scolding strangers, kids using corporate lingo, and other ways our jobs follow us home

Weird habits tend to follow us home from work — like the former lifeguard who still yells at random kids to stop running or the nurse who automatically sizes up everyone’s veins. I recently asked what weird habits readers have brought home from their jobs, and here are some of the most delightful habits you shared.

•  I used to lead kids on nature hikes. I got in the habit of saying “Good observation skills!” when a kid pointed out a leaf or a worm but I didn’t have time to stop and talk about it. It turns out adults do not like being told they have good observation skills…

•  I literally cannot stop using corporate jargon in my everyday conversations. I’m constantly asking to “circle back,” or “put a pin” in things, and the other day I asked my grandparents what their “general availability” was over the Christmas holiday.

•  I teach riding lessons and I am constantly clucking and kissing at people to make them move.

•  I teach English as a second language in Toronto, the most multi-cultural city in the world. I have to stop myself from saying “Speak English!” when I hear other languages outside of school.

•  I work an office job after spending several years in law enforcement. I have a hard time not asking people to keep their hands where I can see them when I’m chatting with them. I’ve also been told I often keep an “interview stance” when I’m talking to them (i.e., feet shoulder length apart, dominant foot back, hands up in front of my body). Old habits die hard!

•  I worked on a pornography-detecting project. As part of this, we had to label hundreds of thousands of pictures of adults in various clothing as okay, skimpy, or inappropriate based on very specific criteria. Shortly thereafter, I was on vacation at the beach and was horrified to find myself looking at other vacationers in their swimsuits and absently-mindedly judging them as okay or skimpy.

•  I worked at a casino for a couple of years, and people who handle chips are taught to “clear hands.” This means that when you are done handling chips, you briefly turn over your hands to show your palm to the camera overhead (otherwise it’s pretty easy to pocket chips by suctioning them in the palm). You do it hundreds of times a day and end up doing it reflexively everywhere whenever you stopped touching a thing — you put your car keys down and clear hands, you put a plate of food in front of your partner and clear hands. I noticed that I particularly did this at shops, like I would pick up a thing off a grocery store shelf to look at and I would clear my hands after I put it back on the shelf. I think it was the subconscious awareness of the security cameras that triggered it.

•  I am a stage manager for theater and events and this bleeds into every aspect of my life – responding with a “thank you X” to anything someone tells me (“we should leave in 15 minutes” “thank you 15”) and spelling the word “Go” instead of saying it are pretty deeply ingrained habits.

•  After working in chaplaincy for a number of years I found myself asking people if they had a Power of Attorney and if they had planned their funeral. Yeah, I’m a great person to have at parties.

•  My 10-year-old uses “circle back” in conversations now. A hazard of working from home while he home schooled during the pandemic.

•  When I was a kid, my mom had a job in which she had to record a lot of dictation. In case you aren’t familiar, when you do this you have to speak the punctuation. So several times after having done this for hours on end, she would start speaking with punctuation: “Alex comma have you cleaned your room question mark”

•  I was a camp counselor all throughout my teens. Twenty-ish years later, I still feel compelled to walk at the back of a group to make sure no one wanders off, even though any group I walk with now are usually other fully grown adults, not elementary-aged kids.

•  I work at a casino and also work part time as a food delivery driver. I constantly say “good luck” at the casino and once handed someone their Taco Bell order and said, “Good luck!”

•  I yell “BEHIND” when there is even a single other person in the kitchen.

•  My partner is a pilot. As a pilot, when you pass off command from pilot to first officer, you say something like “You’ve got control,” they’d respond “I’ve got control,” and then you’d repeat “You’ve got control.” This way you know they heard you and they know you heard them. When our kids were little (we have twins and an older one), we did: “You’ve got the kids.” “I’ve got the kids.” “You’ve got the kids.” Or: (Me) “The gate is open” (Them) “The gate is open” (Me) “The gate is open.” There was a lot of sleep deprivation going on, so this was immensely helpful.

•  I work with young children and I’m usually very good at code switching between talking to kids and talking to adults. In the past 15 years there’s really only two instances of work brain autopilot that haunt me:

1) One time in my twenties when my then boyfriend came out of his bathroom I helpfully asked him if he remembered to flush and wash his hands. For some reason, he did not appreciate the reminder.
2) On a new coworker’s first day, when he needed to go to a department on a different floor, I offered to “go with him if he’d like a buddy.” He politely let me know that he felt confident about riding the elevator by himself.

•  I worked for a school district that decided the hill they wanted to die on was hats. Religious headgear was allowed, and grudgingly the few students who were undergoing cancer treatments that made them lose their hair were permitted to wear a cap of some sort, but those exceptions were a small portion of the student population, and it seems no matter how styles change, teenagers are fervently attached to wearing some sort of hat. Personally, I don’t care about hats and I had to train myself to notice them after I was scolded for not enforcing the rule. Then for the next 30 years, I was saying some variation of “Hats off!” on at least an hourly basis during the school day. This followed me into non-school settings, and once I was confronted with the shocked and irritated face of a stranger I had sternly told to remove his baseball cap in the public library.

•  In a former job I used to do a lot of surveillance (on the side of justice and righteousness, I assure you). I still find myself (mentally only!) noting people’s descriptions and actions when out and about, as though I’m going to have to write it up later for evidence. For instance, I stopped for coffee on my way to the office today and I could describe the person ahead of me in the queue, and tell you her first name, the price of her order and how she paid. Also, if I go the wrong way or forget something and have to suddenly stop/do a U-turn, etc., walking or driving, I think, “Ha, that’ll annoy the surveillance team,” as though I’m the one being followed!

•  I worked in healthcare for decades and spent much of my day analyzing / correcting people’s gait patterns. I no longer work in that field but my eyes still constantly see and analyze gait patterns where ever I go. At the grocery store? Look! That person has a gluteus medius limp. Filling up my gas tank? Look! That person has such terrible pes planus in their right foot that their right knee joint has worn down and gone in to genu valgum!

Once, about 15 years after I changed jobs from one state to another, I was on a trip with my spouse and we had stopped for gas. I was in the store getting a snack when my brain said, “Hey, that guy’s gait over there looks like the one my old coworker Mikey had.” Then I looked up at the guy’s face and it was indeed my old friend Mikey! We had quite the laugh when I told him I noticed that it was him by his gait first before I even registered his face.

•  I used to work at a nonprofit that had a real start-up culture. We did hybrid Zoom meetings pre-Covid, and as a result had developed some hand gestures to use in them. If you agreed with someone, you were meant to “wiggle” your hands (think one-handed jazz hands). However, this got so ingrained into the culture, that you’d find yourself doing wiggle hands in face to face conversations while enthusiastically nodding. If someone was speaking in a meeting, they’d say, “Can I get wiggles for that?” (what a horrible phrase). It got to the point that I’d wiggle at my friends in non-work settings. To this day, and several jobs since, I still fight the urge in meetings to wiggle my hands in agreement.

•  I’m a midwife and I have to stop myself looking closely at women breastfeeding in public. It’s second nature to look closely to check baby is feeding properly!

•  I still accidentally greet people who walk into stores while I’m shopping. I haven’t worked in retail in almost 20 years.

•  I work with emergency department coding/charging, among other things. My husband took himself to one of our emergency departments a few years ago (panic attack that he thought was something worse), and I went to meet him there. Sitting by his gurney looking around. He goes “Stop adding up my bill in your head, it’s not helping.”

Maybe not, but when he got the final bill, I was within $50 of the correct total. (I didn’t know which lab tests they did before I got there.)

•  We kanbanned Christmas dinner one year. Each cupboard door was a 1-hour increment, and every person got their own post-it color for tasks. Dinner was delicious!

{ 721 comments… read them below }

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      And the one who asked their boyfriend if he flushed and washed his hands. Although I know too many grown adults who have to be reminded about that!

        1. Workaholic*

          My favorite was the (woman?) who asked if her coworker wanted a buddy to go with him. i laughed myself sick at that one!

      1. The Starsong Princess*

        My cousin worked with kids and had three small ones of her own. We went out to dinner during the height of her kid immersion and when the food came, she cut my meat for me. I told her she had to get out more!

      2. Storm in a teacup*

        My cousin used to ask her teenage kids if they needed to go potty all of the time and reminded them to wipe their fannies!
        Embarrassing yes. Especially when they visited England where fanny means something different

        1. Jill Swinburne*

          My mother still takes a consuming interest in my bladder if we’re on a long car trip, and I’m 38.

          But having now parented through the toilet-training years I can understand.

      1. Betty*

        An instagram account I follow (BusyToddler) actively recommends this handoff if you’re at a pool with kids who can swim independently, or otherwise in a situation where someone needs to maintain awareness of kids. (Her husband is a former pilot)

        1. Turquoisecow*

          My husband’s stepsister and her husband did something similar to this when we were visiting once, I assumed it was a common thing for them. She was taking us down to show off the basement while he was upstairs and the toddler started following us down. He warned her by saying “I do not have the baby,” and she acknowledged this.

          Husband and I do similar with our toddler, if one of us leaves the room and the other is there we point out to them that we are leaving and what the kid is doing so that the other explicitly knows they need to pay attention to her now.

          1. MB*

            That’s awesome. So important. Especially around swimming pools. It’s a good thing to establish the transfer of responsibility.

            1. SurlyAF*

              Fellow coder/former charger here…that is impressive! I would mentally add up charges during my child’s ER visits but I never got within $50.

              Most nights I do code in my dreams, so annoying!

                1. Twyll*

                  When I started at my current programming job, I started having work dreams. But not nightmares! I really enjoy the company I work for and I guess my subconscious picked up on that, so I started having work dreams about things going *well.* Finding the sources of problems easily, fixing bugs with a single line of code, everything working right on the first try.

                  It’s nice not to have nightmares, but it’s pretty disappointing to wake up from that kind of dream and realize that fixing bugs is a lot harder in the waking world!

          2. Mari*

            We did ‘con’… as in ‘I have the con’, ‘You have the con’.

            People used to ask if our kid’s nickname was Con… It’s not, but it let us keep verbal tabs on the kid in front of the kid for YEARS after most kids complained about ‘Being kept track of’!

            1. properlike*

              If you’ve seen THE BEAR, and if you also have teenagers who commuicate in grunts (if at all), you will understand me wanting to implement “Heard, Chef!” in my home.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        It’s how I do it too, and I can recommend. You have to be really good at getting down to the granular (eg changing the oven temperature is a task) and each year you learn what needs adding (eg “take cabbage out of microwave” so you don’t forget to serve it).

        1. Nina*

          I used to write spacecraft prep and launch procedures but can’t get all the components of a meal finished at the same time for the life of me, why I didn’t think to apply my work skills to my cooking is beyond me. Will now though!

            1. Nina*

              Creating procedures was a pretty tiny part of my job (I was on the pad a lot) but I’d be keen – maybe tag-team with No Tribble At All?

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I’ve successfully done buffet Thanksgiving dinners (with a wide range of food complications no less) for groups of 30 this way, mostly solo. It’s amazing.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Husband does this because his ADHD means lists are life, and it’s really the only way to get a complicated meal done, especially in our tiny kitchen!

        2. Glad I’m not the only one*

          I have a down to the minute thanksgiving schedule that I have saved and re-use every year. I also have a notebook with a ingredient list for every dish I make for the holidays so I can easily make a grocery list and I keep all my recipes with the above two lists together in a folder. My family always makes fun of me but honestly everything is always done at the same time and I find it way less stressful because I don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year – especially since I make the majority of it solo!

      3. Florp*

        We do this too! It really does work, if only because to set it up, you have to really think out what to do when, how much space is in the oven at any given time, etc. I’ve tried it using Trello, but post it notes honestly works better.

        1. BlueSwimmer*

          My husband “runs” Thanksgiving meal prep and we might just have a whiteboard in the kitchen.

          1. Butterfly Counter*


            We DO have a whiteboard in the kitchen (often for grocery shopping lists). Husband turns it into tracking of prep times during Thanksgiving as well.

      4. vibes only*

        My friends were getting married at their house and there was A LOT to do the week before the wedding. Think: painting, cleaning, set-up, minor house repair, decorating, etc.

        We did kaban and project management hybrid for the week amongst friends, split the tasks up, and got them married.

      5. sb51*

        I’ve Gantt-charted Thanksgiving, although now I have a double oven I don’t have to plan oven space quite so carefully.

        1. lin*

          My SIL gantt-charted her pregnancy. She didn’t meet the planned deliverable date as baby refused to be conceived on her timeline, but did ultimately appear approximately five months later. I still laugh about it.

          Holiday meals are less susceptible to natural interference though!

    2. Toolate12*

      When I started reading this, I *knew* there would be an aviation-related story. They have such cool communications norms

        1. MigraineMonth*

          The *best* checklists. Sully got huge kudos for landing safely in the river following multiple engine failure. His copilot should get huge kudos too for running the “multiple engine failure” checklist *twice* (while the plane was, you know, falling out of the air).

          Apparently the first item on at least one pilot checklist is, very wisely, FLY THE PLANE. In the middle of a crisis, it’s the most important thing to remember.

      1. Sedna*

        I love reading about critical communications strategies like pilots use. There’s a famous crash (UA Flight 232, Sioux City) where the plane lost basically all its controls (hydraulics, air speed, everything). The pilots stated the only reason they could even attempt a landing instead of a crash- and the only reason anyone survived- was due to Crew Resource Management, which had been introduced as part of airline training a few years before.

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          If you go on reddit, there’s a user called Admiral Cloudberg who writes the best roundups of plane crashes, including discussion of whether this was good or bad crew resource management.

          1. Sedna*

            I LOVE THEM. They have a blog on Medium too, I’m going through their back issues a little at a time & they’re all so well-written! Really hammers home how each disaster or near-disaster is a system failure (even- or especially- when it’s because of an individual).

          2. Nina*

            I read her stuff on her Medium blog, incredible writer and investigator and ironically always makes me feel safer flying.

        2. darsynia*

          Denny Fitch, the world misses you. (He was not rostered on that flight, but came up to offer help and was a key figure in making sure there were survivors. They basically had to maneuver using throttles only)

          In 1994 I lived within a half mile of USAir Flight 427’s crash, and part of how they solved the mystery of that crash (which includes a ton of stuff that’s OT but is well worth reading about) was analyzing the stress sounds in the cockpit. I wonder if the people who do work like that end up using that analysis in their non-work situations!

          1. Sedna*

            Right?! A true king. He had practiced throttle-only control on a simulator prior to the accident, just for the hell of it! And good question about the stress sound analysis.

          2. Maglev to Crazytown*

            Yes, yes we do… constant observation, analysis and risk assessment. Sometimes it is extremely helpful, but it can be a bit of a mental overload at times.

            To the point, I am actually starting therapy for self-improvement coaching to take back more of my personal life for personal me, not work-me.

      2. darsynia*

        I have loved learning more about those norms with Mentour Pilot on YouTube (I know this sounds like a shill but I genuinely have no stake, just wanted to share)! He’s so thorough and logical about attention pitfalls, it’s helped me in my regular life as NOT a pilot. I feel like so many of us can benefit from the crew resource management stuff, too.

      1. Cyndi*

        I always wish for a buddy to go places with me my first few days at a new job so I don’t get lost or do a Wrong Thing I don’t know about yet! I would never say so, of course. But it would be nice.

        1. Lily C*

          I got lost on my first day of my first Big Job. In an area of the city I’ve lived in my whole life, where the streets are a nice clean right angle grid and I only needed to walk six blocks in a straight line from the subway station. A buddy would have been great. I still don’t know how I got lost, almost 20 years later.

          1. darsynia*

            It wasn’t my first day but I got lost picking up my first paycheck after a week of work! I worked for a temp company before cell phones and intuitive maps were a thing, and I left my worksite at lunch to get my paycheck at the temp company 10 minutes away. I proceeded to get lost for 50 minutes! No cell, so I couldn’t tell the job site, no map in the car (whoops)! It was so awful. The reason was that our local highway was called ‘route 60’ but for a stretch it is NOT a highway but a windy road leading to the most stressful intersection in our large city. I… did not know this. I was following signs for 60 hoping for the highway.

        2. hereforthecomments*

          I do this for new employees. I work at a university, so getting around campus can be quite an adventure. The first day, they get my guided tour to get a staff id and parking sticker and see the closest parking lots. I also offer the “how to get around our building” tour because it has wings, elevators that are impossible to find and staircases that sometimes go to the top floor and sometimes don’t. I added it our onboarding because I wish someone had done the same for me at every place I’ve worked.

          1. Kammy6707*

            I’ve worked at many universities and the best work experiences I’ve had are at the schools that provided “the tour” within your first day or so!

          2. Elitist Semicolon*

            Now I wonder whether you work at my uni – we have at least three buildings where the top floor (or two) in the front does not connect to the top floor in the back. You have to go down a floor or two, walk across, and then go back up.

      2. Peon*

        We do the buddy thing in my office – it’s 2 buildings that got mashed into one and the intersections are VERY confusing! Plus, some parts are key carded and newbies don’t always get the right access.

    3. Hills to Die on*

      I love the Kanban dinner! We are a team of PMs and you should just see us picking appetizers and generally scheduling for Happy Hour events.

    4. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I bet the pilot thing would be similar to rescues or vets. THE CAT IS OUT! Door is closed. Cat is back in cage.

      1. Cyndi*

        I was a shelter volunteer for years before getting my own dog, and am constantly fighting the reflex to pound every door we pass through on the way out of my apartment building and holler “DOG!” before opening it and taking her through.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          At the shelter I volunteered at, the way you dealt with dogs jumping on you was to stand up and ignore them until they calmed down. I do it automatically when a dog jumps on me. Apparently it looks like I’m having a bad reaction, because the dogwalker often freaks out!

          1. Kel*

            I train dogs (well, usually. Right now I train people to train our dogs) and do this automatically too – hands up, stand straight, look neutrally into the distance.

            No, I am not afraid of him, thanks. But I’m certainly not going up reward that behavior with attention!

            1. Princess Sparklepony*

              I also do my best to ignore jumping dogs. When they calm down they get pets and “Four on the floor, gets you more!” My jumping dog mantra.

      1. Kanban Cook*

        Basically, we broke the entire meal prep into separate tasks, assigned tasks to each person, and stuck them on the kitchen cabinets based on what time they had to be started (e.g. turkey in oven, husband, noon; peel and chop carrots, child3, 4pm …).

        1. Freelance Historian*

          Thank you for explaining. Now I have a technical term for my schedules I write when I host dinner parties (I tend to start 1-2 days out).

          1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

            kanban is a specific methodology where you move the tasks (post it’s) through a series of status columns as tasks progress. It’s the basis of Trello, if you’ve ever seen that, and it’s very handy for multipart….anythings, really!

        2. Dog momma*

          I’m so glad to hear that many husbands are held with the large holiday dinners. Can’t imagine that growing up..I’m69. Either Grandma or Aunt A. did the entire thing themselves including homemade ethnic food for Xmas Eve and Easter. Glad that’s in the past.
          We finally gave up on cooking for the holidays and go out, no leftovers, but there’s only 2 of us, we are far away from family and have no place in the refrigerator for all that food, let alone eating it for a week or more or sticking it in the freezer til we take it out again. at out last house, we lived in snow country & if it was cold enough, used our enclosed breezeway as a mini fridge for certain things all winter. That can’t happen where we are now, we’ve eaten outside in short sleeves at Xmas.. which is wonderful.

