Let’s face it: Some people are just rude. Call them ignorant, call them malicious, the end result is the same—their social unawareness or downright vicious streak leaves us feeling offended and hurt. These people took to Quora to let it all out about their worst encounter with a rude person.
1. Small Town Time
I ran into a high school classmate at Six Flags, and it had been 10 years since we had graduated high school. I was there with a few friends. She was there with, she told me, her husband and their 2 children.
Her children appeared to be 8–10 years old. She asked me if I had kids. I replied that I did not have kids, and that I hadn’t gotten married in that time. When she answered, my jaw dropped. She looked me straight in the eye and asked, “What’s wrong with you"?
I was pretty shocked. I mean, how rude and intrusive of a question can someone ask? So I told her that I was picky. I should have asked her if there was a timeline to getting married and having children once we graduated, because no one had told me about it.
To be fair, we’re from a town where you either get pregnant, or get out. I just happened to choose the latter.
2. The Writing’s On The Wall
I was the rude one. I was trying to buy a pair of Redwing boots. I wanted a certain boot, sole, and style, and I had been wearing their boots for over a decade. All in all, I knew what I wanted. I wanted the white crepe sole.
I do remodeling, and the black soles leave marks on floors. The white ones do too, but are almost invisible. This sales lady insisted that Redwings do not leave marks and I needed the black sole boots, with a heel.
I did not want the heel as it is too hard to clean mud off of. I tried to get her to bring out the boots I wanted. She insisted the black sole in a different style was what I needed. We went back and forth several times.
She said again, “These are Redwing boots and they do not leave marks on floors"!. I knew just what to do. I took a boot and wrote my name on the wall with the sole. I dotted the I. I handed it back to her and said, “It looks to me like it leaves marks, now can I look at a pair with white soles, please"?
She said, “How the heck am I supposed to clean that off the wall"? Me: “Good news, those are Redwing boots and they do not leave marks”. This was the only dealer in town for Redwings, so I now order boots online. Redwings are over $200 a pair; I should get what I want.
3. Pretty Ugly
I was in the military, and there was a person I was stationed with who was, to put it politely, an über witch. She was Barbie doll perfect-looking, but just a nasty individual who belittled and berated anyone she deemed beneath her.
One night, we are all out at the club and just doing our own thing. She stumbles over to me and just starts rambling: “I don’t get it. You’re not that pretty but you always have a boyfriend. I am beyond beautiful and these guys won’t give me the time of day”. I was straight-up speechless.
After my initial shock, I looked her in the eye and said “You’re right. While I may not be the most gorgeous creature to ever walk this planet, I have something you don’t—a personality that doesn’t suck. You are very pretty until you open your mouth, then all the ugly just pours out of you like ugliness diarrhea”.
While what she said to me hurt deeply—this was 30+ years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday—and I likely hurt her, I genuinely hope that I hurt her enough to re-evaluate her life choices and do better.
4. It’s A Free Country
When I was in my early 20s, I used to go to the beach to roller skate. In my adult life, I’ve never been what you’d call thin, but at that time in my life, I was nicely shaped on the curvier side. This one particular day, I decided to lay out on the beach while my boyfriend skated.
As I was soaking in the sun, a guy walked up and squatted by me.
“Hi, how ya’ doin’"? he asked.
“Um, okay,” I replied.
“I just wanted to tell you, I’m with that group over there,” he said, pointing to a large group of people about my age, maybe a little younger. “I got elected to come tell you that fat people shouldn’t come to this beach”.
I was literally gobsmacked. I picked up my things and my towel and said, “Yeah, well, rude people shouldn’t either, but I see they made an exception for you”. It wasn’t even over yet.
I started walking to my car, embarrassed and angry. As the tears began to flow, a bird flew overhead and pooped all down my arm. It was truly not my day.
5. Crossing A Line
An old boyfriend and I bought a small property together with the intention to flip it. Although his family was in real estate, he somehow learned nothing about it. We had a disastrous experience of it, eventually arguing about many of the things we needed done, no matter how small.
This was mostly due to him not sticking with the plan of flipping—oh, and using it as a date spot for multitudes of other women. He became hateful and vindictive, spiteful even. We knew some of each other's histories, in mine a separation from a husband of over 25 years.
That's a long time to be married, and regardless of the ending, neither of us wished harm upon the other. Unfortunately, my ex-husband ended up taking his life. Our children, the youngest being 9, had a rough time with it.
So one day we are at each other about this whole house renovation, and just to hurt me my old boyfriend says, “Now I know why your husband offed himself”. I had a hard time believing he said it, and I was completely mortified for a few minutes.
Then I told him, “No, actually, you don't. You don't know him like that. It hurt my kids immeasurably and I hated that the most. If you know what's good for you, you will never mention that again”. It still astonishes me he said it.
6. Some People Have No Manners
One day in grade 5 (I would have been 10 or 11) I was taking my time packing up at the end of the school day. This was common for me since I didn't have to catch a bus. It was only me and a classmate in the room, as our teacher had left to do something once most of the class had gone.
