From an early age, we’re taught not to judge people based on their appearances. But as humans, it’s simply in our nature to be judgmental of others, whether we’ve gotten to know them beforehand or not. This habit can sometimes get us into trouble, especially in situations where we have to go up against a person who is secretly a master in their craft. These 50 stories teach us all a very important lesson: Be careful who you decide to take on.
1. The Spreadsheet Expert
I’m kind of the Google Sheets expert at work, and I make lots of new tools for different departments to use. Enter the “new guy” who needed to collect, aggregate, and display a bunch of data. My boss was like, “Send a calendar invite so you can tell her exactly what you want and she can set it up for you.” The new guy was having none of that and insisted he was going to do it all by himself.
Well, a week later, he created this really bad sheet that didn’t have half the information we needed, and we had to have the numbers for the State by the next day. So, my boss asked me to fix it and the new guy was like, “Yeah okay, that’s not really possible. This is as good as it’s going to get!” Boy, was he in for the surprise of his life.
Two hours later, I sent them both a fully functional and automated sheet that did everything we needed it to, and we’d be able to use it indefinitely, which meant that the next time we needed the data for the state report, it would already be done. The new guy ended up saying something like, “I would have added that in if I’d had more time.”
2. A Mythical Blogger
I once went to a museum with my sister and her friend, who I hadn’t met before. We got to the Greek art bit and her friend started telling me how she was super into Greek mythology. I thought that was cool because, unbeknownst to her, I was doing a Master’s in it at the time and also keeping a blog of myth retellings.
My blog was pretty popular, and it was a relief to have something in common with this stranger. She then got weirdly haughty and told me she probably knew more myths than I did. Being polite, I didn’t want to directly challenge her on it, so I just asked her to tell me her favorite so that we could have a conversation about it.
She proceeded to tell me the myth of Daedalus and the Minotaur. I asked her how she’d heard of that one because it’s fairly obscure. Her response made my eyes widen. She told me she’d read it on a viral blog post on a blog about mythology. Turns out that it was my blog.
3. Perfect Fencer
While I was in high school, I was the reigning city fencing champion in both the youth and adult tournaments. My high school decided to do a school-wide fencing unit for Phys. Ed. and the coach they brought in to teach all of the students was my actual coach. During my classes, my coach naturally brought me up to help demonstrate the various moves.
However, for some reason one of my classmates didn’t understand that I wasn’t chosen at random. He started talking about how I looked like I didn’t know what I was doing, and how he could probably completely cream me in a duel. Now, he actually was pretty good for a guy who’d never fenced before, and at the first opportunity, he decided to have a go at me. It was about to go down.
I picked him apart, not giving up a single touch, and used the opportunity to practice my parry and ripostes. I admit I took a bit of sadistic pleasure in thoroughly beating him. Afterward, my coach made a point of congratulating the other guy for doing so well against the city champ, which changed his attitude considerably.
4. Unexpected Baller
I’m a very unassuming-looking guy. 5’8″, 150 pounds, and not a tattoo to be found. But back in the day, I was pretty athletic and I could hang in games with fringe D1 or semi-pro guys. I can’t emphasize how much I didn’t look like it at all. Anyway, in college, while hanging out in someone’s room, it came up that I played basketball a bit.
Out of nowhere, some dude I didn’t know started running his mouth about how he could destroy me. He just wouldn’t stop talking. I gave him every out until it basically became personally offensive. The other guys were a bit tired of this guy hanging around and they knew I could play, so we all trooped over to the gym, late in the winter, so we could settle things.
Here’s a spoiler alert: I ended up winning 11-0. I’m not sure if we played after that, but I remember it was 11-0 because I made sure to not let the guy score. And I’m a pretty mellow guy—I would have laid off and let him score a couple when it was clear that I was better, but this guy was a real jerk, so I just clamped down on him start to finish. I blocked a ton of his shots.
He stopped hanging around nearly as much after that, so I was kind of a hero to the rest of the guys. I totally drove that snake out of our nation.
5. A Tricky Pool Player
While I’d never claim I was an expert, I used to be pretty good at pool. My aunt and uncle had a pool table in their basement and my parents, for a variety of reasons, would go over regularly and spend all day there. There was nothing else for me and my brother to do, so we just played pool all day for years. Eventually, we got bored and saw that they had a book on trick shots, so we started doing that for fun.
I never really mastered the tricks, but they made for really good practice in understanding how to get the ball to do what you wanted. So anyway, for my buddy’s 20th birthday, he wanted to go to a pool hall and he invited a ton of people. Then he told me it was going to be a tournament, with drinks for individual games and a 50/50 type of deal for the winner.
He would get half regardless because it was his birthday, and he insisted I attend. We got there, started the first game, and they broke, That would end up being the only shot they got. At the end of it, I just looked at him and said, “I told you not to invite me…” I found out afterward that a bunch of them had never even played pool before and I felt pretty bad, so I took the money and bought everyone drinks with it.
6. I’m The Real Pianist!
I guy I went on a date with tried to serenade me with his mediocre piano skills. He was incredibly patronizing to me and tried to explain to me what the notes were, even though I had told him that I was also a pianist. So, after his endless explanations, I asked him to move over on the bench so I could play. The best part? He had no that I’m a two-time Carnegie Hall pianist. He never called me back afterward. Worth it!
