Mortification Week: the haunting, the scone, and other stories to cringe over

It’s Mortification Week at Ask a Manager and all week long we’ve been revisiting ways we’ve mortified ourselves at work. Here’s the final installment — 14 more mortifying stories people have shared here over the years.

1. The haunting

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

2. The mix-up

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

3. The social

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.

4. The typo

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,” realized 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.

5. The scone

I was a fairly new manager and had hired my first direct report. She was a wonderful, capable employee who was working fully remotely. The interviews and all our interactions had always been over video calls. After a few months, we flew her in for an on site meeting we were having. Now, I don’t generally use an alarm to get up, and its normally never a problem. Except for that morning: somehow I slept in until 15 minutes before the meeting was due to start. I scrambled and was able to get out the door quickly and called into the room on my way in.

The meeting kicked off with introductions, and I heard that another team member say she had baked scones for everyone and would pass a container around. I arrived about 15 minutes late, sweating and out of breath from running the last few blocks to the office. As I entered the room I noticed there was a single free seat, next to my direct report. I sat down and noticed there was a scone sitting on a napkin off to my right. I assumed someone had left one for me when the tray was passed around. Having not had a chance to have breakfast, I picked it up and devoured it immediately.

About an hour later it occurred to me that it might not have been my scone. At the break, I asked her whether it was hers and she said it was not, until one of my other colleagues spoke up and said, “That was definitely her scone.” I was mortified. I can only imagine what it must have been like for her – you are meeting your boss in person for the first time – he arrives late, sweating and out of breath, sits down next to you and then immediately snatches up and consumes your breakfast. It’s become a bit of a joke now, but it was quite embarrassing at the time!

6. The misspeaking

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.

7. The auto-correct

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 auto-corrected to “Cheese Victim.”

8. The mystery squid

I work in higher ed student administration and the university I work for uses google integration (so everything uses gmail, etc.) This also happened to be the university I attended, so I had been in the habit of checking my email and such at home because a lot of my personal stuff was still connected up to it and hadn’t been moved to a different personal account.

Anyway, one evening I was watching an artist stream something on YouTube and I decided I wanted to leave a nice comment in the chat. YouTube did the little popup thing prompting me to make an account and for obvious reasons, I was not gonna put my real name in there so I posted as “Mystery Squid” and went about my day.

It was not until the next day that I realize I had been logged into my university email in another tab and (since google had recently acquired youtube) this had synced this new account/name with my university/work account … I learned this because my supervisor came over and said, “What is your email again? I’m trying to send you something but the only person coming up is this Mysterious Squid person.”

Cue the horrendous realization that I was now Mystery Squid at work. I went back to YouTube and to my gmail profile to see if I could save myself and change it back, but because it was a university account and not a google one, all the name change locations were disabled. I was trapped.

I ended up spending an hour on the phone with IT, quietly wishing I could crawl into a hole and sink into the abyss, letting them walk me through all of the “was your account compromised or hacked” procedures because I was too embarrassed to tell them that I did this to myself.

The real kicker? They told me it would take 48 hours for the change to show up again. I had to carry on for the next two days emailing many dozens of students as a mysterious squid. Shout out to the web team coworker who, when I apologized for my sorry state, humored me and said he didn’t notice because it sounded like the google docs anonymous animal names.

9. The auto-correct, part 2

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 auto-corrected 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.

10. The wrong timing

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.

11. The accident

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 two-liter 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…

12. The frustration

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?”

13. The lack of mute

A 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)

14. The interview

When I was interviewing for my first “real” job out of college, I unexpectedly hit it off with a recruiter for a corporate position in a fairly well known department store, mostly due to my current status as working at a veterinary clinic and her love of dogs, rather than any real inclination towards or experience in the fashion industry. They had a group interview day that I attended. The following things happened:

I walked into a room full of tall women in designer suits who all looked like they had done modeling work in the past. They all had the exact same hairstyle and general aesthetic. I am very short, cannot tame my curly hair, and was wearing an ill-fitting suit I had picked up at a thrift store, with other ill-fitting little boy’s dress shoes, as I did not like heels and had not figured out other options at that point in my life.

  • They showed me the “purse storage area.” I said I did not carry one because they were ridiculous and I liked pants with pockets. Purses were one of their main products.
  • They did a “round robin, answer in 30 seconds” interview, in which I felt total honesty was the best policy. When asked what I would do if I was a ghost, I said it’d be fun to hide in government offices and learn state secrets, or if it was hard to travel, just do things like squirt mustard on people I don’t like. The interviewer was not impressed.
  • Another interviewer asked me for my favorite joke. I blanked completely and told the only joke I could remember in the moment, the one my veterinarian told 42 times a day, which was, “How can you tell the difference between an oral and rectal thermometer? The taste!” I provided no context for why this joke was the one I chose.
  • During lunch, every other person in the interview only got salad. I at that time hated salad, but felt pressured, so got only the salad and tried slathering it with honey mustard dressing to cover the taste. Instead, I somehow knocked the full plate of honey mustard covered salad onto the floor and my lap, face down. It also impacted my neighbor’s lap, who was one of the interviewers. We both finished the rest of the day with honey mustard stained pants. Mine were black and it didn’t really show. Hers were a very light gray.
  • In the final group interview stage, we were treated to some face time with senior leadership. They asked each of us to tell them our impressions of their store located in our hometowns. Following my “honesty is best” policy, I stated that I hardly ever went to the store because “it was for old people.”

Finally, when the kind hearted recruiter called me to let me know that I (shockingly) did not get the job, I had no idea how to react to the news, so I yelled “OK, fine!” and just hung up, like a child. While I hope the company has increased diversity and has better interviewing techniques at this point, it remains the worst interview of my life (and I sincerely hope I never top it).

{ 312 comments… read them below }

  1. Alex*

    Ah, autocorrect, with a brain of its own. For some mysterious reason my phone always corrects “I’m here” to “I’m heterosexual.” Fortunately this has only happened between friends but it never stops being funny, especially because I’m NOT heterosexual.

    1. PotteryYarn*

      The worst one is when I’m trying to type “I need a sec” and it replaces the c with an x…whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I may or may not have messaged that to my boss once. Wasn’t even autocorrect, just the two letters being next to each other on my computer keyboard.

      2. Dina*

        I almost texted a colleague I had a meeting with “1 sex delivery” because someone was at my door with a package. Fortunately I noticed (although I think they would have just found it hilarious)

    2. Veryanon*

      My phone continually autocorrects “f**k* to “duck.” Like, no, Apple, I am not trying to say duck in this sentence, or ever.

      1. Nonanaon*

        Mine will sometimes randomly go the other way, which is VERY frustrating when I’m trying to text people about the ducks at the pond next to my apartment

    3. Wendy Darling*

      My mom’s phone had a spate where it autocorrected innocuous (and short!) words to “testicles”.

      I don’t know why, and I did check her settings to see if my dad was playing a prank!

    4. hiding under the library steps with a cheese tray, giggling*

      All of the autocorrect stories remind me of the time I was texting a coworker who I was fairly good friends with, but who would not let anything drop EVER. He was complaining about how he thought he was coming down with something, and I texted back, “I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling dick.” Because autocorrect felt that “dick” was more appropriate than “sick” in this situation. As I said, he never let anything drop, so I was afraid I was going to have to hear about it forever.

      Also, another work friend of mine had the exact same rat you out/eat you out autocorrect happen in a group chat with about 5 of our fellow coworkers. She said she wasn’t going to “eat out” one of our other coworkers (not on the chat) and we all died laughing and she got lots of responses like “I should hope not!” and “I really didn’t think you were considering it,” etc.

      1. E*

        Sometimes you wish for autocorrect. I once sent an all-staff email that started with “hello” but without the o.

    5. Al*

      My phone autocorrects “come” to “congee,” which is super confusing when I text my son to come downstairs. Reader, I have never texted about congee in my life.

