Sometimes, we’re just walking down the street minding our own business when suddenly, all we can think about is that one embarrassing thing from our past. Whether it was a romantic faux pas, an awkward joke, or a foolish misconception, we can’t quite seem to let go. Wincing yet? Well, you’re far from alone.
As these stories show, we’ve all had our fair share of cringe-worthy “How am I this dumb?” moments. And on the flip side, it’s so satisfying to hear about other people’s embarrassing experiences. Steel yourself: Here’s a list of the most painful (and hilarious) moments that still make people cringe, even if it’s years later.
1. Turn the Other Cheek
When I walked down the aisle at my wedding, I was so nervous and focused on not tripping that I made an enormous mistake. I did not even acknowledge my dad. I didn’t realize this until I saw the video my aunt had made for me. You can see my dad lean in to give me a kiss on the cheek, but I just keep walking. He kind of shrugs and then goes to sit down.
It’s been 18 years, and this still flashes through my head when I’m trying to fall asleep.
2. What Planet Was She On??
Teacher here. I once had a girl in my class who thought that there were people living on Venus, and that we just couldn’t talk to them because they didn’t have access to phones.
3. Language Not Included
I met someone who genuinely thought that her adopted grandbaby from Korea would grow up automatically knowing Korean and have a Korean accent.
4. You Just Got Served
I work at a busy restaurant, so I end up saying “corner” hundreds of times a night as I go back and forth around corners and doorways in the kitchen. One day, I was running food to a table, set it down gently, and in my sweetest customer service voice I said “Corner” while looking the customer right in the eye instead of “Here is your soup” or something like I usually do.
They looked confused, my brain tried to reset, and so naturally I said, “Thank you” as if that made it better. I ended up just backing away. It was a lost cause.
5. Paper Trail
I once had to explain to a colleague that she did not have to print and file every single email she received. I couldn’t believe it. She claimed she was concerned about making sure we had written records in case the computers stopped working. She was almost 70 when I told this to her and she had been doing it her whole career since email was introduced.
Literally every single email got printed. If there was an addition to an ongoing thread, she would print the whole damn thread again for every new email. I’m pretty sure this woman is responsible for at least one entire forest of tree loss. Nobody thought it was weird that her department was spending the most on toner and paper.
She was also head of the department, so maybe her subordinates were scared to say anything.
6. And Now for Something Completely Different
My most mortifying memory that still makes my face hot and turns my brain inside out at a moment’s notice is this: First-ever public speaking class speech in college. The topic was to let the class get to know something about you, so of course, I ended up telling everyone my darkest secret. It was most intense speech about my parents dying while I was in high school.
And I went first because the teacher knew I was the most introverted. The next person talked about why they liked skiing. And that’s when I started to realize what I had done…I still want to barf for a second when I think about it. I’ll also never forget that I got a C on the speech.
7. The Big Toilet in the Sky
My friend thought the holes of the airplane toilets were an opening to the sky. She insisted that her pee went straight out of the plane and evaporated in the air, same with poop. “It’s true! I saw the clouds, too,” she’d say. Worst part of this is that I told my mom later that day and she had the same reasoning. Had to google it just to make sure I wasn’t crazy.
8. Gettin’ Freaky
I interviewed a job candidate who came in and immediately said how hot my administrative assistant was—but then, it got worse. He asked if she was single or “Open to freaky Fridays.”
9. So Much for the Language of Love
My sister was on a first date with some guy she met online and was nervous, so she had my significant other and I meet up with them. The guy was super braggy about being able to speak German, not knowing that my S.O. was raised there and speaks it fluently. So, my S.O. tries to start a conversation with him in German. The guy apparently only spoke a few words of German and left embarrassed and without any chance of a second date. My S.O. still feels a little guilty about it.
10. Rollercoaster Hack
I had to explain to my sister how you don’t get a longer ride if you sit at the back of the rollercoaster.
11. Toddler at Heart
EMT here. I once responded to a call about a girl who decided those toddler swings, with the seat that you stick their legs through like a little basket so they can’t fall out, was made for a teenage girl. She got stuck and lost blood flow to her legs. We had to cut her down and get her to a hospital to have it safely removed, due to it basically becoming a tourniquet on both her legs.
12. Sick Burn
I was in fifth grade or so and I was sitting in class with a couple of classmates. We were talking about Weird Al songs we liked. This one girl asked, “Have you heard (some Weird Al song)?” and I followed with, “Have you ever heard I’m So Sick of You?” Well, I guess she hadn’t heard because she looked immediately down at the desk, sort of somber.
The dude did a little,” hohooo.” Then I finally realized the awful truth. I guess they thought I was telling this girl I was so sick of her…I had no clue at the time though, so I just let it ride. Still feel bad about that one.
13. Kayak Car Hat
I worked with a guy who kept his kayak tied to the roof of his car all the time because he said it increased his fuel economy. I had to explain how it wasn’t “creating more downforce to reduce friction.”
14. The Follies of Youth
I was like six and didn’t understand acne. Being all six years old and innocent, I asked my mom why my older teenaged brother always had pizza on his face…right in front of him. Worst of all, he cried.
15. Taco ‘Bout Embarrassing
I was eating tacos in a mall food court. This hot guy walked by me and I thought he was cute, so I tried to, I don’t know, make a flirty expression or something. Yeah, it did not work. I started choking on my taco. He looked at me weird and walked away. Then my friend ran after him and got his number for me. This was seven years ago. We’re still together. Thanks, Taco Bell!
16. Build More Cloud Factories
A friend of mine once told me that all clouds in the sky are made in factories. He once saw a picture of a cooling tower of a power plant. I tried 10 minutes explaining how that’s not true for many reasons, but I eventually had to give up. So now I guess I know why poor countries have deserts and rich countries can pay for rain factories. Me and him both have a technical degree.
17. That Wasn’t Santa
I’m a former firefighter/EMT. Easily the dumbest person I encountered was a guy who tried to surprise his girlfriend on Christmas by coming down the chimney completely unannounced. Her son noticed something was going on before she did, and put a starter log in the fireplace. It almost killed the guy, but had the smoke not started billowing out the fireplace into the living room, no one would have noticed.