7. A National Competitor
I asked an 11-year-old if he wanted to play pool with me at the small rec room where I was staying in Alaska. That turned out to be a huge mistake on my part—he ended up being a pool genius, having competed in pool tournaments nationally. I won the first one because he scratched on the 8-ball, even though I had only pocketed two. Then he cleaned up the next two games without giving me a chance to get more than one ball in. I was maybe 19 then.
8. Pizza Bake-Off!
A neighbor on my block in Brooklyn challenged me to a pizza bake-off. I recently catered pizza for my daughter’s school and word got around the neighborhood my pizza was pretty darn good. My first thought was, “This guy is a Brooklyn native; my pizza will be terrible compared to his!” But there was something about him bragging that made challenging him irresistible.
He talked about how pizza was in his blood, and how his dad ran the pizza place around the corner years ago. I remained silent and let my skills answer for themselves. I got a buddy to let us use one of Baker’s Pride ovens at his restaurant. We even had total strangers try our pizzas. Every last person chose my pizza over his.
I never mentioned to him that I’d worked in pizza places almost every day for the last thirty years. I never mentioned that when I’m not working at a pizza place, I’m making pizzas at home at least once every two days. I never mentioned that at nine years old, I knew that I wanted to be a pizza man. Here I am at 45, getting ready to start my own pizza business.
9. Silver Strikers
My brother and his best friend were in Baltimore for a baseball weekend in 2009. They were hanging out at a bar across from Camden Yards and there was a Silver Strike bowling video game at the venue. In our local bar back in Boston, we had one as well. I’m decent at the gam,e but my brother and his buddy were really amazing at this game. They were bowling 300 games and whatnot.
So these two random dudes were playing the game while drinking. We asked them if we could play once they were done, and they asked us if we wanted to play against them instead. We said sure and the rest was history. My brother and his buddy absolutely destroyed them. Like, it wasn’t even close. The dudes said it was a fluke and they wanted a rematch, but this time for a round of drinks. Again, annihilation city.
Even after that, they kept wanting to play, hoping to eventually win a game. After thirteen whole rounds, they finally gave up. They were great guys. We saw them the next day at the same bar and they walked up to us with drinks in hand, asking for yet another rematch. To this day we still hang out with them whenever we go to Baltimore. And to this day, they have never won.
10. With Just One Letter
I dated a guy in college who was incredibly book smart. He was working on his master’s with the intention to pursue a Ph.D. I was doing the good old five-year plan for college and I was quite content with my level of brainpower compared to his. What he underestimated was my fondness for word games, especially Scrabble. I like to think I’m quite good.
Well, in the three years we dated, we only played Scrabble once, and I beat the Scrabble tiles out of him. But the icing on the cake was the epic way in which I had secured my victory—I got a 50+ word score for playing just one letter. He literally wiped all the letters off the board and had a small hissy fit, claiming that I cheated. I got out my trusty Scrabble dictionary and proved his loss.
11. A Challenging Forecast
People say all kinds of random things about how weather and climate function. Little do they know that I’m a meteorologist in disguise, working as a data scientist but with an actual master’s and Ph.D. in meteorology. When I politely correct people, they are usually super interested to know more. But occasionally, I get something like, “Oh yeah?! And how do you know?”
I always respond with the same jaw-dropping answer: “Well, I have published several papers on the matter, and would love to discuss it all night,” I’d say to them. So far, they’ve all backed down after that.
12. The Best Shot
For reference, this is clay pigeon shooting, known as ‘trap’ in the south. Well, I’m from a rural area and not exactly super “southern,” so when I’d go to other trap fields to practice in different conditions, there’s always a person or two who place bets with me. This is definitely an old money sport with some of the bets going upwards of 5,000 dollars.
I had an old BT-100 that I got in a trade for a lead shot and some cash on the side. While the shot was not cheap, it was still much lower than other people’s shots and some folks would take that and assume I was a newbie. But they’d end up learning their lesson pretty quickly—the team I was on went to the Nationals almost every year from 2011 to 2018.
It was always funny because some would be good sports, but others would throw an absolute fit. One time, I saw one guy damage a 10,000 Perazzi because someone else had beat him. There was a guy from the county next to us who could blow us out of the water, and he always shot with an 870 pump…from Walmart.
13. Fight Night
In college, my buddies and I always got the new fighting game whenever it came out, and we would put in a few hundred hours or so on it, just goofing around with the various modes before dropping it. During that time, we’d have fight nights a couple of times a week where we’d all get together at someone’s place and duke it out.
It’s not like I never won, but I was always just middle of the pack. After two years of this, no one would ever consider me to be some sort of fighting game wizard…until one fateful day when my luck changed for the better. For the first time ever, the group decided to pick up a 3D fighter instead of a 2D one: Soul Calibur 3 I think. Unknown to anyone in our playgroup, I had previously been obsessed with Soul Calibur 3, playing for 10 hours a day.
I had done this every day, for three to four years, playing against five other people who were doing the same and were just as good as me. It honestly wasn’t even that fun. After the first half-hour, they were playing with 200% health while I was playing with 50%, picking random character select, and I still hadn’t passed the controller once. After that, it was agreed that we would all play only 2D fighters from then on.
14. The Chess Master
I’m a Chess master. I think when people hear that, they think, “Oh, he’s really good at chess.” But what it actually means is that I’ve played in international tournaments and beaten other masters, earning my right to that official title. Anyway, I get challenged a lot by friends who think they’re pretty good at chess.
