Mortification Week: the accidental overture, the misplaced wink, and more

It’s Mortification Week at Ask a Manager and all week long we’ll be revisiting ways we’ve mortified ourselves at work. Here are 12 more mortifying stories to enjoy.

1. The accidental overture

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. The knock-out

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.

3. The GIF

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 realize 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!

4. Poor judgment

I sat on an interview panel once where I encountered a guy who, when answering a question about dealing with workplace conflict, went on a long, convoluted, extremely detailed story the upshot of which was: he’d started dating a colleague, it wasn’t going well, and he needed a new job so he could break up with her.

He did not get the job.

5. The name

I was up in the C-suite for the first time for a big meeting, very nervous. I was trying to find the conference room and bumped into someone who I knew of but hadn’t yet met. He said, “Hi, I’m John Hancock.” I meant to respond, “Oh, you’re John Hancock,” as in, nice to put the name to a face. But instead I blurted out, “I’m John Hancock” and honestly, I don’t know which of us was more confused. I turned every shade of red but managed to correct myself. Then luckily some other people walked up and I had a chance to show off that I do actually know my own name.

6. The underwear

During the summers, I often go to my seasonal pool after work before I head home. Every once in a while I’d just change in my office, put on swimsuit and a cover-up, so I could get right in the pool as soon as I arrived. One day last summer, I got into the office early in the morning, having gone to the pool straight from work the day before, and gave my regular friendly greeting to our cleaner. She wasn’t nearly as chatty or friendly as usual when we cross paths in the morning, but I didn’t think much of it until I got to my office. After opening my locked office door (which I always leave unlocked) I noticed something in the middle of my office floor. Reader, it was my panties! Somehow they haven’t made it into my pool bag with the rest of my work clothes and our cleaner had vacuumed around them (I’d been shredding paperwork and the floor was a bit of a mess) but left them in situ. Bless her heart, she’d obviously locked my door so no one else would witness what she must have assumed were shenanigans on my part.
We have never spoken of this, and now I always change at the pool.

7. The introduction

It was 22 years ago and finally at age 40! I got my long awaited breast reduction. I was thrilled with the results – 20-year-old old “new ones” on my middle-aged body. After I recovered and returned to work, we had our work Christmas party that featured multiple hospitals’ staff all combined at one venue. A coworker helped me find a great dress to highlight my new and improved silhouette. I was single at the time, and was hoping to meet someone special.

I had a wonderful time, and as the evening was winding down I was sitting at a cocktail table by myself. A guy came over and abruptly sat down across from me saying “I’ve been wanting to say hi to you all night!” Well, gee, of course you have, because I have these spectacular new and improved breasts, said my wine-addled brain to myself. So I coyly replied with a sultry look, “Hey, let’s just cut to the chase here — just who in the hell are you, anyway?”

He told me his name, and I thought for a moment, hmmm … that name sounds familiar, OMG, yikes! and I said, “I think that’s the name that signs my paycheck.” And he said, “Why yes it is.” Turns out he was the CEO of the group that paid my salary, and he was making a point to try to say hello to everyone personally that evening. Obviously not trying to hit on me.

The following year, I attended the party with my boyfriend/now-husband, and the CEO was in a receiving line to greet everyone as they entered the ballroom. As I was introducing my S.O. to him, I said, “I don’t know if you remember me” … and before I could say another word, he clasped my hand and said, “Of course! I remember you, Jackie.” Cringe…

8. The blowjobs

I was just an innocent cashier caught in the crossfire between my super sweet manager (Mormon mother of eleven kids, and yes that’s relevant here) and a customer she was chatting with while bagging his groceries. He had just gotten his hair cut at the salon next door and was mildly complaining about the price of a simple cut, and my manager just popped this gem right out with her sweet and bubbly voice: “I wonder how much she would have charged you for a blow job?”

He went damn near purple with embarrassment, the cashier behind me started this horrible laugh-cough, and her customer lost it right there. I was dumbfounded. Couldn’t say a word.

My friends, I had to explain it to her. After he left. She looked like she was going to faint as she had been telling her kids and everyone else for years that she was really good at blow jobs and that’s why her kids always had the best looking hair. Of course, she thought that blow jobs were the same thing as blow drying hair.

9. The Legos

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

10. The strengths

At an interview ten years into my career: I’d prepped fairly well, including an answer to the “weaknesses” question, and instead I got asked what my strengths were. I totally blanked, stared at the interviewer for what feels like forever but was presumably only a few seconds, and eventually managed to stammer out, “I do have strengths, honest, I just can’t think of them right now.” We managed to finish the interview reasonably well after that, but I did not get a job offer.

11. The wink

While testifying before a legislative committee, I inadvertently winked at one of the committee members.

12. The Myers-Briggs types

At an all-hands meeting for a small company, we’re talking about Myers-Briggs types and the differences between some of the paired opposites like thinkers vs. feelings (shorthanded as T vs. F) and judgers vs. perceivers (shorthanded as J vs. P). Our deputy director is talking about how she is a judger (J) and her husband is a perceiver (P). She sums it up as, “My husband’s P-ness drives me crazy!” Never to be forgotten.

{ 203 comments… read them below }

    1. Phony Genius*

      I was once the bystander for a #5-like incident. One person said to John Hancock, “I’m John Hancock.” I quickly turned to him and said “No you’re not.” Then he realized it, corrected himself, and everybody forgot it happened.

      1. Pooky Snackenberger*

        Co-anchors on the 6 o’clock news in a sizable midwestern town, circa 2000. Anchor 1 (male): Good evening, I’m Jennifer Teapot.

        Anchor 2 (Jennifer Teapot, astounded, looking at him): I’M Jennifer Teapot!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      “… and that’s why I am now starting over under a new identity in Poland.”

    2. Utahn*

      I live and work in Utah and have had to explain things like that to my Mormon coworkers many times. Never in front of a customer, though!

      1. Another Utahn*

        I am a Mormon and went to BYU for my undergrad. But I grew up outside of Utah and had actually had a decent comprehensive sex ed program. So there’s me a 19 year old virgin going to a college friend’s bridal shower and suddenly found myself having to explain to some women a few years older than me who had NOT had very comprehensive sex ed what KY Jelly was for…

    3. Rainy*


      I am reading this in my office while eating lunch. I almost inhaled a baby carrot.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        No re-enacting Fast Times at Ridgemont High, no matter how thematically appropriate!

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      I think I died FOR that poor woman. Just–that it wasn’t a one-off misspeak but that she’d been saying it for YEARS. To her KIDS. Oh God.

