People Who Have Worked For A Multi-Level Marketing Scam Share Their Horror Stories
Pyramid schemes are illegal in the United States, but I promise you we are exposed to them all the time. Only now, we call it "multi-level marketing" - and it's a total scam.
What's the difference? It's all in the technicalities, my friends. See, what makes pyramid schemes illegal is that you're paying participants to recruit other participants. MLM's claim that they're different because they're not paying you to recruit other people, they're paying you based on how much product those recruits buy and sell.
You're not getting paid for the recruits, technically. It's just that you can't really get paid without them.
It reminds me of the story of my local bikini hot dog lady (listen, I've lead a weird life in a weird town.)
She used to sell hot dogs from a cart at the side of the road wearing nothing but a string bikini and some sky-high heels. There would almost always be a line of cars waiting to buy from her. It became an issue with traffic flow so police stepped in and shut her down. She didn't have a food license and it was illegal to sell food without one.
She opened back up a little while later selling "plates, cups and napkins" - but giving away "free hot dogs" with those purchases. She wasn't technically selling food. She just to happened to be giving it away with all these plates ...
If a pyramid scheme is selling hot dogs, an MLM is selling plates and giving away a free hot dog with purchase. Same same, but different.
So MLMs aren't technically breaking the law because there's a product involved in the recruitment...
I don't know where bikini hot dog lady is now, but I hope she is recognized for her genius. So now that we understand what makes an MLM different from a pyramid scheme (see also: nothing but technicalities) we can more easily talk about how badly they suck, how predatory they are - most importantly - how people are getting out!
Reddit user pastel-vibes-forever asked:
Things got ... enlightening, to say the least.
My mother did Amway years ago. She told me she quit when she realized she approached every new acquaintance with an aim to make a sale instead of making a friend.
This is what got me out of selling Insurance. It wasn't a pyramid scheme, just a bad commission job. My coworker and I were at a bar just chilling after a sh!t day, started talking to this guy, and without either of us realizing it we had launched right into the pitch.
My recruiter told me she made $400 at the party I was at. I later learned she made 25% of that.
I was told if I could get 2 people under me, I would make $400-$500 per month.
Then I was told I needed 4 people instead of 2.
Then I was $2,000 in debt with nothing to show for it.
Deleted them all and changed my phone number.
I am an owner of 2 businesses, so I thought adding a small side hustle would be an easy transition, but it turned out that as a legitimate business owner, I couldn't bring myself to use the toxic business practices that were expected of me (cold messaging, hounding people for orders, constantly reminding people about deals, etc.).
When I left, I helped the two girls who were under me get out as well, and apologized for roping them into something I thought was a good deal.
Unfortunately one lived 4 states away, and the other didn't have qualifications necessary for my fields so I couldn't give them jobs at my other businesses. I did, however, take on the debt that they had gone into to get them in the clear.
I've been wanting to tell this story for ages, and never got round to it.
When my husband died (abusive prick so don't feel bad for me) he left me with a tonne of debt (ok you can feel bad for me now lol). Not long after he died I had gone to a Tupperware party for a friend, and made some positive comment about one of the products, and that put me on the presenter's radar. This presenter happened to be one of those top tier ladies that ignored their family to make it big. She was/is the regional person. Whatever the title is.
I was BROKE. Paying off so much stuff while waiting for the life insurance to come through, you'd be surprised at the amount of companies that don't give a sh!t that you've lost a spouse, they just want their money. So Tupperware was spun as a way to earn extra money. She even gave me the starter kit without having to pay up front.
Problem was, I worked full time, and it was near impossible to book parties. I did my first presentation at my house and booked no parties. I reached out to all my friends and family and booked no parties.
The pressure from this woman was IMMENSE. She'd call me while I was at my day job. She try to convince me to quit my day job to focus on Tupperware. She knew I was broke, but she was adamant that if I quit my job I'd make it big, and before I know it I'd have a Tupperware car just like her.
She never listened to me. Even when I said to her "How do you expect me to pay my bills if I quit my job and start up Tupperware?" She had a response for everything. Nothing was based in logic and every time she called me, which was weekly, I was filled with dread.
I started to ghost her. It took months for me to work up the courage to tell her I didn't want to do it anymore. It took weeks for her to accept me "don't want to do it anymore". She dragged it on, and on, and on. Finally she sent me a curt "Leave your kit at the front door" message which I did.
She tried a couple of years down the track to recruit me again. I ignored her calls.
All I wanted to extra income to help me. I also wanted to add to my friend group. All I got was stress, anxiety, and frustration.
Joined a jewelry-based MLM thinking it would be cute to sell jewelry as a side hustle in July after I relocated across the country. I got roped in to the "be your own boss" and "make money while you sleep" mentality, and for a while, it boosted my confidence because I truly thought I was doing a great job running my own business. On paper, I brought in good money (about $100 per live show, which was one hour a week), but I had to ship out the jewelry to them, which ate about 20% of the profit, then the money earned went back into ordering more jewelry.
By September, once the glitz and excitement of it all wore off and I realized nothing was coming back to me, my boyfriend told me the only way to earn money in the business was to add new "business partners." I told him I wasn't interested in doing that, but that was part of the scheme. I was so hurt by the people who had roped me in to the business. So I quit that same day. Luckily, I made it out with only like $30 lost, but I still have a ton of jewelry and packing materials taking up space in my house.
Do Not Contact
I joined Primerica, I didn't see any red flags at first but small ones started popping up.
Like my team leader telling me to basically live outside my means to make people think I was doing really good and then they'd join and then I'd do really good.
Or finding out all the contests ran around recruitment and not sales numbers.
I left as soon as I realized, even put my name and number on the do not contact list.
Blew a lot of money trying to make that work only to realize I wasn't going to make any money without screwing my friends.
Been there, tried that. Term life insurance and financial advising. The biggest red flag for me after joining was that everything was focused around recruiting and building a team rather than building a book of business and developing the knowledge necessary to actually help your clients. I "noped" out of there pretty quick and without any issue. I am still friends with he guy who recruited me. He does very well, but admittedly inherited his dad's book of business who started with Primerica back in the 80's and never had to build his own client base.
Didn't Even Realize
I had just started college right out of high school. Was going to an art school (i know, bad idea) and was looking for a job to do between classes. Classmate of mine mentioned CutCo, so I naively went in for an interview.
Few points to know. I had no previous job experience at all, the "office" was in the next town over, and I didn't have a driver's license at the time, let alone a car. My freaking Mom drove me to the interview. Got the job anyway.
So I get the CutCo bag of stuff to show off and was sent on my way to harass my relatives. I thought that I was only doing example shows to them, practicing for the real deal. My Dad and StepMom even bought some knives (no idea what happened to them though, last I saw they used a different set). Once I run out to people to bother, i start running into problems.
Problem 1 was i didnt sell anything other than that one set. Problem 2 was i hadn't gotten any other people to talk to. The "pyramid" part of my pyramid scheme wasnt working real well. Problem 3 was the straw that broke the camel's back apparently. I couldn't get to the weekly meetings because my mom refused to drive me across town every week (she had a long commute).
In the end I got a call from my "manager" telling me he was basically letting me go and I needed to turn in my swag bag. I told him I couldn't get to him so he had to come to me. Later that day he rolled up, o gave him the bag and that was it. Dont think I ever got my cut from the knives I did sell either.
The real kicker was that I didn't even realize it was a MLM until almost a decade later, browsing this very sub.
Our office had an Avon lady that would take our orders on a bi-weekly basis. She was the sweetest person, not pushy at all. Unfortunately she passed due to an illness and we did not know anyone else who sold Avon.
I got the bright idea of signing up as I read on their website that many people would join up solely for the discount. It sounded easy as I was planning on only taking orders for the office. Paid my $25 online and waited for the brochure to come in.
Our apartment was always the last stop for the UPS guy. He stopped by one evening near 8pm hauling a heavy box with AVON all over. He gave me this look of utter hatred. I felt so bad when he asked me if I had signed up to sell. That should've been a red flag.
Every time you placed an order you had to buy the catalogs which were heavy and a nuisance since I only needed two at the most for the office. Whatever small credit I gained ended up reinvested on having to buy the catalogs.
Not too long after I signed up the calls started. I began receiving calls from various people during work hours to attend meetings, to meet the regional so and so, to place orders, how to boost my sales. It became so frustrating at the time as my father became ill and had to be hospitalized so I kept having to answer every call in case it was hospice nurses or other medical staff. One woman kept calling and calling so I snapped one day. Told that I didn't plan on attending any meetings and that if she didn't understand that the first few times I told her, then she was a moron.
With everything else going on, I would forget to place the orders and I finally told the gals I would no longer sell as I had no time for it. They understood and we lost our Avon fix. It was not worth the hassle and we should have just found someone to take our orders.
On the bright side, our UPS guy was happy he no longer had to make his routine deliveries of heavy boxes that would end up chucked in the dumpster.
I was a call agent for Tahitian noni for the USA and Germany (now called Morinda). It was horrible fielding calls near when people's $120 monthly auto payment was due for 4 one liter bottles of juice. I couldn't cancel their subscription on late notice without a fax with their signature at least a week in advance, unless they claimed "financial hardship."
Eventually I learned that I would just need to feed them what to say and then gladly cancel for them on the phone. Total scam. Only people who made money were the early people to sign up and the founders, who are multi millionaires.
I know a girl who got sucked into Arbonne. She constantly makes videos on FB and instagram acting like she has this perfect life and last I heard, her boyfriend (that she claims in her husband on social media) had to call her from a gas station to see if they had any cash in the house because both their credit cards were declined and he needed gas to go to a friend's birthday party. Needless to say, he didn't go. It literally says "boss babe" on her Instagram.
It All Felt Criminal
I worked at the head office of a large MLM, and one of the OG's. Mary Kay.
You have to live, breathe, and sh!t pink. Honestly, I once got sent home from the office because I had made a cardinal mistake... I had worn a pantsuit to the office. As a woman, we were expected to wear a skirt or dress daily. I was new and didn't really think they'd get upset over a pantsuit, all things considered. I was wrong.
I know this is a different perspective, but hear me out. I didn't really know what Mary Kay was initially, all I remember is seeing the old school pink eye shadow cubes in my mom's makeup drawer. I started to discover that things were all a bit strange and ... predatory. We would run campaigns inside of universities and colleges because the older generations all "knew" what was up. The company was marketing toward these younger girls specifically because they didn't know the shtick, and hinging on the fact that we would somehow be able to convince them of making easy money. I heard a lot of horror stories the longer I worked there. Specifically from people who were angrily demanding answers from directors at the annual "Seminar" held in Toronto for Canadian Mary Kay consultants. People losing thousands of dollars. It all felt so criminal to have been a part of.
The Product Works
My ex boss brain washed me into Hempworx. I was very skeptical about cbd working for anxiety. I had tried everything and nothing had worked before. CBD actually worked, surprisingly. This was before the big hemp boom so CBD wasn't available everywhere like it is now.
So my dumb self paid the 20 bucks - luckily that's all. I thought it was rather weird that my manager kept pushing me. Talking about "Running your own business." My mom had her own business before she died. I knew it wasn't "my business" - but the CBD worked.
After trying other CBD products and getting better deals, I basically saw they were exploiting people and charging way too much for their product. I was very back and forth on whether or not to sell to people most the time. The company was terrible, but the product helped me and it did work.
In the end I paid 20 bucks and never sold anything.
Long story short, my ex and I were going through the process of making funeral arrangements for our stillborn son. The cremation cost was about $2,500 give or take. The job I had at the time wasn't paying very much and do to her mental state I opted to pick up a little extra work on the side at my friends Shake Shop.
Before I know it, I'm being roped into that good ol Herbalife bullshit. Of course, I didn't know much about them at the time I thought they were legitimate. At first, I'm there just helping wash dishes and make shakes. The next thing I know, I'm helping to recruit people and using the product myself.
I eventually left ( within a three-month window of time) when I began to notice all the red flags and they just kept piling up. You aren't allowed to have the Herbalife logo anywhere, you weren't allowed to say you were an Herbalife shop, had to explicitly used the term Shake Shop, the distributor had to pay me under the table and wasn't allowed to mention the fact that she'd been doing it. Things like that.
I was about a week in when the funeral home knocked the whole cremation down to $800 and put me on a monthly payment plan. So in truth, after a week I no longer needed to be there. But it was nice having the extra $300 a month.
But after that time spent there, my inability to ignore all the red flags, and the fact that I was peeing neon green from using the product myself, I just thanked The Shake Shop owner and left one day.
For about 14 days after leaving I had Representatives from the company calling me to ask when I was going to start up my own branch. - without getting into a lot of detail, I told them to lose my phone number.
By now, I was actually taking steps to heal and I was in no position to get into something convoluted and dishonest as Herbalife. I did research on the company and what the product actually does to your body. Armed with of the new knowledge I honestly felt guilty. To simplify it, whenever you drink an Herbalife shake, tea, and any of the sawdust they call supplements, you are killing your kidneys.