What they don’t realize is that their version of ‘pretty good’ does not compare to my version of ‘pretty good,’ and they all end up destroyed by my pieces in less than ten moves every time.
15. Breaking The Language Barrier
My brother works for a scientific instrument company as a technical expert in gas chromatography. He and his colleagues went to a trade show once to show off their new instruments. A couple of German scientists come up and asked them a bunch of questions, breaking the conversation intermittently to speak to each other in German. But here’s the plot twist: my brother is fluent in German.
He let them talk amongst themselves until one of the Germans said, in German: “I bet this instrument is just as terrible as the last one.” To which, my brother replies, in German, how it was, in fact, not terrible because they’d done a tremendous number of improvements. The two Germans, now stunned that they’d been caught, politely thanked my brother, apologized, and walked away.
16. A Professional Lesson
I just graduated from teacher’s college and I’ve been working as a casual relief in the meantime. I play lacrosse is generally a small sport and even smaller here in Australia. I tried out for the last World Cup team and made it to the final cut. I was working with another teacher who was also stationed at the school. Before the period he spoke to me and said, “Hey mate, we are doing lacrosse today.”
He continued, “It’s a bit of an odd sport that’s hard to teach, so just wait over there and then you can just help with supervision,” and walked off. Being a CRT from an agency, I wasn’t sure how I should speak to him. I tried to tell him that I used to play competitively but he didn’t give me a second, so I just listened and did my thing.
After a few minutes, I had enough. I just grabbed a stick and ball and started to work my way around the class, giving them pointers and hints. The way he was teaching was completely incorrect and I didn’t want to say anything, so when the kids broke off into groups, I kind of just taught them the correct way. He pulled me over at a drinks break and asked how I knew so much about lacrosse.
I told him about my playing history and his jaw dropped. He asked why I didn’t speak up and say anything and I said I tried to tell him. Anyway, I ended up running the rest of the class and even ended up teaching him and the correct way to teach the game.
17. Surprise Ping Pong
I was hanging out with a girl who I was seeing at the time, and they had a ping pong table near the bar. Two guys were playing, and they were making a big show about how good they thought they were. They were showing off with grunting, rolled sleeves, the works. When I handed them back a wayward shot, I made a comment about how it looked fun to play.
They said that I could get the next game after one guy who was waiting, but their “rule” was any challenger they added in the queue to play would have to buy drinks for everyone else if that challenger lost. Little did they know what they were getting themselves into. I played competitive ping pong in a league back in med school and had placed highly in some New York City championships.
I still play every so often in my current city and I have won a few tournaments here as well. I ended up destroying the two guys. I didn’t have to pay for a drink or give up my spot until my date was ready to go. No one even made it out of the single digits.
18. Beware The Water
I was a competitive swimmer for 14 years, including four years of NCAA, but I’m on the shorter side, so people don’t assume I was any good. I was at a friend’s house on a lake one summer, and a macho guy challenged me to race to a buoy in the middle of the lake, to prove… something, I guess. The lake is deceptively large, about a half-mile across, so I warned him that if he wasn’t a strong swimmer, it could be dangerous.
He was running out of gas after about two minutes, so I offered to let him off the hook. He still insisted he would finish. After I went to the buoy and started swimming back, I looked over at him and just sighed. I found him floundering, so I lifeguard swam him back to the house. His ego took a deserved hit that day. Don’t get overconfident around water, even if you think you’re a strong swimmer.
In primary school, I’d say grade three or four, we had a head-to-head times tables tournament. The teacher would ask a random multiplication question to a pair of students at a time, and the winner progressed. I wasn’t exactly an expert at times tables, but I was an expert at 6 x 8. For whatever reason, 6 x 8 just wouldn’t stick in my head when I was younger, so I had to spend additional time to bring the answer to the forefront of my mind.
I was decently prepared for any other multiplication problem, so while waiting my turn I was constantly repeating in my mind: “six times eight equals 48, six times eight equals 48, six times eight equals 48” over and over again. That strategy would end up working in my favor. Lo and behold, when it was finally my turn to be quizzed, the teacher casually selected 6 x 8.
Not an iota of time had elapsed from the teacher finishing her sentence when I yelled “48!” The astonishment spread as I became a human-computer in the eyes of my peers. Even the teacher was taken back. I went on to win the tournament, having already won in the minds of my would-be opponents. It was more than victory; it was complete annihilation.
20. Kart Battles!
I was visiting Kyoto a couple of years ago. My wife and I walked into a tiny bar that had five people in suits laughing and talking in Japanese. We instantly knew that this was not a tourist bar and felt pretty out of place. The bartender spoke the most English, so I asked him what his favorite Shochu was. Things got a little more comfortable as we drank and eventually, the whole bar tried to talk to us.
Someone mentioned Mario Kart and I said, “Yeah, yeah,” so the bartender pointed to an old Super Famicom in the corner, and apparently, I had accepted the challenge. I smiled to myself and my wife thought it was funny because I used to have some skill at the game. I had no idea what to expect, but when the bartender selected Battle Mode…I was floored.
I hadn’t played in a few years, and he buried me in less than a minute. The whole bar was laughing and I was a little stunned. But then got to the second and third rounds. I destroy him. Three balloons to zero. Everyone cheered except for the bartender. Two shots were put in front of me, and I threw one down. Round 3. We were down to one balloon each and I swear it was the longest battle round of all time.
