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Excruciatingly awkward misunderstandings(571 Posts)
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So It’s late at night when your brain reminds you of those awkward moments from your past...
Back at my first year at university it was a girl in my halls birthday and she was having a gathering of about 30ish people in one of the communal kitchens and I knew say about 5 of them. I arrived and had a few drinks, the music is playing loud and at some point noticed a girl on her own in the corner who happened to wearing a jacket I also owned.
So to make conversation I said something along the lines of “nice jacket, I have the same one”. I realise now she must have completely misheard me and she gave me a very odd look and said “err yes it’s mine”. A bit confused by the response I said “oh I just meant I have the same one, it’s from Zara right?”. Backing away slightly she laughed nervously and replied “haha no no it’s definitely mine, I don’t know Zara”. It’s pretty awkward now so I try to explain I meant Zara ‘the shop’, it doesn’t matter, let’s talk about something else, but she’s only getting more confused.
Suddenly her tone changes, she smiles at me sweetly and slowly says “ohhh I don’t know ‘Zara de-shop’ she must be your friend, is she looking after you tonight?”. In my awkward 18 year old way of trying not to embarrass her and the ridiculousness of the situation I stupidly grin as I think of a way to extract myself from the conversation. She takes this as a yes and continues “Isn’t it great you have such inclusive friends, are you living here by yourself?”. Arghh, feeling too far down the line to correct her and fearing someone I know may overhear, I quickly excuse myself to the bathroom and scuttle back to my room. None of my hall friends ever mentioned it and I never saw the girl again!
It plays over in my mind every now and again how a simple mishearing resulted in someone thinking I had a learning disability and talking to me like a child! She was (admittedly inadvertently) incredibly patronising even so, although I’m sure her intentions were good.
I do wonder if at some point in the next few years she walked past Zara and the penny dropped! I do giggle at the thought of her in a shopping centre having a complete Oh. My. God. moment.
Tell me mumsnet, have you ever had similar awkward miss understanding, or maybe you had a weird conversation about Zara many years ago.
Oh god that sounds awful OP, you were trying to be nice to her as well
Mine are mainly work related - one when I was in my mid 20s (and to be fair did look younger) and hadn't worked at the company very long, I was making a tea in the work kitchen when one of the lovely older secretaries came in and started asking me all sorts of questions about my 'work experience', who was I working with, was I having a nice time, was I learning lots etc. I was a bit bemused but named my teammates and said I was having a lovely time until I suddenly twigged she thought I was on a work experience placement and was about 15 ! By then it was too late and I was too embarrassed to correct her so I just backed away and tried to avoid her, but turns out she was in the kitchen making tea or hanging around the fax machine (this was a while back) a lot and every time we ran into one another she'd ask more and more questions about how my work experience was going until eventually after this had been going on for months (she must have thought it was the longest work experience ever!) I told her 'I actually work here permanently now' and she was so kind, told me how well I had done getting a such a good job when I'd only just left school etc, and she even left a card on my desk , she was so sweet I didn't have the heart to ever confess the truth - every subsequent promotion or presentation or anything notable I did until I left the company she would come up and tell me how well I'd done having started off on 'work experience', sometimes this would be in front of colleagues who would be going and I'd be frantically making 'shut up'/'don't ask' faces! Cringing just remembering, it may even have been a factor in me leaving that job as I was terrified the whole house of cards would fall one day!
I'm literally crying laughing at these maxelly something similar happened to me at my current job. I'm school support staff and have been for years, and I used to be a teacher before that. I was a bit bewildered by some of the "So, how are you finding working with the kids?" questions I was getting from colleagues during my first few days, until it twigged that they thought I was a PGCE student on my first ever school placement. Luckily I realised before it got too awkward to correct them - no idea how I'd have explained still being there a year later (not to mention doing a non-teaching job!)
I went to look at a flat to let when I was 17 or 18. The agent/landlady was chatting to the previous viewers when I got there, but came over to say hello and said "Wanda/wander" I had a split second of trying to decide whether she was introducing herself or issuing an instruction, so stuck my hand out and said "Hi, I'm Velvian". I chose the wrong option. I don't know why, but it always haunts me in the small hours.
My most embarrassing misunderstanding is far too identifying, as I have told pretty much everyone I've met since about it, in an effort to reduce its power over me. It does actually work.