I ran into her with a different guy by St. Patrick’s Day.
18. A Fight They Will Never Win
I teach students at the college level, who often think that they know everything and try to convince me that dumb stuff is true—when it almost always isn’t. At least once a semester, without fail, a student will try to fight with me to convince me that Africa is a country.
19. Infinite Pancakes, Please
I didn’t have to deal with it, but it was amusing listening to a waiter at an IHOP try to explain to a customer why they couldn’t order “never-ending pancakes” to go.
20. Our Daily Bread
I was a kitchen employee at Arby’s when I was 18. We used to have sub rolls that were foot-long, but the only subs we sold were six-inch. So you had to cut each roll in half before you used it. I was just zoned out one day, and I ended up humiliating myself so badly that my co-workers talked about it for years. I cut the sub roll in half, putting the knife back in the sub roll bag, and then tried to use the sub roll to cut the next sandwich. My manager saw it and almost died laughing.
21. Missed Connections
I was sitting in a small group of friends in school, and my crush (literally the love of my life at that point) admitted she liked me. It was the happiest moment of my entire life. So naturally, I gave the worst reply possible. I said “Ew.” In front of everyone. This was second grade, and I still think about it weekly.
22. Playing Hard to Get
A couple of years ago, I was at the drive-up window at my bank. When the transaction was finished, I started to raise my hand to wave goodbye to the teller, but instead of waving, I started to flip him off! It happened completely subconsciously. I don’t think I was able to stop it in time because he had a shocked look on his face.
I eventually apologized, but I still feel horrible shame over it. Every time I see him, the shame comes back. Plus, now I have a crush on him.
23. A Crucial Mishearing
That gonorrhea is not a country, it’s an STD. A student walked into my history class and said: “My mother’s boyfriend is from gonorrhea!” I asked her to repeat herself thinking I had heard things wrong…but she said the exact same thing. We had just finished a unit on Ghana. She thought we did a unit on the country of gonorrhea.
I only had one question: Was the boyfriend was from Ghana, or did she hear them talking about an STD? I never found out the answer.
24. Glass Cleaner
I have been a waiter for years but by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever had happen to me at work happened when I was just starting out. I was waiting on a family of four and they all ordered ice waters. I brought them their drinks and then a few minutes later the mom waves me over. She says, “The outside of my glass is wet.”
I stare at it and see the beads of condensation on the outside of the glass. “Yeah, it’s called condensation, it’s what happens when you have ice water in a room temperature glass.” She stares at me like I’m a freaking alien, and then I realize that this was my future as a waiter: Dealing with freaking idiots. I took her drink and wiped it off with a towel and handed it back to her.
25. Hold Your Blood
I had a sergeant in the army (definitely over 30 years old, married, and had two children) who would get insanely angry when the females in his platoon had to use the restroom or be excused from formation to tend to period stuff. He had only worked with infantry units before transitioning to a mixed-gender training unit and a female NCO had to pull him aside several times to explain that we couldn’t physically control our flow.
“JUST FREAKING HOLD IT, SOLDIER!” was screamed at us a lot.
26. Taking Technologically Challenged to the Next Level
I am a college instructor, and you would be shocked at how stupid some college students are and how ridiculous some of the things they say and do can be. Just last year, I had multiple students who were not able to save Word docs as PDFs despite clear and simple instructions, as well as a bunch of students who would take smartphone pictures of every single slide that I showed while I lectured even though I would always upload them all to our course website for everyone to use.
But nothing compares to this one guy. I asked the class to insert a picture into a Word document, so one student printed the Word doc, printed the picture, physically placed the printed picture on top of the printed Word doc, took a smartphone photo of it, and then uploaded that photo as a new file and submitted it to me. I gotta say, I sure do miss my millennial students!
27. Call Him for Round Two!
I was so nervous before a job interview that I showed up 40 minutes early, shook frantically when they shook my hand, and then, when I sat down in the board room, immediately puked. Easily my worst interview ever but I was really qualified and ended up getting a callback.
28. You, But With a Woman’s Touch
My buddy tried hitting on my sister. “I always thought it would be cool to have a chick that’s a female version of [my name here].” Swing and a miss.
I work for a bank, and customers will sometimes call to ask how they can access their account online and do online banking. I told this older woman to go to bankname.com. She started yelling and cursing at me that I made her go into her email and that she can’t believe I’m reading her emails. I tried explaining to her that I can’t see her computer as we’re talking over the phone, and she probably just got into her email because it was her homepage or the last page she viewed.
She wanted nothing of it. No matter how many times I kept asking her to find the address bar and type bankname.com…she said that it kept bringing her back to her email. The conversation lasted 45 minutes. She was yelling the entire time. I pretty much wanted to shoot myself in the head.
30. Strap Yourself in for This One!
One of my sixth graders had a brain fart moment recently where he couldn’t remember the word for “suspenders” when trying to mention something about them. He called them “farmer straps,” complete with hooking his thumbs through his imaginary suspenders and moving his hands up and down, like an old guy wearing suspenders might do. I laughed so hard I cried and almost fell out of my chair!
31. Eggrolls for Your Effort
Not me, but my dad was a firefighter in New York City, and once responded to a call at a Chinese food restaurant where the owner’s walkway was iced over. He apparently didn’t speak very good English, and maybe misunderstood the job of a fireman. I genuinely don’t know. They salted down his front walkway for him and explained that this was 100% not their job.
They all had a good laugh and the guy gave them free eggrolls. People always used to ask him questions about crazy calls and he never enjoyed talking about them, so he would always tell that story. It happened in 1999 and still makes me laugh to this day 20 years later.
32. The Garlic Bread Revelation
We have a college intern who apparently never had anyone cook for him, so he was confused when I said I made garlic bread for dinner the night before. I explained that if you buy bread, garlic, and butter, you can put them together to make your own garlic bread at home. He was flabbergasted.