A woman I had never seen before and never saw again (I assume she was someone's parent) came in and asked for the teacher. I politely told her I want sure where the teacher had gone, but she might ask at the office.
This woman looked at me a little more directly when I started answering her question. Then it got mind-blowingly weird. She did this big double-take and said “Oh my goodness, your face! Are you deformed or something?"! She said this to a 10-year-old she'd never seen before.
Who the heck could possibly think that was appropriate??? I have a mild case of something called Romberg Syndrome (sometimes called Perry-Romberg Syndrome) which causes the breakdown of tissue in one side of the face during childhood.
It can affect both fatty tissue and bone, making one side of your face thinner and potentially changing the shape of your eye socket, cheek, nose, mouth, and jawline on the side. The breakdown of tissue drops with puberty, but the effects remain.
In severe cases the facial asymmetry is dramatic and the person may want or even require surgical reconstruction, but as I said, I have a mild case. The vast majority of people never even notice that my face is less symmetrical than most, and most people have trouble seeing it even if I've brought it up.
When this adult stranger asked grade-4 me if I was “deformed or something", I'd known the basics about this condition for a number of years (I was diagnosed when I was 4 or 5) but hadn't thought about it much and definitely didn't remember what it was called.
That coming with shock meant the only thing I could think to say was something along the lines of “Yeah, sort of, I guess". When the woman left, my classmate turned to me and asked in this really incredulous voice “Was that your mom"??
My guess is that the only way she could see it making any sense for an adult to come up and ask a kid that was if they were related. I replied “NO!!"!, quickly finished packing up, and cried on my walk home. And later when I told my parents what happened.
I don't know if they did anything, but I really hope they got in touch with my teacher to find out who that woman was, and that either they or my teacher gave her a major chewing out.
7. Get Over Yourself
This came about six months after the passing of my week-old daughter (she was born with a terminal condition). I was getting an angry phone call from my boss, telling me off for a good half hour about something that turned out to be someone else's fault entirely.
During this half-hour rant, he told me that it had been months since my daughter's passing and that I should've moved on by now and don't think about using it as an excuse for poor work.
8. Makeover Moment
My awful father’s “bestie” looked me straight in the face and said with a laugh, “You’re just as ugly as your mother”. To say that to a child who was being mistreated all day at school was very bad.
I managed to shrug off the comment, but even better, I had the last laugh. When I saw him again as a 17-year-old, he positively gaped that this ugly child could actually turn pretty. I had a nice tan, was shapely, wearing a cute vest with my big eighties’ blonde hair.
I sauntered past him, flicking my hair as I walked by with a huge smirk. He only lived a few more years before his liver packed up. I was not very sad at all.
9. Oh, Mother
My mother-in-law told me I'm not a mother…on Mother's Day, while I was 21-25 weeks pregnant with a miracle rainbow baby, and having complications with gestational diabetes. Like, I was almost at risk of losing her.
I had to stab myself twice a day with medication and did everything I could in my power to ensure this baby would survive. It was a miracle that she was even born with my infertility from stage 4 endometriosis.
I flat-out told her I became a mother the moment it said YES on the first response pregnancy test. And after all I been through, I deserve to celebrate being a mother on Mother’s Day while pregnant.
10. Do You Praise God With That Mouth?
I went to a private Catholic high school run by a convent of nuns. Most of them were surprisingly nice, and I attended a funeral for one of the nuns 40 years after graduating. The new mother superior, who I had never met, came to our table of 8 and loudly said to me, “I don’t recognize you, looks like you have gained a ton of weight”. I knew how to shut her up.
I just said, “Yes, I was only 6 pounds when I was born”. My friends laughed…She did not.
11. Let The Haters Hate
This happened MANY years ago, when my adopted child (an African-American girl—I am white) was just a wee lass. I was in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, and this other woman waiting there asked me, in a very indignant and judgmental tone, "Are you that girl’s father"!? "Yes", I answered, "and the luckiest man in the world"!
This woman was curious, understandably—but there were so many more polite ways to satisfy her curiosity! Luckily, my daughter is a strong individual who has an ever-deepening sense of her worth and her place in the world, and has learned to see rudeness as an issue for the rude person alone, and an issue that has no connection to her worth or stature as a person.
12. Car Trouble
My boyfriend and I were at the grocery store and ran into a friend of his in the parking lot. For whatever reason, we were talking about cars while standing beside my vehicle, a 2004 Cadillac. It’s not the greatest or nicest car obviously, but a great car.
The nicest car I've ever owned really, I worked hard for my car and was proud that I bought that car all by myself. His reaction made me fume. He smacks my car and says “Well, it's better than nothing”. My boyfriend and I still make random jokes about it.
13. No One’s Laughing
In the 80s, I was a server at a chain restaurant. There was a regular that came in several times a week. He was always trying to flirt with the servers and telling what he thought were jokes. They were bigoted and I never laughed at them.