          1. Lizzie*

            My mom and I still cook but we make what WE like, and as neither one of us cares much for turkey, let alone leftovers, we just do a nice meal. Last year was scallops and risotto, and i think will be the same this year. Christmas we do steak, with all the trimmings.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        It’s one of the methods for splitting up a big job (“make Christmas dinner”) into its component parts, and organising those so that necessary steps happen in the right order and at the right time even if they’re being handled by different people (“peel carrots” > “chop carrots” > “roast carrots”).

    1. iglwif*

      I have Kanbanned Passover seder preparation before. It’s not just a meal, it’s a whole THING, and there’s a lot of detail to potentially forget!

      1. Kaden Lee*

        oh my gosh yessssssss! especially assigning roles to guests (you bring the wine, you grab extra matzo, etc)

    2. Hats Are Great*

      Honestly shocking to me that anybody can produce a holiday meal WITHOUT kanbaning it! That shit’s complicated, yo.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I don’t know kanban, but my holiday meal planning sheet has 15-minute increments marching down the side to the final serving time, and then I plot backwards for when things come out of the oven, to when they go in, then when they get chopped.

        1. Kaden Lee*

          the main thing missing between what you’re describing and kanban is assigned a person to each task

          1. Middle Aged Lady*

            I do a list like this and the assignements are done with a cokored dot next to each item. I am pink, hubs is blue. I have learned to add rest periods and walks to the assignments or we are exhausted by the time it’s all ready. The hardest part is the stovetop squeeze in the last hour or so, and plotting the oven times. I also forget that guests will show up early and want to chat, so I have added easy tasks for them to do while I am in last-minute food mode. I have everything ready for them to set the table, open wine and so on.

            1. Middle Aged Lady*

              Cut, cut, cut! Every traditionally served dish doesn’t have to be on the table. And buy stuff pre-made. Make the guests do any work you can get out of them. I remember peeling potatoes as a young one. And lower your standards. My stepmom, elegant lady that she was, used paper plates when the whole crowd from both families was going to be at her house.
              Or cancel the whole shebang or order it all in during tough years. I love to cook, and I have done it before. No way I was gonna put on Thanksgiving right after surgery or two months after my mom died. for example. We had pizza one year. Everyone was thankful for that!

              1. Critical Rolls*

                Agreed! I have clear memories of my mom wrestling with her most hated Thanksgiving task — the pie crust. Eventually she started buying the pie, and the sky didn’t fall. We still got pie, and she didn’t have to make it. Everybody won.

                Also, a lot of things dropped off the menu after Grandma passed. Farewell, candied yams (hurk).

            2. learnedthehardway*

              Break down the work into multiple days? I’m actually terrible about getting a meal to the table all at the same time, but I did manage it this year. Partly, that was because it was just our immediate family, but mostly it was because I had planned it out so I had multiple days to prepare. Cranberry sauce made a couple days ahead. Stuffing gets done the night before and is stored in a bowl in the fridge until it goes into the bird. Potatoes are peeled and left in cold water, then put on to boil when the Turkey comes out of oven. By the time the gravy is made, the potatoes are ready to mash, etc. etc.

              One of the things that works best for me is a digital thermometer that screeches when the target temperature is reached. Really eliminates a lot of guess work.

              1. MsSolo (UK)*

                I really like Delia Smith’s Christmas cookbook, because it breaks down prep into the whole week run up (or longer, if you’re making a proper Christmas cake from scratch), so anything that can be made in advance and reheated is already out of the way, and day of has timings based on a lunchtime meal. And a whole set of recipes using up leftovers for boxing day!

              2. pandop*

                Yup – British here, so it’s Christmas Dinner rather than thanksgiving. My parents ran a guest house, and sometimes we had guests over Christmas, yet on Christmas Day Mum & Dad (mainly Dad – a chef) hardly spent any time in the kitchen, as it was all prepared in advance

        2. Lpuk*

          Things got exponentially easier when I realised the turkey could rest for up to an hour under foil and a heavy cloth while everything else went on a mad shuffle in and out of the oven. And I plan everything around the time roast potatoes come out of the oven, because they have to be straight to table for the best roasties!

      2. eeeek*

        Indeed. And yet there is no way, really, to plan for the SIL who is an evangelical vegan, who removed (without telling me) the partially roasted turkey from the oven two hours early, so she would have time and room for her special roasted brussels sprouts (melting in a bag on the counter) or that, while she was looking up her beloved recipe, she got distracted (for a few hours) by cat videos and turkey roasting memes. “Yes, dear. It’s very funny when Monica has the turkey on her head. Can we put this one back in the oven?” No one died from food poisoning. Also, microwaved brussels sprouts are not great.

        I am happy only to do TG these days with only me and my lovely spouse. I no longer cook for the whole fam, because it is an unappreciated act.

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          I feel seen. My husband’s nephew went through a vegan phase and hogged the kitchen making kale chips and whatnot when he was one of 5 houseguests staying for the week. I was quite annoyed but we hardly ever see him so hubs asked me to let it go. I did, but apparently I am still feeling salty about it.

    3. The Starsong Princess*

      I feel I should be doing this. I do an excel spreadsheet for Christmas with a. giant chart but this is another level.

      1. Peachy keen*

        Can vouch, my dad and I do all the holiday cooking. He works in IT, I used to work at a tech company. We break out the postits and turn the fridge into a giant kanban board, it’s so helpful.

        1. Worldwalker*

          I am so going to do this for Thanksgiving this year! Even with only two of us, getting everything synchronized is a royal pain.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      I have a holiday meal Excel template, complete with automated calculations of what time you need to put each item in the over (and which oven) in order for everything to be on the table and warm at the same time. It includes a chart for what’s going in which serving dish. My family makes fun of me, but it works very well.

    5. Not So Little My*

      When we were getting a CSA box every week (vegetables delivered from a farm), we would write the names and quantities of the vegetables on a kanban so when we meal planned we would know what veggies we still had to use up.

    6. Katara's side braids*

      We did a Gantt chart instead of Kanban. The oven, toaster oven, kitchen island, kitchen table, and each individual burner on the stove were represented on the Y axis, with the X axis being time in 15-minute increments. The tasks were color-coded by person. Saved SO MUCH fighting about oven/burner/prep space.

    1. My Dear Wormwood*

      Not work, but I used to be a Brownie leader, and now that I lead walks for a bushwalking club, I have to explain to the group that I’ll automatically count them constantly. The laugh when I tell themthey can look after themselves but you really, really can’t leave a 10 year old out in the bush. The paperwork alone would be crushing.

      1. My Dear Wormwood*

        I should add, we joke that we’re allowed to bring back plus or minus 10% of our start number of walkers. I have in fact brought an extra one out with us once.

        1. Action Kate*

          we make the same joke about our Girl Scout troop, although our allowance is a more generous 20%.

          1. Mama Llama*

            We had a great Cub Scout den and the parents used to pick up/drop off one another’s kids, including extra siblings, before/after meetings. Our running joke was you just had to go home with the correct number of kids, it didn’t matter which ones.

        2. Slow Gin Lizz*

          We make that joke about the trips I lead with the Appalachian Mountain Club, and once I also came back with two new ppl so we had an excellent retention rate. We also joke that we worry a lot about trips with fewer than 10 people that we really can’t afford to lose anyone or we’ll be in big trouble.

      2. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I went on a trip with seven other mothers recently. It was just 8 adults. We spent more time than you would expect taking turns counting noses.

  1. Peanut Hamper*

    Okay, I really like the idea of doing a kanban for Christmas dinner! That one is actually useful! (As is the pilot/young children one.)

  2. HumbleOnion*

    I’ve started yelling ‘Behind,’ ‘Corner,’ and ‘Yes Chef!’ after watching The Bear. It’s great fun.

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      Similar to “Behind,” my home refrigerator is still stocked and layered in a manner compliant with 2009 Minnesota health codes.

      1. Kaiko*

        yelling “hot behind” when I’m holding a hot pan, or “sharp behind” when I’ve got a knife? best thing I took from my ‘straunt years.

        1. starsaphire*

          Oh yes… having to explain to a non-restaurant-y housemate that when my chef friend and I are in the kitchen and yelling things like Sharp or Hot Behind, we are *not* complimenting/harassing him…

          (although he did have a very nice behind!)

      2. Ally McBeal*

        I have blue painters tape and a sharpie in my kitchen. Most of the food in my fridge is labeled, and all my spices are also labeled so it’s easier to see what’s what when I’m peering into a dim cabinet. (I installed one of those little puck lights in my cabinet but it died and I’m lazy.)

        1. Magc*

          I picked the blue tape / Sharpie (usually in the silverware drawer) when my first went into daycare & all food had to be labeled and dated. I have a hard time throwing food away if it still looks good, but now I know when it has to be tossed.

          My spouse is happy that the odds of getting food poisoning went way down after that!

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same, but we got it from Top Chef. We also use “Heard!” as a way the surly teenagers can acknowledge something without agreeing/disagreeing with it (or giving a smart ass answer).

      1. Timothy (TRiG)*

        I, as a young teen, picked up “Aye, aye sir” from Arthur Ransom novels, which did not amuse my mother. (In those novels, sir was gender-neutral, which is not the word’s normal usage.)

        1. Cute As Cymraeg*

          I’m now in my mid-thirties, but I still generally address my mother with ‘Yes God’ and ‘No God’ when she’s in the middle of A Big Task (e.g. Christmas dinner).

      2. Nina*

        My family used ‘roger’, as in, ‘the bathroom tap is leaking’; ‘roger bathroom tap leaking’. (Granddad was an air force navigator)
        My first full-time workplace used ‘copy’, as in, ‘bathroom tap leaking, copy’. (too many ex-NASA people)

        I managed to only say ‘codger’ once.

    3. INFJedi*

      Reminds me of my sibling, they are a chef in a restaurant and while French is not their native language, it’s an unwritten rule to say (sometimes almost yelling) “chaud!” when passing with something hot in their hands in the restaurant kitchen they are working.

      Sibling started doing that at home as well (and when they are cooking at my parents or anywhere else). As a result, we all started doing it when cooking and transporting something hot from the oven or the likes.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        We’ve picked up that habit in our kitchen, which is compact. Someone could literally back into the open oven door if they weren’t careful.

    4. Distracted Procrastinator*

      yup. It’s been over 20 years and I still say “behind!” especially in a crowd.

      If I say “hot behind!” in my own kitchen, my husband promptly replies, “yes, it is!” He never misses the opportunity.

    5. Save Bandit*

      Our kitchen has a somewhat odd layout, and there are no fewer than 4 ways to enter and get in the cook’s way. “Corner” and “behind” are vital to our kitchen safety.

  3. Katie N.*

    I can’t stop giggling at the person telling coworkers to keep their hands where they can see them.

    1. Lemon*

      When I studied teaching at university, I did a course on special education. One of the tips (typically for the 5-6year old group) was to cut and paste hand outlines on the table, so the teacher could say “hands on table!” and the kids would match their hands to the outline. Officially, it was to reduce “self stimulation”, which was the cleanest way of saying kids instinctively understand certain things feel good, and teachers don’t need that happening at school! [Advice also applicable to the entire school population]

  4. Potato*

    That “behind you” thing is so real. I constantly say “behind you, hot” when I’m in the kitchen with other people. I also have to fight the urge to answer ringing phones at restaurants and bus tables that have been sitting for too long.

    My current job is at a non-profit and I do a lot of research finding resources for people and whenever my friends need help with something I end up sending them a spreadsheet

    1. Sloanicota*

      I never thought of this before but you’re so right that my obsession with spreadsheeting everything started as a word task that spread into other parts of my life.

    2. jane's nemesis*

      oh my gosh, yes, I do spreadsheets for everything, including planning trips with friends!

      1. Ann Onymous*

        My college friend group and I are all engineers, and there’s definitely a spreadsheet every time we plan a trip together.

        1. Pat*

          I use spreadsheets when I need to compare items I’m considering buying – a new mobile phone, for example. Each row is a feature category, and each phone model is a column. That way I can compare prices, see which ones come with X amount of storage, etc. It works well for comparing all kinds of things.

      2. Tin Cormorant*

        Planning trips? We use Google Sheets at least twice a week when ordering food for our board game nights with friends.

      3. Lpuk*

        Yup me too. I may now use excel more in my personal life than in my professional ( because I spend eight hours a day on PowerPoint, sigh)

    3. Cyndi*

      I’ve never worked in food service but I still got in the habit of saying “behind you!” at other jobs that involved machinery. It wasn’t required at any of them, but I did NOT want to ever find out what happens if you startle someone while they’re using, say, an industrial serger.

        1. CowWhisperer*

          We did that at two tightly confined areas at a DIY store – paint and service desk. Bumping someone carrying paint gets messy quick and returns is a nightmare without having to worry about slicing your back on sheet metal etc.

    4. KateM*

      My husband is a scientist. When we were buying our first car, he did WEEKS of research about which cars need less maintenance/have cheaper replacement parts/etc.

      1. Worldwalker*

        And there’s “rock!” when you drop/kick anything off a cliff or slope. It doesn’t matter if it’s your hat — it’s always “rock!” to warn the people below you.

        It’s been 30 years since I worked retail, but I still automatically face shelves and organize pegboards when I’m standing idle near them.

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          Interesting. In theatre tech (university), the semi-official code was “move on f*ck,” as in, if someone curses, or shouts *anything* on the grid above you, geddaddatheway first, then scan for additional information. (Also, when ascending to grid level, tether your tools to your body to prevent such scenarios.)

          In my own family, quarrels have arisen regarding what to shout and when to shout it. My very analytical father got in trouble for NOT calling out to let my mother know that a projectile was headed for her head. He said, “If I had shouted, you’d have turned around and gotten it in the face!” She said, “Yes, but you shouldn’t be thinking so rationally when your wife is about to get hit in the head!” Fortunately for all concerned, it was only a softball, not a rock.

    5. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Neither my wife nor I have ever worked in a kitchen so I don’t know where we picked up “behind with a knife” but it’s super useful! (Our kitchen layout means there’s no reason to go behind someone with anything hot.)

    6. old curmudgeon*

      I’m an accountant and I use spreadsheets for EVERYTHING.

      I was just emailing with my sister this weekend about holiday gift-giving plans (we start early in our family). As a side comment, I mentioned my holiday gift spreadsheet that I use to make sure I have an equal number of items for everyone to open AND that I remember where I put them all, with tabs going back for the past couple of decades’ worth of holiday gifting.

      Sis was flabbergasted, and envious. I have now agreed to take her past ten years’ worth of paper scraps with various gift ideas/comments on them and turn them into the same kind of great tool that I use.

      On the bright side, that’s going to be her holiday gift this year, which means one less gift that I’ll need to buy, and I won’t need to wrap it at all, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

        1. old curmudgeon*

          Sure! Not sure how I’d get it to you, but it’s not really complicated to create one.

          Open a new spreadsheet.

          Merge cells A1 and B1, cells C1 and D1, and so on for as many people as you are tracking gifts for. Label each merged cell with the name of the person for whom you are shopping.

          Cell A2 is the gift you got the person. Cell B2 is the location where you stashed the gift. A3 is the next gift for that person, B3 is where it’s hidden. C2 is the next person’s gift, D2 is the location for that gift, C3 is the next person’s second gift and D3 is where it’s located. Generally adults in our family get one nice gift and one silly gift, but kids get more to open, and those are the ones that are really important (I think) to keep equitable in numbers and approximate value.

          Log your purchases as soon as you bring them home and put them away. When it’s time to start wrapping and shipping gifts, I use coded cell highlight colors to flag which gifts have been wrapped, which need to be mailed, and which need to be taken over to my daughter and son-in-law’s house while the grandchild is asleep.

          I also maintain a pair of columns that I call “reserves,” stuff I’ve picked up that I liked but that I didn’t have a specific recipient in mind for yet with the location listed for each. That’s how I can balance up the quantities when it’s mid-December, I need to figure out a gift for my brother-in-law, and I’m just not up for another shopping trip.

          I frequently add notes in the form of cell comments about any gifts that were either especially successful or that landed with a thump. Those notes can be useful in future years.

          After the holiday, I copy the sheet to a new tab, clear all the gifts, comments and locations (except for the column of reserve items), and start tallying up a new set of data. I label each tab with the year it pertains to, so I can go back through my spreadsheet and tell you, for example, that in 2012, I gave my nephew a marshmallow gun, in 2014, I gave my niece a Hermione wand, and in 2018, I gave my new son-in-law a toboggan.

          I keep the file saved in a really boring location on my laptop (a folder named “car insurance receipts” or something) named something like “cost-benefit analysis insurance options” which would make anyone in my family run screaming from the room if they saw it in a folder. At this point, my kids are adults living on their own so I don’t really need to keep it that under cover, but it’s a habit that dies hard.

          And by now, anyone who reads this is laughing their heads off at the ridiculousness of my holiday gift spreadsheet, but that’s ok – since I started using it back in the late 1990s, I have never once given anyone the same gift two years in a row, never lost a carefully hidden gift for years because I put it away too well, and never had a last-minute panic attack because I had one less gift for Nephew #3 than I did for Niece and for Nephews #1 and #2. And that’s all I care about, so laugh away!

          1. too many dogs*

            Very impressed. And if it works for you, who cares if they’re laughing? I use different color pens on my calendar for different tasks, meeting, etc. It saves a lot of time.

              1. Runner up*

                ditto! I may implement this or something similar – I keep notes on my phone, but it is not a great system…

          2. Bookworm in Stitches*

            If I had done this twenty-two years ago I wouldn’t STILL be wondering where skateboard tool for son#2 is hiding.

            1. old curmudgeon*

              It was something similar to that that pushed me to create my spreadsheet back in the late 1990s.

              We were packing up the house to move across the country, and tucked way back on the highest shelf of the storage room, I found the gift stash I had carefully hidden away when my kids were preschoolers. Said kids were 14 and 16 at that point, no longer terribly interested in Barbie and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I was furious with myself for having spent the money and then losing the silly things.

              As soon as I unpacked the computer after we arrived at our new home 2,000 miles away, I set up the first version of that spreadsheet, and I’ve kept it going ever since, through all the different updates to Excel. Sure, I could get rid of those older tabs at this point, but it’s kind of a nostalgia thing to be able to go back and remember the looks on my kids’ faces when they opened something they had really wanted.

          3. Lizzo*

            This is phenomenal, and I am quite frankly shocked that my father (an accountant) never had a sheet like this…if he did, he would’t have given me three copies of the same DVD at three separate Christmases.

          4. Lpuk*

            Mine is a lot simpler mainly because I live alone and have a designated ‘gift cupboard’ but otherwise I do this every year as well. Mine doesn’t have location but does have a value as my family have an upper limit on what we can spend on each other and it all needs to be fair. But last year we decided on a not so secret Santa so we each only have to but one present/ recipient each

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        We do this as well. I have a holiday-gift “formula” for our kids to ensure parity (and that my spouse doesn’t go crazy buying all the thing), and I just add a new sheet to it each year.

    7. mli25*

      My husband and I have started using “knife in my hand” while in the kitchen, particularly when emptying the dishwasher. The last thing either of us wants is for one of us to turn around with a knife in our hand and cut or stab the other person. I also use “hot pan” when moving it from the stove to sink area for future clean up.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        We tend to yell “cat!” when Peanut is in the kitchen supervising. He loves to get everywhere that could be dangerous!