33. A Wild Imagination
I used to be a private writing instructor. A couple of years ago, I had a student ask me if commas were real or imaginary. He was equally dubious about semicolons, which he referred to as “imitation periods.” Since I know people are probably wondering, he was 26 years old and very serious about his questions.
34. An “F” for Effort
My dad came with on a field trip back in elementary school. We had an admittedly attractive substitute teacher that day, and she was introducing herself to all the parents. Sub: “Hello, I’m Miss Fine” Dad: “Why yes, you are.” She immediately just walked away.
I worked at McDonald’s back in high school, and one time this older guy goes into the bathroom and somehow locks himself in. The cops and fire department start rolling in. It’s a small town, so anytime there’s any stupid call, everyone shows up. They couldn’t get the door open with an ax either.
So finally, one of them comes in with a ladder and I watch them have an argument over who gets to climb through the roof. Eventually, the skinnier one climbs through the ceiling panels, drops into the bathroom, and unlocks the door for him. It was pure insanity and I loved every second of it. I’ve got a picture of the guy halfway into the ceiling buried in my photos somewhere.
36. I Think I’m About to Explode…
After a lengthy explanation of the effects of volcanic eruptions on human communities, I had a grade six student put up his hand and ask me, in full seriousness, why on earth people even make volcanoes in the first place if they can do this much damage.
37. Raising the Roof
Working in hotels I have met quite a few dim bulbs. One night a woman stormed into the lobby screaming about how our parking garage did not have enough clearance for her jacked-up hummer. I explained that there is an uncovered parking across the street, and if her hummer did not fit in the garage she could park there.
She got irate about how it was unsafe and demanded I (this is a direct quote), “Go outside and raise the parking structure with a stick or something.” I politely explained that was physically impossible for me to do, and she said, “Well, then you shouldn’t be working with people!”
38. Do You Have Any Special Skills?
I was hiring for a position at our company.
Me: “Tell me a bit about yourself.”
Him: “I’m really into hacky-sack.”
He did not get the job.
39. Birds Fly, Duh
I work at the Philadelphia Zoo. One day, I was carrying a chicken to the exercise yard. A man was eagerly following me waiting to see what animal I had inside the carrier. The chicken was reluctant to leave her carrier at first, and when she finally exited the carrier I said, “Good bird.” Then the man asked me, “Why are you calling it a bird if it’s a chicken?”
I didn’t know how to respond without making him sound like a moron.
40. Adios and Au Revoir
My sister is a French teacher. Everyone in the class had a fairly lengthy piece of French homework to do, and one student had clearly just put the entire thing into Google Translate. The only problem was that they accidentally translated it into Spanish instead of French.
41. Drinking for One
I worked concert security. One shift, after the show finished, we were slowly moving the crowds toward the exit. Three of us guards were walking together when one of them spotted a woman standing just outside of the bathroom, holding a beer. This guard (female) walks up to the woman and says, “You really shouldn’t be drinking that while pregnant.”
The woman replies, “I’m holding this for my husband until he gets out of the bathroom.” The other guard and I pick up the pace to distance ourselves from our fumbling co-worker when we hear the woman continue “Also, I’m not pregnant.” I’ve never run so fast from a situation in my life…
42. A Bill Is Just a Number, Right?
Have this uncle who is extremely cheap and once took us out to dinner. After he got the bill, he asks for the menu again and takes out his calculator and starts double checking the bill prices and menu prices. This goes on for 15 minutes while the waiter patiently waits next to the table. At the end, he realizes he forgot his wallet and asks us to pay. Don’t think I’ve ever tipped that generously.
43. Slip-and-Slide to Heaven
Watching pallbearers lose control of a coffin they were carrying down a steep set of granite church steps after the funeral was over. An ice/sleet storm took place during the funeral service, so the steps were slick. Several pallbearers went down as the coffin landed on the granite steps and slid the rest of the way down to the sidewalk below. Fortunately, the lid didn’t open. But we all felt bad for them as the look in their faces showed they were mortified.
44. They Come in All Shapes and Sizes
I once had a student ask me “What are those pyramid-shaped things in Egypt called again?” I have never seen a class laugh that hard before in my life.
45. Sun Salute
This is a while ago. I was working at McDonald’s and worked in the morning. I’m not a morning person. My brain wakes up around 10 am and I think this was like 8 am. I handed this lady her large coffee and the sun shined bright in my eyes, and all I said was “Praise the sun.” She looked at me all weird and drove off.
46. The Big Island Things
I was in seventh grade in the US. I told a classmate my family was going to France over summer break, and he asked where that was. I said Europe and he asked me how far away that was. I thought he misheard me so I said, “You know, Europe, the continent.” He didn’t understand what continents are. I pointed at the world map that was in the classroom and told him, “You know, the big island things on the map. Like we’re in that left one called North America, and Europe is across the ocean, etc…”
He just nodded and said he thinks he gets it, but he didn’t look entirely sure. I was utterly dumbfounded. Obviously, we’d had years of history and geography lessons by seventh grade. Like Jesus, I knew he wasn’t the smartest kid, but how do you make it to your teenage years and not have even the basic understanding of what the world looks like?
47. It’s Not Crazy if it Works
This is a story of stupidity that, for once, ends happily. I was at a New Year’s Eve party when I met this beautiful girl. We were both super drunk. I may have blurted out my life story. I don’t remember. What I do know is that I came back with her to her apartment. After sobering up, I made a decision I still can’t quite understand to this day.
I decided to get naked and crawl into her bathtub. I passed out, but woke up with a blanket on me, and a pillow under my head…She sent me a message asking if I was ok. I asked her out for coffee. The rest is history, I guess.
48. Nacho Best Moment
My brother ordered nachos at a Mexican restaurant, grabbed a chip, and proceeded to watch himself dip it into his tea. After about two dips, he came back into reality, shook his head and went “what?”
