October 5, 2022 | Kayla Sousa

Utterly Mortifying Mess-Ups

Everyone has put their foot in their mouth from time to time. Sometimes it’s over something silly and sometimes, a situation comes up that’s a little more...unfortunate. Well, these people took to Reddit to share stories that will leave you feeling relieved that you aren’t them. They are living proof that no matter how bad your mortifying mess-ups are, there's always someone who's done something worse.

1. The Price Of Self-Awareness

As a new employee of an electrical contractor, I was tasked with mounting some components on a very large air conditioning condenser. At one point I drilled a hole to mount a pipe and I nicked the copper coil. I instantly realized I'd made a terrible mistake. I'll never forget the sound of the gas escaping the condenser. The outdoor area in which I was working became a completely foggy wasteland. I felt like an idiot.

The owner of my company was called, and he came out and looked at the damage. He then asked me—an employee of two weeks—if I knew what it was going to cost. I told him that I didn’t know, he replied with a figure in the thousands. After a moment of silence I said, “Well, I guess that’s the price you pay for hiring idiots.”

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2. The Definition of Smooth

I was at work, and I was having a long day. At one point, I stuffed my hands into my pockets because I felt like I looked awkward with them dangling while I walked. They got hot and sweaty, and I got anxious, so I started doing this wiggle thing trying to get them out of there, but they were stuck. I looked up to realize someone was just watching me wiggle dance trying to get my hands unstuck. So, I just turned and started to run. I'm not proud of what happened next...

I was looking down at my hands though trying to figure out why they were still in my pockets, and I rammed right into a bookshelf —I work at a library. So, books were falling, and I was laying there in a crumpled heap and some people gathered around. I managed to free my hands at this point, and somebody asked, “are you okay?!” to which I replied “pockets” as I looked them all straight in the eye.

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3. A New Way To Sell

During a presentation to the Board of Directors and Executive team on behalf of my client, my well-dressed agency laid out a multi-million-dollar marketing plan in hopes they would buy. As I prepared to say that the campaign would grow and spread its wings, I instead said, "…and as the campaign spreads its legs…oh." Thankfully it was met with laughter from my client and my co-workers, but I have never lived it down.

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4. Looking Sharp

I was at my new job as a dishwasher, and at the end of the night we would all drink while we cleaned up. So, I was standing there talking to my boss, who I had known for like a week...I went to take a sip of my drink, but at the same time I was going to smooth down my hair, but instead of that happening I put my hand over my mouth and dumped my drink on the top of my head. There's no way to talk yourself out of THAT.

My boss didn't even react, other than turning around and walking away. Worst moment ever!

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5. But That’s Just Geography

When I was in 4th grade, we were doing country studies in my class, and we all had to give a speech about a place in our assigned country. Mine was Thailand and I decided to do the island of Phuket. I gave that entire speech, silently confused by my classmate's laughter and my teachers mortified face. Only at the very end did I realize I was essentially swearing over and over for the past ten minutes.

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6. Always Time To Celebrate

Once I was buying a train ticket, and instead of saying, "good morning, can I have a one-way ticket to such-and-such a place", I said "happy birthday". I still have no idea why I did it. I was as surprised as the ticket guy. And when he said "what?", I went "sorry, I didn't realise". Really, I can't explain what I was thinking.

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7. We Call That Sales 101

The whole Christmas season this year was a "what did I just say?!" extravaganza. I work in a really busy jewelry store, and by mid-December, I couldn't even speak proper English anymore. It was insane. I know I got a LOT of weird looks from customers wondering what was wrong with me.

I remember I was showing a gold chain to a customer at one point and said something like "yes, this is a nice gold chain…very nice. It’s quite long...actually, it's really short. It works for everyone—even a dog! But that would be weird because they would probably just eat it and who buys gold for their dog?"

Mortifying Mess-UpsFlickr, Timothy Krause

8. A Glitch Of The Brain

I was in French class, and we were talking about what we were going to name our kids (I don't know why, but it came up somehow, among the whole class). It got to be my turn, and I said, "yeah, I think I'm going to name my daughter ERROR". I kid you not, instead of saying the name I had in mind, I said the word "error". I don't know how it happened.