He finally asked another server why I never laughed at his jokes. She asked him if he knew any of my family members or anything about my personal life. Of course not. We have every color, ethnicity, and religion in my crazy family.
I am white. I was offended, but instead of yelling at him, I ignored his jokes hoping he would ask me why so I could respond in a way that he might think about. He just stayed out of my section from then on. I was happy about that. He could take his great tips and shove them!!
14. It’s All About Me
My (at that time) best friend told me that I was “very evil and selfish” for not asking about her new apartment or liking her posts on social media about it. My father was very sick and dying and I suffered from depression and anxiety. I was speechless and stunned over her behavior. She is longer a friend of mine.
15. Real Enough
“Where did you get that? It nearly looks real”. I was doing some temporary secretarial work to keep me from getting bored between high-paying freelance contracts. One company director was a pompous little git and he decided my expensive watch had to be a fake. He couldn’t believe a ‘lowly temp’ could afford a real Rolex.
16. Here Before You, Here After You
I live in South Texas. One year the company I worked for closed and I took a job with the same company in Chicago. At that Chicago office, I worked with a guy who always talked about me being Mexican. He also made constant Mexican jokes.
Mexicans are good at this but not that, Mexicans come into this country illegally, all that “good” stuff. But one day he went too far. One time he said, “Yeah well, your people just swam over here” and laughed about it. “They swam across the border, that’s why they call you all…” and proceeded to call us a name.
I had enough and was willing to put my job on the line, so in front of our team, I said to him sternly and seriously, “I have done my family’s genealogy search and found that the Cadenas have been in America and South Texas since 1568. That’s only 76 years after Spain discovered it”.
“The Cadenas,” I continued, “were here before there was a border and we never swam across a border or river. We were here before the 1621 Pilgrim landing at the rock. And the Cadenas were here before the signing of the Declaration of Independence”.
Then I whispered to him, “But if you have a problem with that we can go outside and box”. I then pulled back and said out loud, “and remember Mexicans ARE good at boxing, but don’t take my word for it”.
He never mentioned my people ever again. I left after a year of being there. Little did he know I am left-handed and one heck of a boxer and would have embarrassed him further.
17. Have A Heart
“What’s up with you? You look like a freaking raccoon”. My “best friend” said this when she walked in on me just after I’d heard my friend Pam passed. Eyeliners, mascara, and tears don't mix.
18. Girls Do It Better
I’m a woman. This happened way back in the day, when I auditioned for my first cooking job in a fine-dining restaurant. I joined the sister restaurant team for service so they could check me out. This is called a “stage”.
They put me on the salad/dessert station since it’s the starting point on a line. There was a station leader and a new guy there. Before I started plating, he leaned over and said, “This is a really challenging kitchen, you should apply at [another restaurant], there’s a lot more women there”. But the joke was on him. I did better than him and got the job.
19. You Don’t Own Me
I was an Assistant General Manager of a restaurant, which means I managed the front and back of house. The only cook that morning clearly had the flu. I was trained on their line, so I wanted to send her home. It would be against the law.
I called the owner and said I would replace her so she could go home. He said no and argued with me, saying I needed to manage the servers (who were more than capable). Then he hung up and came to the restaurant.
When he got there, we went to the office. He closed the door, sat me down, and talked about how I needed to listen to him and not argue. His next words disgusted me. At some point, he said, “I need you to understand, when you’re on the clock you belong to me”.
I couldn’t afford to walk out but I found a new job ASAP. Today I’m a personal chef making a living with a long list of challenging restaurants and positions under my belt.
20. All The Rage
My niece was putting up with nasty putdowns and insults about her clothing from a wealthy classmate who wouldn’t even think about wearing anything but high-fashion, designer clothes. She was also jealous of my niece being a high achiever in high school and her confidence.
But finally, my niece had enough. She wore a knock-off brand of Ugg boots to school one day, I think they were called “Bears”, and her snobby classmate jumped on the opportunity to insult her again. She called out to the class “Look at her cheap boots, they're not Uggs”!
Well, my calm, collected niece remembered this girl's weak spot was her rather large nose, so she went for it. She looked her straight in the eye and replied, “They're Bears, you big-nosed freak”! She was never bothered again.
21. Your Time’s Up
In 1970, when my father returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam, he gave me a tactical watch he had used there. It had a green band and a non-reflective face. When I wore it to school, one of the teachers commented, “How many people did your father kill to get you that watch"?
My dad had to exercise all kinds of self-control not to go in and have a special parent-teacher conference with that teacher.
22. I Can See That You’re A Jerk
I was volunteering at my mom’s work. The group I volunteer with paid each volunteer a set amount for each day of volunteering. This was my only source of income at the time, so I worked every day that I could.
It is also important to note that I am legally blind and had only been working with my first guide dog for a couple of months. However, I also have pet dogs and have over a decade of experience with dogs.