        1. Lizzo*

          We are a dog household, so not sure that this is useful, but we’ve trained our pup to sit on rugs that are stationed on the edge of the kitchen so that she’s not underfoot when the stove or oven are being used. She seems to conveniently forget those rules when the dishwasher is being loaded, which brings about sentences like the following: “Dog! That’s a cheese grater–it’s going to bite back!”

      2. run mad; don't faint*

        We use “hot pan” and “knife” too. We also call out “oven” when the oven door is open because in wonderful 1960s kitchen design, my oven door opens right into the walkway through the kitchen. We were always worried the kids would come barreling through, hitting the oven door or us as we put hot dishes in and out of the oven.

    8. Suzy Q*

      I use either “behind you” or “excuse you” at the grocery store to the people who block whole aisles while they ponder choices.

    9. Peon*

      I was at a fast food restaurant where the kitchen was so far in the weeds it was insane and it was all I could do not to jump in and set them right – and I haven’t worked ff in 20 years.

  5. Sara without an H*

    My last job was at a small church-affiliated women’s college. One of my colleagues was a Catholic nun, who’d put in many years teaching elementary school before acquiring a Ph.D.

    Administration sent four of us to a professional conference out of town. We all flew down together. After a while I noticed that Sr. Agnes was periodically doing head-counts, checking to make sure everybody was in the gate area at the airport, asking “Where’s so-and-so?”

    When I pointed it out, she admitted that she’d supervised so many elementary school field trips, she had trouble stopping.

    1. Hats Are Great*

      I spent years as a camp counselor and we always had to ask the kids to do an “area check” before we moved activities, so they didn’t leave behind a hoodie or water bottle.

      It was years and years before I stopped reminding my friends when we were out to dinner to do an “area check!” as we left the table, or reminding colleagues at the end of a meeting when we were leaving the conference room, “everyone do an area check!”

      It was benign, but definitely weird, especially since I used my over-perky kid-instructing voice.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        As someone who has frequently lost items at restaurants, I would appreciate the “area check!” reminder if I were in your friend group!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          My SO is the oldest son in a large family. There’s something to be said for someone who always makes sure everyone and everything is accounted for.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        That reminder might be weird, but on the other hand, if I’d done an area check I would still have that nice hat — and the hat I bought to replace it. (When you’re sitting alone in a park bench in a foreign country, there’s nobody to remind you of things like that.)

        1. Trillian*

          That’s why my hats have tethers and each tether has a carabiner, and that carabiner is attached to my backpack, my shoulder bag strap, the coathook loop on the back of my coat, or at a pinch, my bra strap. I suffered so much shame for not being able to keep track of small objects, until I embraced the need for big pockets, tethers, carabiners. Haven’t yet resorted to gloves on a string, but they’ve got hooks too.

          1. Tin Cormorant*

            I’ve learned by now that I should never take off my purse completely while I’m sitting at a restaurant. If I hang it from the chair or set it on the bench next to me, there’s a very good chance it gets left behind.

            I’ll take it off my shoulder, but leave the strap around my waist, or my leg, or even just wrapped around my ankle. If I can’t stand up and leave without noticing it, I’ve done something right.

          2. Daisy*

            Aw, Trillian, I was picturing your hat carabiner attached to backpack, and shoulder bag, and coat hook loop, and… then I realized you were likely heading for an “or” at the end of the list.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        I wish more people did this! I’ve had so many calls over the years for lost items–everything from credit cards to apparently priceless knit scarves (when I told that woman the store would probably put said scarf in the lost and found box she wigged out about it been snagged! or stolen! Like, lady, if it’s that irreplaceable keep track of it better or leave it at home!)

      4. Worldwalker*

        A somewhat less perky version of this would actually be a good thing. Especially after dinner, when you’re all thinking about things other than that hat you put on the windowsill edge thing to keep it out of the way. Yes, that’s oddly specific for a reason. (I did get it back)

        1. MigraineMonth*

          In my family, before checking out of the motel room every person has to check under the beds, in the drawers, and in the shower to ensure nothing has been left behind.

      5. Letters*

        For a cross-over with theatre habits, in the UK at least, we call that an “Idiot Check”. Generally used when packing a truck before leaving a touring venue to move on to the next place, because no-one wants to be the idiot that left that vital bit of the set in a venue 250 miles away. It’s also good for the old joke, “Anyone done the idiot check?”
        “Yup, all the idiots are here”

    2. NervousHoolelya*

      One of my former higher ed colleagues, also a former elementary school teacher, used to do the same thing when we were traveling for conferences! That habit has held on for a LOOOONG time, because it’s been at least 30+ years since she taught elementary school.

      1. AFac*

        Honestly, I’ve found that college students are worse than toddlers when it comes to leaving things behind or failing to go to the bathroom before long trips. I can’t decide if it’s because I assume they ought to be able to take care of their own stuff or whether they’re just thinking about other things.

        Also, absent-minded professors are a stereotype for a reason. ;)

    3. Ann Onymous*

      My grandma raised 4 kids and taught kindergarten for many years. She never got out of the habit of reminding people to put on their hats or zip their coats (adults included).

    4. CowWhisperer*

      I did that when I was at an adult camp for language acquisition when the entire group went out for ice cream. I went back to camp rather than the bar because I was getting frazzled, lol.

  6. Teacher Voice*

    I’ve been in Leadership and learning and Development for almost my entire career. My teacher voice has made giant men quiver in fear and call me Ms. TeacherVoice and apologize profusely for whatever activated it. My husband will tell me to “put away my teacher voice” hahahaha I don’t mean to! But if people are acting a fool, someone needs to rein it in.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      My mom has her ‘mom’ voice, which is not so bad, and her ‘librarian’ voice, which is much scarier (university librarian working mainly with grad students). You don’t want to make her bust out her librarian voice (mainly used against the cats now that she’s retired and the grandkids are older).

        1. KateM*

          And I didn’t feel like a real mathematician until the first time I subtracted 25 from 55 and got 20.

      1. Clorinda*

        Does it work on cats? I find that teacher voice works on the dog, but the cats don’t care even a little bit.
        Also, my actual students respond much better to a gentle reminder than to a teacher-voice command; I have it, but only use it when someone is visibly going off the rails. I’ve broken up a couple of developing fights that way, but don’t use it for things like “you’re wandering around the room distracting other people again, go back to your chair.” That one’s a soft “can I have you back over here where your work is, Studentname, thanks.”

        1. zuzu*

          My sixth-grade science teacher used to drop her voice when we were acting up. It was remarkably effective in getting us to pay attention.

          We also thought she was super cool; she was the most stylish teacher in school, and had long red nails she used to pick up dry ice.

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      I think Teacher Voice is hereditary, too. I have never taught, but my mum is a teacher and whenever I have to tell people what to do while coordinating an event, I slip into Teacher Voice!

    3. Y'all come back now, ya hear?*

      After 10 years in education, I now am in project management. A stakeholder got really intractable last week, the meeting devolved, and I accidentally pulled out my teacher voice. My manager was actually a fan. Adults, y’all – sometimes whinier than middle schoolers

      My dad is a physician, a respected member of the community, a leader in our faith organization, and a good dad. He has his normal voice, his public speaking voice, and his ‘quiet authority’ voice. My siblings and I always knew that if ‘quiet authority’ voice got pulled out from either parent, we needed to rein it in, NOW.

    4. JHunz*

      I have been working in software for twenty years but have still retained my ability to do Lifeguard Voice from my high school job. It still turns itself on without my input in some situations, especially if a group of kids is involved.

      1. Dog momma*

        Omg, that brings back memories. My cousins husbands were lifeguards at our community pool. They had Lifeguard voice, never needed the megaphone or whatever you called it. Wonderful , kind, quiet men, but if you were misbehaving, out came Lifeguard voice. Plus they knew everyone’s parents. You did NOT want to be banished from the pool by the Began brothers. WWII veterans, Marine and Army. They put up with no nonsense.

    5. Mademoiselle Sugar Lump*

      My mom was a 5th grade teacher for years and had the Teacher Voice. When she was in assisted living at the end of her life, she told me about how one of the aids was insisting on taking something to wash that she wanted to keep, and she said “I had to use my teacher voice with her.”
      I can do it, but not as well.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I learned The Glare from my mother and can successfully quiet a child from across the room using The Glare.

    6. Ally McBeal*

      I volunteer at an after-school program, and most of the staff are young women getting their teaching degrees. I received formal voice lessons as a teenager and also have a fairly impressive lung capacity from my years of casual swimming, so in particularly unruly moments when the staff are having trouble getting the kids to listen up, I will use my most booming “teacher voice” to stop a lot more kids in their tracks. No need for a bullhorn when I’m around!

    7. SarahKay*

      My dad has a very impressive Teacher Voice, which served him very well teaching teenagers over the years. It would, however, sometimes come home with him, once to hilarious effect.
      I and my sister (both in our twenties) were visiting him and our step-mum and our two (much younger) step-sisters and we all sat down for lunch. Older step-sister, ‘Jane’ would have been about seven and she was slouching at the table and kicking the table leg.
      “Sit up straight, Jane, and stop kicking the table” said dad, in his best Teacher Voice.
      At which point, I, sister, and step-mum, all sat up straight and stopped our (non-existent) kicking of the table.
      Then we caught each other’s eyes, laughed, and relaxed. ‘Jane’, impressively, took almost no notice at all.

      1. TeacherVoice*

        That’s hilarious. It is so funny to see grown adults snap back into kid mode when the voice is used. The last time I used it was about 8 mo ago, in the middle of a new build home construction. The construction project manager was being so condescending to me, and acting like I was a 1950s house wife who had no opinion (or more likely trained not to voice it) and who had no knowledge of construction. He told me “maybe I should talk to your husband,” hhahahahaha “my husband knows nothing about any of this”

    8. notjustthevoice*

      I switched from schools to corporate adult education. “1 2 3 eyes on me” works with middle aged men, but it’s a weird time for everyone…

    9. OtterB*

      People occasionally praise my public speaking voice- I am clear, project well, etc. I tell them I inherited it. My father was a lawyer and in him we called it the courtroom voice. It wasn’t intended to make people behave, it was intended to make sure they understood your message. He didn’t use it in normal conversation but would slide into it at the dinner table if he was explaining something.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        My dad was a farmer, which doesn’t involve a lot of authoritarian voices, but he was pretty good at projecting loud syllables that could bring in a herd of cows from the other end of a 70 acre pasture. Once in a blue moon I have to call to an animal or a kid in Farmer Voice.

    1. Hosta*

      I’m a nurse. I knock at any door I go through, even if it’s in my own home, and then I walk in. I look especially silly when I’m going to the bathroom in my own home. I also automatically reach for the hand sanitizer dispenser by the door and feel a flicker of annoyance that the damn thing isn’t dispensing.

      Many of my patients are using a walker for the first time and part of my job is correcting their technique. I once eyed up a guy at the grocery store and firmly told him to keep the walker close to himself. I wanted to die.

  7. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

    I’ve also worked in theatre for years, and I get my right and left mixed up all the time. For those who don’t know, Stage Right and Stage Left are from the actors’ perspective, so if you’re sitting in the audience (like a director or stage manager would), stage right is your left and vice versa. I’ve flipped them so consistently for years that I have to make a conscious effort to flip them back in normal life.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I worked in theatre and then studied anatomy and physiology – the left and right sides of images are reverse labelled in textbooks so they’re correct for the body being illustrated. It took me years to relearn the correct way round!

      1. Trillian*

        That might explain my father (radiologist). When he gave directions my mother tended to ask skeptically, “Is that radiological right?”

    2. Bibliovore*

      I soooo empathize! (Also, yay L’Engle!)

      My other bad theatre habit: When I’m doing stage makeup for a show it’s part of my duty to scrutinize people’s looks and approve them or tell them what to correct. I have to clamp down _hard_ on that when I leave the building — most people really don’t want a random stranger telling them their eyeliner is uneven or to touch up their patchy blending or whatever.

      1. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

        What makes the L/R conundrum even more confusing is that I also work with and provide notes to the camera crew that films productions. They live-switch the show with 4 cameras, so the film director is calling live cuts, and then they just tighten it up in post. However, they go for camera L/camera R, which is the same as audience L/R, but opposite to stage L/R, so my notes have to incorporate both stage directions and camera directions. Sometimes for the same moment in the show. It’s a brain-breaker.

          1. Picking Nits*

            We have learned to say correct when driving, so as not to confuse the driver. Example: I turn left here? Answer: Right, I mean Correct!

    3. BellyButton*

      This just happened to me this weekend! My boyfriend is a director and has spent his life in theater and film. I had my back to him and he wanted to take a photo of me, he said “turn stage left to that pole” , I turned left— he said “no! stage left!” LOL

  8. IT Heathen*

    My work-study position in college was in the Interpreter’s Office. I often gave directions to people on campus in ASL. I can’t seem to give directions now, 10 years later, without using ASL to do it.

  9. a giant ant*

    I was a hostess for many years at an upscale restaurant and it was my duty to get the door for every person who exited and entered. This was more than 10 years ago and I still cannot stop holding doors for people in general daily life. Some people really do not like this!

  10. mango chiffon*

    The casino/Taco Bell one making me giggle. Honestly sometimes you can use the luck after eating Taco Bell

    1. Addison DeWitt*

      Reminds me of the movie Cop, in which James Woods tries to tell his kid a bedtime story: “Two perps were walking in the woods…”

    2. Myrin*

      Why? I was just about to comment that I’d probably burst out laughing if a random coworker suddenly told me apropos of nothing to keep my hands where they can see them while we were chatting about the printer or our tax returns.

      1. Dinwar*

        For me it’s the presumption of authority. I’ve had random chats with LEOs where they tried to treat me as if they outranked me, and I lost a fair bit of respect for them because of it. Unless it’s in an official capacity they have no more right to tell me where my hands should go than I have to tell them where theirs should. I fully understand why they have to do it professionally, but when they’re not on duty or acting in an official capacity there’s real danger to them being unable to take off the uniform.

        I remember one conversation I had with a LEO….We were hanging out, he was out of uniform and off duty, just chatting. And suddenly he was grilling me about drug use at the school I was attending. Turned a friendly conversation into an interrogation. We’d known enough other for a long, long time, and it hurt to think he considered me nothing more than an asset.

        1. Sharkie*

          Yes. And the “interview” stance. Without context I would assume they are just trying to flex authority.

          1. MigraineMonth*

            I would be very intimidated if the coworker I was speaking with took a fighting stance, even a low-key one like the “interview” stance seems to be. It’s more threatening than is appropriate for a discussion about TPS reports.

          2. rollyex*

            All this. If he’s still viscerally afraid of people when he can’t see their hands, I hope he gets some help. And the “interview stance” is not right. It’s threatening.

      2. Cyndi*

        Because of the implication that they’re in the habit of thinking of everyone around them as potential violent threats, I think? I can’t and won’t speak to whether that’s a reasonable interpretation! But I can totally see how it could be read that way.

        1. Cyndi*

          Also, belatedly: if a coworker said this to me I might laugh but it would be from surprise and not genuine amusement, and I would be at least a little wary of them from that point forward.

      3. Moose*

        Some of us have had incredibly negative experiences with police exerting their power and authority in completely inappropriate ways.

        As my mom would say, it’s not funny and it’s not cute. Former LEOs need to be especially cognizant of respecting other people’s potentially incredibly negative experiences with law enforcement.

      4. FrivYeti*

        For me, it is the terrifying idea that “keep your hands where I can see them” is a social interaction on par with a teacher telling students to take off their hats or a chef informing someone that they are behind them.

        That should *not* be a standard part of social interaction for a police officer! That should be a very minimal part of your day-to-day interactions. It is absolutely *chilling* that someone has been trained to be that hyper-alert for violence in every person that they meet.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Have you taken a look at police training in the US? Because even outside of the terrifying subgroup that is “killology”, it’s very focused on being alert to any sign of danger and being ready to shoot it. As an interesting counterpoint, that isn’t how our military is trained.

          1. not like a regular teacher*

            The ESL teacher and the former cop need to stop. Those behaviours are inappropriate and harmful out of context. It’s a little gross to see these in a list of otherwise cute/innocuous things.

            1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

              Re the ESL teacher: I absolutely agree, but the way I read is was they were fully aware of that too, and embarrassed that it had happened.

          2. Princess Sparklepony*

            For cops it’s all about this Warrior Training that they started doing a while ago. The idea being is that you are behind enemy lines and everyone is going to be challenging you so you have to be ready to fight at a moments notice. Not exactly community policing.

            Some departments are trying to phase this out because it’s costing them too much in civilian complaints and lawsuits.

    3. Vet's Wife*

      I can understand why you’d have that reaction, but as the partner of a former soldier, I can tell you with certainty that it’s not automatically bad. It’s just something they learn and have to unlearn! When your job has a large physical component to it, how you carry yourself is a big part of it.

      My husband has to deconstruct his military ways right quick when he became a teacher, because he quickly learned that his students read his habits and too formal and off-putting. And his female colleagues, unfortunately, had to go the other way lest they be perceived as not professional enough by their class.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        My father-in-law is former Secret Service and my favorite thing at family gatherings is for the two of us to stay a ways off from the main gathering in the room and have him tell me who he’d be eyeing suspiciously and why if he were currently on the job. It’s fascinating!

        1. Mostly Managing*

          He’d have a hay day with my extended family!
          They are all weird.
          There are some fairly toxic dynamics.
          And at least half are neuro-divergent which adds an extra layer of “unusual” to their interactions. (For the record, the nd types are some of the nicest in my family – it’s the “normal” ones I avoid at Thanksgiving!)

        2. Vet's Wife*

          It’s a different world! I didn’t really know anyone in the military before my husband, so it was definitely a learning curve for me (although he was almost out when we met, so I didn’t get the Full Military Spouse experience).

          Now, off to check the archives to see if you’ve interviewed your FIL! (And if not, here’s a humble request for one of he’s up for it!)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I haven’t but he would be fascinating. One time I posted a photo online of a cat in my medicine cabinet (Lucy RIP) and he gave me a lecture about how I shouldn’t post photos that show products like lotion, lipstick, etc. because if someone sees the specific brands/sizes of things I have, they can break in and replace it with a dupe that has toxins in it, and I will unknowingly use it, thinking it’s mine … and I was like, I don’t think that is an issue? But I believe he was serious.

            1. uisce chick*

              My dear departed father in law was undercover DEA and all my children know three ways out of a room and what the potential weapons are

            2. Irish Teacher.*

              There’s an Agatha Christie murder mystery in which that happened. Though without social media, the villains had to resort to rather more devious means to find out the products the victims used. I always assumed it was a sort of twist ending that was unlikely to happen in real life though.

              1. amoeba*

                Huh, I mean, I’d be like – if they’re already in my bathroom, can’t they just bring concentrated poison and mix it in with the products that are already there? Seems like an easier solution!

                1. goddessoftransitory*

                  Depends on the product, I’d guess–like, it would be easy to slip poisoned aspirin into a bottle already there, but much harder to poison an existing lipstick–that would be easier to create and switch out.


                2. Irish Teacher*

                  In the book, they went in disguised as a workman, so I guess it would be easier to just switch a product without being noticed than to stop and mix stuff in, though…that assumes the product is easy to find. Never thought of that part up to now, that generally a supposed workman hasn’t much time to go rooting through somebody’s cupboards to find a particular item they said they used,

    4. Stephanie*

      I had a boss who was a former prison guard. Some of her mannerisms/demeanor made a LOT more sense when she told me that. She was very nice, but was always very brusque and to the point.