There's something to be said when a Monster energy drink is healthier than an Herbalife shake. And yet, we still have 5 "Shake shops" in an 18 mile radius from where I live.
I was a "coach" for an online fitness MLM. While I do still enjoy the company as a consumer, being a coach was terrible. I joined it in a financially weak position and in a lonely time too, so I was desperate for a community. In the end, it only made my debt worse because the expectation was that you would subscribe to all the shakes and supplements and you HAD to get the newest program as soon as possible, even though it'd be part of your regular subscription months later.
Biggest red flag was uplines giving unrealistic goals with deadlines, and employing the idea of "if you aren't succeeding you aren't working hard enough, because anyone can do this" and promoting burnout by encouraging you to use all your free time towards your "side hustle". Big one: "If you have time to scroll on your phone, you have time to send invites!" like....never ever relax, work 24/7?
So basically I was super burnt out and depressed because I had a demanding full time job and was expected to treat this MLM like another full time job on top of it. Got so bad that family reached out because my "uplifting" posts were so thinly veiled that they could see how depressed I was.
Big yikes, haven't been able to do one of their programs since.
A former coworker of mine struggled to lose weight. She was also ALL UP in Arbonne. She also had a minor physical disability, which she blamed for her inability to lose weight. She was only maybe 20lbs over weight. Well, she gained 50lbs in order to be approved for gastric bypass, after which she lost the weight...and then proceeded to say Arbonne was the cause for her weight loss.
Look At Their Shoes
The IT guy at my old company roped me into going to a "presentation" at a fancy hotel in town on how I could "make money at home in my own time" — Naturally, being the naive person I am, I accepted. He told me to "bring a friend" if I could, which should have been the first red flag. So I roped in another friend saying there would be free food and off we went.
We get to this really fancy hotel and people are dressed in suits (I was under-dressed) and my IT guy finds us and introduces me to his "up line guy" and it was our IT Manager!! (Second red flag)
Anyways, IT guy introduces some other dude, me, and my friend (whom he had not met before and didn't bother introducing himself to) to the IT Manager by saying "These are my three guys". This was Red Flag #3.
So my friend is getting super weirded out by everyone and decides to leave. I confront him and was about to give him a guilt trip for bailing on me when he looks at me and just says, "Look at their shoes."
So I start looking around at all these people in business suits and lo and behold they are all wearing the worst shoes — some of them were even in sneakers. That's when I realized these were just people trying to put out the appearance of success where there was in fact none. I bailed with my buddy and never looked back.
Possible Side Effects
I left about five months after I joined. I started to see through dõTERRAs lovely guise at a team meeting where "cut people off" was a big theme. One of them had cut me off already when I told her I hadn't the financial income to buy 100PV to make commissions and that other oils are better quality for cheaper.
But, their usage guidelines have led to a horrible thyroid episode fueled by oils that stimulate the immune system. As my thyroid condition is autoimmune based, it was inevitable. I didn't know that the oils had an immune system effects. I suffered with a thyroid wrecking itself for months because I had no idea what the oils were doing.
Lack of warnings about potential side effects was something I should have paid attention to.
Harassing People All Day
So I got into Scentsy originally because I really liked the product. After a few months, my cousin wanted to join under me. She and I promoted and I was enjoying the extra money every month, but usually it all went right back into Scentsy.
Once I had my baby and decided to stay home, I realized I wasn't really doing as well for myself as I thought. The people who were ordering regularly from me stopped ordering and my husband and I were starting to use our extra finances to keep up with the quarterly quotas.
About three months ago, I decided enough was enough and have let my membership lapse. I still order from my cousin when I want a new wax melt. I really do enjoy the products, but unless you're harassing people all day every day, you just don't get sales.
My sponsor and up line kept telling me to do events and follow up. Get the information and follow up. I sent mailers every month to every person who purchased. I sent texts and emails. I would check in about non-Scentsy things just to keep the relationship there.
Ultimately, I stopped because it just wasn't worth the extra stress. I have since stepped out and started my own craft business- something I've wanted to do for a long time. I'm taking classes and getting certified to have a compliant product with US guidelines and I'm going to school for a business degree. There's no sales pressure or quotas to meet. I have fun and best of all, my husband doesn't complain about how I'm wasting money anymore. Lol
Forced To Leave Campus
So when I was in college in the early 2000s, this one guy I knew (who we'll call Ryan) got taken in by a MLM of some kind. I can't remember the name sadly, but he bought in big time. I'm talking missing classes we had to travel to conferences on his own dime, missing work and eventually quits, the whole deal. Ryan recruited a decent number of people he knew to do it although I'm still not sure how. I got the pitch from him at one point and it wasn't all that persuasive.
So this goes on for about a month and then every student in the entire student body gets an email blast from the campus chancellor/president. It explicitly warns students about MLMs, how to spot them, and warns that anyone recruiting for them would be asked to leave the premises.
Those of us not involved in the MLM have a good laugh at the fact that this guy's efforts apparently got to the top of the campus leadership. A few more weeks go by and we realize none of us have seen Ryan in a while. Turns out, he dropped out of school.
We were never sure if it was to do the MLM full time (which seemed to be where it was heading), if he ran out of money at some point and couldn't attend, or something else. From what I could tell years later, Ryan ended up re-enrolling and did graduate, but about four years after everyone else did.
This was back in the late 80s, which just goes to show you how old the whole MLM scam is.
I lived in a small town, worked with a really lovely guy who one day mentioned he was part of this amazing new business, would I be interested in hearing him out, etc etc. I knew nothing about ''pyramid'' schemes, as they were called back then, but knew of Amway as they were a mail-order catalogue you would see in people's houses from time to time. I agreed to listen to his pitch, met him after work and he ran through the whole thing. He was going to be making millions within a couple of years, and so was I if I signed up with him.
Total sucker that I was, desperate to find some kind of life and success that could get me out of my town, I signed up. My girlfriend at the time was totally skeptical about it, she kept saying to me that I was not going to make any kind of money at all selling household cleaning products and the like to people who would have to wait weeks for them to arrive. People want that shit now, they'll buy it at their local store when they need it. You get this filter on though, you just filter out any negativity, you think you're on some genius thing.
Then I realized that, sort of like Fight Club, there were members everywhere. This whole Amway pyramid thing had gone viral through our town, every second person that I approached had already been signed up by someone else. All the others that I approached were completely not interested, and not shy of telling me what they thought of the stupidity that was spreading through town. It was this weird vibe, you had half the town - including me - running around thinking they were smarter than everybody else and had discovered a goldmine. Thankfully, it didn't take me long to realize that we were all just selling shit to each other, and bothering heaps of other people with our ''pitches'' to get people to sign up and do the legwork for us. I was running around like an idiot getting the odd sale, and all in my spare time.
The wind truly went out of my sails after a few weeks, but I was now having to fend off the Spanish Inquisition from my work colleague as to why I hadn't signed up any new recruits or sold any more dishwashing liquid. I cracked it with him one day and told him that I was no longer interested and just wanted to get on with my job and my life. Then the truly weird stuff started, and again it was kind of like Fight Club.
Every person that I encountered that was a recruit, my name was mud to them suddenly, and I was getting the cold shoulder and in some cases outright harassment as I tried to do my job and live my life. I had a security guard strip my truck down when I was leaving an industrial site that I had just made some deliveries to. Delivered to this place for years, all through the same security checkpoint and guard. He was checking for ''stolen goods'', while chastising me the whole time about abandoning ''his business''. Some friends stopped inviting me on social outings, it was total whacko weirdo cult stuff.
Eventually, this weird-assed cloud that had descended on our town just kind of lifted - I think people just realized that it was all bullshit. The dude at work, he had refused to speak to me for months, started being his normal self again. I couldn't resist one day and asked him how his business was going. Of course it had all turned sour for him, he realized that he was investing a lot of effort into something that only made him a small amount of money, so he himself had quit the whole thing. He was a bit shamefaced about it, as he should have been.
My girlfriend? Oh, how she laughed...
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Reddit user pizzabagels1994 asked: 'What caused your last break up?'
There's a saying about needing to kiss a lot of frogs before finding Prince Charming. Most people date more than one person before settling on a life partner.
And even then it doesn't always work out.
Most of us have at least one breakup in our past. The reasons things don't work between people vary greatly.
But we all have our breaking point.
Reddit user pizzabagels1994 asked:
"What caused your last break up?"
Lack of Empathy
"I had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer. All the attention I had been giving her I didn't have the energy to maintain while getting Chemo and avoiding Covid."
"My final straw. She yelled at me on the phone while I was in intensive care with pulmonary embolisms."
"Just that light bulb moment, and I was done."
"That was 3 years ago. All good now. I'm in remission, and thinking about dating again."
"I got into an argument with a crazy ex that was about 8 years older than me when I was 19 and we were screaming and chatting at each other and I remember she grabbed this vase that I had just bought her some flowers in and chucked it at my head and barely missed.
"It's hard to remember what kind of insanities I was yelling at her after that but she came around the corner with two brand new butcher knives from a knife set we had bought earlier that day and chased me around the house in circles."
"The house had bars on the windows and you had to have a key to open the front and back door it did not just have a manual lock."
"I ended up putting myself in the bathroom and holding the door as hard as I could and she actually stabbed one of the knives through the door."
"The whole knife did not come through the door only about two inches of it but that's plenty enough to still scare you."
"It was around 2010 and I had one of those prepaid phones in my pocket and I called her dad to come get her. He lived across the street."
"After her dad got her calmed down he took me on a ride to the duck pond at like 2 or 3:00 in the morning and was feeding the ducks old pizza and was just telling me that I needed to chill out and trying to give me some kind of a life lesson."
"He was probably pretty intoxicated himself but usually managed to hold himself together."
He really wasn't a great guy but came in during his daughter's mental crisis."
"The duck pond adventure started to end as the sun came up and I went and locked myself into the bathroom at the house and just went to sleep on the floor."
"I was going to get my things and get out that morning but she begged me to stay and at the time I thought that was what I really wanted."
"I think she kind of was mentally unwell at the time and I wasn't my best either."
"I did not call the cops on her and we reconciled for a time."
"Unfortunately I seem to have a pattern of not realizing I'm in a major mentally abusive situation due to growing up in one."
"Wife and I were attending couples therapy."
"The therapist said she was being literally abusive to me. My then-wife demanded a new therapist."
"Second therapist said she was being abusive to me. My then-wife filed for divorce.
"While my life right after was hell, it's come back around and I'm doing better than ever."
"My drinking, lies about drinking, and sh*tty finances because of drinking. 107 days sober today."
"Finally, someone who admits it was their fault. Me too brother."
"Past exes all was because of my drinking. Thankfully, I found someone who helped me quit."
"I'm 1yr 8m sober. We got this."
"We had our home, our plans and were preparing to marry in about three months when we separated."
"Thank goodness you found out before getting married."
"I know it must really hurt and maybe even keep you from trying again with someone new but you really dodged a bullet."
"Yep, my wife cheated and it's costing me about 100k between legal fees, buying out her equity in the house (which she paid none of), give her a chunk of my retirement and liquid cash."
"Honestly I think everyone should have a nasty infidelity clause in a pre-nup at this point."
"I can also look forward to sending her 70k in child support over the coming years. And I'm gonna take a wild guess that most of it won't be spent on the kid."
Something is Missing
"It took some time but we both realized that we weren't giving each other what we needed."
"Same! He saw it first so he was the one to leave me, but thank God he did, we were so incompatible!"
"Leaving my last relationship was rough—it was my first ever relationship and lasted 7 years—but I was so relieved at the same time when I got dumped."
"It was a very healthy breakup on both sides, and we kept in touch on and off for just under a year afterwards until she began seeing someone else and I felt it would be best to leave it be out of respect for her new partner."
"We honestly just both grew up (got together when I just turned 18; both young) and eventually fell out of romantic love."
"I still hold her to the highest respect and will always have a place in my heart for her, but I was so glad when she bit the bullet and broke it off. I would've felt too guilty to do so; I owed her so much."
"We had a very tumultuous relationship for the first couple years—we were very much in love but I had a lot of unresolved mental health issues, had a nervous breakdown, etc..."
"I still hate what I put her through but hope I was able to make it up to her in the last couple years of the relationship."
"Anyways, I wish her the best. My life and mental well-being has gotten SO much better in the last few years of being single; in a way I owe that to her too."
"He wants to get his life together."
"We still love each other and he thinks he needs to do this on his own but I want to be here for him, I promised him when we first started dating I’d be here for him as much as I can."
"It just hurts because he thinks I’m not strong enough to still love him and be apart from him when I am. It’s complicated."
Not enough time
"Her not having enough time for both grad school and a relationship."
"She did make the right choice though."
"Oof, yeah. Grad school is a real drain, emotionally."
