’d get a laugh if I got yours!

    3. Elsewise*

      I used to hire for call center-type work and got an applicant once who, when talking about their previous experience, said that at an old job “I would answer the phone throughout my shits”. I was in tears reading that. (They did, in fact, get the job.)

        1. Armchair Analyst*

          I took literally

          took me awhile to think that a person answers the phone on a SHIFT lol

  32. Spreadsheet Hero*

    Single most mortifying moment I’ve ever had at a job: someone was trying to get a permit for something on property they didn’t own (but had permission to do so), except it was in a historic district, and was going to be a real headache to approve, assuming the City Council would allow it to be approved at all.

    My boss joked, “I don’t want to deal with it, just tell him no.”

    I somehow thought he was serious and proceeded to do exactly that. Slightly more professionally, but still, basically telling the guy that we wouldn’t be able to accept the application or approve the permit. My boss’ office is slightly offset from the department bullpen, and he joined me in the bullpen so fast it looked like he was vibrating, like in a cartoon about The Flash.

    I wanted to sink in to the floor. I think I said the words, “I swear I have a sense of humor,” at least three times over the course of the next few days. And, of course, I immediately called the guy back and accepting the application. (In the end, we did not approve the permit.)

    1. metadata minion*

      Honestly, I think that’s on your boss. Don’t make jokes like this unless you’re going to follow them up right away with what you actually meant.

  33. Dani D.*

    I can finally add to the discussion!

    When I started at my last position, for some reason my grand boss was very intimidating. He was very mice, but I was nervous around him.

    When I was sitting in my very first Big Meeting with the higher ups, it just so happened to be at the end of a day where I really had to leave on time in order to make a doctors appointment I had been waiting for for months. My boss assured me that even if the meeting was still in process when I had to go, it would be no problem – just quietly get up and go.

    Of course, the meeting was still going at the end of my scheduled shift. I nervously gathered up my notes and belongings and, instead of just swiftly and quietly leaving, my weasel brain took control of my mouth and I blurt out “good night! I’ll miss you!”

    My boss – with whom I had a good relationship – laughed loudly, and I just lowered my head and left. I did make my appointment on time though!

    The next day – and for the next almost 15 years – I heard “good night, I’ll miss you!” often as I was leaving for the day. I am still mortified thinking about it, but other than the giggles, I faced no repercussions. My grand boss very graciously never mentioned it. Ever.

    1. negligent apparitions*

      This one really tickled my funny bone for some reason!

      In a bizarre turn of events, I had an employee on a PIP who was supervising an intern. We were all in a meeting, when, apropos of nothing, the intern announces, “I miss Bob.” Bob being my boss (the intern’s great grandboss). He had left a couple days earlier for vacation. I thought it was odd but sort of amusing. His supervisor found it neither, excused him from the meeting, and fired him the next day.

      1. amoeba*

        … what? Am I missing something? The intern got fired? But why? The remark seems super harmless? And also, what happened to the employee on the PIP?

        1. This_is_Todays_Name*

          I too, have questions. So an employee was bad enough in some way, shape, or form to be on a PIP, but was allowed to willy nilly fire an intern for saying, “I miss Bob.” Yeah it was an odd thing to say, especially if out of the blue, but WTF? I feel like we missed a couple sentences in that story!

          1. Dawn*

            I’m guessing it had a lot more to do with the in-context reasons he might have been saying, “I miss Bob” at large to the whole meeting, especially given that the intern’s “boss” was currently on a PIP.

          2. No no no all the way home*

            My guess is that the supervisor interpreted it as an insult from the intern, assuming the intern was putting down the supervisor by implying Bob would have handled the situation better. SOURCE: I’m one of many people who has walked on eggshells around a woman who can potentially interpret every remark as an insult, even when it’s not about her.

  34. Chocolate Teapot*

    I started my new job at the end of last year. We all have desk phones but phone calls are not common.

    My phone rang and I answered with the name of my old company!

    1. Dr. Clara Mandrake*

      Oh no- I did this once in the first week of a new job. Answered “Old Company”, paused, panicked, and then hung up the phone.

    2. Leia Oregano*

      I’m pretty sure I did something similar all the time at one job in college! I attended a university that has the name of a historical figure who was born in the region, and I hosted at a restaurant in my college town that used a version of the same name as their business name. I manned the phones and would answer “Thanks for calling [version of historical figure’s name], how can I help you?” Only, I know that at least once I answered with “Thanks for calling [historical figure’s name] University, how can I help you?” because there was about ten seconds of awkward silence on the other end, followed by, “…I think I have the wrong number…” and they hung up. They did not call back. Looking back, I probably did this with some regularity and folks just rolled with it, because, truly, those names are too similar. And the restaurant owner hated being asked if he’d named the place after the university (no, he hadn’t, and he didn’t get why it was confusing! In fact, he hated the college crowd and the place actively refused to cater to students, despite being in a college town.)

      1. Expelliarmus*

        Are they still in business? That sounds like it wouldn’t be great for business.

    3. Sal*

      I did this for years at my current job. Been at this job for almost 5 years and only did the other job for five years (and left seven years ago!)–but that job was a phone-heavy job and this is the opposite.

      Unfortunately what makes it extra confusing for the people who call me is that I used to be a public defender and now I’m a prosecutor.

    4. This_is_Todays_Name*

      I had been married for 6+ years and started a new job at a University. About 2-3 weeks into my job I answered the phone “Uni Extension Center Petty Maiden Name, how can I help you?” A few beats and I hear my husband say, “Why are you answering with your old name? Are you telling people you’re SINGLE?” I had never done it before. Never done it since, but for some reason that one minute in time, I forgot my married name.

      1. This_is_Todays_Name*

        That also should’ve said “Patty Maiden Name” …but in the context of this site, I think “Petty” works, too!

    5. not a hippo*

      I’ve done this before. I’ve also completely blanked on the name of the company I worked for so I answered the phone like “thank you for calling uhh…..”

    6. Dani D.*

      I’ve done that…

      I went from one company that I worked at for 6 years, then went to another after I was laid off in 2008. It took a bit before I had to stop reminding myself I was at a new place!

      To make things even more interesting – I left the second company after 14 years and am now back at the original firm from before. Now I have to remind myself again where I am!

    7. Butterfly Counter*

      Oh, I think I remember seeing something like this around. A person moved from one box store to another (think WalMart to Target). At both, they were responsible for the store-wide announcements.

      At the new job, they forgot and started, “Attention WalMart shoppers…” realized their mistake and added, “…thank you for shopping here at Target today!”

    8. Mostly Managing*

      One more “done that” here.

      At one point many years ago, my husband and I were both working jobs that involved answering the phone. “Company Name, How may I help you?”
      Friends phoning our home were frequently greeted the same way (by either of us) because we were on autopilot.

    9. ENFP in Texas*

      When I was temping I would write the name of the current company on a Post-It and stick it on the phone so I could read it while answering, for this very reason.

    10. Em*

      I worked at a 9-1-1 call center previously and, when woken out of a dead sleep by a ringing phone, will answer it “[old job] 9-1-1. What is the address of your emergency?” about half the time. My current job involves lots of middle of the night calls leading to some very confused people. Very, very confused as I don’t live in the United States anymore and 9-1-1 isn’t the emergency number here. . .

    11. Mister_L*

      I once had to call another company and used the redial-option. Somehow the phone forgot the main number and only dialed the extension of the person I was tryin to reach. The extension happened to be the number my country’s of the suicide prevention hotline.
      It was…awkward.

    12. Cowgirlinhiding*

      We used to have in company calling for extensions, so you only had to dial 4 numbers. We also had our own first responders/fire department with a dispatcher so you could get them by dialing still 911. Anyway, my boss one day was in a panic and needed me to call someone immediately. My friend being ever so helpful told me the number I needed was 9116. So, in a panic I dialed 9116 and for some reason, it went to dispatch, that wasn’t who I needed, so I hung up and dialed 9116 again. Again, I got the dispatch, it didn’t dawn on me till I was dialing a third time what she had done! Classic.

  35. Not using my usual name to tell this story*

    I was sitting with a colleague in our lounge/break room. I started coughing, which resulted in farting. Loudly. I tried to stop farting, somehow making it worse. So naturally, I got on the floor and crawled on all fours out of the break room to the closest bathroom. The closest bathroom was locked. Instead of STANDING UP, I CONTINUED CRAWLING to the next bathroom as the head of human resources was coming out of her office. They asked if I was okay to which I squealed… something. I made it to the bathroom, crawled inside, and locked the door. It was brought up several weeks later and I completely denied having done it. I will continue denying that I did that until I die.

    1. Really?*

      Nothing I have done will ever come close. Made my afternoon. Still laughing, but of course it didn’t happen to me.

  36. CSRoadWarrior*

    This isn’t as embarrassing, but a few months ago, I ripped my pants in the office. It wasn’t a small rip either; it was in the back completely ripped in half where my behind was, exposing my behind and my underwear. Luckily, nobody saw it and only two other employees were in the office thanks to our hybrid schedule.

    I couldn’t just buy new pants at that moment, so I had to tie a large shirt around my waist to hide the rip for the remainder of the day. Also, I take public transportation to work and had to hide it while on the train on the way home. It made it an awkward day but luckily the shirt was large enough to completely hide the rip.

    1. lurkyloo*

      LOL….I was walking to the office and the woman in front of me’s skirt was ripped from waistband to hem. How she didn’t feel the breeze, I’ll never know, but I stopped her and told her. She blushed beet red and a tied cardigan took care of it. But seriously…HOW DO YOU NOT FEEL THAT?!

      1. Dawn*

        fwiw being a lifelong diabetic I do have some nerve damage and don’t always feel temperature changes on some of my extremities.

      2. Relentlessly Socratic*

        My back pack once ate the back of my dress (so with every step my skirt hitched up a little more..) and my booty was hanging out there on Pennsylvania Ave for everyone to see. Fortunately, my coworker walking next to me noticed and I recovered what was left of my pride. How did I not notice? It was DC in July. There was no breeze, only hot, humid air.

    2. Kacihall*

      I worked at a bank where business casual was okay for the tellers but bakers had to be in a suit and tie (though they took the jackets off half the time). One Saturday, my banker bent over to pick up some quarter boxes for me and his pants ripped all the way down the butt. luckily I had a sewing kit with me. He had basketball shorts in his car.

      Definitely confused a few customers that day when they walked in to the banker in a button down and neon blue gym shorts sitting behind the teller line and the teller mending pants while helping the drive through customers. (He wasn’t mortified at all. So this story doesn’t really fit today but it’s still funny.)

    3. Esmae*

      Years ago, I ripped my pants right at the beginning of my work day. Horizontal rip, all the way across one leg, right at the base of the butt. It was a personal assistant-type job where I did a lot of ferrying people around town, and at NO POINT in the ENTIRE DAY did anybody mention the ripped pants to me. I realized when we STOPPED FOR DINNER and I sat down in a restaurant booth and felt cold restaurant booth seating on my bare skin.

    4. Anonymoose*

      Ughhh it was my FIRST day at a new govt. consulting firm. I am large busted and I bought a new suit, blouse, etc… My boss and grandboss were giving me an introductory orientation when suddenly they excused themselves. I heard them whispering and grandboss say, “you are going to have to manage her; deal with it.” They came back in and boss says, “um… your blouse has … come undone.” Sure enough my top 2 buttons had popped open. I buttoned them. We began talking again. 5 mins later he sighs, “it happened again” I look and am mortified to see my bra on full display AGAIN. At lunch I went home threw that blouse away and never wore it again. I swear it fit… but when I sat it strained in a way it didn’t when I stood straight when trying it on. I don’t think I ever did win the grandboss’s respect for my 3 years there after that.

      1. AtticWife*

        As a large busted human, I have given up on button downs unless I can make them myself. I sympathize with you.

    5. hedgehog*

      One day at work, about an hour or two into the day (in a front-facing position, of course), a coworker kindly pulled me aside and let me know that my skirt was unzipped in the back. In my defense, it had one of those little hooks at the top of the zipper, and that was closed, so it felt normal. I think (hope?) I had bike shorts on under the skirt so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been…

    6. LTR FTW*

      I ripped the butt out of my pants while volunteering at my daughter’s preschool. I grabbed a stapler, ran in the bathroom, and McGuyvered that seam back together!

    7. Nannerdoodle*

      Something similar happened to me once (but everyone saw). At an old job, we had to wear uniforms that basically looked like the blue jumpsuits a mechanic would wear. These were shared uniforms that were laundered by an outside company. So if something happened to a uniform, whoever was in it at the time was supposed to put a repair tag on it, but that didn’t always happen.
      One day at around lunch time, I was walking around and bent over to pick something up. I felt a breeze in the rear area. Turns out that the butt of the uniform was ripped down the middle from the seam in the middle of the back, across the top of the right back pocket, and all the way down the crotch. Of course I’d worn hot pink underwear that day. I’d talked to at least 50 people I worked with that morning. Not one of them told me.

    8. anon24*

      I feel like I should post this here in case it helps someone else.

      If you dont have a sewing kit and have a wardrobe malfunction: Duct tape or medical tape out of a first aid kit (cloth medical tape is 100% the best)

      Take off the offending garment, turn it inside out, lay it down so that the torn ends are touching for the length of the tear, then very carefully seal it with tape the entire length, making sure there are no kinks or wrinkles in the tape. You can use multiple pieces of tape to achieve smoothness. Turn it right side out, and the tear should be minimally noticeable. I fixed a pair of jeans my co-worker split up the butt with this method. I also had a very beloved pair of jeans that ripped across my inner thighs and I fixed it this way with medical tape and it worked so well that you couldn’t see the tear and I ended up running them through the dryer to use the heat to fuse the tape into the fabric and then wearing them almost daily for the next year.

    9. Janne*

      In my first year of having a job (without much money for professional clothes) my one pair of nice pants wore down so much that one day a colleague pointed out to me that it had a see-through part on the butt just in the shape of my bicycle saddle. I didn’t have anything to cover it up, so I just stayed sitting at my desk the whole day until everybody had left and then hurried home. :’)

      That colleague does look at my butt more often than my other colleagues… she was also the one that notified me of my hot pink underwear shining through my dress. (I had tested if the dress was see-through, but hadn’t noticed that the bodice was double-layered fabric but the skirt only one layer. So my bra wasn’t visible but my underwear was.)

    10. CanadianJessie*

      I was getting ready to on my 1st ever work trip, and was looking for comfy but work appropriate pants for the flight. Found a pair of linen pants shoved in the back of the closet, and remembered how much I loved them, with no clue why I’d stopped wearing them.
      Went to the airport, flew, with my boss, and others from the conference we were putting on, got there, and was put right to work. Finally, after a really long day, we were heading to our hotel rooms, boss was walking in back of me. And he starts laughing..
      Turns out, they were in the back of the closet because there was a huge rip down the entire seam on my butt. Black pants. Dorky pink granny panties. Very noticeable. I wanted to sink into the floor!

  37. Dumpster Fire*

    I had just made the move from working in high-tech to teaching high school. I didn’t realize yet, how much I missed normal adult interactions. A few of us were having lunch together when a familiar-looking woman walked by, waving and smiling. I stage-whispered to one of my colleagues “quick, hide the keg!” After the friendly lady was down the hall a little way, someone reminded me who she was – the superintendent of the district!

    (Ironically, I don’t even drink. And, I saw her again a couple days later and was appropriately mortified and apologetic.)

  38. CommentKoi*

    Fairly mild one but it still haunts me. Years ago I was working retail at a small local store. I was stocking shelves around the corner from the door & register when I heard the motion sensor bell go off, meaning someone had walked in. I go around the corner to help her, right as she rounds that corner too. It’s a blind corner so neither of us saw the other coming. We didn’t quite run into each other, but almost, and we were both startled. She said, “Oh, sorry!”

    I then apparently had a short-circuit in my brain, because I tried to say “You’re good!” and “No problem!” at the same time. Instead, what came out was a slightly halting “Your problem!”

    She looked confused and offended and I had no idea how to recover. She bought her stuff in silence and it was so awkward.

    1. El Camino*

      I have totally done this before! My go-to response is either “All good!” or “No worries!” and one especially frazzled day I blurted “No good!” Sigh. Brains are funny things.

  39. EH*

    I was walking from one building to another on a windy day, in a skirt, when I ran into the head of the company, also walking the same way. I was *vigilantly* holding my skirt down the whole time and was so relieved when we reached the (revolving) door to the building. As soon as I stepped in (ahead of him, he was being polite), I dropped my hold on my skirt, but the revolving door closing created a vertical wind tunnel effect, and my skirt FLEW up over my head. I went crazy batting it down again, but it was too late; I had definitely flashed the head of the company. The worst part was we had to ride in the same elevator moments later. I could not continue the small talk after that, and it was a silent ride.

    1. Bart*

      I lost control of my skirt on a windy day while carrying a huge stack of papers and books in front of our historic campus church. I kept thinking that skirts only flew up in movies—not so! My skirt abandoned me and as I fixed it I saw the line of elderly women walking past me to get to their tour bus. They were all grinning.

  40. Viki*

    My first time presenting in an all department meeting, for an initiative I was chairing (at a super young 26), which gave me huge visibility to ELT some of whom were there.

    It went super well until the last sentence, where instead of saying “I’ll send everyone the deck after”, I said “I’ll send everyone the dick.”

    Yup just told some ELT, my bosses and colleagues, I’ll send them the dick.

    I still die

    1. TickTock*

      my friend used to be a TV weather lady and once, while on air live doing a story about general outdoor conditions, told her viewership to be sure to do a “dick check” before going inside. What she meant to say: TICK. Tick check.

    2. ELT teacher*

      What’s ELT in this context? Google is failing me. To me ELT is English Language Training/Teaching, which is my industry, and I am curious what else it could stand for!

  41. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    I have been working at my job at SmallTechCompany for just about a year and a half. In November of last year, my team was talking about hiring a new person for our team of writers. At some point, I said something like “Well, you can see a lot about a candidate from their cover letter, if it’s written well, like their attention to detail” – thinking about all the examples of great cover letters I’ve seen on AAM. My boss at the time said, “If I remember correctly, your cover letter was definitely addressed to a different company.” I was SO mortified.