I was sweating. Shell, dodge, shell, dodge. I had him in my sights and I fired. It missed. The shell bounced off the wall and I self-KO’d. The crowd went wild. So that’s the story of how a self-proclaimed Mario Kart expert embarrassed himself and his country in a small bar in Kyoto. We drank a lot and made a lot of great friends that night that we’ll never see again.
21. Hustling On The Table
While in undergrad, I brought a new college buddy over to an old high school friend’s house to hang out. There were a couple of other friends there, just hanging around, drinking, and playing pool. My new buddy was a pretty low-key guy; a wallflower, if you will. When he first meets people, he can be pretty quiet and he tends to seem a little out of place.
But after he gets to know people, he opens up and is a blast to be around. My old buddies, for some reason, decided to hustle my new buddy in pool. I mean, super textbook shark moves. “Let’s play a friendly game, and if you think you’re any good at it, we can play for money,” etc. Well, I knew something that they all didn’t, and it would come to shock them—my new buddy played on the circuits for a while, winning pool tournaments across Texas.
He lived and breathed pool, and, of course, he saw these guys coming from a mile away. I just watched it all go down. I figured, if they are going to treat someone that I bring over in a snobby way, they deserve what they get. He roped ’em in as only he could. He missed some super easy shots to keep the game interesting and then pulled out the “lucky” win…
Soon after, they played for money. I can’t even remember how much per ball, but he played two or three games, slowly playing better or “lucking out” just enough to keep them engaged while still taking their money. Then, the last game happened, and I’d never seen someone come alive more quickly. He sank shot after shot after shot.
These were shots I couldn’t make if I practiced for a year straight. The entire time, he kept taunting them and updating how much money they owed them. I don’t think my old friend had a chance to take a shot at all. Afterward, they were all furious: “How could you bring this guy over here and let him hustle us like that??”
“How could you try to hustle a new friend of mine just minutes after I bring him over and introduce him to you?” I snarled back. “You earned this one, man.” It ended happily, though. They all became good friends and they are still in contact with each other two decades later.
22. Whose Paper Is This Again?
There was a story about an old geotechnical engineer who used to work for the company that I work for. Several senior staff had to attend a meeting with the client, and some government regulatory staff were being awkward and not approving the design. The geotech guy was pretty much quiet the whole meeting. Throughout the discussion, the government guy kept referencing this one research document and rejecting any other suggestions.
Near the end of the meeting, the geotech guy asked the government guy if he had the research paper with him. He said yes and placed it on the table. The geotech guy then pointed to the author of the paper while simultaneously sliding over a business card. That’s when he executed his “gotcha” moment. Turned out, it was the geotech guy’s own paper that the government guy had been referencing to defend his argument. The government guy went bright red and apparently approved the design the same day.
23. Climbing For Money
A local mall had a portable climbing wall. “Make it to the top and win $100,” a sign read. The route was actually pretty challenging. As I walked by, the guy asked me if I’d like to try. He told me, “Nobody has made it to the top, so do you think you can do it, buddy?” At that time, I hadn’t disclosed my big secret—I was a top 12-ranked climber in my age group and I kind of laughed to myself.
After taking my $100, I then proceeded to call the rest of my climbing team, and one by one they went to the mall and claimed their $100. After the fourth person, they got suspicious and took the sign down. We later told him we were all nationally ranked competitive climbers, and he got a good laugh. The company that owned the rentals was the one who lost the money—he just worked the booth and wasn’t the one who lost the prize money.
24. Tetris, Attacked!
There is this old SNES game called Tetris Attack that I played religiously when I was growing up. I got pretty good at it. I’m actually still half-decent, but I only play every few months when I visit my family. Anyhow, I was kinda-sorta seeing this guy and I have NO idea how the topic came up, but he challenged me a game of Tetris Attack.
He was NOT ready for what was coming to him. I had sincere doubts that he had ever played before despite his posturing, and it turned out…I was right. I trounced him and he actually said, “How are you so good at this stupid game?” Practice, my dude. Years of practice.
25. Submarine Cruise
My wife and I were taking an evening cruise for adults in Portsmouth Bay. The ship drove around the shipyard, where my submarine and several others were stationed. My wife and I were having a quiet drink when a really loud know-it-all started spouting misinformation about each submarine. He was calling them all the wrong classes, the wrong names, etc.
He literally pointed to my submarine and said, “…and that is a 637 class.” My wife finally spoke up and said, “Actually, it’s a 688.” The guy got all gruff and scoffed: “Well how would you know?” My wife smiled and hugged my arm. She dropped the bombshell in the sweetest way ever: “That’s my husband’s submarine, it is the Minneapolis St Paul, SNN-708.” His faceturned beat red while his date laughed.
26. Unmentionable Mascara
A Japanese client that studied in France asked me for a translation job but wanted to change all my sentences to prove she was better than me at my own mother tongue. She ended up writing something grammatically correct but it sounded so much like innuendo that if you Googled the terms, you would only find unmentionable videos and writing. I had to tell my boss what she was forcing me to write (because it was for a mascara brand that was supposed to be sold in France) so he could stop her and after that, she stopped trying to best me.
27. Lifting Weights
I am a government auditor. One of the programs I oversee is a sort of boarding school for teens with delinquency history and it’s very athletics heavy. I’ve put on like 30 pounds of body fat since getting this mostly sedentary job and drifting into bad nutrition habits. Basically, I’m meaty underneath with above-average strength.
