times you've wanted the ground to open up and swallow you

I started working part-time in McDonalds when I was about 16 and the staff were generally made up of other kids of roughly the same age from all the schools in the surrounding area.

I got chatting to a guy on my second or third shift and we seemed to be getting along pretty well, turned out he went to another school in the area but knew some people I knew, we hit upon one group of guys in particular we both knew and a guy called James came up, I had only met this guy James a few times before but he was an asbolute weapon

I started going in on him, excitedly telling this guy in work how much of a complete walloper James was, must’ve only went on for a few minutes but I properly went to town, I noticed he wasn’t really enjoying my chat and when I paused for breath he just replied “aye, that’s my brother…

Let’s keep this light if possible eh?


I used to play for a football team that was affiliated with a semi-pro team and got drawn against the sunday team that was mainly players from my school.

The school was AFLAME and the BANTZ were flowing freely. I played in net and we got a penalty within about 3 minutes. I took penalties (and had a 100% record for about 3 years) so I sauntered up winking at all the bbz from school who were on the sidelines. A combination of nerves, ankle deep mud and insults meant I stumbled on the way to kick it and it barely reached the goalkeeper, who punted it up-field straight into my net. 0-1.

We won about 9-1 in the end but school life was never the same.


Job interview about four years ago. Thought I’d answered a relatively tricky question quite well, only for the panel member to say, “would you like me to repeat the question?”

All I could manage in response was “I… don’t know. Do I?” :upside_down_face:


I was at an interview a while back and I had stopped pursuing a professional qualification a bit before but I was (maybe?) lying and saying that if I got this job I would get back on it. They asked what had made me change my mind.

I said ‘the passing of time’.


scene: Technical interview for a chemical engineer.
question: draw a three-phase separator to split extracted oil
answer: my white board drawing of a separator with gas, water and oil, but with the water on top of the oil.
problem: density of water; 1000kg/m3, density of oil, ~800kg/m3.
interviewer: one of my dad’s friends.


i bumped into this family friend a few years back at a scouting event, and he laughed, and said “remember when we were interviewing you…” and told the whole story.

so so so glad he remembers it well.


Here we go




I don’t have any new stories since I’ve tried to minimise the time I spend out of the house.

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One of my group mates inadvertently drew a swastika on the whiteboard during his PhD viva, when explaining the orders of symmetry in the molecule he had made. His external examiner was German.


And that examiner? Albert Einstein.


I work in a sub-sector of the voluntary sector that has a partly justified reputation for being the preserve of retired middle class white people.

A few years ago when I was relatively new to it I was working on a project that happened to have a lot of young people and women involved in the running of it. I went to a conference of other people working on similar projects and virtually all of the 50 or so attendees were over 60, although there were a lot of women present.

The start of the event was like an open discussion where people raised issues they wanted to get advice or feedback on. One of the first people to speak started talking about their project’s struggle to get young people involved. Already I could feel eyes turning to me as one of the only “young people” present. The person facilitating the event, who knew me and my project, immediately turned to me and said “so Joe, your project has been really successful in getting people from a broad spectrum involved, why don’t you tell us a bit about how you got young people involved?”

Now the truthful answer, and what I should have said, was “pure luck, it just so happens that the people who have gravitated towards the project weren’t all old”. But I am still and was particularly then not comfortable with public speaking, especially when put on the spot. I guess I also wanted to make an impression and sound like I had relevant, interesting stuff to say.

So my first attempt at an answer was a pretty bland and meaningless waffle about making an effort to engage with people broadly, which apparently didn’t cut it with the facilitator who responded asking me to expand on the process of How To Get Young People Involved. Again I gave a waffley response basically avoiding the question and just describing the people running the project.

At this point I’m already part way to wanting the ground to open up, merely because I’m not really saying anything and everyone’s looking at me.

She still wouldn’t relent, and pressed me AGAIN, “but how did you get young people to get involved?”

I can’t explain what I said next or what I was trying to say, but these are the words that came out of my mouth:

“Well I think one of the first things the people who initiated the project did was to identify the fact that as a small group of women in their 60s they didn’t have the skills and experience to make the project happen and then they actively recruited more people who did have those skills”

I went immediately ashen and silent, as did the facilitator who quickly moved the discussion on. I wanted to interrupt the next question and immediately retract and try to explain what I had just said but I was frozen in shame, didn’t even have an explanation, and pretty soon it was too late to go back. I remained frozen for the rest of the session, and when it was time for a coffee and networking break I hid in the toilets.

Later in the day when everyone was sitting quietly waiting for the afternoon session to start, a very kind woman in her 60s sat next to me and jokingly chided me for the incident, giving me the opportunity to renounce everything I’d said as loudly as I could, and explain how uncomfortable I was being put on the spot like that. It broke the tension a bit but nothing will ever redeem me or banish my shame.


God, I want the ground to swallow me up just reading that. :smiley:


At the start of a school Christmas assembly when I was 6, it opened with Band Aid being played and I was getting really into it so was singing along to myself. The deputy headmistress noticed and made me sing the latter part of the song by myself surrounded by 300 kids, so I went for it. Unfortunately, instead of knowing that the lyric was ‘Feed the world’, I was bellowing ‘Fee-ee fo-oh’ with gusto and everyone was cracking up and the deputy head had to correct me. I want the ground to swallow me up even thinking about it.


I was giving a talk to about 500 people at a national scientific conference. It was my first job after my PhD and I was talking about a thing I’d invented that would make LCD displays brighter.

There were two common types of display around at that time, and because I hadn’t had much funding or time, all my design and testing work had been on type 1.

At the end of my talk an eminent professor asked a question that blindsided me and completely destroyed everything I’d been talking about, along the lines of “I can see how that would work for display type 1, but how will it work on type 2, given [point that highlighted a fundamental flaw in my research work]”.

I realised in that horrible instant that he was right, and all I could think of to say in response (to the entire lecture hall) was “Well, it’s horses for courses isn’t it?”


Joined the local Cubs when I was 8, never really liked it; it was boring (never saw the point of learning how to tie a fucking reef knot) and there was general low level bullying by the older ones who were a bunch of twats. I had made a nob of myself on several occasions already but the pièce de résistance occurred at a church service for (I think) Remembrance Day when I managed to piss myself in the pews. I learned that grey shorts and long socks is not a good look when you have to make your way up the aisle of church following a bladder accident.


I have way too many of these that will probably come to me later, but a recent one…

Just before Christmas I was chatting to someone and they asked me what my favourite drink was and what I’d drink at home and I basically launched into how I don’t really drink at home by myself and would never really sit down and pour myself a drink etc. Anyway, fast forward half an hour and as they’re leaving they handed me my Christmas present - a nice bottle of wine :woman_facepalming:. Felt like such an ungrateful bitch.


“happy birthday!” “thanks you too!”

a classic