    I checked my application materials after I logged off for the day and sure enough, my cover letter that I used to apply for my current job was the one I wrote for VeryLargeTechCompany, even though I definitely remember changing it for SmallTechCompany. I guess I just forgot to save it. My then-boss said he considered bringing it up during our interview, but he figured out it was just a brain fart after I was super prepared for the interview and he figured I would have been absolutely mortified if he brought it up.

    1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      I don’t think much of his choice to bring it up later, and in front of an audience.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

        Eh, he brought it up very gently and the rest of my team is very casual and supportive. I don’t even think he would have brought it up if I hadn’t brought up cover letters and attention to detail. There were definitely other issues with this boss, hence why he’s not my current boss, but this specific incident was mostly funny.

    2. Goose*

      A year into my first job, I was having a similar conversation with a manager. She jokes, “and then there’s the recent grads who talk about their ‘extensive experience’ in their cover letters!”

      Me. I was one of those recent grads. 10+ into the workplace and I haven’t used that phrase in a cover letter since.

  42. desk platypus*

    In high school I worked at a fast food chain. I loved it because I worked with a lot of my friends from school. Senior prom rolled around and all my friends from work got coupled up including one I had a massive crush on. Since I was the only single person and didn’t want to be odd one out I chose not to attend but this also meant I immediately got a double shift at work since all the teens were off for prom.

    The day of I thought I was fine and tried to just throw myself into work. My 2nd shift had barely begun but it was WILDLY busy and I was exhausted. Then my crush rolls by to grab a quick meal and explained his date (a girl I couldn’t stand) was getting her hair done at a nearby salon so he was getting her food. About an hour later my supervisor saw me wavering a lot, shoved an orange juice in my hands, and told me to take a break. It was kind but may have been the wrong move. The moment I had a minute to myself I burst into tears about missing out because I was but a teen smelling like fry oil on prom night. I ended up crying so hard and so much my boss saw and sent me home immediately. Everyone on the shift saw. By my next shift the next week everyone walked on eggshells around me like I might break down again at any moment. I apologized profusely to my boss, who said he understood without me even getting into detail, but I still think about it sometimes and shudder.

    1. White rabbit*

      Hugs and compassion to your younger self, who was doing their level best in a trying time — and may have done better than most teens would have. Being left out sucks at any age, and you went to work, kudos for trying to find a constructive way to cope! And good for your boss for showing empathy and kindness.

    2. Observer*

      Honestly, I don’t think you have anything to shudder about. It’s odd to me that everyone was reacting so much. But that’s on them, not you.

  43. AG*

    Me and my spouse work in the same company and same building. Her team was moving from one area to another within the building, and she asked if I could move her stuff from her old desk to the new one. I went to her cubicle, started to pick up a few things. I was making a mental note of where every item came from, so that I could arrange her new cubicle the same way as her old one. After one minute of this, I made the sensible decision to go get a box.

    I returned with a box, started to pack it, still noting what part of the cubicle each item came from. One box was nearly full, and the packing was more than halfway done when I looked up to the cubicle wall, wondered why on Earth my spouse would have a UCLA banner on her wall, and realized that I had walked into the cubicle adjacent to hers. I had accidentally walked up to this cubicle instead of my spouse’s a few times before. So that’s why some things were not in the same places I remembered after I left to get the box. That’s why there were a couple of items (nothing embarassing) that didn’t make sense for her to have in her drawer!

    Luckily I had been noting where I had taken each item from, so I was able to leave the cubicle more or less how I found it, then messaged the owner of the cubicle.

  44. Iridescent Periwinkle*

    I had something happen this morning. I had a mammogram before work so I had to remove my blood sugar monitor, which can cause conflicts with the machinery and get in the way of the screening (I had mine on a safe spot on my chest near my arm pit area).

    So I get back to work and go to the bathroom the to apply a new sensor, which involves taking off my shirt in the “open” area so I can utilize the mirror to see the location of where I am putting the sensor. Of course two different people come in while I’m trying to do this thing, which only takes a few moments – but of course I can’t have a few moments of privacy, even in the bathroom. So my coworkers got to see me in the bathroom with my top off (bra still on of course).

    1. Iridescent Periwinkle*

      (FYI my mammogram results returned with no malignancies found, woohoo! Get screened, it’s worth a half hour of discomfort!)

      1. ICodeForFood*

        It’s really only a few moments of discomfort when you’re compressed! Definitely something those of us with breasts should do… Minimal discomfort, and nice to get a clean bill of health!

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          I don’t even have discomfort when compressed (I just can’t have them use non-paper tape on me), so for folks that fear the pain/discomfort, you may not experience much or any at all.

          1. Petty_Boop*

            Must be nice. As a busty gal, I have quite a bit of discomfort. I joke about prepping for it for a week in advance by laying on the garage floor on my side and having my husband drive a wheel over my breasts, or repeatedly slamming the freezer door on them. Interestingly, my technician told me that small breasted women often have MORE discomfort because it’s so hard to pull/stretch enough tissue to uh…. get it in there between the plates. *Shudder*

            1. Relentlessly Socratic*

              Huh, and I have HUGE tracts of land. Just enormous. Squishing doesn’t bother met at all. The tape, however, will end me.

              1. carcinization*

                What is the tape used for? I’m on the endowed side as well, and have had 2 mammograms and no tape.

        2. ThatGirl*

          For me it’s very uncomfortable, and very awkward when I have to hug the machine and hold my breath. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but everyone’s mileage varies in terms of pain and discomfort.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I will join you in the extreme discomfort, and in making sure I don’t do anything jiggly the rest of the day.

            PSA: I had breast cancer against the chest wall. Diagnosed by a routine mammogram before it could spread through my body, and because of the position it would have been a long time before there was any outward sign to alert me. So please, no one take my acknowledgement that it’s an unpleasant experience for some of us to mean that it should be skipped.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Eat first! Especially if you’re prone to blood sugar wonkiness, vasovagal syncope isn’t an unusual response to the compression and release, and it scares the heck out of the mammo techs when they unpress you and your knees buckle and drop you on your butt on the ground.

          And the bruise the color of a ripe plum and the size of a dinner plate that lasts for 3 weeks isn’t fun either. The tech ran for a nurse and before she even made it back with the nurse, I was up and fine again. But I didn’t notice the bruise at all until three days later, when a medical assistant giving me a gluteal injection was like WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?? and I couldn’t think why I had a bruise like that on my butt and didn’t actually put the two pieces together until I got home that night. (And once I knew it was there, it hurt a lot :P )

          Mild mortification but mostly funny: The gluteal injection was of the every-twelve-weeks variety, and the next time I went back, I got the same MA, who asked me if I ever figured out what the bruise was. I was like “I sure did, and I thought about telling you the story but didn’t want to assume that you’d remember my butt three months later. But since you brought it up … ” and we cackled like loons for a few minutes.

        4. Iridescent Periwinkle*

          True, it really only a few moments when getting squished. I’m glad it’s done for another year :)

        5. This_is_Todays_Name*

          Sadly, not sure there’s a way to mammogram men (that I know of anyway). My MALE colleague had breast cancer. It’s rarely talked about and I think most people think men *can’t* or just plain *don’t* get it, but…. they can and do.

            1. allathian*

              Indeed. My dad found a lump in his breast when he was soaping himself in the shower, and he had a mammogram. It was stage 2, but he had what amounts to a mastectomy. I lost the genetic lottery, my mom had breast cancer that was discovered when she had her first mammogram at 50, my dad had it, and my paternal grandmother had it, although she survived it in the 1980s when the survival rate was much poorer than it is today. She died 10 years later of unrelated causes. But if there’s one medical appointment that I won’t miss, it’s the mammogram.

        6. The Prettiest Curse*

          For anyone who hasn’t ever heard this tip – take 2 Advil (ibuprofen) (or another painkiller of your choice) before your mammogram appointment. It helps a LOT.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Because it took me a number of years to work up the nerve to ask this: If the power goes out, the machine will open again, not stay clamped on you.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          Now that would be a mortifying reason to call off work…
          Sorry, Boss-o-mine, can’t come in today. Nope, stuck in the Oobie Squisher.

        2. Artemesia*

          If you have to have biopsies on the table where your boob dangles through an opening and clamp — that clamp can be on for half an hour while they fiddle around with angles and such — not life’s more pleasant experiences.

          1. ICodeForFood*

            No, not fun at all… Been there, done that (though it didn’t take nearly as long). But you do what you have to do for your health and your life…

      3. Abogado Avocado*

        Yay on your results! And agree about getting screened — although every time I compressed during the mammogram I think, “If THIS were how they screened for testicular cancer, there’s be a different procedure.” (Testicular cancer is screened for with ultrasound.)

        1. I8yourbees*

          That was my first thought, too! I had my first one last spring and was like 1. a man designed this; 2. men would not stand for this.

          1. Generic Username*

            As a man who recently had a “Man-O-Gram” to diagnose what turned out to be a benign (and now removed!) growth, I have a renewed sympathy and respect for anyone who experiences this exam.

          2. Petty_Boop*

            I think every woman who’s had a mammogram has had a similar thought to that along the lines of “what if this was how they diagnosed testicular cancer? They’d come up with a different way pretty damn quick!”

        2. JustaTech*

          Honestly, I found the mammogram less uncomfortable than the ultrasound, mostly because during the ultrasound the tech kept going over this one patch over and over and over and I have a limited tolerance for that kind of repeated touching.

    2. Big Bird*

      I am one of those people who can’t tell my right from my left without thinking about it for a moment, and I was a dismal failure at aerobics because I was always going back when everyone else was going forward. You can imagine what it is like to position me for a mammogram. I learned to start off by saying that I have three children, no modesty whatever, and the tech should just move me around until the various parts of me are in the right place. Saves a lot of time and re-shoots!

    3. allathian*

      They didn’t use any tape on me either, and I have large, pendulous boobs. It was much less uncomfortable than I feared, although I did switch my appointment so that it was during the second/third week of my cycle. I’m no longer regular, but the week before my period, my breasts still get sore.

      But yeah, the peace of mind is definitely worth the mild discomfort.

  45. ConstantlyComic*

    I had several embarrassing missteps at my first job, but the most memorable was a time when I was working a cash register right after my lunch break and, as I was handing the customer her receipt and telling her to have a nice day, I suddenly let out a loud, spaghetti-o’s-scented burp directly in her face. I immediately apologized profusely and mentioned that I had just eaten lunch, and I still vividly remember her saying, “Well, I hope it was a good lunch!”

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      omg of all the body function stories, I think the adjectives make this story a contender for “best in class” or, you know, worst in class (if you don’t like mortification)

  46. Gigi*

    I supervise a team that includes a geographer. On a group email, including my boss, I corrected her and said that Papua New Guinea is in Africa. It’s not. It’s a small Pacific island, which both the geographer and my boss very sweetly corrected me on in emails just to me. Since I’m no stranger to mortification, I knew the only thing to do was to email the whole group again and own the misfiling in my brain of an entire country and the bizarre sense of hubris that led me to correct THE GEOGRAPHER. Everyone was very nice about it. I still haven’t stopped feeling like a ding dong.

    1. Observer*

      , I knew the only thing to do was to email the whole group again and own the misfiling in my brain of an entire country and the bizarre sense of hubris that led me to correct THE GEOGRAPHER.

      That was an excellent save.

    2. Anonymoose*

      Thankfully, I never said it out loud, but until I was probably … 20ish?… I thought that Monaco was the capital of Morocco–solely because they sounded somewhat related. I thank the lucky stars that never came up in a trivia game or conversation because I’d have said it with SUCH confidence.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve done something similar. I have difficulty with facial recognition sometimes, a thing I definitely know about myself. I should know better, yet when my coworker was addressing a colleague that he obviously knew (and I knew too, but had confused with another person), I tried several times to quietly correct my coworker addressing this person by the correct name. Fortunately I don’t think either of them realized what I was doing because it sounded like this:

      Coworker John: “Ah, Steve’s an expert on this, let’s get his opinion”
      Me, very quietly: “George”
      John to Steve: “So, Steve, what do you think about the project?”
      Me, very quietly: “George”

  47. Goose*

    First thing to know is that I am very faceblind.

    I was running an conference with staff volunteers whom I was friendly with, and one of them was getting on my last nerve for some long forgotten reason. At this point in the week I was three days without sleep, so I pulled aside another coworker who was friends outside of work with annoying volunteer, and went on a whole rant about how I know they are friends, and if she could just help me deal with annoying volunteer so I didn’t lose my mind.

    Turns out I was confusing annoying volunteer with another, well respected and not annoying woman. I went and hid in a closet.

    1. NYWeasel*

      My face blindness has caused soooo much mortification over the years! At work it’s usually that I realize halfway through a conversation that I mixed up who Im talking to.

    2. Elsewise*

      Oh god. I’m also mildly faceblind, but it’s a low enough threshold that I THINK I know faces a lot better than I actually do. I was at a work event, and spotted a former coworker in another department who retired a few months ago. We chatted for a few minutes, and I asked her how retirement was going. She looked at me confused for a second, and then said “Oh, you’re thinking of Alice! I’m not retired, I’m just old.”

      I was MORTIFIED. My boss AND MY grandboss came up behind me at just that moment, and she said it loudly enough that they heard, along with a good portion of the department. She was still working (and not retired) when I left three years later, and I swear I didn’t make eye contact with her the entire time.

    3. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      One of my friends, Jon Snow, was often the odd person out in college when it came to getting in project groups. So the teacher told one smallish group, “Hey, I’m assigning Jon S. to your group.”

      At just about that point, Jon Lannister bounced up to the teacher, said hi to the group, and asked the teacher about something or other. The group took notice of this and by the next day the teacher had a group letter of protest about having been assigned Jon Snow, describing Jon Lannister’s obnoxious and antisocial traits quite exactly.

      Snow would have found this insulting if it hadn’t been so exact a description of Lannister that he knew it had to have been mistaken identity. The group was very apologetic when they learned they were getting the competent Jon…

  48. Environmental Compliance*

    I once, on my last day at work, in downtown Indianapolis, managed to walk out the front door of the building and all the way to the parking garage before I realized that I had tucked the back of my dress into my nylons. Not a single person stopped me or said anything. My whole entire butt was out – not even with cute underwear, definitely an old ratty pair – for about 7 minutes.

    I also once was escorting a vendor between two sites by having them follow me in my car but ended up getting so flustered after autopilot turning the wrong way that I took them in a much longer loopier back alley type route in which it was abundantly clear that I was a bit lost.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      Oh, and my favorite: I was walking around the plant floor doing a quick pre-audit relabeling of some units, and happened to have Hips Don’t Lie stuck in my head. Apparently I was also dancing as I was walking around. Ooops.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        At my previous hospital, the only time I “met” the CFO was when I was alone on the elevator and the door opened for her to get on, and I was violating the dress code (in an employees-only office building, not the actual hospital building, so I was obviously an employee and not a patient) and dancing to a Queen song. I paused dancing, and smiled, and she smiled and made a “I’ll take the next one” gesture as the elevator door closed again.

    2. Veryanon*

      I did that too, once. I was visiting a customer site and stopped at the ladies room before my meeting. Yeah, I walked around with my backside showing for a good 30 minutes before anyone told me.

    3. Artemesia*

      There should be a woman’s compact that we always rescue each other when this happens. I was at the opera and did this and some stranger stopped me before I left the restroom or I would have been swanning about the reception area with a drink before the second act with my underwear showing.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Right??! I’ve stopped others discreetly before and let them know, and then that day I walked past *so many people* and not a single person said anything. I was flaming, beetroot red the entire 1.5hr drive home.

      2. Aitch Arr*

        I once got up in the middle of a bar and stood directly behind a total stranger to block everyone getting a view of her skirt-tucked-into-pantyhose. I gently leaned over and apologized for being in her personal space, but that she may want to adjust her skirt and pantyhose. She turned around so her backside was against the bar, and I continued to block the view while she adjusted herself.

        Sis Code.

    4. Anonymoose*

      Twice in the SAME day, my skirt was tucked into my panties after using the restroom. It was in the late 90s and those super light gauzy “broomstick” skirts were popular, so they felt like nothing. The first was at lunch w/ my husband some of his coworkers … all walking BEHIND me as we went to the register. The second was at a restaurant/bar that night on my way out of the restroom. Thankfully a woman at the bar saw and chased me to tell me before I got out into the main floor. I threw that skirt away when I got home although I loved it, but it was just Deemed Too Dangerous

  49. Alice in Blunderland*

    I feel like I have made a whole career out of dealing with mortifying moments, but the one of the moments that stand out the most to me is when I was working as a stage manager for a large theater and had to repeatedly take an actor old enough to be my father aside and ask him to wear underwear.

    He liked to wear rather short shorts to rehearsal, and his role involved a lot of getting on and off a bed onstage. From where the production team was seated in the audience, we got a clear view right up those shorts. He didn’t get the message after the first few times I suggested he wear underwear/long pants to rehearsal so finally I had to take him aside and say “BOB I CAN SEE YOUR BALLS.” I was like twenty years old at the time and our mutual mortification still haunts me to this day.

    1. Siege*

      This didn’t happen to me, but a few of my friends were in a college production of the play The Yellow Jacket. The play is very obscure (doesn’t even have a wiki listing) because the conceit behind it is really problematic, so it is rarely (possibly never) performed, and I don’t know why someone would stage it even in the 90s, when this happened. But either way, one of the characters plays some kind of criminal/pimp who dies on stage and the women he controls immediately rummage through his pockets and loot the corpse. On the day of the final dress rehearsal, his costume fell aside in such a way that you could see his groin, and you could see an extremely obvious reaction to having six women rummaging through his costume, which they actually had to do because they had to pull things out of his pockets.

      I don’t recall if for subsequent issues they changed the costume or changed how he fell or changed the undergarments (he might have been wearing tights under a front-buttoning robe?) or something else, but he was absolutely mortified. It didn’t happen again, fortunately, because of whatever they changed, but that was why he refused to wear the Easter Bunny costume a few months later for a minor festival on campus and as the only person around who was the same height (no, I don’t know why anyone bought an Easter Bunny costume that could only be successfully worn by someone over 6 feet tall) I had to wear it, which I did not want to do. But I experienced absolutely no mortification from that, just a lot of dislike and do not want, so clearly I got the better end of the stick.