    6. lyonite*

      My phone is convinced that whenever I start to type “thanks” what I really mean is “Thanksgiving.”

      1. Noblepower*

        Mine somehow thinks I never want to type out the word “two”, and replaces it with ” Teo”. I don’t know anyone named Teo, and don’t know what Teo means.

        1. Mosquito*

          My name is, eg, Theodore Hogwrangler. After three years, my phone is still convinced that, if I type Theodore, the next word will be Roosevelt. I have never talked about Theodore Roosevelt.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            When suggesting autofills, at the letters “do” my phone has “don’t” as the middle suggestion, but at “don” it switches to “Don” then autosuggests a famous last name (like Rickles or Cheadle).

            This is Not useful when I want to tell someone “Don’t do that!”

    7. Dream Cafe*

      For some bizarre reason, whenever I type “for” my iPhone changes it to “fir” and suggests the Christmas tree emoji. I literally just have beyond no idea why it would do this.

      1. My cat is the employee of the month*

        My phone tries to correct “you” to “thou.” Yes, phone, I’m secretly an Elizabethan. Thank you.

    8. s*

      In my phone when i want to write the sentence “muss ich mal gucken” (german, which translates to “i need to see”) it autocorrects “gucken” to “f*cken” which translates to “i need to f*ck. I always check it three times if i use that word.

    9. My cat is the employee of the month*

      I worked with people whose names were autocorrected to “Stud” and “Groin.” I’ve never added words to a dictionary so fast in my life.

    10. amber*

      I once recorded a training video in which I said all tables on web pages need a header row. Microsoft’s automatic caption/transcript function heard it as “tables need a hetero.” Thankfully I reviewed and corrected the captions before distributing the video.

    11. Princess Sparklepony*

      I am convinced that my spell check actively works against me and is doing it maliciously as well as on purpose. AI is here and it hates me.

  2. Pikachu22*

    I’m dying at number 14! “Ok, fine!!” Also I have no doubt that the salad thing would have happened to me as well.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      In a past comment about the French onion soup, someone said salad was a safe, meat choice.

      They have clearly never seen me eat a salad.

        1. Kel*

          Come to Switzerland, Wurstsalat is a thing.

          I personally prefer the variant that includes cheese, the Wurst- und Käsesalat.

          It is actually pretty neat to eat! Everything is already in bite sized pieces.

      1. Toolate12*

        Years ago I went on some all-day interviews for firms that included a getting-to-know-you lunch at a fine dining place in extreme business formal. To this day I still have never figured out what to order so I don’t look like a slob – salad? Messy. Soup? Prone to spilling. Sandwich? Finger food. Pasta? Sometimes messy, might make you seem gluttonous. So instead I would order something like chicken and nervously eat four bites. Doesn’t help that my mother’s voice is always in my head nagging me about how I eat like a barbarian…

        1. Mosquito*

          I went through Officer and Air Crew Selection for the RAF. A weekend-long interview, where you’re being judged every second, and you’re surrounded by incredibly posh chaps from generations of officers, who have no doubt about what fork to use or how to use it.

          I come from generations of ratings/other ranks, and can just about use a fork on a good day.

          I didn’t pass selection.

          1. M*

            Here’s my “which fork to use” tip from my catering days: work your way from the outside to the inside. So if you’re given 2 knives and 2 forks, and there’s 2 courses, the utensils on the outside are for the first course, the inner for the second. Dessert or coffee utensils go on top. I would not know this if it hadn’t been my job to set the tables!

              1. Captain Swan*

                Pretty Woman also has a good scene about utensils and formal place settings.

                I was insome day long seminar on business etiquette decades ago and the presenter showed both scenes during the business meal portion of the day.

            1. SarahKay*

              I always found it really frustrating that there was all that nonsense about counting tines of the fork in Pretty Woman, when M’s advice above is so much simpler and will cover at least 90% of settings.

            2. Humble Schoolmarm*

              Once when I was about 16, I got an invite through a friend to the local Community College culinary final exam dinner, super fancy, eight courses and allllll the cutlery. Luckily my dad worked as a banquet server for a bit in his youth and gave me the same outside in tip, which I passed on to my friend. So while we’re quietly conferring about whether we’re still on track fork-wise I notice this woman, probably in her thirties stealing looks at us. Well, I was naive enough to assume that all adults knew how to navigate fancy utensils, so I figured that I was completely messing up and had just done the equivalent of that scene in The Little Mermaid where she starts combing her hair with a fork at dinner. I was so mortified, until a few courses later when we got talking with the lady and found out that she had no idea what she was doing and she was watching us because it seemed like we did!

            3. Mosquito*

              Oh, I knew that. But this was things like, one night, I was having steak and the messmen didn’t replace my table knife with a steak knife, and I didn’t know it was acceptable to ask for one. (I was an incredibly shy and quiet teenager, and would have been a disaster as an officer.) Quite possibly, this was part of a test to see how I’d react, because OASC really is that kind of interview.

        2. Veryanon*

          I once had a co-worker who ordered chicken fingers on every date she went on with her now-husband, because they were the only thing she could reliably eat without making a mess. The husband just thought she really liked chicken fingers.

        3. Elspeth*

          It’s so tough. I ordered a sandwich once while at a business lunch with a group, including my boss and grand boss, thinking I would be safe. It was a normal sandwich, not particularly large. When we got back to the car, I noticed a bright smear of lipstick under my mouth in my reflection in the window. Apparently while biting into the sandwich, my bottom lip had folded down and left lipstick on my chin! I was mortified.

        1. TeaCoziesRUs*

          Or splatter / drip into my chest… then CAN’T get the oil or whatever lingering stain out. Even with Dawn and baking soda. sigh.

          1. Siege*

            Try Pine-Sol for Mystery Grease stains. It’s tons better than Dawn on fabric. Use it as a pretreatment, do not put it in your washer because it’s definitely harsh on delicates, but seriously, if you think it’s oil, Pine-Sol’s your baby.

            She doesn’t seem to be active any more, but I love Ask A Clean Person for all my weird mess questions.

    2. sacados*

      That one was my favorite.
      But seriously — “what would you do if you were a ghost” ?!?!? Tell us your favorite joke?
      No. Just no.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I am very much scratching my head on what a good answer to “what would you do if you were a ghost?” is in a job interview. I liked OP14’s answers!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Not be here, because a) I wouldn’t need a job, & b) ghosts don’t exist.

          I would not have gotten the job, either.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          I assume the boutique was a cover and the actual job was investigating paranormal activity.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            I’ve wracked my brain for a good five minutes and literally cannot think of an answer to this question that is not either spying, pranks, or technically a crime (e.g., sneaking into somewhere like a plane or movie theater without paying). I’m dying to know what the interviewer wanted as an appropriate answer!

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              Eat a really remarkable number of scones. No longer a need to be constrained by the physical limits of the corporeal body.

          2. Dahlia*

            Yeah, if I became a ghost/invisible, OP1 would be having a bad time, because I’d be haunting the hell out of Disneyland. Especially the Wonders of Life Pavilion. (Buzzy, my beloved!)

            1. Little Bobby Tables*

              Disneyland is one of the few places I can think of where the ghost question seems like it might be useful – surely they must have some place that needs cast members to dress up as ghosts?

              Otherwise, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

              1. Princess Sparklepony*

                Yes, the Haunted Mansion. Although it’s mostly special effects. There are a few “butlers” around to make sure there isn’t any horseplay going on.

        3. Thank God (or something) I no longer work there*

          Reading these I was reminded of a coworker who was actually asked this. Her answer was basically haunt my ex as payback. Both were still alive but she would say she’d wake up at odd times at night and he’d be sitting by the couch staring at her, referring it to “haunting”, hoping she’d give up and move out. We always told her stupid questions deserve stupid answers.

        4. Antilles*

          The interview answer would be a baffled stare and uh, I’m not sure, not really something I’ve thought about.

          The actual answer to what would happen is probably “very slowly go insane from isolation, eternal loneliness, and inability to affect the material world”.