49. Water Wing Safety
I worked as a lifeguard at a public pool last summer. We had a strict “No water-wings” policy. Those little things are death traps. So this woman is putting water wings on her kid next to the pool, and I politely inform her that we do not allow water wings, and have life vests available for free literally five feet from where she’s standing.
She becomes so infuriated that I would “dare to dictate how she treats her child” and tons of other crap. So I call my supervisor over, and as he arrives and is speaking to her, the kid jumps in the pool. Water wings slip up his arms, and he’s suspended underwater. Jump in and pull him out. Woman is furious that I would “have the nerve to touch her child. How dare I?!”
50. License Plate Letters
A few weeks ago, I had to explain to my wife that the letters on her license plate were part of her “license plate number.” She got a ticket at her university for parking without payment. The payment kiosk makes you enter your license plate number when paying for a day of visitor parking. She was ranting and raving about what bullcrap it was, so I asked her to show me the receipt she got when she paid for parking.
Sure enough, she had just entered the numbers and not the letters. I don’t know how she made it into her mid-30s before learning this.
51. Holier Than Thou
I was eight and I was at church in the kid’s service, and they always picked a kid to participate. They even usually get a prize after. That day, they chose by asking us why we should get to go up, and I literally said, “My aunt works here so I deserve it.” I was an entitled little brat. Every time I remember it, I die a little inside.
52. Just Turn it
My company leased a space to a daycare center that came with a storage shed for outdoor toys. One day I got a call from the new manager of the daycare stating that we gave her the wrong keys for the lock on the shed. I was surprised, as we hadn’t had any complaints from the previous manager. I told her this and asked her to try them again.
She called back the next day and said that the keys weren’t correct and she needed a new lock. At this point I decided to drive across town and check it out. When I got there she was in a bad mood and started complaining about how she shouldn’t have to deal with things like this. I apologized for the company and asked her to hand me the key so I could try.
She insisted it didn’t work, but gave it to me anyway. I walked over to the unit, inserted the key, turned it and the lock sprang open. I actually wasn’t expecting this so I just turned to her. Her response made my jaw hit the floor: “Nobody ever told me that you had to turn the key.”
53. Fond Memories
A little girl needs to use the toilet. She locks the door, manages to get onto the toilet and use it all by herself—she’s a big girl after all! Alas, the toilet is tall, and getting down is scary. Better wait for mom to come help. Except mom can’t get in, because the little idiot locked the door and is too scared of the five inches from her feet to the floor, so she just sits there crying while sitting on the toilet.
The firemen break down the door and the little girl is saved. My lord, I was a stupid kid.
54. Walk It off
I was discussing a recent surgery I had at work to a bunch of people, including a lady with spina bifida who lives in a wheelchair. I specifically was talking about how annoyed I was by not being able to walk for three weeks. I revisit that one a lot.
55. All in All, He’s Just Another Brick in the Wall
In middle school, a kid decided to don his karate wear and break a brick for the talent show. This intense music starts playing, and he comes out. Bows his head and…HIYAA! Hits the brick. It doesn’t break. Tries a couple more times. It remains unperturbed. He stomps off the stage in tears. I’m sure to console him people told him, “No one will remember this in 10 years!” It’s been more than 10 years. I still remember him as the kid who couldn’t break the brick.
56. It “Seamed” to Make Sense
I hire student (university) workers. One of my questions is: “Tell me about a time at work where you made a mistake, and how you fixed it.” This kid had no prior work experience, so I modified the question and removed the “at work” part. I thought he’d tell me about screwing up at school or at home. But no, he told me about the time where he ripped his pants in gym class in the fourth grade.
He didn’t tell me how he fixed, just that he ripped his pants. So, I’m assuming his pants are ripped to this day. This kid was a goldmine of what not to do in an interview. He did not get the job.
57. Holding It in
In eighth grade, I farted once, and a few minutes later, someone smelled it and asked who did it. They asked if it was me, and I just started crying. I used to be very sensitive and so I thought they were accusing me and felt really bad, so I cried. It’s partially because of that that I am now much less emotional, and tend to keep my emotions bottled up.
58. Three Bottles of Beer on the Wall
One evening, I was playing Europa Universalis and I was pretty immersed in the gameplay. Suddenly I thought: I could grab a beer! So I paused the game and went to the fridge for one but there were none. Weird, I thought, I was almost sure I had at least three bottles there. So I returned to the computer and all three bottles stood unopened on my desk.
That was when I learned the depths of my own stupidity. Apparently, I had the same thought four times already but every time I got back to the computer, I forgot about the beer and went back to playing without remembering the incident.
59. It Runs In the Family
Was at a friend’s brother’s 21st birthday party and was standing around talking with some other guys. On the driveway, a bunch of girls were dancing to the music. It was a really chill night. But it was about to get a lot chillier. The guy next to me said to the guy on his other side “How about the rack on that blonde chick?” The other guy replied, “That’s my daughter.” The first guy mumbled something and left at a brisk walk.
60. Breaking the Glass Ceiling…Retroactively?
I was doing a lecture on diseases for an Intro to Healthcare class. When discussing polio, I like to ask “Which President had polio?” expecting “Roosevelt,” because I like to follow that up with “Which one?” I once had a student raise his hand and say “Eleanor!”
61. Give The Guy a Break
I’m a researcher. Our spaces tend to be filled with random things. My office is decorated with various llama items. A lamp, framed art work, a few stuffed toys, etc. Friends and coworkers get me the items as they know I enjoy it and I tend to display them. A job candidate came and flopped down in a chair, takes a lazy look around and goes, “So, you like sheep, huh.”
He did not get the job.
62. Fur Baby
When I was a brand-new mom on maternity leave, but still trying to juggle law school and a newborn, my sister-in-law had an emergency and had to leave her Boston terrier with me. Even though he was a very well-behaved dog and had met the baby, we were still worried and kept them separated just in case.
One morning, after my husband left for work, I picked the baby up out of the bassinet and went downstairs to make coffee. My husband had forgotten something and promptly came right back in to find me at the counter, brewing coffee, rocking a black and white dog in one arm, while our son was still quietly chilling in his bassinet upstairs. He took the day off from work and I went back to sleep.