    2. Petty_Boop*

      Oh he got the message; there’s no way he didn’t. He was only mortified when you made it a big loud thing in front of everyone instead of him just quietly flashing his balls and enjoying the tiptoeing around about it.

  50. Firecat*

    I was in my first office job and excited to finally have made it to the 9-5 life Id seen on TV as opposed to my atrocious fast food schedules.

    Wanting to make a good impression I showed up early at 8:45 and was surprised to be the last one in the office. So the next day I came in a little earlier, still last. Then a little earlier, very last one again. This pattern continued until Friday when I arrived at the super early time of 8:10 and yet everyone was there!

    Exasperated I just asked my trainer. Why does everyone get here so early? I’m nearly an hour before our start time at 9 and yet I’m once again the last person in! What is up with that?

    That’s when she informed me the hours were 8am-5pm with an unpaid lunch…. Up until then I had never been given the hours so I assumed it was 9-5 and no one said anything to me since my manager was remote.

    1. persimmon*

      oh nooo, that’s awful! at least you asked eventually, and they can’t say it’s your fault since no one told you in the first place

    2. AngryOctopus*

      I was temping years ago and I made a mistake filling out my timesheet on like my 5th week (I didn’t realize that the tab moved down the time column instead of to the next box and the time came in 6′ increments IIRC, so my hours for the day were weird). The admin contacted me about it but at the same time was like “I don’t understand why you’re entering 40 hours a week because we work a 37.5 hour week here at Company, so your timesheets have all been wrong.”. But nobody told me it was a 37.5 hour week! How would I know that if you don’t tell me!!
      So yeah, I feel that, but totally not your fault! How would you know if nobody told you?

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      This is actually why I despise the term “9-5”, because I’ve never worked in any office where those were the actual hours. It’s always 8-5, with unpaid lunch, and as someone who is emphatically NOT a morning person, that earlier hour really sucks.

      1. H3llifIknow*

        Yeah our “core” hours are 9-3 and everyone MUST be on the clock during those hours and the other 2 hours are theirs to decide to work before or after the core hours. But I had an employee who thought when I told him that our “Core hours are 9-3” that he ONLY had to work those hours since we are all salaried. It took me a few weeks to realize this and he was shocked and disappointed that his 6 hour day was really supposed to be an 8 hour day!

        1. No no no all the way home*

          It wouldn’t surprise me at all if a significant number of people who work 6 hour days are more productive than people working 8 hour days.

          1. H3llifIknow*

            Oh 100%. I do not actively engage with my work for the full 8 hours (fully remote), but I am available and logged in the whole time. I do keep myself at the computer (with reasonable breaks) and on Teams, etc.. for the entirety of the core hours though.

      2. Jess*

        I did for almost a decade. Small medical practioner’s office. 9-5 with paid lunch. it was the bees knees. I’m not the type to leave with stuff undone and he knew it, we never slacked off and I loved the whole environment.

      3. Firecat*

        Not to mention I’ve never worked anywhere where lunch was a guaranteed hour uninterrupted time. You are expected to work through that “unpaid” lunch very often.

      1. Don’t make me come over there*

        Yup, the summer after my freshman year of college I worked for a professor in my department. I think it was after I turned in my 2nd time card that he somewhat angrily asked me why I was claiming my lunch hour. I don’t remember what I mumbled in response, but I very definitely had that song in my head.

      2. Expelliarmus*

        Between Dolly Parton’s song and “Manic Monday” by The Bangles saying “got to be at work at 9”, I wonder if it was normal in the 80s and the common phrase just hasn’t caught up to the new norm?

        1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

          Is it common to work 8-5 in Europe? All my 9-5 jobs on the UK have been 9-5, with half an hour or an hour for lunch. 9-5 really meaning 8-5 seems to be common in the US from what I’m reading here?

  51. Rage*

    OK this one was very funny and we still laugh about it.

    One of the directors on the team I supported had a planned vacation to Yellowstone. She blocked it off on her Outlook calendar as “vacation – out with the bears”. The week before she left, we were in our weekly team meeting and she reminded everyone that she was going on vacation. This started off some casual talk about “Oh, that’s right – you’re going to Yellowstone?” She said something about “Yep, gonna go hang out with the bears.”

    Another director (S) who happened to be sitting right next to me, said, “So you’re a furry now?”

    We all DIED laughing. The division director (M) actually got up and left the room. S honestly had zero clue what he’d just said. So then another director (K) stood up, motioned for him to go out into the hallway, where he explained the cultural meaning of that term. (Oh to be a fly on the wall for that conversation!) Honestly, I was more surprised that (K) knew what it meant, than I was that (S) didn’t.

    I was still red-faced and laughing when they came back in. (S) sat down next to me and whispered, “Did you know that it meant that?” I said, “Yes! Why do you think I’m laughing?” He hissed (embarrassed), “Why didn’t you stop me?” I said, “I didn’t know you were going to say it!”

    That reminds me…I should go remind that team of this conversation. They could use a laugh today.

  52. viscouscycle*

    I once tried to reply to a work gchat while out on a hike in the woods and accidentally sent my colleague a photo I had just taken on the trail of what might have been a hibernating or a dead animal. Possibly a skunk.

  53. grapefruit*

    Not me, but happened at a previous job: For whatever reason, an email marketing template had [Dummy] as the placeholder for a person’s name instead of Test, [Firstname], or something more innocuous. You can probably see where this going. An email went out to an entire list that began “Hey Dummy,” followed by the rest of the message about subscribing to our products or something. Needless to say, that was not our most successful campaign.

    1. MsM*

      Oh no! Still, maybe could’ve been salvaged with a follow-up “oops; guess who the real dummy is!” email.

    2. Elsewise*

      Honestly, in the age of a million spam emails competing for my attention, an email preview calling me a dummy might break through the noise!

    3. saskia*

      Emails written by Liz Lemon’s worst ex-boyfriend ^

      Honestly, not as ridiculous as the one Marketplace tf sent out that contained only the message, “Hey [name], You big gay! [name]”

  54. Whoopsie Doodle*

    I went on a work trip to Nashville. There was a big reception in the evening. Since I got there early, I made the AMAZING decision to walk downtown from the hotel in 90+ Degree weather and then back before the reception. At the reception, I had a few ciders, but was not drunk. However, the combination of the alcohol, my walk, the nashville heat, and my history of poor temperature regulation/fainting led me to passing out, right in front of the head of HR of the entire 10,000 person company.

    I don’t know if they ever believed me that I wasn’t just super drunk (I SWEAR I was not), but I cringe every time I think of it. I’m not saying it wasn’t my fault, I made a series of bad choices, but I didn’t get black out drunk at a work event, I swear!!!

    1. Goose*

      I’ve had this happen! I was at my boss’s wedding, (which I had spent the previous week making party favors because she was the restaurant owner and we’re a family etc.) The venue was this gorgeous antique store but it was summer with no AC. Champagne toast hits me out of nowhere, the single stall bathrooms are full, and I run outside to puke in the parking lot. In front of all of my smoking co-workers.

      I could not convince them I was not wasted, because restaurants.

      1. negligent apparitions*

        I heat-puked in February on a work trip in DC. I was pregnant, we were in a heated tent on a rooftop near Capitol Hill. I excused myself under the guise that I had heard my boss tell that story before (which is true), but I didn’t know where the restroom was – I’m fairly certain you had to go down a floor to get to one – so I went to the corner and puked in some bushes.

        1. Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds*

          Wasn’t it Sheldon Cooper who asked Wil Wheaton which one of his bushes could use a thorough vomiting?

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Awful!

      Non-work, but I got a stomach flu in high school that came on Friday evening, so I was out with friends puking into the garbage, with a drunk woman telling me, “It’s ok, we’ve all been there.” I wasn’t even there!!!

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      This wasn’t quite as bad, but on one of my first ever Business Trips to DC I decided to make the most of it and walk all over the city checking out the sites after my fancy Business Dinner was done. I didn’t realize quite how much walking that entailed, nor that DC would still be 80+ degrees at 9pm in August, so by the time I got back to my hotel I had literally sweated through my only pair of Business Slacks and the hotel had no laundry facility. I hung them up in the shower overnight and fortunately they were decent enough to wear the next day, but I never made that mistake again!

  55. Goose*

    Another faceblind moment!

    At a restaurant with some coworkers where I run into an old friend of the family, who is the manager of the restaurant! Manager sends over a few things on the house, and I call her over by name to ask her recommendations on different dishes.

    Midway through the meal she gently lets me know that I’ve confused her for a third mutual friend.

    Left an INSANE tip.

  56. bad email etiquette*

    At my first internship in college at an alt-weekly, I was given an assignment from the music editor, who was much more intimidating than my direct supervisor. He was gruff, in his 40s or 50s, and a really great writer, so all three of those things combined to make me afraid of him. I was goofing off with my boyfriend at the time while submitting the story and typed a string of nonsense into the body of the email, like heheheheheheheeheheheheheehhe or something else juvenile. I pressed send. This was before Gmail had the 10-second “unsend” portion. I just stared at my computer, completely numb. I don’t remember what I did because I have since shame-deleted the entire thread from my email.

  57. CarCarJabar*

    I had a baby right before the pandemic, and was on maternity leave when our office was shut down. Upon returning to work, we were having a casual all-office zoom call and was invited to introduce my baby to everyone. He projectile vomited ALL OVER ME on a zoom call with my coworkers and bosses.

      1. Carlie*

        Once, when I was very low in seniority in a research facility, I had to take my new baby to work. I had to come in, even with the baby, because we had Very Important Researchers visiting our lab. I thought not a big problem, the baby won’t cause any ruckus, I just have to be there long enough to say hello and have some small talk and explain how we’re still on the daycare waiting list for a few more weeks and so on.

        Just as I was being introduced to the Very Important Researchers, holding the baby in my left arm and shaking hands with my right, the baby’s intestines (which coincidentally had seemingly not been operational for two full days) decided that was the perfect time to execute a full evacuation. The volume was like nothing I had ever seen before or since.
        It. Went. Everywhere.

    1. I Wish My Job Was Tables*

      Oh nooooo! At least if your kid becomes a comedian, now you’ll have a great story for them about their sense of comedic timing!

  58. MusicalManager*

    I work remotely and have a young child that I pump breastmilk for. one day I was participating in a company wide, full day performance review, so I had to pump while the meeting was ongoing. no big deal, tilt the camera up and all was fine.

    well, we went to take a break, so I turned my camera off (so I thought),finished pumping, but was having some issues and so I was engaging in “breast gymnastics” (which pretty much is exactly what it sounds like). realized belatedly my camera was NOT off after all. so I had vigorously shaken my boobs in front of our entire company including the CEO and president.

    fortunately everyone had the good grace to have selective amnesia about it!

  59. Liminality*

    Back in the day when it was not an option to erase and re-record voicemail, I was leaving a message while also skimming through the client’s record. The notes indicated they were unemployed and looking for a new job.
    Ever do the thing where you say what you’re reading out loud instead of what you actually intended to say?

    Intended: “Thanks, and I hope you have a great day!”
    Actually said: “Thanks, and I hope you have a great job!”

  60. Fluffy Fish*

    Not my story but my absolute favorite from a colleague

    2 EMS guys went out on a call. While they were out on a call, the smoke detector at their station went off and firefighters were summoned.

    EMS guy 1 realized he had left eggs boiling and rushed back to try to save himself from humiliation.

    It did not work. The eggs exploded and were everywhere. The stench unbearable.

    To this day people ask him for his egg recipe :)

  61. Medium Sized Manager*

    While waiting tables, I misspoke all the time and it was normally fine. For example, there’s the time I told a table that it was their responsibility to help my partner instead of the opposite, or the time I asked somebody if cooking their chicken medium well was okay. Every time, I was able to laugh it off and keep going without any issues.

    But the one that haunts me is the time I loudly told a table that I had their “spinach [Richard]” instead of spinach dip. They stared at me trying to figure out if I said [Richard] or dip, so I pretended like nothing happened (despite my bright red face) and left as fast as I could.

  62. Not Idol Materual*

    I was working in a lab for the summer and there was a separate closed off room specifically for working in cell cultures. I had wanted to try out for American Idol that fall so I spent most of my time when in that room belting out pop songs….badly. I don’t know why I had convinced myself it was soundproof but I had. At the end of the summer I walked by the room while two people were talking in it and I could hear every word. Thank god no one said anything to me about it and I left shortly after that so I didn’t have to live with the embarrassment for that long. I have no idea why people put up with it and didn’t say anything about it. Hopefully none of them wrote you a letter about their awful loud coworker with a terrible singing voice!

  63. Tantallum99*

    I’m a type A person who generally feels that if I’m not doing at least two things at once I’m wasting time. Hence I’m frequently writing, typing or texting while preoccupied. As such I am prone to typos and missed autocorrects. Some examples (for reference I work in healthcare):
    —I sign contracts with the VA and as per usual they sent me one at the end of the day on 12/31 one year that needed to get signed so there was no gap in services on 1/1. In addition to my sig, I had to print my title but the line was too small to type out the whole “Assistant Vice President” so I decided to abbreviate. Instead of shortening it to VP, I instead absentmindedly wrote on all these federal documents that I was an Ass Vice President
    —I was texting with a resident physician trainee and typed “…epi pen is…” and autocorrect changed it to ‘epic penis’
    —Another autocorrect I missed: I texted a colleague to cover an unscheduled absence on a clinical shift but the S got swapped for a D = Dick Call

    1. Carlie*

      I had a friend who worked awhile for a sheet music company. They had contracts with many churches, and the friend told me the company had learned the hard way that the first thing to teach new employees was that the proper mailing abbreviation for one denomination was NOT “Ass. of God”.

      1. Sal*

        I have just learned that the most embarrassing abbreviation in legal citation that one was nevertheless required to use (“Cnty.” for “County”) was changed eight years ago (but five years after I graduated from law school, which was the last time I checked, sigh…).

      2. Universe Queen*

        We abbreviate alot at my job but even after years of being here I cannot get my coworkers to stop abbreviating Methodist church as Meth Church.

    2. Siege*

      We use a lot of three-letter title abbreviations at my workplace … except not for the Administrative Support Specialist.

      I can’t decide whether I want to suggest we change the title when we revamp the job (because surely, SURELY, everyone knows what that abbreviates to, right?) or if I want to keep my mouth shut because my boss has on occasion asked about the progress of the ASS hiring round with a seemingly straight face and I don’t want to be the one to make it weird.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        My college changed the name of “Financial Aid” department which was often abbreviated “Fin Aid,” pronounced “Fine Aid,” to “Financial Assistance” department. I kept waiting and waiting for the casual abbreviation of “Fine Ass” but it didn’t seem to take.

    3. Dawn*

      Ok “epic penis” is the one that finally sent me out of this whole thread, congratulations

  64. HereAgain*

    One of my first jobs was as a bus boy at a restaurant. I was asked to clean the walls and was given a sponge and a spray bottle. I went around the entire restaurant cleaning every wall and finally finished. A couple of days later I came in for a shift and the dark green carpet had turned yellow in a strip around the entire restaurant where the carpet meets the wall. I guess there was bleach in that bottle. No one ever mentioned it and I didn’t stay there much longer.

  65. starsaphire*

    Picture it: Silicon valley, 1990s, working in the server room of a smallish company.

    Now, the server didn’t need a whole room to itself – the IT guys had desks and a workbench in there, plus a copier and fax machine, etc. And there was a single table squeezed into a corner where my “department” worked as well – two of us, with two workstations, sharing one table. The dude I worked with had been there longer, so he got the nicer spot in the corner; I was squeezed onto the edge of the table, right next to where the server sat. Nowhere for me to put my things – I wedged my purse between the wall and the back of my tower.

    And then one day, I came back from a break, wedged my purse into its usual spot – and it fell over.

    Right onto the spaghetti. (The huge mass of cables between the server and the wall.)

    Yep. I brought down the whole network.

    Mortified doesn’t even half cover it. But the next day, the IT crew found me a little more space to stash my things… and they eventually forgave me, about half a dozen batches of cookies later.

  66. Reality Check*

    Driving to work one day in crisp white pants. Spilled coffee all onto my lap/crotch. I was too far in to turn around and go home to put on a clean pair. Horrible huge stain. Luckily I had a sweater at the office that I tied around my waist, backwards, to try and cover it. That’s how I learned to always keep a change of clothes at work…

    1. Breaking Dishes*

      I drink a lot of coffee so spill it regularly. I didn’t see that it was white pants at first. Oh no. And I never wear white pants – though coffee is not the only reason. I know I’d get them dirty somehow!

      1. allathian*

        This is why I almost always wear black pants. The main reason is that I have an unconscious habit of wiping my hands on my pants multiple times a day. It’s an innocent enough habit that I’m not motivated to change, given that I can deal with it easily enough by always wearing black pants.

    2. Teapot Unionist*

      I have always toyed around with making a line of khakis that are marketed by the color of one’s coffee and actually match the color as much as possible.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        This is why anything that is brown paisley and vaguely work-appropriate is an auto-buy for me, although it’s usually tops in my case. It’s not that brown is my favorite color, it’s that coffee is my favorite beverage.

      2. catsoverpeople*

        Love this idea, please do! Label the medium tan “pumpkin spice latte” and you’ll sell out in a heartbeat.

  67. AnonaTiger*

    I once had a very difficult coworker- Anabelle was aggressive, uncooperative and mean. Thankfully, I was on her good side and could find a way to work with her when necessary. It was one of those summer Friday afternoons when half the office was already gone, and Elle, a different, very pleasant coworker approached me to say that the office smelled funny and there was a trail of something on the carpet…. Elle and I decided it was quittin’ time and we weren’t dealing with it. Queue the next Monday, Elle and I arrive to overhear Annabelle talking on the phone to someone in a different department- telling her all about her explosive diarrhea that rolled down her leg all the way out our office, down the elevator, through the lobby and parking lot and into her car ALL THE WAY HOME.