      1. Galactica, Actually*

        My mom and I were visiting my brother for some holiday, and were wasting time at his house while he was either working or (more likely) on Reddit complaining about us. My brother was on the computer in his loft office, I was reading a book, and Mom was drifting around the living room straightening things that badly needed straightening and fluffing pillows. She called out to my brother, “Look how nice the room looks now that I’ve fluffed your pillows! I could stay here and be your fluffer!”

        The look that came over his face will stay with me forever. I’m sure the same one came over mine. She saw it, and then she said, “What did I say?” and so then we had to explain it to her, and then there was a lot of merriment.

        1. GoryDetails*

          My favorites of all the mortifying anecdotes are the ones that end with “and then there was a lot of merriment”!

        2. Turtlewings*

          My mother is someone extremely similar to the innocent mother-of-eleven above, and she made a similar “fluffer” remark in front of me and MY brother, who are the chronically-online, dirty-minded members of the family. It was pretty horrifying to see each other’s expressions, and both have to deal with the knowledge that our baby brother/big sister knows what a fluffer is. XD

          1. Bob’s Your Uncle*

            I’m both a romance author and chronically online, so from time to time my poor adult children have to ask me to *please* pretend I don’t know what something means.

    5. narya*

      “and that’s why her kids always had the best looking hair.”

      I’m trying to imagine what my face would look like as I tried to make the connection between the two.

    6. HailRobonia*

      My organization runs a variety of professional trainings. We had a workshop in Beijing and wanted to offer discount on our courses to attendees of the Beijing workshop. To implement discounts we need a discount code for the attendees to use, and the coordinator suggested the code “BJworkshop.”

      I discretely suggested she reconsider that…

      1. Phony Genius*

        I was once working on a display for an event that was taking place at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. For space considerations, we were asked to abbreviate it somehow. As I said to a colleague after they showed me a draft, “I am not putting anything out there that says ‘BJ King!’ I have no idea where to begin telling you why that’s wrong in more ways than one.”

        1. Pine Tree*

          I have been successful in getting my colleagues to rename the “Budget Justification” to “Budget Narrative”. I just couldn’t handle any more “Project X BJ” documents! I had to explain the change to one of my sweet innocent coworkers…

          1. Avery*

            I don’t even try myself, I just get a little smile whenever one of our follow-ups is abbreviated as “fu”. To be fair, it often fits the usual meaning of FU in some ways as well…

            1. Sunshine Gremlin*

              In my personal notes, that are only for me, I abbreviate “follow up” as “f-up” and it makes me giggle.

              1. Here for the petty stories*

                When clearing out my (elderly) father’s office, we found notes where we assume he meant an abbreviation to mean “with the file”, not the more common usage. We didn’t ask him.

        2. Inkognyto*

          you need to have a co-worker.

          uses the middle name, Joe
          Last name, Head

          Yes, his parents named him Richard.
          That poor guy in middle/high school.

          1. Never Boring*

            There was a substitute teacher in my hometown named Richard Seaman. Guess what he went by?

            1. the cat stole my croissant*

              Many years ago I had a uni professor called Richard ‘call me Dick’ Byrne.

              I also once taught a kid called John Thomas Nobbs. Why would you do that to your child?? He was a really nice lad who went by ‘Tommy’, and I don’t blame him.

            1. allathian*

              So they exist, then? I thought it was an urban legend.

              In middle school one of my classmates was called Anu. Unfortunately her last name started with an S, and the poor kid was the butt (literally!) of many a cruel joke. Later, we went to the same high school and she changed her first name as soon as she could, at 18.

          2. Jack Russell Terrier*

            We had A. Hoare


            WHAT were her parents thinking?? At least it was an all girls school but …

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              Down the street when I was a teen there was a family with the last name Schmuck. I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have changed the family name…

          3. Random Biter*

            In my waitressing years I worked at a local Big Boy whose owner was Richard Head. And yes, he was.

      2. Ama*

        I have an aunt who went by “BJ” for much of the 80s (her first and middle initials) but went back to her full first name after she started substitute teaching. I think that’s actually how I learned the other term it stood for (I was about 10 or 11 when she switched).

        1. mli25*

          My sister’s husband’s initials are BJH…and his last name is Head. So without giving his full name, BJ Head. And so are his brother’s.

        2. Ally McBeal*

          One of the best people I knew in high school went by BJ because there were SO many other Brians at his school and church. He switched to Brian in college and never looked back, but my brain still takes a minute to catch up every time he posts on social media and I don’t immediately remember that Brian “Smith” (not his real last name) is the same guy who gave me a ride home from youth group every week 20 years ago.

        3. Siege*

          The mother of a high school classmate was named Beverly. For reasons totally unclear to me, she went by Beaver, and said it with a straight face. I have to assume she didn’t know the slang term, and I also have to assume that if *I* knew the slang term, all of her son’s actual friends knew it too.

          1. Shan*

            A very close family friend goes by another word that is also a slang term for female genitalia, and she and her husband were selected to do a game at my wedding. My (now ex-)BIL was our MC, and he also happens to be kind of sleazy. When she introduced herself, you could actually see the battle play out on his face as he chose between running wild with the absolute gift that had been hand-delivered to him, or being polite to his baby brother’s new in-laws. He didn’t say anything, but I’m sure it was one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do!

      3. anonanon*

        I once planned something with an outside partner named (something like) Ben Dicken. Obviously I never said anything to him, but among a couple close colleagues we got some entertainment out of the fact that it sounded like, well, “been dicking.”

        Cut to peak COVID, when I call an emergency Zoom of said colleagues to share with them that I’ve just realized Mr. Dicken’s middle name is (something like) Jacob. And thus, his federal government email address… bjdicken. He will never know how much joy he brought to a few overworked nonprofit employees that day.

      4. Thats a no from me dawg*

        I recently saw an event listing for a “Back to School Concentration Camp” to give kids some focusing tips and tricks. I was … horrified. I went back to show it to a friend a few days later and they’d changed it to “Workshop” so clearly I wasn’t the only one!

    7. Jennifer Strange*

      One of my husband’s favorite moments was a go-worker talking about how a difficult parent was “blowing him” (meaning frustrating him). The same co-worker also talked about his aunt “transitioning” which my husband took to mean in the sense of gender identity and so he responded to it in a “Good for her!” type way. The co-worker meant she was dying.

    8. Sloanicota*

      It made me realize how similar the innocent “blowout” is to the word she used. Poor lady.