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9. Food Safety Is A Turn-On

I once drove my ex-girlfriend home at 3am after hanging out and eventually falling asleep at my place. Once I dropped her off, I told her, “don’t forget to shower garlic". I didn’t realize what I said, and I thought it was weird that she kept asking me if I was OK. She was genuinely worried. She didn’t want me to drive home.

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10. Too Much Information

While at work, a couple came in to talk to Kim, our events coordinator. Kim is a former model. She is stunning. And all I had to do was point out Kim to the couple. Kim was standing with another female employee. I said, "Kim's right over there. She's the pretty one".

The couple kind of tried to laugh but were clearly affronted. Panicking, I started babbling about how they were "both pretty", and I think "all of our employees are pretty", and that I thought the other girl was "so pretty that we've ended up making out a couple of....oh God, KIM'S THE BRUNETTE".

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11. Too Much Information

I was making a life-size sculpture of a bear for my art course when some gallery owners walked through. One guy chatted with me about bears and despite me being nervous, I was doing alright—right up until he left and said, "good luck with the bear!" And I replied, "ha, I like bears". It sounded creepy, like I sleep with them.

Mortifying Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

12. Passionate About The Product

My brother was going for a job at a pizza place. The interviewer asks, "why would you like to work at Derpaderp Pizza?" My brother froze, looked around in confusion for 4-5 seconds, and settled on the first thing he saw. He replied, "uh... ... pizza?" He did not get hired.

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13. First Impressions Aren’t Everything

I had just started an internship for a software company in my third year of college and I attended my first weekly status meeting a day or two after I started. I was still at the point of setting up my workstation, learning about the project, etc., so I thought I was just going to be an observer in this meeting.

Well, they went around getting updates from everyone and when I was called upon, I just said "suuup". A few of the younger engineers giggled but most were just startled, and I got super embarrassed. I was caught completely off-guard, I definitely did not expect to have to talk. They ended up liking me a lot there so at least I have that, but whenever I think about that moment, I cringe.

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14. When The Employee Is Right

I was walking back to the break room at Walmart one day, when suddenly a woman comes around a corner and hits me with her cart. She looks at me, rolls her eyes, and scoffs. Before thinking, I say, "oh, I'M sorry! I guess I should have been carrying a mirror to look around corners, so I don't get hit by people with carts" and then I walked away. I stopped a few steps later, fully aware of what I had just said. Good thing I wasn't wearing my name tag or blue shirt at the time.

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15. A Horrific Impersonation

Ok, so my boyfriend and I work together. It was me, him, and the owner of the company standing by the copier with the copier repair man. The copier guy is getting ready to leave after an exhilarating copier tutorial and we're making small talk. The guy's really tall, and he says something about how his pants don't fit length-wise and my boyfriend blurts out, “yeah, mine don't either, but in a totally different area” followed by this quick pelvic thrust a la Mel Gibson in What Women Want. I have never seen anyone so immediately turn crimson in my life.

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16. Just Sell The Snacks

I worked at a donut shop throughout high school and one day I was having some serious issues with speaking. Now, there are two stock phrases I used for pretty much everybody who came into the shop. They were, "what can I get for you" and "how are you doing?" On this day though, a customer came in and I accidentally combined them. I said in my super peppy, excellent customer service voice: "Hi! What are you doing?!" That was embarrassing.

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17. A Super Lucky Break

I was driving after a friend's birthday celebration—many pints and shots were enjoyed beforehand. I shouldn't have been driving, I know...especially considering I had a taillight out. Of course, I get pulled over, so I get ready to try and explain to the officer that yes, I know my light is busted, but that I'm very broke and can't replace it until Friday.

However, when he reaches my window and explains why I'd been pulled over, I told him, “Yes officer, I know my taillight is out, but I'm kind of drunk right now" Miraculously, I got out of this without even a ticket, but that's a tale for another time.

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18. Stating The Obvious

I worked as a taxi driver for a while. One day, this woman gets in the car and tells me where she wants to go. I instantly see that she has a patch over one of her eyes like a proper pirate patch; she clearly only has one eye. Anyway, I never heard of the place that she wanted to go, so I ask her whereabouts it was, and she tells me roughly how to get there—and I finish with 'Ok, I'll keep an eye out for it'.