    1. No no no all the way home*

      I think the words “aggressive, uncooperative, and mean” perfectly describe the kind of person who is well aware they are leaving a trail of literal shit for other people to clean up.

  68. DramaQ*

    I worked with a collaborator whose last name was Wang. Which is pronounced Wong but my dyslexic brain pronounced it exactly as it was written. I kept saying “Wang project”. There are several seconds of silence from my boss and he goes “It is pronounced Wong”. Well now I am embarrassed so dyslexia REALLY kicks in and I keep saying “Wang” over and over again as my face turns redder and redder. I finally said “Can we just pretend this conversation never happened?” I will never forget proper pronunciation for the rest of my life.

    1. persimmon*

      Oh noooo!! That’s so awful… my boss’s last name is Wang and I live in fear of making that slip

    2. LCH*

      I had an assistant with this last name and was always worried I was going to say it wrong even knowing the right pronunciation.

  69. AuroraDream*

    In a previous life I worked for a tax accounting firm (which was SUCH a toxic work place, I could make a scarf out of the red flags I can now identify thanks to AAM) in an administrative role. One of the tasks I had during the final week of tax season was to order lunch for everyone in the office. Now this was my first tax season with this company and it had a much larger client list than the previous firm, so stress was even higher for me than the previous year. After handing out everyone’s lunch, I go and look at mine and find I can’t eat it due to it having an ingredient, not listed in the description, that I am highly allergic to. I just snapped and broke down into tears. Like, finding a corner in a coworker’s office, crumpling to the ground, and sobbing loudly and uncontrollably.

    Eventually, I did pull myself together and finished out the day, but there were definitely a few people who made loud comments about my crying over ‘just a lunch’ that made the situation all the more mortifying for me.

    Now, I can look back on it and just sigh. That whole office was as toxic as the food would have been for me. Luckily, I now work for a great boss and company that isn’t “a family!” but a team.

  70. Lorna*

    I had the questionable honour of reliving a primary school mishap as a 40 year old woman.
    Had my skirt tucked into my underwear and nylons coming back from the bathroom and walked around like that for most of the morning, wondering why everyone was so giddy and giggly behind my back. A kind soul told me at lunch time but my face stayed beetroot for the rest of the day

    1. No no no all the way home*

      Every one of those “giddy and giggly” people who didn’t say anything to you is an asshole.

  71. baseballfan*

    This didn’t happen to me, but it happened near me. I was doing a short rotation in the global headquarters office of my Big 4 accounting firm, and was sitting near the assistant to the CEO.

    One day she sent out an email, from his email account as those types of assistants often do, announcing a small change in the staffing. Something along the lines of “so and so was my only assistant, but now both so and so and Y person will be supporting me.” The email was supposed to go out to a small handful of people in the global headquarters office, but instead it went out to basically the entire firm; apparently she accidentally used an email group with tens of thousands of people. And it was sent under his name.

    I found her at her desk nearly in tears. I’m sure her boss had many more important things to think about, and I doubt he was very disturbed by it, and I’m sure all the people who got the email and didn’t need the information simply deleted it and went on about their day. But it was difficult to convince her of that at the time, though I hope she’s gotten over it by now.

  72. Stella70*

    I was in a meeting and a wild arm movement (my own, sadly) made my coffee mug sail off the table, and onto my lap. I was soaked! I excused myself and ran to the nearest bathroom to take care of my wet pants.
    It was one of those unisex, no stall, single toilet restrooms on the lowest floor. In my haste to get back to the meeting, I evidently didn’t lock the door behind me as I started to mop the coffee from my pants.
    The door opened and in walked the most meek and mild coworker I had. He was a very nice man but highly prone to blushing and unwarranted embarrassment. He and I locked eyes, and he instantly turned bright red while hustling back out the door.
    I felt so bad that I hurried out, too, and yelled down the hall after him, “CARL, I HADN’T EVEN PULLED MY PANTS DOWN YET!”
    No response from Carl.
    I turned back to return to the bathroom, realizing that the Board of Directors were on their annual tour of the facilities and had just rounded the corner when I was shouting to Carl.
    Never one to freeze in the moment (I do hate to brag), I pointed confidently at my crotch and announced, “I’m wet”.
    And that was the last day Carl ever made eye contact with me.

        1. ICodeForFood*

          LOL! I just laughed so hard at Anonymoose’s response that it’s a good thing I’m alone!

    1. Anonymoose*

      OMG I chuckled and laughed at a lot of these, but this. THIS. THIS thing of utter comedic beauty had me in tears of absolute joy from laughing so damn hard. We lost our pet a couple of weeks ago and this was the first time I have let go to this degree. Thank you.

      1. Stella70*

        You have no idea what that means to me. Thank you for letting me know, and I am so sorry you lost your little one. May all your wonderful memories bring you comfort.

    2. Rivakonneva*

      I laughed so hard at this! Thank goodness for a private office with a closed door. :)

      Even if it is 62 degrees in here. My quilt and space heater are keeping me alive.

  73. Anon For Obvious Reasons*

    A few decades ago, as a fresh graduate, I was working in a very large office with a sick room where folks could lay down if they felt unwell while waiting for the on staff nurse. There was also a very small toilet accessed via the sick room. If you opened the doors to both the sick room and toilet it was visible to the entire floor. I’ve always very bad menstual issues, this new job involved an hours commute by train followed by a 40minute walk, and I forgot to eat that day. I don’t remember going to the sick room, though apparently I told my manager where I’d be, and I don’t remember what happened in the two hours I was in there. I DO remember coming round after I passed out on the toilet to find the maintenance guy and my manager shaking me. Then I registered that everyone else was still at their desks and could definitely see me. Twenty one years and I still cringe

  74. Celeste*

    I was in a meeting with several higher ups and had dry lips. I figured I’d just add a quick swipe of lipstick and it’d be all good. I did that without a mirror a couple of times through the course of the meeting, and realized I was getting odd looks. I went to the ladies room afterwards and realized it’d bled something fierce so I looked like Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker! Lesson learned: test out your new red lipstick at home before you wear it in public!

  75. Voodoo Priestess*

    Not at work, but work adjacent. At my first job out of school, one of the senior Principal engineers found out I rode bikes and invited me on a ride with a couple other co-workers. Now, I had only recently started *really* riding bikes and while I had great fitness, the whole clip-in pedals were a bit new. The group stopped ahead of me at a gas station and when I came to a stop next to them, I didn’t get unclipped from my bike in time and I proceeded to fall over. As I fell, I reached out to try to stop myself and I managed to grab the Principal right in the crotch as I tumbled, bringing him and his bike down with me. I’m not sure if it was better or worse because I was the only female in the group. Luckily, no person (or bike) was hurt, everyone got a laugh out of it, and we did several more rides with no falling or inappropriate touching.

    I no longer participate in work social events that involve head-to-toe spandex. I save that for my private time. :)

  76. Anon for this one for reasons*

    I used to work at a large internet news/tech company where we sent out regular newsletters to subscribers.

    One day, I sent a newsletter to over a million subscribers, as was my job. The HTML version had an image. There are two ways to link said image. One is using the external URL, and the other is using the internal URL. Guess which one I used on that fateful day? The one that asked for login credentials to access the internal URL so that the image would load. There were a number of individuals who were incandescent that we changed our newsletters to require a login.

    While my coworkers were laughing at me (rightfully so) I did go to the team lead editor, owned up to the error, and I rapidly sent out an “oops” e-mail.

    Now, what disappoints me the absolute most is that I have never, not even once, in the 22 years since then been asked in an interview the question “Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work, and how you handled it?” Because this was the absolute perfect scenario.

    1. metadata minion*

      My answer to that, if I’m ever asked, will be to tell them about the time I accidentally billed someone for over $500k in library late fees, because I accidentally pasted their student number into the amounts field. Luckily if you do this the Bursar calls you right away and so I could reverse it, I hope before the poor student ever knew.

  77. PippiMom*

    I once ran into a neighbor who worked in another department at large university at a staff-type meeting on campus.

    He saw me, said hi, and said something to the effect of “I almost didn’t recognize you!”

    Because this (very proper and religious) neighbor typically saw me in the neighborhood dressed very casually walking my dogs, I meant to say “you never see me dressed for work” but instead I saw “you never see me dressed!” in front of several of his colleagues.

    I still cringe when thinking about this.

    1. AnonORama*

      I had a coworker who always wore shorts (like, even if it was 12 degrees) and the one time I saw him with pants I literally said, from down the hall, “Hey, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you with pants on before!”

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        That would be even worse in the UK, as “pants” for us means your underpants ….

  78. Jadzia Snax*

    September 2020, the ultimate “accidental unmuted” nightmare… I had a quarterly one-on-one with my boss back-to-back with a departmental training session. One-on-one finished five minutes early so I signed on to the training session meeting. I THOUGHT I had pressed the mute button…except I in fact had UNmuted myself, turned my back to the computer (thus missing all the desperate texts asking me to mute myself) and preceded to animatedly recount the entire check-in to my partner. Highlights included my going on a whole tirade about how “obviously I deserve this promotion” (my boss had promised it might actually happen after they’d been promising it to me for three years), good-naturedly making fun of a friend coworker, and shit-talking the hell out of my nemesis coworker until I finally realized what had happened.

    I missed the entire training session because I spent a half an hour with my face buried in a couch pillow wailing in embarrassment & anguish. Thank god only about five other people had also logged on early & heard it; my friend coworker who I razzed thought it was hilarious; and somehow no one heard the details of my shit-talking my nemesis coworker. As my boss predicted, it blew over quite quickly with no lasting repercussions, but I never had experienced the “wanting to die of shame” emotion until that day. Needless to say, I no longer gossip with my partner anywhere close to work meetings.

    1. Elsewise*

      Just a few weeks ago at the end of the fiscal year, we got notifications of our cost of living adjustments. HR sent out an email to all staff saying that your supervisor will give you your new compensation letter, and you should talk to them first if you have questions. Only they forgot to put the all-staff email on bcc, so someone managed to reply-all to the ENTIRE COMPANY asking her boss to please urgently schedule a meeting with her to discuss compensation, because she really deserved a better raise. About two hours later it was followed by an apology and a “please disregard”. I felt so bad for her.

    2. I Have RBF*

      Oh, yeah, the accidental unmute before a meeting. I was in a meeting, showed up early, etc. As people were chit-chatting, I thought I was muted, but apparently had hit the space bar or something. So when there was a commotion in the house at the front door, I yelled, loudly, “What the fuck? What the fuck is going on out there?” as my coworkers were trying to tell me I wasn’t muted. I was embarrassed.

      Then there was the guy who was in a meeting while he was at the dentist on his phone. He said his piece, and then apparently put his phone in his pocket. It proceeded to unmute, and we were all regaled by his getting reamed by his dentist for not brushing and flossing, etc.

      1. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

        Why doesn’t the host mute these things?! Why haven’t we learnt this even by now?!

      2. Cheese Victim*

        Sooooo I was in a training session hosted by our foundation, which handles development and stewardship for my very large employer (and the staff of which routinely meet with millionaires). We were using WebEx, because this was in Fall 2020, i.e. the days where it was a free-for-all as to what platform any given meeting might involve. Apparently there was some glitch between WebEx and my laptop, because in a previous meeting the little “mute” icon was on but people could hear the birds outside my window. Maybe I should have known not to trust the mute status, but alas, I learned nothing. So I join the training and we’re all there just awkwardly sitting in silence before it actually starts, and they drop a link in the chat for something we need to download. I can’t get the download to work. Nor the second time. Nor the third time. I, muted, say loudly and flatly, “I am going to lose my fucking shit,” and immediately “Now speaking: Cheese Victim” pops up as the banner. Apparently everyone else was either ACTUALLY muted or not paying attention, because none of the ~50 people on the call said a thing.

        (In my defense, if you’re running a training, ya gotta know to set the defaults so everyone is muted when they join.)

  79. Tubthumping*

    Not me (thankfully), but this happened to my boss a couple of weeks ago and I still die thinking about it.

    Boss was muted on a multi-hours-long conference call on his Air Pods and iPhone and a call came in from an notoriously difficult client. My boss said, out loud, “Christ, I don’t have the energy for this.”

    Turns out in these kinds of circumstances, Siri will oh-so-helpfully automatically text what you say to the person calling you.

    I would’ve given up and crawled under my desk for the rest of the day, but my boss found it funny enough that he’s told the story to just about everyone in our office.

    1. Anonymoose*

      Sort of related. We were in a Teams meeting with our vendor. The program manager, “Julia” was a pain. She pushed back on everything, I was constantly having to pull paragraphs from our contract to say, “yes, you do actually owe us this document/task/whatever,” etc.. So, I was screen sharing but in the MS Chat to my team had typed, “God I wish Julia wasn’t here. She’s such a pain and an obstacle to getting anything done.” Then I close the document I was screen sharing….which left my Teams chat window on the screen but I was oblivious until MY BOSS “took control” of the screen and then sent me a message saying, “Look what you had on your screen!!” Neither Julia nor anyone on her team ever said anything, but MY team STILL reminds me to “STOP SHARING” and not just close the document when I’m leading a meeting and when one of us types an insult, we’ll say “Do NOT screen share this!”

  80. Ahem*

    In my early 20s I was having a particularly bad day at what is still, 20 years later, the worst job I ever had. I sent an email to my sister venting about my work, the office, management, the structure; I mean it was meant for my sister and I left no grievance unaired. Four letter words were used liberally throughout this email. Hit send, and not five minutes later I got an email from my boss’ boss and all it said was “I suspect this wasn’t meant for me?”. In my fit in anger I did not notice somehow my grand boss’ email had autopopulated instead of my sisters’. To this day I don’t know how I didn’t get fired but when I tell you my soul left my body…

    Also, I’d like to note that ever since that incident my emails from my work computer could be a masterclass in how to send neutral, just-the-facts-ma’am messages.

    1. Relentlessly Socratic*

      UGH back in the day, I had my work e-mail and home e-mail feed into the same e-mail client (yeah yeah, I know, I know, it was a different time). I (female) saw what looked like a cool show at a local venue, copied the link, popped it in an e-mail and said “Hey, looks fun, we should go!” and typed in the first two letters of my (male) friend’s name and hit send.

      Almost immediately, one of my students replied back that he didn’t think this was appropriate (college student, but still ick!) As my soul left my body, I replied that it was an autocomplete error and it OBVIOUSLY wasn’t meant for him. I am still dead and am typing this from beyond the grave.

    2. Euphony*

      As a university student in the pre-social media era, typing in whole email addresses to all your friends could take a while, so I was excited to discover the feature that would allow you to just type a short name rather than the whole email address. Around 50 email funnies later, some of which were definitely NSFW, I discovered that this feature conflicts with distribution lists. So my emails weren’t going to my friend Adrian and were in fact going to the ENTIRE faculty staff of the Adrian building.

  81. Minimal Pear*

    Allison I was so hoping you would do one of these soon!
    I bought a pair of very cool secondhand pants and decided to wear them to work, on a day where we would NOT be at the location close to my home. (I had worn these pants many times before, without any problems.) While I was getting ready in the morning, the zipper split, but I got it back together and continued about my day.
    Well, at one point, my coworkers and I were walking around. I was clearly visible to everyone. And the zipper split again. The butt seam, as it turns out, was also unraveling, so my pants all but(t?) fell off my body. In front of the whole office. We were hours away from my home, so I couldn’t go back and grab new pants.
    Luckily, I was wearing a longer shirt, so I was able to pull it down and cover myself up. There was one button still holding my pants together, so they stayed up, and with the shirt pulled down, it looked fine. But they did very much disintegrate while people were looking at me.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        I totally panicked and made it worse by announcing to several people near me that my pants broke!

  82. gingerbread*

    My first part-time office job, I’m a college student and by far the youngest person in the office. My lunch came with a mayonnaise packet, the kind that you have to press down on each end to get the mayo to squirt out the middle. I was having trouble getting the mayo out, and at some point put it up close to my face to inspect how it was supposed to work. In doing so, I successfully got the mayo to squirt out, but of course it squirted in my face… on my glasses, in my hair… everywhere. I did not have a mirror at my desk so I cleaned up as much as I could before heading to the restroom to finish. As I walked into the restroom, the CFO came out of a stall about the time I began trying to get the mayo out of my hair. She took one look at me and asked, “Well, did you at least get the promotion?”

    1. No no no all the way home*

      This is definitely mortifying. I’ve laughed at several of these stories, but his one made me gasp and cringe. It sounds like something that might be said by a completely inappropriate woman I happen to know (she has commented on my “boobs” in front of other people).

    2. I Have RBF*

      Ahahahahaha! That’s hilarious!

      That CFO has probably the dryest sense of humor I’ve heard of in a long time.

  83. eeeeeeeek*

    Oh, I have a great one — and it’s also a great reminder that sometimes, working with family blurs your boundaries.

    My first job in high school, I worked for my uncle, who owned his own insurance agency. He had me servicing polices, doing customer service, taking payments, low-level stuff. It was a good job for learning the ropes of how to be responsible in an office setting, but not terribly exciting. There was one interesting thing, though — one of the carrier reps whose territory we were in would come in and chat with my uncle. I definitely got the impression they were into each other, and was secretly rooting for them to date. Well, one evening (after this rep had visited that day), I had to call in and leave a message for my uncle at the office (back when we had answering machines and no cell phones) with some info he needed. But! As I dialed the phone number and listened to it ring, I was talking to my mother (his sister) about how so-and-so had come in today and why weren’t they dating already….and yes, that was the first half of the message I left on the machine. I absolutely shrieked when I realized what I’d done.

    My uncle very kindly never said a word to me or my mother about it. However, every chance he gets he kindly, blandly and innocently updates me on how this carrier rep is doing.

  84. Aaron*

    I was absentmindedly fiddling with my iPhone during a sales call and accidentally activated the SOS feature! All of a sudden the meeting is interrupted by Siri announcing “calling emergency services” as I wasn’t muted. I quickly assured besides fidgeting and needing a better outlet for it than my phone I was medically fine.

  85. Casey*

    Not as mortifying as some of the other stories here, but I still cringe when I think about it.