So I show up to volunteer. I’m in my spot along a long counter, in between two other volunteers. We are waiting for the event to open so we can start selling tickets. Meanwhile, my guide dog is tucked away under the counter on her mat and I’m snacking on some dry Nesquik cereal.
The volunteer to my left looks over and asks, “What are you eating, is that cereal"? I finish chewing to answer the question, when the volunteer on my right speaks. “It’s probably dog food, she probably couldn’t tell the difference”.
It wasn’t like I didn’t know these people. They’ve worked alongside my mom for years and were directly working with me for at least a year. Like because I can’t see, I wouldn’t be able to notice a difference in smell and taste between cereal and dog food?
I was so taken aback by this comment that I didn’t respond, and even 4 years later I am still upset over that comment. There’s also a kicker. The worst part is, I didn’t know who made the comment at the time, but still volunteer with that group and probably still work with that person.
Luckily, if it is the person I think it is, they don’t often work in the back where I used to work anymore. The truly sad part is that these guys volunteer for a very well-recognized organization that helps the blind where I live. Yet I have either heard or directly received so many comments that make me feel worthless or like a burden being there.
I have basically said, screw them, I’m not there to make friends. I need to keep busy doing something when not in University, and a little extra money never hurts.
23. Telling On Yourself
I'm a call center employee, so I've heard pretty much every insult, been called every name imaginable, and have had every combination of swear words used on me. It's hard to pin just one down as the “rudest” but one recent interaction comes to mind.
For obvious reasons I can't mention who I work for, what I do, the customer's name, or what the full interaction was. The most I can say is that the customer was a female who was not getting the desired outcome she wanted and I am a male who happened to get the call. After telling her we could not do what she expected me to do the conversation went something like this:
Her: Why not, you stupid idiot? Is it because you're a fool who doesn't know what the heck he's doing?
Me: Not at all…
Her (cutting me off): That's it, isn't it? Your family is so inbred it’s made you stupid!
Me: Honestly ma'am, that's…
Her: (cutting me off again): I hope your mother gets sick!
Me: Ma'am, I'm more than happy to have an adult conv…
Her: I hope your mother gets sick and DIES! I hope your whole FAMILY does! Then I hope YOU do!
And with that, she hung up on me.
Of course, customers are randomly selected for surveys, and she did one on me. She gave me a zero out of 5 and left comments saying I was rude, mean, and used profanity.
24. I’m A Survivor
I was walking around in Pittsburgh wearing my Desert Storm chocolate chips field jacket with a beard and blue jeans on. This one smart Alec backpack guy came up to me near Carnegie Mellon University and said, “Hey you old man, why don't you die already"? But I had the perfect response.
I said, “I can't. I got Veteran Care, they're not going to let me just go. I plan to pass from old age”.
25. Read The Room
I was in labor with my first child while on an Army base. The midwife is between my knees, I’m puffy from preeclampsia and going into kidney failure. My dad’s wife thought this was a good time to ask “What happened? You really let yourself go”. Oh, the joy I got when the midwife (an Army Major), stood up and offered to have her banned from the base. Again, I had ballooned quickly because of the preeclampsia, but dang that was rude.
26. You’re Out Of Order
My husband and I were participating in a host program where an older gentleman came to live with us for a few months in an effort to improve his English. I won’t say where he was from. He said quite a few ignorant things…but one of them I can’t get out of my head.
What he said directly to me was that if I lived in his country, they would lock me up in a hut. Maybe a cousin would marry me. My husband’s jaw just fell and he put his arm around me, but he said nothing. See, I have a physical disability and walk with assistance.
I know it was said out of ignorance but it has stuck with me. There is this notion that all people with disabilities are supposed to be admired and we are courageous and strong, but really we are just living our lives.
27. So, That’s A No?
When I was in college, I asked out a very attractive girl. She laughed and said, “Do you really think someone as beautiful as I am would ever go out with a guy like you? I mean, you're not good-looking, you have nothing going for you. You don't have a lot of money and you don't have a hot car. I'm not wasting my time on you”.
28. Not A Conscious Uncoupling
At the beginning of August 2019, I was diagnosed with CML (Chronic Myeloid Leukemia). I split from my ex in 2009, and he’s been at my throat about our kid ever since, even now that he’s 18.
We split because he was (and still is) a horrible narcissist. He was given notice of almost 90 days to remove some a vehicle from my property or it would be parked on the street to be towed by the city. He did not comply, so my housemate and I did exactly what we said we’d do and parked it out on the street.
He of course found out and came and picked up the car. But the next time we met up for visitation for our teenager, he went off on me in the middle of a gas station parking lot. Screaming and swearing at me so loudly that the station attendant came outside to make sure everything was okay.
In fact, the attendant came just in time for him to scream at me “I hope you die"! Keep in mind, that I had just been diagnosed with cancer less than three months before, and we were in the process of exchanging our kid for visitation.