"Like, you need the support of a partner while you go through it, but you don't really have anything to give back."
"It's an awful time."
"Just broke up with a girl halfway through a medical degree. I couldn't do it. I had been supporting her financially for 8 years and even another four I couldn't do. She also wanted me to cook, shop more than her."
"I started telling her I wanted her to contribute more towards the relationship. She grew distant but then really leaned on me when she needed financial and emotional support."
"She gets through her exams gets admitted to the doctorate and then cheats on me on holiday with a Swiss rocket scientist."
"He's now supporting her finanically in a long distance relationship. Feels like I dodged a bullet. Still 8 years is a long time."
It's complicated seems to be the mantra of relationships in the 21st century.
Are we no longer as loyal or loving as we were in the past?
Or do we just have more options and an unwillingness to settle.
We could all use a little love and care, but sometimes kind gestures come from the most unexpected places. Whether it’s a friend showing up at our door to give us the present we didn’t know we needed, or a complete stranger helping us out in a time of need, these stories about the nicest thing someone has ever done will warm your heart.
Face the Musica young man sitting at a piano in the darkPhoto by Kiwihug on Unsplash
When I was about 13, the pastor of our family church heard me practicing Chopin on the piano. Knowing my parents couldn't afford much, he offered to pay for my music studies so that I'd be prepared to enter music conservatory right after high school. All he asked for in return was that I'd help out with the church's music program when needed.
This kind, generous man spent thousands of his own dollars to help me along the way to a rewarding career in music.
Sleep Away Camp
When my parents were awful, and my sister was passing away, my friend’s parents took me in for a while. But it was even better than that. You see, they did it in a way that seemed like a sleepover, even though it went on for months. I didn't even realize until I was an adult how much they stepped up for me and protected me, right when I needed them the most.
Lean on Me
I had a sore leg, and it was sore enough that I couldn't put much weight on it. During this time, my school did this fundraiser run, and I wanted to participate even though I could barely walk. My best friend, who I'm still friends with to this day, stayed by my side, limping the whole way. I still thank him for that, it meant a lot to me.
To Serve and Protect
When I was 16, I was at a store getting some comics. I was 15 cents shy, because they raised the price by 5 cents a comic, and I was trying to decide which one to put back when a guy I went to high school with, and barely knew, gave me a fifty cent piece. He went on to join the Marines right out of high school, and retired a couple of years ago.
He's still just as awesome now. He restores old Volkswagens and sells them for cost to his fellow veterans. He restores old furniture and donates the pieces to families in need. He volunteers with wildlife rescue programs. He refuses to let me pay him back, so I'm going to try and buy his drink at our 30-year high school reunion. Gotta thank him somehow!
Something for Nothing
I went to a local breakfast spot one day after a rough night. I totally forgot my wallet, so I left my phone as collateral and went back to my house. When I came back, some guy had already paid for me. I know it doesn't seem that big of a deal, but it was a pretty bleak week for me so it meant a lot just to have someone do something for nothing.
A Friend Foreverboy feeding a animal during daytimePhoto by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash
My wife and I were driving our kids, who were three and five at the time, to the zoo. We narrowly missed being smushed by a semi truck, but also almost flipped our top-heavy minivan doing 75mph when dodging said vehicle. All in all, we were very blessed to have our lives, let alone no damage to our car. The same couldn't be said for other cars, but no one was hurt either.
The State Trooper who showed up was the most generous young man. He gave my daughter a little teddy bear that she still has to this day 5-6 years later. She even remembers getting it, which is pretty incredible for someone that age. I think that was the most meaningful thing anyone's done for me, and I've been fortunate enough to have a lot of good people in my life. This one stands out because it was directed towards my daughter.
I’ve Got You, Babe
My mother passed, and I was so stressed trying to find a way to give her the funeral she deserved. My boyfriend went down to the funeral home, made the arrangements, and paid the balance. By FAR the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me.
A Helping Hand
My firstborn had a severe deformity, and spent a week in hospital before we took him off life support. I was staying at the Ronald McDonald House, and even though one of the rules was that you are your own maid when you leave, complete with doing laundry and remaking the beds, I was a complete wreck and couldn’t do a thing. Then I got the surprise of my life.
A kind stranger took care of my room for me even though they were going through their own stuff. Another blessing from that dark time is that the funeral home took care of everything for me, including all bills associated with the service and cremation. I will never not donate to the Ronald McDonald House and I know what funeral home I'll be using when I one day need one again.
It was a very long time ago and very dark sad time. It destroyed my family, a few years later I lost my husband to the depression that happened from this, and while both tragedies changed me, I'm very good now and know happiness. I want to say that I've thought about how very, very bad things can get in the world, but this stranger, and people like him, showed me daily that the world is full of amazing loving people.
A Little Tune-up
A few years ago, I was going down to visit my grandmother in South Carolina. I needed an inspection and oil change on my car, and I was the single mom of a 5-year-old. The total cost ended up being 40 dollars more than I thought. At the time, that was devastating, and I had to tell my daughter in the parking lot that we couldn't go see her grandmother anymore.
Someone heard me talking to her and came over to us and gave us 60 dollars. That was one of the nicest things someone I don’t know has ever done for me.
Can’t Put a Price on Education
On September 14, 1986, my dad dropped me off at boarding school and gave me a five-dollar bill. I never heard from him again. He never paid my tuition bill. So, from the age of 14, I took every job I could get and worked my way through. At $4 an hour, I didn't even come close to paying off my entire bill, but the school let me stick around because I was a model student in and out of the classroom.
We get to graduation. I opened my little diploma thing expecting to see a bill in five figures. Instead there was a note: “Congratulations on your graduation. A group of us who believe in you and love you have taken care of your bill. We are proud to present you with your diploma.” I later found out that one of my friend's dad, a fairly well-off dentist, went fundraising among his golf buddies because he didn’t want to see me enter life at 18 under crushing debt.
The Tables Have Turnedpeople around tablePhoto by Zach Reiner on Unsplash
One of my high school tormentors invited me to his house to hang out for a day. I was really nervous it might just be to screw with me, but I was desperate for some sort of friendship at the time, so I went over. We're now best friends, and he and his family feels like family to me. Honestly, I have no idea how we ever disliked each other.
The New Normal
I was hugely pregnant and had very young children with me. We went to a free exhibit at an aquarium down town. I was unfamiliar with the area, but found free parking several blocks away. I was broke, so finding a free exhibit with free parking was really a special outing for us. After the exhibit, my young children and I started walking towards the car, but couldn't find it.
I figured I had gotten turned around, so we returned to the aquarium and started walking in the other direction, but still couldn't find the car. We went back and started out in a third direction, still unable to find our car. It had started to rain and we were just lost. All along, a homeless man had been watching us, as we had passed by him multiple times in our search.
His words were heartbreaking. He told me he remembered seeing us first go in to the aquarium hours ago and what direction he saw us come from. He offered to walk down that way and look for our car for us so we didn't have to be walking around aimlessly until the car was located. I thanked him, but turned his offer down, not wanting to send this homeless man out into the rain.
He told me he was impressed with how well-behaved my children were, and he offered a dollar to buy them a candy bar. I couldn't accept, I mean how horrible of a person would I be to take money from someone who clearly needed it more than me—but he insisted. He said the dollar wouldn't save him from being homeless, but buying my kids a candy bar for being so patient and well-behaved would make him feel normal and some days he just needed to feel normal.
It was an act of kindness I will never forget. I think of that gentleman often.
From Beyond the Grave
My grandmother made a ton of birthday cards in advance. After she passed, I still received birthday cards from her for the next few years. It was a little weird, but I cried happy tears whenever I got to read words from her after she passed.
Duty of Care
A paramedic helped me after I was in a car crash. He took his time to come back to the car and bring me back my front tooth, which was really tiny and he offered to go and look for in the wreck. At the same time, he found and brought back my partner's phone. I don't know his name, and I was in such a state of shock that I can't even remember what he looked like.
Still, he put my tooth in a special liquid and the hospital team managed to put it back, saving me a lot of money. There was also a woman officer who put a blanket on me and made sure I kept it. The hospital only managed to take it off me right before I left. It was a green standard first aid blanket, and I don't know why I refused to let go of it (again, shock) but it provided a lot of comfort. Thank you so much, guys.
Get Away From It All
The nicest thing someone I know has done was for someone else. My brother took a fellow band nerd on a high school graduation road trip for several weeks. Thing is, the friend was dying of leukemia, and they both knew that this was going to be his first and last road trip. No timetable, just one day at a time across the breadth of the US.
Found in Translationpeople walking on street during night timePhoto by Yu Kato on Unsplash
I worked in Korea for a bit. It was late at night, and I decided to surprise a girl I was talking to by heading to her apartment. It was around 10:30, and unbeknownst to me, the subway stopped running at 11:00. Unfortunately, I was halfway there, so I decided to message her. She told me to take a specific bus to get to her place. I get on the bus, and I don't have the slightest idea which stop I should be getting off on.
Well, about 10 minutes later, a load of people get off on this one stop. An older Korean businessman sees me and motions to me that there's an available seat next to him. He starts talking to me in English and he says that the stop where I'm getting off is one stop before he gets off, and that he'll let me know when. We start a conversation about where he works, how he learned English, what I'm doing in Korea.
By the time we knew it, his stop came up. He profusely apologized to me and said that it was the stop before. I said, "It's okay, I'll just walk the opposite direction." As we get off the bus, we're both walking in the same direction. As we come up to an intersection, he flags down a taxi, tells him the subway station to drop me off on, and he paid the fare. All this while still apologizing to me. That guy was just such a good person, you know?
Moms Just Know
I was involved in a hit and run on my bicycle in Chicago. I broke my collarbone, and a stranger drove me to the ER. I was going into shock and freaking out about finances—I’m a single mother. The stranger gave me her number for the report and such, but then she made a gesture I’ll never forget. She later sent me $5k because she knows what it’s like to be a single mother with nothing.
I sobbed. I hadn’t gotten my unemployment yet. I was overwhelmed by her kindness.
Friends With Benefits
I was having a panic attack for the first time. It swung between so euphoric I thought I was going to "ascend" and terrified that my life was going to end in pain. I called my loved ones to say goodbye, including my best friend. He came running from a block away. He was terrified too, but he held it together, sat me down, hugged me, told me that he didn't want me to go anywhere, and that he needed me right here.
I needed that. I needed to see what I felt wasn't based on reality, needed someone to say that I should not obey those feelings because I was needed and loved. On some level, he saved me. Years later, he voluntarily went into homelessness just to fly out to see me on another continent. Yes, we're together now romantically. No, I don't know how I got so lucky. We're planning the wedding. :)
The Art of Caring
When I was a freshman in high school, I took an art class that was a mix of 9th-12th graders. I was really bad with people back then, so I spent most of class sitting on the floor between the trash can and the drying racks and never speaking to anyone. Still, there was this one 11th-grade guy who would always make it a point to talk to me.
He didn't know me or anything; he just happened to sit near me. But he'd always ask about my day or compliment my art or offer to help me with my math homework. At one point, he even managed to get me to sit at the desk with the rest of the students. It's just one of those things I think about from time to time because he really had every right to ignore me like everyone else did, but he didn't. He really made art class into a second home for me. I miss that guy.
It’s the Little Things
I have an online friend in another country, and one time she made a cake for my birthday with my name on it because she knew no one else would do anything.
Know Your Worthwomen's blue dress shirtPhoto by Tra Nguyen on Unsplash
During my Physics graduate program, there was a terrible professor for two of my core classes. He was terrible at teaching, but also known for complaining at faculty meetings how the grades had been going down in his classes ever since more women started taking them. I put in a ton of work anyway, and despite all that he gave me two Ds for those two classes. I’ve honestly never heard of someone getting Ds in grad school and finishing, so I was convinced my life was over. Then, I learned that I was so, so wrong.
At that point, I told another professor who had been supportive what happened, and he got me a stiff drink to talk it over. In that meeting, he said that technically there was no requirement to take the guy’s classes. Instead, he told me to sign up for two independent study classes, which he would supervise, and all I would be doing is practice questions for the qualifying exam.
So we did exactly that—I studied, and we would meet up a few times a week to go over problems. By the end of the semester, I took my qualifiers, and passed with margins to spare. Today, I’m a postdoctoral fellow in astronomy at Harvard, which never would have happened if that professor hadn’t taken a chance on me and put in so many hours to help me.
It makes me so determined to help all the students in my path and mentor them as well, because people can be so much more than one bad professor thinks they are.
I had just had my father completely cut ties with me after years of estrangement and him being super distant. Obviously, I was a little emotionally uneasy about how “final” it felt, and the implications for the distant future. My live-in girlfriend knew, told her mom, and her mom sent me a bunch of snacks I’ve always wanted to try but never wanted to spend the money on.
Instant mood lifter, and it restated the fact in my mind that there are other people who care about me even if my dad doesn’t.
