Secondhand embarrassment is like siphoning gas from one car to the next. Except instead of gas it's cold sweats and red blushing cheeks, and instead of a car it's your central nervous system.
Also, you want no part of it.
But it happens. Someone in your field of vision--or, even worse, someone you're interacting with directly--is so supremely awkward that you lose control of your own body so that all 206 of your bones can dedicate themselves to cringing.
It happens in a variety of places, for a variety of reasons, and lasts for anywhere from mere seconds to excruciating minutes that feel eternal.
TeachMeTheWayz asked, "What's the story behind a time when you felt secondhand embarrassment?"
Big Day Spray
"Had an interviewer come into our office for an important role, and she warned us that morning that she had been sprayed by a skunk the previous week so she might 'have a teensy bit of the odour lingering.'"
"Well we got in the interview room with her and it wasn't 'teensy.' We were wincing, coughing, and she looks mortified saying 'oh, oh god, it's really that bad? I've taken 100 showers, oh no.'"
"Super awkward interview."
Playing it Cool
"I was out walking my cat at night and sat down on one of the steps in my complex. My other neighbor comes out for a smoke. I smile and say hi. He lives in a building on top of a small hill."
"He asks who's that next to me and I say "my cat." But he didn't hear me. I kept saying it was my cat. She must have been in a shadow."
"He started walking closer to hear me better and he fell, rolled down the hill and his pants fell off.
I pretended like it happens every day."
Peering Over the Wall
"My boss accidentally kissed her work friend's dad on the lips in front of his wife and daughter and I low-key witnessed this unfold over my cubicle wall."
"The work friend had her parents visiting from Europe and was giving them a tour of our office. My boss was trying to do the European cheek-kiss greeting when meeting the dad, but leaned in to the same side by mistake and got his mouth."
"It was awkward as hell, so I pretended I didn't notice to save my boss from further embarrassment."
Break Room Banter
"A girl at work was talking about how her and her girlfriend went out over the weekend. Not explicitly mentioning same sex anything, just what they did."
"Another female coworker of ours literally goes, 'I've never been with a girl, but I let my one friend go down on me once.'"
"I wanted to die..."
Lunch Break Comes Early
"I started my career in a call center that handled calls from extremely wealthy people and their financial advisors. I eventually moved into a training role."
"Part of the job was to sit connected to a trainee's headset and observe the calls, help out, provide post-call feedback, etc."
"Well, one day, this guy is talking to a big client and his adviser. In the middle of a sentence, he lets out the loudest belch ever."
"That was bad enough but instead of apologizing, this knucklehead says, 'Mmmmm, meaty banana!!!'"
"That was his last day there."
That Should Do It
"My friend was giving a 15 minute presentation in 10th grade English class an about 4 minutes into it says, 'Yeah I don't feel like doing this anymore' and sits down."
"The teacher just stared at him agape like she couldn't believe what happened and asked him if he would like to continue. He was really red from embarrassment and flat out refused to go back to his presentation."
"The teacher got livid and started threatening with detentions and was shouting all kinds of insults at this poor shy kid because he didn't listen to her or respect her authority."
"I was embarrassed for the teacher."
"A teacher at my school was in a rope pulling contest as part of a fun school activity."
"It was teachers vs students, performed in front of the rest of the school. Said teacher was extremely strong and essentially won for the teachers despite competing against a lot of male student athletes."
"But he wasn't super well-liked, so when all the teachers were giving celebratory high fives, he was left hanging."
"I worked for an engineering and land surveying company. My aunt was the office manager. We were supposed to go to a company wide 401k meeting."
"One of our summer hires (seasonal work) did not want to attend. I can understand why someone who is only working there for 3 -6 months would not want to go."
"My aunt proceeded to ream this guy out for 20 minutes, ending with 'You just don't give a sh** about this company!' I wanted to crawl under a desk."
Reading the Room
"Kid I knew in high school was a total Sonic kid. Had a hat shaped like Amy's hairstyle that he'd wear and everything."
"One day he was a giving a presentation in History class and was rushing through it. Teacher told him to relax and slow down. Without skipping a beat he says, 'Sorry, I like to go fast.... if you know what I mean." and winks.'"
"Total dead silence as the teacher responded, 'I don't want to know, thanks.'"
Hard to Get
"I was watching my buddy talk to his crush, he got a little 'excited' during their flirtatious conversation and when she was leaving and went to hug him goodbye he declined bc he didn't want to poke her with his wood."
"She was hurt and confused while he was pained. I loved every second."
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