So yeah, he absolutely heard his father wish that on his mother with cancer. All because he was inconvenienced with having to come get a car that sat at my house for over a year.
29. Typecasting In Action
“I know your type"!
I was about 22 years old, meeting a friend from work at a bar near the beach when he introduced me to one of his friends, a woman about the same age as we were.
She took one look at me and said, “I know your type! You’re a business major. You’re in a fraternity. You think you’re privileged and better than others”. It somehow got worse. I didn’t know what to do, so she looked at me and then said, “See! Just try to deny it. I nailed it didn’t I"!?
I can’t remember much else. I looked over at my friend for help but he had turned the other way talking with someone else and hadn’t heard anything she had said.
I may have said something like, “Do you think Neil would be friends with someone like that? Please ask him about me”. I felt like maybe something bad had happened to her and rebutting her at that moment wasn’t as good as having her talk to our mutual friend.
I felt unwelcome and left. I wasn’t really interested in arguing or apologies. The moment was ruined. Plus, it was double rude because none of it was true. I was a drama major, working a minimum wage job paying my way through college.
I never had any interest in fraternities and generally disliked the whole good ol’ boy mentality. I was, however, blonde, blue-eyed, clean-cut, and wore 50s retro-style clothing. I probably looked the part.
30. Don’t Come For Me
Following my divorce, my ex said to me: “Now that we are divorced I can tell you, you are FAT”. My reply was, “That’s a great observation Jim, however I can always lose my weight (which I did) but you, unfortunately, are stuck with your tiny brain”.
31. The Green Eyed-Monster
I became engaged while working in a large firm as a paralegal. I got a beautiful 2-carat pear diamond and had it set on a thick gold band instead of having to buy a band upon marriage. At one of the reception desks, someone asked to see my ring.
When I showed it, the receptionist said, “Ostentatious much"? Another woman, mother to friend, said something equally obnoxious. I was stunned by both remarks. I’ve seen engagement rings with visible spots and remarked how lovely they were. What the heck? Jealous people are ugly.
32. Have A Little Faith
I was raised Catholic in a conservative city, in a conservative state. Many of my friends growing up were Catholic or at least Christian. In 6th grade, one of our classmates took his life. This was not only devastating in itself, but it was incredibly triggering for me.
I lost my dad to the same thing when I was 4 years old. Even though I was young when I lost my dad, I still remember that day. I don’t remember him being hurtful, but my mom has shared with me that he was to her.
My mom had just separated from him, against our Catholic family’s wishes, as she was suspicious of him mistreating me. I do not have any memories of him directly hurting me so if he did, she was able to protect me from at least remembering it.
The day my dad passed, he came over to our apartment and got into an argument with my mom. I remember that day. Everything is now black and white, except the 80s-style floral velvet couch. I tried to de-escalate that argument and let him know I loved him and missed him by giving him crackers from our pantry.
He wouldn’t even talk to me. So I hid them in his coat that was on the back of the couch. The fight escalated and he started to attack my mom. I started to scream and tell him to get off her. I still remember the fear in her eyes. I think my cries brought him to the reality of what he was doing.
He had his demons but I know he didn’t want to do that in front of me. Still, he didn’t look at me. He grabbed his coat while yelling at my mom to call the authorities and she screamed to get out. It all happened so fast and was one of the scariest moments of my life.
When things settled, I checked and he had not taken my crackers. I cried because I didn’t know if he knew I loved him. Kids love their parents and miss them, even when they aren’t perfect. Anyway, my mom called officers, who went to check on my dad at his apartment.
That’s when they discovered what he’d done. He had a closed casket, which made closure a difficult thing as I didn’t believe he was gone. It gets downright heartbreaking. I would chase men who looked like him in the grocery store only to discover it wasn’t my dad.
The feelings I have for my dad are complex and constantly evolving between the stages of grief. My normal ones are feelings that swing from those of abandonment and anger, all the way to acceptance, and compassion for his mental health in a time when we had fewer services to help.
But back to the day we found out my classmate had passed. My emotions were high on re-living and experiencing the trauma of a decade before. One of my “best friends” made a comment about how all people who die that way go straight to the Devil.
I reminded her that my dad passed the same way, and she looked me in the eyes and said, “God doesn’t love him anymore and he there’s too”. I lost a classmate that day, and someone I had considered one of my best friends. It was devastating.
I am no longer Catholic, though I do know ones that are truly compassionate and wonderful people.
33. Working Girl
A female friend of my husband, who had taken a place at university to study medicine (fully funded by the government) and then never worked in paid work afterward (due to having children) said to me “Why did you have a child if you want to work"?
Did I say, “Why did you take a place at university if you never wanted to work"? No, no I didn’t. A decade later, her husband had a midlife crisis and left her. Not surprisingly, he also failed to recognize her contributions to the marriage and wanted all their assets for himself (which did not occur in the end).
Suddenly at 50, she had to get a job. I was kind to her and never mentioned what she said to me, but I have also never forgotten it.