Pikachu, I Don’t Choose You
When I was like nine, I went to an arcade over in San Antonio, Texas because we were there for a vacation. There was this claw machine that had pokemon in it, and I was aiming for my favorite pokemon ever, but accidentally got a different one. The employee comes around to unlock the thing so I can get my prize. I whine to my mom, "Aw I wanted the Charizard though."
This dude puts the other one back in there, and hands me the one I wanted. I will forever remember you, bro.
Work to Live
My one co-worker got all my other co-workers to donate money for a gift to me from my hugely underpaid apprenticeship. I received $350, which was exactly how much I needed for an upcoming bill. It really saved me when I had literally $0.70 in my account. A few weeks earlier, actually, a different co-worker noticed me not eating and bought me lunch, then many of them brought me leftovers. That apprenticeship was the worst, but the people were the best.
The Good Neighbor
His name is Duong. When I was in university, he was my neighbor. I got into a motorbike accident and couldn’t go to class by myself, so he put me up on his back and brought me to the class like a hero. When my elevator was broken, he climbed all 13 floors to bring me dinner because he knew I couldn’t go out to get it. Whoever is with him for the rest of his life is a lucky person.
Child’s Playassorted color of wicker baskets on displayPhoto by zakariae daoui on Unsplash
I was walking through the streets of Marrakech after it had just rained, and I was wearing those flimsy flip-flops, so all the wet sand from the street was being catapulted onto the back of my legs. Out of nowhere, I feel a tap on my arm. It’s a young Moroccan girl, not older than 6 or 7 years old, offering me her water bottle to clean my legs.
I politely declined because I could never accept to take someone’s water in that scorching heat, but thanked her and her mother profusely. Children are so pure.
Do the Math
I went to a very small school with a bunch of really amazing math teachers, and one really bad math teacher. For example, she tried to sue a kid for "aggressively swinging his backpack" at her when she threw him out of the classroom for something trivial. He had only picked up his backpack in a completely normal manner.
I was slated to have pre-calc with the terrible teacher the following year and was complaining about it to my amazing math teacher, saying how much I was dreading her class. That’s when I got the offer of a lifetime. My amazing math teacher offered to teach me pre-calc over the summer so I could skip a year of math and go straight to calc with the amazing teacher.
So, once a week, each week over the summer, I met my amazing teacher in her back garden, where we had tea and cookies and she taught me pre-calc. A week before school started, I met with horrible teacher and took her pre-calc final, aced it, and got to stick with amazing teacher. I’ll always be grateful someone cared enough about that.
Growing up, I was severely neglected and had no friends due to my lack of hygiene and social skills. One of my teacher aids got wise to it, and brought me to her house to play with her daughter, took me on family trips with them, gave me clean clothes, and just showed me an insane amount of kindness I'll never be able to repay.
Through Thick and Thin
I was fired from my last job. It was the first and only time I had been fired, and it sucked. I really liked that job, and I got super depressed. My friend also lost his job later that week, which really sucked because I knew he loved that job, too. He would always tell me that it was his dream job. And right as soon as he found out, he called me.
He called me to tell me that even though he lost his job, he knew he was going to be alright. He wanted to tell me that to set a good example. I knew he was heartbroken, but he put on a strong face for me. And I'll never forget that. Never.
I’ve never been able to celebrate my birthday. Between my awful mom and horrible relationships, it’s just become a tradition to lie in bed and cry every year. Well this year, my best friend and boyfriend put their heads together and threw me a surprise “party.” They decorated our apartment, baked me a cake and decorated it to the best of their abilities, and got me some small, thoughtful presents. 24 years old, and finally I had my first good birthday. I cried like a baby.
You Shall Not Passman in black jacket driving car during daytimePhoto by Thibault Penin on Unsplash
I went out to a bar drank a bit too much with my girlfriends. Some guy saw and tried to push me into an Uber to take me to his hotel. Then, the bouncer wouldn't let me back in no matter how many times I asked because according to him, "I changed my mind and that's not the guy's fault." No one else passing by wanted to intervene. I was getting really scared—until a good Samaritan stepped up and changed everything.
The Uber driver popped out of the front of his car and wrestled the guy off me. He made sure I was okay, gave the bouncer and everyone else a piece of his mind, too. Hope that guy's doing well in life.
Let the Good Times Roll
I took my sister, who’s in a wheelchair, to the cinema for the first time on my own. At the end, I realized I couldn't undo the brakes because it was a new wheelchair. It was blocking everyone. I felt like crying because I thought everyone was angry at me, but some nice lady helped me, then took me and my sister out. She said she once had a son who needed a wheelchair. This was long ago, but I'll never forget her or the kindness she showed me that day.
I am from 1980's rural Texas, where education was laughed at and where the idea of living in a foreign country was ludicrous. When I was 17, I met a Rotarian (like, a guy from a non-profit) who allowed me to go on a year-long foreign exchange. I had never heard of that concept before and had no real idea of what it meant. At 18, I packed my bags and discovered a brand new world! It honestly changed my life FOREVER. Definitely for the better.
While I was gone, I met other foreign exchange students and learned that it was fairly difficult to get into this program. I'd heard ambassadors’ children were being turned down from it. I honestly think that I got to go because no one else from my area wanted to leave the safety of our small town, while I jumped at the chance. I think about that old Rotarian a lot. I owe him everything for changing my life.
How to Save a Life
Back in 2018, I had a drastic decline in my mental health, which led to a failed attempt to take my life. I had enough of feeling miserable, so I checked myself in to a program. Afterwards, the hospital gave me a number and location to follow up with my newly-appointed therapist. Upon getting to their building, though, they needed me to pay a co-pay.
I didn't have a darn penny on me and said I couldn't pay. They denied me my appointment, and I remember thinking that when I walked out of there I was really going to go through with harming myself this time. Then a miracle happened. Right before I was about to leave, this other patient stopped me, pulled out her credit card and paid my co-pay.
She had told me that this place and these people saved her life. She said she didn't want me to lose mine because I couldn't afford to be cared for. The intensity of that relief almost cured my debilitating depression, I never felt so grateful in my life. I sincerely hope that lady is flourishing and being the best self she can be. She saved my life; that is the greatest kindness someone has ever done for me.
Those Who Can Do, Teach
My English teacher when I was very, very young. She was the sweetest I've ever had. She knew I loved the Harry Potter books, even though they were not super popular in France back then. So one day, she brought me HP-themed coloring books from her trip to England. It made me so happy that she thought about me even though she was away from school.
I Recommend This Manwhite mug on brown surfacePhoto by Pablo Varela on Unsplash
My boss and mentor wrote me a glowing reference and pulled some strings to get me into a graduate program, even though I was severely depressed and my work performance was nothing to be proud of. I couldn't comprehend or remember anything due to an undiagnosed disease, and I also acted extremely awkward socially. I really don't know why he went so far out of his way to change the trajectory of my life, but I’ll always be grateful.
I've had many people do nice things for me, but one stands out. I was very young, maybe 16 or 17. I'd had a terrible car accident and needed to get to a specialist downtown during my recovery. I wasn't a confident driver to begin with, and I had never driven downtown and got hopelessly lost. This was before everyone had cell phones.
I stopped at a pay phone in a grocery store. I was sobbing and scared. I couldn't describe where I was, since I was so lost, and I didn't know how to get turned in the right direction. A little old lady stopped to ask me if I was OK, so I told her where I was going and that I didn't know how to get there. She was shocked that I was SO LOST.
I was so far removed from where I was supposed to be. I wasn't even close to downtown. So she literally drove there in her car while I followed her. She just pointed out her window when we got to the address and I turned in. I never got to properly thank her. But it was far from over. To make it so much worse, once I finally got there, I was told they'd had to cancel my appointment.
I broke down, and an elderly couple came to comfort me and gave me some money and said to please take some time to calm down at the cafe next door, have some lunch or something. Twice in one day, I was approached by kind people who just wanted to help a teenager. That was over 25 years ago. I still don't like to drive downtown, but I do. I think of those people every time I have to go there.
Saving the Day
My dad cancelled my weekend with him a day before we were supposed to go to Six Flags and do other stuff together. My best friend's parents found out and duplicated all the activities. It meant so much to me.
Hit the Road
I was given a car by a former co-worker. At the time, I was walking or riding my bike eight miles one way just to get to work, and then another eight miles to get back home. When working with her, she asked if I wanted a car. I thought she was joking, but said yes anyway. About two weeks later, she said her husband had this old car that he fixed up and it’s ready for me.
From there, she had me meet up at a notary, and all I paid was for a title transfer and tax, which only came around $150. It wasn't the nicest car, but it worked. The car lasted a year, but still to this day I am forever grateful someone would gift me something that truly helped out tremendously. Then, she said there was a catch. I started to get nervous, but it was actually so heart-warming.
The catch was that, whenever I'm able to, I have to pass along a good deed. I've tried to pass this whenever I can. I sincerely appreciated all the help, Debby, and I wish only the best for you and your family. I'm still working on passing along good deeds as we have agreed. Thank you so much for your kindness, especially during a time in my life where I thought there was little hope. There is always hope.
Color Me Surprised
A woman I worked with a few years ago knew my 30th birthday was coming up and asked me what I was doing. I just said I’m visiting family, but she also found out that I’d never had a “surprise” before. I might get a present and maybe a bit of money and I was happy with that. I had no idea the gift she was about to give me.
At my parents’ house, they’d forgotten to buy a cake, so I just picked up a Victoria sponge cake and stuck a couple of tea light candles on it. It was fine, I don’t complain. But when I got back to work a week later, my lovely colleague had organised this beautiful two-tier birthday cake surrounded by gifts! And then she really surprised me.
She produced tickets for us two to get a drink at this ice bar place and tickets to go to the theatre. She did this because she remembered me saying I hadn’t been since I was a kid and no one I knew was interested in going. I was so shocked, I was nearly in tears. This was the very first birthday surprise I ever had. I will never forget my 30th birthday because of my colleague.
A Purr-Fect Presentperson walking inside building near glassPhoto by Heidi Fin on Unsplash
I worked as a retail cashier at a drug store. It was the Christmas season and CRAZY busy. We had tins of chocolates on sale for under $10, and they had designs of kittens and puppies on them. I mentioned to a lady who was buying a bunch that one tin in particular looked identical to my cat. She bought the tin and gave it to me!
I actually cried. To have a stranger spend their own money on someone else in that capacity. I’ve never had it happen before. It was years ago, and although the chocolates inside are long gone, I still display that chocolate tin every year at Christmas.
I was in a boarding school, so I couldn't go home or anything like that, and I was also really out of touch with my emotions. Very “keep calm and carry on.” One day in class, I was having REALLY REALLY bad period pains, and since I'm not the kind of person to share much, I was trying to hide it even though I was pretty much in agony.
My friend sitting next to me could clearly see something was wrong, and eventually I told her. So she sneaked into the dorm where you're not supposed to go during class hours for me to fetch some medication. She also offered to bring me dinner so I didn't have to move once I got home from class. She even told me jokes and stuff to cheer me up. I’ll always be grateful.
I couldn’t be there for the passing of my grandmother because I was at university, so my uncle had a bracelet made for me. It was engraved with her handwriting.
One Happy Ending
I had a really bad home life growing up. My friend—and at the time she was only loosely my friend—had two incredible moms who heard what was going on with me, and pretty much immediately got involved. At the time, I was emaciated, constantly terrified, and never let anyone get close, especially adults. When it got really bad, I used to dumpster dive and collect scraps from the school cafeteria for food for myself and for my brother.
I was chronically sick, mentally ill, rarely slept, and skipped class all the time. My friend's parents started dropping off bags of food at school for me and my younger brother. One night, they invited me over and I just...never left. They moved my brother into the house. They had absolutely no money. Not a freaking dime.
The money that used to be split between four people (two kids, two moms) was suddenly split between six. The house we shared was a half-finished re-modeling project and a total hazard. We didn't even have doors installed inside! Just curtains. To me, though, it was magic. I thought the fact that we didn't have sinks—that we had to crouch over the tub to wash our hands—was mythical.
My moms hugged me every morning and told me how special I was and how proud they were of me. For the first time in my life, I was stupidly, ridiculously happy. Every morning I woke up, my heart would race until I thought it might burst. I was literally that happy to be alive. The second I woke up—I mean the second—I bolted to the kitchen to say good morning to my moms and get a hug.
My friend (now my sister) and her family did everything for us. No rhyme, no reason. I stopped skipping school. My grades improved. I started earning scholarships. I got into a fantastic university. I now have a degree, a fantastic job, friends, and a family that I love.
Kindness Is in Short Supply
On the last day of school, I was helping my art teacher clean up for the summer. She knew I was rather poor growing up, so she gave me all the leftover paper, some really high quality bristol board and watercolor paper, all of the leftover prismacolor pencils, tons of paint brushes, and other various art supplies. It was her last year teaching, and she didn’t care to save the stuff for the next year. I still miss her. She was the best teacher I've ever had.
