It’s Mortification Week at Ask a Manager and all week long we’ll be revisiting ways we’ve mortified ourselves at work. Here are 13 more mortifying stories.
1. The typo, part 1
I used to hire for call center-type work and got an applicant once who, when talking about their previous experience, said that at an old job “I would answer the phone throughout my shits” (meaning “shifts”). I was in tears reading that. (They did, in fact, get the job.)
2. The cat race car driver
I was trying to email my resume to a manager for a job I REALLY wanted, but accidentally attached a different file containing a poorly photoshopped image of my cat driving a Mario Kart race car. Didn’t realize it until she replied saying she hadn’t received my resume, and I checked my sent mail. Shockingly, I did not get an interview.
3. The misunderstanding
About 10 years ago, my best friend used to work for a well known company that dealt with a certain part of the government. At that time, she had NO idea what DTF meant – she thought saying “I’m DTF” was just a colloquial way to say “I’m in!” or “I’m can do this!”. Well given her particular area, she often had long phone calls with various important international folks where these calls were recorded and transcribed. One particular call, someone asked her “Lucinda, what do you think?” to which my friend replied “Yes, that sounds great, I’m DTF.” Cue a silence so deafening – until the Director awkwardly steered the conversation. But my friend had no idea what she said until after when the Director had to explain to her what DTF actually meant. So somewhere in the belly of the archives of the federal government is an official transcript with my friend’s name on it, with her saying she is DTF.
4. The exposure
My husband’s cover letter said, “I can not wait to expose myself to the work done by your firm.”
5. The missed detail
I was organizing a conference and floundering with the volume of tasks on my plate, so I asked during a planning call if someone else on the planning committee could take on some of the graphic design work.
After a certain amount of throat clearing, one of my fellow planners reminded me that I was the only sighted person on the committee. Everyone else was blind.
6. The resume entry
I have soooo been loving your mortifying moments posts!! It brings me back to the days when my cousin and I would spend all summer together making up submissions for the “mortifying moment of the month” in YM or some other teen girl magazine. We were pretty creative and got published a few times. (Our stories always involved being seen by your crush and ended with the crush giving you an embarrassing nickname).
So, back when I first graduated college, in an effort to flesh out my resume and fueled by some misguided advice from my dad to add some personality to my resume, I cited my favorite story (it involved a leaky tampon, a scuba diving trip, and the crush nicknamed me Shark Bait) in perfect APA format and added it under the “publications” section. I’ve only changed jobs twice since then, and each time I’ve just updated my resume by adding the most recent information.
Well, the mortifying moments posts got me thinking about that, and I went back to check the most recent version of my resume that I would have used a year and a half ago when I applied for my current job, and lo and behold, it’s still on there!!! I just asked my nurse manager if she noticed it when I applied and she said she usually stops reading once it’s clear that an applicant has relevant experience (I’m an ICU nurse in a very niche specialty that very few hospitals offer, so a candidate with experience is kind of like a polka dotted unicorn) if she did she would have just thought it was a morbidity & mortality review published in a journal she had never heard of. (I do have other, professional publications in actual journals since then!) We both got a great laugh out of this and now she’s following your blog too 🙂 Moral of the story: always update your *entire* resume and cull the stuff that’s no longer relevant.
7. The bug
If you lived in New England during 2020, you were not only dealing with the pandemic but also a large amount of stink bugs. During a Zoom call, a bug flew into my hair while I was on camera. My colleagues got to see me scream, flail, and proceed to fall out of my chair. The recording of this moment still makes the rounds once or twice a year, though I have learned to laugh along with it.
8. The typo, part 2
I am an executive assistant. My leader had just come back from a three week around the business world trip, visiting customers/partners in 5 or 6 cities. We had a friendly, casual relationship so his first Monday back I pinged him on chat, intending to say “Your wife must have been happy when you got home on Friday.” Only I mistyped “home.” Instead I typed “some.”
9. The toilet paper
My husband Adam and I are professors. Pretty much every year we run a short-term study abroad course in Europe for two weeks, with about a dozen students. A few years back, I had this run of luck during our travels where I kept using the bathroom in restaurants and failing to notice that they were out of toilet paper. Adam kept reminding me to either check or keep tissues in my purse, I kept forgetting, it kept happening.
On the day we were checking out from one of our hotels, I went to use the lobby bathroom, and once again found myself without toilet paper. Since it was a single room, not in a row of stalls, I knew I couldn’t just wait for another woman to wander in and help me, as I had at a few restaurants. And I was in a hurry–the group was waiting to check out and head to our next city.
So I got out my phone and frantically texted my husband. Here is my message, verbatim: “Good God, it happened again. I am alone and have no toilet paper. Can you help me??? You’re my only hope.” Followed by instructions for where to find the specific bathroom I was in.
Except I didn’t send it to my husband. I sent it to the last person I’d texted, who happened to be one of the students, a kid named Tom. When I realized what I had done (before he had the chance to respond), I screamed “nooooooooo!” aloud and nearly fell off the toilet, laughing and horrified at once.
My next message (verbatim): “Oh my GOD. I thought I was texting Adam. I’m dying right now. I thought you were Adam!!!”
Tom apparently conveyed the message to my husband, who did indeed rescue me. When I emerged from the bathroom, the entire group of students was laughing hysterically. They kept saying “You’re my only hope!” for the remainder of the trip.
10. The crawl
I was sitting with a colleague in our lounge/break room. I started coughing, which resulted in farting. Loudly. I tried to stop farting, somehow making it worse. So naturally, I got on the floor and crawled on all fours out of the break room to the closest bathroom. The closest bathroom was locked. Instead of STANDING UP, I CONTINUED CRAWLING to the next bathroom as the head of human resources was coming out of her office. They asked if I was okay to which I squealed… something. I made it to the bathroom, crawled inside, and locked the door. It was brought up several weeks later and I completely denied having done it. I will continue denying that I did that until I die.
11. The auto-correct
Friend’s story: On a Zoom call she told the (female) presenter in the chat “I’m fangirling you so hard right now!” and autocorrect changed it to “I’m fingering you so hard right now!”
12. The ink
Not me, but a colleague: back in the era of flip charts, whilst making a Very Important presentation with outside agencies, colleague absentmindedly put the uncapped end of a dark purple marking pen in her mouth. The ink stained her lips, teeth, and mouth and was impossible to hide.
13. The headline
As a student in the 80s, I worked as a reporter for my small town newspaper. I was assigned a story about the Elderobic Moonwalk, a week-long fitness activity where seniors took daily walks and combined their results in an attempt to cover the distance between the earth and the moon. I decided to add what I thought was a hilarious joke about seniors in the headline to make my editor laugh. I was terrible at writing headlines, and I expected her to replace it as she did with all my other stories. Reader, she did not. She was swamped that week, she trusted my work, and she sent it to printer without reading it. When I arrived the next morning, the receptionist glared at me and held up the paper so I see my headline: “Raisins walk to the moon.” I was and I still am mortified. I didn’t lose my job (thank you Canadian federal government for student employment grants), but I believe my small town’s Golden Age club passed a formal motion that I am never allowed to join.