34. Mistaken Identity
When someone says, “Is that you"? looking at my pro fashion modeling photos. No, it’s a total stranger that I’m trying to support. It’s rude as if I couldn’t be that person. I realize that most people are not observant to facial structure, shape of eyes, jawline, nose, and may think that a professional team can make anyone look like a model. It’s not the way that industry works.
35. Never Feel TOO Good About Yourself
A few years ago, I started to lift weights and eat better. I toned up nicely and lost some much-needed weight. I excitedly told my partner at the time that I hit a PR for leg press in the gym that day, I was so excited! I still can’t believe his response.
He looked me directly in my face and said that I should stop lifting heavy because I would get bulky and ugly and hate the way I looked.
36. A Vote Of No Confidence
I was in a meeting at work, and someone suggested that I run a workshop for one of our other offices. I was the most qualified to do it. One of the clients in the meeting, who pretty much was known for having a bad personality, smirked and said to my face and in front of everyone: “Her? She doesn’t have the personality to run a workshop”.
There was pin-drop silence. The person who had suggested my name thought they heard wrong and said, “Uma has a lot of experience, and a track record of great results facilitating brand workshops”. Again the same client said, “She doesn’t have the energy or dynamism to lead a workshop”.
This client was a mid-manager at Google and had a reputation for being rude, and was widely disliked. Her boss, who was in the meeting, didn’t reprimand her even though I had delivered campaigns for him that had achieved strong results and made him look good to the higher management.
I didn’t respond but decided at that moment that I would leave the job. I did leave with a much better and higher-paying job in the next few months. As for my replacement, she quit after less than six months from dealing with clients like that.
37. Good Things Come To Those Who Wait
I was a co-author working on the 2nd edition of a textbook for a publisher that would later, deservedly, go bankrupt. The first was a nightmare experience; I ended up captaining the editing of it because the editor didn’t seem to care that much.
When it required serious, serious edits to get down to its target length, the editor was no help and accused me of causing the project to run overtime, instead of thanking me for an expert job of editing that nailed the target length.
The finished product even won a national award for visual excellence. The editor wouldn’t put something on the book—a sticker, maybe?—indicating its award-winning status, and the publisher and editor then refused to market the book to any instructor who already used a different book on their imprint.
So the book undersold, as it did with a subsequent publisher. I invested tens of thousands of hours into the book, but couldn’t overcome the publishers and the inertia of the academic textbook business.
Finally, we moved to self-publishing to cut out the middlemen parasites. Back to the prep for the 2nd edition: I had a conference call by phone with the editor and my very busy but very supportive lead author. I guess the editor had gotten the vibe that I was frustrated with him, or maybe he just hated me for doing his job for him better than he was doing it.
Anyway, at the end of the call, apropos of nothing, he announced that he and his wife were expecting their second child. Now, my wife (who is 7 years older than I am) and I had one child, and we were lucky to be able to have one child because I had a crippling bout of depression in graduate school that made it impossible for me to be a parent for several key fertility years.
I don’t think the editor knew this story, other than we had one child, but then again you never know people’s full backstories. Anyway, so at the end of this conference call, the editor brags about his impending second child, and says out of nowhere:
“Ha ha, John, I’ll have *two* kids, I’m ahead of you"!
What kind of person says that? What kind of parent says that to another parent? What kind of editor says that to one of his authors? What?!?
Floored, I think I said in response, “It’s not a race”.
Not too many years later, after we authors were again blamed for the sales of the book, I got a call at home. It was the editor. He wanted to reach out to me to break the really tough news that…he was leaving his job and wouldn’t be our editor anymore.
He wanted to soften the news by calling and telling me personally. I managed to make it through that call without bursting into the biggest guffaw-plus-arms-raised-in-triumph-cheer. But just barely. Instead, I thanked him for the call, put the phone down, and I smiled.
38. Rude In Every Language
I accepted that long ago there are self-entitled jerks in the world, so I usually just let the “rudeness” fly over my head and I try not to give ‘em too much attention unless the person is being really persistent about it.
However, one thing that I will never let slide is being rude to my family. There are a few instances in my life, but the one that stands out is when I worked at my family’s restaurant. My mother owns a Thai restaurant in a Cantonese-speaking city, and I used to work full-time there.
She is Thai but could speak both Thai and Cantonese fluently. One day, a customer came in to order take-out. Since my mother and I were talking over some stuff and were both standing at the cashier, we both greeted her and asked her what she wants in Cantonese.
But for whatever the reason, her response to my mother was: “Huh? I can’t understand you, you can’t speak Cantonese well, right"? We were both frozen for a few seconds, me with fear since I know my mother can either be the kindest person in the world, or the meanest.
“She can speak Cantonese, she just did”, I said.
”Yeah…I CAN’T speak Cantonese”. My mother replies in a sarcastic tone, IN Cantonese!
39. A Low Blow
M co-worker Sven and I were in a very important meeting that was about to start. Everyone else in the room was a vice president or higher. I knew everyone in the room and introduced Sven.