        5. Kara*

          Well it depends on your views of the afterlife, but if i was a ghost I’d take the opportunity to talk to my grandma and grandpa again.

          Though if you want an answer that’s good for an interview, I’d suggest ‘sign up for a search and rescue team’. Since you’re a ghost you can just phrase through walls and rubble that would slow or stop corporeal searchers, and enter places not safe for living beings such as collapsed buildings or underwater/ice because it’s not like you can die again. Ironically enough i bet having a ghost on staff would save a lot of lives!

        6. hereforthecomments*

          I liked OP14’s answers as well. Squirting mustard on some people I know would be awesome! I also like the joke she told. Weird questions for sure.

      2. Frickityfrack*

        Yeah, those are terrible questions. I don’t think there are any particularly good answers, and definitely not any that are relevant to work (besides maybe, “haunt my old boss” or something). I always tell my boss that reading this site makes me feel so much better about the questions we use for interviews because we actually stick to things like work history and skills, not ghosts.

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I love the LW’s answer. I would totally want to learn state secrets if I was a ghost!

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I wouldn’t have a good interview answer either. Take up pottery? I don’t know!

      5. Third or Nothing!*

        I actually started thinking about my answers to both and here they are:

        Ghost: I’d stick close to my husband and daughter to make sure they’re doing ok and help out as I could.

        Joke: Did you know you can’t run in a campground? You can only ran, because it’s PAST TENTS!

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I suspect 9/10 times I’d default to the “frog walks into a bank joke” because at least it’s clean. But it takes a while to tell. (Link in next comment for moderation reasons)

          The 10th I’d either blank entirely or only be able to remember the Interrupting Cow knock knock joke.

      6. crookedglasses*

        Yeah, there is some big “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” energy to the interview questions. OP’s answers were perfectly on par given the questions!

      7. Rose*

        I’m amazed by how many of these humiliation stories have the no humiliated parties acting just as badly as the humiliated parties. These interview questions are obscenely bad. At least OP had reasons for not interviewing well (new to the working world, horrible questions). What excuse is there for being such a crap interviewer??

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I spilled things on myself at two different meals while meeting new team members recently, so yes, the salad thing would have been me, too.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Same me. I’m super clumsy and constantly spill things on myself. Fortunately, usually nobody else gets caught in the crossfire.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I think number 14 is my favourite, not only of today’s list, but of the entire week so far.

      1. OP14*

        Hi! I’m OP 14 haha. My actual career path is that around that same time I had another very normal interview with a global tech company you’ve probably heard of and accepted their offer. Did sales with them for a few years, then got a job at a different large global tech company doing product management, hated it, and now work at that same different company doing “alliances” type work where basically I try to help two huge companies get along and work towards mutual goals. It’s been 11 years, I’ve had idk how many interviews and also interviewed many people, and I have never, ever had to think about my future ghost-self again, for which I am grateful. I’m still really bad at eating food in front of people, but I am much better at dressing myself now (and I use purses! Although I do still think they’re kind of silly and would prefer pockets).

    5. WillowSunstar*

      I actually don’t mind salads, but usually request dressing on the side in one of those little plastic containers. I guess that wasn’t an option.

  3. Veryanon*

    Number 13 is all of us. (or me at least)
    Also, I used to work with someone whose last name was something like “DiAntonio” which my autocorrect would inevitably change to Detonator. Every. Single. Time. I’m sure I sent more than one email addressed to “Mr Detonator.”

    1. Blue Hen of Happiness*

      I had a new employee once who was working with a LOVELY client whose name is Middle Eastern. For some reason, it autocorrected to “Baby” and she emailed me in a panic, saying, OH NO, I JUST SENT AN EMAIL THAT SAYS “DEAR BABY”. What do I do?!!!

      I laughed and said, that’s so unfortunate, but I bet it’s happened to him before! My best friend gets her name autocorrected to Impolite constantly, so just email him back, apologize, and let him know that you’ve added his name to your dictionary. I was right, and he was totally cool about it.

    2. Brain the Brian*

      My first name is constantly autocorrected to a common, similar English word (my username is a hint how). The worst place it’s happened? On my driver’s license — yes, really! Email screw-ups are no big deal.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Dang. I have a less common spelling of a common name in my country. My legal documents have always been fine, but I got a work ID with a misspelled name once, at a job where the IDs were handled by police.

      2. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        Okay, that’s worse than my 4th grade teacher misspelling my name on the nametag that she laminated and taped to my desk.

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Hah! Just a bit. The woman at the DMV who took my call about getting it fixed was deeply amused, as well. Heh.

      3. allhailtheboi*

        My granddad is a Brain and my dad’s middle name is also Brain (obviously Brian actually!). I recently did an application where I had to put my parents’ full names and I did put my dad as [first name] Brain [surname]…

      4. amoeba*

        My boyfriend’s second name got changed on his work permit when he moved abroad. Not even as in autocorrected, just… a completely different name starting with the same letter and somewhat different in “style”…

    3. Double A*

      I absolutely love my son’s name. Autocorrect on the other hand has been very reluctant to believe my son’s name isn’t Ass.

    4. Dina*

      Reading some of the responses to this makes me glad the autocorrect renaming I get is usually just Diana…

    5. allhailtheboi*

      I’m half French and I’ve definitely texted some very odd autocorrected French to my family. I hate typing on a French keyboard but I ended up setting it up on my phone so I can switch between it and QWERTY. But now I sometimes end up with autocorrected English…

  4. Giggles and laughs*

    Number 4..I am a Cynthia and I have had that happen so many times in emails, name badge print outs, mail. One time I had a printed name tag with the misspelled name in addition to my job title which is usually abbreviated. Part of my title gets abbreviated..the assistant part.

    1. Indigo a la mode*

      #4 absolutely killed me. Imagining sending a message comprised ONLY of “Hi C*nt” to Cynthia is just sending me over the edge. That poor commenter. Poor Cynthia. 10/10.

      1. Very anon for this*

        My boyfriend of two years once left me for a Cynthia. (He said he was ending things because “something is just missing”, but three months later, it turned out that the thing that was missing was Cynthia. To make things worse, I felt snubbed looked down upon by many of his work friends during our time together, but Cynthia was always warm and friendly and I hoped I’d stay friends with her even after the breakup. Nope, she wanted none of it.) Not gonna lie, I guffawed at #4.

    2. Very anon for this*

      OMG the name tag. I am so sorry. What did you do? wear it? have it redone? fix it manually?

      1. Giggles and Laughs*

        Well at first I borrowed a sharpie and added a line to the U which made it stand out worse. I was really shy at the time and afraid of saying ANYTHING was wrong as I guess I thought I would get fired if I complained but I gathered up my courage and asked for a new one. I have no problems now speaking up however haha

    3. Indolent Libertine*

      The president of the orchestra I play in insisted on saving space in our printed program by shortening the titles of all the designated Assistant Principal players to “Ass. Principal.” It was pointed out to him over and over that this was… awkward…

        1. Michelle Smith*

          Yeah exactly, and this is something that shouldn’t be too hard to think through before printing LMAO

        2. Giggles and Laughs*

          You would think that but I have seen it more as ass. manager than asst manager (as an example)

        3. Indolent Libertine*

          Yes… yes, it is… This went on for several seasons and I honestly have blocked out whether or not it was ever fixed. He’s no longer the head honcho so I’m sure it isn’t happening any more!

      1. Regina Phalange*

        I worked for an “Assistant Production Director” once who insisted on calling himself “Ass. Prod. Dir.” ASS PRODDER, GET IT??

        There was a lot of sexual harrassment in that place, man.

    4. Katherine*

      Once, I had a manager named Angus. Someone in a different organisation that we worked closely with sent him an email but left out the g. He phoned Angus IMMEDIATELY to apologise but Angus thought it was hilarious!

  5. Camellia*

    Okay, now I honestly want to be Mystery Squid. It just sounds cool.