63. A Real Knob
I’m a cop. I got called because a motorist had a bad alternator, and their car died while he was driving. Their electric lock control for the doors of the vehicle stopped working. We were dispatched for a person trapped in a motor vehicle. On arrival, the advice was given to manually lift the lock knob so they could get out. You can easily tell who are the ones that will not survive the first 24 hours of the zombie apocalypse.
64. A One-Man Flash Mob
I was in a class with about 50 other people when this really quiet guy stood up and started to play “Gangnam Style” out of his phone and started doing the dance with a wide grin on his face. Nobody laughed, and so he sat down after about 10 seconds of singing and dancing, and the lecturer proceeded to carry on with lecture.
65. That Name Doesn’t Ring a Bell
In a high school writing class, we used to do an exercise where I would write a topic on the board as a prompt and the students would have to write whatever the topic made them think of. One time, I wrote “Pearl Harbor” on the board as the prompt. A student responded by saying “Who the heck is Pearl Harbor?”
66. Who’s the Boss?
I was on the phone with my boss and she was getting really irritated about something, I don’t even remember what. The combination of her irritation and my exhaustion made my brain misfire, and I ended the call with six words that haunt me to this day. I said, “Okay bye Mom, I love you!” I was so embarrassed, but she thought it was hilarious.
She then started calling me her adopted daughter after that. I mean, she is the same age as my mom so it’s not too weird, but I certainly felt like a child around her instead of a colleague until she left the company. I miss her, though.
67. Using Her Noodle
A girl in my honors science class once asked the teacher, and was 100% serious, if ramen noodles grow on ramen trees.
68. Can’t Buy Me Love
A girl my buddy had given my number to wouldn’t leave me alone. Calls at all hours, follows me in the halls, tries to sit with me at lunch, all of that. I blocked her number and avoided her at all costs. One day at lunch she sees me, beams at me, and makes a beeline right for me. I’m with all my buddies, and she stands there looking at me and waiting for me to ask her to sit down.
Instead, the first thing to pop into my head was to grab a quarter in my pocket, stand up, show it to her, and at the top of my voice yell, “HERE’S A QUARTER, GO BUY YOURSELF SOME FRIENDS!” I then bounce it off the table at her and it hits her square in the forehead, and all she does is stand there while the entire lunchroom explodes in laughter.
She runs out with tears streaming down her face. I calmly sit down and continue eating. It was so out of character for me (skinny, introverted band nerd) that it was the talk of the school for weeks about how brutal that was. I still think about it and it’s been 25 years, and I feel totally ashamed about it all now.
69. Some Parents’ Kids
I asked the guy I was interviewing “What do you know about our products?” He replied, “Nothing really.” So then I asked, “So why would you like to work here?” Then he says, “Oh, I don’t really want to work here, I just have to get a job so I can keep living with my parents.” I was taken aback, and so I ended the interview. I couldn’t believe his next question.
He asked me: “So, when can I expect to hear from you?”
70. Eat Your Words
Back in sixth grade, a new girl came to our school. We were making introductions at lunch and getting along fairly well. She lived in my neighborhood so I saw her and her brother get on the bus in the morning. Her brother was a bit shy on the bus and didn’t talk to anyone. I saw him at lunch on my way to my table to eat and waved.
He did a weird head bob thing and smiled. I thought he was being a goof, so I laughed and turned to the new girl and said, “What’s with your brother, why is he acting mentally challenged?” Except, sorry to say, I used the bad word for that. Her response stunned me. She broke out into tears and ran away.
That’s when my friend turned to me and said, “What the heck is wrong with you?” and ran after the new girl. Turns out, her brother is actually mentally challenged.
71. A Kind Form of Torture
My sister called 9-1-1 because jalapeno juice was in her eye, and her doctor’s office was closed over the weekend. She described it as being waterboarded by the nicest guys on earth.
72. The Butt of the Joke
My husband and I had an inside joke. Whenever someone lost something, the other person always asked, “Have you checked inside your butt?” I was in a meeting at work in my conservative and traditional corporate office one day, and a co-worker said, “I can’t find my pen.” Without any thought or hesitation I quickly responded, “Have you checked inside your butt?”
As soon as I said it, I snapped back to reality and realized I was at work. As you can imagine, everyone went silent and stared at me as my face turned bright red.
73. A Fairy Tale Romance
A student once asked, “Are mermaids real?” Before I even had the chance to answer, she aggressively blurted out, “I don’t believe in dinosaurs.” She was 16 years old.
74. Italian Horror
In college I had a fair number of all nighters and usually had the TV going to help keep me up and help with concentration. Once, a couple of weeks after submitting an essay for a political science class, I noticed the bone-headed message I sent to my professor. It went something like: “Attached is my water for Italian cooking.”
My essay was completely fine and had nothing to do with Italy. I guess my brain just turned off as soon as I’d attached the paper and there must have been some cooking-related infomercial on TV while I sent it.
75. Drop Out While You’re Behind
An integral part of my architecture education was what we called either critiques or juries. Basically, you’d present your work in front of a group of your classmates and professors to which questions could be asked and suggestions are offered. It was an incredibly valuable part of our education, as getting and offering feedback really encouraged more critical thought about what we were doing.
Unfortunately, it also meant that if you produced bad work, you’d get torn to pieces. Anyway, come our final jury presentations for the semester, this one guy pins up his presentation materials and physical model and gives his presentation. It was bad. Seriously bad. Aside from only taking up a quarter of his allotted time, it looked like his presentation materials were half finished after a night of fervent scrambling to get the work done.
There just wasn’t enough to even start to ask questions or give suggestions to him. So, everyone, trying to think of at least something productive to say, kept completely silent. It was probably only 15 seconds, but it was the absolute most awkward silence of my life. Eventually, one of the professors spoke up and said something along the lines of, “If this is the kind of work that you think is acceptable, you probably shouldn’t look at continuing in this program.”