    5. Agile Phalanges*

      I interviewed for an accounting job at the sheriff’s department. Job would have been in the same building as the jail. Interview was in that location as well. Sheriff’s deputy who interviewed me commented a couple times that it was weird for him to be leading the way rather than walking behind. Kinda glad I didn’t get that job.

    6. Hrodvitnir*

      Yes. I would not respond well to someone who acted like that. I’d be friendly, but wary, and anyone who habitually used aggressive body language toward me would invite a certain level of hidden contempt.

      Also, IME of cops in NZ, their body language is more confident than as aggressive as described. Given their job is (should be) significantly de-escalation, I have definitely noticed it’s a mix of friendly and prepared. Not positioned to best respond violently (as someone who was a muay thai fighter, that’s sure as hell what that description sounded like.) I am, however, a white-passing woman, and I have not dealt with our armed defenders, which is a different kettle of fish.

      I also think military analysis of people is quite different to police domineering behaviour.

      /raised by punks, was in the Naval Reserve, tend to get on well with military people who don’t take themselves seriously but have low tolerance for domineering behaviour.

    7. Kate*

      I had a librarian colleague years ago who had a background in military intelligence. Instead of conducting a “reference interview” (to find out what it was a patron was looking for) he talked about conducting a “reference interrogation.” He also taught me to spit shine my boots & was generally a fantastic guy.

    8. DCLimey*

      Yeah, it says a lot about the “Us vs. Them” mentality that is pervasive in such professions.

  11. Addison DeWitt*

    I worked at McD’s as a high schooler and if I made burgers, I would tell my kids “decorate your crowns and heels…” (In other words, put your choice of condiments on your bun).

    My sister’s worked at a Chinese-owned pancake place at the same age, and they still respond to the phone ringing by saying “Hom kling!” which was what Mr. Wong would say to Mrs. Wong and I assume translates as “Honey, answer the damn phone!”

  12. Jen with one n*

    I work in government communications. When my husband and I were getting married, not only did I fully edit the officiant’s script (using track changes, of course), but I also sent it to my husband for his approval beforehand.

    And then the flip was when I was back to work after my first maternity leave, I was sitting in an office with a coworker who had on bright blue velvet shoes. I told him my first impulse was to point to his shoes and loudly exclaim, “blue!” the way you would when you’re teaching a child.

    I love the story about the pilot and tracking kids — that is immensely helpful when you have wee ones around!

    1. bripops*

      I’ve also worked a government communications job where my duties included social media and internal newsletters where we had to verify with multiple people what we could and could not post. It was military-adjacent so this was a BIG DEAL. I’m at a nonprofit now and still ask for “clearance” to use things in posts and emails that everyone else takes as a given.

    2. daffodil*

      Similar to your blue shoes story, I pointed my two faculty colleagues toward the window so nobody would miss the cement mixers that were driving by. Tbh they didn’t mind but were not as enthused as a toddler would be.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I mean, I regularly tell my coworkers to look at the birds on our roof, or the sunset, so…

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I also work in communications,band my mother is a retired editor/proofreader. I see nothing weird in you editing the officiant’s script.

      Yes, I mentally proofread everything I read. But I don’t mark it up. Even though I often really, really want to.

  13. Sel*

    I love these so much. When I was in graduate school I used to TA a cadaver dissection lab, and I still find myself thinking things like, “Well that’ll be something for a student to discover in dissection” whenever I hear about people having some kind of medical implant put in or something removed, and occasionally I’ll see someone with particularly excellent muscular definition and think, “Whoa, good definition on both heads of the gastrocnemius” or “Dang, visible serratus!”

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Hee hee, this reminds me of Bill Bryson’s book on his European travels when he went to a chapel entirely constructed out of the skeletons of the monks who lived and died there. He pictured that every time somebody caught a cold they’d be met by the architect with a tape measure and a thoughtful expression.

  14. Belle of the Midwest*

    How have I lived into my mid-60s without knowing about kanban? I just looked it up and I’m going to try it with my next project!

    To add to the topic: I was a semi-professional musician for many years alongside my day job/regular career in higher education/student affairs. And I have caught myself referring to “interviews” as “auditions.” “No, Belle, we are NOT going to have them sing or dance to get this job!”

    “Register” gets shortened to “reg” in the office. I bring that one home too–“I need to reg for the concert presale or I won’t get the presale code.”

  15. HomerJaySimpson*

    The pilot repeating things back hits me hard- in the Navy we did the same thing and I still reflexively reply to “Can you please get milk at the store?” With “Get milk at the store, aye.”

    1. zuzu*

      One of my former students was in the Coast Guard before starting law school, and he used a lot of those types of linguistic patterns, but my favorite was “Belay that.”

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Navy vet here and I still say “belay my last” when I want to take back what I just said!

        1. Critical Rolls*

          Oh but that one is so useful! The other day I needed to walk back a series of texts to my spouse while I was in transit, and I just sent “belay” at a red light and conveyed everything I needed to!

      2. Foila*

        Not navy, but I worked at a sea-going org that used some similar language and one that was hard to break the habit of was saying, “That’s well”, meaning “that’s enough, you can stop now”. As in to someone serving food, “That’s well the mashed potatoes”.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      This would thrill me, honestly, because it would mean Husband would actually be listening to me.

    3. rollyex*

      But a mellower version of this is needed in so much interpersonal communications. I’m astounded by how many little screw ups happen in work and in life by people not hearing each other and not knowing they didn’t hear each other correctly.

  16. Weaponized Pumpkin*

    Speaking of dictation speak — there’s a network show called So Help Me Todd, and they use this for dialogue a lot. The mom and son characters dictate all their texts to each other, which sounds a little silly but makes a ton of sense. IRL those characters would text, but texting makes a lousy viewer experience so they solved it by having them dictate their messages, punctuation and all.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      I know a lot of people who exclusively use voice-to-text now! So it’s not totally outlandish.

      1. Rocket Raccoon*

        My hands-free texting solution is to dictate my texts to my 9yo daughter to type in. She’s much more accurate than voice to text, but I do have to dictate the punctuation.

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        For the slightly awkward-on-mobile lawyer mom it seems totally in character! She would definitely do voice to text IRL. The son less so and there are times when it actually makes zero sense (like, while he’s hiding / snooping) but as a storytelling device it works so I appreciate it.

      3. Worldwalker*

        I can tell when one person I know is doing it, because the texts (or Discord comments) are ridiculous. Apparently speech recognition has some real problems with his voice.

    2. Professor Plum*

      At least Alex’s mom wasn’t using double question marks: “Alex comma have you cleaned your room question mark question mark”

  17. Juicebox Hero*

    It’s not part of my job, but I want to adjust people’s canes. When my mother was in rehab after a broken hip, an occupational therapist explained that a cane’s handle should be up high enough so that your elbow makes a 90 degree angle. That way you can stand up straighter and look ahead. My mother said it made a huge difference – less strain on her arm, shoulder, and back, and she was more surefooted.

    Now, I see so many people with canes down way too low so that they look like they’re going to go head over heels with every step that I want to tell them to take five while I readjust their canes properly. Of course I don’t and never would, unless it’s someone I know personally. I have done it for coworkers and relatives, who all thanked me afterward.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Not an official job but my dad and brother are both bicycle enthusiasts and we all want to adjust everyone’s seat height.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yes! Every time I see someone trying to cycle with their knees up in their chests I wince.

    2. Retiring Academic*

      My mother was a physiotherapist and she often used to comment when she saw people whose walking sticks (canes) or crutches were the wrong length or being used wrongly (comment to whoever was with her, not to the stranger with the cane or crutches). As a result, although I have no medical training whatsoever, I also notice this and have to restrain myself from telling the cane or crutch user how much better their life would be if their cane or crutches were adjusted!

      1. Goose*

        They address that in the show, because apparently HL used to switch sides for the limp to see if anyone would notice.

      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        That makes all PT people cringe.

        I am currently on a cane and I see so many people with the cane on the wrong side. It’s so hard to not say anything.

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      Me too—also telling them that they’re on the wrong side (Dr House is a prime example).

    4. Texan In Exile*

      I have taught people – strangers – how to tie their shoes so they will stay tied. The knowledge is too important not to be shared.

    5. Dr. Rebecca*

      My partner just used one for a temporary injury, and asked me (permanent cane/mobility scooter user) what he was doing wrong, and I was like…yeah, that needs to be longer, actually…

    6. Buffy will save us*

      I am an occupational therapist and analyzing how people are using their assistive devices in the community is something I have to turn off. I have to keep telling myself, you don’t know what THEIR therapist said.

    7. amoeba*

      I did quite some research into bra fitting a few years back (for myself). Now I really notice when people are wearing badly fitting bras. *Definitely* not something you want to accidentally say out loud.
      (I have suggested checking different sizes to a very good friend at some point, which worked out very well! But the people where that would be appropriate are very clearly a very small minority.)

      1. Amphigorey*

        I own a specialty bra fitting boutique and I cannot turn off sizing people in my head. Obviously, I never say anything to anyone who isn’t already in my fitting room.

      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        Keep in mind that some people really like the muffin top look. They chose bras to give them that extra floof.

  18. JadedAmber*

    As an Art Director, I cannot go to a restaurant without semi-consciously starting to review and revise the menus, the specials inserts – the whole deal. I have the hardest time in diners!

    1. Worldwalker*

      Fonts. I see terrible fonts all around me. The wrong style, the wrong weight, ransom note pages, you name it. I was happy when a nearby apartment complex changed owners and they renamed it and changed the sign, because it was all-caps blackletter and it made me cringe every time I saw it. Yes, I design fonts.

      1. Distracted Procrastinator*

        I dabbled in font design many, many years ago, but I was judging people for their bad typeface well before that. It doesn’t matter if the sign is pretty if no one can read your business name or figure out what the menu item is so they can order it.

      2. Darwi*

        I was so happy when the store below my appartment went bankrupt. They closed and turned off their awful luminous moving signage with 3 colours. I have thick glasses ; the red and blue lights are deviated differently. So the letters written in red, green and blue where not at the same level depending on their colours.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Okay, but some of those are amazing. I still fondly remember the English menu for one restaurant that offered a salad with tomatoes and diced lawyers.

        (In French, “avocado” and “advocate/lawyer” are the same word.)

        1. MsSolo (UK)*

          I once ordered from a menu is Brazil that touted its “untethered chickens”, which I still use as a synonym for free range today.

      2. Princess Sparklepony*

        Do not go on Amazon and look at descriptions written by non English speakers. So much cringe from blatant sexism to missing words and just wrong words. The misspellings are epic. I’ve even sent in “questions” such as – You might not be selling a lot of these cards because birthday is not spelled correctly.

    2. noncommittal pseudonym*

      Oh, goodness. As a former editor, I have very NEARLY taken out my red pen and corrected the menus in many restaurants.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I give a pass if English is not the owners’ first language. However, I did side-eye the Italian restaurant that couldn’t spell the Italian words properly or consistently.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Once upon a time, I was a designer. I often say that if I went back in time, I’d specialize in design/marketing for small restaurants because I so want them to succeed! Their websites, promotions, visual identity, menus — everything is so poorly done, if it’s done at all, and a lot of the fixes would be so simple. (Then I remember that it would have had to be done practically on a pro bono basis because small restaurants have no money.)

      1. JadedAmber*

        Ooh, yes to that! I have redesigned brand identity for a contractor that did an amazing job on my house and they obviously just went to like VistaPrint and chose something for a business card. Right now I’m working with a soap-making artisan I met at a RenFaire. It’s slow because it’s free and I can’t dedicate a lot of time to it, especially during her “season”, but I’m happy to say that people seem to be glad to accept freebies like that, as long as you outline EXACTLY what/why/how long/etc. I waffled about the idea that I’d be promoting devaluing design labor, but honestly, these people would not have been in the market anyway, so it’s not like I’m taking work away from someone. At least that’s what I tell myself lol

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Have you read The Cheese Monkeys? It’s a novel by Chip Kidd and hysterically funny. It’s about a freshman taking a design class and how he suddenly can’t unsee all the terrible, badly synched designs around him (at the bus station he has to restrain himself from screaming “none of this matches! There is no harmony!” at the ticket sellers about their logos.)

  19. bripops*

    I’ve worked a lot of reception gigs over the years, including a few that involved lots of appointment confirmation calls, so to this day I unconsciously switch to my “customer service voice” every time I have to leave a voicemail. I’ve left messages for my own father repeating my phone number twice as if he doesn’t know who I am or how to reach me.

    The best was when, six weeks into a new reception gig at an accounting firm, I answered the phone on autopilot with the greeting for a barbershop I hadn’t worked for in six years. It took me and the client a minute to work out what happened, but she thought it was funny!

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oh man you’re so right – when a workplace has a set phone-answering script, it’s really hard in your next job to stop saying that! Partly because phones don’t ring that much anymore, and when they do it’s just time-sensitive enough to leave me scrambling.

      1. bripops*

        You’re totally right! I’ve answered my personal cell phone with a work greeting at 8pm on a Saturday for this exact reason haha

      2. PhyllisB*

        Yep. I used to be a long distance operator, and it took me forever to quit answering my home phone “South Central Bell operator! May I help you?” And one time while an operator I was helping a customer who gave a lot of instructions about his call, and then said, ” as you were, operator!!” I started laughing, and he was puzzled until I explained that my stepfather was a navy chief and that instruction was very familiar to me.

    2. Watry*

      Customer service voice and scripts have always followed me longer than any other work habit. I can still spout the ‘stop leaving your kids alone’ and ‘bringing stuff out’ announcements from the thrift store I worked at nearly a decade ago.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      OMG, same here. I didn’t even realize that because my jobs that did lots of phone work were so long ago. But yes, I absolutely fall back into that speech-mode when I have to leave a voicemail for any business-related reason.

    4. Hrodvitnir*

      Oo, I 100% use my Professional Voice on the phone, and I’m thankful for it, haha. The way some people just rattle off their number fullspeed without repeating just blows my mind.

      My partner’s new work starts with the same letter as his old one, so he’s struggling a bit not using the wrong name on the phone!

      1. Daisy Avalin*

        I recently switched jobs, and, like your partner, both my old job and my new job names start with the same letter. My boss went into a meeting, and left me with his company mobile so I could field calls for him… the very first call, I answered as if I were at my old job, then paused, and said “Sorry, I’ll start again! New job, Boss’ phone, how can I help?” Thankfully the customer thought it was amusing, and I managed to get the name right the second call I took (which happened to be that customer calling back, anyway).

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, I SO have Phone Voice after twenty years of taking orders–I don’t think I sound that different, but people around me can really tell when I switch over. Usually it’s to deal with an issue; I find using PV conveys “this is something we will handle right away” very well!

    6. Julia*

      At one of my jobs the greeting script “Hello this is Llama and Emu Support how I can help you?” was so stuck in my head I would sometimes answer my personal phone “Hello this is Llama and Emu FUCK. This is Julia.”

    7. Silly Scheduler*

      I recently changed jobs after almost four years, and while I know the new phone number, when I get stressed I say the old one, like muscle memory. I also usually start to give the office number when I am asked for my own.

  20. Christopher Davis*

    Not mine, but one I heard several stories about while I was there: a few years ago, I had a temporary assignment at a high-security facility where tailgating through a badge-controlled door was strictly prohibited; every person had to individually badge in. To enforce this, doors had to fully close after each person entered to confirm that the next person’s badge was current and allowed to open that door.

    Pulling the door shut behind you (rather than waiting for the automatic door closer to do it) was encouraged, since it meant those behind you didn’t have to wait as long.

    Things are a bit different when you and your spouse are bringing the groceries in after a shopping trip and you shut the door in their face. “I was just trying to be polite” can be both true and not the response they were looking for. :-D

  21. Aepyornis*

    I worked in a photography printing lab for a couple of years, where you scrutinize prints intensely to adjust colors, saturation and contrast to the different elements of a photograph. Whenever I was leaving the lab, the corrections for my surroundings in real life were automatically coming to my mind: the grass has too much magenta in it, the sky needs a bit more contrast, etc. Now whenever I’m waiting and bored, I check my surroundings for things I’d adjust: a bit more blue on the ceiling, less contrast on the carpet, a bit more saturation on the seats, etc.

    1. Not A Manager*

      This reminds me of the Laurie Anderson song Big Science. “I think we should put some mountains here. Otherwise, what are all the characters going to fall off of?”

    1. Nea*

      It’s used in software development – you break down the overall plan into a series of separate tasks, then use JIRA ticketing or a physical board to see task status at a glance (not started, working, blocked, ready for the next step, etc.)

      What I got out of Kanban Cook is that each cupboard door represented an hour before dinner and each color of post-it note denoted part of the dinner. So if you were, say, making a salad, then you’d walk into the kitchen and see you didn’t need to start until an hour before dinner, whereas if you were cooking the roast, your post it note was one of the first and you’d move it along the doors as you preheated the oven/prepared the roasting pan/put roast in oven.

      1. LucyGoosy*

        To add to this: Kanban has since become a sexy, trendy thing to do in workplaces not related to software development. In task-based type work places, it probably works–especially if you’re trying to identify bottlenecks or get a better sense of department or organizational workflow. However, once upon a time I worked at a nonprofit that was insistent we use a Kanban board, and it just did not make sense for our workplace. (“Where are we with the homeless youth initiative?” “Well…….I’m still talking to the partners about whether this is feasible. Does that mean it’s Not Started or Working?” “Well, you had the first meeting, right? Wouldn’t that mean it’s ready for the next step?” etc.) There was one higher-up employee who had way too much to do, and I think the CEO/COO saw it as a way to highlight how much she was doing compared to everyone else. Note to managers everywhere: the solution is NOT always Kanban!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      From a quick google (I haven’t used kanban at work), it’s a way to visually track tasks by putting each task on a card and all of the cards on the board. Colors on the cards and position on the board can indicate task owner and order of completion.

      It sounds to me that for the Christmas dinner, they used the cupboard doors as their tracking board, so all of the tasks that needed to be done at noon were on one cupboard, all of the tasks that needed to be done at 1pm were on the next cupboard over, and so on.

      1. Kanban Cook*

        That’s exactly what we did. Each family member got a different colour of post-it so you could very quickly see what you were supposed to be doing at any time. The kids thought it was hilarious, but we pulled off a very complicated dinner exactly for 18 and everything made it to the table at the same time.

        1. PhyllisB*

          I love it!! I’ve been doing a version of this for years.( didn’t knowit had a name!!) but not that organized. It only took one year of me forgetting to put out the gelatin salad and baking the rolls to start this.

    3. Kriskat*

      I have a different explanation/understanding of kanban. I worked at a Japanese auto manufacturer and it was a tag to denote ‘time to reorder’ because the supply had reached a noted minimum level. The tag showed item name and quantity to reorder. To me, the process being described was more like a standardized work chart…each task, in order, time allocated and any specific knack, i.e. keep wrist straight when lifting widget.

  22. Wiggling hands*

    I get why it was annoying but I wiggle my hands in agreement or celebration. It’s how you sign “applause” in American Sign and I find it easier than snapping or verbalizing noises. It’s something that I picked up in high school from an ASL teacher and it just kinda stuck. I try to do it sparingly or under the table because people don’t get it unless they really know me

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I do it as well, picked it up from a youth group that did a lot of big extensive formal introductions and didn’t want to wait for applause to die down after every single one.

