There are situations in life that seem harmless to some but can be considered offensive or upsetting to others. If everyone involved is civil about it, an apology is issued, forgiveness is given and everyone moves on with their lives. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, as sometimes logic goes out the window and someone gets offended by, say, a toddler wearing a NASA shirt because they don’t actually work there. This situation, and countless others, were shared on Reddit by people who remain confused to this day with interactions they had where they would gladly apologize if they knew what to apologize for. Be prepared to be baffled and confused while reading the list down below!
1. Don’t Be Greedy
I worked in a clothing store that would occasionally send out $10 and $25 coupons to people. For obvious reasons, you can only use them once, so we were told to rip them up and throw them away after scanning them. The anger that would fill the old ladies’ faces when I ripped that coupon in half and threw it in the garbage after scanning it was scary.
Once, a customer angrily demanded that I give her the coupon back so she could use it again, so I scribbled on it with a black sharpie and gave it to her with a "have a nice day". I really shouldn’t be in customer service.
2. Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover
I was in a car accident a few years ago and it messed my leg up. Since then, I've been using a walking stick. One day, I was walking to the shop and an old bloke gave me the dirtiest look I've ever seen. What he said next was unbelievable. He told me: "What do you need a cane for? You're only a kid". He actually got quite irritated at just the sight of me using a stick.
Like, my dude, I'm just out trying to buy some milk. I don't need your judgement today. I didn't say that out loud though, I just said it to myself after I got home.
3. Technical Difficulties
Around 22 years ago, I had a phone interview with a baking company. I didn’t care to have my peers know what I was up to so I took the call on my cell phone in my car. The call was crystal clear and no technical issues. At one point, he mentioned the weather and asked how it was there. I told him I was sitting in my car and could see it was snowing.
The interviewer asked me, "Are you taking this call on a cell phone?" I told him I was. He then asked me if I thought that was appropriate. I asked him what he meant by that. He said he thought it was kind of rude to take a formal call on a cell phone. I told him I would be more than happy to conclude the interview if talking on a cell phone was an issue.
If he was interested, I’d be happy to continue it the next day when I’d be at a desk. He again repeated how rude he thought it was that I had called from a cell phone and that there was no need to continue the interview process. I disagreed with the first point but did agree with the second. To this day, I wonder what the big deal was.
4. Scary Numbers
I had a science teacher who refused to acknowledge page 666 in our textbook. He would refer to it as page 666-a. So when he counted pages he would say 664, 665, 666-a, 667, etc.
5. Safety First
One time my friend got offended when I put on my seatbelt because she thought I was commenting on her driving ability.
6. Witch One?
We use an app at work called Bonfyre. One employee refused to use it because they claimed that bonfires are for witchcraft and pagans.
7. Missed A Spot
I spent nine hours deep-cleaning the house for an inspection. I went above and beyond, clearing my work schedule and going the extra mile, but my roommate insisted on double-checking my work. He had a complete psychotic meltdown because I forgot to sweep underneath the couch. I moved out the next day and never spoke to him again.
8. More Catty Than A Cat
I was at the vet with my cat and he happened to sneeze. This act was apparently very offensive to an elderly woman who was there with her corgi. She started screaming at me for about 30 minutes about pet hygiene.
9. The Power Of Pink
There was this time at school when this guy didn’t have a calculator and asked the class if anyone had one he could borrow. Someone did and was kind enough to offer it to him. However, when it was revealed that the calculator was pink, the guy refused. He claimed he was offended that this person would try and give him something so girly.
10. There’s A Time And A Place
I had a coworker who got mad at me because I asked her not to tickle me. The coworker was very young and immature. This was her first job, her first time in a professional environment, and she really had no clue about professional workplace behavior. I wasn't upset, because she truly thought she was being friendly.
However, I pointed out that we were not children, we were not in a relationship, we were not family, it was very inappropriate to do that at work, and most importantly, I don’t like being tickled! I know she was young, but I couldn’t believe her reaction. She flipped out and said everyone likes being tickled and I was being mean to her. Thankfully, my boss had my back. I should also mention that I’m a woman, too.