To which the guy just replied, “Sorry” and walked out. He didn’t show up the next year. So yeah, I have never felt as awkward as that, even in situations where I’m the subject of the awkwardness…
76. Sorry, You Failed
A guy called me to inquire about the status of his application. He starts off with the most incredible opener: “Why the hell don’t you answer your damn phone? People are trying to get jobs.” Taken aback, I asked for his name. I found that he had failed his online assessments and we couldn’t bring him in. I had the pleasure of saying: “I’m sorry sir, but you failed your tests and are not qualified to work at Wal-Mart.”
He quickly hung up the phone without saying anything else.
77. Slow Anna
We will say my name is “Anna.” I worked in retail as a manager. I had a call on hold for me, and I hadn’t had my caffeine yet. I picked up the phone and said “Thank you for An-ing, how may I hold you?” instead of “Thank you for holding, how may I help you?” Just pretended like nothing happened while (I thought) the customer was in complete silence or maybe didn’t notice. I was so, so wrong. Turned out they had one of those laughs where you can’t breathe right away.
78. Super Snub
For most of my education, I went to public school. Like most kids, I was socially awkward. For high school, I received an academic scholarship to a private Catholic school. It was a really big deal for my family, but I didn’t know anyone at the new school. Between an odd combination of academics, sports, and the tail-end of puberty, I became very popular in this new school.
I wasn’t used to the attention and it definitely got to my teenage head. Nearly all of my social circles became around the new school and not with my old local friends. I’m in my junior year, I head to a McDonald’s for lunch with a few friends from the new school. Working the counter, I see a girl who I used to go to public school, who I used to have a crush on.
She just lit up when she saw me—and I committed a terribly cruel act. She was so excited, and I…I was an awful teenager and I just ignored her. I pretended I didn’t recognize her. She looked so deflated when I didn’t acknowledge her. Note this was the 90s. My family moved a few times after that. I settled down in a different part of the country after university, and I never made it back to that town.
I’ve relived that moment for years now. Fast forward to one of those nights when I relive that moment, and I decide to look her up on Facebook to apologize. That’s when I made a horrific discovery. I find out she died 10 years ago in an auto accident. Since I found out her fate, I feel even more awful about that moment.
79. The Truffle Shuffle of Shame
In seventh grade, some girl was wearing a Goonies shirt. I had no idea what it was, but it looked like a punk band or something and she was preppy, so my emo self tried to act offended and said, “Do you even listen to the Goonies?”
80. It’s a Dog’s Life
I have a dog with fluffy white hair. Think poodle-ish. I was on the couch petting and talking to my dog for a good while when I see my wife come down the stairs. Trailing behind her was my dog. That’s when I learned the truth. I had been petting a Costco fuzzy white blanket the whole time. I wish I could say it only happened once…
81. And Then There’s Darrell
I accidentally mixed up an inside joke with the wrong friend group, with disastrous results. Friend group #1: The “joke” was when someone calls and asks who’s all there, we would add Darrell to the list of names. Darrell wasn’t a real person. The joke wasn’t really funny, and made no sense out of context, but I guess that’s why it was an inside joke.
Friend group #2: I was hanging out playing some drinking games with a bunch of people who I hadn’t hung out with in a while. It was a kind of get together to remember a friend they had who had recently died in a car accident. I didn’t know him that well, but I was always down to party. Anyway, the phone rings, and the person who answered started listing off names.
Sorting my cards for another round of President, I offhandedly said, “heh and Darrell!” It was the typical record-scratch moment where everyone stopped and looked at me. Except it was even worse than that. Darrell was the name of the friend who had just died. This happened in 2002 and I still think about it all the time.
82. This Is Where We Used to Live
This is the story of how I accidentally became a criminal. I was walking home from work, got to my door, and my key wasn’t working. Our locks are bad, and that just kinda…happened sometimes. There was a loose windowpane in the bottom corner of the door window that could be removed from the outside, so you could unlock the door.
So I did that, unlocked it, walked upstairs and into the living room…to see two total strangers. Turns out, I’d just broken into the apartment I’d moved out of three months prior, and the new inhabitants were more than a little concerned. I explained in a panic, and fortunately they recognized my name from mail that had been shipped there in the intervening months, and were pretty cool about it.
I apologized profusely, told them about the loose windowpane and recommended that they keep the deadbolt on since you can’t reach that through the loose windowpane, then got the heck out of dodge.
83. Brush Your Face and Shave Your Teeth
My brother used the washroom before bedtime and it was my turn to go now. I wanted to brush and we had just moved so everything was in a mess, so I couldn’t find the toothpaste. I asked my brother where he kept it, and when I couldn’t find it where he said it was, he came to check himself and handed me the shaving cream.
When I pointed it out, he said, “That’s why it tasted odd. I just thought it was from a different brand from around here.”
84. A Mother’s Love
My girlfriend is usually the one who does the dishes, and she and I have a long-standing tradition of always touching each other’s butts. When she is doing dishes, I ALWAYS grab her butt and give her a hug from behind and grope her boob before I grab something from the fridge. It’s just a thing that started when I was grabbing something out of the fridge while she did the dishes.
She liked it, so I kept doing it, and that’s become tradition between her and I. Now I do it without even thinking when I see her doing the dishes. It was all fun and games until one awful day. It still haunts me. Well…My girlfriend and I visited my mom for a week, and my mom was doing the dishes. I wasn’t really paying attention to who was in the kitchen and I was grabbing a coke out of the fridge…
I didn’t realize it was my mom until it was too late and she looked mortified. Explaining that to my mom was… weird.
85. In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…This Still Isn’t Cool
When I was in the seventh grade in Texas History class, we had an in-class assignment in groups of three that required us to read a passage from the textbook and then summarize it in a skit for the class. I was grouped with a good friend, who we can call Karen, and a girl who was known for being really socially awkward who we will call Janice.
Janice was that type of socially awkward that tried really, really hard to be “cool”, but failed miserably, while wearing a Naruto headband every single day. Our passage was about cattle herding, and for some reason, Janice got it into her head that it would be hilarious to hum the Star Wars theme song, but instead of regular humming, moo it.