      1. BlueSwimmer*

        As a teacher, I saw something similar to the zoom hand wiggle when students came back to school after doing virtual classes for months. The students all waved at each other and at the teachers as they said hello and goodbye with a very over-the-top exaggerated wave, all the time–between classes, in the morning, as they left the room, etc. At first my fellow teachers and I were thinking we just had some really overly friendly students but we realized that they had gotten into the habit of waving hello and goodbye when they came on camera on for virtual classes. I still see students doing this and it’s actually quite cute.

    2. lost academic*

      Very common in organizations with meetings where you want to reflect agreement because decisions are consensus driven (local political party is where that started for me) but you can’t have everyone requesting the floor for a dozen versions of “I agree”. It’s also common in Special Olympics but slightly different – it’s a more sensory friendly way to applaud.

    3. Zephy*

      I did City Year after college and this is a thing with them too – or at least it is at the Miami site. We called it “sparkles” or “sparkling,” though, instead of wiggles – “sparkles for that” in response to someone sharing good news or praise, etc. The “etymology,” if that’s the correct word for a gesture, does come from the ASL for “applause,” which they also employed (great way to express support or enjoyment of a presentation without interrupting with noise). The proper ASL sign for applause is holding hands up in front of you with fingers splayed and twisting the wrists back and forth, and “sparkling” is done one-handed (typically with the right hand but it doesn’t actually matter), with the fingers wiggling either generally forward or in the direction of what one wishes to “sparkle.” I served 2013-14 and I still “sparkle” things sometimes.

  23. call me wheels*

    I worked for a company that sells underwear for trans people for a while, so most of our male models either wore binders or had top surgery scars. When I was at the beach I kept catching myself being amazed at men’s chests thinking ‘wow those scars healed up amazingly well I can’t see them at all!’ before remembering cis men existed…

    1. Goose*

      Cracking up because I am getting top surgery soon and looking at a lot of before/after photos…and noticed myself looking for scars on cis guys in real life.

  24. Susan*

    I used to be journalist for many years. Even today, I find it difficult to make small talk at business events without unconsciously trying to elicit some exciting information from my conversation partners. Occasionally, people notice this and point it out to me (which is a bit awkward).

    1. Lainey L. L-C*

      My former journalist habit is snapping to attention when I hear a siren go by. We listened to scanner, so the moment a siren went by someone would usually yell, “what’s going on, check the scanner!” One went by today and I almost shushed my boss so I could hear the non-existent scanner!

    2. Hrodvitnir*

      Haha! I think that would be really interesting to observe as a behavioural tick. Mostly I feel it might be beneficial, in terms of seeming very interested – but it could cross into intrusive depending on the person.

  25. Vio*

    There’s been a few times when I’ve answered my personal phone with “Good morning/afternoon/evening this is [workplace] how may I help you?” usually when I’m very tired.

    Years of working retail have ingrained in me an instinct to clean up shop shelves and to face over gaps… I usually manage to fight the urge but have occasionally slipped.

      1. caribootoo*

        I’m a librarian, but I do reference and instruction, so I have to work very hard to NOT straighten shelves or shelf read when I’m in the stacks. At retail stores, though, I can’t help organizing sizes, straightening piles, etc., which I attribute to being a librarian.

    1. Retired Merchandiser*

      Same!! I am constantly facing items out at the grocery store, and checking tags to replace items in the wrong location.
      When I first started merchandising, I did greeting cards. I would start zoning cards no matter where I was. Drove my kids crazy. They would yank on my arm and say, “Mom!! you’re not working today!! And besides, you don’t work for this store!!” I still have to resist the urge.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I still fold all my tee/sweat shirts the way I learned to when working in a tourist type store–it really is the most efficient way to stack and store them, I find!

      I also can’t be in a bookstore (or near someone’s bookshelf) without starting to flush and face the books!

      1. Dog momma*

        Husband does his own laundry since military service and I came along decades later. He folds in a VERY specific way. one less thing for me to do; and I wouldn’t get it ” right” anyway. That’s fine bc I do the rest, including dog crate pads and towels

    3. Florence Reece*

      Haha I love this one. I worked retail for exactly one winter season, but my mom was at a grocery store for 30 years so I picked up an unconscious habit of facing items and putting carts back neatly from her. I’m sure I look very weird at my local store, but I don’t feel right leaving the stuff messy!

  26. many bells down*

    Nearly 30 years ago, as a preschool teacher, I had a new student who had just come from Iran and spoke no English. Her mom gave us a few Farsi phrases to use: sit down, bathroom, eat, nap, etc. They are literally the only Farsi words I know.
    To this day I have the strongest urge to bark “Sit down!” in Farsi whenever I feel like someone isn’t listening to me.

    1. Rocket Raccoon*

      I had a Persian wrestling coach who taught us all of our moves in Farsi. To this day I have a hard time remembering to yell in English when my kids are at a match.

  27. AVP*

    I’m sorry, I am laughing so so hard right now at “can I get wiggles for that?” The wiggles are giving me the giggles…okay I need to stop now.

      1. Sophie*

        this was me too, was scrolling the comments for a while and wondered if it was just me who actually yelped with laughter at this

    1. Accidental Manager*

      I think I may have to ask for wiggles at my Zoom meeting on Wednesday and follow up with clucking & kisses! (we don’t have all day, people!)

  28. jane's nemesis*

    I worked as a closed captioner for a while, which included duties in proofing/reviewing other captioners’ work, and now I can’t watch tv with captions on (even if they could help me) because I can’t stop evaluating the quality of the captions – did they transcribe that right, is it placed properly on the screen; if they had to edit for time, do I agree with how they edited it; did they describe that sound effect accurately? It makes me nuts and takes me out of the show completely when I see errors, so I just can’t watch with captions.

    1. Nothing Happening Here*

      Some programs cannot seem to spell. A lot of times the word “remember” comes over the CC as “rember”.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Why does no one seem to know the difference between “discreet” and “discrete”?

        I watch a lot of international shows, so I love the captions, but some drive me crazy, like when the exact wording isn’t used but really important to the plot, or when some captions apparently forget their audience and caption action that the audience can clearly see, like a character smiling.

    2. JM in LA*

      Ooof. I do this for translations into two other languages. I don’t watch those with anyone who needs subtitles.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I go to church with a woman who’s German. Her husband likes to watch old WWII movies with German soldiers and English captions. She always has to leave the room because the captions never match what the actor is saying.

    3. STAT!*

      I’m kind of the same with overheads for public group events, eg song lyrics. The lovely people putting these together want to use ALL the colours and ALL the tiny fonts and crowd the screen with pictures and background images and … I just sit there listing the ways this particular screen is a textbook example of how to make something unreadable for the maximum number of people.

    4. Sylv*

      Genuine question: I use CC so I can keep the volume down when watching TV on my own, and have noticed that the opening credits often go on top of the CC text. Would it be difficult for “them” to move the text to the top of the screen for those few minutes?

    5. juicebox*

      As a former captioner I struggle with this one, too! I can’t top mentally editing the captions, so I don’t use them as frequently as I did before.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      How I wish I could unleash you on the YouTube CC algorithm–even allowing for phonetics and such, I see the most ridiculous nonsense on the screen so often!

  29. Zardeenah*

    I’m a postpartum doula and newborn care specialist. When I hear babies crying “in the wild”, like at a store, I find myself start to gently bounce or jiggle as if I’m soothing then baby myself!

  30. LadyAmalthea*

    I worked in an orthopedic shoe store for 15 years and the gait analysis one hit too close to home.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I had a college friend who worked for Victoria’s Secret and she could cold-read your bra size.

      1. Cyndi*

        I have a friend whose wife is a bra fitter and will just go up and tell people unprompted, outside of work, that they’re wearing the wrong bra size. She means well, and my friend finds this charming, but I would be MORTIFIED.

        1. New Mom (of 1 2/9)*

          I’m not even a bra fitter but I think this often. My own mother won’t listen to me. ;(

          1. Cyndi*

            My bras fit fine (not all perfect, but close) but between that and the person elsewhere in these comments who judges strangers’ eyeliner, I just hate the thought of messing up at clothes or makeup badly enough that total strangers are judging me for it. I know it’s a reflex for people who are experts on these things but I don’t want to be told, dang it.

          2. Dust Bunny*

            Same. I sew as a hobby so I always notice when someone has chosen the wrong pattern size becuase she used her full-bust measurement instead of her high bust.

            1. Peon*

              YES. And since learning to sew, I can’t help but notice how many people wear poorly fitting clothes. My own husband being one of them, but he won’t listen.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I wish I could remember the name of the person, but the NYT ran a terrific obituary for a woman who had been a bra fitter since God was in short pants at some big department store. The last sentence was “Ms. X was a 34B.”

  31. NMitford*

    Short answers. You break work up into individual tasks, usually using Post-its on a board. It’s very popular in software development.

      1. Syfy Geek*

        I just recently learned about Kanban as an option for the ADHD brain. I use a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper with 3 columns- to do, doing, done. And then I list every step on a post it note. It’s awesome. And I will absolutely Kanban Thanksgiving!

  32. Wilbur*

    A “nurse” sizing up veins? You can’t fool me Dracula. It’s the spooky season, I’m eating garlic hummus. Don’t even think about my juicy veins.

  33. Sloanicota*

    I once asked my friend why she was “pointing like that” when we were at the zoo. She hadn’t noticed she was doing it, but she explained that it was a holdover from when she worked at Disney, where I guess they are taught to motion with two fingers as I guess one fingered pointing is considered rude elsewhere, and they have a lot of international visitors.

    1. ThatGirl*

      The Official Disney Lore is that Walt himself gestured that way because he smoked and would point with his cigarette between his fingers, but I believe that there are other reasons for it as well.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        When I worked for the Mouse, we were taught to use our whole hand. Pointing is rude to a lot of people, and the open hand is a more welcoming gesture.

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      I have a similar holdover of motioning with my whole hand when pointing in a direction from my time as an Usher at a performing arts center. Same reason – we were told pointing was considered rude, so we were supposed to use the whole hand instead (thumb tucked in or out was fine) – and it stuck.

    3. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

      former hospitality worker – this is true across food & bev as well! at least in the cities/restaurants where I have worked.

    4. Becky*

      I have a friend that was closely involved with immigrant communities in Southern California and learned lip pointing from the Latino/Hispanic people she worked with and unconsciously adopted it and still uses it 20+ years later instead of finger pointing.

    5. June*

      The non-Disney theme park I used to work for had a similar rule. At least two fingers, more was good; I ended up using four for most purposes. I don’t remember what the reasoning was, honestly. We were too small to have many international visitors, but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if it was an attempt to imitate Disney.

  34. Project Problem Solver*

    I’m a project manager by both Day Job and temperament. When my wife and I were planning our wedding, I had detailed resource charts, cost breakdowns, a seating plan that started as a stakeholder matrix, and a Gantt chart.

    And I’ve been out of restaurants for at least 15 years now, and I still shout “corner!” if I’m coming out of our kitchen with food in my hands.

    1. Not So Little My*

      Only time I’ve ever seen a cishet man do as much wedding planning as his future wife, was one guy I used to work with who was a Project Manager. He had a whole three-ring-binder system. It was amazing.

      1. Rara Avis*

        My husband did a lot of our planning because he’s an artist and had a vision of how it should look, and I just really wanted to hang out with friends and family and have some cake. So it worked out well.

  35. Prof Ma'am*

    I didn’t work in a casino but I have a dog and “clear hands” all the time to convince him I’m out of treats!

    1. zuzu*

      I do the same with my cats after their nightly post-dishwasher treats!

      (It’s so ingrained in our routine that treats come after dishwasher that I can’t go near the thing without being swarmed by demanding kitties.)

      1. Worldwalker*

        I do that with Mac when I give him a bedtime treat. Once he’s both looked at and sniffed my palms, he concedes that the treats are in fact complete, and there are no concealed kitty snacks anywhere, and goes into his little bed for the night.

    2. BellyButton*

      LOL I just did this to let my dog know I finished my entire tuna sandwich and he wasn’t getting any.

  36. helibear*

    I worked as a lifeguard/ swim instructor for most of high school and college. Twenty years later and I still have to actively stop myself from telling kids not to run on the pool deck, jump in the pool if someone is swimming in front of them, and a bazillion other water safety things. If I still had my whistle, I probably would be able to restrain myself lol

    1. Sloanicota*

      Me when I see little kids with floaties …. (our pool did not permit non standard floatation devices for little kids like water wings / inflatable hippos / whatever).

      1. Filosofickle*

        No water wings! Water wings bad. Also I give want to educate moms on applying sunscreen earlier than 20 seconds before you jump in the water.

    2. Ray B Purchase*

      I was a lifeguard at a really busy Florida resort in college and I still have a pretty hard time just relaxing at a busy pool 10 years later because I catch myself watching my water!

      1. Lulu*

        It’s been 30 years since I was a lifeguard but I still scan the pool when I’m a guest. I’ve actually done 2 saves and and any number of boosts back to the shallow end (kids in floaties who can’t get back or to the edge). Once you learn the signs of nascent panic on a kid’s face, you never forget.

  37. Exhausted Electricity*

    I feel you, camp counselor, and I caught myself running camp activities and using the summer camp words at my fully grown coworkers.
    Example: “Careful, Spongebob!” in a Patrick Star voice when I see someone about to commit a potential OSHA violation.

    1. me*

      summer camp head counting is real. it is also HIGHLY useful when i’m going into a restaurant with any number group of people, because i know and can give the # of people to the hostess stand without having to double count.

      when i’m in a group with my adult sister, who also worked at camp, we can just look at each other and communicate the headcount to each other without asking.

      i still know all the words to the SpongeBob theme song too :D

  38. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    Hah, my whole family responds to “Leaving in 15” with “Thank you 15”. Every theatre family I know does this.

  39. ESL Teacher*

    So glad I’m not the only ESL teacher that has happened to! I once commuted home by bus after a long day of teaching and absentmindedly ordered the woman next to me (speaking Spanish on her phone) to speak in English. I was mortified! I apologized profusely; luckily, she thought it was funny.

  40. Bananapants Circus With Dysfunctional Monkeys*

    I’m not the only ex-retail person who has to fix racks when they’re shopping, right? And I don’t just mean putting things back neatly after picking them up, I subconsciously start straightening items and fixing size order if that’s a thing in the store I’m in.

    Don’t get me started on jewellery concession displays. THAT is so deeply ingrained it scares me.

    1. Queer Earthling*

      I worked at a bookstore, and I will often tidy up the shelves, face books out if there’s a gap, etc.

      1. AusLibrarian*

        Librarian of 25 years who started as a shelver. My husband has caught me fixing books out of order, etc when we visit our local library…

    2. AngelicGamer*

      Yup but only if I’m going over to the rack or shelf. I wasn’t even clothes retail! I was book retail. /facepalm

    3. Peon*

      I’ve finally stopped “fixing”, but I still put stuff back right because I spent so many years irritated by customers who couldn’t be bothered. If I try on clothes, they go back buttoned, zipped or buckled.

    4. Syfy Geek*

      And why aren’t the clothes on the hangers all facing the same way? Clothes should be hung so that if you hold the clothes facing you, the open part of the hook should be facing left. I have redone friends closets this way.

      And maybe it’s too old school, but really, a piece of wax paper rubbed along the top of the rack will make the hangers slide so much better!

    5. Eff Walsingham*

      This is actually what got me my first job in retail. I was a bit early for my interview, and they told me to have a look around while waiting for the manager. She told me later that she watched me tidying while browsing, and was impressed. I’ve always done it. I still do it. Possibly I am neurospicy. Back when I was a kid, “they” just said that I was weird.

  41. Lucy P*

    Part of my job includes property management and knowing when something is not working which level of person is needed to fix it. Last year I was attending a personal development workshop and the group leader kept complaining about a lightbulb that never worked (they used the same room often and the lightbulb on one particular fixture was always out). I took one look at the fixture and said, “the bulb is fine, you need an electrician to fix your emergency ballast.”. The group leader just gave me a strange look and walked off.

  42. Frinkfrink*

    Years ago out of college I worked for a company that graded standardized tests for middle and high schools, in the division that graded the essay portions. We were trained to quickly read and analyze each piece of writing and assign a numerical score based on specific criteria that the school district was evaluating. For years after I’d find myself picking up shampoo bottles, cereal boxes and whatnot, reading the ad copy, and thinking “That’s an 8,” or “That’s a 6.”

    (For those curious: we got trained before each test on the criteria for that test, then we’d grade a sample essay twice a day to ensure we were grading consistently to the criteria, and every essay was graded twice, by two different graders, and if the scores were more than one number different the essay got re-graded by the team leader and whoever’s score didn’t agree with the leader got a [civil!] discussion to find out why they graded that way and quick re-training in what they should be looking for and scoring.)

    1. Jezebella*

      I did this right out of college, too. “Focused holistic” scoring. To this day I loathe a rubric. I can eyeball a grade without having to count on my toes and fingers.

      I also vividly remember the essay prompts, 30 years later.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Oh, when I correct the State exams (prior to this year, because we are now doing it online and the computer adds it all up for us), the results were out of 180 marks so we had to know what was an A, a B, etc and after marking say 100 papers, any number I’d see between about 50 and 180 would have me automatically thinking, 165, that’s an A. I’d look at the clock, see it was 1:44 and think “a B.”

  43. Dust Bunny*

    Archives: I hate cellophane tape. Hate it. (I was already a compulsive Internet-researcher, but the job has probably reinforced it.)

    My parents are geologists; my dad’s specialty was glacial geology. We spent a lot of family vacation admiring excavation sites. They once sent me an email that said, “West Virginia is beautiful!” with a photo of a road cut with particularly vivid soil strata.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Also, my mother’s family includes . . . I think we’re up to five generations of sign painters, so everyone has something to say about whoever did your graphic design.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I had a college friend whose grandfather designed grocery stores. They actively visited unfamiliar grocery chains when they vacationed.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      The “vacation photos are just soil strata photos” is so cute. At what point in your childhood did you realize that not everyone’s parents are geologists?

    3. Janeric*

      Ah, same! I was in college before I realized that most people didn’t vacation only to points of geological interest.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Hee hee, this is like Sarah Vowell taking a friend of hers to a “big surprise,” and it was a historic building where something had happened in Colonial times or something along those lines. It took her a minute to realize not everyone is automatically thrilled to spend an hour walking to the Secretary of State for James Madison’s house.

    4. maude_lebowski*

      Also an archivist. Rubber bands are my sworn enemies. And I can’t stop myself from checking the edges of framed artwork and photographs hung in bathrooms for mold. PSA: don’t hang anything you love in a bathroom!

  44. FashionablyEvil*

    Oh man, the bathroom one. When my daughter was about 3 and in the midst of toilet training, I went out for drinks after work with a couple of colleagues. We were getting ready to leave and I cheerfully said to my boss, “Jim, do you need to use the restroom before we walk to the train station?” He just stared at me and raised an eyebrow. I wanted to DIE.

    1. Betty*

      Yeah, given how ingrained it is at this point for me to tell my 3 year old “if you need a potty while we’re at the park/doctor/store, they have a potty there, so let me know and we’ll go right away”, I am absolutely going to do this to someone IRL…

    2. PhyllisB*

      Yes, I still find myself saying this to my adult kids and teenage grandchildren. I even told my mom once to make a trip before we go. I apologized, but she reassured me she wasn’t offended, and commented that at 93 she probably needed the remainder.