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19. Multitasking Is Impossible

I used to work at a Barnes and Noble, usually up at customer service. This guy came in one day and asked for some book about Nazi Germany. So, I type those words into the computer. I take him to the German History section, filled with books that have the phrase in the title. I head back to customer service and start reading the description of the book on the computer. Every other word is pretty much one of those two words.

As I'm reading, the phone rang. I picked it up, still skimming the synopsis. "Hello, thank you for calling Nazi Germany, how can I help you?" My boss was standing right next to me, and she audibly squealed in horror. I smacked myself on the forehead, but before I could apologize, the guy on the other end started laughing and asked me if it was that bad working there.

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20. It Was A Totally Valid Reaction

Seventh grade was coming to a close and my class had been giving presentations. Two of my friends and I were sitting in the back of the room. I was almost dozing off when a man started using a weed-whacker right next to the window. I don't know why, but he was also wearing what seemed to be a paintball mask. So, being the genius 13-year-old boy that I was, I stood up in the middle of this poor kid's presentation and pointed at the guy out the window and started SCREAMING.

I spent the next five minutes apologizing and explaining that I had no idea why I did what I had just done. Shane, if you're seeing this, this is for you.

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21. An Excellent Exit Strategy

I'm not good at many things, but one thing I am excellent at is public speaking. Like, VERY good at it. So, my senior year of college, when my professor had us all give a speech in front of the class, I figured it would be a piece of cake. It backfired horribly. I must have gotten too comfortable with myself because I basically decided to wing it.

All was going well until the very end, when I just started down a road with a sentence and had no idea where I was going with it. I didn't know what it was supposed to mean, I didn't know what point I was trying to make, and I sure couldn't figure a way out of it. So, I just pretended I was choking. In front of the entire class. After a few seconds, I "coughed" and was fine, then quickly finished my speech and sat down.

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22. A Romantic Start

I asked my girlfriend to marry me, but she completely missed my meaning somehow and replied just by casually saying, "sure". In my head I thought to myself, “you idiot, you screwed this up”. And sure enough, out of my mouth came, "no you idiot, I'm proposing to you". We have been happily married now for the last 12 years.

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23. Not The Best Healthcare Team

I am a speech therapist, and I was sitting in a parent meeting with my friend who is a social worker. She'd been sick and was on some serious cold medication and she was feeling pretty woozy. When it came to her part in the meeting, she professionally and clearly stated the child's social progress and future goals closing her portion of the reporting. She then looked at her hands and very clearly muttered, "my fingers feel... fluffy".

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24. Not The Best Ally

I was the only guy in this club called Women in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics; I was the male liaison. During Breast Cancer Awareness week, the club was asked to make a presentation to the school. As the male liaison, I was asked to speak as an ally. I made a really nice speech and was really into it. But then I said, "Breast Awareness Week". The whole school erupted in laughter. I got kicked out of the club.

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25. That Could Get You Expelled

In the Air Force, they really make a big deal out of "DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE". That's fine, they should. It's a big deal. But sometimes it gets out of hand. Have you ever heard something repeated so many times that it starts to become meaningless? It’s kind of like when you say the same word over and over, so it doesn't sound like a word anymore.

When I got to my first duty location, I had to go through this week-long class teaching me about the local area. Every day, we had about 10 different briefings, and every brief ended in a 5-15 minute "Don't drink and drive". When I finally got to my squadron, I was pretty bitter about the whole thing. When my first Sergeant asked me if I had any thoughts about the class, I told him that I didn't care about drinking and driving anymore.

They'd overdone it so much that I just don't care.

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26. Bad Save

I was working at a grocery store and was in the process of handing a customer his change. I hiccupped—which for some reason I always burp after doing. So, I hiccup and then burp in this guy’s face while handing him change, and just stared at him and yelled out, "sorry for the ham burp!" as loud as possible. I didn't even eat ham that day...

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27. It’s An Instinct

I worked at a hospital once and was buying lunch in the cafeteria. As I pay for my items and start to walk off, the cashier says to the person in line behind me, "do you have anything else?". The woman says, "I also have a banana in my pocket". Without thinking, I quickly turn around to face the battle-hardened old nurse, and say "or are you just happy to see me?"