When I was a child, my mum paid for something with a check. The cashier remarked that my mum had nice handwriting. Out of nowhere, to the surprise of the cashier and myself, my mum flew off the handle and stormed out of the shop in an outrage. I didn’t know what happened then, and to this day, I still have no idea what happened.
12. It’s OK Not To Be OK
I remember I once got into an argument with someone on the internet because they stated it was offensive for me to not want to have my anxiety and I should be proud of it. No thanks, Becky, I completely disagree. I don’t know about you, but I'd prefer to live my life without the constant feeling that something's going to go wrong.
13. A Simple No Would Have Sufficed
One time when I was working the drive-thru at a fast-food restaurant, I had a customer get offended when I asked them, "Would you like to make the burger a meal?" as I do with every customer who doesn’t specify if they want a meal. They screamed about how they already knew what they wanted and couldn’t handle me trying to do my job and upsell them.
14. Honest To God
Back when I was in grade school, one of my teachers was discussing something, I don't exactly remember the context, and said, "God or a god" in order to be neutral to those with various religious beliefs. That wasn’t good enough for one girl in my class, who got so upset and offended about it that she started bawling and saying how he was being disrespectful towards her beliefs.
15. Brother From The Same Mother
I had someone get offended by me calling my brother "bro". They insisted that I was being inappropriate and that white people couldn’t be related to Mexicans. Like, seriously lady? That's not how genetics work. We are 100% related and are a mix of white and Native American. It’s not that unheard of for one biological sibling to come out lighter or darker than the other.
And even if we weren't related, again I ask, seriously? I'm inappropriate for calling someone close to me my bro despite being different skin tones? Seriously? Thank you for coming to my rant session. Have a good day.
16. It Means What It Means
I was typing in someone's phone number to activate their rewards card. I finished typing it in, found her name, proceeded with the transaction, and said, "You're good to go". The woman replied, "What is that supposed to mean?" and proceeded to give me a fiery glare as if I just personally kicked her toddler across the store".
It means I found your information. You'll get your points". The woman, "Oh. Okay then". I still can't figure out why she flipped out like that. It was a rewards card, she got her points and she got her discount.
17. Bacon Off!
There was this guy at a Halloween party I was at who was dressed in a giant bacon costume. Some girl started yelling at him for being so offensive toward Jews and Muslims…all while being neither Jewish nor Muslim herself. There was a guy at the party who was Muslim and asked her what she was talking about, but she didn't back down.
I have no idea why people feel the need to go out of their way to be offended on behalf of people who…aren’t offended.
18. Animal Testing
My friends told me about a virtual school board meeting they recently attended on how a return to school was going to work. The students and teachers who would be taking part in the return were jokingly labeled as being "guinea pigs" for the plan. As if the situation wasn’t difficult enough, someone got offended at the use of the term guinea pig, claiming it was inappropriate. That was a new one to me.
19. Don’t Be A Color-ist
Someone once got offended because I used the word black in conversation. Thinking about it still makes me laugh. I was talking about an article of clothing and how it was the color black. They tried to make it into something about race, and that I shouldn't use the term black anymore, and should say African-American. I said that makes no sense as I'm literally talking about the color black.
Am I supposed to say I'm wearing an African-American colored shirt? Maybe I'm crazy but I think that's actually offensive.
20. Context Is Important
I used to work in tech support back during the dot com boom and one of my customers got upset with me over the use of the word "icon". According to him, the word icon had religious implications regardless of the context it was being used in. He insisted that instead of calling them Windows icons, I called them "little picture things".
21. To Whom It May Concern
I was in a store once in Moab, UT when a woman started yelling directly at me that she'd never buy a shirt that says Moab on it because in the bible Moab was apparently a terrible, sinful place. I ended up just standing there blinking at her until she finally wandered away because I couldn't figure out why she was even there then. That wasn’t even the most ridiculous part.