  45. Apt Nickname*

    I work in a micro lab and one day while cooking at home I caught myself capping the bottle of molasses with my left hand while pouring the molasses from the measuring cup in my right. I’m also ridiculously proud of my eldest since when he’s asked to label his restaurant leftovers, he dates as well as initials it.

    1. Hrodvitnir*

      Ha, I totally uncap and cap things with my off hand out of the lab. Sometimes useful, mostly just an odd tick.

  46. Frinkfrink*

    This wasn’t me, but I just remembered in college I surprised a classmate when we met in the cafeteria by guessing that she’d worked as a server in a restaurant over the summer.

    Reader, she was holding her lunch tray on her shoulder, supported by one hand, and didn’t realize it.

    1. sacrealgoecc*

      This is how I carry anything heavy and flat. Credentials: bussed tables with a tray at a steakhouse all-you-can-eat brunch.

  47. on the couch, with the cat*

    • I was a camp counselor all throughout my teens. Twenty-ish years later, I still feel compelled to walk at the back of a group to make sure no one wanders off, even though any group I walk with now are usually other fully grown adults, not elementary-aged kids.
    I do this too, and always assumed it was because I grew up in NYC in the “bad times,” since I was a camp counselor for only 1 summer.

    Years ago, I was with a group of people in New Orleans. About 20 of us went to dinner together and when we were walking back to the hotel at 10 or 11 PM, I noticed that the 2 people at the front of our group and the 2 people at the back of the group were all NYers. Most of the rest of the group was not from NYC and none of us had been to NOLA before. It was just automatic for “the city people” to put themselves where they could direct the group and keep an eye on the back of the pack.

  48. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Never worked in a casino, but I will clear hands as a joke when playing games with friends – especially if I’ve played the last card in my hand, or run out of money tokens or something. I can only imagine how much of a habit that is for a dealer!

  49. JTP*

    “I yell “BEHIND” when there is even a single other person in the kitchen.”

    I do this, too! Even after only spending four years in kitchens.

    1. DameB*

      I’ve never worked in a kitchen but I hang out with cooks and I cook a lot myself and I use it all the time. INCREDIBLY helpful.

  50. Rachel*

    My kids school strictly enforces the hat rule because it makes it harder to identify people.

    They have strict security for a lot of reasons, the main one being an active shooter. This is a run-of-the-mill public school.

    I don’t really like the “hill they decided to die on” phrasing here.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      My high school was weird about hats in the halcyon pre-Columbine days of the 1990s. The explanation I was given was that a longtime principal who retired a few years before my time had an irrational dislike of people wearing hats indoors.

      1. Rachel*

        It’s true we don’t know when this contributor was teaching.

        It is kind of like watching an old movie and seeing people smoke inside. It’s jarring at first because that hasn’t been the norm in so, so long.

        Columbine was 24 years ago, in the ensuing time frame, hats off in school has become standard. To the point that it’s not even an issue, everybody just does it.

        The anecdote stands out to me, anyway.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I went to school in the 80s. Our dress code didn’t allow for hats (except for one day during Spirit Week in high school). It’s actually based on very old hat etiquette. Traditionally, you wouldn’t wear a hat in a classroom anymore than you would in your house. (This doesn’t count indoor head coverings, like a scarf or similar.)

          This did take account religious traditions where a head covering is required. Yarmulkes and other religious head coverings were allowed by the dress code.

    2. Ginger Baker*

      I mean…the hat thing might have a logical reason at your school but schools have been ADAMANT about being anti-hat LONG before school shootings were a constant concern. (Source: Multiple schools I attended that were passionately anti-hat I years before Columbine.) I…am just not sure the reasoning given is really 100% accurate given the historical context. It might be! But…it might be a “reason found later” too.

      1. Rachel*

        Columbine was 24 years ago.

        At one time, banning hats indoors may have been arbitrary. But it hasn’t been in about a quarter of a century. So the anecdote stands out.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          That’s if you take the word of authority-holders in schools at face value. Which…I don’t, and especially where for the previous multiple-decades or longer, this rule was *also* in effect with “reasons” (that I also did not believe should be taken at face value). Many many times people with power like things a certain way and come up with “reasoning” to explain it when the real reason is “I like to flex my power/HISTORY/majority-group social norms/etc.” This happens all the time.

        2. Dog momma*

          no hats indoors was an etiquette thing for many many yrs. The Boomers are probably the last generation who may remember that. Ever since JFK went hat-less at his inauguration, men’s hat industry took a nosedive and never recovered. Women’s hats/ gloves held out for a while longer.

      2. Ticotac*

        My assumption is

        Olden days: you don’t wear a hat indoors. It’s rude.
        More recent days: hats could be used to show that you are a member of a gang, so we’re banning them regardless of how likely it is for gangs to be in this area. Also, remember how we used to think wearing hats indoors is rude? Society may have relaxed their stance on that, but we haven’t. It’s tradition.
        Recent days: it’s in the case of active shooters. Also, we don’t want you to signal you’re a member of a gang. Also, it’s rude.

        1. Ticotac*

          Which isn’t to say I disagree with the OP’s lack of enthusiasm about the hats-off rule, btw. I would go “you’re paying me so if you want me to get the kids to take those hats off, I’ll have the kids take those hats off” too in their place

        2. Rachel*

          My experience with public school now, in the year of Barbie, is that hats off in school is so accepted as a security risk that it isn’t something admin, staff, and students fight over.

          Most of the disagreements have gone digital, like the degree to which schools are responsible for monitoring online bullying.

          Dress code disagreements are about why the policy is so gendered, not over hats.

          1. Ticotac*

            I’m afraid I still have to politely agree to disagree with you on how useful hats off policies in school actually are for security.

      3. Rex Libris*

        My High School in the 80s was 100% no hats. The only explanation given was that it was rude to wear hats indoors. Not being in the military, or the dad on a 1950’s sit com, I didn’t really understand.

        1. amoeba*

          Huh, maybe that’s a European thing, but for me, it’s still very normal that wearing hats indoor is… not super rude, but not really done. We were definitely not allowed to wear hats in class (apart from hijabs etc., of course) and security risks were thankfully not a thing in the 90s/2000s in Germany. I still find it strange and slightly rude to see people e.g., wearing caps in a nice restaurant – it’s just not regularly done.

    3. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

      I graduated high school just after Columbine happened, and at no point in my school career were children of either gender permitted to wear hats indoors.

      It was Just Not Done, and I’m sure it was a holdover from a time when etiquette dictated that men removed their hats upon entering a building.

      1. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

        Ditto (class of 2000), and that’s exactly how it was explained to me as a child. It’s just an etiquette thing.

      2. Samwise*

        US, California.
        Elementary school 60s. Girls had to wear dresses or skirts. If it was really cold, you’ll could wear pants under your skirt

        Junior high early 70s—no hats. No blue jeans. No off the shoulder or belly exposing tops. Skirts had to be at least fingertip long. (In other words, nothing fashionable haha)

        High school mid/late 70s. Hats ok around campus but they had to come off in class. Girls were expected to wear skirts or dresses at award ceremonies and such, I rocked the Annie Hall look and just got some raised eyebrows.

          1. amoeba*

            Hahaha, yup, same here, just tried this out and this certainly wouldn’t have been any kind of limiting restriction for me! It would basically just about cover my butt…

    4. CommanderBanana*

      Our principal was ADAMANT about no sleeveless shirts, meaning that something like a totally office-appropriate sleeveless blouse or shell couldn’t be worn, because the DISTRACTION of the SHOULDERS.

      Our valedictorian gave her speech wearing a sleeveless turtleneck as a jab at the principal.

    5. Brisvegan*

      I was coming to make a comment about hats when I saw this. I’m an Aussie, so this sort of reason never even entered my head. It’s tragic that you have to think about it.

      Our schools almost all have uniforms. The uniform always includes hats. Our skin cancer rates (2 in 3 by age 70) means we are pretty careful about sun protection for kids. Australian school kids have all heard “no hat, no play”. (You sit in the shade and can’t play in sunny areas if you don’t have a hat.) My kids’ high school teachers used to say “It’s a hat not a handbag” to get the hats on heads.

      I think our kids take the hats off and hang them up or put them away as simply an “enter the classroom” process. They all look alike (uniform!) so they are boring necessities and there’s little attachment to wearing them inside.

      I can’t imagine a school (or any child care organisation) ever trying to stop kids wearing hats at recess or for outdoor activities. That would be really alien to our culture and would cause a huge safety uproar.

      1. Genadriel*

        Aussie here too, and I had the same reaction! I read it expecting the teacher to have to enforce a “hats on” policy. The school I went to was particularly strict about hats-as-uniform-in-public, so “where’s your hat?” was probably reflexive for the teachers there … And it was just as arbitrary, considering they didn’t enforce this at lunchtime or during outdoor play (in the 90s) but only for when we were outside school and thus “representing” it.

  51. Moose*

    I lived in a city that had a strong national guard presence after a natural disaster. It was nothing to be harassed about “being out after curfew” when there wasn’t a curfew that week or for looking suspicious while walking etc. If a co-worker told me to “keep your hands where I can see them” during a casual conversation I would be in HR so damn fast I’d leave skid marks on the floor.

    I get that for people who have family who worked in law enforcement, that kind of stuff is a cute quirk. It’s from their job protecting us from bad guys! So wholesome!

    But there’s nothing wholesome about being threatened to be handcuffed to a lamp-post just for walking to the corner store after dark just because some guardsman has had a bad day. There’s nothing wholesome about being reminded that there are people society has decided get to have power over your freedom, even when they’re just power-tripping. If you’re a former LEO and genuinely care about the people around you, I think doing everything you can to drop those kinds of habits and understanding that for many people they’re genuinely frightening is the best thing you can do.

    1. Jezebella*

      Right there with you. I would absolutely jerk somebody up if anybody at work told me to put my hands where they could see them.

      1. Moose*

        I’m actually really surprised that Alison included that one in a list of “delightful” habits. She’s usually so good about understanding about how systemic issues, like over-policing, might affect different people. But I can see that she has people with law enforcement training in her family that I assume that’s coloring her reaction to this one. Which is totally fair.

        I just, under no circumstances, think a co-worker saying “keep your hands where I can see them” is delightful.

    2. Hrodvitnir*

      If you’re a former LEO and genuinely care about the people around you, I think doing everything you can to drop those kinds of habits and understanding that for many people they’re genuinely frightening is the best thing you can do.

      Absolutely. I have been friendly with active duty cops – none of them acted like this (I’m not in the US so it is pretty different, but we too have issues with police violence and specifically racist police violence.) They are noteably more wary than most people, but they’re not standing in what is basically a softened fighting stance! Yikes/10 to that person.

      1. Kali*

        It’s not a “softened fighting stance” though. You just have your dominant leg a half step back (which is usually the side with your weapon on it) so you’re not on your heels if someone rushes you (so you can literally step out or, if they hit you, take the force and hopefully avoid falling), and the gun is farther away from someone who might grab it. The OP phrased it poorly, but hands are basically just not down by your sides. Waist level, like most people do when they talk with their hands. Not in front of your face or even chest. It’s not like you’re crouching like you’re getting ready for an MMA fight. Most people don’t notice it at all.

        I totally understand why, but people are reading a lot more into that contribution than is there.

  52. Ipsissima*

    I get a terrible urge to refold everything when clothes shopping, and to “front” every shelf when anything shopping. Been out of retail for almost 15 years. I will also reshelve books if they’re out of place.

    1. jellied brains*

      I used to work at a pet store…over a decade ago. I adopted my first cat (as an adult vs my parents owning cats) last month and when I was buying him food, I found myself facing all the cans of wet food after I grabbed what I needed.

      That stuff gets ingrained!

    2. nm*

      I used to help my mom tailoring out of our house, and we both will look at the clothes people are wearing and inspect the construction and material.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I do a lot of folding at my current job (staff shirts and such) because of my acquired skills from retail!

  53. No Tribble At All*

    I’m dying laughing at the ten-year-old who says “circle back” in normal conversations. “Did you clean your room yet?” “Mom, I’m gonna circle back to you on that one.”

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      I saw it as “Mom, I’d like to circle back about (that game I wanted, raising my allowance, extending my curfew, etc).

      1. Peon*

        Lol. This one was literally my kid. He wants to circle back to get my answer to things like “Mom, if you could be an Asgardian, what would your power be?” or “Mom, how upset would you be if I disappeared into the MultiVerse and didn’t come back for 2 years?” and “Mom, would you ground me if I went on an epic adventure to save the Hidden World?” He’s impossible to distract.

  54. not terribly interesting*

    I use spreadsheets to track orders for my job and it’s bled through to my vacation planning. Whenever I start talking about going on holiday with my one friend, his first question is “did you make a spreadsheet yet?”

    1. Storm in a teacup*

      If you don’t have a spreadsheet is it even a proper holiday? IMHO it’s just a short break

    2. Not So Little My*

      My spouse and I spreadsheet everything. He’ll even set up Excel functions to do what-if analysis.

  55. lioness_rampant_*

    This post made me think of how I sometimes find myself slow blinking at friends since I’m so used to doing it to my cats….

    1. wavefunction*

      I do this far too often (I preferred cats to humans as a child). At least my wife thinks it’s cute and will slow blink back at me.

    2. Hrodvitnir*

      Yes! I actually think variants on that 100% work on most mammals. Humans are also sensitive to sustained eye contact, and I think softening it can absolutely help a tense person relax.

      The extremely deliberate look, blink slowly, and avert your eyes would be very odd to a human though. It’s so effective with cats!

  56. Brian*

    My wife teaches in such a small district that she was forced to have our daughter as a student for more than one year. We worried about her accidentally calling her Mom in class. No, she would call her Mrs. K at home.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I had a step granddaughter who wasn’t sure what to call me. I told her to call me Gram (like the other grands did) and she would say either Miss Gram or Aunt Gram half the time. I thought it was adorable. Sadly, by the time she figured it out, she wasn’t my step granddaughter any longer.

    1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      This happened to a kid in my class when we were 10 years old or so, his mum was the teacher. She just broke the ice on day one by telling everyone to call her Mum *except* him, who had to call her Ms C. :)

  57. phira*

    I was in charge of lab safety for an intro course lab that took place in a chemistry laboratory space. There were a lot of strict rules that had nothing to do with what we were actually doing, but were still important to follow based on the space we were in. One aspect of my job for a while was sending students back to their dorms to change if they weren’t appropriately dressed.

    Cut to Thanksgiving one year, and my cousin was chilling out, just chatting with people, and I was like, “Hey, you can’t wear ankle socks.”

    1. wavefunction*

      I work in a lab and when I rinse containers at home to put in the recycling, I often triple or quadruple rinse before realizing I’m just wasting water and the orange juice bottle does not need to be quite that clean.

  58. alienor*

    I’ve never worked in transit, but a few years ago I happened to watch a YouTube video about the “point and call” procedure that conductors use on trains in Japan. I also have OCD, and when I saw this being done, I realized that it was going to solve a lot of my issues around checking things. Ever since then, when I make sure my gas stove is turned off at night, I point at it and say out loud, “Stove is off.” Then when I’m in bed, if I start wondering if the stove is really turned off, I can tell myself “You know it is, because you pointed and called it,” and go to sleep. Sounds silly, but it really helps!

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I do that with my garage door. I try to make a specific memory — today is Sunday, I’m headed to Mom’s, and the garage door is down.

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      I like this! I have a phrase I say out loud when driving away from the house that makes me remember I shut the garage door. If I do not remember having said the phrase, I have to drive around the block to check to verify it is closed. There will be some new point and call actions worked into the leaving the house routine.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I was going to note the same thing! I read that article this weekend and it’s so interesting! It’s like the verbal equivalent of LOTO in a factory. And it gave a name to what I do for the same reason you do it – invariably, five minutes after I have left my house, I wonder, “Did I turn the oven off?” Now before I leave, I walk around, point, and say out loud, “Oven is off.”

      My people. ox

    4. Corporate Lawyer*

      +1 I do a version of this when I lock my car, because otherwise 5 minutes after parking and walking away, I’ll start worrying that I forgot to lock it.

    5. Joron Twiner*

      Point and call is standard in a lot of safety areas in Japan, I’m sure elsewhere around the world too. It really works!

    6. Warrior Princess Xena*

      We did a variant on this when we were kids. I had 3 siblings. On one horribly awful day when my mom was incredibly stressed, my youngest brother got left in a grocery store parking lot. After that, roll call was instituted in the car and became a habit for the next 15 years.

      Also, my brother was perfectly fine! My mom also readjusted her work schedule after that to make sure she’d get more sleep.

    7. STAT!*

      I do this occasionally for some actions, but need to do it more consistently. Have hidden some cupcakes SOMEWHERE in the house to stop my son scoffing them all, but where? Where?

    8. amoeba*

      Saw something similar on the show – apparently it’s supposed to help if you just clap twice (or do any other kind of unrelated gesture) when turning off the oven or locking the door or whatever, because that way, you’re doing it consciously. Have only tried it, like, two or three times and it worked, but that could’ve been just the novelty – no idea if it wears off…

      1. leslie knope*

        I high-five my outlet after I unplug my hair straightener to confirm that there’s nothing plugged in anymore.

    9. Elsajeni*

      My husband and I used to point-and-call the cat every time we put the baby down to sleep, to minimize Locked In The Nursery At 3 A.M. incidents!

  59. tiny*

    I didn’t think I had one of these, but found myself discussing gloves with old biotech labmates. At the beginning of the pandemic when we were not supposed to “touch your face” most people were like “omg it’s so hard not to touch your face!” and I was like “I know exactly what I have touched in the last half hour.” You sort of turn it on when there’s a reason to notice.

  60. Jaques*

    I used to work in health care, specifically in rehabilitation. A lot of what I did involved recommending braces, wheelchairs, and other medical devices. When in public, I often find myself checking out someone’s wheelchair or knee brace, wondering about the manufacturer or a certain feature. This is a problem as it usually instead comes across as staring at someone’s disability, making me feel like an ass every time.

  61. gnomic heresy*

    I love the pilot partner checks. None of us in my family are pilots (well, 9 held the controls of a small plane for 60 seconds, under supervision by his uncle who does actually fly) but it reminds me of another set of verbal checks that are common in our house. My kids are avid rock climbers, and so is my partner “Gnomespouse”. Gnomespouse has taught the kids the traditional “On belay?/Belay on” call and responses as an important part of their safety training*. So I think I might introduce that format to the kids for other things too.
    “Sorting laundry?”/”Laundry sorting!”
    “Washed hands?” / “Hands washed!”
    Could be helpful for me too.
    “Load dishwasher?” / “Dishwasher loaded!”
    Naturally, the “have the kids” set is super valuable.

    *He had a physics teacher who was a very experienced climber who was in a coma for awhile following a failure to use “off belay”/”belay off” correctly. Gnomespouse does NOT let us forget the verbal checks.

  62. Kat Em*

    I taught preschool for a decade. I try not to think about the number of times I’ve told people in my office job that I’m taking a potty break.

  63. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

    I’ve never been in theater but after hearing about the “thank you 15” trick from a friend I started using it with my kid, and it is my number one parenting hack. Instead of the kid saying “Okay” with his brain turned off and not actually hearing what I said when I tell him screen time is over in five minutes, he needs to say “thank you five”. (ADHD time-blindness means he still doesn’t have a great sense of how long five minutes is, but it helps.) Highly recommended.

    1. anon with adhd*

      From personal experience: he might learn, unintentionally, to repeat the correct response without actually parsing it.