Long Time, No Seephoto of pub set in room during daytimePhoto by Jason Leung on Unsplash
I was at a restaurant in Boston by myself on a Friday night. It was 7 pm, so I was just enjoying a nice dinner by myself before heading back to my hotel. There was a man with a wedding ring on who asked me if the seats next to me were taken. I told him no, and he and his friends sat down. He eventually started chatting with me and it was friendly, but then he started hitting on me.
I brushed him off, and he slightly backed off…but then started eating French fries off of my plate. I pushed the plate away and asked the bartender for my check. I was in the last seat at the bar, so I had nowhere to go other than to wait, and the bar was packed. The guy then tells me I’m beautiful and asks if I want to go back to my hotel with him.
I told him again no. He asked again, I told him I was married and he said “So? So am I.” I’m so grateful for what happened next. All of the sudden, this voice says to me “Oh my god! What are you doing here? I haven’t seen you in so long!” And a woman hugged me. This woman and I chatted and pretended we were old friends while I paid. She then walked with me to my Uber to make sure I got into it safely and that he didn’t follow me. I don’t know where this woman is now, but she made me feel safe.
I went on a homecoming date and ordered a bunch of food. While we were there, this old couple ended up buying our dinner because we reminded them of what they used to look like when they were young. I’m very grateful, because I didn’t actually have enough money to pay for dinner. I was maybe $30 short. I’m still with the girl three years later.
A Grave Secret
I have many family members interred in a small cemetery with a few unattended graves that I occasionally clean and place artificial flowers on. Sometimes I do the ones around them. I feel morally obligated to honor their memory. One day, I found a letter. Its contents were heartbreaking. Obscured behind my father's flowers, in an inconspicuous brown envelope, was an effusive message of gratitude from an old woman whose arthritis incapacitated her.
She had seen my maintenance of her husband's grave from her house across the road and wanted to thank me for my compassion. I was confounded because I never anticipated any recognition. She said she asked her daughter what she could do to compensate me, and she purchased an iTunes voucher for her mother to give me in the envelope.
It was one of those letters and gestures that the gratitude and appreciation emanated from the very paper. The handwriting was so elegant and fastidious; I know she took an inordinate amount of time composing her words. She loved her husband beyond articulation. We have tea together twice a month now.
A Class of His Own
When I was in school, I had a classmate who was terminally ill. He wanted to do all the things he wouldn’t grow up to do, and pretty much our whole school got involved. One girl’s parents owned a nightclub, and they decked out the VIP lounge and served mocktails to roughly 100 students. The kid wanted to be a police officer, and one boy’s dad arranged for him to go on shift with him for the day.
He wanted to go on a beach holiday, and the teachers put little kiddie pools around the long jump pit with water in. We all did something off his list. He got 62 valentines cards in October! He was always such a kind and thoughtful guy that everyone was happy to join in. His mom messaged me a few weeks ago just to catch up and she said she can’t believe that this year it’s 20 years since he passed, and she's so grateful that everyone made his brief time on earth so wonderful.
A Little Something Extra
My dad is a retired junior/senior high school art teacher. Every single morning for well over a decade, he packed an extra lunch and put it in a place in his classroom where a student whose family was struggling could take it without making a big deal of it. Eventually, when the older student graduated, one of his younger siblings started taking his class.
The kid would already know he could take the extra lunch bag without having to face talking to my dad about it, or being embarrassed in front of the class. I used to ask why Dad packed two lunches while I was growing up, and he would just say, “I sometimes get extra hungry.” My mom later told me the truth. He is such a quiet, humble, and extremely generous man.
Like many people, I spent my time in retail. Customers were by far the hardest part of the job.
In college, I worked as a "bookseller"—our official title—in a mall for a national chain of bookstores. Without fail, every shift one or more customers would ask for something like "that book, the red one, by the guy."
When we'd ask for more information—like genre or if it was new or where they saw it—they'd just repeat, "red book, guy, you know which one I mean."
We most definitely didn't know which one they meant, but customers thought if we worked in a bookstore we should know every book in print from even the vaguest of descriptions. And they'd get mad when we didn't.
Anyone who has worked with customers has war stories.
Reddit user j-rock292 asked:
"What is the dumbest thing a customer has gotten mad at you about that was not your fault?"
Were they blind?
"They asked me to cut a blind."
"When I asked for the dimension they wanted it cut to, it was larger than the original blind length."
"Said I can't make it longer, only shorter and she lost her sh*t."
Tag, you're it.
"Back when I worked at Target, some guy came in about 30 minutes before we closed, and wanted to buy a laptop."
"He wanted to run some obscure software on it for his laser ttagarena and got really nettled when I told him I was unfamiliar with the software and so I couldn't give a definitive answer."
"Then he started going on about how much he made in a week compared to my paycheck."
"So I told him something along the lines of, 'Well then buy this laptop and if it works, it works. If it doesn't, it won't hurt your wallet'."
"He really didn't like that and after some colorful language, was escorted out of the store."
"In an odd twist of fate a few months later the mother of one of my best friends bought his laser tag arena because he ran it into the ground."
Credit where credit is due.
"Not me but a friend of mine worked customer service for a credit card company."
"She said a young guy called and asked why he couldn't use his card. She told him because he had exceeded his $15K limit."
"Dude was like 'yeah but that was for last month. Don't I get another $15K limit this month?'."
Can you hear me now?
"Customer got mad at me because I could barely hear her over a bad connection."
"I was on a landline, she was not."
"After disconnecting the call because it was going nowhere, she immediately called back and complained to me about the a**hole she'd just been talking to, saying, 'He said I was bad at making connections. Why the f**k was he talking about my love life?! You are much more helpful, though'."
No, I can't help you.
"I wasn't even working at this shop, I was just another customer. I didn't even wear a shirt similar to an employee's."
"A woman comes up to me and says, 'Excuse me, do you work here?' But before I can say no, she asks where something is."
"She sounded polite enough so I responded just as politely, 'Sorry, I don't work here. The people with the blue shirts do'."
"She got slightly upset and said someone else had pointed at me when she asked for a worker."
"I look to my side, and literally less than a couple feet away, there was an actual worker. I told her 'I think they meant that guy right there'."
"She then completely lost her cool, screaming various things at me and calling me all sorts of names."
"The employee tried to intervene but she just kept screaming. She eventually stops with, 'I want to see your manager!'."
I told her to f'k off. The employee laughed and she stomped off, then I just went back to shopping.
"Didn't see her again."
Maybe if you hum a few bars?
"I worked at a Music Store in a mall around Christmas."
"A lady came in and wanted to get the album of whatever was playing at the store she was in earlier."
"She got mad when I didn’t know what music they played in other stores."
Full service doesn't include time travel.
"In the ‘60s I worked at a gas station that also did repairs."
"A customer drove in with a flat right rear tire and no spare. I pulled out the nail and plugged it."
"She was good to go and left happy."
"She drove in about 2 months later with a flat left front tire."
"I pulled out a screw and plugged it while she screamed that I should have checked it last time she was there."
"She has every right to be mad."
"You’re obviously a terrible tech because you didn’t make a time machine to go into the future and prevent her from getting another flat."
"You must feel terrible that she takes her car somewhere else now."
The call is coming from inside the house.
"A long time ago I serviced someone's Internet connection at their house."
"When I left, my supervisor called to let me know that I had been accused of theft at this house."
"This crazy lady thought I stole a handset for her landline phone, not even the base with it, just the handset."
"She called later to report she found it in between her couch cushions."
I control the weather, but work here for minimum wage.
"Got yelled at for ruining his family’s vacation at Disney world because the rides shut down due to the storm."
"The summer right out of high school I worked at an amusement park."
"We had a massive severe thunderstorm ( heavy rain, lots of lightning, 50+mph winds, whole deal) one day, because giant metal structures and lightning dont mix we had to shut down all of our rides."
"Well this dipshit accused ME of starting this storm just to ruin his day."
Maybe she didn't want to wash it.
"I was refusing her a refund on a kids' duvet set."
"This woman threatened my colleague, so I (manager) stepped in."
"Protocol states we had to check and repack before giving a refund, so I took it to the stock room only to find that she had folded it back into the packaging, complete with the vomit chunks!"
Florida is hot in May
"So, I worked at a chocolate shop in Boston MA."
"Someone called to place an order, for shipment, to Florida."
"I said, 'okay, we do require next day shipping and an ice pack on shipments to Florida, so the chocolates don't melt. The shipping Will be $30 and the ice pack and insulated packaging will be an additional $8'."
"It's my standard spiel."
"The person's like 'the chocolate is only $22. No. I'll pay for the shipping but not the ice pack. It will be fine'."
"'Yadda Yadda warning. Yadda Yadda. When it shows up melted it won't be our fault I'm noting it in the system'."
"So, what phone call does my manager get 2 days later?"
"Oh? Person got melted chocolate? Oh it's our fault is it?"
"But look? There's a note in the system they refused to pay for an icepack."
"Did I warn them the chocolate would melt? Yes I did."
"Do they now have nothing for mothers day? No they dooooon't."
I also sold mattresses and appliances. Maybe because they were a major investment, I had far fewer bad experiences with those customers.
My worst experiences were working a customer service phone line for a Department of Defense agency.
People were almost always angry before they picked up the phone.
Have you had a customer go off on you? Share your experience in the comments.
Medicine is a difficult profession. Thanks to the wonder that is human nature, healthcare workers are subjected to incredible Darwin-award-winning scenarios daily, so it’s no wonder that many of them feel the need to go home and scream into their pillows at night. From self-inflicted injuries to dangerous prescription misuses, these Redditors revealed the most facepalm-worthy patients they’ve ever encountered.
But be warned: They’ll all leave you wondering how we’ve survived this long as a species.
There Is No Plan Cwhite and red cross signPhoto by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
I’m a pharmacist. One evening, I was working a relief shift (not at my usual pharmacy). A man comes in looking distressed. He tells me, “I had intimate relations with a woman I do not intend to pursue a long-term relationship with”. Yes, he said it just like that. I say, “Okay. I’m assuming there was an accident, or it was unprotected. How long ago did it happen”? He answers, “Last night, at 7 PM on the couch”.
Woah, TMI. I just needed to know the approximate time so I’d know if Plan B would work. I start to tell him, “We have this medication called Plan B, and since the incident happened within 72 hours—” but he interrupts me and I was thrown completely off guard: “Oh yes, I got that for her already yesterday, right after we finished. We want to know if there is anything we can do to know if she is pregnant now”.
I answer, “Unfortunately not. She’ll have to wait three weeks or so to see if she gets her period, and if she doesn’t, she can do a pregnancy test then. Theoretically, you could do a blood test for faster results, but that would also not be until a couple of weeks, at least”. He responds, “We’re just really anxious because she doesn’t want to be pregnant. Is there anything that she can take to prevent the pregnancy? Any multivitamin? Minerals? Food”?
I tell him, “She’s already taken it, which was the Plan B. There are some other options, but those are prescriptions. And no, there are no over-the-counter products she can take”. Then he asks, “What about me? Is there anything I can take now to prevent the pregnancy? Any multivitamins or minerals”? A little bemused, I just answer, “…No sir. There isn’t anything you can take now”.
Get A Load Of This Guy
I’m 73, and I’m a former clinical microbiologist from LONG ago. Still, I found myself all over the clinical lab at times, not just infectious diseases. So, one day, this 20-something guy (with his wife and mom in tow) walks in with a paper request for an analysis of his “swimmers”, pre-computer era. Okay, not the most comfortable encounter, but I’m a professional, and I’d done this drill many times.
It turned out he had not been briefed by the doctor and had no idea how establishing infertility in males was done. Well, okay—this would be a challenge, then. I took him aside and, using standard medical terminology, told him how a diagnosis is made and what he needed to do to provide a specimen. He couldn’t believe that I was asking him to “do it” into that container.
Astonished! Then he played dumb as if the concept was unfamiliar to him. We looped through the medical terms and procedure again, and I eventually resorted to every word I knew to describe the “act”. It was like a George Carlin bit! A half-hour later, he emerged from the toilet with two inches of urine in the cup. God almighty.
The report came back: “Patient provided improper specimen”.
This Is How The Elderly Get Their Wrinkles
I’m a paramedic. I had an elderly woman complain that her mouth was dry and she felt a bit dizzy climbing the stairs earlier. So I go through the whole rigamarole of getting a medical history, vitals, and more detail on her symptoms. Then I asked her what she’s had to drink today. Her answer? A cup of tea—ten hours ago. I asked, “Any water”? She says no.
Guess what fixed it within five minutes.
The Mother Got A Lot Of Heat For This
I was at the children’s hospital with my eldest when he was a toddler (ah, the day we found out he was allergic to penicillin) when a rushing team suddenly occupied the bed next to me with a limp, unresponsive infant. This happened on a hot day during the mid-summer. The baby was in a full Canadian winter-level snowsuit.