Lol Velvian, I also had another one which was arguably worse as really I should have sorted it out earlier. I really do hope that since the days of these anecdotes I have got more willing to take some short term embarrassment for long term comfort! This is a bit outing too...
On my first day on the job, my colleague on the next desk to me randomly decided I reminded him of Alice in Wonderland (no idea why, I wasn't wearing hair bows or a pinafore or anything classic-Alice-y but I guess I have quite a standard/posh English accent that did it for him!) - he started calling me Alice for the rest of the day and wanting to fit it/get on well with my team I didn't object when they all joined in, and unfortunately it stuck - it was quite a nickname-y team in general but most people's nicknames were more obviously so, things like 'shorty' or 'ginger' or ''Doc' or whatever. My nickname being Alice caused no ends of difficulties, new people to the team or clients hearing me called that would quite understandably think that was my actual name and be very confused, at one point I had to maintain an entirely separate 'Alice' persona with a VIP client who was too important to look stupid in front of, I had to make ever more elaborate excuses why he never met/saw in person 'Maxelly' who regularly he emailed/spoken to on the phone, since he knew me as 'Alice' . The guy who'd given me the nickname in the first place proceeded to 'forgot' it was him who started the whole thing (he was a bit of a dickhead in other ways actually and in hindsight I think he enjoyed my discomfiture with the whole situation) and the origins of 'Alice' got lost in the mists of time, I'm sure most people thought it was just a very weird nickname I'd chosen to give myself . I actually contemplated whether I should just get work IT to change my name on the system to 'Alice' and go by that full time, but I solved the problem by leaving - bit of a theme developing here
A close friend who lives abroad brought her son to stay with me. One afternoon they came back from sightseeing and the son presents me with a little toy, which I assume is a little “thank you for letting us stay Auntie Rapunzel” present. I take it and start making effusive thank yous. Then he presents me with another one. My brain automatically starts saying thank you before I realise he wouldn’t have bought me two identical toys. Neither of then were for me, he was just showing me toys he’d bought for himself and his sister.
I very awkwardly gave them back.
She’s still a very good friend, but I’m too awkward to ask, “Did your kid ever tell you I accidentally tried to nick his toys?”
My late DStepdad had a friend he always referred to as “Geoffrey Baldeagle”. I genuinely just thought that was the chap’s name. One day he came round to the house when stepdad wasn’t in. I opened the door and said “Oh hello, Mr Baldeagle; do come in.” He looked a bit surprised and confused. Then I saw my DM, her eyes big and wide, shaking her head at me from the kitchen. His real name was Geoffrey Smith! Stepdad referred to him by that nickname - and not to his face - because of his protuberant nose!
* He wasn't really called Geoffrey Smith. Real name changed for the purposes of this post to protect the innocent.
My worst misunderstandings have arisen from failing to recognize people visually, and they are more depressing than funny. But a rather funny, though embarrassing, mishearing that I still remember was when I was playing Scrabble with a friend of mine when we were about 16. She commented, 'Oh, of course, your board's solid'. I got quite cross and replied indignantly 'I am NOT bored solid!' We soon did work out what the misunderstanding was, and ended up laughing.
Oh god I've got a million of these. One weird one was when I decided to treat myself to a massage and skin treatments at a fancy day spa. It was 1.5 hours drive from where I live but I really wanted to go there as it looked nice and I felt like a day out. Anyway when I was there, the lady asked me where I was from, then why I had come that far. For some reason I thought saying I just wanted to sounded weird, so I said I had come to visit a friend. She started asking me all about this friend, and I ended up spending the 3 hours telling her all about this "friend" and our plans for the weekend. I couldn't wait for it to be over!
Just realised that wasn't a misunderstanding, just an awkward moment. Oh dear I've just awkwardly misunderstood this whole thread
a neighbour of mine came in, and i politely offered her a cushion when she sat down on the sofa.
the cushion was out of her reach, so i passed it across saying, here you have this cushion.
oh no i couldn't possibly, she said. which i found rather odd.
most people would just say, no thanks i'm ok.
then she said, it's far too expensive, i couldn't possibly take it.
i stared at her. she wasn't joking.
(we were both local born native english speakers.)
is it me ?! what would i have done if she'd put it in her bag !
