People Explain Why They Had To Cut Their Best Friend Out Of Their Life
As we grow older, we may find our relationships with people in our lives have evolved drastically.
There are usually no hard feelings when distance and life experience test the endurance of our friendships.
But, sometimes, it's time to cut our losses.
Curious to hear how people's friendships were deliberately cut short, Redditor ionlyhaveme asked:
"What ended your relationship with your best friend?"
The following people realized their friends' conniving and manipulative ways were no longer worth their time.
"Their negative as hell attitude towards EVERYTHING including pretty innocuous, normal problems."
"I couldnt handle how bitter they had become...it was toxic."
Lies And More Lies
"She made up a story about being pregnant by rape, being addicted to pain killers, and then miscarrying said pregnancy. also she said she wanted my boyfriend and manipulated me into feeling guilty for being with him. she was dating someone else at the time. she admitted she was lying about everything in order to 'test my friendship'. I walked out that day."
"He cheated on his girlfriend, who I was close friends with before I ever met him, multiple times with multiple girls and was then bragging about it. So I told her."
Romance complicates things. These Redditors can attest to that.
The Girl Whose Heart Belonged To Someone Else
"The girl he liked told him she liked me. That was the start of it. He just got distant after that happened. Then he got together with another girl who convinced him to stop hanging out with the rest of us and now we never hear from him."
Love In The Equation
"I had Feelings for him. He knew. After 4 years I couldn't torture myself anymore and ended the friendship. 3 months after that he claimed he always loved me. Oof."
"I had my first 'girlfriend' when I was 17. I was a super awkward kid (and a f'king a**hole) who had never even kissed a girl, and she was my first. She was a friend of my best friend who set us up as dates for junior prom. Well, we only 'dated' briefly, I was completely out of my depth, and she broke up with me after less than two months. About 2 months later, she was dating my best friend who set us up. Well, he texted me about it afterwards to ask if I was ok with it, and I lied and said I was.
As I said, first 'love' and all that, awkward teenage drama bullsh*t. Well, I bottled it up until the night before graduation almost a year later, I went to a baseball game with a few friends, but without my 'best friend', and I for whatever reason decided that that was the perfect time to tear him apart via text message. I went off, called him a bunch of horrific sh*t, and called him a p**sy for not even responding. An overwhelming feeling of 'what the f'k have I done?' washed over me. Well, graduation happens, he was crying when I saw him and said nothing to him. That night, my 'ex' texted me, and I brilliantly doubled down. Well, eventually a year or two passed and we patched things up, but we agreed that we would never really be friends again. I run into him once every few years and we are cordial. This was over a decade ago. Easily in the top three biggest regrets of my life."
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A friend doesn't have to necessarily harm you personally in order for you to unfriend them. Their actions alone can speak for themselves.
"He stole $300,000 from the company we both worked. It was over a period of time and I'm the one that figured it out."
"I found out he regularly beat up his girlfriend."
The One Who Went To Prison
"My best friend went to prison and came out a nazi. I'm not equipped to deprogram that and can't be around that."
A lot of Redditors also mentioned time was a common factor resulting in friends cutting each other off.
When neither person is willing to make an effort to reach out to the other, both are complicit in the demise of that friendship.
I have friends with whom I can pick up right where we left off, no matter how much time has passed.
Sure, life gets in the way, but those are the friendships I should make an effort to hold on to.
The moral of the thread is, if you have that one person in your life you think of fondly but fell out of touch with, it's never too late to reach out to them.
Why wonder what they're up to when you can easily DM or text them, or better yet, give them a random call. Life is short.
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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.
When you've spent enough time in your professional industry, you tend to learn secrets about the industry that the general public won't know.
For example, I work in social media. I create social posts for influencers and activists. I have no real affiliation with these people, and I usually don't even get guidelines on what to post, past that I have to post every hour or so.
Every industry has a secret, and Redditors are ready to share secrets about their own industries.