After they got the baby’s temperature down, I overheard the doctor losing his mind a little bit with the mother as she kept insisting she had to have her baby in the suit lest the baby risk feeling chilly. He explained that the minor discomfort of having to cry for a blanket did not trump the risk of it losing its life or the possibility of literally frying the kid’s brain.
He had to get quite nasty with his wording in that she had almost unalived her baby and might have given it brain damage.
Mr. Hot Shot
I had a buddy who was an EMT, and he was called out to a location for a GSW. What happened was a father was mowing his lawn when he accidentally touched a part of the mower near the engine and burned his hand. He got mad at the lawnmower, pulled out his pistol, and shot it. The shot ricocheted and hit his son in the leg.
Now, He’s Gonorrhea-Valuate All His Conditions…a woman holding a stethoscope in her right handPhoto by Eben Kassaye on Unsplash
I worked in ED for 10 years. Every day. Every day people come in, and it shocks you how they’ve managed to evade unaliving themselves for that long. One of the worst was when we had a guy come in. He was a twin. He told us he needed to get checked for STDs because his sister just got one. We, of course, had to ask if he’d had intimate relations with her, and he said no, but they were twins, so whatever she has, so does he.
After a collective sigh of relief that this wasn’t some weird Alabama, your-my-sister scenario, we had to educate him on how that’s not how it worked at all.
It Was An Arm of Intervention
I got told to go introduce myself to a patient to get vitals, history, and more info on their chief complaint, before starting an IV and drawing blood for labs. She came in for arm pain, and it looked like she had a nasty bug bite on her arm. So her story was she was an exotic dancer, and her Adderall prescription wasn’t doing the trick. So, she had an idea of how to make it more potent.
She heard from a friend that if you crush it up, suspend it in water, and then inject it, it would be more effective. Except she used tap water to dissolve the Adderall before she injected it. This ended up causing a huge abscess and infection at the site of injection. She ended up losing her arm at the elbow...So now she’s a one-armed exotic dancer.
They Must’ve Gone Ballistic
I had a patient who had a bullet lodged in her leg. We had the surgeon come and assess her. Based on its placement, he suggested leaving it because removing it could cause even more danger. We discharged her. She immediately walked to the ER in the same hospital to complain of leg pain. She had prescriptions and wound supplies in her hand.
Still, they brought her back, discovered her injury, and called for a surgical consult. The same surgeon was on-call and came to assess her. Guess what?! The surgeon made the same suggestion to leave it. Then we educated her EXTENSIVELY about never getting an MRI or the metal will fly out of her skin. Eventually, she left.
She returned a few months later to a sister hospital complaining of a headache. She got inpatient admission, and you guessed it: They did an MRI. The slug ripped out, and the MRI machine was down for almost a week!
She Just Couldn’t Seem To Grasp The Conception
I had an 18 or 19-year-old girl come into my ER with some complaint that required an X-ray. It’s standard that we do a urine pregnancy test before imaging on any female of childbearing years. She insisted she’d never “done it”, and there was zero possibility of pregnancy. We did the test anyway, and it resulted that she was pregnant. We then did a blood pregnancy test to confirm the result since she insisted she couldn’t possibly be pregnant because she’d never had intercourse.
That was positive too. We gave her a few minutes to herself to figure out what the heck happened, and when I returned to check on her a short time later, she asked me if she could get pregnant even though her boyfriend “didn’t go all the way in”. She 100% believed that as long as he wasn’t entirely inside her, it didn’t count as intercourse.
It took nearly a half hour of explaining reproduction for her to understand that, whether it’s halfway in or in, sperm travel.
It Ultimately Wasn’t Very Fun-Knee
I overheard a conversation between a nurse, a doctor, and a patient in the ER. They were trying to figure out whether the patient was very stupid or had a head injury. It was both hilarious and sad. He kept telling them that he was there for a hurt leg, but he couldn’t explain why his leg was hurt, how it was hurt, or how he got there—nearly anything.
I heard them talking in a hallway to each other. The nurse was convinced the patient hit his head. The doctor, without skipping a beat, dropped his unexpected diagnosis: “No, he is just an idiot.” It turned out the doctor was right. They got ahold of the guy’s wife. She told them in the hallway he’s always this dumb, and if she left him, he would get lost in his own house and starve.
It sounded like the patient’s leg was visibly injured or swollen. But when asked what happened or how it felt, he gave nonsensical idiot answers. He wasn’t slurring, but answering in a regular idiot voice, saying things like, “It feels hurt”, and “I was talking to Jimmy, and we were doing our usual work, and my leg hurts”.
The doctor would ask, “Did something happen? What is the work”? But the patient kept responding, “Something always happens; you know how it goes”, or “I just want my leg fixed”.
An Change Of Heartman in white dress shirt wearing black framed eyeglassesPhoto by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash
This one came from a colleague of mine. So, this 60-something-year-old suffered from an acute complication and got a pacemaker to solve the problem. Everything went normally, and as planned, he recovered. Every care and medication that he needed to take got prescribed and explained and his medical appointments with a cardiologist/arrhythmologist were scheduled so he could get the follow-ups he needed. The man then proceeded to never show up to any appointments and never answered any calls from the hospital to know of him and reschedule.
This went on for around three years. Then one day, he showed up without former warning and asked to talk with the doctor who did the procedure to put in his pacemaker. People were weirded out, but since the doctor was present that day and this patient was in clear distress, they talked to him and managed to find a couple of minutes to have the doctor check on him. Inside the appointment room, the doctor noticed that the man was wearing a bra inside his shirt.
The man explained he’d been wearing his daughter’s bra for three months after his “problem” got worse. So the doctor asked that he take off his shirt…and there he stood, this shirtless man wearing his daughter’s bra, showing off the pacemaker that should’ve remained inside his body. It was now dangling outside of it, being held by the left bra cup, with a big infected open wound above it with the pacemaker leads still inserted into his veins and connected to his heart.
Nobody had any idea how the man let that situation come to be or how he didn’t pass from sepsis or any other health problem that might’ve appeared, for that matter.
The Parents Were The Real Suckers
While working the midnight shift in the ER, a family brought in a four-year-old at 2am-ish. I asked them what was wrong. They said, “Ask him. He said he needed to see a doctor”. I further pressed, “Did he say anything was wrong”? They answered, “No. He said he needed to see a doctor, so we brought him”. A quick back and forth firmly established that they actually showed up to the ER at 2 AM, purely because the four-year-old said he needed to see a doctor and that they didn’t know why.
So I asked the child, “Why do you need to see a doctor”? His answer made me shake my head in disbelief: “The doctor has suckers”. To be clear, it was the parents who lacked sense and not the kid.
A Very Delicate Condition
I’m a social worker, and one of my clients kept getting pregnant over and over after having kids. I had a frank conversation with her about birth control or getting her tubes tied because she kept going through horrific births only to get her kids taken away, and she said to me that she didn’t know that birth control or safe intercourse would save her from getting pregnant.
She didn’t realize that intercourse = pregnant because she was mistreated as a child, and her father told her that she could only get pregnant when she fell in love, and she had never been in love, so she didn’t understand why she kept getting pregnant. Intercourse was only a pleasure for her, so she didn’t realize that was what was getting her pregnant.
The Answer Was At Hand
I am a dermatologist in India. As is the culture here, people eat with their hands, and almost all of our curries or even other dry side dishes have a lot of turmeric. It is common knowledge to anyone born and brought up in India that this means the nails of your dominant hand (statistically, the right hand) will be yellow-stained because we have seen this happen since our childhood.
Usually, this wears off in about a day and a half if you wash it a couple of times. Cut to the first patient in my OPD, a young girl in her early 20s, very anxious. I ask her, “What brings you here today”? The patient says, “Doc, my right-hand fingernails keep getting yellow-discolored”. I take a look and confirm, “Only your right hand”? She answers, “Yes, and only after meals”.
So I ask her, “Erm…do you eat with your hands”? The patient confirms, “Yes, always”. I then explain to her, “So...you know it’s just turmeric, right”? And she goes, “Yes, but can you make it stop happening”? Perplexed now, I just tell her, “For God’s sake, use a spoon”! But she’s still not quite getting it. Surprised, she asks, “So you mean there is no medicine to make it stop”?
I just stared at her while she looked at me expectantly. “NO”! This might hit home more with people of South Asian cultures or people who habitually eat turmeric-cooked food with their hands. Anyway, for a grown person to complain about this was just…well, surprising and a little ridiculous.
This Guy Wasn’t Very Treat Smart
I work in emergency medical services. I had a diabetic in his 30–40s who refused to take insulin since 2012. It was 2020 at the time. When I took his blood sugar, it only read as “HI”, meaning it had to be over 700 for the glucometer not to read it. Upon seeing this, he asked me if that was high and then went, “Is this because of all the ice cream I ate”?
He was playing a Facebook Messenger video with his girlfriend the entire time. I met him later on in the parking lot after he got discharged, and it took this man less than fifty paces from the ER door to rip off the bandage covering his IV and play with the IV wound until it started bleeding all over the place again.
He then knocked on our ambulance door and asked for a bandaid to fix it. We had to walk him back into the ER and bandage his entire arm with gauze so that, hopefully, by the time he got it off, it would’ve clotted enough for him not to end up exsanguinating himself.
Rubbing Salt In The Woundbrown and white shell on orange round platePhoto by Arnold Antoo on Unsplash
My sister told me a story of a woman with chronic blisters and lesions on her lips. They couldn’t figure out what it was for weeks. It would heal and come back, heal and come back. The truth was disturbing—it turned out she would jam out on like three bags of salt and vinegar chips a day for weeks at a time until the sores hurt too bad to continue, then she’d go to the doctor.
Details Make A Difference
This was one of the funniest yet cutest ones from when I was a student doing a shift in andrology/reproductive health. Doctor: “So, you’re trying to have kids but not managing to. Do you have any other kids”? Patient: “Yes, Doc. I have one”. Doctor: “Okay, so we need to do [this and this and that]”. Patient: “Okay, great”.
Then he proceeded to visit him and stuff, after which he went away. But after a couple of seconds, he knocked on the door again, saying: “Hello, Doc. My wife told me that it would be relevant to you that the son I have is adopted, but that makes no difference to me. I’ve always considered him my son”!
Do No Farm
I’m a physiotherapist. For those who don’t know, after a total knee replacement, you have a six-week window after the surgery to regain the range of motion. If you don’t regain the range in those first six weeks, it ain’t coming back. I had a patient who was a farmer who was very enthusiastic about regaining the range because he needed to be mobile for his work. I saw him for the first time about five days after his surgery.
I showed him all the basic exercises, told him not to do any farm work for at least six weeks, and told him to come back to see me once a week for the first six weeks. He disappeared and came back about eight weeks later. His range was non-existent, maybe 30 degrees of range in total. He was visibly mad at me as if it was my fault. He was shouting and calling me incompetent.
Our conversation went something like this: Me: “Have you been doing the exercises”? Him: “No”. Me: “How often are you doing farm work”? Him: “Every day”. Me: “Why haven’t you come back since the first appointment eight weeks ago”? Him: “Too busy with farm work”. Me: “So, to summarize here, you did absolutely nothing that I told you to, and this is somehow my fault”?
I never saw him again.
A Jaw-Dropping Encounter
As a pharmacist, I often encounter a lot of people who lack common sense; namely, everyone who comes in to buy homeopathic stuff, especially for serious things. Once, a lady came in with a prescription from the dentist for some heavy antibiotics and painkillers due to an infection that threatened to damage the jawbone.
When I asked if she knew how to take them, she went: “Oh, I’m not gonna take those; they’ll go right into the garbage. But I gotta buy them so that my dentist is happy. I’d rather stick with [insert name of homeopathic stuff here] instead of harming me with some devilish chemicals”!
Throughout the years, I’ve learned to just shrug and accept those Darwin-award candidates instead of arguing with them. It just infuriates me when I see that they’ve got children or/and pets…
That’s Never Gonna Heel Now
This was circa 1983, and I’m a nurse (retired). I had this one guy in his early 20s who went swimming hammered in a notoriously nasty lake in our area. It was a “don’t drink the water” kind of lake, and he went in without shoes, stepped on an old booze tab, and cut his foot open. He didn’t go to the hospital or try to clean it at all for about a week. His girlfriend said he kept saying, “It’s fine, it’s just a cut”, when she pressured him to get it seen, so of course, he showed up in the ER with a foot that blew up like a balloon.
Healing it took two and a half months in the hospital, with his foot completely laid open in surgery, doing debridement and packing, which I can honestly say after over 30 years in healthcare stands as one of the nastiest jobs I have ever had to do—and I had been dealing with things like bedsores and open wounds from radiation treatments and cancer for about seven years at that point.