Suddenly Sven looked up and said, “Did you shave today"?
I couldn't believe my ears. First of all, I hadn't shaved. I woke up late, jumped in the shower, and scrambled to get to work on time because this meeting was super important and it was scheduled for 9:00 am.
Send couldn't affect my career anyway except negatively, and he had just taken his best opportunity. I thought fast and replied quickly. “Perhaps, but that's the first tie I ever saw that doesn't go with a white shirt”.
Luckily the division president walked in at that moment and the meeting started. Sven spent the next half hour looking at his shirt, looking at his tie, looking at me, looking at his shirt, looking at his tie…
Several of the VPs smirked, attempting to swallow their laughter but many of them looked at me and smiled. The meeting ended with all of our proposals approved.
40. Missed Connections
I had had a nasty allergic reaction to some new, brightly-colored soap and all the skin was peeling off my face. This guy I work with walked up to me slowly, fixed me in the eye, pointed a finger at my face (nearly touching my cheek), and in a low voice said, “What's your problem"?
My instinct was to reply, “I don't have problem, but you do," before walloping him, but luckily I remembered that were both in our employers' international training facility and that appropriate/inappropriate body language differs between cultures, and the nuances of meaning in English can be subtle.
Nice guy, and it was sweet of him to be concerned about me!
41. Me First
“I don’t do charity”.
That sentence all in itself is already a pretty rough one. But this was in reference to a young woman at work. I speak Portuguese, fluently, with a bit of an accent. She was a native Brazilian and spoke it as fluently, no accent.
I have helped her out with a lot of last-minute tasks that her office would send us, because I try to be of the mindset that if I can help, I will. I of course fail at this sometimes, as we all do. Her and I had a conversation about the Portuguese classes that were offered at my work.
I mentioned how I wanted to go but didn’t have time. Then she turned to me and said, and I quote to the best of my memory: “I would go, it would be nice to get out of work for a little and still get paid. But that is for people trying to learn, I am already fluent, and I don’t do charity”.
I was stunned, the other gentleman with us was stunned, and anyone else who was in earshot was stunned. She had a very aggressive and pushy personality, but I did not take her as honestly shallow. Her and I don’t really talk anymore, mainly due to me switching jobs. But I never became good friends with her after that. It was just so rude.
42. The Mother Of Insults
I’m a military wife and we were at a new post. At the time, my twin sons were playing t-ball. I was sitting next to the post commander's wife in the stands watching the game. I must point out that I am a light, ruddy-skinned Irish woman.
My husband was a dark-skinned Hawaiian who she had never met yet. She turned to me in the stands and asked me how old the twins were “when you got them”. Not realizing what she meant, I said “Well, right when they were born”.
I was thinking that maybe she thought they were in incubators at the start because they were twins and might have been small. She said, “You mean they let you have them right away"? I told her they would have had a heck of a time stopping me from taking them.
She suddenly realized that I had given birth to them. She was so embarrassed. I laughed and told her it was okay don't worry about it. This was in 1969 and mixed marriages weren't that common.
43. Don’t Take It As A Compliment
I taught high school for 30 years. One day I was standing outside my classroom as my students came in. One of the teacher aides who worked in the computer lab next door came by.
She remarked that the black jumper I had on looked comfortable and I acknowledged this as a compliment. The next thing she said proved that she hadn’t meant that way at all. She said, and I quote, “Don’t you wish jumpers were still in fashion"?
Maybe not the rudest, but somehow I still remember it vividly.
44. Mind Your Business
I was about eight months pregnant and walking downtown to my OB check-up appointment. A nice-looking guy about my age wearing a suit walking towards me said, as he passed by, “Boy, you’ve sure got a lot of weight to lose”. In a nasty tone.
45. Act Your Age
Not me, but my flatmate. She was at a supermarket buying a drink. It's important to note that she was 25 at the time and had her ID, but that she has proportionate dwarfism, meaning she might come off as young because she's petite all over.
Disproportionate dwarfism is more obvious, whereas if you can't see my flatmate's features clearly, you might misinterpret her age. However, what happened was absolutely uncalled for. The cashier looked at her ID, saw that it verified her appropriate age, then said, “You look like a ten-year-old”.
Then some customer behind my flatmate started agreeing and ganging up, like being small is some kind of offense. Also, while is small, she does not look ten. She could be mistaken for a teenager, maybe, but she looks more than half her age.
Not to mention she is fully developed and does not have a child's body. A mutual friend told me she recognized it was dwarfism immediately because she looked more like a tiny adult than a child. Also, the cashier was barely taller than she was.
46. A Helping Hand
I was only about 14 or 15, and the older brother of one of my best guy friends said, “You have big hands”! and then claimed I would be good at giving, er, “favors” if you know what I mean.