      My mom learned to write it on a piece of paper and wave it at me and my dad because we’d remember visual things but could make appropriate replies without remembering; sometimes we’d perk up twenty minutes later and ask my mom if she was asking us for something (that we’d agreed to but only had a vague sense that she’d said something and no memory of replying).

    2. Holly*

      From someone with ADHD who also works in special ed, you might want to add in a movement too, to break the concentration gently and refocus on what exactly the task is.

      For me, I had people face me or turn in my direction and repeat the task. If I were still unsure whether they understood, I’d often ask a quick question.

      So, to call them to lunch:

      ‘Okay, we’re going to lunch in five minutes.’

      ‘Yes, five minutes.’ (Not actually listening to me)

      ‘What are you having for lunch?’

      Stop. Blink. ‘Sandwiches. Lunch soon?’

      ‘Yes, five minutes.’

      ‘Five minutes, okay.’

  64. HailRobonia*

    “• We kanbanned Christmas dinner one year. Each cupboard door was a 1-hour increment, and every person got their own post-it color for tasks. Dinner was delicious!”

    …the children were nestles all snug in their beds, while visions of daily scrums danced in their heads…

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      while visions of daily scrums danced in their heads

      And another use case for coal bites the dust…

  65. Kelly*

    I spent so many years as a counselor at a horseback riding camp for kids that I can’t stand having someone riding behind me on a trail ride. I feel like I’ve left a kid behind accidentally!

  66. Alle Meine*

    I’m a SAHM and I catch myself (too frequently) stopping myself from asking adults for “hands” before we cross the street and loudly saying, “look both ways before crossing the street!”.

    My Dad retired from the federal prison (as an electrician) and he still inspects all electrical things as well as stands in the back to check for fights breaking out. We joke that we can keep dad occupied by saying that a light is out in a store parking lot!

    1. Alle Meine*

      We also picked stuff up from the kids. Our elementary school has the kids shout “single file!” when they walk down the hallways, so the best way to get my kids out of the path while at a zoo or anywhere is to shout “single file!” and then assign a line leader (usually my hubby while I take up the rear). We get many an amused grin as we line our kids up.

    2. Worldwalker*

      I have a friend who’s a night auditor at a hotel, and sends me interesting on-the-job stories. One involved a guest with a clogged toilet. The guest in question was a retired plumber, and when my friends showed up at his room with a plunger, insisted on doing the job himself. My friend said he’d never seen anyone so happy to plunge a toilet before.

  67. daeranilen*

    Ooh, I missed the original thread but I have a fun one to add – while working at a major coffee chain, I was told we were never supposed to say “you’re welcome” or similar phrases to customers because it was our job to appreciate them, not the other way around. So I trained myself to say thank you any time a customer thanked me. And now I can’t stop, in any context, ever. If you thank me for anything you WILL get a thank you right back.

    1. Frinkfrink*

      YEEEESS I did the same thing! We weren’t told not to say “You’re welcome,” but it felt odd to me to say it to customers so I picked up “No, thank _you_!” as a reply and now it’s ingrained, alas, much to the amusement of people thanking me for gifts and suchlike.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I was taught that both the customer and the service person should say, “Thank you.” The customer is showing gratitude for the service, and the service worker is thanking them for their business.

      1. daeranilen*

        Oh, agreed, but corporate definitely took it a step further. Suffice to say at this chain the Customer Experience was sacrosanct.

        The one exception we all made was when customers with young children would come up to the counter and prompt the kiddos to thank us. At that point the customer clearly wanted us to model “thank you”/”you’re welcome” etiquette, so we’d just be especially effusive about it. It was always a fun part of the job.

  68. DameB*

    Writer, editor, proofreader, all round word person here and yeah, it’s a well known occupational hazard to notice typos and grammatical errors. If I’m tired, I’ll casually start marking up ads and menus without noticing.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      I have a freakish ability to notice typos and grammatical errors. I’ll spot them from twenty paces while walking through a convention center glancing at signage. It’s weird and can definitely be distracting, but my coworkers (we all work in communications) think it’s nifty.

      It does have its occasional drawbacks, though… several years ago a friend of a friend was opening up a restaurant and invited a bunch of us to come taste-test things before the soft opening. They only had a handful of menus printed so far. I noticed a typo and asked if they’d like me to glance over the whole menu. The chef agreed instantly but I think he was less than pleased when it came back pretty thoroughly covered in red… but at the same time, who thought it was a good idea to have the chef write the menu without any sort of oversight from someone whose educational and professional background includes editing?

      1. Worldwalker*

        Yeah, that would be like having an editor do the cooking. Specialties exist for a reason!

        I have a weird one: I can glance at a Celtic knotwork design and know if it “works” or not — whether all the under/over crossings alternate properly. If it’s wrong, I have to do the same thing as anyone else, follow all the lines until I find the one with two unders or two overs, but I can tell from the gestalt at a glance. I don’t know if this is just because when I worked in a call center I used to doodle Celtic knotwork on my call sheets or what, but it seems to be my one weird power.

  69. Angstrom*

    Former EMT. It’s common to kneel next to seated patients so you’re at eye level and not looming over them. For the same reason I used to reflexively take a knee to talk to someone seated in their cubicle, which got a few comments like “Are you proposing?” :-)

  70. Ally McBeal*

    My dear, dearly departed grandma was a pastor’s wife (in a very conservative Christian denomination) and a nurse. She was so offended by the hospital staff’s language, particularly when taking the lord’s name in vain, that she tuned them out. Turns out, she tuned them out a little too well.

    One Sunday morning she was sitting at her post (she was also the church organist, and also the mom of six kids, when on earth did she sleep?!) listening to her husband’s sermon when she realized she couldn’t hear him say “God” or “Jesus Christ.” Her brain had literally blocked those words. She had to concentrate and practice in order to start hearing sacred names again.

    1. Ally McBeal*

      This one’s not about Grandma: When I was in high school, and in the summer after my first year of college, I worked for a daycare. I mostly worked in the infants room (6 weeks to 1 year), and for YEARS afterward my “party trick” was being able to tell how many months old a baby was. People were fascinated by this 19-year-old kid, without kids of her own, who would be casually chatting with someone for the first time and say “well your baby is, what, 7 months old?” and be bang-on.

      Also, in college I worked at a box office for a local theater company in North Carolina that attracted visitors from all parts of the state. After college I worked for a year with principals across the state. I moved to NYC afterward and worked part time at a box office in Times Square, where I realized I could detect not only a North Carolinian accent, but a general sense of where in the state they were from (mountains, Charlotte & Raleigh, mid-state farmland, east coast beaches). It was weeeeeird. I definitely freaked out a couple patrons.

      1. Pixel*

        I used to do hardware technical support a decade and a half ago or so, and I specialized in the line of our products used primarily in industrial automation. I did a lot of phone support, and because I am me, I made up a game where I would try to internally guess the accent before the caller told me where they were from. I got really good at southern accents especially because for some reason there’s a lot of industrial automation in the southern US. My personal favorite is the guy whom I asked “So what’s a nice East Texas boy like you doing in Alabama?” and found out that he was actually from far west Arkansas, which is almost the same accent. He laughed really hard and said “Ohhh, you’re good!” Also I accidentally terrified a customer once during the rebooting small talk — I asked him where in central PA he was from, and he got VERY VERY quiet and said in the smallest voice possible “How did you know that?” I had to explain that my father’s entire, very large family is from central PA and he sounded just like them!

        I have since lost a lot of my ability, which makes me sad.

  71. Crashsite*

    I worked in woman’s retail after college for a few years. To this day, I straighten clothing racks (put the correct styles together, reorder by size) and refold sweater tables. I also merchandised magazines while laid off – I put out the new magazines every week at the grocery store. I still cleanup the racks while waiting to check out.

    1. Madre del becchino*

      I worked in a garden center for a few years around 15 years ago and I still have to keep myself from deadheading/deadleafing plants in a store (cleaning spent flowers/foliage). I have been known to do this to coworkers’ office plants if they are out of office. :)

  72. Coffee Time*

    Could someone explain why you would spell the word “Go” instead of saying it in theater management? I tried googling it but couldn’t find an explanation.

      1. desdemona*

        Others have said this in this thread, but it’s because GO triggers cues – “Lights 15 GO” means the lighting board operator hits GO on lights, etc.
        So if you don’t want things to happen, you spell it.
        “I think that last gee-oh was early” etc.

    1. SOUPervisor*

      There are things (light cues, set changes, etc.) that happen at a specific time and the standard phrasing is (for ex.) “Standby lights [#]” “Lights [#] go” at which point the light board operator hits the button. “Go” makes something happen. So when you are not the stage manager or not actively calling cues, you say “gee oh” or “G word” or some other variant.

    2. S.Owens*

      I can! “Go” is the command that triggers an action sequence during a performance. For example, a stage manager says “lights 15, sound 11, and projections 2… GO” and the three operators hit their cue buttons. In general, we avoid saying “go” outside of that, so there’s no accidental cue or action firing.

  73. PrivacyOctopus*

    I feel the stage manager one deeply. Whenever someone gives me a timeframe, I respond “Thank you [timeframe].”

  74. Me (I think)*

    It’s been thirty+ years since I worked in restaurants, and to this day I say “behind you” all. the. time.

  75. Delta Delta*

    I just ride horses and I sometimes catch myself clucking at people if they’re moving too slowly in front of me. This works if you’re in a crowd of other horse people. If you’re in a regular crowd people just think you’re weird.

    1. Pippa K*

      Same. Or worse, people think you’re blowing them kisses. No, I just want you to pick up the pace or shift to the side!

    2. Older sister*

      My mother would say “Ah-ah-ah” to stop my toddler siblings from doing stuff they weren’t supposed to. (The idea was to save “No” for emergencies so that she wasn’t a constant stream of No’s for mild corrections. And to cut back on the amount of times the toddlers would parrot No back at her.)

      One time we went horseback riding together and she kept accidentally telling her horse Ah-ah-ah, and the instructor kept telling her to stop because it’d bother the horse. Mom was biting her tongue the whole ride trying to stop.

  76. Tammy 2*

    I’m a government records manager. I once told my spouse it was fine to stock up a little on yogurt because it “typically has a long retention period.”

  77. Ess Ess*

    30 years ago I worked in a dormitory kitchen for a couple years. One of the serious safety rules was that you NEVER store cleaning chemicals at a height above the cooking or food prep surfaces. Now, I have an internal panic every time I walk into my kitchen because my spouse always leaves cleaning supply containers sitting on the counters.

  78. English Rose*

    Chuckled out loud at the second one – asking grandparents for general Christmas availability. And can just picture the hand-wiggling at the meeting.

    1. Happy*

      Can you explain the Christmas availability? That one stumped me a bit. Asking grandparents for their general availability over Christmas seems like such a normal thing to me.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I assumed it was the use of those exact words. Like I might ask family “what days are you free over Christmas?” or “do you know when you might be calling around?” but “what’s your general availability over Christmas?” sounds a bit formal and corporate speak for a family situation.

  79. too many dogs*

    The kanban reminds me of Frank Gilbreth and his Therbligs, which he said was “the elements of a cycle of decision and motions, either running partly or wholly concurrently with other elements in the same or other cycles.” The purpose of the Therbligs was to save time, reduce unnecessary motion, and avoid workers getting hurt or tired. Post-its hadn’t been invented yet, so they used charts, assigning different tasks to different people (like the kitchen cabinet method). His children were assigned tasks based on age and size so they didn’t get in each other’s way.

    1. Her name was Lola, she was an intern*

      I think of the Gilbreths and motion study all the time! It’s so helpful.

  80. Wanda*

    I worked at a casino very briefly, but definitely picked up the habit of clearing my hands. It felt especially awkward doing that when I was counting quarters for laundry (cutting the quarters as if they were chips) alone in my apartment.

  81. Buffy will save us*

    This isn’t work related, but I’ve been listening to so many podcasts lately that I have found myself almost saying to people at work “we’ll fix it in post” when I mean we’ll do it tomorrow.

    1. Kate*

      I feel like the opposite of this is me quoting the infamous Bill O’Reilly clip the other day in class when the pre-set tech was failing & I had to say “WE’LL DO IT LIVE!”

  82. Tarragon*

    I’m amused by the idea of walking though life thinking “Ha, that’ll annoy the surveillance team”

    I might try this one.

  83. NotMyCircusNotMyMonkies*

    The pilot one hit close to home. As a former pilot (although you’re never really ‘former’), I do this myself. I also still tend to repeat/summarize what I hear, as pilots do when communicating with air traffic control. For example, if a controller wants you to turn left to head west, descend to 4000 feet and report back when you are 5 miles from the airport, a pilot would say something like “424 Alpha Sierra, left to 270, descending to 4000 and will report 5 miles”.

    In my normal life, my partner might ask me to run up to the grocery and get a bottle of wine, some bread and cheese and some granola bars, and I’ll absently respond with “OK. Heading to the grocery. Wine, cheese, bread and granola.”

    At work the other week, when I told a coworker some complicated instructions for solving a problem, and she told some of them back to me to clarify, I responded with the phase “readback is correct”, which is what a controller tells a pilot when they repeat a complex set of instructions back to them.

  84. KellsBells*

    My first job was as a “Gift Shop Wench” at Medieval Times. I had to call everyone “M’lord and M’lady.” But then I would accidentally say it out in public, “Oh, excuse me, M’lord.” It was usually funny, but some men took it too seriously, and it got creepy.

  85. MoraleBoostingPizza*

    I work with children in a healthcare setting and have two small children at home. Occasionally I have to work with adults in a healthcare setting who usually do NOT find it amusing when I praise them for being so cooperative after doing something like looking in their ears.

  86. LabRat*

    I worked with macaques for years, and they lip smack to be friendly; naturally I would do the same in reply. The number of babies I caught myself lip smacking at on transit is truly embarrassing.

    I was telling this story to a zookeeper friend and she told me that she has caught herself tiger chuffing at small children. So it’s not just me!

    1. noncommittal pseudonym*

      I’ve had a Senegal parrot for about 20 years now (they can live to be 70). A friendly greeting to a fellow flockmate is a tongue click. It means, hey I know you. I like you!

      My dog now accepts tongue clicks as a general sign of approval. I’ve accidentally clicker trained my dog without a clicker.

    2. Perihelion*

      My baby would be delighted! She was lip smacking at us all day today. Both that and the chuffing sound adorable!

  87. RPOhno*

    I work in radiation safety and find myself using my “don’t make me put your shoes in a rad waste bag” voice and calling stop-works at home for things like wobbly kitchen knife use or trying to solo a team lift. Also I say 0 as “zero” not “oh” from years of two way radio use

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I always say “zero” instead of “O” for the number. My mother taught us to do it when we first learned our own phone number (back in the days of landlines and rotary dials). It was to be clear, but I think her early training as a secretary (and to take dictation) had something to do with it. I also always spell our my last name when giving it thanks to her training.

    2. Nina*

      Out of interest, do your two-way radio habits extend to ‘spelling’ multi-digit numbers?

      (e.g. if we have loaded 470.6 kg of propellant, I call that in as ‘four seven zero decimal six’, not ‘four hundred seventy point six’)

      1. RPOhno*

        It’s less of a consistent habit, but yes, and with a very consistent and slower cadence than normal human speaking. Also, repeating back any number communicated over the phone and using phonetic letters (though usually not NATO standard), which catches customer support reps off guard.
        At work, 35.02mR/hr becomes “three five point zero two em are per hour” automatically, even when I’m standing right next to someone, and “correct” almost entirely replaces “right” for confirmation purposes

  88. honey bun*

    When I was a 17 year old freshman at NYU I got a job as a bartender at an insanely busy neighborhood bar. I was a really good bartender but I’m not great with names. I worked at several NYC neighborhood bars on and off through law school. I could easily tell you what every regular would order to drink or eat depending on the day of the week and time of day. I could tell you exactly how they wanted it prepared and if they had any particulars to watch out for– doesn’t like ice in their diet coke; no bacon; switches to red wine at 6pm and gets irritated if you dont know that. But I never knew anyone’s name. Even people I had been chatting with, serving, playing league pool with and hanging out with for 5+ years. And obviously there is a point at which people are offended you don’t know their name. So I called everyone, and I mean everyone, honey, hon, love, sweetie, darling etc.

    Then I became NYC prosecutor working to develop restorative justice and treatment courts. When you don’t know the name of defense counsel, the witness, the victim it is not advised to use romantic pet names. Especially not with the judge.

  89. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

    I sometimes do 3D art (Blender et al) and more than once I have picked up a shirt in a store and thought “hmm not crazy about the color but I can retexture it”

  90. Bookmark*

    Not my job, but I have extensive classical music training and considered being a professional musician. I instantly know when something is out of tune, whether another musician or the whirring/beeping of some kind of machine. I then have an extremely strong urge to try to fix it by nodding my head and/or eyebrows in the direction the pitch should go.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I was inadvertently listening to a singer/guitarist perform recently (I was at an outdoor dining establishment and she was performing way too loudly at a nearby establishment) and her guitar was terribly out of tune. It was really too bad because otherwise she was pretty good but it really set my hair on end.

  91. Academic Librarian Too*

    I moved to higher education from being a k-8 school librarian after 20 years. I needed someone to tell me that “did I notice that when asked a reference question that I spelled out the name?”
    As in
    “that would be the STINKY CHEESE MAN by Jon Scieska, Sheh-ska, rhymes with Fresca, s-c-i–e-s–k-a, Scieska.”

  92. Jack Russell Terrier*

    “I teach riding lessons and I am constantly clucking and kissing at people to make them move.”

    When I was learning to drive and was going onto the highway for the first time, I was going down the ramp, saw all the cars zooming along and had a moment of panic – interrupted by my father urgently saying ‘press on JRT, press on’. I did and all was fine.

    Admittedly this was the Long Island Expressway so pretty crazy.

    Yes – we both ride/rode.

    1. Rara Avis*

      The one time I persuaded my grandfather to let me drive his car, it died on the LIE. Scariest experience of my life.

  93. AngelicGamer*

    1. I will face shelves in any bookstore or library I’m in. I don’t even realize I’m doing it but stop myself from messing up book placement when they’re making a book stand out on a shelf.

    2. “Did you check the whiteboard?” -> from the year doing work study in the student activities office (our schedule as well as events were there) and then various offices in 2008. We don’t even have a whiteboard in the house. We’ve never had a whiteboard in the house. Sigh.

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Worked in a grocery store for 5 years and then an on-campus convenience store for 3. I’ve finally stoped facing the aisles and checkout areas when I’m shopping. I DO bring items up to the front if they are way in the back, especially on bottom shelves. But that’s just being nice. I’d think I’d do that anyways.

  94. Tenebrae*

    The horse thing made me laugh. Not a professional but a rider and owner of many years. A friend once thought I was flirting with her because I slowly ran my hand over her shoulders as I walked past her. Never done it at work, thankfully, but I do still announce to my colleagues that I’m walking behind them before I do it.

    1. There You Are*

      I’m not a professional cat breeder / foster / rescuer but have had enough cats in my life over the decades that I automatically signal displeasure or aggravation by hissing.

      I have done it at work but, thankfully, only at inanimate objects and co-workers.

  95. CommanderBanana*

    I constantly threaten to report my coworker* to HR for not wearing pants and licking themselves in the office.**

    *My dog
    ** The couch

  96. Corelle*

    I worked retail in my youth and it took me years to stop straightening, sorting, and sizing clothing racks and facing shelves.