    Coworker (talking to a group of coworkers, just as I joined the conversation): “And then I had to yell ‘Alexa!!! Turn off the light already!!!'”
    Me (wondering who he was talking to so rudely, knowing he doesn’t have anyone in his family named ‘alexa’): “Is Alexa your cleaning help?”
    Long, awkward silence until someone helpfully explained.

  86. limping around*

    When I was a teenager and had barely started my first job (seriously, I think this happened like a week after I was hired) I injured my foot, but was so scared of getting in trouble/being seen as lazy/I don’t even know what, that I went to work anyway despite barely being able to put weight on it. It must have been pretty obvious there was something wrong because less than an hour into my shift my manager YELLED across the whole store (so all the customers and other employees got to hear!) STOP LIMPING AROUND AND GO HOME.

    I was mortified at the time, but now I’m very grateful my first boss was the kind of person who would tell the injured kid to go home instead of letting him limp around. I still wish he’d done it more quietly though!

    1. limping around*

      Oh yeah – and of course my parents laughed their butts off when I got home. They had told me to call out, I told them “no way, i’m fine,” and then, y’know, here I was.

  87. IrishGirl*

    This isnt too bad but the first day of work fresh our of college I was being walked around and introduced to all the people in my new department. Everything was going fine until I was by 1 co-workers desk where there happened to be the smallest little hole about the size of a stiletto heel in the carpet. Most people knew about it and very few actually wore heels that would get trapped. As I tried to walk away to the next co-worker I walked right out off my shoe and almost landed on my face as clearly my shoe was in just the right place that it was stuck. Needless to say I was mortified and wanted to cry. I heard about that for a good year after that and before they replaced the carpet, they told people about the hole so it wouldnt happen again.

    1. Artemesia*

      My brother who is 6’3″ was interviewing for a CEO position and was seated on a couch chatting with the Chairman of the Board and his top team, when a cabinet door above him swung open. When he stood up, he hit that thing with the force of a vigorous launch from a seated position and knocked himself out. Still got the offer.

      1. Observer*

        Oh my goodness! I ducked just reading this.

        I imagine the team must have been equally mortified. I’m glad he got the job and was ok.

  88. Grandma Mazur*

    I had been working at a new job for less than six months and had come from academia so was a little… unfamiliar with professional norms. Whenever anyone at this workplace was leaving or going on parental leave, or sometimes celebrating a milestone birthday, the tradition was that everyone would gather around the person’s desk (open-plan office) while their manager or team lead said a few nice things and gave them their gift and card. On this particular occasion, the person was close enough to me that I could remain seated at my own desk, with lots of other people, including a director, standing near me. Everyone was fairly quiet or whispering to their neighbour while the presentation was in progress, when my desk phone rang. I hate talking on the phone anyway, and my overwhelming reaction was “oh no, this is disturbing everyone’s experience of the presentation!”, so I… picked up the handset and set it straight back down again, thereby hanging up on whoever was calling. It was only when the director looked at me in utter horror that I realised I perhaps hadn’t made the best choice and I should have just answered the call as normal while everything continued around me. That Director terrified me and I don’t think her opinion of me ever really recovered.

    1. Expelliarmus*

      But if you answered the call while everything continued around you, wouldn’t it have been distracting to the caller?

  89. XYZ*

    Spring 2020 and working remotely with my desk setup in the living room (only place I could connect my desktop to the router) while doing at home school with 3 kids. Doing the best I could like everyone else in that time. We had a weekly meeting with all of my team and high level people from other teams to go over any issues, keep on top of upcoming outages, plan for new releases, etc. Due to covid the meeting was now a call. I was still pretty new and almost never spoke in this meeting so I always put myself on mute.

    Before getting on the call I warned my kids to turn off the TV and find something to do because I had to be on the phone. They were okay at first but at some point they came in and were arguing and never turned off the TV so I yelled at them. There was a brief pause on the call and my boss says, “XYZ, you aren’t muted!” followed by laughter. One of the higher-ups doesn’t have kids and commented that it was “a good reminder of what people are dealing with.” I apologized profusely, muted myself, and wanted to die from embarassment. It still get brought up and laughed about now and even I can laugh now that time has passed.

    1. Anonymoose*

      I did something similar on call. I was leading a call and was asking a question and said, “Kevin…” at the same time my dog was barking at a dustball or something equally stupid and I THOUGHT I muted while saying “be quiet or I will beat you like a rug!” But I wasn’t on mute so what they all heard was “Kevin, be quiet or I will beat you like a rug.” I explained and they all laughed but…. it was a running joke for quite a while. (P.S. I do not and never have beat my dog).

  90. Mollie*

    This was a near miss, but I’m still kind of mortified when I think of how this easily could have gone. I work in social services, and at the time I was working at a satellite location that nobody paid much attention to. I was in my first couple months, and I would generally be the one to go to the door when people walked in looking for services or had questions. Somebody came in, and my default was to ask what services they were looking for, but in the smallest of split seconds, I paused before I spoke, and it somehow hit me that this was our non-profit’s president (who had I never met, only seen a photo of, and I’m terrible with faces). I still can’t believe that somehow I recognized him and did not go into client-mode. I still cringe at how it very easily could have gone another way.

    1. Artemesia*

      If he were any sort of human, he would have been impressed with your grace at greeting new clients since you had NEVER MET him.

      1. DannyG*

        First day at a new hospital. A man comes up to our bulletproof window and says “Let me in!”. This is a secure, limited access area and I replied “And who are you?” (No name badge). It was the CEO. Thankfully, he realized he wasn’t wearing his badge, apologized, said I had been absolutely correct, went and got his badge, then came back.

        1. londonedit*

          I mean, Roger Federer was nearly refused entry to Wimbledon (last year, I think?) because he forgot his pass, so he’s in good company! (The other day he posted a brilliant photo online of himself with not one but two Wimbledon passes, saying ‘I remembered this time!’)

    2. Armchair Analyst*

      I was alone in the elevator with my nonprofit organization’s President and the only thing I could think of was that a recent article about our sector had praised our President as not as overpaid as our competitors’ leadership.

      Thank the goddesses that my filter kicked in and I didn’t say that.

  91. El Camino*

    Work attire faux pas at my first office job. I had fallen victim to the style guides and work attire advice from the likes of Glamour magazine (my favorite lunch break read at the time)…it was also around the time the show New Girl came out and I was obsessed with how Zooey Deschanel’s character dressed. She would wear shorts with black tights and I thought it was the cutest thing – and a great workaround for me, as I’m somewhat insecure about my bare legs. So I picked up a pair of “tailored”-style shorts from Forever 21 and some matching not-quite-opaque tights. And 4-inch T-strap heels (as you do). I thought I was so chic and fashionable walking into my little 20-person office until I saw the widening eyes and stares. It was a business casual office and I think because I was normally a very conservative dresser, no one said anything explicitly to me but I immediately realized shorts at the office were a no-no, even if they were in dress pants material and Glamour said it was on trend.

    Yeah, hid behind my desk as much as I could the rest of the day and never wore those shorts again/donated them when I moved. Sometimes I wish I kept them though; that outfit was cute even if not work appropriate. But I was too mortified to ever even look at them again lol.

    1. MammaMia*

      I feel you!!
      I decided to wear at work a really nice blouse. Oh, yes it was a bit sheer and see-through with that white lace, but where was the problem with that, right???
      My TM was kind enough to pull me aside and explain to 23-year-old young me that letting your coworkers see the colour of your bra is a no-no. She was kind enough to land me her blazer, but boy, I still cringe thinking about that blouse.

    2. Pam*

      Oh no! I feel this pain so much.

      When I was first putting together my professional wardrobe, I didn’t have much money and was getting all my clothes from second-hand stores. It was tough to find things in my exact size, so I was used to wearing things that didn’t quite fit.

      I picked up a nice dress that was a little tight. Turns out that when I walked, the skirt rode up. And up. Until it became a shirt. It was a really cute dress and one of the nicer things I owned, so I kept trying to wear it until a nice lady stopped me to say that she could see my underwear.

  92. Free(lance) Willy*

    Do not Google this at work, but once I was talking with some colleagues and a couple of TMs about the image editor G.I.M.P..
    Now, English is not my first language, so I read the name not letter by letter, but as a word.
    Then I said, “Oh, I love Gimp! Let’s go crazy with it, I think everyone should try it at least once!”

    They laughed so hard they cried. I wanted to cry when one of them explained to me what “gimp” means in an… activities for adults-only kind of context.

    1. LJ*

      Wait isn’t that how you say the image editor GIMP? Like a word, not letter by letter?

      I’m sure there are regional variations, but fwiw many acronyms in English which could be pronounced like a word, are pronounced like a word – e.g. CAD ( ‘kad’, not See-Eh-Dee), UNICEF, POTUS

    2. amoeba*

      I’m not in an English-speaking country so might be wrong, but “gimp” is definitely the only way I’ve ever heard it pronounced!

      1. Ally McBeal*

        The only context I’ve ever heard “gimp” in is as a rude word for someone with a limp or other mobility impairment, but a quick look at Urban Dictionary indicates an alternate meaning that’s tied to BDSM.

    3. I Have RBF*

      I always say it as “Gimp”. I don’t spell it out.

      See, there are several meaning of the word.
      * A slightly derisive term for a physical disability
      * A sewing technical term for a type of braid sewn onto fabric or into a seam
      * A fetish and/or fetish wear
      * The image editing program

      I worry about your office if the first meaning that they think of is the fetish one…

  93. Jules*

    After lunch one day, I was about to go over some configuration with a customer. When I went to share my screen, up pops the window where I had been looking over the next pick for an online romance novel book club I was a part of. Think of the most stereotypical bodice ripper romance cover, half clothed man with a woman in his arms, one shoulder bared in a pose of ecstasy, and that was what was proudly displayed on my screen. I sort of paused and hear snickers in the silence of the phone. Luckily, I had a close enough relationship with the customers at this point that it wasn’t the end of the world, but I did end up mumbling something like “I am a part of a romance book club and was looking at the next pick over lunch” before changing to the correct screen. Nowadays I make sure only to share the Window and not the whole monitor.

  94. Accidental Manager*

    Many years ago, while working in an office during the day, I had a seasonal job in the evenings at the call center of a local, well-known retailer. I went by my middle name at the call center, first name at my primary job. A call came in at my primary job which I promptly answered using my greeting from my call center job. The person calling apologized for dialing a wrong number and hung up. I went back to whatever task I had been doing until I noticed three other co-workers looking at me like I had three heads. They had just finished explaining what I had done when the phone rang again. It was the same person, I greeted them appropriately this time and they mentioned that someone at the local retailer sounds just like me!

  95. Starry Starry Night*

    My coworker (higher ranking, but not my boss) and I were getting ready to work the early shift together – meaning we were both on our computers at home. He sent a quick greeting via Slack and I decided to send back a “good morning” GIF. (In Slack, this means you type in a “find me a GIF” command, followed by the topic. It shows you a bunch of GIFs for that topic, you pick one and click “send”.)

    One of the GIFs suggested was shown in the preview as a cartoon sheep running up the hill with the sun rising over it and the words “Good morning” appearing in the sky. It seemed cheerful and friendly, so I clicked “send” – only to realise that I hadn’t watched the full GIF, and he received a GIF that didn’t just say “Good morning…”. I watched and watched as the letters kept on coming, until the final message said: “Good morning, I love you.”

    Fortunately, he’s an all-round good egg who thought it was hilarious. So while my mortification was intense, it was also short. Still, lesson learned – always watch a GIF to the end before you send!

  96. MoodySloth*

    Our campus was hosting open forums for candidates for a director position. I was listening in on the zoom feed while in my office and the candidate answered a question nonsensically. I just snorted and said, “That’s a no from me, dawg.”

    My boss came running over to my office to tell me to mute my feed. And yes, there were definitely people who heard it.

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I had a job where we gave presentations to clients. One of my team’s clients was notoriously difficult to deal with and stressed us all WAY out. Their project lead, Jan, was particularly tough to deal with — totally unreasonable and very demanding.

      So one day we were presenting something and Jan is off on her usual crap, and someone (not me thank goodness) says in the internal group chat, “For f’s sake Jan.”

      Only to realize that the person presenting 1. is still sharing their screen and 2. has not muted notifications, as “For f’s sake Jan” pops up in the bottom corner of the screenshare.

      On the plus side one of Jan’s frustrating features was she never paid attention to a damn thing we were presenting, and there was no evidence that she saw this notification. But my entire team basically immediately died of mortification.

      (An aside: Yes, we were wildly unprofessional in the internal chat. My only excuse is that leadership absolutely forbade us to say no to clients even when they were asking for things that were literally impossible, and the stress of this led us to blow off steam in some unfortunate ways. It wasn’t ideal. I wish I’d left sooner — I ended up with permanent physical issues from the stress.

      Also we all made sure to set our do-not-disturb when presenting after that.)

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Two years ago, we were all called into a department wide conference regarding a court judgement that was about to go public (can’t really say any more than that) – it was a very last minute thing (something like an hour’s notice) and no context was given in the initial invite (while certain teams were aware of the situation, others had no context at all, and it was about 45 minutes before anyone caught on to this and emailed an explanation, allowing time for people to speculate about who knows what), so there were some people a little flustered at the time of joining.

        At some point while joining, apparently someone was heard to say the words “my arse”. As it was the time period when everyone was joining and getting settled in, a lot of people probably wouldn’t have noticed it, except some dude, thinking he was messaging one of his friends, sent a message on Teams saying “Hey, Persephone, did someone just say my arse?” Yes, he’d sent that to the entire department.

  97. Anon For This*

    One evening, around 8:30pm, I was dealing with a rough personal issue and I decided to call my Father for moral support. When he answered I greeted him as I always do.
    “Hi, Daddy.”
    In a voice somewhere between confused and horrified he replied, “Did you just call me ‘Daddy’?!”
    I looked down at my phone screen to see the name Dan. As in: My Boss, Dan.
    (Which, in my defense is Right Next To “Dad” in an alphabetical phone list.)
    I stammered an explanation and an apology and quickly hung up. We seemed to silently agree to never mention the situation again.

    1. ferrina*

      Oh no! I’m still mortified from calling my kindergarten teacher “Mom”

      This is 1000x worse.

      1. H3llifIknow*

        I was a teacher in a previous life. This happens weekly, if not virtually daily. I promise you. EVEN in middle and high school!

      2. Clisby*

        My daughter not only called her kindergarten teacher “Mom” – she once called me “Ms. Munson” (the teacher’s name.) I doubt she was mortified, though.

        1. Armchair Analyst*

          when he was in kindergarten, my son told me, “I love you, Aidan.”

          Aidan was the name of his best friend.

    2. I Wish My Job Was Tables*

      Oh my goodness, this is like calling a teacher “Dad” during class, but ten times worse!

      1. Sic Transit Vir*

        I called my grand-boss “Dad” once. I was so mortified that I don’t even remember the next few minutes. I can only presume that the earth opened up and swallowed me whole.

  98. Nelalvai*

    I recently started a job in traffic engineering. I like it a lot better than design (my previous job), so during icebreakers in Orientation I announced that I was excited to get back into TRAFFICKING. Talk about a first impression! Luckily it got a lot of laughs.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      My father worked as a traffic engineer when my parents got married. This was back when the local newspapers ran wedding announcements for regular people. Saved in their wedding album is the announcement from one of the papers stating that he was a “terrific engineer for the city of [place]”.

      Must be true if they printed it in the paper…

  99. Hans*

    In a former job, a long time ago: was at an on-site demo for a potential customer, using his laptop. After a short period his screensaver kicked in… it was a little animation of a stripper…

  100. Nope*

    This was a million years ago, right after I finished college, and I still think about it….

    I worked for a very very small architecture firm – 5 people and my boss had let me lead a small office renovation project. One morning, my boss was supposed to meet one of the clients for this project and my boss was late. Very late. This was in the early days of cellphones and e-mail (I didn’t have my e-mail address on my business card). The client was a real jerk and he called the office and demanded to know where my boss was. It was a tiny office, so everyone could hear my conversation.

    As soon as I pick up he just starts screaming. At one point he asked me if I could call my boss. I responded that I thought his phone had run out of power and was turned off. Now he’s yelling “WHY DOESN’T HIS EFFING PHONE WORK?!”. Without thinking I just said “Well, it wasn’t my turn to follow him home last night and make sure he plugged it in, so I don’t effing know.” Total silence. Dude hangs up. I put the phone down and noticed that the rest of the office staring at me with their jaws on the floor.

    1. Quill*

      You will never know if that look was of shock, or jealousy that you said something like that to that specific client.

    2. Armchair Analyst*

      I like how you just took everything he was saying and ranting so literally

      I mean the guy was already so pointlessly mad he couldn’t see straight; you made it so he couldn’t think straight or up or down, either.

  101. GoryDetails*

    A long, long time ago, I was working as a computer programmer at a college computer center. The office was one big room, with each of the four of us having our own desk and monitors and whatnot, but with no cubicle walls – a bullpen, pretty much. I loved my work, so much so that when I had to have my wisdom teeth out, I opted for a local anesthetic and decided it would be FINE to just… go back to work.

    It was not fine.

    But I didn’t realize this, what with my entire jaw completely numb, until one of my co-workers pointed out that I was actively drooling, and perhaps I should consider going home instead? (I thought I was being all brave and tough, but hadn’t considered what I might look like to my poor teammates!)

  102. Anonyme Massage Afficionado*

    This doesn’t qualify since it didn’t happen at work, but it happened to my work colleague (and they have shared it at work many times):
    My colleague went for a holiday to a spa hotel and booked a massage. The therapist told them to undress and handed them a small piece of cloth and then left the room. Unfamiliar with this spa‘s customs, my colleague stripped totally naked and wrapped the cloth around their head as a blind fold. The massage therapist came back and was very astonished because what she had handed them was actually a loin cloth, meant to cover the privates.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      I would’ve been confused too! I’ve never been to a massage where it didn’t begin with a sheet over me and the move the sections of sheet to work on individual areas …but do usually place a cloth or eye mask over the face. I’m not sure what I’d have done if there was no sheet… I prolly would’ve left my underthings on.