She wanted to moo the Star Wars theme song at the end of the skit. She tried to convince us, but Karen and I did not want to get destroyed by our classmates, so we refused. When it was our turn, we completed our skit and started to sit back down, and Janice looks at us and screams “PLEASE?!” and we both just shook our heads.
She burst into tears and explained that she wanted to do something cool for the performance, but we refused, so could she please do it on her own? The teacher told her to go ahead. Janice, still sobbing, stood in front of the class and moo-ed the entire Star Wars theme song, but the tune was unrecognizable since she was sniffing and gasping in between moos. So, we all just kind of sat there for a solid five minutes, watching this girl in a Naruto headband bawl and moo.
86. Monkey on Your Back
When I was a kid, I went swimming with a group of friends. A girl in the friend group jumped on my back while I was underwater. She was just being playful, but it freaked me out because I was kind of short of breath. Still, I played if off, trying to be cool. An hour later, I was describing what happened to my other friend.
I explained: “and then I felt this big fat weight on me and I couldn’t breathe.” But I didn’t realize one crucial detail. The girl was behind me. She burst into tears and ran home crying. I never felt so awful.
87. Surprise Skinny Dip
When I was 10, my grandparents’ condominium complex had a pool that my mom and I would go to. One time, we went and there’s a girl there, maybe 13 or 14. Me, being on the edge of full-blown adolescence, was locked on her. My mom was talking about god knows what at the time, I’m just “uh huh, yeah mom” while watching this girl swim, super distracted.
I begin to take off my shirt, but I had gone full autopilot and did the absolute worst thing possible: I slid my swim trunks down as if I was about to get into a shower. Oh my god. I pull them back up because I think the girl had noticed, but mom didn’t. I told my mom I had to take a wicked poo and went back to the condo to sweat out the embarrassment. So now I have this horrid memory to look back on every now and again, even into my late 20s. That’s nice.
88. Big Fat Jerk
I’ve always been overweight. My whole life, even as a little kid. Never really got made fun of for it, though. This is the first, and probably the only time I got “made fun of” for it, to my face anyway. I was in seventh grade, and I was in a small classroom of about eight people. This very thin girl held up her arm and made a comment about her arm fat.
There was clearly nothing there, her arm was a thin twig. I just kind of rolled my eyes in my mind. The teacher, a man around 35, told her, “You’re not fat! Girls always think they’re fat!” Something like that. Then he did the most inappropriate thing. He then points around the class to each person, repeating “You’re not fat, you’re not fat, you’re not fat,” to everyone.
He saved me for last, pointed at me, and didn’t say anything. A couple of people in class chuckled. I’ve never forgotten it.
89. The Girlfriend Experience
I was walking through town with my girlfriend at the time, looking at stalls and shops, and she was in my periphery, or so I thought…She had stopped to look at something else and a woman of roughly the same height and hair color was standing next to me. I checked my phone for time, gently caressed her shoulders and said, “Come on, it’s time for us to head off.”
And just walked away from this woman. I turned around a few meters later to see my girlfriend a luminescent shade of embarrassed and this entirely freaked out little old Asian woman.
90. Foot in Mouth
I have so many of them, I don’t know where to start. My parents love to tell the story about how my mom walked in on me and a neighbor boy in the living room. When she saw what we were doing, her jaw dropped. I was casually drawing at the coffee table and the other kid was underneath the table sucking on my toes.
I didn’t mind to be honest, in fact I think I was actually enjoying it? Hard to remember, I was maybe five or six. So mom is understandably very uncomfortable, and goes to fetch his dad, who is clearly mortified that this is happening. The dad bodily picks the kid up, face purple, and mutters about how his kid “has a thing about feet” on the way out.
91. No Self Control
I was probably 9 or 10 years old. I pooped my pants at a friend’s house in the middle of the night. Having an extra change of clothes, I tried to change. I didn’t want anyone to find out, so I tried flushing the guilty underwear down the toilet. Well, it didn’t end well. Overflowed the toilet in the middle of the night.
I jumped in the shower and remember hearing a knock at the door and it was his mother. She was way too nice and cleaned everything up for me and never told my friend. It wasn’t til many years later I told him about it and he didn’t believe me until his mom confirmed it. To this day, I haven’t pooped my pants since!
92. The Cover-Up
In seventh grade (‘06 for me), I had just started watching more anime on Toonami and was really into it. One day we had to do a paper describing ourselves coming back from summer break and the class had to put a person to a description. I named my favorite jacket that I wore every day “Takeshi” for God knows why.
Then the cutest new girl in the class read my description out loud, and in it I described the love for my jacket and how I had named it what it was. The cute girl looks weirded out, stares at the class and goes, “What weirdo names their jacket?” Once no one guessed who it was, I piped up and said: “Well maybe they aren’t here today?” I was obviously trying to cover myself.
Except I forgot that this was an IN-CLASS ASSIGNMENT. So the teacher said, “No, it had to have been written by someone here?” Finally one of my friends goes, “Hey XXXX aren’t you like the only one in class who plays soccer?” which was also written in my description. I sunk in my seat as we moved on to the next description…I wake up sweating, feeling that jacket still on my shoulders…
93. We Need To Talk About Kevin
It’s not uncommon as a teacher to have students who are a bit behind the curve in certain areas, but 99.99999% of the time they are at least keen on something else to make up for it. They might not understand how to identify a noun or what a theme is, but they somehow know how to make a mean plate of nachos. You learn pretty quickly not to judge the fish for their tree climbing ability, ya know?
I thought this was the rule when I was teaching…until I met Kevin. Kevin isn’t his real name, but it doesn’t matter because he can’t spell it anyway. Kevin was a student of mine during my last year of teaching. He came to my classroom with very little to show for his academic past. He had moved a few times and thus was missing a lot of typical test scores that we use to try and ballpark their ability.