I'm 64 now and will NEVER forget that and have ALWAYS been embarrassed about and self-conscious of them. Though now I realize that these hands have put in 50 years of labor raising my daughters practically alone, doing my own car repairs, being a handyman around the house, and a bunch more things.
47. Stay In Your Department
While I’ve had a long life with a fair amount of insults, it is rare that a stranger would go to any length to embarrass me. But this time, I was shopping at an upscale department store that had a plus-size department.
A woman crossed through the smaller-size department, walked across the aisle and into the plus department, making a beeline for me. I knew I was in trouble then. She stood within two feet of me and asked, in a kind of superior lilt, “Have you thought about exercising"?
Not that it was any of her business, but fat people often do have physical regimens. I swam and lifted weights.
48. We All Lose It Sometimes
We're a Canadian military family, currently stationed on the island of Montreal in the province of Quebec. Around the first snowfall of our first year here, a neighbor climbed up our front porch and pinned me so that I couldn't get to the door, screaming at me “Go home! Go back where you came from"!
I told him that we don't get to choose our postings, and that as he doesn't live in our building, he should just go home himself. In 23 years, we've only gotten one posting that was on our preference list, by the way.
I kept my mouth shut about the incident for years, until a few weeks ago. Then I just snapped. His wife was complaining about me feeding the songbirds to another neighbor, and forgot that I understand French and Italian much better than I speak either language.
I had a terrible tantrum and told her what happened three years ago. However, I feel that my behavior is worse than what the husband did, and now I desperately want to move literally anywhere. *sigh* I have excuses for my behavior (I just started going through menopause) but there is no way that I can make this better. I'm just hiding indoors now.
49. Shut Your Mouth
One of the team members at work has been diagnosed with cancer, and this horrible boss took glee in telling us all the gory details. I knew this sick person socially outside the work environment, and she had told me about her problems in confidence.
She actually said that if anybody asked me about her health, to please just say I’m ill but OK. I still can’t believe how anybody could do this.
50. If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say…
My late husband and I had been trying to get pregnant ever since our second year of being together. I was scared to have children, while my late husband loved children. We had been trying for four straight years, and way later, like 2 years ago, I came to find out that my late husband's family had infertility issues.
Before my husband passed, I had helped him go to San Francisco to find a job with his newfound bachelor's degree in gaming while he left me behind to deal with my in-laws. Then disaster struck. Unfortunately, while he was over there and I was far away, he took his life.
When I found out the news, I did a significantly stupid thing and had a one-night stand with one of my co-worker's brothers. We had become friends when my husband was away. I would later come to find out I was pregnant from that night.
So now I’m a single parent, and my kid's father bolted out the minute our kid was born. My kid, now 7, has Autism, ODD, ADHD, and a heart murmur. My former mother-in-law—my late husband’s mother—and I had been chatting.
I had posted on Facebook that I wanted helpful tips on how my other friends parented, to which my former mother-in-law said: “You should have aborted the kid when you had the chance”. That ended all contact with her.
51. Good Riddance
A couple of months after my wife miscarried our first child, one of our close acquaintances said: “She should be healed enough. You guys need to start trying for another”. But it got worse. When I told her that we were still mourning our loss, she said, “Well, I’ve had 3 miscarriages and got over them pretty quickly. There’s no reason she shouldn’t be able to do the same! You both need to move on with your lives”.
I rarely fight more than verbal jousting, and have certainly never hit a woman but I came VERY close that day. She moved out of town shortly after this when her husband was transferred, thank goodness.
52. Rough Day, Rough Reply
I had just heard that a co-worker’s daughter had gotten in a car accident going to school. Later that day, I went up to the front office to deliver paperwork and saw her. I asked if her daughter was okay.
She snarled at me, “It’s none of your business—and even if it was, why would I tell you"? I had always been polite and courteous to her and the other ladies in the front office, and this had me leaving in tears. I never spoke to her again.
53. Get Him While You Can
About eight months ago, I discovered a black stain on the sole of my right foot. At first, I thought it was a verruca and tried whittling a little bit of it off. Then I googled it. Huge mistake. From the information gained, I self-diagnosed it as acral lentiginous melanoma, a very rare form of skin cancer that affects about two people in a million.
I went to see my doctor and he sent me to the hospital. The dermatologist advised me to have a punch biopsy, which I did. Then I waited for the results to come through. In all of this time, I had told maybe three people that I know, and one of them lives in the same building as me.
He's a bluff, brusque Yorkshire man, originally from Leeds. I’d explained to him my fears. That if it was the real deal, then I would most definitely be a goner within five years. Sometime later that week, I was inside his flat with a few other people, and my Yorkshire friend, who's a technophobe, was holding his mobile phone.
I normally put the pay-as-you-go credit on for him as he just couldn't do it. That evening in his flat he actually said to me, “You're gonna have to show me how to do this as you're not always gonna be around”. I just looked at him and thought “Screw you”.
Thankfully, even though the hospital tests confirmed that it was acral lentiginous melanoma (the killer of Bob Marley), in my case it was non-malignant.