    For #14 – maybe your interview answers weren’t the best, but the questions were really bad. What would you do if you were a ghost? Your favorite joke? smh

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      My favorite joke is about Dolly Parton and the Queen of England at the pearly gates. Punchline: a royal flush beats a pair.

      I can’t see that going over well in that crowd of fashionistas.

      1. QuinFirefrorefiddle*

        If it helps, mine is generally the, “But do they call me Tom the bridge builder? No of course not!”, joke.

        My other two favorite jokes both include religious content and one of them involves heresy & murder, & the other is a little more complicated than I would probably manage at a job interview. (“So I screamed, Heretic, & shoved him off the bridge,” and a more esoteric one involving lines at the Pearly Gates for predestination & free will.)

        1. KC*

          Ah, found the Emo Phillips fan! (I saw him last year– he still does that joke, and it still kills!)

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      “I dunno, go to Disney World? I hear they have openings for the recently non-corporeal.”

    3. Kit Kendrick*

      I’d likely go with
      “Q: Why does a chicken coop only have two doors?
      A: Because if it had four doors it would be a chicken sedan!”
      (This only works out loud for the coop/coupe pun to land, though.)

      “Q: What did zero say to eight?
      A: Nice belt!”

      Are they the funniest jokes I know? Not really. But someone would really have to try to be offended by them, at least.

      1. Adds*

        my dad told me the chicken coop/sedan joke when I was little. it’s one of my favorite dad jokes. :)

    4. Dragon_Dreamer*

      To prevent that kind of mixup in the future, btw, create a profile in Chrome for work/school and one for the personal account. Works beautifully!

    5. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      With my luck, it would be the cannibals, the missionaries, and the canoe joke

      I wouldn’t get that job either

    6. amoeba*

      Probably my favourite – “How many Germans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? – One, we’re efficient and don’t have a sense of humour!”
      (Probably wouldn’t work with an actual German without a sense of humour… even though I’m German myself, I’m sure some would take offence.)

  6. Juicebox Hero*

    Cheese Victim! Yet another band name thanks to autocarrot! (which is what my sister calls autocorrect)

      1. Goldenrod*

        ha ha, yes!

        I love this one. Knowing myself, I would definitely start thinking of this person (inside my head only) as Cheese Victim.

        Did anyone else watch the Jan. 6 hearings? This reminds me so much of “Patsy Baloney.” Chris Hayes endeared himself to me on Twitter by admitting that anytime anyone said “Pat Cipollone,” he inwardly corrected it to “Patsy Baloney” which I was doing as well.

      1. Juicebox Hero*

        Especially the person from the other day who ordered the French onion soup.

        And I once burned the heck out of the inside of my mouth biting into a thermonuclear mozzarella stick.

        1. Expelliarmus*

          I once made the error of trying to eat a mozzarella stick 2 days after I got my wisdom teeth removed. I was at a friend’s grad party and thought it would be the most suitable, quickest thing to eat! But alas; it was too chewy to eat without pain.

  7. hello*

    Hmm, #6 here seems to be the same story as #1 in the previous Mortification Week post, just retold a bit differently

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Ha ha ha! I totally thought, I read that one already. Alison must have pulled it from the comment of one of the other posts.

    1. SunriseRuby*

      I caught that, too, but I didn’t care. I’m just so very comforted by the fact that I’m not the only one who makes those inappropriate phrase mash-ups because two phrases race from my brain to my mouth and then get tangled with one another as each tries to be the one spoken.

    2. Festively Dressed Earl*

      “I did not attend the funeral but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” – probably not actually Mark Twain

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Hee, that’s like Shirley Jackson’s essay about writing The Lottery, where she got a very rare fan letter (most people flipped out about that story and not in good way) praising it. From the tone of the letter it was clear he expected her to know who he was, but she had no idea. After racking her brains she decided she must have known him in school or met him at some conference, so she wrote a nice, neutral letter back.

        Later she was describing this to a friend, and they asked the guy’s name. When they heard it they were shocked and told her they guy had just barely escaped conviction for axe-murdering his wife (it was in all the papers.)

        “With a sinking feeling,” Jackson wrote, “I dug the carbon copy of the letter out of my files, my nice, noncommittal letter. “Thank you for your nice letter about my story,” I wrote. “I enjoy your work, too.”

  8. Juicebox Hero*

    An old phone of mine constantly tried to change my last name to “Miniskirt”. My last name isn’t spelled anything like Miniskirt.

      1. goddessoftransitory*


        Specifically The Wonders of Life ride, as it is dead, like me!

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        Today I read that Gen Z has moved on from LOL/ROFL to IJBOL and… well, IJBOL at that! (I Just Burst Out Laughing, to save you the lookup and/or head scratch.)

        1. allhailtheboi*

          I assure you as a Gen Z that I use lol and lmao. Not really rofl. I’d never heard of ijbol before.

    1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      I also did that!

      I was given a Gmail account as a contractor for a client, which, importantly, was in a different time zone. As a result, part of my work day had down time where I would watch/listen to video game speed runs while doing documentation. Without realizing it, I was also logged into YouTube for that profile, and my alias synced when I left a comment on a Donkey Kong64 run.

      Thus, one day, Mangy Ninjitsu logged in to review HR data with her Austrian counterpart, and nearly died of shame.

      I don’t thiiiink he noticed, but I promptly instituted a “phone only” policy for my background noise.

  9. OrdinaryJoe*

    I’ve loved all of these this week but #13 Road Rage Rod almost killed me I was laughing so hard while finishing lunch. Haven’t we all wanted to say … Fucking go you moron to presenters who are … waiting for everyone to show up. Fantastic and I know I’ll be thinking of this tomorrow during a boring, mandatory, who does that on a Friday afternoon team call

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      The staff meeting I attended this morning had tech issues in the room. You could read those words on the faces of all the remote attendees.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      My go-to in traffic is “come on, grandma, you can do it, move! we believe in you!” Which I might’ve been able to pass for a sudden burst of workplace positivity… I think?

      1. londonedit*

        Mine’s usually an extremely sarcastic ‘Oh, BRILLIANT use of indicators there! Well done!!’

  10. Juicebox Hero*

    “When asked what I would do if I was a ghost, I said it’d be fun to hide in government offices and learn state secrets, or if it was hard to travel, just do things like squirt mustard on people I don’t like. The interviewer was not impressed.”

    You did manage to dump honey mustard on the interviewer, and you didn’t like the her, so you got a head start on your afterlife’s work!

  11. Pikachu*

    LOL #8 – At some point I put “Lettuce Hater” as my name on zoom. It was a personal account. I forget why I ever did, an inside joke of some kind, but it was literally years ago. I was suddenly reminded when I used my personal account to attend an interview during covid. “So, you hate lettuce?” was one of my interview questions.

    We all laughed. I didn’t get the job, though I don’t know if it was my qualifications or my anti-lettuce stance. It’s the Game of Thrones Season 8 of vegetables.

        1. starsaphire*

          Amen. 40+ years of “just having salad” because of outside pressures (societal, familial, medical, etc., etc.) and I literally can’t even digest lettuce anymore, even if I could get it past my offended taste buds.

          It was a very liberating moment when I realized that I could use the cafeteria salad bar just for crunchy veggies and ranch. My dear departed friend always referred to that as “freeing myself from the tyranny of lettuce.”

          1. Thunderingly*

            yes, when souplantation existed, my salad would have cucumbers as the base instead of lettuce!

        2. Sad Desk Salad*

          Am I the only one who loves salads? That said, they are NOT neat and tidy. I’m disgusting when I plow through one.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            Nah, I love salads. Too much honestly. If I could, I’d eat a massive one for lunch every day but unfortunately whenever I’ve tried, I manage to give myself GI issues (turns out there really is such a thing as too much fiber, as I learned from a specialist physician and a dietician).