It was bad, but that's not all—on top of this, he was obnoxious, disrespectful, and, when the opportunity presented itself, cruel. Other nurses, you know the type, they’re everywhere. Hopefully not as open about it these days, but yeah. I had a student nurse I was training come running out of the room in tears and refused to go back in and would not tell any of us what he said, but I can imagine.
Eventually, we finally got it cleaned out, and it’s responding well to antibiotics, and the tissue is granulating well. He gets sent home with antibiotics and strict instructions on how to care for it and to keep it clean and dry. THE DAY he left the hospital, he went back out to the same lake, got inebriated, put on some nasty tennis shoes, and went swimming.
He showed up on our floor again a week after being discharged. He lost the foot. His girlfriend left him.
Fortunately, They Caught Him Red-Handedman in blue scrub suit wearing blue stethoscopePhoto by Bruno Rodrigues on Unsplash
I don’t know if a cleaner in a hospital counts, but this one time, I got to work early on a Saturday morning, and we immediately received a request for help from the ER and got sent over by my boss. When I got there, the first thing I heard was yelling from this guy behind one of the curtains. He was shouting at the nurses, “Don’t touch my downstairs”, and “I didn’t use any substances”!
Then I smelled iron in the air, and then I found out there was blood all over the hallway, with hand prints in blood against the wall. Almost the entire floor was covered in blood, with actual puddles in some places. What happened? The guy pulled out his catheter, causing arterial bleeding, and he decided to run away from the nurses who were trying to help him.
It seems like he lived through that. I had never seen that much blood before that day, nor after.
Thinking Against The Grain
I am a medical professional, but I have two really good ones about my ex-fiancé. Laugh at me all you want; this relationship was not my proudest moment. For starters, at our baby shower for my son, he asked if we were going to pick “innie” or “outie”. I looked at him like he was insane, and he started getting angry and just repeated the question louder until I shushed him and took him aside to explain to him that we don’t choose how the belly button looks; it just happens.
Another time, he had really bad eczema and went to a doctor who suggested oatmeal baths during flare-ups. He bought a couple of boxes of Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar and would dump the entire box packet by packet into the tub. It was a couple of weeks before I found the wrappers and questioned him about it.
He told me (angry again) that he wondered why he was so sticky after getting out and why the freaking literal brown sugar was making his open wounds fester. I explained that an oatmeal bath is not flavored oatmeal and that he had to buy either plain oats or actual oatmeal bath packets. He was furious that I expected him to just know better.
When I asked him why he picked maple and brown sugar, he said he didn’t want to smell like strawberries or peaches after his bath. After our son was born (and we had broken up, thank God), my son also had some occasional eczema, but not nearly to the same degree. The pediatrician recommended oatmeal baths, and GUESS WHAT THIS FREAKING GUY BOUGHT?
He said he only remembered what happened the last time when he picked my son out of the sink, and the towel stuck to him. When I started to scold him for being so stupid, he looked at me like I was an idiot and told me he only used one packet since we were still bathing the kid in the sink instead of in an entire tub.
The Patient Had A Med-ley Bag
I’m a pharmacist. I had a woman bring in a literal sandwich bag that she kept all her meds in, unseparated. She needed help seeing which meds she was low on or out of and was asking different questions about the medications. When she pointed to an Apoquel and stated it was her blood pressure medicine, I immediately became concerned as to why pet medicine was in her bag (and also why she was mixing all her meds in a bag in the first place).
It was then that I found out that she had been throwing her pet’s meds inside her bag of medicine, too. So Lord knows what she’d been giving her dog or taking herself. I immediately stressed how important it is to keep medicine in its original container to protect both the medicine and herself and to know the directions of how to take it.
I’ve seen her a few times since then, and I’m glad to see she has since taken my advice. But how any pharmacist or doctor hadn’t advised her on this before is beyond me.
They Didn’t Air On The Side Of Caution
I used to be a medical oxygen tech, mostly doing in-home work. One guy was on such a high concentration that he would have drawn nearly zero oxygen from breathing regular atmosphere. This required two heavy-duty machines hooked up in tandem just to keep him barely alive. This was explained ad nauseam to him and his wife with fully signed documentation of every conversation.
What they did was absolutely ridiculous—they’d shut one machine off because they decided it was too loud. He’d take his mask off because he decided it was too cold. She would unplug the hose if she decided it was in the way. So on and so on. They did everything you could think of that would restrict or cut off his oxygen intake. Then they would panic and call our emergency service when he started to react to no oxygen intake.
I lived not even five minutes away, right beside our EMS station, and calls would always come for me to “fix” the machines at random times of the day and night, 3–7 days a week. They refused to call 9-1-1 because they “didn’t want to make a scene”. This went on for ages, well over 18 months, until he was having trouble sleeping one night, and they shut the machines off before going back to bed.
It’s been years, and I still see the wife around town. She always glares at me as if I’m the one who unalived him.
She’ll Just See Herself Out, Now…
I’m an ophthalmology surgical technician. A glaucoma patient in her late 50s was going blind despite her drop therapies for the past six months. Her pressure was consistently in the 30s and 40s. I asked her if she was using her drops regularly (twice daily), and she said yes. I asked, as politely as I could, if she’d missed any doses in the past month. She said no. I asked if she was using them properly, and she got super offended.
She asked me very rudely, “Do I look like an idiot to you”? I said, “No, but I just need to be sure. Sometimes patients think they’re doing it right, but they can easily miss it. Can you show me how you use your drops”? So she took out her drop bottle, gave it a good shake (so far, so good), looked up at the ceiling (also a good sign), opened her MOUTH, and swallowed two drops.
I got in trouble, but my OD backed me up and told her that’s the stupidest thing he’s ever seen in 25 years. She cried and said we were being mean to her and that the drops burned her eyes, so she didn’t want to put them in there, and since the eyes, ears, nose, and throat are all connected, why did it matter where she put them?
That’s not how glaucoma therapy works. She needed a shunt implant, and we were able to save about 30% of her visual field. But yeah, she was drinking her drops and going blind.
That’s Ill-Adviseda woman in a white shirt holding a stethoscopePhoto by Alexandr Podvalny on Unsplash
I used to volunteer at a free medical clinic to take vitals and histories. A woman came in with pneumonia and wanted to know why her normal treatment of drinking half a bottle of Listerine and inhaling a pack of cancer sticks a day wasn’t working. I asked why she thought ciggies were a good treatment for a lung infection, and she said, “Indians used to purify the ground by burning all the weeds away before planting, so I’m puffing to purify my lungs”.
I left that one to the doctor.
I’m an optometrist. I had a patient booked in for an emergency appointment with a raging red eye. It was very painful. So I looked under the microscope, and the cornea was not happy: wobbly reflexes, haziness, the works. So I asked, “What happened”? The patient said, “It’s my niece’s wedding this Saturday, and I wanted to tint my eyelashes to match my hair, and the color scheme of the wedding is light blue, so I used the same dye for both to match the color”.
I inquired, “Does that hair dye contain ammonia, by any chance”? The patient answered, “I think so. Do you think my eye will be better by Saturday? Will it match the color scheme”? I just responded, “Unless you can convince them to change the color scheme to red, no”.
This Grave Mistake Takes The Biscuit
I heard this story from a sibling; I don’t think he’d mind me sharing it just on the off chance it prevents someone else from making this mistake. Lots of surgeons have a similar story, but thankfully this one doesn’t end in someone’s demise. According to my brother, these parents claimed that their child hadn’t eaten anything before surgery, as they were carefully directed. But it turned out they thought the surgical team was just being cruel to their child.
So when she said she was hungry that morning, they detoured on their way to the surgical center and got her a full Southern breakfast. The result was triggering—she dang near passed from aspirating biscuits and gravy. I’ve rarely seen my brother so angry and disgusted (somehow, biscuits and gravy look even more nauseating the second time around) as he recounted what had happened.
I do not doubt that he tore a strip off the parents once their five-year-old was stabilized, and they probably still felt justified and angry at the surgeon for telling them what they could and could not feed their child right before anesthesia. The parents did feel justified and hard-done-by, although, as far as I know, they didn’t express anger at my brother (knowing him, they didn’t get a word in edgewise).
There was no acknowledgment or realization that they could easily have unlived their own child or that they’d made a bad decision. I remember they were annoyed by her whining for food.
The Outcome Suited Them Just Fine
I’m a pharmacist. One time my coworker, another pharmacist, got served with a lawsuit while I was there. The patient suffered a fall resulting in a concussion, and she claimed it was because her Lisinopril (blood pressure medication) got increased from 10mg to 20mg and that she’d not been informed and passed out as a result. She was suing the pharmacist, the pharmacy, her doctor’s office, and the doctor.
It eventually came out in early discovery that she was at a rave and had a BAC of 0.18, THC, and MDMA in her system. The case against the doctor’s office, doctor, and pharmacy fell apart right away, so she decided to go all-in on trying to sue the individual pharmacist. The pharmacy’s POS system confirmed that she checked, “I decline pharmacist consultation at this time”. So the case was eventually dropped.
He Had To Take A Pregnant Pause
I work in the ER. I have so many stories. The one that left me dumbfounded was a woman who was brought in by her sister for pelvic cramps and amenorrhea for three months. Lo and behold, she’s pregnant. The sister informs me that she sleeps with the Brazilian construction workers building the condo complex next door. I ask if they have any questions.
The patient then asked me if her baby would come out speaking Spanish. After a long pause and her sister staring at the ceiling, I told her, “No, because they speak Portuguese in Brazil”. The patient seemed relieved, and the sister hustled her out of the ER before I could discharge her.
It Cost Them An Amen And A Legman in white dress shirt holding black tablet computerPhoto by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
I worked in cancer research/surgery a couple of years ago. There is a good amount of people who will refuse to have a small removal/surgery because they think holistic medicine or praying it away will work. They always come back, and we always have to remove so much more. One time a patient had melanoma on their calf, and the doctor wanted to do a simple wide excision, but they left because they wanted to pray it away.
They came back a couple of months later because it got bigger, and we had to amputate their leg. I’m pretty sure they had positive lymph nodes at that point too.
They Gave Her A Herbal Warning
A lady brought her baby into the ER with a rectal temp of 103. The kid had tachycardia (i.e. a fast heartbeat) and looked awful. The worst part? The lady refused all medications. She said she didn’t believe in them and wondered why her herbal tea (she brought a jug of it) wasn’t working. She wanted us to just check her out. She thought a children’s emergency room just checked them out. I tried to explain why the kid needed an NSIAD. She kept refusing. She said she didn’t know what was in it.
I brought up the fact she had her kid in a hospital and that she received medication herself (IV, epidural, etc). The lady didn’t budge. Only concerned for herself, I told her that when the kid has a seizure or goes unresponsive and she calls 9-1-1, she can expect the medics to give the kid everything it needs regardless of whether she likes it or not.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, so the doctor threatened to contact social services for child endangerment and mistreatment. Only then did she start to listen…for, like, five whole seconds. She then left against medical advice. People like this exist.
Words Cannot Expresso How Ridiculous This Call Was
I’ve been a firefighter for 18 years. People call 9-1-1 for the dumbest things ever. But the one that takes the cake? It was a guy who called 9-1-1 to say he was choking. He answered the door as high as a Georgia pine with a lit joint in his mouth. I asked him who was choking. He calmly said that he was. He said he swallowed an ice cube, and now he couldn’t breathe.
Just to be sure and partly out of morbid curiosity, I looked in his mouth and then asked him to take a few deep breaths...which he was able to do easily. He still insisted he couldn’t breathe. So I told him to make some hot coffee and then drink it. He asked me, “Why”? I told him that the coffee would melt the ice cube, and he’d be able to breathe again. “Oh, cool. Thanks, man”.
Then I left.
I work in clinical research at a hospital. Basically, for patients who have cancer but don’t have other standard-of-care options, clinical trials, or “experimental treatment”, are a viable option for many. Some people have a negative view of research, but it’s highly regulated and not as scary as it sounds. Anyway, we went through the consent form with this one patient who had a history of substance use.
We don’t know everything about this new medication, but one thing we DO know is that using coke while taking this drug will make your heart “explode”, in layman’s terms. This patient “promised” they were off the sauce and that they “totally wouldn’t do coke while they’re on the trial”. Two weeks later, they relapsed, and well…You can figure out the rest of the story.
Wrestling With Logic
My brother did a rotation in an ER before med school. Paramedics brought in a man with a lacerated neck. He was inebriated and fell into a fish tank. His equally inebriated buddies called 9-1-1. When the paramedics arrived, they realized his friends had put a very tight tourniquet around his neck to stop the bleeding. It turned out that the guy and his buddies had been playing a boozy game of WWE.
He had a two-inch glass shard stuck in his head in addition to the neck laceration, but the dude came into the ER with no idea the glass was there. Four different firefighters had to hold him down as he screamed prejudiced remarks at the female doctor. My brother said that when they removed the glass, blood shot out about 10 feet in the air.