  103. Good Luck*

    One time at work I was hit really fast with a stomach bug (it literally tore thru my family with the strength of 1000 suns). Anyways… I got hit fast with the urge to throw up and unfortunately for me the bathroom was a very far walk from my desk. I ran as fast as I could but there was no way I would have made it. I had 2 choices, puke all over the floor or stop at someone’s desk, grab their trash can and puke in that. I decided that was the best choice. Thankfully there was unoccupied desk. I did get a combo disgust/pitiful look from someone a few desks away. I went to the bathroom to clean up. Gathered my stuff and left. I forgot about the puke filled trash can. Frankly I just never mentioned it again, while secretly dying of embarrassment. I still feel bad for whoever cleaned up the trash can.

  104. Reformed Coffee Snob*

    I was chatting with a colleague about our favorite coffee drinks. I had been a barista at a pretty prestigious place, so I was a bit arrogant about coffee. At one point I said, “If you want a real punch in your coffee, you should try Cuban coffee. Are you familiar with it?”

    He was from Cuba.

  105. Anne Shirley*

    I (middle-aged female) was walking through a busy entranceway and going to my left. A 30-something male employee was hurriedly approaching, intending to go right. I was finishing small talk with another employee about the challenge of taking stairs instead of the elevator.

    My head was turned to my right and my mouth was saying “Yes, I’m usually fine until that fourth floor…” but my brain was registering “left hand…feels like denim…those are someone else’s jeans…!!” My left hand was against the front of the male employee’s jeans for what felt like an eternity but was probably a millisecond. He paused, calmly stepped back two feet and gestured with his arm for me to keep moving.

    We are both new-ish and in unrelated departments. And we apparently have made a silent agreement to deny the event ever occurred and to be as pleasant, expedient, and as physically distant as possible whenever we spot each other.

  106. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Sure I’ve mentioned this before on the site somewhen!

    While rushing around one day and hurtling back to the IT department I go past an open meeting room door and catch my sleeve in the door handle.

    Physics being what it is the momentum slammed me around and I went knockers first into the door spilling the coffee I was carrying all over me, the door, and probably most of the local postcode given the impact.

    I let out a ‘FOR F**** SAKE!’ and unhook myself.

    Inside the room, just packing up to leave was the regional manager and the chief exec of the company. Whoops.

    1. Quill*

      I also hate door handles – I tend to get caught by the purse strap, belt loop, or cardigan pocket.

      1. littlehope*

        There’s something about getting caught on a door handle that bypasses all your brain’s rational functions and goes straight to the rage centre.

  107. Anonymous for this*

    I’d been at my job for a couple of months and was setting up my first conference call for our board members (this was pre-COVID, it’s all Zoom now.) The information goes out in an email and even though it’s pretty standard stuff each time I was sweating over the details — are the attachments there, is everyone’s address correct, do I have the agenda, etc. The Board members are senior people in their field and important to our organization.

    The only mistake I made was instead of using the toll-free (888) area code for the dial-in number, I had a brain blip and typed the traditional (800) instead. That’s when we all learned the 800 version of our number gets you a live sex chat line. That’s also when I learned that my boss has a great sense of humor.

    1. soontoberetired*

      this reminds me of when someone made a mistake in a print form, reviewed by many people, of switching 888 to 800 and the 800 was a psychic call number. It went out to thousands of customers before it was caught.

      1. NDD*

        At one of my first jobs, doing tech support, the company I worked for had recently purchased another one and we had acquired all of their software to support.
        All new copies that were sold had our support number on it, but there were an unknown number of discs out there with the old company’s number.
        One day a nice little old lady called up for help with one of the programs and let us know that the old number had a new owner. A per minute phone sex line.

    2. Artemesia*

      We had individual fax number codes for accounting purposes. I needed to fax details like my social security number to an organization for which I was doing some consulting and it was the evening after admins were long gone, but faxing is no big deal and I had done it before.

      So I punch in the code and send the fax. WE had a new fax machine I had not used before and it operated differently. Turns out my fax code was also the fax number of a porn shop. I sent my identity information to a porn shop. When I got in on Monday, the admin was laughing and told me the shop had just called to let us know they had received our fax; she asked them to destroy it — and one hopes.

      I got gigged about that for months. At least it didn’t have my credit card number on it.

  108. Legislative Aide and Abet*

    Writing a memo to a Senator about funding levels for a federal agency. Meant to say billion. KNEW it was billion. Somehow wrote million. After the meeting for which the memo was written, got the Senator’s copy of the memo back – with the M in million circled, crossed out, and a B written in blue ink. (No other edits, though, so…)

    Several years later, during a period of intense stress, wrote about the Medicaid payroll tax in a public-facing document instead of the Medicare payroll tax. Was alerted to that mistake by a lovely early Sunday morning text message from the CEO…

    Now I have proofreading PTSD and always get a second set of eyes on my materials, just in case :)

    1. Artemesia*

      My boss was a national expert in de-segregation policy. Managed to send out a document with the title something like Ways to Facilitate Segregation in Public Schools. Everyone proofread the document, but nobody proofed the title.

      Over the years some of the most embarrassing mistakes have involved not proofting charts, diagrams and titles/headlines. I published a book where I caught an error in a diagram only in galleys and luckily so as it would have made us look like incompetents if this very simple diagram well known in the field had gone to publication. We just tend to glance over such things and it is often missed.

      1. Love to WFH*

        You brain knows what it should be and skates right over what it is.

        Reading things backwards can sometimes help — you’re dealing with one word at a time.

  109. s.b.c.*

    Not me, but my coworker:
    My lovely coworker, Amy, had discovered a line of work-appropriate skorts with full-length shorts and pockets underneath. She was over the moon with how comfortable they were. One morning, another coworker and I were in the hall, waiting for a delivery. Amy came out of the kitchen a few doors down, and I complimented her skort. She turned towards us, as the CEO quietly came out of the kitchen behind her… and she lifted the front of her skirt all the way up to show us her full-length shorts. The CEO was right behind her, and obviously couldn’t see the shorts, so his view looked like Amy flashing us. She excited proclaimed “They have POCKETS!” while I was doubling over, laughing so hard. Thank goodness the CEO has an amazing sense of humor. I blurted “AMY! Turn around!” She almost died of embarrassment, but the CEO thought it was hilarious.

      1. Gondorff*

        +1! Especially if they really do have full-length shorts underneath, as that is my main issue with most skorts I’ve found!

        1. s.b.c.*

          I would ask her for the link but she’s out of the country! I know the brand was called RBX. A lot of them say “active” but the fabric was high quality. I’m finding some cute options with the phrase “long skort.” I think Amy’s was this one: https://www.amazon.com/RBX-Fashion-Stretch-Athletic-Attached/dp/B08ZNVKYT5/ref=asc_df_B08ZNVKYT5/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=516305346465&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6103959005063344064&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9021574&hvtargid=pla-1239120157856&psc=1

  110. Auntie Social*

    My husband and I were at a weekend seminar. At that evening’s dinner put on by my friend Sue, the entertainment was rescued wild birds, mostly owls. At the end of the evening my husband rose to thank everyone, and especially thanked Sue “for showing us her hooters”.

      1. Jamie (he/him)*

        My mother (69) does this. She always buys two cantaloupes at once and puts both in her fruit bowl visible from the door so she can say to visitors “I hope you’re not looking longingly at my melons” or “I’ve got a lovely pair of melons, haven’t I?”

    1. Petty_Boop*

      Somehow I read this as that evenings dinner …was rescued wild birds, mostly owls. I was confused, horrified, and grossed out. A second, more careful reading cleared up my confusion!

  111. Oops!!*

    I don’t know if I copied down the wrong number or if the place I copied it from had it wrong but a single digit was off on the phone number for all the posters I made and emails I sent out regarding that year’s Insurance Open Enrollment.

    And of course, the phone number in question wasn’t out of service. It was an “adult oriented” phone service. People would call to update their insurance selections and instead were greeted with “Hello, lover~”

    The worst part is that no one informed us that the number was wrong until the very end of the open enrollment period.

    1. Tris Prior*

      How is it that EVERY time there is a typo in a printed phone number it ALWAYS goes to a phone sex line?

      Not my mistake, but I was once pulled in to help put stickers with the correct phone number over the sex line phone number that got printed on MANY promotional items…

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        For whatever reason, phone sex lines have a LOT of 800 numbers that all go to the same recording, or at least they used to.

        When I was a very immature tween collection of much less effective hobbits, my friends and I were in the habit of discovering different phone numbers for these lines by spelling out rude words or phases on the phone keypad (1-800-RUDEWORD and such). Most things we guessed went to prerecorded messages for phone sex lines, and there were two or three recordings that were the ones on almost all of the lines. After a few months of these explorations, we were only mildly interested when someone found a new number that worked, but it was a matter of great excitement when someone actually managed to find a message we hadn’t heard before. I think we eventually lost interest when we hadn’t found anything new in a while.

        This was, obviously, before any of our families had internet access.

  112. Wendy Darling*

    My last job was hybrid remote/in person. One day the CEO’s assistant and I were the only people in our small office. I dropped something on the floor, leaned over to pick it up, and in doing so managed to fall out of my chair and then flip the chair over on top of me.

    The CEO’s assistant was very kind and solicitous about it, which just made it 100x worse.

    1. Satan’s Panties*

      Makes me think of the first Princess Diaries movie, wherein Anne Hathaway attempts to cross her legs, and falls off the chair.

  113. Leia Oregano*

    I had to give a Zoom presentation and it was going to require multiple monitors to be able to share a screen for the attendees and have everything else I needed up and accessible. Day-of, my boss was in my office talking to me about the session since it would be my first of its kind, when he looks at my desk set-up and realized I, at the time, didn’t have multiple monitors and that was A Problem. His solution was that I could just use his computer in his office for the hour-session because he needed to leave early anyway and his computer with its multiple monitors would be free. So we get me all set up and ready in his office and he leaves, telling me to text when the session is over to let him know how it went. I did the session and made it through without any tech problems or anything. As I was packing up, I texted him to let him know it went well, and did he want me to shut his computer down for the night or just leave it up? Only I accidentally typed “shit” instead and hit send before realizing. I corrected myself in a follow-up text and apologized, and he found it hilarious. We have a good working relationship and he’s aware my off-the-clock language is a lot more foul than what I bring to work, so it was all good, but he sent me about four laugh-crying emojis in response while I hid in the dark and tried to absorb into the floor.

  114. Amy*

    I was just out of highschool and working as a hostess at a restaurant when two of the “cool” girls from my school came in. When they left I said goodbye to them by name- only I accidentally called one of the girls by her sisters name, which wouldn’t have been so terrible if her sister hadn’t just tragically passed away from cancer a few months prior. The girl turned around and said “Im NOT *name*” This was almost 20 years ago and I STILL feel awful.

  115. umami*

    Many, many years ago, when I was in the military, I was on duty in our office (PR office, and we always had someone on duty overnight). I thought everyone had left, and I needed to get something out of our news morgue, which for some reason was in a storage room accessed by walking through the men’s restroom. So I open the door and was fishing for the storage room key while walking through the restroom when I realized the BIG BOSS (colonel) was standing at the urinal taking care of business. He turned and saw me the same moment I saw him, and I stared at him in shock for a moment before throwing my entire set of keys at him and saying, ‘oh, sorry sir!’ while turning around to run out of the restroom.

    A few minutes later he came into the duty room, handed me the keys, and laughingly said ‘look, I won’t tell anyone if you don’t, this never happened’. I was soooooo embarrassed, and I never told a soul until at least several decades later.

    1. Relentlessly Socratic*

      I don’t think you get to be a full bird without developing a certain level of unflappability. (I might be mistaken, but that’s been my [albeit limited] experience.)

  116. Attached at the hip*

    When I (she/her) was in my 20s I worked front desk reception. My boss (him/his) worked in an office right in front of the desk. He would sometimes pop out of his office and ask me to accompany him somewhere to do some project or what have you. He liked to project an air of business, so he would not stop walking as he exited his office, just bruskly say “Come with me!” as he headed for the exit, and I would be left scurrying to catch up with him.

    One day he did this, but I guess sometime after he said “Come with me” he decided he needed to use the restroom. Not realizing where he was going, I started scurrying after him, trying to catch up. It wasn’t until right in front of the restroom door he stopped and said “Um, I don’t need your help in here!”

    I still maintain that this was his fault but I was still red-faced and embarrassed!

  117. This_is_Todays_Name*

    I was speaking to a large group of our team, our vendors, and my leadership. I was talking about an example of non-malicious system compromise and I wanted to say “like some twit/whatever doing …” and what I said was, “…like some twat.” The gasps in the room were audible. I was mortified.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Ooooh you have just unearthed a memory, though it wasn’t at work! When I was 8-9 or so, I was a very naive child who would often get into “insult” battles with my siblings in good fun. We’d gotten into the habit of mispronouncing words just to drive each other crazy. Well, I called my brother a twat, thinking I was calling him a twit with just a letter changed. Our mom promptly lit into me about using foul language. I didn’t even know it was an actual word before that! Needless to say that got retired from my lexicon.

      1. This_is_Todays_Name*

        Hah when I was about 8 I called my brother a “Nymphomaniac” cuz I’d heard some older kid use the word and it SOUNDED like an insult to my young self. I remember hearing my Father whisper to my Mother, “Where the hell did she learn THAT WORD?”

  118. Aunt Flo's Curse*

    I was in my first job out of college. I felt like I was playing dress up every day — trying to walk the walk, talk the talk, seem grown-ish.

    On a drive home from work I stopped for gas and discovered my car’s seat had a spot of blood — oh no! So annoying! My pants were goners, too, but I took care of it.

    The next day I get in to my office and see a handwritten note from the IT guy that he made updates on my computer. Cool. Then I looked at my office chair — it looked like someone had been MURDERED.

    OH. MY. GOD. I was MORITIFED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The IT guy and cleaning crew had surely seen it. I died. I don’t think I ever asked for anything IT ever again.

  119. never mind who I am*

    This happened about an hour ago: my end-of-year review was scheduled for today. A couple of minutes before the scheduled time, I texted my boss and grandboss asking if they were ready. My grandboss texted back “I think it’s next week?” My boss texted “Yes, next Thursday,” and took notes on “attention to detail.”

    She didn’t mean it, and both were completely sympathetic. But I think I know how next week’s meeting will start out. Maybe I need to take a calendar with me.

  120. CanadianMama*

    A few years ago I was in a new department in a fairly established company. One of my new coworkers had established a bond with a lovely woman on another team, so when a card circulated for her birthday, my coworker wrote a very nice note, calling the woman “Lovey.” When we gathered to celebrate and the card was given to the “Lovey” woman’s hotheaded male office mate as it was actually HIS birthday, my poor coworker went white and thought that she’d be receiving a call from HR. She didn’t, but it made for a great story.

    So…I went home and told my husband the story, and he got really awkward and had a confession for me. While I’ve always worked in professional office settings, he has always worked in manufacturing, where his coworkers will freely do things like draw the male anatomy on each other’s birthday cards. Well, one day he’s the first one there and gets a blank card. So he takes his opportunity to draw the male anatomy and writes “happy birthday” then passes it on. The card is filled and shared with the recipient. And it’s only then that my husband finds out that it wasn’t a birthday card, but a get well card for a coworker diagnosed with testicular cancer who quickly started treatment.

    This whole story blew my mind for so many different reasons (as you can imagine), but the moral of the story is to always read the card thoroughly before you write in it, I guess?

    1. Quill*

      Oh god. Well, there’s a lesson in bad workplace habits… and a topical illustration?

  121. Peachy keen*

    In my mid-20s, I gave a talk at a national conference in my field. It was my first time at a conference that large, and by the time my session rolled around, I was excited, terrified, and extremely jetlagged. I’m also very clumsy, and it gets worse when I’m nervous or tired.

    I’d rehearsed my talk obsessively for days, and got there early to make sure there weren’t any surprises. I thought I’d covered every possible disaster. How wrong I was.

    We were still doing tech check when the attendees arrived. By the time it was my turn to go up to the podium and load my slides, the room was packed, and I recognized a few former coworkers and my former boss in the audience.

    The moderator warned us to be careful on the way up – the extension cord for the projector was in the way. So naturally, I kept a close eye on it as I walked to the podium. And tripped on it anyway.

    And tripped on it AGAIN when I came back up to do my talk.

    In front of over 100 of my colleagues.

    I don’t know if anyone else remembers this, but I’ll never forget it.

    1. Fish*

      Sometimes if you think too much about avoiding something, you’ll wind up doing exactly that.

      A woman was having the local minister over for tea. Before he arrived, she repeatedly reminded her young daughter not to mention the minister’s rather large nose.

      The minister arrived, the mother made introductions, and the daughter didn’t mention his nose. After a few minutes the daughter was excused and left the room. As the mother poured the tea, she asked the minister, “Would you like one or two lumps of sugar in your nose?”

  122. doglady*

    A woman I once worked with had been a youth swim instructor in her previous career. She told me she once encountered at a store a child who was a swimming student of hers. In front of his mother, the child said, “Oh, Mrs. So-and-So, I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on!”

  123. Harper*

    At my last company, there was a corrupt VP who was hosting a series of inappropriate 1:1s with several staff members to gather dirt he could use against someone. I wasn’t sure who he was after – my boss (Derek), or my dotted line boss (Charles). I sent a text to a group of my friends speculating about his intentions. We had been chatting about corporate politics and shenanigans. My text included a reference to me being one of the top managers at the site (my boss’s words, not mine), and I used the words, “the plot thickens”. As soon as I hit send, I realized I had selected the wrong group text, and instead sent it to the entire management team, including Derek. I absolutely wanted to DIE. I ran immediately to apologize, and it all worked out, but I swear I have lifelong trauma from that mistake.

  124. Panicked*

    We use DISC profiles to help us better communicate in my office. We have everyone’s profile hung up, with their picture next to it. I had my new hire’s profile, but no picture so I said “Oh hey new hire, I need a dick pic!” instead of DISC pic. I don’t think there’s a shade of red that compares to what I turned. I quickly corrected, but now I just say that I need a photo.