Oh God, first week at a new job, chatting with my manager's boss, making conversation, talking about university. He had a slight speech impediment so had a soft 'R' sound when he spoke and told me he'd gone to Durham Uni but it sounded like 'Duh-wum' and I didn't pick up what he said, repeated it back 'Duh-wum?' how he'd said it before realising what he meant 🙈
We became good friends but I still think about it sometimes in horror and shrivel inside 💀
I was once having a few too many drinks with a friend from school and his brother who I had spent lots of time with previously. All of a sudden the brother started stuttering on his words which I mimicked back at him thinking it was the alcohol.
Turned out he actually had a stutter that he usually worked really hard to control so I had never heard it before.
When my friend told me I felt so shit lol
That i was a man.
More than once, "How can i help you sir"
Just went with it ,😂
My hearing is not 100%, so there are often occasions where I mishear and/or have to guess what's been said or asked, not always correctly.
I was reading my university diaries recently and was reminded of an awful one of these that I'd almost forgotten. Back when I was 18, away at uni, there was a boy I was super keen on. Massive crush time. He was friendly with me, but it never went beyond that. One night we're in the college bar, me, him and his mates, it's last orders and he says 'Jojo, drink up, we're all going back to A's room to watch the golf, are you coming?'
Much as I'm keen to spend time with him, sitting with 4 rugby boys watching the world's dullest game is not really on my to do list...so I say no, something about being a girl it doesn't really interest me, I find it a bit dull, how I never know who's winning, I prefer football.
He looks very confused by this. I blabber on merrily about have they got a bet on the outcome...he seems quite disconcerted by this and changed the subject a bit awkwardly.
I end up going back with them anyway. It wasn't golf they were watching but coverage of the fucking Gulf War, some of them were on Army sponsorships and scared of getting called up
I am still mortified by it 30 years on. Worst bit is that I must have seemed like such a superficial airhead when in reality I've always been really into current affairs, causes of Middle East conflict etc.
I have others but this is the worst.
Yes, in secondary school one lunch time, my friend Michelle and I were talking about skin care (moisturisers and stuff) and she said something like "you know Christine and I were talking about this the other day, and she said Hannah has the most gorgeous skin ever, and the more I looked the more I had to agree". So I preened a bit, and said "aw thank you, I've always thought my skin was awful but obviously it's not as bad as I thought". She gave me the weirdest look and there was a really long awkward silence, until Christine herself sat down and said "so what are you two gabbing about? And I explained, and she said "oooh yes, did Michelle tell you we were talking about this the other day, and decided Reynolds had the most lovely skin ever?
They'd been talking about another girl with the same first name as me, it wasn't until Christine used her surname (she called a lot of people by their surnames, part of an in joke) that I realised . So silly but that still comes to me sometimes at night when I can't sleep (and start going over all the stupid shit I've done over the years, in my head).
I too got mistaken for the work placement teen when working in labs - but less painful than Maxelly's experience because it was the actual TEACHER who made the mistake!! She obviously wasn't the girl's teacher personally and she was probably more embarrassed than I was
Then there was the time when we had a new head of one of the labs start, and we'd just started tightening up on security going into the labs too, so we'd had security pass locks installed on all the doors.
I came back from lunch with a friend, opened the door for us to go through and this random man tried to follow us so I held onto the door and said "Sorry, this is for lab staff onlly" - except he was the new head of the lab that I'd been introduced to that morning and had completely forgotten what he looked like! He thought it was hilarious and complimented me on my security-consciousness but OMG it was mortifying!
Chatting with a group of mums.
Me, to the mum standing next to me and gesturing to the group of kids: “which one is yours?”
Her, gesturing to another woman a few feet away: “That’s my mum. I’m 14.”
I had a date with a bouncer once and he was saying that people often thought he was a "fug"... cue 5 minutes of me asking what a fug is, him shocked I've never heard of it... then it dawned on me...he meant "thug"... put me right off..
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
When I was doing voluntary work at a high school during university and got told off for being in the corridor during lesson time, the woman insisted on knowing which lesson I should be in and on taking me there
Nineteen, working in a juice bar.
We had these supplements that got added, the caffeine one was not suitable for pregnant women.
Pregnant (?) woman comes up to the counter, asks for a recommendation.
I suggest a couple, saying ''but that one isn't suitable for pregnant women''.
''I'm not pregnant'' she replies.
She wasn't, it was just the way she looked...
I styled it out by saying that was just what we had to say to every customer.
She didn't believe me.
The next person in line was a woman of about seventy.
So I went through the ''Not suitable for...'' spiel to make it look like we always did that.
First woman just scowled at me as she collected her drink and left...
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