For one, I wasn’t even an employee or had anything to do with the store we were in. Literally, no one had asked her if she wanted one, and I wanted nothing to do with the interaction that was occurring.
22. Eye Can’t Stand The Sight Of That
We have an organization-wide theme every year and all the PCs on our network have the same background and theme which can't be changed. This year's theme was, "Vision is 2020" and the background was a zoomed-in picture of an eye in really awesome colors. Two women on staff wrote letters to complain about the picture.
They claimed that the picture was "heathen" as it drew from "Illuminati" imagery and paid tribute to the "all-seeing eye of Eqyptian deities". They whined and complained to such an extent that the picture was eventually changed to shut them up and let the normal folks get back to our actual work. And that is why we can’t have nice things.
23. One And The Same
My ex-husband once got offended by a sandwich. I kid you not. He was given a sandwich by our then 13-year-old daughter and because she cut the sandwich in half he went off on a massive tangent about how his sandwiches should never be cut, etc. She was crushed. It still winds me up to no end every time I think about it.
24. Passenger Blame
An ex of mine once flew into a shrieking rage because while he was driving, someone swerved or did something surprising and I gasped out loud. Apparently, that meant that I didn't trust him and our entire relationship was in question. The amount of rage for the level of infraction was, well, upsetting, to say the least.
For those suggesting I was actually overreacting and being the annoying one, he was a terrible, aggressive driver, and we lived in Boston. I'm reminded of the time he reversed the car out of a spot by turning the wheel sharply and gunning the engine, smashing the entire side of the car into the concrete pillar next to the parking spot.
That was my fault too for not warning him that he was going to hit the pillar. I also gasped that time, despite being warned that gasping was a sign of distrust in the relationship.
25. Over His Head
I managed a small, new team that had no procedures or policies, so I set about instituting some. I jokingly told them, "I mean, you never know, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, and then no one would know how to process these requests". I then asked for their feedback and for them to write up how they did their tasks.
We would then come back together and decide the best practices moving forward in a future meeting. This little man filed a complaint to the manager for my use of "violent imagery" and said that he felt threatened. It was a whole thing—but it came back to bite him. Ultimately, he got fired. He was a horrible employee with real issues towards having a woman in charge.
26. Family Matters
In my counseling program, we are currently going through assessments and revising them. One portion of the assessment asks about family members and what the client’s relationship with them is like. One of my classmates got upset and insisted we remove that section because having a family is a sign of privilege and it’s triggering.
27. Guess What’s For Dinner
At my wedding, we marked the vegetarian items as vegetarian. This made the one vegetarian at my wedding, who happened to be the sister-in-law who hates me, fly into a catatonic rage because we are singling out the vegetarian food as vegetarian and not treating it as normal food. How else are they supposed to know it's vegetarian?
28. Candy Cane And Abel
I had a pastor that insisted we call candy canes "Jesus sticks" because Christmas is all about Jesus. Well, when I was seven, I accidentally referred to the Holy Jesus Stick as a candy cane in his presence. I swear to you, he rushed over to my dad to tell on me and carry on about how offensive it is to see the world trying to remove Christ from Christmas.
My dad asked him if he was serious and then told him to grow up. Then, to rub it in, my dad took it one hilarious step further. He dressed up as Santa a couple of weeks later, and came into the church yelling "Ho! Ho! Ho! Candy canes for everyone!" and passed the satanic candy canes to all the little children during the service. The pettiness runs deep in our family.
29. Take A Step Back
My ex and I were looking at houses and brought his dad—let's call him Dave—to see some of them. At one of the houses, apparently, the real estate agent didn't spend enough time agreeing with Dave about how the bottom step was too tall. Later that night, I got an hour-long lecture from Dave about how the agent was a terrible person that was trying to take advantage of us.
I'm single now…and Dave here was definitely a contributing factor.