My brother, at that point, silently “noped” the heck out of medicine. He went on to attend Berklee Music School and is living his best life as a musical producer and engineer, and is not arguing with rednecks about whether or not there is a glass shard in their head….
Shear Stupiditya close up of a person laying in a hospital bedPhoto by César Badilla Miranda on Unsplash
I’m an ER nurse with seven years of experience. The list of dumb things I’ve seen is nearly endless. People coming in with massive burns because they smoked in bed is not as rare as you’d think. But the one that got me the most was a guy who came in for chest pain and fatigue. An EKG revealed he was having a really bad heart attack.
We activated the cath lab for emergency stents to hopefully save the guy’s life. They almost always access the patient through the groin for the procedure, so one of our jobs in the ER is to shave the patient’s groin to prep them for the cath lab. We got the clippers out, as we don’t use actual razors anymore, and informed the guy we needed to shave him. This is when things got annoying.
He refused. No problem, we figured we woul adjust let the cath lab do it once he’s knocked out. Nope, the guy refuses to sign the consent for the stents because he doesn’t want his downstairs shaved.
After trying to educate him, pleading with him, and contacting every goddang lawyer the hospital had, the guy signed himself out of AMA and went home.
He would rather die than have his curlies shaved. We looked up his address, and we weren’t the closest hospital to him, so if he passed at home, the medics would have to take him to a different hospital. I doubt he survived the day.
Paws For Thought
I’m a vet. A few years ago, I had a client bring his young cat in complaining of lethargy. Besides being a bit underweight, the physical exam was unremarkable, so I asked more questions about the cat’s diet. I asked him, “What do you feed the cat”? The owner answered, “I feed him [online trendy raw food brand]”. I asked, “How is his appetite? Does he finish what you feed him”? The owner replied, “Yes, he always eats everything”.
Pressing further, I asked, “How much do you feed him”? The owner said, “Half a cup”. For clarification’s sake, I then asked, “Once or twice daily”? What he said next absolutely floored me. He answered, “Once every three or four days”. Shocked, I replied, “…You only feed your cat twice a week”? The owner explained, “I believe in a more natural feeding approach, and based on my research, that’s how often cats eat in the wild”.
This owner was slowly starving his cat into oblivion based on some cockamamie idea he’d made up while watching National Geographic. I had to explain to him that domestic cats are not tigers and that small wildcats eat 10–20 small meals daily. Surprise, surprise, the cat’s lethargy and weight improved with regular feeding.
I once heard a story about a particular patient receiving radiation therapy. It was impressed upon her that she couldn’t miss her fractions of radiotherapy, even if she were busy, so she needed to inform us if she really couldn’t make the appointment. Well, one day, she couldn’t make it. But instead of just informing us, she sent her twin sister to receive the radiation therapy in her place.
Of course, the twin answered yes to all the ID questions and had the same birthday, etc. She was only found out when the radiographers had trouble matching her to the CT. The CT was of a person who had undergone a mastectomy, while this “patient” still had both her mammaries. This story, many years later, is still told to new staff during training to reiterate the importance of ensuring correct identification.
You would be stunned by the number of people who try to skip the queue. The number isn’t high. But it isn’t zero.
It Took Some Arm Twisting
I work in orthopedic rehab. I had a patient with a common fracture of the wrist that a doctor sent over because she was inexplicably getting stiffer and stiffer. I spent 17 sessions with her one on one, 40ish minutes each. But nothing I did worked. For whatever reason, instead of just bending her wrist, she would contort her entire body.
She was married, raised kids, had a career, and was a seemingly functional adult. I tried everything to get her to actively use her muscles to move her wrist. I put her in front of a mirror, filmed videos of myself doing the exercise or her doing it, and tried to get her to spot the difference between moving your shoulder versus moving your wrist.
The last time I saw her, I even strapped her arm to a chair, and she still didn’t understand that she should’ve only been trying to move her wrist. I will never understand it.
There Was No Sugarcoating It
I work at a vet clinic. We get a lot of this sort of thing, oftentimes with diabetic patients. One of the worst I’ve seen was an older owner come in with an extremely overweight, diabetic dog. The owner says the dog has been slow, tires easily, and has been “flopping around”, which is odd for her. The doctor checks the dog’s blood glucose, and it is so high it is literally off the charts.
Normal blood glucose for a dog is around 100 or so. The dog's reading was shocking—it was beyond 1000. We asked the owner how it got so high. Was she eating? She was because she was obese. Were you giving her the insulin? The owner then proceeds to say that they think she’s probably fine without it since she’s a “strong and hardy dog”.
Ma’am, your nine-year-old 80-pound Dalmatian is currently half-alive on the floor because you don’t give her insulin. How they kept that poor dog alive for that long was astounding.
Are You Kidding Me!?a person is holding a picture of a babyPhoto by Amr Taha™ on Unsplash
When I was an intern posted in the obstetric department, I saw a 42-year-old pregnant woman who came for an antenatal checkup. This was her seventh pregnancy, and she had only one living child. So she had five pregnancies previously, which failed (three spontaneous abortions and two stillbirths). The sixth one had been high-risk too, and she’d needed to get a cervical cerclage done (they stitch the cervix because it is too weak to hold a baby in until term).
When the OBGYN asked her why she would put herself through pregnancy again instead of being content with her daughter, she replied, “My in-laws want us to have at least two children”. It was the biggest Pikachu-face moment of my life.
Jesus Took The Wheel Years Ago
I’m an optometrist. I had an elderly patient come in surrounded by concerned family members because the patient ran over one of those pop-up tents on the side of the road that the telephone engineers use to protect themselves from the rain. Luckily no one was hurt as the worker was on lunch. Worried as to how the elderly driver missed seeing a large, red, and white tent in the middle of the day, it was then that the elderly relative admitted to having spent the last three years driving from memory.
Trying Hard To Be Patient
I had a patient come to see me in the clinic on a Monday; everything was fine. By Tuesday morning, she’s on the hospital census with a pending consult for me. When I see her, she says she’s fine and doesn’t know why she was admitted. She then walked out of the clinic, called an ambulance from across the street, and got taken to a different hospital.
She reported her problems were uncontrolled, and nobody was taking her seriously. They transferred her back overnight because I don’t work at that other hospital. She then gets discharged Wednesday morning. On Friday morning, she is again back on the census with a pending consult. I go to see her, and once again, she says she’s fine, and she’s not sure why she’s there.
This time she had a friend pick her up from the hospital and drive her to a small outlying hospital without the services she needed. She walked into the ER and said she was in distress but that nobody was taking her seriously. Yet again, she gets admitted and transferred back to my hospital overnight. She gets discharged on Friday afternoon.
Sure as heck, she came back on Saturday morning. I asked her, “Why do you think you keep getting admitted to the hospital”? She has no clue. Completely baffled. I tell her it’s because she keeps going to hospitals and telling them she needs help. No lights come on. I ask her, “Why do you keep going to other hospitals”?
Finally, she tells me, “I didn’t know what else to do. My apartment is a complete mess. My caretaker won’t clean my apartment because I’m supposed to learn how to do it, and I just don’t want to do it”. Please note that she is not a ward of the state but still gets most of the services, like coaches, guardians, drivers, etc.
So, I follow up with, “But why do you keep telling them that I’m not taking you seriously”? What she said next is forever burnt into my brain. “If I don’t, they just send me home in a cab”.
I’m a dental nurse. My favorite story involved a 30-something-year-old woman who came in for a checkup at the low-cost emergency clinic I worked at. Her teeth were broken and almost black, and her gums were angry, swollen, bright red, and bleeding by just moving her tongue against them. She needed multiple scaling and hygienist appointments and a debridement.
An X-ray showed she needed work on all but her wisdom teeth, and the results made me raise my eyebrows—she needed 10 fillings. She also needed root canals to try and save some teeth and extractions for, I think, three teeth or possibly more if the root canal treatment didn’t work. I explained everything and did the usual explanation of proper oral hygiene.
I then asked her if she had any questions, to which she said, “It’s okay if I lose this set of teeth; my others will come through”. The dentist and I just looked at each other, probably a lot longer than we should have. No words. I couldn’t think of anything to reply to that comment. I had a lot of weird and disgusting things happen at that clinic. I miss working there.
When You Just Can’t Sulfa Fools
I’m a paramedic, and I had this call while working on a rural fire/EMS service. A call came in for an allergic reaction. I arrived at a rural farm and found the patient in the kitchen on the ground, wheezing. Her husband said she took sulfa, which she’s allergic to, and after grabbing her blood pressure, we hit her with epinephrine (which is the same as an EpiPen) and Benadryl.
Her breathing improved, and she started to be able to answer my questions. First, I confirmed her allergy by asking, “So, you’re allergic to sulfa”? The patient says, “Yeah”. I reply, “And you took sulfa”? Again, she goes, “Yeah”. So I asked, “Was it mislabeled or in the wrong bottle”? She answers me with a simple “No”. Okay…
Needing more information, I inquired, “Was it your husband’s prescription”? And unbelievably, she tells me, “No, it was for our horse”. Huh? Feeling a lot more confused, I respond, “Was...Wait, did you say a horse? You took sulfa prescribed for a horse”? She then clarifies, “Well, I only took half”. Sure, that makes it better.
Still trying to follow her logic, I guessed, “...You only took half because a horse is much larger than a person”? The patient confirms, “Yeah”. Uh-huh…I’m still not fully understanding, so I respond, “...Okay. Were you intentionally trying to hurt yourself”? And the patient indignantly answers, “No, of course not”. Exasperated now, I pressed, “But you know you’re allergic, right”?
And she goes, “Yeah. I just have a cold and thought it would help me breathe better”. I couldn’t believe it. Incredulously, I then summarized the situation back to her: “So you took horse sulfa—which you’re allergic to—because you had a cold and thought it would help your breathing”? “I took half a horse sulfa”, the patient corrected me. Good Lord.
I just responded, “Sorry, half. Gotchya. Let’s go to the hospital”.
This Patient Was In A Jamopened white and orange travel trailerPhoto by Muhammed Abiodun Mustapha on Unsplash
I’m a paramedic and was called out for a stroke. The man was having a stroke; upon doing a stroke screen, it looked like the patient had something large in his mouth. Thinking maybe this guy had some sort of oropharyngeal cancer or mass, I asked his wife if this was indeed the case, and she looked at me with a very puzzled look.
She said no, and then I asked, “What is in his mouth”? His wife then says it’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that she shoved in there. When her husband’s symptoms started, she thought it was just that his blood glucose was low, so she tried to force-feed this poor man an entire sandwich before she called 9-1-1. Ah, job security.
It Was An Oxidant Waiting To Happen
There was a 24-year-old patient who was brought in from a prison in a rural county. He was working roadside cleanup when he found a bottle in a ditch that he thought contained booze, and he quickly chugged it down. To be fair, it did look like booze. It wasn’t. It turned out it was a substance that contained sulfuric acid. Its pH was less than 2.5...It just ate up the litmus paper. So shortly afterward, he gets to the ICU, and he is in excruciating pain and vomiting blood.
The gastroenterologist took him to do an EGD (basically a procedure where they can look at the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum with a camera attached to a flexible tube), and the pictures were horrendous. You could see his stomach and esophageal mucosa eroding. He had to be sent off to another hospital where they had an esophageal surgeon who could repair the mess.
He, of course, needed multiple surgeries and had a very long hospital stay. I saw him a few months later when he was admitted for another issue. He was down to 90 lbs (from about 150) and was getting fed through a PEG tube. He was very lucky to be young and otherwise healthy (but not very smart).
A Rash Decision
I’m a pharmacist. This story comes to mind, although I’m sure there are plenty more I’m not remembering. A woman came in, claiming that her medication was making her vomit. She said she couldn’t remember what it was called. So, I looked up her profile, but there was nothing recent, just some one-off antibiotics and an anti-fungal from almost a year ago.
I asked her if her medication was over the counter, and she said that it was and pointed me to the Monistat cream. I thought it was incredibly strange that a cream meant for “lady parts” had made her vomit, so I asked her how she had been using it. That’s when I learned the disgusting truth—much to my surprise, she’d been taking it by mouth.
She explained that she would fill the plunger with the cream, shoot it to the back of her throat, and swallow it so she wouldn’t taste it as much as putting it directly on her tongue and swallowing.
What A Meathead
I’m a rural ER doctor. A 35-year-old female walked in with right-sided jaw/neck swelling. She says, “I think it happened because I ate some meat yesterday that my body is reacting to…” Then suddenly, 10 minutes later: “Oh yeah, and I accidentally swallowed a bee, and it stung me in my mouth right before this happened. Sorry, I forgot to mention that”.
When Urine Need Of Some Whizdom
I had an adult male patient who needed a Foley catheter. His mother was in the room, and they both lived together in the backwoods of Tenessee. I informed them both of the order for a catheter, how it worked, and why it was needed. His mother stated, “Well, he’s still a virgin, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with his virginity being taken in a hospital”.