            Texture is a really huge thing for me, and there’s something about the crunch of lettuce that I find incredibly satisfying. Plus it holds up really well with dressings.

          2. lin*

            It took me many years, and many salad bars to learn that I do not hate salads. I hate boring salads.

            Experimentation showed that what makes a salad “interesting” to me are chopped up hard boiled eggs, dried cranberries, blue cheese, and pepitas or sunflower seeds. I now stock those ingredients in my pantry and I eat a lot more salads! The rest of the salad can be anything – lettuce, kale, shredded carrots and broccoli, cabbage as the base; whatever veggies I have in the fridge, parboiled if they need it or roasted if that’s better or raw if they’re good like that. But I must have my interesting toppers.

            Tomatoes is the persnickety one. Only from the garden/market stand in season, never grocery store. Such a tomato snob.

            1. linger*

              I grew quite fond of my fried bacon and tomato, hard-boiled egg, onion, and parmesan salad smothered in Caesar dressing. Lettuce or cabbage may have played some supporting role (amongst the carrot and capsicum), but you’d be hard pressed to tell.
              Alas, I’m currently cooking for people who can’t abide capsicum, who turn up their noses at onion, and who consider mayo the spiciest acceptable dressing.

          3. Lizzie*

            I love them too but they have to have a lot of variety. I frequently buy chopped salad kits from my local supermarket. It’s actually more cost effective for me as I can finish one in a meal or two. Versus buying a ton of ingredients and having to toss a lot of them.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      That was a real issue in 2020/21! Setting up some fun/themed/inside joke/etc. zoom background/screen name/etc. and then forgetting about until your next work meeting! Talk about yikes.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I made my Zoom background an enormous picture of a friend’s face, because she couldn’t make it to our friend group Zoom. Totally forgot I’d done it, logged in another time to a similar group event and rather startled the friend in question

    2. M*

      Lettuce is just crunchy water that doesn’t hurt my teeth (I like that it’s plain!), but dousing it with cream or vinegar has always repulsed me. And trying to pick it up with a fork? Impossible. Salads are best eaten with chopsticks.

      1. allathian*

        Nah, I can just about eat sushi with chopsticks.

        Lettuce is best eaten with my fingers. But not in company. Salads, well, depends on how finely chopped the lettuce is. Sometimes I’ve even spun it around my fork like spaghetti.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      Never liked lettuce anyway, but liked it even less after the time my grandad boiled one by mistake thinking it was cabbage.

      As to the original topic, my uncle once set up a Skype account in the name Gizzard Puke, referencing a routine by the comedian Kenny Everett. He was having a Skype medical consultation with some specialist once, and was having some trouble connecting, but eventually thought he’d got in under his wife’s account, which was under her actual name. When he got in, the specialist looked confused and said “Gizzard Puke?”

    4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I use my Zoom account to play D&D on the weekends, so sometimes have to scramble on a work-related call when I realize I’ve shown up as Cairora Whisperwind.

  12. Rocky Mountain (not) High*

    #13 I have been Rob. I was relatively new, on a call with a bunch of colleagues including my even-newer boss. Someone did some driving shenanigan in front of me that I did not appreciate and I yelled something like “Nice fucking move, asshole!” and immediately realized I was not muted like I thought I was. I froze, panicked, and immediately hung up, thereby probably calling attention to the fact that it was me yelling. No one ever mentioned it, but I am still haunted.

    1. Veryanon*

      We’ve all had moments that we wish were muted that were not. During the early days of the pandemic, I was on a group call about A Very Important Topic and had a, um, bathroom emergency in the call. I thought I was muted. I was…not. To this day, I have never admitted it was me.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      In case you are haunted by #14, I would keep quiet about any state secrets.

    3. PhyllisB*

      I’ve shared this before, but it cracks me up. A friend of mine worked for a company that had a conference call every day at 7:00 a.m. One day she fell asleep during the call and woke up when she heard her boss saying, “Do I hear snoring?” She never admitted it was her.

  13. Falling Diphthong*

    I can only imagine a time traveler from 1990 encountering the computers’ various attempts to spice up our lives, and earnestly enquiring why we let them dub us Cheese Victim and Mystery Squid (and why that wouldn’t be easy to undo?), and getting blank looks because that just How It Is The 20s, there’s no point resisting.

    Relevant xkcd:

    1. metadata minion*

      Can you not turn off autocorrect on iDevices? I always turn mine off on Android, and I’ve been vaguely baffled at why other people don’t.

  14. Ellis Bell*

    OP14, I love a good handbag, but if they’d listened to you about the pockets, my prediction is it would have caught on and you would have made their fortune for them.

  15. not a hippo*

    For some reason, my mom’s first name always autocorrects to Lazarus on her phone despite the fact that her name doesn’t start with L (nor, as far as I know, is she a Biblical miracle)

  16. ZSD*

    #14 was a delight from start to finish. At least you seem to have *understood* the question about the ghost correctly. I would have interpreted it as what I would do in order to *stop* being a ghost, and I probably would have answered, “…Repent?”

    #3 made me chuckle

    #1 First, of course, of *course* Disney calls their custodial staff “Custodial Hosts.” Of course they do. Second, at least you were singing corporate-approved songs. Imagine the trouble you’d have gotten in for singing the Animaniacs theme song!

    1. Clefairy*

      Hahaha. I’m OP1, and have to say, as someone who was super disappointed to be cast in Custodial instead of Attractions for my program, I was thrilled to call myself a Custodial Hostess instead of a Janitor hahaha

    2. Juggling Plunger*

      Well, it may depend on how well they’re singing: my high school band did a trip to Disney where we played a concert (it was kind of cool to see the back stage parts), and one of the rules was that you couldn’t play any Disney music because they were afraid someone might play it poorly.

      1. allhailtheboi*

        We did the same at EuroDisney and we definitely played Disney music badly! (In our defence we were outside and it was so hot my viola was going out of tune as I was playing it!)

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Heh… become the history professor at Hogwarts?

        (YES, she’s a problematic-as-hell author who has ruined one of my favorite series… but it was a favorite for a long time for a reason!)

        1. Yes Anastasia*

          After 25 years of being a (now lapsed) HP reader I realized that, holy crap, History of Magic is taught by a literal dead white man.

    1. Clefairy*

      I wonder if it’s like…a really bad, roundabout way to suss out your priorities? “I’d spend an eternity reading books and learning new things” or “I’m really involved with XYZ cause, so I’d love to spend a couple of centuries watching how evolves and impacts the community”

      1. Sally Rhubarb*

        One of the drawbacks of being a ghost is you’re ethereal and not able to interact with the world at large. Unless you’re Julian Fawcett I guess

        (Note: i don’t believe in ghosts)

    2. I Have RBF*

      I would thank that the interview was not serious and let my freak flag fly.

      “What would you do if you were a ghost?”
      “Spy on corrupt politicians then whisper clues into the ear of investigators. Maybe even try to scare the crap out of the crooks.”

  17. Clorinda*

    That interview story sounds like the pilot for a sitcom, in a good way. I would watch that show. Of course, in the show, she’d somehow miraculously end up working there, and shenanigans would continue to occur.

    1. starsaphire*

      Or a telenovela, or one of those awesome Asian soaps – she’d end up falling for the Big Boss after bumping into his car in the parking lot while she was scurrying away in her mustard-covered embarrassment!

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Honestly I’d watch that sitcom too! #14, I get it that the timing is beyond bad for this, but have you considered submitting a script for the pilot?

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      The fashion industry aspect made me think of Ugly Betty, but I think I’d like the sitcom pilot to end with the LW dying (sorry LW) and becoming a ghost, and then the premise is like… Ghost Betty lol

  18. Gumby*

    I hesitate to admit this but… it wasn’t until I got to the word “notebooks” that I realized #11 was about a corporate trainer of some sort and not a physical trainer. I wondered why a gym would have a flipchart stand, but maybe it’s a really good trainer writing out a training plan. I wrinkled my brow at why you’d call people working out in your gym delegates rather than customers or something else but different companies have rules around language sometimes (guests vs. customers for example). I briefly thought that a glass water jug was a bad choice and why not individual water bottles. I have no explanation for this. I just got the image of a small gym in my head and it really wanted to stay all evidence to the contrary.