30. Fanning The Flames
At my job, we often move around from desk to desk. One guy left his desk with a small fan, and my desk neighbor would point the fan at his desk. One day, a new employee came and sat at the desk with the fan, and rearranged everything to her liking. After she went home that night, my neighbor pointed the fan back at his desk.
When she came in the following day, she saw the fan was pointed away from her chair. She loudly asked the room if someone had been interfering with her workspace. My desk neighbor apologized and took responsibility for it, but reminded her that it was not her fan as it belonged to the former desk occupant. She went ballistic.
My desk neighbor was disrespecting her and her space and creating a hostile environment. She went immediately to the floor supervisor and demanded a new seating assignment. When she packed up her desk she took the fan with her. She eventually got a seat alone in a quiet private space, so that worked out nicely for her.
31. Not All Men’s Best Friend
An old man got deeply offended when my friend and I were walking her dog off-leash…in an off-leash dog park. He was riding his bike, which isn't even allowed, and was screaming at us about how disrespectful we were being. Another time, we got yelled at by a different old man for "not cleaning up after that dog". She had peed on the grass.
Old boomer men get offended constantly by her and her dog just existing near them. She moved away but sends me stories every now and then because it happens all the time. Her dog is a well-behaved golden retriever straight from a family movie from the 90s, and she is a young professional adult who keeps to herself. I don't understand it.
32. Mind Your Manners
I used to work at a buffet pizza place years ago. One time, after checking out a lady who was probably in her 40s, I said: "Thank you ma’am". She lost her mind and said I was calling her old. I tried to explain that I was born and raised in the Deep South—Louisiana—and that is how we talk there, but she wasn't having it.
She asked for the manager. When he came out, she explained the situation to him, to which he replied by telling her to get the heck out and never come back.
33. Help Not Wanted
I want to start this off by saying that when this situation occurred I was going blind. So I had some vision but required the use of a white-tipped cane. Anyway, I am on campus one day and leaving a building when I spot a man in a wheelchair coming up behind me. He had a squeaky wheel so I noticed the noise and looked back.
This man had a backpack and some stuff in his lap, so when I went through the door I held it open for him. I was just being a nice guy and helping out a random person. That is where I screwed up. He stopped, looked at me, and started yelling that he didn't need my help or my pity, and that I was only holding the door because he is disabled.
I waggled my cane at him and said, "I am disabled as well. I was only trying to be nice and open the door for you like I would for anybody. It’s not because you are disabled. I’m not going to slam the door in your face because you’re disabled either, I’m going to because you’re a jerk," and I did. I never thought someone would get upset with me opening the door for them.
34. Ewe Got to Be Kidding?
A customer used to get extremely riled up if we asked, "How are you?" or "Would you like a bag with that?" Really anything with the word "you". The alternative was mind-blowingly ridiculous. Instead, we had to say, "How is yourself today?" or "Would yourself like a bag with that?" Otherwise, she'd get super offended and scream, "I’m not a female sheep!" Referring to "ewe" as opposed to "you".
49. Out Of Left Field
My dad and stepmom got offended for some reason when I said, "Online school makes my behind hurt from sitting for six hours straight. This is worse than when I was working 70 hours a week". I was pretty confused when a few minutes later my stepmom said, "You should appreciate what your dad does to pay the bills". I never said anything about their jobs.
36. Bargain Hunter
I was at my mom's apartment one morning and my mom and little brother were asking me if the laptop on the floor was mine. All I said was, "No, mine's a little bigger". My mom proceeded to lecture me on being rude and all that good stuff. She was all like, " You didn't have to say that. That was mean. You don't have to brag about having a better laptop".
She continued by saying how some people don't have enough money for a laptop like mine. I just looked at her, then told her that I got my large, touchscreen, 17-inch Dell laptop for under 20 bucks.
37. Anything Is Better Than Nothing
A cashier once got offended that my child called me by my first name. Actually, it happened a few times when he was growing up but this cashier stands out the most. My son is autistic and was delayed in his speech but he started calling me by my first name instead of mom around the age of 4 or 5. I think it's because he heard everyone else call me by my first name.