Prior to this job, I had a side gig as a personal trainer and posing coach. At the program one day, I needed to interview a student who didn’t want to leave his weightlifting class. He told me he’d talk to me if I could deadlift the bar he was working with, like 90 kg. He would soon regret making that wager with me. The staff was visibly annoyed that this guy was giving me a hard time, but I was wearing stretchy pants, so I gave it a quick set-up and pull.
The interview followed and now it’s an ongoing joke at the program that when I ask for interviews, they ask if I need chalk or anything for the mandatory deadlift.
28. Through Fire And Flames
My college has a dedicated gaming room in its central building. There are TVs for people to plug in whatever they want. I went in one day and saw someone playing Guitar Hero. He was playing on Expert, so he was decently good, but he was not perfect. I sat down, chatted him up, and eventually, he challenged me. It was a Pro-Face-Off on Through the Fire and Flames.
I’m not perfect at Through The Fire And Flames, but I figured what the heck, it’ll be fun. Well, our fearless protagonist got a little too big for his boots on that one—he couldn’t even hit the intro. The higher your combo in Guitar Hero, the more your score is multiplied, all the way up to 4x. If you don’t hit the intro and can’t keep your 4x through the fast strumming at the beginning, you’re immediately behind somewhere in the echelon of 30k to 60k points.
The solos didn’t fare him much better. He blamed his gear.
29. Never Again
I had a mate who would play Call of Duty with me a and I’d usually beat him in a 1-v-1 match, but he would occasionally win a game or at least get close before we switched to a different game, Motorstorm Apocalypse. I was a legitimate top 10 player on that game with multiple #1s, while e had just started playing through the offline mode. He was winning the races though, so he thought he was good.
I warned him, but he insisted on a 1-v-1 to show off his skills. Two minutes later, he started sweating like crazy. I’d go on to lap him on a three-lap race, and he ended up quitting the race before he was finished due to embarrassment. He never played that game again.
30. Forwards And Backwards
I have studied memorization techniques and mnemonics. I decided to have a bit of fun with my teacher. He wanted us to write down a list of 20 items. He was the type of guy to quickly call you out for not paying attention in class. I sat there memorizing the list in my head knowing full well he would see me not writing anything down.
He chewed me out for not taking notes, as predicted. He took the bait. I said, “I have it all in my head.” I knew he would call me out and have me recite the list. The next day, he turned to me in the middle of his lecture and had the biggest smug smile. “So, what were those items from yesterday?” I immediately proceeded to list them in order without hesitation. Then listed them backward. His smile grew bigger and bigger, and the rest of the class was cracking up!
31. The Google Boys
Astronomer here! If we were to just meet on the street, you probably wouldn’t guess I was a scientist since I am a woman who enjoys dresses when the weather is nice. This was doubly true when I was a few years younger in my 20s and single. At the end of college, I was doing a summer internship in Mountain View, California where if you went out there’d be a lot of Google boys.
They would literally sometimes wear “Google” shirts so you’d know. I remember getting stuck chatting with one, and when he asked my major, he sneered at me saying, “D you really know the subject?” He asked me if I knew what the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle was, and I explained it in great detail. When I later explained his 20 other questions, he said “it’s probably not so hard because they go easy on women because they don’t want to scare them off.”
Oh, but it gets better—he then he proceeded to tell me at length about a lecture he attended in Mountain View that he’d been lucky enough to visit, as a Google employee, by Jill Tarter who runs the SETI Institute. He even went as far as to tell me about the Allen Telescope Array they were building in northern California because I “might not know about it.”
I gave him a minute for his spiel, then proceeded to drop the mic—I actually was working for Jill that summer at the SETI Institute, on interference mitigation for the Allen Telescope Array. And did he want to hear what she was really like, or see some pictures from the ATA site? I’d also just met Frank Drake, and he was really nice! Oh man, was that guy not happy! But at least he stopped talking to me like right after.
32. Yes, I Do Know, Really
I’m a female mechanical engineer and I often get people working at Lowe’s, car shops, and dealerships talk down to me or say that I don’t understand basic concepts. For instance, a guy at Lowe’s swore up and down that bolt threading and pipe threading was the same thing. Another guy swore there were no diamond-tipped hole saws and tried to sell me a Dremel for the same job. I then found one in the tile section.
I’ve had mechanics swear up and down that my air filter in my car needed to be changed when I had just changed it weeks before, and my filter is circular and not square like the one they brought out to me. The best is the car salesmen though—they don’t seem to really care about my opinion, especially if my husband is there.
I’m usually the car buying decision-maker, but my husband also knows a ton about cars, and so they try to sell to him. It’s always hilarious. I usually just let them talk and clarify later with my husband because I’m not out to embarrass anybody.
33. The Kart Racer
Everyone thinks they are amazing at Mario Kart. They used to be good as a kid and think they still are. I played two to four hours every day in undergrad a couple of years ago. I raced in local and school tournaments and won most of the time. I was within seconds on several course records. I have every course memorized and know exactly when to break on every turn.
I don’t play much anymore, but anytime somebody sees my Mario Kart painting, they tell me how amazing they are. I’m happy to absolutely destroy them.
34. The Punching Challenge
When I was in the army, we had a gut-punch challenge. I chose not to participate since I have very heavy hands, but there was one guy who kept egging me on. I just kept saying no, until he started talking too much trash and I couldn’t take it anymore. So, I let him go first. He reared back and I just absorbed the hit. Honestly wasn’t a bad punch.