    9. Never Boring*

      Reminds me of a guy I dated lo these many years ago, a recently arrived nice Jewish boy from Moscow. His English was generally pretty good, but he had some gaps with vocab and particularly slang and idioms. At the time, a national catalog retailer (that has been circling the drain for many years) had a very well-reputed, very tough IT training program for people with science and math and engineering backgrounds who needed career retraining in the U.S., which the guy I was dating was participating in. The program was known to have lots of homework and the instructors were very strict.

      One day, he described to me how one of the other students that day hadn’t done the homework, so the instructor “went down really hard on him. In front of the whole class and everything!”

      Between the gasps of air I tried to force into my lungs because I was laughing so hard that my diaphragm was spasming, I tried to explain the different between coming down hard on someone and going down hard on someone…

      1. Should not have read this while working*

        This is the one that broke me and made me laugh out loud in my (completely quiet) open plan office

    10. Sara without an H*

      Oh, that poor woman! Btw, I’ve reached the age where I run all new slang expressions past Urban Dictionary before I consider using them in public.

  1. Friendly Office Bisexual*

    These are all incredible. I’m going to be laughing at at “I MEANT LEGOS” all day.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think my brain is too innocent that one wouldn’t have sounded dirty to me at all hahaha

      The hair one on the other hand…

      1. Ally McBeal*

        Frankly, I worked at a daycare many years ago and both scenarios (playing with Legos and actually playing with “himself”) are entirely plausible. Especially with 3 year olds and especially during naptime – I was told it was a self-soothing mechanism but that we should also quietly redirect when we saw anyone doing it.

        1. AJoftheInternet*

          I mean, it’s true, little kids will find ways to get comforting sensations on their body. Mine will “touch,” press their faces on things, put interesting textures in their mouths, tuck their hands inside my clothes, and rub stuff against their lips.

    2. Rebelx*

      As someone who’s also moved to a country where I had to speak a second language, #9 just makes me annoyed with the coworker. Like, surely they could’ve said something like “Do you mean playing BY himself?” and cleared up the situation without making it awkward for the LW, especially if they knew LW was not a native English speaker. Even then, sure, I might’ve been a little embarrassed by the mistake, but the way the coworker reacted just made things unnecessarily worse.

  2. Smol Brontosaurus*

    #9–You are not the only non-native English speaker to make this mistake. My brother’s Colombian wife once referred to their cat playing with himself. With, by, what’s a few prepositions between friends.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      On of my Spanish teachers, in his early years of learning the language, made the classic mistake of saying he was pregnant (embarazado) instead of embarrassed (avergonzado), and of course used the permanent form of “to be”. And, yes, he was a guy.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Sometimes you don’t even need the language barrier.

        My 10th grade Math professor and I had a good laugh about me using the “Angle Side Side” rule on a quiz, after he’d figured out why I had such a hard time concentrating in class.

        1. Something Wicked This Way Comes*

          I still snicker when reading some Bible portions for the same reason.

          1 Kings 12:23

      2. the dog's servant*

        Similar thing happened to one of my Spanish teachers. He said he saw a woman nearby have an embarrassing thing happen to her. He tried to ask if she was embarrassed, but accidentally asked if she was pregnant.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          I still remember asking one Spanish teacher “¿Estás friá?” and getting the (to me confusing) response “a tí.” And then another Spanish teacher in the conversation teaching me that the question I had wanted was “¿Tiene frió?”

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              As was explained to me, it’s the difference between “are you cold?” and “are you frigid?” (with adult undertones that I hadn’t intended).

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                The second teacher was also the kind soul who explained to me that New World and Old World expletives aren’t interchangeable and which words I should have been using instead.

                1. Too Many Tabs Open*

                  A Belgian acquaintance had a story about a relative using a word in a business meeting in Amsterdam that, in Flemish Dutch, was a mild way to say “malarkey” or “BS”. Turned out that in Netherlands Dutch it was a much ruder term connoting male masturbation.

        2. Not Amanda*

          I had a GREAT Spanish teacher in high school tell us how any verb that ends in -ATE in English ends in -AR in Spanish. She asked us if we could name examples. We were 17. I sat there in terror, knowing what could – and likely would – happen. Finally, someone gleefully shouted “I CAN THINK OF ANOTHER ON!” to which my delightful Spanish teacher replied, equally gleefully, “I’ll BET you can!”
          I admire her bravery and silliness.

        3. Seashell*

          My Spanish teacher had a similar story, except I think it was a classmate saying it to a teacher who was a nun.

      3. TooTiredTooThink*

        Oh my word – my male Spanish teacher told us the same story- only – he was meeting his girlfriend’s (now wife) parents!

    2. Avery*

      I did it the other way around, English native learning a new language.
      My Hebrew school class was asked what they were doing over summer break, and one of my classmates had stated that he would be “sleeping”.
      I, chronically tired, felt this in my soul, and wanted to say the same thing but also note how I was echoing an earlier classmate’s response.
      Which led to me saying that I would be “sleeping with X.”
      …yeah, that wasn’t the best way I could have phrased that…

    3. Feotakahari*

      That scene in Fierce Creatures where the guy’s surrounded by animals that keep trying to get his attention, and the person he’s on the phone with hears him telling them to go play with themselves in the corner.

    4. Becky*

      “With, by, what’s a few prepositions between friends.”

      I was once giving editing feedback on a piece written by someone for whom English was a fourth or fifth language. I had the hardest time explaining the difference between “take care of” “care for” and “care about”. I instinctively knew which one was right in which sentence, but trying to explain it was so hard. And I have a degree in linguistics and a minor in editing.

    5. Editor Emeritus*

      I knew an ASL interpreter who did the early morning news for a large-market station. At the time, Reagan was being treated for an enlarged prostate. The interpreter accidentally signed that the president was in the hospital because his penis was too big.

  3. Anonym*

    For number 11: I once was so visibly and audibly nervous/shaky during my first time testifying to a legislative committee one of the members actually paused my testimony and brought me a water. (I had tanked up on coffee and water – no food – that morning, and the hearing wound up going some hours later than I thought I would.) Ugh.

    It was not a big deal and has been long forgotten by everyone except me, but after watching hundreds of hours of testimony over my career, I definitely thought it would be a lot easier than it was.

  4. stacers*

    I’d love to know if the inadvertent wink was A. Closing one eye (because it was watering or something got in it) and OP realized too late that it appeared to be a wink. B. OP was winking at someone behind the committee member but then realized committee member did not know that. or C. OP was just so comfortable testifying that a wink that you might give after a light-hearted joke or sassy aside to people you know telegraphed before realizing it wasn’t an appropriate venue.