I honestly didn't care if he used my first name, a nickname, mom, mommy or whatever, as long as he talked, and that's what I told the cashier.
38. There’s Always Another Option
My name and contact details went on the cover letter for a newsletter that went to 19,000 tenants. A sight-impaired lady, who I'd met a few weeks before, complained that the copy she was sent did not take her visual impairment into consideration and that I was breaking the law. She had some special requirements, a specific font, and size, no italics, etc.
I offered her the choice of me sending her the newsletter as it is, pics and all, but blown up to A3 size to make it easier, or I could copy the text into her specific requirements, but without the pictures. I could not do both. I specifically told her if she chose option A, I could not guarantee that the text would meet her needs.
She chose the first option, so I managed to get our print guys to do one copy at A3 size. I delivered it by hand the same day she asked for the copy. The very next day, at 9:02 am, she made an official complaint against me, claiming the text in the version I'd posted did not meet her needs and she was unable to read it.
39. Get It Yourself
I used to work at a bookstore. One of my coworkers was helping a customer who wanted a book from the top shelf of a very high section. The co-worker is 4'11" tall, the customer is maybe 5'2" tall, and the nearest stepstool is God knows where. I'm 5'10" tall and was nearby, so my coworker waved me over for help and pointed out the book.
I plucked it off the shelf and handed it to the customer with a polite and casual "Here you are ma'am" type of smile. No big deal, right? Wrong. The customer exploded. Apparently, it was completely unfair that I was so tall and could reach the book easily, and clearly, I was mocking her. She went to my manager to complain and left quickly after that.
40. Art Attack
For the final project in my high school art class, we had to do a report on an artist and then make a piece based on their work. I can't remember who I chose, but my project was Minecraft Pixel Art. I spent a long time working on it at home and at school. The teacher and nearly everyone loved my work, except for one student.
She was angry that I was using a computer in class because it insults the artist I am working off of. She tried to delete my world when I went to the bathroom, but a friend of mine stopped her and she got in trouble. Her mom later complained to our principal that I started it, because art is meant to be canvas and paint, not computers.
41. ETA Is Not OK
I work in customer service and have dealt with a number of people who got super offended for very little reason. I help with roadside assistance, service calls for equipment repair, product Q&A, placing orders, and minor tech support, all for different brands. One roadside assistance call was from this guy who was on the side of the expressway with a flat tire.
He had a spare tire but no jack, so I dispatched the call and told him help would be there as soon as possible. He asked for the time they'd arrive, which is a common question. I can't provide an exact time, only an estimate, and most of the time when I tell people that, they accept that information, and thank me for the help.
Not this guy. He demanded an exact time as to when help would arrive. Insert story here on how he's an important person with things to do, followed by how we're "not a real company" if we don't give him an exact time of arrival to change his tire. I verbally slapped him out of his story, which I’m allowed to do thanks to my job protocols.
I told him I've done this work for a decade and can't tell him anything like, "They'll be there in 4 minutes and 13 seconds" because it will be wrong. I reiterated that help will be there as soon as possible, then released the call. There’s no sense in me entertaining this offended guy, who's already got help on the way, when I've got other people still waiting to call for help.
42. Gimme, Gimme Sometimes Gets
I went to Walmart the other day and had to wait in line for a cart because there were none available. As I waited, a line formed behind me, with most notably a 6’5" tall man near the back. Eventually, some carts came out but you have to wait for them to be cleaned before you can get one. Apparently, the tall man didn’t get the memo.
He pushed past myself and a woman to grab the first cart. He got stopped by a worker who politely asked him to hold on a second so he can sanitize the cart. The tall man got in the worker’s face and started cussing him out. He snatched the cart, pushed past us, and started screaming, "You don't know who you're talking to little man," as he walked down an aisle.
The worker handled the situation very well, but he was scared just as much as we were. I never knew a couple of extra seconds for your own benefit could annoy someone so much.