    1. Van*

      Oh I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I had to read it twice before I put it together. Duh, brain!

    2. UKgreen*

      I am Number 11, and if you could see me, you’d realise why I am laughing myself hoarse at the thought of me being a PT…

  19. Ink*

    I also immediately went to Gdocs anonymous animals, I don’t think it was necessarily just to spare your feelings!

    Also, if you ask “what would you do as a ghost?” at JOB INTERVIEW???! I don’t think you get to be judgy of the answers!

    1. A Genuine Scientician*

      Exception: if you are interviewing someone to work at a Haunted House, this is a perfectly cromulent question.

  20. Up and Away*

    #4 the typo – this happened to my sister who works for a major health care institution. When they were setting her e-mail address up, someone mistakenly substituted the “y” in Cynthia to a “u.” Our family had a great time with that one…it took them WEEKS to fix it!

    1. Zelda*

      FWIW, the letter ‘y’ in the Roman alphabet only exists because actual Romans did a bad job of transliterating upsilon, which is a Greek ‘u’. So the original name should have been pronounced with a long ‘u’ sound there (in Ancient Greek; the sound has changed on its way to Modern Greek).

  21. My Cabbages!*

    #4 reminded me of something that happened with an old coworker- I used to work as a buyer for a warehouse stocking parts for maintenance crews, so lots of ordering parts, getting quotes, etc. We had a new carpenter start, so I walk him through the process of filling out the form (all handwritten at the time), and he started placing orders regularly.

    About six months later, he asked me why his name is always misspelled on the shipping labels. Comparing his ID vs a packing slip- yep his last name was misspelled. Wondering how I could have missed it for so long, I checked the name on the order form he filled out. It was misspelled.

    He had been misspelling his own name for six months.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have a lot of experience making and handing out name badges for big events and it has taught me that the percentage of people who mis-spell or mis-type their own name is higher than you’d think. Type carefully when you’re registering for an event, because the name you put on the form is the name we use for your name badge!

    2. WS*

      I feel that one – my first name is long, with more than one A and I have arthritis in my left little finger, which means that sometimes it doesn’t move as fast as I think it will. So instead of, for example, “Samantha” I get “Smanatha”.

  22. Dream Cafe*

    My favorite mortifications are the ones that involve physical comedy (for the reader, anyway, not for the mortificatee) – I could see #11 happening to Niles from Frasier, Elaine or Kramer from Seinfeld, Cam/Mitchell from Modern Family. I’ve been laughing so hard I hurt.

    (There was one a while back about a woman attending the company picnic on her first day on the job and experiencing a bee attack up her skirt, I believe it was? I still crack up about that one).

    1. Zelda*

      I was working at a RenFaire, so in costume. Just before opening, I got a bee down the back of my bodice (read: corset). I was into the restroom and out of the bodice and most of my undershift in Very Short Order. The gentleman who tactfully informed me that I was in the Gents’ rather than the Ladies’ graciously offered to stand watch outside the door so no one else could go in until I had time to recompose myself.

      1. Silver Robin*

        Oh that is so much worse than a bee in your bonnet! Props to the gent for helping you out in a moment of distress

    2. PhyllisB*

      When my husband and I started dating, he took me home to meet his mother. We went down to the basement for…I don’t remember. Anyway, a bee crawled up my pants leg and started doing what angry bees do. I was hopping around and yelling while trying to dislodge it, and she told me to pull my pants down to get rid of it. I was too bashful, so she just reached over and unbuttoned/unzipped them, and my husband yanked them down. I was mortified, but we all had a good laugh later.

  23. TashedPotatoes*

    I worked at a Crown Attorney’s office and whenever we handed out disclosure (basically the case against them) we had it password-protected with the defendant’s date of birth. We had a sticker on the CD that said: “Password is Accused DOB DD-MM-YYYY.” Sometimes our system would have the birthdate wrong and people would call asking the birthdate we had so they access it. One person calls and asks what the password is? I log on thinking we had the wrong birthdate in our system. I respond, “Okay, we have this birthdate, did you put that one on?”
    She says, “OH DOB stands for Date of Birth? I was putting in Accused DOB DD-MM-YYYY this entire time.”

  24. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #14 – I’m totally on your side with this one. Ask stupid questions, don’t be surprised when you get stupid answers (though personally I loved your answers).

  25. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

    I’m not mortified by this but a couple of times I have seen an article with an unnamed executive describing a time when he was calling in to the office and the phone was not answered for the longest time and when it was, he couldn’t even understand the name of the company. I’m pretty sure this was me, in my late teens, temping for a summer, because that’s what happened and the dude was irate. In my defense, I was again young and was trying to resolve a thorny problem with someone else at the time, and the company was Purolator Courier, and that’s a mouthful.

  26. Foot job*

    #7- My former manager was lovely but struggled with spelling and rarely checked his autocorrect, which meant he regularly autocorrected my name (Emily, a reasonably common name and no unusual spelling) to Email as in “Hello Email! How are you?”. My favorite weird autocorrect of his was when he, with no context, sent me an IM that simply said “Foot job!” I’ve always assumed he meant “good job”, but never asked.

    1. s*

      Remember the last project where you did a Foot Job? Just do it again in this new project like that and everything will be ok.

  27. Celestial Seasonings*

    Showing up a bit late for Mortification Week, but I had to share this story…

    Last year I had to give a very important presentation in front of very important customers, part of a week-long roadshow. I had packed several dresses and one suit. Unfortunately, I hadn’t worn this particular suit for a while, and I didn’t think to try it on before the trip. I did remember there was some reason I hadn’t worn the suit lately, but I saw there was a missing button on the pants and figured that was it. I safety pinned it together and called it good. 

    Cut to the meeting. We arrive early. The customers aren’t here yet. It’s a small room, with a large table taking up most of the space, regular rolling office-type chairs at the table itself, and a number of smaller non-rolling chairs around the edge. My boss and another coworker are standing and talking. I’ve been on my feet the entire week and am in general exhausted, so I sit down in one of the rolling office chairs. The back immediately tilts ALL the way back. The safety pin holds just fine– but I hear the telltale sound of my zipper sliding down. Instant mortification, of course, but my coworkers don’t seem to have noticed, so I sit up, use the edge of the table to hide what was going on, and quietly zip it back up. 

    All good? Not so much. There’s clearly something wrong with the zipper, because almost immediately I feel it start to slide down again. Maybe it’s the way I’m sitting in this chair? I can’t get it to stop tilting back. I stand up, turn around, zip my zipper up again, and hide this by swapping the offending rolling chair for one of the non-rolling chairs at the edge of the room. I’m holding back hysterical laughter at this point. My coworker is throwing me weird looks– she knows something is going on, but not what. She doesn’t say anything, though, first because she’s a great coworker, and also because the customers are starting to filter in. 

    Standing up seems to have helped, maybe something about the angle– the zipper is holding fine. I greet the customers, shake hands and introduce myself, and then sit down to start the presentation. The non-rolling chair is better, I can sit up straighter. Still fine, still fine, still fine…

    …and then two minutes in, the zipper starts sliding down again, tooth by tooth.

    There’s nothing I can do at this point. I shift closer to the table, discreetly tug my shirt down over my pants, and give the rest of the presentation with my zipper completely down. 

    (No one noticed. I cried hysterical tears of laughter in the bathroom afterwards.)

    1. Veryanon*

      Oh no! I am cringing along with you. I’ve never had the zipper issue, but I’ve often had issues with tights that just would not….stay where they were supposed to. On one memorable occasion, I could feel them sliding down my legs while doing a presentation and had to fake cough so I could excuse myself and leave the room to make the necessary adjustments.