    1. Anonym*

      As former legislative committee staff, the odds are high no one remembers it except OP! LOL In my state the members are… somewhat earthy themselves sometimes (one of the chairs opened his first committee meeting this session with some chaw in his lip) – most people here would have found it charming at most and then absolutely forgotten about it

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Honestly I don’t always blink both my eyes at the same time, and I don’t think I could pull of an earnest wink if I tried. I’m probably misfiring signals all over the place.

    3. Petty Betty*

      I have nerve damage and sometimes my eye twitches in a winking gesture. It gets annoying, but it’s a spasmodic and completely uncontrollable gesture. I just roll with it. If anyone asks, I do explain, but rarely does anyone ask because my intentional winks are much smoother, and I can voluntarily wink both eyes.

    4. OP #11*

      It was, I am mortified to say, (C). I worked for the legislature in question, so knew the members. The wink went to one member I knew very well. Several of them laughed, but in a good-natured way. It was long ago and I’m sure no one remembers but me…but I still cringe.

  5. Valancy Stirling*

    As a former teacher, my own soul left my body in solidarity with #1. This is nightmare fodder. Shudder.

    1. Smol Brontosaurus*

      Agree, it’s utterly horrifying. I don’t know the ages of everybody involved, but I taught college students as a college and then graduate student. So it’s conceivable that I might not have understood boundaries and could conceivably have been inviting a student to a concert with me. The thought makes my skin crawl.

      1. Rainy*

        I had a student once during my grad school days teaching intro courses who was a great kid, very engaged, came to office hours all the time, just a lovely student to have all around…I thought when I was teaching him.

        I saw him on campus a year or two later. He was–not sloshed, but definitely a bit past tipsy, and heading back to the transit hub on campus, pretty obviously from the campus pub (this was not in the US, for the record). He greeted me enthusiastically, updated me on his life (this was the end of his last term, he was graduating, my class had been one of his favourites and he would never forget what I taught him about ancient history, etc), and then said he had to make his bus. I put my hand out to shake, and he said “Oh, Rainy, no” and made hugging me motions. I was like, sure, it’s his last term, no worries, and made to give him the standard A-frame brief hug.

        Readers, he literally *dove* into me, gave me *such* a squeeze, and then dropped his face fully into my cleavage and murmured “Mmm”.

        I extricated myself–to this day I still feel shocked and horrified when I contemplate it–patted him kindly on the shoulder thinking “I hope you don’t remember this in the morning”, and went about my business, but it really recontextualized how enthusiastic he was about my class. Zoiks.

    2. nm*

      Same–when I have a student with a similar name to coworkers/supervisors/etc I sometimes have a moment like “omg did I send that to the right person?”

      1. DannyG*

        My nephew started at the same university I teach at (I’m on the medical campus). We have an unusual, Eastern European name, and his first name was alphabetically first. Despite my warnings at the start of the year he received a steady stream of emails and assignments intended for me. He was a good sport, forwarding them to me, but often with a delay.

        1. Siege*

          I’ve shared this before, I’m pretty sure, but it fits here. When I started teaching college I had a particularly incompetent student who kept insisting she couldn’t email me. It all came to a head one day when it turned out that she had been emailing my courseware’s automated email which was literally We had a bit of a go-around about reading comprehension and also “here is the syllabus, here is my email in everything I send you, here is the six ways to find my email.”

          But because I had been a student there, I had a student listing that I had literally never checked – it was auto-generated and all of my teachers intelligently built their lists through finding out what email we were actually going to use. It was a slightly different format and because I had never accessed it, I now did not have access to it, nor did I want it, but if dinglefritz decided to search the campus directory she was gonna find that email along with my teacher-format one (neither were, reminder, the one I gave the students constantly) and probably her brain would short-circuit completely and she’d try to send her homework to the lieutenant governor, who is, if you look at it a certain way, my boss’s boss’s boss’s boss’s boss. So I went over to the computer center and talked to the person in charge of assigning emails. We wiped that email, another one that was set up wrong (my name is an uncommon spelling and the IT team at that school was Not The Best) and then we found another that had my first initial but was actually my dad’s email when he took some classes for his apprenticeship there. It had been autogenerated and had no email in it, so I also had her torch that one too. I was just so over the creative ways that particular student could not figure out how to help herself and I wasn’t trusting her with our shared initial and same last name.

          And then peace reigned over the land and I eventually told my dad I’d wiped out his email, but the best we ever figured it was autogenerated long after he was a student there because he didn’t graduate, he was an apprentice before email was super common, not doing a degree, and they thought he was still a student.

          1. LJ*

            Casually torching an email account that belongs to someone else… You aren’t kidding about the poor quality IT department!

        2. Yecats*

          My dad is a (now retired) professor at the college I attended. His email is his initials @ I wanted to get my initials for my school address but it was taken. My sister facetiously suggested I use just our last name so I would get lots of emails intended for him. I did not take her up on that, haha

        3. Anon for this*

          My older brother and I were at the same military school (voluntarily). Another first year asked me on a date, but emailed my brother on accident. My brother was NOT AMUSED that the kid would have the temerity to ask me out.

      2. just a random teacher*

        My father and the father of one of my students have the same first name and last name. (It’s a very common name pair. Back when printed phonebooks were a thing, there were a double-digit number of Firstname Lastnames in our local phone book, and dad has had occasional trouble with debt collectors and getting on bad check lists when on of the other Firstname Lastnames tarnishes their shared name.)

        It’s very confusing when either one of them call the main office looking for me, although I have let both of them know about this just in case I ever screw things up. (Neither are particularly surprised, since they are used to a ton of people having this name combination, but it does create the occasional need to double-check who I am sending something to, since I’ll forward my dad emails from my work account occasionally about things like school fundraisers he might want to participate in.)

        Weirdly, I suspect the two of them would get along. I have no appropriate method for introducing them to each other, though.

    3. Olive*

      At 22, I had to take a class normally meant for freshman as a prerequisite for a graduate program. The teacher was ~25 with her MFA and she told the mostly female class that she’d dated 100 men, was getting married, and if she became close with a student, she might invite that person to be her bridesmaid.

      I was cringing back then, but more irritated than anything else. Years later, I’m full on horrified.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        When I was in secondary school, I had a teacher who asked us if we ever talked in our sleep and then said she’d recently had a dream about an ex-boyfriend and hoped she hadn’t been talking in her sleep because she didn’t want her husband hearing what they were doing (she didn’t straight up say they’d been having sex but she made it pretty clear).

        She also took my sister and a couple of classmates to her house for coffee on a day that most of the class were at a college open day so there were only about 4 or 5 students in the class and she made them return to the school by different gates so the principal didn’t know about it.

        The students in both cases would have been 16-19 year olds.