43. Mind Read The Room Next Time
I told a really cheesy joke at work once. Something along the lines of, "this kid was a pirate for Halloween, and some lady who answered the door said where are your buccaneers, and the kid said under my buckin' hat, lady". Well, this perpetually angry woman at work told me it was offensive to her, because her mother had deformed ears.
She was legitimately serious, acting like I should have known that about her mom. On top of that, my dumb joke had nothing to do with ear deformities. She also got offended that some older guy that everyone loved called women, "Tootsie" or "Toots" sometimes. It doesn’t end there. She was also offended by the image on the box of Skinny Cow Ice Cream.
44. Look It Up
Last week at work, one of my co-workers made a slight mistake that affected another area of the department. The girl who found the mistake came to me demanding that I fix it and complained that she always had to fix mistakes from our area and she was sick of it. I listened to her badger on while I fixed the error, until I couldn’t take it anymore.
I sighed and said, rather level-headedly, "Thank you, I'll get to the bottom of it. I appreciate your diligence". She literally screamed at me and went to go get our manager, insisting that I was "mocking her with words she did not understand". I later found out that she thought that diligence was a fancy word for smarty pants.
45. Speaker Up
I used to work at a drive-thru and lost count of the number of people who got super angry at me when I didn't hear what they said. All I would say was, "I'm so sorry, could you repeat that one more time? I didn't quite catch that" and the next thing you know they are blowing up about how "you never understand what I'm saying every time I'm here! I'm never coming here again!"
I don’t know, maybe just repeat it once more so I can punch it in? Why do you have to get so mad?
46. Too Many Words
In French, we have a way to address a man—Monsieur—a married woman—Madame—an unmarried woman—Mademoiselle—and we use to have one for an unmarried man—Mondamoiseau—which disappeared from official paperwork ages and ages ago. In the name of gender equality, mademoiselle was also removed a few years ago from official paperwork.
Also in the name of gender equality, some employees were told to not call young women mademoiselle anymore and to go with madame instead. So the trick is that some women will get offended when called madame, because it makes them feel old…and some women will get offended when called mademoiselle, because it is considered inappropriate.
47. Huffing And Puffing
I work at a summer camp and on the first day, we always let the campers vote on a mascot that we use for the rest of the summer, as a sort of bonding thing. This year, the kids voted for a wolf as the mascot. It was almost unanimous, but one kid, probably about 9 or 10, threw a fit, because he believed that wolves were "bad guys".
He also claimed they were predators and killers, so he didn’t want to be a wolf, he wanted to be a hero. He refused to participate in any team activities because he didn’t want to be on a team with the "bad guys". We even brought in a guy one day in a full wolf mascot costume and the kid got upset and threw a massive tantrum.
I almost felt like we were going to learn at some point that his brother was taken away by wolves or some other tragic origin story. I did feel bad for the boy because I was fairly certain he had some kind of unaddressed emotional difficulties or something, but we weren’t going to change the mascot name that almost everyone voted for.
48. No Shirt, Sherlock!
I was at the shop with my seven-month-old and he was wearing an adorable shirt that had a rocket ship and the NASA logo on it. We were minding our own business when some middle-aged woman in the shop came up to me out of nowhere and said, "He shouldn’t be wearing that because he’s clearly not an astronaut". I was dumbfounded.
49. Halloween Grinch
I'm a nurse at a children's hospital and one day I was wearing Mickey Mouse Halloween scrubs that had little dancing skeletons on them. The intention was to get into the Halloween spirit and have some fun. Unfortunately, a visitor of one of my patients didn’t see it that way and complained that I was wearing "scary and inappropriate scrubs".
50. Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?
My sister's marriage began its demise over mustard. She was offended that French's Yellow Mustard was in the fridge instead of something organic. She didn't want their infant son growing up with yellow mustard in the house. That argument was the beginning of the end. My poor brother-in-law couldn't even eat a sandwich without getting blasted from her.