    1. Relentlessly Socratic*

      Yeah, well, I’m a high D…and I try EVER SO HARD to not make inappropriate jokes about it. I cannot say that I’m entirely successful. Because I’m the biggest D ever and I have no filter…

  125. mango chiffon*

    Recently had a virtual check-in with one of the directors I support and was fiddling with the lid on a black ink pen while we were chatting. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that suddenly there were massive ink splotches all over my hands and mid sentence I was like “oH MY GOD my pen exploded” and stared at my hands for a good second. I remembered scratching at my nose and chin earlier and suddenly panicked that I had done a matchmaker lady from Mulan and gotten ink on my face. Thankfully, the director is a good sport and we moved on with the rest of the check-in, though I did instantly run to a mirror after the call to make sure I didn’t have ink on my face (ink free face in the end!)

  126. Somebody Call a Lawyer*

    I followed my mentor’s advice and scheduled in-office chats with big bosses in other departments to find out how what they did related to my department and to see how I might be of help to their groups. These chats all were fairly straightforward and productive.

    Until the one with a VP who looked like a blond Speed Racer. The cartoon one aka my childhood crush.

    My brain shorted out, but only in a very specific way — the chat was professional and fine, but after I shook the VP’s hand to close the meeting, I went to leave and walked face first into the glass wall of his office.

    1. LadyVet*

      I JUST ran into a glass door leaving a wine shop on Wednesday. I was cradling the bottle (in a bag) like a baby, because the bag itself was way too big.

      Thankfully the bottle didn’t break, but two of the employees were at the counter and I was the only customer in the very small store.

  127. Veryanon*

    Several years ago, I used to wear a lot of empire-waist style dresses with tights and boots in the fall. It was my go-to outfit because it didn’t require a lot of thought but still looked okay for the office (I thought). I’ll never forget running into someone I hadn’t seen in a while and they shouted (in front of everyone!) “It’s so great to see you! When are you due?” Reader, I was not pregnant.

      1. Anonymoose*

        I do too! As a busty person, an empire waist is one of the few ways to have some definition of that skinnier area, otherwise things just fall straight and I look big all the way around. But same thing… I get curious looks when I wear them since I’m almost 60!

        1. LadyVet*

          I’ve learned to go with dresses that have the waistline at or close to my natural waist.

          I’ve always had a tummy, because I like potato chips more than I like working out, but at least from the front or back I have a nice hourglass shape!

        2. saskia*

          They briefly came back into fashion in the early 2000s, when I definitely took advantage of the trend. I hear fashion goes in 20-year cycles, so maybe they will again soon? Fingers crossed!

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      I think she is telling this story as her mortifying moment, also

      MMM – mutually mortifying moment?

  128. help*

    Worked at a clothing store in the mall. We had two TINY window displays that were a huge pain to get stuff in/out of. We usually changed them out early in the morning or after close so we could move the shelves and get some wiggle room, but for some reason this one day we had to do it in the middle of the afternoon. The manager told me to take the mannequin out of the window and take it into the back room to strip/redress it, because it would look really inappropriate to do that in the window.

    Makes sense, but while these mannequins aren’t heavy (thank g/d) they’re big and awkward and trying to maneuver them in a small space is hard, especially without knocking over the other stuff in the display. And it’s not like they have handles.

    So I finally manage to pick the thing up and start shuffling it out of the window. And I notice there’s a lady outside the window, staring at me. And she has two kids with her, also staring at me. And I realize I’m holding it across the chest with one arm with a hand on the mannequin’s breast because it’s something to grab onto, right? And my other hand is (i hate having to write this out) holding it basically by the crotch because there’s nowhere on the legs where it wouldn’t just slip and I’d drop it. And OF COURSE I have to hold it right up next to me because the stupid window is so small and I can barely fit in there with it in the first place. I was desperately trying not to make eye contact but I am sure they did not leave until after I was back in the store proper and able to reconfigure to a less awkward carry-position.

    So yeah. Not sure that was better then undressing it in the window. Definitely took longer, though.

  129. Unalfista*

    Oh man, reading some of these bring back memories.

    Early in my career, I was out to dinner at a FANCY (to me) restaurant with my roommates for my birthday. I was probably turning 25-ish and a wonderful (more senior) coworker of mine was eating dinner with her wife and some friends. When she saw me and learned it was my birthday, she sent me a cocktail. At the end of the meal, I wanted to thank her again, so I went up to her table and touched her hand to get her attention, since she was intently listening/speaking with her friends (very unclear why I felt the need to touch her and not just wait politely??). Anyways, she clearly thought I was her wife (since that’s a reasonable expectation if someone laid their hands on top of yours at dinner) and started stroking/holding my hand. I totally froze and she looked up, realized it was me, and I stammered an apology/thank you and ran away. I still work with her and she’s one of the kindest people, but I can’t bring myself to mention it to her ever again.

    A few years later at the same job, I got my wisdom teeth out and only took Advil over the weekend for pain. I went back to work on Monday morning and brought the prescription pills just in case I felt worse being upright/at work all day. The bottle had a generic name, which I assumed was just high-dosage ibuprofen, so I took a dose about an hour into the day. Nearly immediately I started to feel quite loopy, at which point I texted a picture of the bottle to an MD friend of mine who confirmed it was in fact generic Vicodin. I really didn’t know what to do with myself, since I had driven to work and couldn’t reliably get home to sleep it off… so I just started chugging water and kept my head down all day praying that no one would ask me any complicated questions. I now handwrite the medicine name on ALL my prescription bottles.

    This is also the job I accidentally sent a company-wide email with a link to the muppet movie trailer. Apparently the more I think about it, the more these come flooding back. At least there’s some comfort in knowing my experiences are somewhat universal…

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      I learned the Vicodin lesson in high school. It was senior year, and I was super involved in an activity that took me out of school for weeks at a time, such that they really shouldn’t have given me a diploma at all. As such, if I was in town on a school day, I went to school. Had surgery in the morning, took my pain meds, and was at school by lunchtime.

      My AP Government teacher was a first-year BigLaw refugee who insisted on treating us like we were Harvard Law students, not a pack of 17-year-olds with near-terminal cases of senioritis. I hadn’t been to class in three weeks. I had no idea the test was coming. The test was on the rules and procedures of the US Senate, which I knew approximately nothing about, except that those are things that probably exist. I considered pleading for mercy, given my circumstances…but then I’d have to study for, and then take, a make-up exam, and I had neither the time nor the inclination. Besides, I saw scantron sheets, which meant a multiple choice exam. How bad could it be?

      The scantron had 7 bubbles. There was an answer bank with 127 possible answers (2 to the 7th, minus 1), with answer codes A, B, C, … ABCDEFG. It took up an entire page. For each question, we had to find the right answer on that page and then bubble it in on the scantron.

      But I’d already said I was fine, so…I took the test. Did I mention that I knew nothing about the Senate? It was just me, my knowledge of Latin roots, and my Vicodin-addled wits. I don’t remember my final score, but the class average was 55%, and mine was still bringing down the average.

      Never made that mistake again. If it’s worth taking the good drugs, it’s worth a full day off!

    2. I Have RBF*

      Oh, vicodin at work. I had a tooth infection, so I was on antibiotics plus vicodin for the pain. I had to work, too. So I took the vicodin on the schedule stated on the bottle.

      Mistake. I spent the day oscillating between being higher than a kite and damn near moaning in pain. The half life in my system meant that the stuff went from too much to not enough over a four hour period at the standard dosage. No bueno, that day sucked.

      What I did thereafter was:
      a) cut those suckers in half, so I wouldn’t go flying after I took one,
      b) took each half twice as often – instead of one every four hours, it was half every two hours – so I didn’t end up crashing in pain when it wore off,
      c) started lengthening the time between halves to where I was still managing the pain, but not taking so damn much of a potentially addictive substance.

      I now never take whole opiods until I know how I will react to them. It’s easier to cut them in half and only take what I need a little more often so I’m not high at work. Sure, I have to set more alarms, but it beats being high and drooling at your desk.

  130. pally*

    The manager of another department was one who liked to rile folks up over some workplace issue and then sit back to watch the fireworks. Unfortunately, I was unaware of this.

    As a recently promoted supervisor in quality, I sought to right the problems I encountered. Production issues, management issues – you name it! I was gonna set things straight!

    So this manager gets to talking about some issue that management forbids him from doing something about that would so obviously benefit the products we make (I cannot recall the nature of this issue). They are so blind they cannot comprehend this benefit. Maybe I could do something to help here? Sure I could!

    So yeah, I go into terminator mode and send a strongly worded email to ALL of management taking them to task about this (“I’m quality and this issue is important!”). Who do they think they are to prevent this manager from carrying out improvements that our products would clearly benefit from? Oh, I plastered it on thick.

    Only, I didn’t know this was a long-standing issue between this manager and the rest of management. AND, they had legit reasons for the stance they took on this issue. AND, he’d greatly misrepresented things when he told me about this issue.

    The CFO sought me out and explained things to me. I was so, so mortified! Fortunately, she was sympathetic about how I’d fallen into the manager’s trap. She explained that this manager was quite the manipulator, and I should be very careful in the future not to believe what he tells me.

    Important lesson learned on verifying the veracity of others before taking action.

    1. Artemesia*

      newbie getting played — been there — people who like to fix things like you and I sometimes go off half cocked — hard lesson to learn.

  131. NYWeasel*

    I was in my early 20’s and I’d just scored my first full time office job off of a temping gig I’d had for a few months, just in time to get invited to a swank year end retreat in Key West at a lavish resort. The company paid for us to have full access to all of the amenities, so a group of us including vice presidents decided to ride bikes downtown, to see the sights. It was a lovely afternoon, but for some reason on the way back, as I was leading the parade of bikes, I thought it would be fun to gun it when I went around the next corner. A surprise race, if you will.

    What I didn’t anticipate was that I’d make it around a second corner before anyone turned the first. So from their perception, instead of seeing a good-natured athletic challenge*, it looked like the young girl they just hired had just gone missing suddenly in a tourist area. On the long straightaway heading back to the hotel I realized that no one was following me so I turned back and rejoined my coworkers, who were all pale-faced and looking around terrified. They were very happy to see me alive and well, and only gave me a minor scolding, but I was mortified beyond belief that my attempt at silliness had really freaked them all out.

    *The team usually liked to challenge each other a bit, so the idea wasn’t off-base, just the execution. At the same retreat, the SVP tried to spook me gently by sailing a catamaran a little aggressively only I didn’t have enough sense to be scared so he laughingly declared me the best sailor to the rest of the team.

  132. FormerLawStudent*

    When in law school, I was applying for summer internships. I went to a summer job fair and was being interviewed by a panel of three attorneys who worked for a state agency. They asked me a softball question about “What type of law do you want to practice?” I answered honestly, saying, “I went to law school because I wanted to be a prosecutor. I am really interested in being in the courtroom, rather than doing something like reviewing contracts.” One of the panelists informed me that he was the supervisor of the section that reviewed all contracts for the entire agency…

    I didn’t get the job.

  133. Ready to Retire*

    Many years ago, I was working in an office and walked out to the reception area to make a copy. A partner walked in behind me. He called out to the secretary, who was busy trying to answer the phone, welcome someone who had just walked in, and trying to set down a bunch of papers she was carrying. When he called out to her, he startled her, and she whirled around and her skirt caught on the corner of the desk. It was one on those long, wraparound skirts that just tied or buttoned around your waist. The skirt caught, she half stumbled, and the button gave way, dropping to the ground and leaving her standing there in her thong panties. She froze, the partner froze, and so did I for a second. (Fortunately, the reception half wall hid her from the client.)

    I got my wits together first, grabbed the paperwork the partner was holding out for her, said, “I’ll take care of this… Go,” to him, flew across to the Secretary who was still standing there in shock, grabbed her skirt and handed it to her to wrap around her waist and whispered to her to get to the bathroom. She ran off in tears, I grabbed the phone and put them on hold, welcomed the client and said I would get the person they were waiting for, and dashed off. Yelled at another secretary to pick up the line on hold, and to tell “Fergus” his client was waiting in reception, and ran find some safety pins. I got the safety pins and went to the ladies room. We got her pinned together, and she went home to change, poor thing. She actually came back after she changed, and I give her credit. I’m not sure I could ever have shown my face there again.

    It was weeks before the partner and she could even look at each other.

  134. Alex*

    This wasn’t my embarrassment, just secondhand embarrassment. But.

    I used to work at a job in which we frequently had to use/write the word “count.” Oh yeah, you know what’s coming!

    While my boss was training me, she copied me on an email to one of our most important clients. In the subject line of the email was the word “count.” With a very unfortunate typo.

    I worked that job for a decade and every time I had to write that word I TRIPLE proofread.

    1. pally*

      Oh yeah!
      Someone I knew who’d worked in gov’t said that many a printed report issued by the public health department had cover sheets with “pubic” health right there in big letters.

    2. Cease and D6*

      One of my students made that exact mistake while typing in the Zoom chat for a class I was teaching during the early pandemic. I kept a straight face, and I don’t think the student who made the error noticed… but some of the other students definitely did.

    3. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      My spouse did that while teaching something in their math class! Math is not my specialty, so I don’t know exactly what they were teaching, but essentially, they write the word “COUNT” on the board, then erase one letter to make a point about sets or something, then erase the next, and so on. Well, usually they erased the N or the U first. But one time, just to mix things up, they erased the O first…and got a chorus of snickers before they realized what they’d done.

  135. DEEngineer*

    I was on a company-wide call in which someone was presenting a new initiative or roll-out. It was the kind of thing where they had 5 different opportunities to attend and hundreds of people were on each call. I was on mute, like everyone else on the call, but was using my speakerphone as I had an office. In the middle of the meeting, I had someone come into my office who needed help on her paperwork. I turned down my volume, told her that I wasn’t busy and that I didn’t want to be on that call anyway, and went on to help her for about a minute. When I went back to my call, there was silence, and I was no longer on mute. There was a feature that allowed organizers to mute and unmute everyone, and I think that they unmuted everyone to take questions at exactly the wrong time for me. No one ever mentioned it, but I worried about it until I quit the job for other reasons a year later.

    1. Observer*

      This is one of the reasons why many conference softwares won’t allow the meeting organizer to unmute people.

    2. Relentlessly Socratic*

      Oh good lord, yes, I was new at my job and wasn’t used to webinars (this was 2013 or 14). I was on a large webinar, all on mute, and I had to take a call from the exterminator (mouse problem). I got a call on my cell from a coworker telling me to put my computer on mute–apparently they opened the line for questions, I didn’t notice, and my voice was ringing out over the nation-wide call discussing mice, when the exterminator should come, etc… She recognized my voice. UGH.

  136. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    While working remotely, during a meeting, my slightly chunky cat came to sit on me and put all her weight on one, er, tract of land. I hit “mute” and said loudly, “oof! You weigh a ton! Get your fat self out of my face!” jokingly. I had accidentally unmuted instead, as I had already BEEN muted.

    A presenter had just come on who, um, shared the same attribute as said cat. I wanted to climb up onto the roller coaster at a nearby park and fling myself off!

    I did explain it was the cat, and people shared stories of being pet jungle gyms while WFH.

  137. Jake*

    My wife was working as a nursing intern at a hospital where she had to wear white scrubs all the time.

    The nurse she worked under one day gave her a funny look and said, “juicy?” It took my wife a minute to realize she was wearing a pair of pink underwear that had juicy written on them in big letters, and that people could see it through her scrub pants.

    She work a sweartshirt tied around her waist the rest of the day.

    She threw away the pants and underwear as soon as she got home.

  138. GraciousTurtle*

    First story: I’m a blind gal who gets around just fine but who is very used to people’s overdramatic concern for my safety and general conviction that I must be lost at all times. I entered my workplace of several years and marched confidently toward my office, only to be stopped by a stranger who insisted I must need help. After finally assuring this person I was fine, I walked away … and straight into a doorframe I’ve never ever bumped into, before or since. There was just no recovering from that one.

    Second story: I got to work extremely early one morning (thank you, paratransit) and was barely awake while making my first cup of coffee in a cluttered kitchen that contained, among other things, a mug-shaped object meant to hold sweetener packets. This object felt a little too much like my own coffee cup, and given the early hour and my general half-awakedness, I picked up the cream and prepared to pour it straight into the cup full of sweeteners.
    My organization’s managing director, who was something like six levels above me and whom I had hardly ever spoken to before, came around the corner just in time to say “Um, that’s not your cup.”
    Already mortified and out of my mind with tiredness, what I responded with was not “Thank you so much for pointing that out!” or even “Oopsy-doodle, sorry!” Oh no. Oh no no no. What came out was a very loud four-letter word that I somehow managed to break up into about a dozen sylables. Luckily for both of us, she has an excellent sense of humour. But it took me weeks to have the courage to make coffee in that kitchen again.

  139. Tenebrae*

    I was training a new student (male, only a few years younger than me) at my workplace and trying to keep things very casual and friendly. What I meant to say was, “I’ll give you a quick lesson on our database program.” What came out of my mouth was, “I’ll give you a quickie.”

    1. Brain the Brian*

      I studied (among other things) broadcasting in college, and for one class, we had to produce a live newscast once a week. We were reporting on a nasty cold snap, and I was outside freezing my fingers off for a liveshot. What came out of my mouth as an improvised suggestion for the pretend viewers to stay warm if their heat went out?

      “You can always hook up with your neighbors.”

      Oh, reader, I am glad that was in college. I declined to pursue a career in television after that.

  140. Damn it, Hardison!*

    In the summer between college and grad school I signed on with a temp agency. My first assignment was at the corporate headquarters of a very large American retail company in Arkansas. I started on Monday and had a pleasant week filing and doing data entry. I submitted my time card and left on Friday. The following week I waited to hear about my next assignment. Friday the temp agency called to ask why I hadn’t shown up all week. I didn’t know I was supposed to go back! Fortunately they must have liked me because I returned on Monday to some gentle teasing and worked there for the rest of the summer. Occasionally when I left for the day someone would remind me to show up the next day, but it was all in good fun.

    As an undergraduate I worked in the bookstore of the small college I attended. One day I was ringing up the purchase of a gentleman (i.e. definitely not a student), and I asked if he was a member of the faculty or administration for the staff discount. He gave me a look and slowly said “yes” so I gave him the discount and finished the sale. After he left my fellow worker started laughing and told me that I had just sold a tie to the president of the college.