But then it was my turn. I sized him up a couple of times with practice line-up swings. He mocked me while I did this. I gave him one more warning, and he laughed it off. So, I pulled back and blasted him. Square on the belly button. He doubled over and his face went pale white. Lips blue. Air out of his system. He spent a couple of minutes struggling to catch air.
35. Caught In The Crossfire
There was this game called Crossfire. It’s an FPS game that’s still around I think. Back in high school, this one kid wanted to play me one on one because he heard I was good at it. He talked a big game and had a pretty good rank from his public games, so he seemed like a formidable opponent. I accepted his challenge.
What he didn’t know was just how good I was at the game. He probably thought I just got good from playing it a lot, but in reality, I was on the #1 team in Canada at the time. I was playing against top teams all over the world at that time and would regularly play pick-up games with top players daily. Needless to say, he got absolutely wrecked.
36. Oh, You Don’t Speak English?
I live in Northern Vermont, so we have a ton of tourism from French-speaking Canadians coming down from various parts of Quebec. I am a bilingual American and I hold two degrees in French, the master’s being in Quebecois language and literature. While bartending one day, a customer from Quebec tried to pay her bill in Canadian money, which is about .73 cents to the American dollar.
The Canadian bills didn’t even add up to the bill total if the two currencies were on par. So, I politely explained all of this in English, but she replied in French, saying that she doesn’t speak English. That was my cue to hit her with the surprise of her life. To the delight of my entire bar crowd, I then politely but forcibly explain all of this in perfect Quebecois French. Her face at that moment is almost worth the pain I feel every month paying back my student loans.
37. Don’t Look Like A Gamer, Do I?
When I was a freshman in undergrad, our floor had one of those big icebreaker meet-ups. One of my fun facts was that I really loved video games, which at the time was an understatement. I was bordering on obsessed. I was a girl, pretty athletic, and decent looking, so most of the guys kind of thought that was funny…and they probably thought I was just saying it to be quirky.
I didn’t bring my consoles to school because I was worried that my grades would be in serious trouble if I did. One of the guys on my floor invited me over to his dorm to play Xbox with him. When I get there, he asked me if Halo 3 was cool. I thought we’d maybe just go through the campaign together, but I noticed he was setting it up for a one-on-one. Big mistake on his part.
He says something along the lines of: “If I win, will you go on a date with me?” I ended up kicking his butt several matches in a row, with him really trying to win. Finally, I just told him we could hang out and play co-op together.
38. The Kids Section
I was working at a bookstore after school. since I was too shy to talk to coworkers, and no one wanted to get stuck in the kids’ section where I was often placed, I would spend a lot of my downtime reading. It was great as kids’ books are quick and easy, and you can catch up on ten new books in an hour.
On slower days, I could finish some of the kids’ chapter books in one go. Some series I would read from start to finish in a week. I quickly learned a LOT about the books in the children’s department. Over time, I made friends with a lot of the local teachers and would try to get recommendations from them.
It was really helpful with summer reading and holiday chaos. I knew just about every book in that department, and a solid amount of the teen section, which was still sort of a ‘new’ reading section. However, as I was still in high school and it was very apparent that I was just a teenager helping them, some people wouldn’t want to ask me for help.
They must’ve thought I was too young. Perhaps they thought a particular series was for little kids, so they needed to ask a parent instead. Whatever the reason, apparently I looked too young to be able to offer the help they wanted. Of course, every situation always ended in the same way—my co-workers would bring them right back to me. I loved proving them wrong and there were a lot of times where someone would assume I wouldn’t know what was up
They’d be super vague and frustrated, and then amazed when I would just hand what they asked for within the next 30 seconds, or describe the cover in detail, with some plot points and my favorite part of the story. Some would even come back and ask for my help with their lesson plans.
39. A Really Long Game
A friend of mine is really good at hockey. He played in the OHL here in Canada and was invited to a few NHL training camps, but he never made the cut. Anyway, he ultimately quit pursuing professional hockey after college since it didn’t seem like he’d ever make it. One time I invited him to a drop-in league game where anybody could play.
Maybe two minutes into the game, this one guy on the opposing team (who was kind of good but definitely never played at the level of my friend) scored a goal and immediately came over to our bench to taunt us. “How you boys like that? It’s gonna be a long game for you.” That lit a fire inside my friend. We ended up winning 21-3, my friend scoring 18 goals and never saying a single word back to the other team.
40. Pitch Perfect
I have a perfect pitch. It’s not a thing I can turn off; notes simply are a pitch clear as day, much like how red is clearly distinct from green. Anyhow, it was music class in junior high. My teacher explained that Mozart had perfect pitch and he walked over to the piano, played a note, and said: “And just by hearing it, he’d be able to tell you what now that was… now can any of YOU do that?”
At the time, I honestly had no idea this was rare. I raised my hand, and the teacher, with a smug look, pointed at me and he was absolutely gobsmacked when I answered. I hit the note right on the money, octave and all. He figured it was pure luck, so he did it again and asked me to face the other way. I answered correctly again. He also tried it with chords, sequences, and two hands worth of notes.
Still right every time. That day, I learned that perfect pitch is actually kind of rare.