      1. ReallyBadPerson*

        I had a similar issue with panties whose elastic suddenly died. On the subway. While I was wearing a long skirt. Fortunately, it was super crowded, and I was standing up, so I let them continue their slide, then pushed them away with my foot. I lied to myself for years that No One Saw. I’ve since amended it to No One I Ever Saw Again Saw.

        1. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

          That happened to one of my great-aunt’s! According to family lore, she was at the department store, the elastic on her underwear went, and she just kept on walking, leaving granny pants in her wake.

        2. Cardboard Marmalade*

          This is truly Assassin’s Guild level of sneakiness and quick-thinking under pressure, I’m legitimately in awe!

        3. Oolie*

          According to family lore, my grandmother was in a school play and the curtain was about to go up when the elastic in her underwear snapped and they fell on the floor. She calmly stepped out of them, kicked them under the couch behind her, and did the scene commando. At age 15. In 1920!!
          Sadly, I did not inherit her poise.

  28. Not Sure Whether I'm a Cheese Victim or a Mystery Squid*

    On #4, at least you can use the plausible excuse that the U and Y are next to each other on the keyboard.

  29. the-honey-eater*

    A few years ago, my husband went bowling with his colleagues and texted me his score. I typed “Impressive!” but the phone autocorrected to “I’m pregnant!” Luckily I caught it before hitting send, but good god, Android, why would you EVER have that as an autocorrect option?

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      “Where do babies come from?”
      “You see, Bobby, when a man and a woman love each other very much and the man bowls a perfect three hundred…”

  30. goddessoftransitory*

    The Scone Gobbler made me laugh SO hard. I can just see this whole thing from both perspectives–the late, rattled boss and the brand new employee going “uhhh….no, it’s cool (OMG, what’s next?)”

    1. Lily Rowan*

      I did almost the opposite! Ran in a minute late to a meeting with higher-ups, plopped myself down in the empty chair, and very slowly realized it was the Ultimate Big Boss’s seat at the head of the table, with her stuff all around it, and she had just stepped out for a second before the meeting started. I don’t think I moved, either! I was not that young when this happened.

      1. umami*

        When I was new (like first week) to my current job, we had a leadership meeting in the boss’ conference room. My office was just down the hall, and I wanted to get there a little early, being new and all. I didn’t know too many people yet, and as I approached the door I could hear voices, so I walk in, super-confident, my boss is sitting in his seat and one of my colleagues is sitting to his right, so I go and sit to his left and say hello to them both, introducing myself to my colleague. They both stare at me in shock for a moment, until my boss finally says, ‘I’m sorry umami, I’m in an interview right now. I’ll call you back in when I’m done.’ I go, ‘Oh, of course. Good luck!’ and breeze away like the queen of England but was DYING inside.

        1. Silver Robin*

          You maintained incredible composure, top marks! Now please excuse me while I lose mine because this is hysterical. I can only imagine how the interviewees saw it play out…

  31. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

    #8 how was it so easy to accidentally change the name but so hard to correct it? (serious question)

    1. LJ*

      Maybe something like 1) in general, names are locked down by campus IT and can’t be changed 2) the “make your name for youtube” flow came along and happened to set your account name, perhaps by accident, bypassing the normal lock and 3) most of the time no one ever noticed because it would only come up in this specific situation (bonus 4) OP was also previously a student at the same institution and it’s possible student and staff accounts had different permissions, and not everything was set up the same as a fresh staff account)

    2. Single Noun*

      Semi-serious answer: software companies periodically have a weird Thing about Real Names, design for the most common use case and then shoehorn in everything else as an exception, and don’t always think through mergers- gmail in particular has a known problem of reverting your display name to whatever it previously was when you try to change it, to the point where I’ve had friends get married and then just create a new email address and set everything to autoforward.

      Non-serious but relevant answer:

    3. Kevin Sours*

      At a guess there was a special workflow for signing up to YouTube that failed to check the “user name change” lockdown feature because nobody considered how that workflow interacted with “corporate” user accounts. And, having signed up for YouTube, you couldn’t invoke that workflow again and had to go through the ordinary way of changing usernames.

  32. lsb*

    These posts are reminding me of the time I was working in a library, in a VERY wealthy town, and a particularly huffy resident came up to the desk. She loudly, obnoxiously went on a tirade at me and another librarian, detailing an incident that had happened a whole week before, in which her daughter didn’t get a coloring page because the desk had already closed when she came up to get one. That was literally this woman’s complaint: that a whole 7 days ago, we closed the desk at closing time, and so her daughter couldn’t get a coloring page. This woman was SCREAMING and finally said “It was the WORST experience I’ve EVER had” before huffing angrily out of the library. It became somewhat of an inside joke, that we all wished our WORST experience EVER was that we didn’t get a coloring page. The woman didn’t come to the library much after that, but about a month later, my coworker noticed her, turned to me and said (a bit louder than intended) “Well I’m about to have the WORST experience EVER” only to turn back around and see that the woman was walking directly behind her. She definitely heard the comment, but just kept huffing to the exit. My coworker was mortified, but our manager, thankfully, was quite amused.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I would be quite tempted to reply “worst experience so far…” because good Lord, lady; it is time to learn a life lesson.

  33. HexagonRuler*

    About 12 years ago, I was working as a software dev for a tiny 6 person internet startup that was trying to become big in video streaming. This was before YouTube became the dominant monster that it is now.

    In this European country train travel by business execs was not unusual, and on this particular day, the owner of the company and everyone’s boss was out traveling the local region by train visiting potential clients to drum up business.

    About mid morning, I get an email from his iPhone, to say that he has just seen a prospect, and they have a video that they would like us to stream as a demo. The URL was to a Dropbox style file sharing site, and was just serial numbers with no clue as to the contents, so I start downloading the huge file. About half an hour later the download finishes, and I double click to check the video.

    It was pr0n.

    Not any pr0n, it was fairly hard core stuff, and cut straight to the action. There was also a loud soundtrack that grabbed attention and made it clear to anyone in the room what the video was about. And it was now playing fairly loudly on my laptop in the office, with other employees nearby.

    It probably only took me a few seconds of shock before I quickly clicked to close the video, but it felt a whole lot longer. I turned around so see the woman who sat immediately behind me and had a direct view of my screen would not meet me in the eye, and I knew that I would forever be that guy who watched that video in the office. At least I would not get fired as it was the owner who sent me the link, and I had the emails to prove it.

    Anyway, I email the company owner back, and tell him that I have the video, it was very explicit pr0n, and asked what should I do. He told me to hurry up and set it up for streaming, so I did my technical stuff, and about half an hour later it was ready to stream. I sent the boss the link, with another warning about the contents.

    And heard nothing back for several hours.

    I later heard from the company’s only sales person (a woman in her 20s) who was traveling with the boss, that he had clicked the link on his iPhone, while standing the the ticket queue at a major railway interchange, and then had some quite embarrassing questions to answer from the railway authorities.

    1. LJ*

      To be fair to the client, I hear many video streaming advancements did come out of the adult entertainment industry…. but yikes to the boss for not warning you (and then playing it out loud on his iPhone?)

  34. ariel*

    These are all so so funny and I would promptly want to change my name and leave the country for most of them. Congratulations to everyone who is able to lol at themselves after Goldberg machine miseries, stealing your direct report’s snack, etc!

  35. Former DCP*

    #1 reminds me of my own time at Disney! I worked at Hollywood Studios almost a decade ago, now, as merchantainment (retail) on Sunset Boulevard. Closing shift worked until about an hour after the park closed. The first time I and some of my cohort closed, our trainer and some of the other regular employees were telling us all about how the park was haunted, and being Worldly Experienced 18-20 year-olds who knew ghosts weren’t real, we humored them. Then we went outside for some errand or other.

    And heard screaming in the empty, no-guests-left park at midnight.

    I just about jumped out of my skin, and so did the other DCPs. We were seriously freaked out until we saw one of the trainers practically dying of laughter in the stockroom.