Mortifying Mess-UpsFlickr, Barberton Community Foundation

28. Magic On The Brain

One morning I was in the bathroom at the sink, when a friend of mine walked in after me. For reasons completely unknown still, I just looked right at her in the mirror and said, "fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall".

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29. Holy You-Know-What

Years ago, at my cousin’s wedding, I noticed the pastor who had performed the ceremony sitting alone at a table at the reception. People were lining up to hit up the buffet table and most of my family were getting photos taken. So, being the Southerner that I am, I decided to sit down to chat with the pastor to keep him company. I guess I should add that I was maybe 20 and that I am a woman who just happens to love baseball.

As I strike up conversation, the very nice pastor asks me if I am from out of town or local. I explain that I am originally from Houston and now live in a Northside suburb called Kingwood. The pastor’s face lights up and he says his son lives in Kingwood. I say that it is a really nice area, and I don’t mind the commute.

Then he mentions that his son works in the city as well and that maybe I know him; his name is Phil Garner. To which I curse right in his face somewhat loudly and say, “your son is Phil Garner?!” As the words left my mouth, I was trying to stop them…but there was nothing I could do. I started to blush, but this kind man didn’t miss a beat and just replied, “yep, you like baseball?” I have no idea what else we talked about because I was dizzy with embarrassment.

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30. Logical Fears

This happened the first time I went swimming in the ocean and the weather started to turn really bad. When it started raining, I was really concerned about the water getting struck by lightning, but instead of articulating that, I just said to someone with me that we should "get out of the water before we get wet".

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31. The Truth Hurts

Okay, so I have this friend who has this friend (we'll call him “B”) who's disgustingly sugary with his wife. They just got married, and even though they've been dating for years, he treats her like she's a fairy princess. It'd be kind of sweet if he weren't so weird. He has no real social skills, he's always far too serious, he rarely (if ever) smiles, and he always looks like he's got a bad smell right under his nose.

The "gooey husband" bit just doesn't fit with the rest of the package, and it even makes him seem a little creepy. But since his wife is in the "friend circle", we're all nice to the husband. Or, at least, we try to be.

So, we're all at a party the other week, and we're showing each other our driver's license photos. B pulls his out and says, "I think mine's decent". He shows it to everyone else in turn and they all say, "Wow, yeah, you look really normal". As he turns to pass it to me, he says to us, "I just imagined I was staring into my beautiful wife's eyes when they took the photo". Silence.

Totally serious. No smile, not even a hint of one. It was not a moment for laughter. In fact, it sort of caused an awkward silence, because you can't really say "Aww" to someone who's that creepily serious. But I'm sorry, the gooiness had just gotten to me by that point. I mumbled, "I think I just threw up in my mouth a little", just as he put his license in front of my face.

He looked like I'd punched him. His eyes fell to the floor, and he slowly stuffed his license back into his wallet, murmuring, "Well, I didn't think it was that bad a photo". It took me a second to make the connection—and then I was all over myself apologizing and explaining the bad timing. I don't think he'll ever forget it.

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32. Too Much Hospitality

One night, while working at a Chili restaurant in Cincinnati, I was ringing out a customer at the register and this exchange of words ensued: "was everything good for you?" "Yeah, it was awesome as usual!" I then started to have some trouble with the 1970s cash register we use, so I apologized for how long I was taking on validating the check.

"Oh, you're fine. The only place I'm headed is home on the couch, anyway", he said. As I finally completed the exchange of money, I replied, "man, I sure wish I could be right there with ya!" I meant to say, "Man, I'm right there with you." He immediately roasted me in a condescending way, having way too much fun with himself.

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33. Inquiring Minds Want To Know

As an employee at a local retail store, I interact with a lot of people. There was one particularly annoying family who came through my line with a kid that appeared to be at least 14, so when it was their turn to check out, instead of saying, "hi, how are you?" I said, "how old are you?” while looking directly at the boy's father. The man stared a hole straight through my soul.

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34. Words From The Heart

I was giving a best man's speech at my best friend’s wedding. I meant to say something along the lines of “you’re such a great person and always make the best decisions. I can’t wait to get to know your new wife". But somehow, what actually came out of my mouth was: "she was the best you could do..." I facepalmed myself.