41. Alpha Running
I know a guy who tries to be a major alpha at any interaction with another male. One time, he challenged me to a distance race, saying they could run longer than I could. I knew he wasn’t a runner at all, but he did not know I ran ultramarathons and had recently set the course record in a 50-mile race. Well, I said sure, and we set out the next morning at 6 am around a track with three of our mutual friends watching.
I just trailed behind him by like 20 feet at a casual pace. That way, he’d always be expending energy trying to put distance in between us. Surprisingly, he kept that up for like four miles, which is a lot for a non-runner. I eventually ran up to him and stuck with him for another mile talking about my running accomplishments.
Eventually, our friends wanted to leave, so I told him, “If you want, we can run in together.” He agreed. But then, during the very last lap, he hit me with a curveball. He said, “Sorry but I’m gonna win” and tried to speed up to pass me. I was like, “Okay,” and I dropped my pace. I still came in like 150 meters ahead of him.
He was full of excuses and challenged me to a sprint a few days later. I also completely wrecked him at that. Just give it up dude, you don’t have to be “alpha” all the time.
42. Five Minute Mile
When I was a junior in high school, I was in a PE class of pretty much all freshmen. We were required to take two years of PE and I decided to do it my last two years instead of the first two like everyone else. There was one kid in the class—your typical freshman football player who thought he was gonna be the lead quarterback or something.
Anyway, in the first week or so, I didn’t really say anything or talk to anyone because I didn’t know any of the freshmen and I was a pretty quiet guy anyway. Soon after, our coach told us we were going to do the mile, and, of course, Mr. Quarterback started talking it up, thinking he was going to win. People like that really annoy me.
What he didn’t know is that I had been keeping a secret the entire time—I’ve been running track and cross country for the last 2.5 years and had a mile PR at that time of about 5 minutes. To make it even better, I was kind of a bigger guy, 5’11”, 180lbs; not fat, but you definitely wouldn’t guess I could run a 5-minute mile or really anywhere close. Anyway, back to the mile—we lined up and of course, this kid went out like a bullet, so I just trailed a few paces behind him for the first lap and made my move in lap two, just barely overtaking him.
I could’ve just totally pulled away and won by a long shot, but I decided that I would just stay a few paces right in front of him the whole time to just drag him along. I won just a couple of seconds in front of him with a 6:15 time. He was totally exhausted right afterward while I had barely broken a sweat. He shut his mouth a bit more after that.
43. The Real Competition
Seven teenage boys tried to get my boyfriend at the time to play Daytona, the arcade machine game, with them, as it was an eight-person setup. He offered me his place, which they accepted, thinking a woman in her mid-20s wouldn’t be much competition. They had no idea who they were messing with— I worked at an amusement arcade at the time and played Daytona maybe 20 to 30 times a week.
I thrashed them, even playing in automatic mode. I may even have thrown in a “Did you just get beat by a GIRL?” as I strode off. I can still do it too. No-one has ever beaten me in a public playoff, though as a now middle-aged woman, I rarely get asked to take part.
44. On Top Of The Scrabble Board
I got really good at Scrabble after playing for years. Now, lots of people think they are good at Scrabble, but there are those who are ‘pretty good at a casual game’ and those who have the tw0- and three-letter words memorized, think about rack management, open vs. closed board, etc. Unless you regularly play against other competition-level players with timers and the Scrabble Dictionary, you are probably not the second kind of good.
So, I was meeting my significant other’s mother and she thought of herself as a great Scrabble player. Not good, great. I tried my best not to play against her, saying I don’t play casually, but she got a little aggressive with her insistence and I relented. We drew tiles and I drew high. The first word I played on the open board made her jaw drop.
It scored me 111 points. She and my significant other never got closer than the end of that first round. I was calm, polite, and good-spirited throughout as I demonstrated the difference between casual and competitive play (a few hundred points). There was no big blow-up, but I don’t think either ever fully forgave me.
45. Do You Play?
I was hanging out with this girl I liked. We were just reading in a classroom that had a piano in it. At one point, I went over to the piano and she said, “Oh, do you play?” Now, I grew up with a piano, and I’ve learned like three songs from YouTube, but I only know them in a “what to hit in what order” kind of way. However, it is enough to impress most people.
So, I say “Of course,” thinking that I would charm the heck out of her. With the most “get ready for your pants to hit the floor” attitude, I sat down and played that song from Amelie. After I was finished, she said “That’s pretty good. Can I try?” When she started playing, I knew I’d screwed up. Apparently, she’d been playing piano her whole life.
She even studied classical music at university at some point. So yeah, she was not impressed.
46. Dressing Contest
I was a firefighter in college with a bunch of other college kids. We spent nearly every shift challenging each other to these types of competitions, debating how to shave off time, and I usually was the top finisher. After college, I went on to some small-town, part-time departments. As the new guy, I didn’t want to be a know-it-all, so I never really talked about my experience unless I was asked.
One day, the full-time professional firefighters dropped into one of our training sessions and challenged the new hires to a race to put on all our gear. The standard for this is 90 seconds from wearing street clothes to all clothing with mask, helmet, gloves, and the air tank. I did it around 40 seconds in my prime.
The laughter started to settle down as I tucked my pant legs into my socks and carefully arranged all my gear on the floor…but things got really quiet during my last sequence. I both-foot jumped into my boots while putting the flame hood on mid-air and one handing the mask while putting on the air pack. We didn’t time it, but I was dressed and “on-air” before some full-timers had their coats zippered up.