        She also brought in her wedding photos and passed them around. This wasn’t a case of her having been recently married, even. She’d been married for at least ten years. She just wanted to annoy her husband who, understandably, didn’t want a bunch of teenage girls looking at his wedding photos.

  6. TyphoidMary*

    #7 I understand that this was mortifying, and I get why you would regret it in a professional context, but frankly I find her confidence inspiring!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I totally get it too but honestly, with the shenanigans I’ve seen at functions with alcohol – this wouldn’t even phase me.

      1. Frickityfrack*

        Seriously. At least she didn’t get up and play You’re So Vain morosely on the piano while staring at him. In terms of alcohol and holiday parties, she’s really doing very well.

        1. Jackie*

          The piano man is soooo one of my favorite posts!

          Long day at work in the OR today, crawl into bed to decompress and whoa! I see I made it on mortification week! Truly an accomplishment after years of reading AAM

  7. Peanut Hamper*

    #10 reminds me of a meme I saw:

    Person 1: “I have a lot of hidden strengths.”

    Person 2: “What are they?”

    Person 1: “I don’t know; they’re all hidden.”

  8. PrL*

    #12–I (female, early 30s at the time) was leading a workshop for a group of clergy and we were discussing Myers-Briggs. I said something to the effect of “I didn’t realize how much P I had in me!” and got flustered when the group chuckled and I realized what I’d just said. “Oh, that’s not what I meant!” I exclaimed without thinking. “What I mean is, I’ve just come to appreciate my P-ness more over the years!” I don’t talk about Myers-Briggs anymore.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I don’t talk about Myers-Briggs anymore.
      In the multiverse, there is a place where Andy Griffith describes his odyssey into into corporate America on Prairie Home Companion.
      And this is his script.

    2. GovSysadmin*

      On a similar note, on an episode of Iron Chef America years ago, the secret ingredient was peas, and during the judging, one of the judges looked at the dish and said “there is much… there is much pea-ness in this”. The best part is that the camera then cut to one of the other judges, who looked like she was about to snort out the food she was eating. You can find it on Youtube by searching for “peaness”. :)

    3. Timothy (TRiG)*

      Given that the evidentiary underpinning of Myers-Briggs is approximately non-existent, there’s no good reason to talk about it anyway, really.

      1. Sorrischian*

        Well. There’s no reason to talk about anyone’s MBTI results because, as you rightly point out, they’re entirely unscientific. There’s plenty of reason to talk about Myers-Briggs as a phenomenon, because it’s fascinating (and frankly kind of unhinged).

        I just finished reading “The Personality Brokers” and absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s even the tiniest bit interested in personality tests, because this story goes to some truly strange places.

  9. Jay (no, the other one)*

    I did the MBTU with a professional development group at a conference years ago. I’m a woman. One of my closest friends in the group is a man and we had a long talk about the results. That evening he walked up to me in the bar and said “I’ve been thinking about what you said about my P-ness.”


      1. Pippa K*

        MBTU sounds like a comic book/superhero universe based on personality tests – wouldn’t watch it myself, but I bet it’s more amusing than actual personality tests!

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I would totally watch that, but probably not sober.

          The League of the Extremely Specific Personalities! Featuring 3.61% man, whose super power is just being kinda unusual, but not to the point that you don’t know other people who are also kind of like that.

  10. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    The 6’3” guy.
    Thought it was going to be him standing up and discovering the company president (who’d come in after everyone was seated) was 5’2” and another person commented and nobody knew where to look.
    Knocking himself out on a cabinet door was not on my Interview Bingo card.

  11. James M*

    Hah, good one here. Got called in to interview for a job. Scheduled it for a week later on a Friday. They gave me an assignment (ugh) – case study including data set analysis resulting in a 5 page PPT presentation (double ugh). Got pasted with a huge work assignment but thought i would be done in plenty of time to prep. My manager kept adding on items and finally found myself pulling an allnighter on the presentation. Finished up around 5 am and slept for a couple hours before heading to a coffee shop to prep. Opened up my laptop and my PRESENTATION WAS NOT THERE. I searched my entire computer, saved files, My Documents, Deleted Files, every memory stick in my bag. I called my point of contact and explained. She was stunned but understanding and asked me how I wanted to proceed. I suggested they give me an hour to re-create my presentation from memory. I …. wasn’t terrible I suppose, I got a call a week later from my contact, saying that they had spent a lot of time on the phone with some mutual contacts and had gotten enough comfort that I wasn’t a total flake that they were offering me the opportunity to continue on in the interview process anyway. I turned them down because I was so annoyed about the entire experience anyway that I didn’t want to continue with a company putting their interviewees through such nonsense.

    To this day, I don’t have the foggiest clue what happened to my presentation. Occam’s Razor says the simplest explanation is that I finished too late at night and just never saved the preso.

    1. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Oof. Not mine, but similar. A friend of mine, then in grad school, signed up to give a presentation at a large national conference. She was set to be the second one in her session. When trying to upload her presentation to the conference computer, she discovered that she had somehow grabbed the wrong jump drive. She had to send her husband back to their hotel to grab the right one. He didn’t get back until about 10 minutes into what was to have been her 15-minute slot, so she had to compress all her work into 5 minutes. (Why they didn’t just swap her talk with another one in the session, I don’t know.) She had 10 long, interminable minutes to stand on the stage and wait for her jump drive to arrive.

      1. Beany*

        Having chaired some sessions at academic conferences, the organizers are quite clear: the published program is sacrosanct. You do *not* swap around talks if a speaker is late or having IT issues. If a speaker is absent altogether, it’s an opportunity for general Q&A or bathroom breaks for the duration of the missing talk slot — you do *not* go straight on to the next talk on the program.

        It seems inflexible and a waste of time, but it means the schedule is predictable, and attendees can catch talks at different parallel sessions.

  12. I Like Tea*

    I can relate to the blow job one. A few years ago in a staff meeting I was talking to some coworkers and telling them how sometimes to get senior management buy-in, you have to come back to them multiple times with a little bit of information. I proudly said, “I call it tea bagging!” And my friend across the table looked me dead in the eye, and said, “No. No you don’t call it that.” I very nearly died right then and there.

    1. pally*

      I managed to work in the phrase “hand job” as reference to manually washing microtiter plates vs. using a plate washer.

      1. Smol Brontosaurus.*

        Very recently my coworker used the term hand job to refer to manually doing … I completely forget what. Something that you would prefer to automate. But boy do I remember him saying it was a real hand job.