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35. An Unfortunate Phobia

I don't like the way cotton balls feel. They gross me out. I was working at a convenience store, and everyone knew this and messed with me. One day, I had a really bad headache, and we didn't have any Ibuprofen, so I wrote some off, per the store’s guidelines. I opened the bottle and saw the cotton! I tried to get it out, but it was making that weird noise and it was freaking me out.

I looked over at my assistant manager and asked him if he could get the cotton out for me. My new assistant manager....on his first day....who didn't know I hated cotton....and he just so happened to be a person of color. He gave me the devil’s eye, did it, and then told me to get back to work. I tried to explain, but he just got angrier.

The next day I told my manager; she explained it all to him afterward. I apologized so many times later on, and he just laughed it off. We actually became really good friends and still talk from time to time to this day. He's a great guy!


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36. A Classic Case Of TMI

A co-worker and I were going to lunch together, and we stopped in the bathroom before going out into the cold. I was wearing a fleece that I kept in the office but hadn't worn in a while. We were both at the urinals, and I looked down, and said, "God, this thing is filthy. I need to take it home and get it washed. My co-worker looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, what?"

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37. What Are The Odds?

So once my friend and I went to Spokane for a music festival, and to stay with my other friend in Redmond. As we're from California, we knew absolutely nothing about the area, but with phones in hand we navigated the bus routes and streets to the consort. On our way back, both of our phones lost battery, leaving us wandering around urban Redmond looking for my friend’s apartment. (Every apartment complex looked exactly the same.)

Anyway, after several hours of walking, I broke down and started knocking on doors. After the 15th door, this couple finally answered and invited us in so that we could charge our phones. I told them, "oh you're so amazing for inviting us in! We've knocked on so many doors and you're the first to answer". They responded by saying, "everyone must think you're trying to sell something!" Then I fired back with "yeah! Or they think we're Mormon!" The couple just looked at me and said, "well you can't say that because we're Mormon". Never in my life have I felt so ashamed.

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38. Healing Is Easy For Some

I went to a viewing of somebody once. I encountered a few people, and we made small talk. They were very sad, so the only thing that came to mind was the old adage: "we should not mourn the passing, but instead celebrate her life". But what came out instead was: "we should not mourn her life, but instead celebrate the passing". I immediately realized my error and corrected myself and they accepted it. But I have never felt more embarrassed in my life.

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39. Not The Best History Buff

I was 16 and dating a 17-year-old, which seemed like a huge difference at that time. I was with him and all his friends in his hot tub, and they were talking about WWII. I had a huge brain freeze moment and actually asked, "what was Hitler's last name?" As it was coming out of my mouth, I could see it happening, but I still couldn't stop the words from coming out.

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40. Being Bilingual Is Overrated

I thought that hors d'oeuvres and “orrderves” were totally different things until about a year ago. I was planning an afternoon tea for our volunteers, and I said something along the lines of, "we should have hors d'oeuvres and ‘orrderves’, too..." My boss, his wife, my four co-workers all looked at me like I'd sprouted wings and then they all burst out laughing as they tried to correct my error. I was 27.

Mortifying Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

41. Maybe It’s A Time Zone Thing

During college finals, there was this thing during finals week called the "midnight scream". You would basically go outside and yell at the top of your lungs to let out some steam. Well, after a long day of studying, I turned to my roommates and asked—totally seriously, "yo, what time is that midnight scream thing happening at?" The worst part is that I had to be told just how dumb that was.

Mortifying Mess-UpsUnsplash, Gage Walker

42. No Tolerance For Logic

At a company-wide communications meeting, the plant manager just finished telling us that cell phones on the floor were banned and there would be a zero-tolerance policy in place. He then moved on and started discussing new ways to make it easier for the operators and the packagers to communicate better since there was some distance between them in the plant. Naturally, I suggested they just call each other on their cell phones. The manager was not amused.

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43. Everything Is For Sale

When I was with a bunch of friends going to the midnight release for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the book release, where we were all going to buy our own copies), we were discussing the differences between the books and movies. I let out this gem: "well, I think the real difference is that you can actually buy the movie!" I was only met with silence and incredulous looks, so I added, "I mean, when it is released on DVD of course!" I still have yet to live that down.