  97. I'm just here for the cats!*

    • I was a camp counselor all throughout my teens. Twenty-ish years later, I still feel compelled to walk at the back of a group to make sure no one wanders off, even though any group I walk with now are usually other fully grown adults, not elementary-aged kids.

    For a slow walker with groups, especially on hikes, I would much appreciate this. There were so many times in school/college where I was towards the back and my friends would be further up and I wanted to talk.

  98. anon24*

    Former full-time EMT/current volunteer.
    I will not say the Q-word or the S word on duty and even cringe saying them at home. They’re dangerous (quiet and slow). You just don’t taunt the gods like that.
    When driving emergency, the person in the passenger seat is supposed to “clear” their side of the intersection before the driver can proceed through a red light. My husband has gotten irritated with me before when I’m tired and not thinking about what vehicle I’m in and “clear right” while he’s driving his car. At least I’m being safe!

    1. Nina*

      Is that where that’s from!?
      My dad is a former EMT and he and my mom ‘clear left’ (we drive on the other side of the road here) when they’re driving somewhere together.

    2. Dog momma*

      Former ICU RN.. never say its slow! Or you’ve just jinxed yourself!.

      and always, always believe in the full moon. all the crazies come out on those nights..always!

  99. CSRoadWarrior*

    My aunt, who was a registered dietitian for nearly 40 years before retiring, once saw me pouring salt on my eggs for breakfast directly from the salt shaker when I was visiting her one weekend. She quickly told me to pour some salt on my hands between my fingers and then put them on the eggs afterwards so I can control the amount of salt coming out in order not to take too much. I froze, thinking I was doing something wrong. This was also a long time ago when I was still a kid so I also didn’t really know any better.

    She quickly apologized and said she was a dietitian and couldn’t help it sometimes (though she had nothing to apologize about). Everyone, including my mother who was sitting next to me, had a good laugh about it afterwards.

  100. Gumby*

    Not work but – one evening I came home from sports practice (I was in high school, my workouts ended at 8 p.m. usually) and was very very tired and I sat down on the couch in the front room and spent a good minute reaching over my shoulder. I was looking for the seat belt.

  101. Caboose*

    I used to do theme park tours. As the person with long legs that usually struggled to not leave the group in my dust, I took over end of line duties.

    I started going out with a hiking group in the spring and unintentionally found myself taking over the rear. The leader was just tickled (and appreciative)

  102. dmreffitt*

    Like most people who work in Marketing, I proofread everything. The most annoying to my other half is menus. Every restaurant I’m half deciding what to eat and half judging the grammar and spelling on the menu.

  103. WillowSunstar*

    Not a work habit, but I’ve been in Toastmasters for over 10 years, and start counting ahs when the CEO is giving a presentation to stay awake. One of our more recent CEOs had well over 30 crutch words in a town hall.

  104. Madre del becchino*

    Recognizing a person by their gait: a couple of years ago, my husband was attending calling hours for a former colleague at a funeral home in a neighboring town. He was chatting outside with a couple of the young funeral directors when one of them noticed a person down the street and said, “Hey, that guy walks a lot like someone we knew in college,” and sure enough, it was the person they knew in college — our eldest son, also a funeral director, who was meeting his dad and attending the same calling hours (he *does* have a very distinctive way of walking.)

  105. There You Are*

    I’m going to say, “Ha, that’ll annoy the surveillance team,” every time I forget something and have to backtrack. It sounds so much more interesting than, “Dammit, I left my phone on the counter again!”

  106. Doc in a Box*

    “I worked in healthcare for decades and spent much of my day analyzing / correcting people’s gait patterns.”

    I am a Parkinson’s specialist and I can’t not analyze gait! Any time I’m in a crowd, like at the airport or grocery story, I’m looking at heel strike, arm swing, is that a tremor I see in the left hand there?

    It’s a blessing and a curse.

  107. The RED Redhead*

    Working in an industrial facility, everyone has to take safety training courses every month, covering a variety of topics from ladder safety to proper PPE (personal protective equipment) to hazardous material handling.

    I work in the admin office and am rarely out near the scary stuff, but I’m still learning about all this stuff along with everyone else.

    Flash forward to my husband and I watching Ted Lasso Season 3, episode 1 when he takes the team through a manhole cover to the “sewer.” And then talks about “the poopy” contained therein and my brain immediately went into analysis mode.

    Sanitary sewers are 1) not accessible via middle-of-the-road manholes, 2) aren’t vaulted rooms that can contain 15-20 people with room to spare, 3) would require confined space entry training, 4) not to mention LOADS of PPE for the hazardous materials in there, plus 5) aren’t exactly somewhere you go for a field trip.

  108. Melicious*

    Biology lab. When cooking, I turn each bottle of liquid upside down to give it a quick mix before I use it.

  109. My Cabbages!*

    I was a bank teller for many years, and even though I haven’t been one for several decades now if you hand me a stack of bills I can’t help but face them, put them in denominational order, and count up the total.

    1. Not So Little My*

      I only had to bankface bills professionally for about 6 months, 35 years ago, and I still do it.

  110. nervous wreck*

    My partner has been a manager at a grocery store for many years. Whenever we are at any store, if a message comes on the speaker (nearly always for employees rather than customers) he can’t help but stop and listen lol.

  111. Leisureguy*

    Once I caught a friend following a childhood reflex. She was a video game developer, and my young son had rendered a scene using MS Paint. (This was decades ago, when the tools were primitive.) I thought he did a good job, but I was interested in how a professional developer would view it.

    So we showed it to her, and she looked at it in silence for a moment. I was eager to hear her judgment, and I asked her, “What do you say?”

    She reflexively responded, “Thank you.” :)

  112. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    Some government grant applications have a rule they call fatal flaw. That means, “if you don’t do this, we throw your application in the garbage and don’t review it.” Several government funders had a rule that signatures needed to be in blue ink; this was back when grant applications were submitted in hard copy. The CEO of one nonprofit I worked at was really bad at that, so we never put grant applications in his inbox for signature. Wee gave them directly to his admin and she physically brought the application to him along with a blue pen, then got back to us. That was 20 years ago. To this day. I still never sign anything in black ink. I will use blue, purple, red, green, any color but never black.

    When my teenage daughter got her first job and she was under 18, I signed something in green ink and they sent it back because they wouldn’t accept the color.

    1. zaracat*

      I’m so used to official documents having any signatures or handwritten parts in blue or black ink only that when my psychologist gave me something handwritten in green I thought it was a kind of test or trick

  113. stitchinthyme*

    It’s been more than 30 years since I worked in retail, but to this day I will walk all the way across a store to put something back in its proper place if I decide I don’t want to buy it. I spent far too much time walking the aisles with a basket or cart, collecting stuff people had left in the wrong place and putting it back, so I won’t do that to someone else.

  114. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    I worked with children for a while years and years ago and had an extremely limited knowledge of Spanish and ASL because those were the children’s languages. By children I mean babies and toddlers. For decades after that, those are languages I used for for all babies and toddlers.

  115. SB*

    The poker chip one made me laugh. My Mum does this, not because she worked in a casino, but because she used to have this insane little dog who absolutely would not believe you weren’t hiding food from him unless you showed him your empty hands. That dog died at least 5 years ago & she still shows empty hands after preparing or serving food.

  116. Texas Teacher*

    Walking through the mall with my cousins – you will hear a chorus of Walking Feet please if kids run pass from the 5 different teachers.

    One that really annoys the non-teachers in the family – is defining above-grade-level words within our sentences. That is usually the K – 3 teachers who do that one.

    1. Holly*

      I’m ex-special ed assistant and now assistant ESL and I do that all the time!

      it’s so annoying, and the different grammar we use in special ed is actively unhelpful in ESL

  117. Jay*

    I worked in a roll for nearly 20 years where I spent at least half of each year at sea (in one to two week increments, usually). Sometimes much more than half.
    It’s been a few years since I turned in my boots and oilers for normal people clothes and a workshop, but every now and then, as I’m going about my day, people will start looking at me funny.
    Often someone askes if I need help, or tells me to “go home and sleep it off”.
    Then I realize that I’m rolling back and forth to the rhythm of the memory of waves that aren’t there anymore.
    I couple of times it’s been so acute that I’ve very nearly fallen over, although it’s been a while since, and now it’s mostly just good for a chuckle.

  118. Peter Gibbons*

    I feel for the one who couldn’t stop scanning the bathing suits on the beach. I used to be one of the health inspector that would inspect restaurants. My now wife and I were on a trip for our first dating anniversary and one morning went to a diner for breakfast. We sat at the counter and I must have been too quiet, watching too intently, or both, because she just looked at me and said, “How many?” and I immediately replied with how many violations I’d observed since we sat down. She started purposefully sitting so I wouldn’t face the kitchen when we ate in restaurants after that.

  119. Odge*

    I’m an engineer. My mom came over to help clean my kitchen a little while ago, and she wanted to wipe down the top of the range hood. I felt like that would lead to us getting too into the weeds (I was mainly focused on dishes and counters) so I said “That’s not in scope for this project.”

  120. HowdyHelp*

    My mom has been a preschool and elementary teacher for almost 25 years. She still asks if I (31 yo) needs to go potty.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      See, we lived far from extended family and did a lot of road trips when I was a kid, so I have learned to never pass up an opportunity to use the rest room, even if you think you don’t really have to go.

  121. Holly*

    I worked in a special ed centre for adults, and I really have to try hard not to immediately offer up my arm or walk alongside someone older or with a mobility aid.

    That, or watch someone with a particularly wobbly gait to make sure they crossed the road okay.

    also, this is weirdly specific, but I’m finding that the Pointed Ignoring that works so well in Special Ed just looks like ‘I don’t understand what you’re saying in your native language so carry on being naughty I guess’ so that’s a habit to get out off

    (I mean, I don’t understand, but I can read body language and know what the lesson plan is supposed to be. I ain’t a fool.)

  122. Vendelle*

    I am a speech therapist and I specialize in voice therapy and I find myself checking people’s breathing patterns and their voice use outside of work. I can go to a show or concert and come out of it thinking: “This was such a great show, the singers’ breathing technique was awesome!”

    1. Hlao-roo*

      A few people have answered under commenter “Coffee Time” above. A copy-paste of SOUPervisor’s answer from that thread:

      There are things (light cues, set changes, etc.) that happen at a specific time and the standard phrasing is (for ex.) “Standby lights [#]” “Lights [#] go” at which point the light board operator hits the button. “Go” makes something happen. So when you are not the stage manager or not actively calling cues, you say “gee oh” or “G word” or some other variant.

  123. Lilac*

    I did hospitality training in a school based cafe as a teen in high school. It took a while to fight the urge to yell “Order up” when I made food for people. I still use stuff like “behind – knife” and “knife coming through” in home and office kitchens 14 years later.

  124. Hexiva*

    > In a former job I used to do a lot of surveillance (on the side of justice and righteousness, I assure you).

    That’s what they all say! Joking . . . mostly.

  125. borealis*

    Two of these were things I had never heard before and couldn’t work out from context:

    * “Thank you 15” – from other comments it seems to be a phrase theatre people use to confirm that they have 15 minutes until curtain, or something like that?

    * “kanbanned” – this completely stumps me. Like another commenter above I could Google it, but my years as a university lecturer has conditioned me to ask for clarification in contexts where there are probably other people who are also wondering (I’m always telling my students to please.ask.questions and am thrilled when somebody actually does, so I get to explain to them and anyone else in the classroom who has been confused by my explanations!)

  126. Queen of Denial*

    I’m a librarian and while I don’t try to alphabetise or Dewey my friends bookcases I do run my hands along and straighten all the books. Didn’t even realise I was doing it until it was pointed out to me! :)

  127. Melissa*

    My favorite so far: I teach riding lessons and I am constantly clucking and kissing at people to make them move.

    I have heard myself going into the “Kitten Convincer” level of my vocal range, when I hold the door open for someone but they are walking very slowly.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I once unthinkingly tried to soothe my fussy infant nephew with a slow blink (cat language).

      It didn’t work.

    2. Art3mis*

      Yeah I’ve made kissy noises at people to get their attention like they were my dog or cats before. Embarrassing.

  128. Lizzie*

    We were doing a scavenger hunt as a team building thing. A friend, who has kids, saw I had ink of my face, licked her finger, and started towards my face to rub it off! She caught herself just in time, and said she sometimes forgets when she’s around adults!

  129. Less Panicked Now, Thanks*

    Dear ER coder, thank you for making me feel slightly less sheepish about having called 911 for what turned out to be my first-ever panic attack.

  130. Jess*

    One day when my granddaughter was about 9, she and I were having a normal conversation when she said, in conclusion to a point she was making, “At the end of the day…” and I busted out laughing. I told my daughter, who is in a customer facing sales role, and we had a good laugh.

    At the end of the day! from a nine year old! hilarious.

  131. Art3mis*

    I was an administrative assistant for 10 years and I still critique people’s Power Point slides. You have too many bullet points, the font size isn’t consistent, the image isn’t aligned properly, you have too many images, etc. Same with Word documents. Inconsistent formatting in documents grinds my gears.

  132. Mim*

    I helped out a few years ago at my daughter’s dance school’s Nutcracker production, and even though I have been friends with so many theater geeks throughout my life, somehow that was my first experience with the “thank you 10” thing. I didn’t realize at first that it was a general theater thing, and not just a quirky thing that stage manager or the dance school did. It also makes me giggle that the same thing they expected the little 8 year old pigtailed gingerbreads to say is expected of professionals on Broadway. Everyone’s just out there making sure that communication has been received. If only it were that easy to have such clear and respectful exchanges about communication in the rest of our lives.

  133. Mad Mac*

    I spent five years in trade shows, and was fairly visible in the industry so I was ALWAYS ON during our events. To this day, if I’m staying at a hotel where there’s clearly a conference going on, my knee-jerk reaction to people wearing badges is to plaster on the biggest, friendliest smile I can follower by a “Hope you’re having a great show! Is there anything I can do for you?” It’s especially hilarious when I tag along on my husband’s work trips and almost trot that nonsense out at his colleagues who know me.

  134. StarTrek Nutcase*

    My work required me to review lots of hard copy manuals for government regulations (online versions were too cumbersome for my purposes). I always knew when I’d spent too much time pleasure reading at night because I would try to right-swipe the hard copies like I do my Kindle.

  135. Capt. Dunkirk*

    This one is kind of harsh, but I can laugh at it now that it’s in the past.

    I worked at a highly stressful and very toxic work place on equipment that would often break down, causing more stress.

    When that happened, I would mutter under my breath, “I hate this f***ing job.”

    I did it so much that I started doing it in my home life.

    Stubbed my toe on my bed frame?
    “I hate this f***ing job.”

    Someone cut me off in traffic?
    “I hate this f***ing job.”

    That’s when I started to realize that I needed to get out of that job ASAP

    1. Phil*

      I used to work in after school care, so in the exact opposite, I would often declare “Oh, for crying out loud!” when agitated, whether on the clock or not, around kids or not. And it stayed with me for years after leaving.

  136. Pixel*

    After years of cat staffship (dogs have owners, cats have staff) PixelSpouse and I frequently slow-blink at each other to indicate affection.

  137. MadLori*

    I worked in a bookstore for four years and the impulse to flush and face-out books on shelves is STRONG.

  138. Jennifer*

    I’m a librarian and I go into reference interview mode with family/friends when they display information-seeking behaviors. Where have you checked for information so far? What have you already found? What would you specifically like to know about this topic? And so on.

  139. Destra N.*

    I recently was working with a tattoo artist on some custom artwork for a tattoo I was planning and often found myself dropping into project manager mode throughout the process, requesting updates, confirming schedules, etc. It probably came off as a bit obnoxious or anxious given that tattoo is a pretty relaxed industry where nothing is scheduled out in milestones and sprints. (The tattoo turned out great, by the way!)

  140. slr*

    I work in marketing so I’ve hosted a lot of events, and poorly organized buffet lines are my Achilles heel. I have rearranged things at parties where I’m a guest because I can’t handle the chaos. Plates at the beginning of the buffet line – on both sides of the table if possible – and cutlery at the end, preferably wrapped all together in a cloth napkin to expedite service. And beverages always on a separate table.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I learned about the “cutlery at the end of the buffet” thing years ago but it really confuses people sometimes. I wish it didn’t because it sure makes a LOT of sense.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      ABET’s first law of buffets and picnics: always wear a shirt with a pocket, because the cutlery and napkins are never at the right place in the lineup. You’ve one-upped me!

  141. Brit Brat*

    After college, I spent some time working two jobs. One was a barista at Starbucks and the other was a receptionist at a doctor’s office where I spent an hour each day making appointment reminder calls. One time I picked up the phone at the office and said “thank you for choosing starbucks!”. I hung up in mortification. A different day I was tasked with taking drive thru orders at Starbucks. The headsets ding when someone gets to the speaker. I heard the ding, pressed the button to talk and said “Hi, this message is for…” and just froze. Someone else took the order while I hid in the back.

    I was not sleeping very much at the time

    1. Silly Scheduler*

      In high school I worked both my part time jobs on Saturdays. At least once a day I told JC Penney customers “here’s your food” and snack bar customers “here’s your merchandise.”

  142. zaracat*

    After learning to use spreadsheets and databases for the first time as (a very tiny) part of the business admin side of my job, I fell in love with organising data, and now every large purchase or activity gets one. The most comprehensive was when I bought my current house and sold the old one. I live in a city where property is insanely expensive, and as many of the buying and selling costs are linked to price (eg taxes and agent commissions) the changeover cost was going to be in the vicinity of $100K so I had to be absolutely sure I made the right choice because I could only afford to go through the process once. However at the start of the search process I was not entirely sure what features were most important to me. So I cast the net widely and created a database of every house I viewed, gradually adding more and more variables tracked until there were about 20 – everything from date of construction and building material to distance/how many minutes’ walk to supermarket, park, train station, and eventual sale price, plus location map and floorplan. Being able to filter and sort the data was brilliant and I was able to formulate a very detailed checklist and to know how much certain features I wanted would likely add to the price. It took a few years to find what I wanted, but I’m very happy with my choice and I don’t think I could have done it without that level of organisation.

  143. Lau*

    To the healthcare provider analyzing gait pattern – when my mother became a PT, she used to roll down the windows while passing people on the street in our very small town and yell out “STAND UP STRAIGHT!” or “LOOK FORWARD WHEN YOU WALK, NOT DOWN!” How embarrassing!

    For me personally, I used to be in elementary education. Even 10 years out of the field, I sometimes find myself calling people “friends,” as in “OK, friends, how are we today?” I am also told I still have a ‘teacher voice.’

  144. Phil*

    Early in my career, I worked in a particularly secure area of the company, requiring me to swipe my security pass multiple times from building entry to work area, and then swiping several times throughout the day when leaving to go to lunch, use the toilet, or just move around the company’s multiple buildings for work-related things. There were several times I would knock off after 8 to 10 hours of swiping, and try to unlock my car by waving my pass in front of the door handle.

  145. Adalind*

    I’m dating myself, but my first real job was at a Sam Goody (music store for those that don’t know) and then I worked as a student assistant at a library. To say I have the urge to alphabetize everything is an understatement… It probably did not help my OCD tendencies haha

  146. You Can Be Any Mouse*

    Oh, man, that casino one is real. It’s not a problem if you live in Vegas. Absolutely everyone knows what you’re doing and why. But when you work at a small local native casino in California, you get a ton of weird looks.

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