    Most of the screams you hear coming from the Tower of Terror when you visit Hollywood Studios are real. But not all of them. <3

  36. Regina Phalange*

    I laughed so hard at #10 I cried. I still keep bursting into laughter randomly, I think my husband thinks I’m losing it.

  37. Blinded By the Gaslight*

    This mortification group made sounds come out of my throat I’ve never heard before. I am crying and dying over here. My stomach legit hurts!

  38. Spicy Tuna*

    I LOL’d at a lot of these today! Thanks!

    I was once speaking to a client on the phone in Spanish. We had an open office layout, not even any cubicles, just desks pushed together. I am fluent in Spanish but not fully bilingual so I sometimes make mistakes, especially if I’m doing something else while also speaking in Spanish.

    I was trying to wrap up the conversation because I had a ton of work, and I was distracted by looking at my overflowing inbox.

    Just as the big, big boss walked by (a man whose first language is Spanish), I said on the phone, ‘Me duele mi caja” instead of “me duele mi cabeza”. I said to my client, “my box hurts” instead of complaining that I had a headache. Big, big boss gave me a look from HELL so I said, “I got confused! I was looking at my inbox!”

    Big, big boss didn’t like me to begin with and this did not help!

    1. N C Kiddle*

      Right after my daughter was born, lack of sleep caused me to do that sort of substitution in my native English. Most memorably when I told my mum the health visitor might want to weigh my daughter, but because there was a large box of washing powder in my line of sight, it came out as “she might want to wash her.”

  39. AwkwardTransDude*

    The department store one reminds me of my awful retail interview. I left grad school in the middle of the semester for health reasons and was also newly out as a trans man. I found a job teaching but needed work before the new semester started. It’s worth noting I was in a terrible headspace at the time.

    I got an interview for a seasonal position at an upscale women’s business professional store. I got the time wrong and showed up ridiculously early, which already irritated the manager. I did well on most of the interview but was very flustered when asked to put together an outfit I would wear from the store. I showed up to the interview in a man’s suit but I was in a very awkward point in my transition where most people thought I was a poorly dressed butch lesbian. I panicked and threw together something hyper femme and then word vomited the whole saga of transitioning to the interviewer. Then, when she told the hours and pay rate, I realized it would conflict with my more lucrative tutoring side gig, which I again proceeded to tell her (I still don’t know what robbed me of my mental filter) and then backed out of the interview altogether.

    Reader, it gets worse. My partner gently chastised me about all this so I CALLED THE INTERVIEWER BACK and retracted my refusal of A POSITION THAT WAS NEVER OFFERED. To the surprise of absolutely no one, I never heard back and proceeded to get a seasonal job at another store in the same mall, where I told no one my pronouns and the staff debated my gender identity amongst each other all season without any clarification from me. I still shudder at the mere thought of those three months of my life

    1. Potato Potato*

      If it makes you feel any better, I’d probably do the same thing. That in-between transition phase is rough, and that’s without interviewing at a women’s clothing store and being asked to put together an outfit

    2. Juicebox Hero*

      I (cis-woman) would probably wind up channeling #14 and blurting out something like “I wouldn’t wear this prissy crap even if I could afford it, which I can’t on the pay you’re offering”.

      In my teens I was very androgynous looking – short hair, skinny/no figure, lived in baggy sweats and jeans. I used to get hassled quite a bit about my gender. It really ought to be legal to dump people like that in a rattlesnake pit.

      1. AwkwardTransDude*

        Thank you both!! This actually really helps. And yes, it’s ridiculous they wanted me to wear a $40 top while paying $12/hr

  40. Anonymous Houseplant*

    #14, I laughed so much I couldn’t keep reading through my tears and had to repeatedly wipe my eyes while cackling to get to the end. Thank you. I needed that.

  41. All Outrage, All The Time*

    30 years ago I was a junior receptionist at a business called the Pacific Pump Company. I routinely answered the phone “Cacific Cump Pumpany, how may I help you”. I still can’t say it properly. I eventually started saying “Pacific Pumps, how may I help you.” to make it easier but sometimes I would say “Cacific Cumps, how may I help you.” I dare you to try saying it rn.

    1. allathian*

      I’ve heard rumors of an old Canadian radio signoff when the announcer said “Thanks for listening to the Canadian Broadcorping Castration.” No idea if it’s true or not, though.

  42. Mavis Mae*

    #4 – I feel your pain. It turns out that spellcheck won’t save you when you leave out the crucial middle letter in the name “Angus”. To add to the mortification, he was lovely when I apologised but said it wasn’t the first time it had happened to him…

  43. Purple Bread*

    #8 Mystery Squid – Firefox has a containers plug in, where each container gets effectively treated like a separate browser. Its definitely helped me worry less about “crossing the streams”, knowing that my work account is siloed into only the purple edged tabs (colour coding!)

  44. Mystery Mongoose*

    In honor of #8, changing my name for this site.

    Have adored this whole series. Thank you everyone for sharing.

  45. PhyllisB*

    Not autocorrect (though I have had some weird ones.) Occasionally my next door neighbor’s mail gets delivered to us by mistake. His name is Claude Leaver. I got a letter addressed to him as Larry Beaver.

    1. PhyllisB*

      Ugh. Can’t even blame autocorrect for this one. His name is Barry Claude Leaver. I guess I need more coffee.

  46. calonkat*

    #14 reminded me of a job I had (briefly) selling upscale women’s shoes. For context, I am a female and have always worn shoes and had worked retail. This was my total qualifications, and there was almost no training. Things I remember happening:
    1) I didn’t know the term “patent leather”. Apparently it looks like the shiny uncomfortable Easter shoes (I was very young at the time and “upscale” was a new world)
    2) People can buy more than one pair of shoes at a time? Apparently I was visibly shocked when someone kept shopping after picking a pair of shoes.
    3) I was “let go” (fired) because I wasn’t selling enough matching handbags. I’m now nearly 60, and still don’t understand the concept. You have a bag with all your stuff, and changing it is done when it’s way too worn to use. Then you keep it for the next 30 years in case you need it again, right? (actually, I throw them away now, but I’m still finding old purses in my mom’s stuff)

  47. A Potato*

    When I was in college my best friend and I worked for the college’s foundation making cold calls for donations. The system used an autodialer and most people weren’t answering so we were chatting and having a playful argument while we worked. As one of my calls was ringing, she said something and I said “you know what? Don’t even talk to me.” and realized too late that the voicemail had picked up and I had just left that as a message for someone. I panicked, hung up, and called again leaving a normal voicemail.

  48. DataQueen*

    The one about saying it was great to hear the former colleague had died had me laughing so hard that my dog came in to see if I was okay

  49. Margaux*

    I am CRYING at the last one—that letter writer should pursue comedy writing!! Impeccable phrasing.

  50. Cynthia*

    OP #4, if you read this, just know that I have made that very typo multiple times over the years (as has my husband). the first time I did it, I called out my best friend (with whom I share roasting banter) for not coming up with that himself. Here’s hoping your Cynthia had a sense of humor.

    These stories reminded me of my own motifying moment. Back in the 90s, I did improve mystery dinner theater where we sat at guest tables. Wives loved it when we singled out their husband’s a did fake flirting in character. I was at a table with a nice extended family… and during in character, flirted with the dad to make my character’s love interest jealous. He made some comment, to which I replied, “Oh, I’m just using you, but I’m going to blow you off later.” Except… I somehow didn’t say the word off. It was a truly mortifying, record scratch moment and I eeked out, “Oh, wow. Um, that is not what I meant!!” The entire table burst out in laughter. It was not that kind of show!!

  51. HearTwoFour*

    This sentence made me laugh harder than any other: “I provided no context for why this joke was the one I chose.”

  52. Frank*

    When I was a young salesman I was selling a woman a phone from a display, I was gesturing at one of them and turned towards her, just as she turned towards me.. and I perfectly cupped her breast.


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