    2. renata ricotta*

      I was getting my website photo taken at the office, and an older colleague said that I should have my assistant make sure I was all in place (think checking for stray hair wisps or an oddly folded collar). “She’s a great fluffer. That’s what you call it, right?” No sir, no you do not.

      (as it happens, he’s LDS, but I think there are plenty of people who have been sheltered from innuendo/sexual references for plenty of reasons)

      1. ReallyBadPerson*

        OMG, I was today years old when I learned what a fluffer was. And I have used this word once or twice to describe staging a house in preparation for selling it. Now I’m racking my brain to remember the people I must pray NEVER to see again.

      2. Help*

        OK…I don’t know this one and don’t want it to be a search on my computer…help, please.

        1. We Don't Work in Oregon*

          An adult film industry personal assistant, to the male lead. Gets them ready for their performance.

  13. Juicebox Hero*

    When I worked retail, one of my coworkers was “Carol”, a 70-ish loud unfiltered quirky woman who treated me like a granddaughter half the time. As a young adult I had horrible female issues, but if you didn’t work you didn’t get paid. One time I dragged myself in with such bad cramps I couldn’t stand upright. There was no way I was going to make it through my shift.

    Carol scolded me for showing up in that condition and told me to call the office and ask if I could leave early, and she’d give me a ride home, which was great because otherwise I’d have to wait for the bus. I told the people upstairs I was sick and could Carol please drive me home. They gave permission.

    As I followed her out to the parking lot, she yelled out to every employee she saw “I’M TAKING JUICEBOX HOME! SHE HAS CRAMPS!” I was too horrified to say anything. Of course everyone else around heard her too. If I could have crawled under the carpet and tunneled out like a mole I would have.

  14. bamcheeks*

    Oooh, 1 reminds me of the time I got an email from one of my students saying she was very sorry but unfortunately I hadn’t been selected for the cheerleading team. I replied that i was disappointed but given I was 8 months pregnant it was probably for the best, and got the most effusively apologetic email back I’ve ever received. :D

    1. Yeah, it's funny now tho (#1)*

      I should have kept a log of random e-mails from my students. Some of them were inadvertently quite funny.

    2. Artemesia*

      This one can be paired with the teacher who sent the date request to a student — as a autofill error — probably what happened here too.

      1. Yeah, it's funny now tho (#1)*

        That was me–it wasn’t even a date, I was trying to make plans with a male friend (he was and is very gay!).

  15. Jo-El*

    I was interviewing people for a role in our company. One lady in a business suit came in and sat down. She handed out copies of her resume and said “before we start cane I ask a question?”
    I told her she could ask whatever she wanted to know. Her next sentence was “What did the father buffalo say to his boy when he left?” Bewildered I said “I don’t know”. She responded with, “he says BISON”. “OK, now that we’ve broken the ice I am ready to interview”.
    ………………………….went downhill from there nd she didn’t get a job offer.

  16. Yoyoyo*

    I had a similar situation to #5. I shared an office and phone with a coworker and I guess I just got so used to hearing her answer the phone with “Hi, this is (her name)” that one time the phone rang and when I picked it up, I greeted the caller with my coworker’s name instead of my own! Luckily, they were looking for someone else entirely and had been misdirected to our extension, but unfortunately for me other officemates were in the room at the time and never let me live it down.

    1. SAS*

      I got flustered answering a Teams call when I saw it was the general manager (a couple of levels above me), and I got caught between saying “Hello Annie speaking” and “Hi Jack [manager]”, and I said “Hello Jack speaking”. He died laughing.

    2. Critical Rolls*

      Oh, that’s giving me flashbacks to working in multiple customer service locations and having total transitional brain freeze. “Thank you for calling… (looks frantically around for an unreasonable amount of time, trying to reestablish contact with the corporeal world) … Metroville Books, how can I help you?”

      1. CareerChanger*

        Oh yes, my first day at Pizza Hut: “Thank you for calling Little Caesars…I mean…Pizza Hut.” Also my last day. I left for a break and just never came back.

      2. tinyhipsterboy*

        Oh gosh. Going through multiple places makes it so bad. I stopped working at Starbucks after 4 years, went on to a cell phone provider… and mine came out confidently at first. “Thank you for calling Starbucks on [cell provider’s crosstreets], this is tinyhipsterboy, how can I help you?”

        immediately followed by “oh god [cell provider], I meant [cell provider], you called [cell provider].”

  17. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    #3 has happened to me and my coworkers several times. Cute generic cartoon GIF says Good Morning/Night or Happy Friday and at the last second, “I love you!” noooooooooo!

    1. AJoftheInternet*

      My daughter used to like to send gifs to her uncle, and he’d send gifs back. One day he sent something that looked innocuous (like a duckling running across a room? There was a duck involved.) and somehow it was the only gif in the world with SOUND. So suddenly this ducking was singing about how it was going to “kick somebody’s ass.”

    2. bananasalamander*

      Yep. I sent the Billy Madison “You’re so smart” gif to my boss once but didn’t realize it continued on as Billy went in for the kiss. I died and typed about a dozen apology messages in the next several seconds. My boss laughed so hard I could hear him on the other side of our rather large building.

  18. Ink*

    The GIF… at least he got what happened! My great aunt, determined to keep up with technology and bad at it, once sent my uncle- her nephew-in-law- a gif of a dog with (continuous, unlike #3’s example) text: wanna cuddle? It’s never been acknowledged to or by her, but it gets a lot of mileage after awkward silences and accidental innuendos when she isn’t in town!

  19. SometimesCharlotte*

    #10 – I’ve done this! When preparing for the interview, I was so concerned with making sure I could talk about my weaknesses properly, I completely forgot to practice talking about my strengths!

  20. the dog's servant*

    The mortifying wink reminds me of something similar that I did when I was very young and new to my first full-time job. I was a victim advocate and had been asked to go to court in support of someone who presented himself as a victim, but at the hearing it became obvious that he’d sought advocacy services as another way to intimidate the other party, whom he had been victimizing and who was clearly terrified of him. Luckily, the judge ruled not in his favor. I felt so horrified at what this person had tried to do, and ashamed that I’d been there with him (even though it was the right thing to do at the time–we start by believing, and we do our best not to make assumptions based on gender), that as we left the courtroom I turned and flashed the judge a thumbs-up. Of course I regretted it immediately and will never forget her single raised eyebrow.

    1. Lordy Lordy, Look Who's Over 40*

      Hi, fellow victim advocate here. Those types of perpetrators are the worst, been there. I’ll see you and raise you this: I was doing a training for about 100. mostly male[graveyard shift-yes it matters] cops back when strangulation awareness was just getting started. I’d grab the biggest male officer, stand face to face with his hands around my neck and talk about “where would his injuries be if I were defending myself.” All fine until this day when I intended to turn around and do the same thing, and the audience would point out “that’s when the aggressor often has bite wounds on his hands”, yadda yadda. But what I said was “OK, now from behind.” Never did live it down.