It then became a regular thing for the full-timers to come up with some new competition to challenge me on and there were rumors they would practice on their shifts. But years of practice meant I’d never been defeated…
47. A Real Distance Runner
I was a competitive distance runner for a while in my early 20s. Not a top professional or anything, but I’m talking 5k in the 14:15 to 14:30 range and 10k at around 30:00 even. Not fast enough to go to the Olympics, but fast enough for local sponsorship and pretty much a guaranteed win at any local road race, usually by a pretty big margin.
I was running a 5k or 10k nearly every weekend for the prize money, which for the record, was never a lot—only $100-$200 or so in value. But it was enough to pay for running gear, travel to races, and other things. Every week, I would search online for whatever race had the most prize money that weekend and I would drive up to race it.
I was going places where people didn’t recognize me. Every so often, the local town hotshot with a big ego who was used to winning their small church’s 5ks would “challenge” me or talk hot stuff before the race. It never worked out for them. Normally, I would show up, not really talk to anyone, humbly run my race, and go home.
I wasn’t there to prove anything to anyone; I just wanted the $200 gift card or whatever they were offering. But when this happened, I had fun with it. I’d let them talk, which would always include them bragging about their personal record or recent race times. “Yeah, I won this race last year…I ran a 17:45 and won by a minute”…things like that.
I’d respond with, “Wow that’s impressive!” I mean, an 18:00 for 5k is a good time, but if you know 5k times, you’d know 14:30 for 5k is a different world. For reference, around this time, I ran the marathon in under two hours and 30 minutes. I averaged 17:45 per 5k in my marathon. So, it was not really going to be a “competition,” but I wanted them to think it would be. If they asked me about myself, I’d just brush it off and just say, “Oh, I’m just out here to have fun and support the local charity” or something like that.
When the race came, the real fun began. They’d take off like a bat, trying to prove a point. They’d try to put distance on me, but I’d just stay on their shoulder, letting them dictate their pace. This was almost always a pace they couldn’t actually sustain the whole race. Remember, at this point, they’d told me what they ran, so in my head, I knew what pace they should be able to sustain. I’d let them lead for the first mile, just running right behind them and never letting up.
Then, I’d slowly come parallel with them and take over. I’d constantly read their pace and run just fast enough to let them think they still had a chance, so they wouldn’t let up. They’d push themselves harder as a result, and you could see it on their face—the grit, the struggle to hold on, and their ego preventing them from slowing down to a realistic pace. They’d got lost in the moment and wouldn’t realize what was happening.
That’s when I’d slowly start creeping up my pace ever so slightly, but progressively until they started to hit their limit. At about two miles in, it’d be game over for them. They’d reach their lactate threshold, the point in which their muscles are producing more lactic acid than their body can remove and reconvert into energy. This is the physiological breaking point that forces a runner to slow down significantly.
When a runner hits this point, their body literally no longer has the strength to continue at that pace. That’s when I’d kick it into overdrive. I’d leave them in the dust, quite literally taking off nearly twice as fast as they’d slowed down to. By the time they’d reach the finish line, I’d been done for five minutes or more, despite them having been with me for two-thirds of the race. I stay and watch them stumble across the line, slowly, huffing and puffing, defeated.
48. I Didn’t Get The Email!
The property management company for my homeowner’s association insisted that I had received emails that I never received. So, I asked them to prove that I had received them. I’m a software engineer and at the time I had just finished an enterprise email delivery system; like an in-house, constant contact. I knew the rules of the CAN-SPAM Act by heart. I KNEW exactly how their system worked.
So, this property manager said, “I know how email works. You wouldn’t understand.” At that very moment, I couldn’t help it—I had to put the guy in his place. I started to explain very methodically how email delivery works and how they’d track various actions. I spent about five minutes detailing my credentials and why I was absolutely certain they had never sent me the emails they alleged I received. When I was finished, the HOA board just agreed to waive the fines.
49. The Fake Expert
I worked with a guy who was supposed to be an expert in what we do. He would blast through jobs and hound our supervisor for more work. He would get through tasks a lot faster than I could and I didn’t understand how…until I had to support him one day and found out he was faking everything. He didn’t really do good work—anything he submitted was never up to our standards. When I confronted him about it, he got annoyed at me and insisted I had no idea what I was doing.
He thought he had the upper hand…until my supervisor swooped in. When he checked his product, he was reprimanded for doing a poor job. Then, I had to work with him to get him up to speed. After six months, he was still failing, and I was working on his projects as much as I was working on my own. I checked on some of his work, gave him a list of problems I saw, and he completely lost it and didn’t listen to me.
So I left him on his own. I told my bosses that I’d no longer be carrying him. They were getting ready to fire him, but he beat them to it and quit. He found another job where he could be a project supervisor for more money and better benefits. He failed there, too. We sent his new company a basket of muffins and a thank you note. I ended up getting the company car, a $5 an hour raise, and a bunch of other benefits.
50. Impromptu Band Member
A buddy of mine was at a concert in bad seats and he started complaining about it via Twitter. All of a sudden, the band started reading some tweets and called my friend up to sit on stage for a couple of songs. They sat him at the piano and during the next song, they jokingly said, “Okay, piano solo!” The crowd laughed, but my buddy’s next move shut them up real quick—he just started jamming out, as he plays the piano in his own band. Talk about dream moment getting to play with your favorite band.