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44. Almost Right

In the eighth grade, I went on a school trip to Washington, D.C. We visited Ford’s Theater where President Lincoln was assassinated April 14, 1865. After the man giving a presentation was finished, he asked for questions. I raised my hand and said, "it must have been a bummer Valentine's Day for Mrs. Lincoln." He replied with, "that's FEBRUARY 14th." A hundred people or so snickered including several of my own friends.

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45. No Language Is Harder Than Your Own

My mom took my sister and me to a Chinese restaurant and was trying to interact with us by getting us all to read out our fortune cookies. We were so busy talking about teenage girl stuff though, so we weren't completely paying attention. Anyway, our mom opened up her cookie and read the paper inside the cookie. She said, "oh look girls, learn Chinese". Then she says "soo ven yur", "soo ven yur". My sister and I stopped and looked at each other with a puzzled look. We told her it didn’t sound like Chinese.

My sister snatched up the paper our mother was reading and said, "let me see that!" She looked at both sides of the paper then made a really dumb look on her face and said, "Mom! That's the English side... It says souvenir! The Chinese is on the back!" Our mom just silently stared at us for a few seconds then said trying not to laugh, "don't you dare tell anyone about this!"

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46. A True Debate Champion

I once took an Ethics and Biomedicine class that focused on the topic of medical assistance to end one’s life. We were looking at the issue from the stance of societal utility and someone began to argue with the true story of how his grandma being kept alive for two weeks allowed the family to come together, grieve, and spend final moments with her—which was valid.

But from the stance we were arguing from—societal utility—I argued that the resources spent on keeping someone alive that had no chance was stupid because that bed, the doctors tasked with keeping her alive, the machines, and the medicine required all could have been used more effectively—which was also valid. I should have stopped there. Instead, I closed my argument with saying, "the way I see it, your grandma was more useless than a tree because at least the tree provides oxygen".

Everyone turned around and glared at me. The other guy that was part of the discussion looked at me with a disgusted look and said, "that's my grandma, man". It was just super awkward to say the least.

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47. This Is Why Practice Matters

When I was a freshman in high school, me and a bunch of buddies got signed up to give a speech to a local club about "our vision of the future". At the time, I had little public speaking experience, and I was insanely nervous, and I mixed up two lines and blurted out:

"We will live in a future where people are judged on the color of their skin, not the content of their character". Time stood still.

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48. So Much For That Spark

A girl I had liked for months came to sit down next to me on the couch for a movie in a friend's basement. Without ever planning or even thinking about it, I blurted out: "seat's taken". I have literally no idea where it came from. She looked humiliated and sat on the floor.

I said I was joking and that I was sorry a thousand times. It didn't work. She never spoke to me again, citing to mutual friends that I was the biggest jerk she knew and that she had liked me. I spent the next year thinking of her and that one moment.

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49. Autocorrect Never Helps When You Need It

I used to work as an assistant for a technology company. All of my colleagues—and most of the clients we supported—were women. In an email that had the entire department copied, I offered to “mate” with (rather than “meet” with) senior counsel later that afternoon. My team never let me live it down.

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50. The Pun Life Found Him

Ah...so, I'm more than a little bit socially awkward and was working at a nightclub as a man in a motorized wheelchair comes out of the men's restroom. I see him and immediately put my hand on the door to hold it open for him. As he rolls past me, he says, "watch your feet!" and I reply with, "ehhh, feet are overrated".

Turns out the man was a double amputee below the knees. I double-facepalmed and then ran away in shame. When asked later by my coworkers why I said that, I answered, "I don't know, it was just a knee-jerk reaction". I promptly slapped my hand over my mouth, giving away the fact that I did not intentionally make that pun.

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I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.

These People Got Genius Revenges

When someone really pushes our buttons, we'd like to think that we'd hold our head high and turn the other cheek, but revenge is so, so sweet.
April 22, 2020 Scott Mazza

Featured Article

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.

Catherine of Aragon Facts

Tragic Facts About Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s First Wife

Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but very few people know her even darker history.
June 7, 2018 Christine Tran

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