      Also, courtesy of this week I’ve had to change my AAM handle which had been Flutternutter for years, in homage to a friend who loved the stuff. The things you learn.

  21. FionaIsMySecretName*

    I was in college, dating a guy and his BFF turned 21. I joined the party and was too young to drink but was impressed by the variety of drinks. one of them is called a Blow Job. It’s a sweet drink in a shot glass with whipped cream, but you’re supposed to drink it hands free. The next day, at work in the cafeteria, a turned to my coworker (shy, geeky, male) and asked, “Have you ever had a blow job?” OBVIOUSLY I meant the drink, but it took a moment for my brain to catch up. Apologized, explained about the drink, asked him to forget the conversation, etc. He waited a moment and answered, “… no.” (clearly referencing my original question) and walked off. I don’t recall ever speaking about it again, but he never held it against me.

    1. Arts Akimbo*

      Hands free? So… how are you supposed to drink it exactly? If you’re just supposed to put your face around it and toss it back, I think I would probably manage to inhale it. My obituary would read “Choked to death on a Blow Job,” and my mortification would be eternal!

      1. Lurker*

        Yes, that is exactly how you take the shot – put your mouth around the shot glass, tip your head back, and swallow. It’s pretty a propos if you think about it.

      2. FionaIsMySecretName*

        Additionally, you can place the shot glass on the table, or if you are a risque college student, you can place it between the knees of a crush. But your crush it better be willing to risk spillage on their clothing and invasion of their personal space. But in college that’s kind of the point .

  22. nora*

    Re: #8…during the height of the Tea Party’s popularity I (mid-20s) worked for a tiny office with three people old enough to be my parents, one intern around my age, and one intern who wasn’t old enough to drink. A colleague sent us a clipping from their very, very small local newspaper. There was a rather unfortunate correction to an article about a political rally on the back. And that’s how the younger intern and I found ourselves explaining to our bosses that the term for a member of the Tea Party is *not* “teabagger.”

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I remember when that all started, & many (older, very straight) members of the “movement” did call themselves “teabaggers.”

      A gay friend was disappointed when that was quietly retired.

      1. merula*

        That was an amazing era! There was a CNN spot about the movement at one point and when they cut back to Anderson Cooper he said “it’s hard to talk when you’re teabagging”.

    2. Soooooo anon*

      I had to explain that that was not a term to use, to my mom… I couldn’t fully explain it, bring too embarrassed, so I basically was just like no really, it refers to a specific action that is highly inappropriate, it’s NOT a term you want to use.

      Apparently she Googled it, later she told me that it was disgusting and she couldn’t believe it was used for that… I mean … *I* didn’t make it up?

  23. HailRobonia*

    Once I meant to ask a coworker to join me in a “huddle” on Slack but instead I said “can you join me in a cuddle?”

    1. Relentlessly Socratic*

      At OldJob, a colleague and I would occasionally call the daily huddle a “cuddle puddle” I don’t remember why, but we thought we were hi lar i ous.

  24. learnedthehardway*

    My second real job out of university – the company had a tradition of new employees introducing themselves at the staff meeting and doing something that was one of their non-work talents. Could be playing an instrument, singing, art – whatever they did as a hobby. Basically, a one-person talent show.

    I decided on cooking a dessert, because my other activities didn’t work well for the setting. In fact, as I was introducing myself and mentioning that I was in the Reserves (Canadian part time military), I said that it was unfortunate that I couldn’t strip and clean a rifle for them while blindfolded. (I was very good at that – it was a requirement to be able to do so in the dark).

    Cue 25 or so people howling with laughter – they didn’t realize that stripping was something you did to a semi-automatic weapon to break it down into its component parts. I managed to make it through the introduction, and laugh along with them, but I didn’t live that one down for quite a long time.

  25. M*

    I am a high school teacher and I was asked to join a committee reviewing curriculum options to update our sexual health offerings. I was in the middle of doing something else and didn’t want to lose my train of thought so when my boss called and told me the time and location of the first meeting, I quickly entered ‘sex meeting’ onto my outlook calendar and went back to what I had been doing. The next day the very proper admin assistant in my department called me in very quietly to let me know that IT had recently given her access to our calendars to make it easier for her to schedule interviews. I (having no idea why she was whispering) responded that was great. I didn’t get it until she spelled out the s-e-x meeting. She retired two years ago and I still get embarrassed when I walk by her office!

  26. Fitzie's chew toy*

    Years ago in a faculty meeting, we were discussing dress codes. I said we should definitely exclude Big Johnson t-shirts- -very popular at the time. The principal said, “Why, what are they? ” and asked me to explain.
    I looked desperately at my male colleague, but he shrugged.Nope you’re on your own. so I had to explain why they weren’t appropriate anywhere, but especially in a suburban Utah junior high. Appalled looks all around as they realized that adolescent boys had been wearing them right under some very naive noses.

    1. Ama*

      Did they not actually look at the shirts? Because if I recall the illustrations alone made most of them not school appropriate.

      My school went so far the other way they would ban brands that just sounded like they might be sexual (or drug related, pretty much all the skater clothing brands were banned because someone convinced the school admins that skater was code for weed).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        My high school banned “gang colors” back in the 80s. Our school colors ended up being on the list. So you could only wear them as part of a uniform, letter jacket, or during spirit week.

        1. 1LFTW*

          My high school banned hats, in the same spirit. ALL HATS had to be removed IMMEDIATELY upon entering the building, regardless of the time of year, on pain of detention. There were a couple of teachers whose job it was to say “take off your hat… remove your hat.. take off your hat…” because if any of us stepped into the actual hallway wearing a bobble-hat against the cold of an upper midwestern winter, my boring suburban high school would instantly be overrun by gangs, I guess.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Our dress code never allowed hats. There was a day during Spirit Week when you could wear them.

        2. just a random teacher*

          I once taught at a school were basically all colors were banned as “gang colors”. I asked someone in admin what specific colors we should use to designate the two teams for our end-of-year game of [I don’t remember – capture the flag, maybe?]. They suggested brown and pink, which is a problem on an entirely different axis… (I can’t remember what we actually did to mark teams.)

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

      Totally agree. Hopefully he was just as embarrassed. “This one time I accidently hit on my employee. “

  27. Remaining Anonymous*

    I’ve told this one before and it might have made a previous mortification week post but I can’t remember. I can feel my face heating up right now. This was all pre-COVID.