Don’t worry, it was just a ballpark. We didn’t make major decisions until we actually had a chance to talk and work with a student for a bit. I thought “That’s fine. I’ll just do some one-on-one with Kevin and see what’s up.” One-on-one with Kevin was like conversing with someone who had forgotten everything in a freak, if not impossible, amnesia incident.
There was no evidence that he had learned anything past the second grade, despite the fact that he was now in the ninth grade. Flabbergasted, I figured that we needed to get more serious with this. If he was going to be in my class, I needed to know why and how. I decided to meet with him, his guidance counselor, his parents, and another teacher to see what was really going on.
This is where it all became clear. It was by some incredible fluke that his family hadn’t been wiped off the face of the Earth years ago. Odds are that his entire heritage was based on blind luck and some type of sick divine intervention that miraculously saves his family every time a threat presents itself. Kevin was the genetic pinnacle of all this null achievement.
Even my instructional lead, a woman who could find a redeeming trait in absolutely any person, failed to see any explanation of how this kid or his family could be alive today. So, here’s a list of events that made it abundantly clear that God must exist and be looking down and laughing uncontrollably from the heavens:
Kevin frequently forgot when and where his classes were. On more than one occasion, I had to go over and retrieve him from other classrooms. Kevin once ate an entire 24 pack of crayons, puked, and then did it again the next day. This is ninth grade. I have no idea where he even got the crayons from. Kevin’s dad wrote tuition checks and mailed them to me…his English teacher.
This was a public school. When I gave the check back to Kevin, voided, and asked him to give it to his dad with a brief note explaining that this is a public school, Kevin got in trouble for trying to spend it at a 7-11 after school. Kevin was removed from the culinary arts program at our school after leaving a cutting board on the gas stove and starting a fire…on two separate occasions.
Kevin once threw his lunch at the School Resource Officer and tried to run away. He ran straight into a door and then insisted that it wasn’t him who had thrown the lunch. Kevin once stole my phone during class. I called it. It rang. He denied that it was ringing. Not that it was his, not that he had taken it…no, he denied that the phone was actually ringing.
He tried this again another three times before the end of the year. Kevin called the basketball coach an inappropriate name during gym class. Basketball tryouts were that same afternoon. Kevin tried out. It didn’t go well for him. Kevin’s mom could never remember which school he went to. She missed several meetings because she drove to other schools by mistake—none of which he had ever gone to.
Kevin once tazed himself in the neck before a football game as a joke. Kevin kept a bottle of orange Kool-Aid in his backpack for over 4 months. He thought it would turn into alcohol. He drank it during class one day and threw up on the floor. Kevin stole another student’s phone, then tried to sell it back to them.
Kevin didn’t understand that his grade was dependent on tests, quizzes, homework, classwork, and participation. Kevin finished his first semester with a 3% average. He tried to bribe me with $11. Kevin spit on a girl and said, “You should get out of those wet clothes.” The girl was the Spanish student teacher. Kevin didn’t know that dogs and cats were different species.
Kevin almost always had gum in his hair. Practically every single day. Kevin regularly tried to cheat on assignments by knocking the pile over, grabbing one before I had picked them all up, and then writing his name on it wherever there was room. Kevin had several allergies, but neither his parents nor he could remember what they were exactly.
They were very concerned that “the holiday party” (it’s high school, we don’t have those) would have peanuts. When they finally got a doctor’s note, we realized that it was amoxicillin that he was allergic to and not peanuts. That seems like something they should have known. All in all, Kevin just never failed to make me shake my head and wonder how it was possible that he had even made it this far.
94. A Nearly Fatal Mistake
In high school, I worked at a local hardware store. We also refilled propane tanks for gas grills. After a summer or two of doing 10 or more tanks a day you get good at guesstimating how full a tank is just by picking it up. One particularly hot day a customer comes in and sets his tank down next to me and asks for a fill-up.
I pick up the tank and inform him that the tank is full and does not need a fill-up. He looks pretty agitated already with this short exchange and says that he checked that it was empty and would I just fill it up. To this, I inquired how he checked. There are several ways to check, one being by the weight of the tank, another is the thermal strip on the side (which his tank did not have). The other is to pour hot water down the side and feel where it gets cold.
His reply gave me chills—this blithering idiot lucky to be alive. He said he checked it by holding his cigarette lighter in front of the valve and opening it. To this I replied: “You ought to write to your congressman and representative, because they saved your life today. This tank has an OPD safety valve on it that prevents the gas from coming out without anything attached.”
He walked out without another word and with a very red face.
95. The Seven Seas of Regret
Stuck on a cruise ship for three days after my friend proposed to his girlfriend on the first freaking day and she said no. That same first night she made out with some random guy in the hot tub. I’m honestly not sure how devastated my friend actually was, but it was intensified by the fact that he’d drink himself stupid daily by 2 pm, which would lead to him going to beg her to get back with him.
At one point, she was sitting on the new guy’s lap at the bar and he grabbed her hand and “confessed his love for her” for what must have been the fifth time in two days. It was a constant battle of trying to pull him away and convince him to either go to sleep or come with us to another part of the ship. He is a good friend, so I felt terrible for him, ‘cause that was super awful on her part and tried to help him all he would allow, but it was awful to watch.
By the end of the cruise, the entire boat it seemed like knew what had happened. When I tried to bring it up with my girlfriend (who was on the cruise with me as well) days after we got home, she straight up refused to talk about it, saying that was painful enough at the time so we never need to speak of it.
96. It Was a Match Made in Hell
In terms of real life, a buddy of mine was talking to this girl we all knew, and they’d been getting pretty flirty. So, the decision was made to invite her camping with us in the hopes one of them would make a move. Flash forward to that night and our buddy did seemingly everything he could to screw it up—spilled beer on her, stuck his finger in her mouth for no reason while she had a look of what the heck is going on here.
Finally, somehow, she still didn’t hate him and toward the end of the night, he tried to kiss her and headbutted her pretty damn hard because he moved in too fast. After this, they had a talk because this girl was apparently the crown princess of second chances, and he threw up on her. Obviously, this was God’s way of intervening.