    1. hedgehog*

      I always think it’s good for high-level execs to realize that not everyone knows who they are automatically!

  141. Elsewise*

    I have an… overdeveloped startle reflex, and my fight or flight leans heavily towards fight.

    Some years ago, I had a coworker who I didn’t really like who sat behind me. He said something to me that I didn’t really hear, so he repeated it, I acknowledged what he’d said, and turned back to my desk. He thought it’d be funny to come over and jokingly move my headset to “check my hearing”. Only I didn’t hear him approach, so from my perspective I was just sitting at my desk minding my own business when someone grabbed my head. So of course my arm immediately flew up and, without really processing where I was or what was going on, I punched him in the face.

    Of course, I apologized as soon as I realized what had happened, and he just sort of stared at me and said “well, I guess you don’t like to be touched.” He learned an important lesson about grabbing people from behind, and I bought a small mirror to keep at my desk so I could see people coming up behind me.

    1. Siege*

      I had an overdeveloped startle reflex for a period of time thanks to an abusive partner and a colleague one time came up silently behind me while I was working with a student (college age, not kindergarten) and put her hand on the back of my neck. No idea why, as she was otherwise quite intelligent and one of my favorite colleagues, but it’s impossible to see a situation where that makes any sense at all. I whipped around and bit her arm before I even remotely processed what was happening. (For reasons I do not need to go into, biting made more sense as a reaction than hitting.) I do not feel at all bad about it, and she also learned a valuable lesson about not touching people unexpectedly. Unfortunately because I was teaching and therefore moving around the room, the mirror trick wasn’t feasible, but the good news is that reaction has faded with time.

      1. starsaphire*

        I wonder if perhaps you had a tag sticking out of your collar? I’ve done that a few times, although I usually warn people first – “Li, your tag is sticking out, let me get that for you,” so they don’t get surprised.

        1. Siege*

          It really is okay for people to make mistakes, like touching them unexpectedly and learning they get violently startled. There doesn’t need to be a reason that explains why it was a misunderstanding for every dumb thing people do. She intended to surprise me, thinking it would be a fun joke, and she learned that I also contain surprises.

        2. Boundaries*

          Maybe it’s best not to touch people’s clothing or person without their consent.

    2. Quill*

      I too have done similar, but it was at college in the cafeteria. Thank goodness the silverware was duller than a 2×4

    3. not a hippo*

      Uhhh who the hell grabs their coworker’s head outside of a medical emergency?? Dude deserved it TBH.

  142. Marigold*

    We had to use our personal laptops to WFH during Covid. I used to visit sites like Shape and Cosmopolitan on my laptop. Those sites had major cookie issues. I kept getting pop-ups of links to random articles written on the site. Oftentimes, these pop ups were related to women’s health. At the time I could not afford to buy a new computer, but I was saving up for one. We had an internal audit and needed to share our computer screens to show our compliance manager where we would go to find xyz. Unfortunately, when my turn came, it was at the exact same time a popup for HOW TO KEEP YOUR VAGINA’S PH LEVEL BALANCE HEALTHY. I was mortified and profusely apologized and explained how this kept happening, but the damage was already done. I dipped into my savings that night and bought a new laptop.

    1. Observer*

      The one who should have been apologizing was your compliance manager. If you’re dealing with sensitive issues, they should have issued you guys equipment.

      1. Marigold*

        Thank you. I was one of the lucky ones who got sent home in April 2020 with a monitor to use as a second screen.

  143. Brain the Brian*

    I won the now-discontinued office award for “most friendly / helpful person” two years in a row; in addition to a bonus, it came with a plaque. The company misgendered me in the plaque’s wording both years (I am cis; they just got it wrong), and I didn’t notice until someone else pointed it out to me after three years of displaying the plaques on my desk. Whoops.

  144. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I was working at a church with a preschool attached, and our lead pastor went to visit on Valentine’s Day. Each child had a heart-shaped name tag on, and he went around say “Oh look, YOU have a heart on and YOU have a heart on and YOU have a heart on too!”

  145. CatHerder*

    I was a few months into a job and attending a meeting where about twenty of us were in the conference room, with one person joining over Zoom. Someone introduced the remote coworker by saying “And Coworker will be joining us from Florida, my condolences.” I let out an audible chortle because it was the middle of the winter in the gray, gloomy Northeast and the coworker was visibly sitting somewhere with sunshine and palm trees in the background, so I assumed the meeting facilitator was making a joke. I got a look from a few people, but didn’t think anything of it other than “oh, I snorted too loud.”

    Turns out that the coworker was in Florida because their grandparent had just passed and they were there for the funeral. Which made the “my condolences” phrase make all of the sense in the world.

  146. practical necromancy*

    The early days of my career started at a small TV station. On my first day, I received training on airing severe weather notices and I practiced creating a winter storm warning as an example. A few hours later I was flying solo and a REAL severe thunderstorm warning came in. I proudly drafted the warning and sent it to air…without deleting the dummy winter storm warning in the queue. Viewers in about 30 communities had their programing interrupted by a winter storm warning on a very hot day (90F). And I received numerous angry phone calls from elderly residents. It was a scramble to answer phones, field angry rants, while also making sure the real warning aired! Explaining to my boss was mortifying and I was sure I’d be fired! But they ruled it an accident and now trainers are instructed to delete any drafts!

  147. Artemesia*

    I was doing a couple of weeks of training for the HR staff at a scientific research institute in Kuwait right after the Kuwait war. When we first arrived and were walking around I ran into a British bomb squad who cautioned me not to leave the sidewalk to walk on the beach or to explore the interesting ruins just off the path as they were still searching and disposing of bombs and mines.

    The first afternoon of teaching in one of the few rooms in the institute not damaged by shelling, just as I began to discuss a model we were to use in a reflection activity, there was a loud explosion — I literally hit the floor with my arms over my head — the trainees including the Director sat there blandly while I stumbled to my feet and resumed the activity. It HAD to be the first session; I felt like a right fool. (they were exploding mines in the gulf just meters from where we were and those booms would continue the whole time we were there — but it felt closer that day.)

  148. RiceKrispies*

    This one still haunts me every time I do a zoom meeting. We were hosting an annual Zoom meeting for donors to the nonprofit where I work, briefing them on the state of the organization. I logged in ahead of the meeting with my boss and we were chit-chatting, including me making some remarks about how I didn’t love the format of our upcoming meeting and didn’t want to spend a bunch of time listening to the donors talk. A few minutes later, we let the donors into the zoom room and had the meeting. Fast forward to me the next day sending out the recording of said meeting to all the donors who didn’t get to attend and of course, I forgot to cut out the chitchat part at the start. Thank god one of the donors kindly emailed me about 15 minutes after my message had gone out saying “I think you forgot to cut out some stuff at the beginning haha” and I was able to quickly edit the recording but oh my gosh, I never send out a recording now without checking 10 times to make sure it’s properly cropped.

  149. Angel M*

    A former coworker asked me what was the easiest way to get to our local ballpark to catch a game. I quickly told him “just hop on the trolley”
    Well, he looking up from his wheelchair, responded “if only i could”
    I ended up picking him up and enjoyed the game together.

    1. Emma*

      Tbf that’s not on you at all, public transport should be wheelchair accessible and it’s reasonable (if perhaps sometimes naive) to assume that it is!

  150. Jamie (he/him)*

    Aged 22, I started a new entry-level job and, after a month, got to meet my great-great-great grandboss, putting in one of his rare appearances (I would meet him three more times in the next two years).

    He was impossibly old, in his 70s and looking every day of them.

    With him was a little girl, about 3 or 4, come to “see the office peoples”.

    “Aw!” I said, “your granddaughter is great! How old is she?”

    Silence. Aching, endless silence.

    “Do you mean my daughter?” he asked, and then turned away. She ran up to him saying “Daddy! Daddy, come look at…” and I think I passed out cold.

    1. Gumby*

      The first time someone was mistaken as my child was in a grocery store in Arkansas when I was 10, my youngest sister was 1, and someone assumed I was my sister’s mother. (Well, assumed my mom was my sister’s grandmother, but the intent was clear.) Which… it’s not like I didn’t dress like a 10 year old.

      The most recent time was last week when I was in the emergency room getting stitches. Someone assumed that the person who drove me in and stayed with me was my daughter. In their defense – I am almost entirely grey even though I am in my mid-40s now. I gave up on henna in the pandemic and can’t be bothered to start up again. My roommate is in her late-20s/early-30s. So at least that would have been maybe biologically possible… Though we are visibly different races so they probably weren’t considering biological possibility.

  151. VaVaNae*

    My two bosses share a large, glass-surrounded office, complete with two sliding glass doors. These doors are almost never closed, unless they are in a Very Serious Meeting with a third party (usually to fire someone). Side note, our cleaner is VERY good at her job.
    I am an admin, and this particular day we were short-staffed and I was running the office by myself – checking in clients, answering phones, doing any admin work for all the higher-ups (approx. 25). I had just sorted the incoming mail for the day, and had to rush to the back of the building to drop off my boss’ mail. I was in a rush because I didn’t want to miss a phone call.
    Both of my bosses were in their office, but there was no one else in there. I assumed the doors were open and went to slide into the room to drop off the mail.
    The doors were not open. They were VERY clean, though. I face-planted right into the sliding glass door, leaving an oily oval where my makeup hit. Both of my bosses came to my aid and made sure I was okay, and even offered to let me go get checked out for a concussion. They were very nice and gracious about it.
    I did not have a concussion, but I did have a dark bruise across the bridge of my nose for the next week. It took our cleaning lady extra work to get my makeup off the window (so it was there for a couple of days), and my boss still tells the story to new hires so they don’t make the same mistake.

    1. Jamie (he/him)*

      Illegal here in Europe! We have to have all glass like this in commercial premises marked at average eye-level in some way – usually with a stick-on transfer that looks like frosting but in public areas often a “⚠️ CAUTION: GLASS DOOR” or the like sticker.

      Not that that has ever stopped me from walking into glass doors (and lampposts, bollards and occasionally parked cars, alas, alas).

      1. Observer*

        I’m not sure if it’s illegal here, but it’s considered very bad practice to have a door like that here, as well. You need SOMETHING to alert people, or you’re facing liability, if nothing else.

      2. Artemesia*

        A classmate of mine died from going through a glass door to her patio that she assumed was open for the same reason — put her knee through first to grim effect. I think the laws that require glass doors to be made of the kind of glass that fragments rather than breaks cleanly may have come as a result of her accident and similar ones around the same time in the 60s; it took till the 70s and lots of similar deaths to get it done. Any glass door like that, should at least have an opaque band that runs across it at shoulder height or so.

        1. Love to WFH*

          I know someone with a long scar on their thigh from running through a glass door in the early 70s. It missed their femoral artery, hence they’re alive with just the scar.

      3. FreakInTheExcelSheets*

        Not work related but similar warning – my parents remodeled their guest bathroom and did a super fancy all glass shower stall that didn’t have any supporting metal which would make it more visible. The stall was between the door and toilet, so a friend of theirs went to use the bathroom for the first time after the remodel and we hear a loud thunk. Turns out he had entered the shower stall walking a straight line from the door to the toilet and hit the back wall. Luckily he wasn’t hurt and the glass wasn’t damaged (which is what he was more worried about since he felt he had hit pretty hard) but the next time he came over there was a post-it saying ‘wrong way Joe’ at his eye level and my mom learned to put decorative plants in the shower during parties.

      4. VaVaNae*

        Oh don’t worry, there WAS a sticker, of our company logo, at eye height, on every single pane of glass surrounding that office.
        It was not the first time I had walked into a sliding glass door in my life, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

  152. Just Getting My Steps In*

    I was brand new to an organization that had a beautiful pond behind the building with a walking path. One day, I got a personal phone call that had to be handled, so I took a quick break and decided to do a lap or two around the pond while I took the call. At one point the path crosses over the pond with walking stones. It’s marked “No pedestrian crossing”, but that’s clearly why the stones are there and people walk across it all the time. The path was wet and I was distracted. I slipped and my right leg fell off the pathway into the pond all the way up to my upper thigh.
    The only thing I had with me was my cell. And the only phone number I had was my off-site boss, so I went into the building and all the way back to my desk, one leg wet and that shoe squishing when I walked, the other leg dry, so that I could collect my things and go home.
    The very next day, my cube mate made sure I got her cell phone number “in case I ever needed it”. (To add insult to injury, there was a massive accident on the freeway and a drive home that should have taken 30-35 minutes was close to 90… sitting there in the pond water covered pants.)

  153. Cats and Bats Rule*

    I once accidentally dialed 911 when trying to call my dentist from work. The dentist’s number started with 991, but for some reason I hit 911. I knew what I had done the minute I heard the chime, and I quickly hung up in a panic. They called back on our main number immediately (as that was what showed up on caller ID) and the owner of the company sent an alarmed all-staff email stating that 911 reported a hang-up call for our number and asking if everyone was ok. I was horrified! I realized I needed to fess up, and sent a sheepish reply-all email explaining what I did. The company was small enough that the gossip would have been all over the office within the hour anyway. I got razzed by a couple of people, but didn’t hear that much about it past that day, thankfully.

    1. SpaceySteph*

      I did this in college, trying to set up a modem (yes I’m dial-up years old) where I had it dial 9 to get an outside line, but that didn’t work so I tried adding the 1 for a US number but it was already including the 1 for a US number so it called… 911+…. I realized it did that and disconnected. They probably tried to call back but it was a modem not a phone so I didn’t receive.

      …They sent campus PD to my room to check on me. Worse, I was moving in and there was stuff strewn about and furniture out of place so it really looked like the place had been ransacked.

    2. H3llifIknow*

      When my youngest son was about 2 years old, so like 25 years ago, we had landlines that had a lot of programmable buttons and also a button with a pic of a fire truck, one with a pic of a police car and one with a pic of an ambulance. Three nice big buttons right in the middle of the phone. One day, he was napping so I jumped in the shower. Well he woke up and walked into my room and decided he wanted to see a fire truck, so he pushed the button which then called 911. 3 mins later there’s a knock at the door and I answer wearing a towel. They mention a hang up call, and I say, “Nicky…” and he says, “I wanted to see a fire truck!” and I explain to them and say I’m very sorry. However, to ensure that there wasn’t a “boogeyman” hiding in there making me say it was a mistake, they insisted on coming and and looking around. As they left, they said they do NOT recommend preprogramming 911 into phones for this very reason. Lots of accidental calls. We deleted the presets and eventually just got plain cordless phones. But standing there dripping, in a towel while the police searched my house…MORTIFYING.

  154. ConstantCameraVigilence*

    I don’t typically have my camera on, and if you start sharing your screen in Teams the window showing your video is minimized. I bet you can see where this is going – I turned my camera on in a call with my then supervisor, shared my screen, then promptly forgot I was on camera. Proceeded to do all kinds of stuff while talking to him- stretch, walk around the room, obviously multitask on my phone. To top it all off I was wearing a totally ridiculous animal print sweatsuit. He’s way too polite to ever bring it up, but I still get embarrassed thinking about it.

  155. prismo*

    Way back in 2005 my college friend told me this story: He was working at a CVS or some similar business, and a lady came up to his register to check out. She was missing a few fingers on one hand. They had a pleasant exchange and after she paid, he mistakenly said, “Have a nice finger!”

    I haven’t spoken to this person in 15 or so years and I still can’t retell this story without laughing.

  156. Kit*

    This was about 8 years ago when I still worked in the office. I went into my managers office to ask her a question and as I turned to leave I randomly farted without any warning. I wasn’t having stomach issues or anything and didn’t feel it coming on. I didn’t know what to do so I pretended it didn’t happen and walked out. Our offices were directly across from each other and as I sat down we made direct eye contact and sat for a couple seconds just looking at each other until I pretended to see an urgent email.

  157. Anon for this One*

    I made 2 slips of the tongue when managing a space power system that live in infamy:
    1. My mouth conflated the words “users” and “loads” and ended up referring to them as “downstream losers,” which I guess was fitting because they were about to lose power
    2. Instead of bus I said butt. As in “butt loss”

  158. Quill*

    At a somewhat recent interview, I, wearing interview shoes, was touring the facilities. It was a manufacturing setting and they had leftover… wheel grease I guess? From a hand truck? In the middle of the floor.

    I did not *eat* concrete but I certainly did fall with a sound like a bag of wet sand. For some reason, instead of getting back up I decided to play it off (and prevent people from trying to help me up because it can be VERY awkward with my collapsing ankle to get into the correct position to stand up… especially in an interview outfit, that does not move in all directions.)

    “Don’t mind me, I’m just doing a floor inspection!”

    … I did not get the job.

  159. Kaydee*

    I was using one of the stalls in the woman’s washroom at work when I spotted a bug crawling on the floor. Despite me trying to keep an eye on its whereabouts while I was still in the stall, I lost track of it. In a slight state of panic I ended up standing outside of the stall in my underwear while shaking my pants out to see if the bug had crawled up my pant leg. This is when my boss walked into the bathroom, mid pant flail. It was great.

  160. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

    Can’t believe I almost forgot about this one. I went to a very small college, only about 1000 students. I worked for the athletic department as an athletic trainer; my main duties were taking ankles and attending athletic events to do first aid if necessary or call an ambulance for injuries beyond my skill.

    It was a conservative Christian school and most of the other colleges we played against were also small conservative Christian schools. Many of them did not have the budget for their athletic trainers to travel with them, so I took care of both teams.

    One basketball game a player from the other team came in and was clearly upset to see a woman as the trainer. He told me, very embarrassed, that he needed a groin taping. This goes under the shorts but over the underwear, and it is anchored by wrapping tape around the waist. I was also embarrassed to be doing this, but put on my most professional demeanor and got to work. He was standing with his back to the door of the training room, pants around his ankles. I was kneeling in front of him and just as I put my arms around his waist to anchor the tape, in walked my school’s entire men’s basketball team. One asked if they should leave to give me privacy and I began stuttering that no, they should come in, somehow thinking that spectators would make this situation less awkward.