    Anytime a parent took off for parental leave, they would usually bring the baby around for everyone to coo over a week or two before they return to work. My boss usually just looked at the babies, said a nice word and moved on. But this one time he decided he wanted to hold the baby. I was holding the baby at the time, so he went in to “scoop” the baby out of my arms and one of his fingers caught the edge of my bra and my breast popped out of the cup (this was under the shirt but we both know what happened). He reach out and pulled the cup back down over my breast like it was the most normal thing ever. I wanted to die or quit or something. Mom & Dad both worked at the same place and were standing right there. I think they were also mortified. I could not look at him for days. To his credit, he just acted like nothing every happened and it was business as usual (on his end), but I know my face was flame red every time we had to speak for weeks.

    It’s been 11 years. I still get embarrassed when I think of it and I still work for the same boss.

  28. I'm Just Here For The Cats!!*

    #9 If I had been the other person I would have known what you meant, and probably not even thought of the other meaning. I think it shows a lot of the other person that they immediately thought that you would 1. that your kid did that and 2 you would even talk about it at work. I think they should have handled it a lot better, especially if they knew you were new to the US and may not know all of the different phrases.

  29. ZSD*

    #7 reminds me of the “Me anna girls gonna go work at HOOTERS!” story from an earlier mortification week. Maybe we’ll get a rerun.

    1. ZSD*

      Sadly typing “Hooters” into the AAM search bar – something I never had expected to do – did not yield the link.

    2. Jackie*

      #7 Poster here. Just reread the Hooter link lol…Post op morphine drip – no make up, glasses on, probably stinky breath, and I kept insisting to my young male nurse that “ I’m much cuter in real life!” Good times

  30. Laura*

    The P-ness! I onboarded to a govt agency with about 60 others and when discussing the result of our Myers-Briggs test a colleague stood up to ask the moderator, “how should I best embrace my p-ness in the office?” It’s been more than 10 years and we still cannot let this die.

  31. linger*

    Possibly enough years have now passed that I can share my workplace mortification story.
    Nobody got into trouble for this, and everybody stayed on friendly terms, but it could so easily have turned out differently.
    Once upon a time I was teaching a postgrad course. I have to stress these were grown adults, I’d known them all a few years, and some mutual banter was normal in our classes.
    One lesson was a critical thinking exercise on the theme of comparing food poisoning risk at different types of restaurant, illustrated with a range of hilariously disgusting scenarios.
    At the end one guy commented “I’ll never eat anything again!”
    I chose to reply thusly: “Your future girlfriends will be so disappointed!”
    The rest of the class laughed, as intended, but the original student continued dejectedly: “What future girlfriends?”
    I dug in further: “Or boyfriends,” adding (as it was a lesson objective), “we shouldn’t assume!”
    This got an incredibly hurt look back.
    What I didn’t know — and what raises this from misguided to mortifying — was that the classmate laughing loudest at this exchange was the girlfriend who’d just dumped him.

  32. Aitch Arr*

    #11 must be my twin because I accidentally winked at our CEO once during a work dinner. (I’m an HR Director.)

    I wrote him a very awkward apology email the next morning. He hadn’t noticed the wink, but did appreciate the apology and me coming clean.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      A (terrible) former manager told me she was once in a meeting with someone who had a tic. She didn’t know that & kept winking at him every time the tic made him close one eye.

      She was impervious to mortification or the concept of being a good human, but accidental wink stories always make me think of her. And be glad I no longer report to her.

  33. Reality.Bites*

    My great aunt, who’d be 93 if she was still around, used to talk of going to the hairdresser’s for a blow job. Her daughters didn’t have the heart to tell her.

  34. NotBatman*

    #1 just sent me back to the time my then-supervisor called me on the phone while drunk in a bar to ask for a ride home. Turns out I have the same first name as her husband, and she hit the wrong contact in her phone. She figured out the error as soon as I spoke, and immediately shrieked an apology and hung up.

  35. Two Fluffy*

    Years ago, when I first started my career in design, I was in a meeting with several senior team members. I was taking notes all over a large mood board with sharpie. I was so eager and young and full of excitement about working for a big-shot firm. They asked me to create tight analogous color groups. I was writing fast and shortened it to “tight anal. grps.” I marched it back to my desk space and set the board up and had it up for about a week while I worked on the project. I didn’t realize there was even an issue until my boss pulled me aside. Good lord—wanted to die.

  36. Kel*

    The gif one made me remember; we had a really close team at one point and we used to play ‘gif roulette’ because the gifs in MSTeams loaded so slowly. We’d type in our search (ie: good morning) and then select the first gif that came up, before it managed to actually load the preview. You never knew what you were gonna get!

  37. MyDogIsCalledBradleyPooper*

    A coworker of mine came down to my cubicle for a quick chat. She was standing in the hallway at the entrance to my cubicle as she updated me on a new training initiative. She reached into the pocket of her pants and pulled out a couple of mints (wrapped in plastic) and tossed one at me and unwrapped the other one before putting it in her mouth. We continued chatting for a couple of minute and wrapped up our conversation. As she turned to leave is said “What else do you have in those pants for me?” As it come out of my mouth I realized what I said, and how it did not sound like I was asking for another mint. I started laughing and apologizing and she gave me the side eye and they laughed as well. My bosses office was next door and he immediately popped out to the hallway because of course I was loud enough for him to hear. We all laughed it off. It was a good reminder about the importance of having a good relationship with your coworkers. Had it have been someone else I am sure I could have ended up meeting with HR.

  38. Ting Ting Moments in Real Time*

    I had an MW5 moment in college. During the course of a random party conversation realized I was talking to the friend of a friend (and my friend and I had the same first name, let’s say, Stacey), and it goes a little something like this:
    FoF: You look so familiar.
    Me: You do too.
    FoF: I’m trying to place you…. Wait, you know Stacey, right?
    Me: I do know Stacey! We’re going to be roommates next year!
    FoF: That’s so cool! Stacey and I are great friends. I’ll probably be seeing more of you next year then!
    Me: So cool! I’m looking forward to it!
    FoF: My name is Jane
    Me: My name is Jane too!! [long pause to retrace my last sentence.] Wait…. no, it’s not. My name is Stacey…

    Epilogue: Otherstacey opted to not return to school the next year and I never saw Jane again.

  39. Wendy*

    cute and funny story. but my personal PSA : please let’s never call womens underwear panties. yuck, icky, gross. why is men’s called underwear and women need to have a cutsey sexualized name for our underwear.

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