It all started when Redditor Thealexiscowdell1 asked:
"What is a "dirty little secret" about an industry that you have worked in, that people outside the industry really should know?"
All The Same
"Not all that much of a secret, but, i used to work in a peanut butter factory, we produced about 25-30-ish different storebrands ranging from very cheap to stupidly expensive, we had a grand total of 3 recipes, chunky, not chunky and no additives."
"Peanut butter should taste like peanut butter."
"Wash the top of your cans. Mice poop on those things all the time while they are in warehouse or transit."
"I’m so relieved that my mother raised me to do this lmao. I thought it was strange growing up but then I just started to do it automatically without question."
"Absolutely, I did security at a local supermarket warehouse, and doing my walkthrough, I saw rats 🐀 so big the porters used to ride around the warehouse on them (obviously not really) but I did see the rats and they’d be everywhere. Of course, they cr*pped on everything."
Quite The Employee Discount
"I worked at a major jewelry company in the US. When we wanted to buy jewelry, we paid what it costs to make the product (material, labor, shipping), plus 10%. I paid around $115 for a pair of $950 diamond earrings."
"I worked wholesale diamond sales so I had connections throughout the entirety of the industry. Made my wife's 15k+ engagement ring for about 3k."
Keep Track Of Your Belongings
"I worked in the moving and storage industry and if you EVER pay movers to pack and move your family, DEMAND an itemized bill and proof of service."
"These people are out here RAKING people over the coals. Inflating box counts, charging for services not performed, etc. it’s not AS BAD if it’s COD but if it’s a corporate move for your job?? DEMAND IT. You might not be paying for it out of pocket, but it’s still showing on your income as taxable wages."
"special note to say not ALL companies do this but ALL the ones I worked with did."
"High volume recruiters spend an average of 10 seconds looking at a resume."
""You are a perfect fit for this [job title that's not remotely close to what you have done in the past] position based on your experience at [company].""
"Emails are mostly just basic keyword match mass batches. They might not have even read your CV, it just had a keyword."
"Totally. It's usually through LinkedIn. I generally respond with, "Oh wow! What part of my profile do you think makes me a good fit for the position?""
Heavier Is (Apparently) Better
"They put little weights in lipsticks to make them feel more expensive so they can charge more."
"Same for Beats headphones."
The Truth Comes Out
"Zoos and museums are universally held together with double sided tape. The size or prestige of the organization doesn’t matter either."
"You guys can afford double sided tape?"
"We had to use single-sided tape, taped together."
"Also, the dinosaur bones that you're ooh-ing and aah-ing over are probably plaster. The actual bones are stored safely in the basement."
"I imagine most artifacts on display aren't real, just very high-quality fakes. You really can't trust the general public not to f**k it up somehow. Honestly, as long as the museum is using the real ones to learn more about our history, I'm OK with it."
Like Cramming For A Test
"When the health inspector shows up, a mad scramble happens in the back to clean the kitchen while they start the inspection in the dining/bar area of the restaurant."
"Yup. One manager will hold the health inspector up in the front of house while back of house is busy labeling and making sure minor violations they visibly see are dealt with."
"Truer words have never been typed lol send out the king or queen of small talk and people skills while the back of the house tosses anything that isn’t temping correctly and runs ribbons of labeling to the walk in to make sure it’s all labeled."
"If you’re ever buying bulk gravel/sand/crushed stone from a local pit/quarry that has scales to weigh the amount of product you’re getting- you’re getting f**ked because you’re paying for water. Most of these pits/quarries spray the living f**k out of their stockpiles before/during operation to make the material heavier in the truck. Never buy by the ton- always buy aggregate by the cubic yard. It’s a measure of volume- not weight."
"Source: I own a rock crushing business/multiple quarries and I charge by the cubic yard to not screw the public :)"
He No Longer Works For The Company
"I wouldn’t say it’s mostly a secret but agency staffing firms churn and burn college graduates who are basically thrown in the wild. The recruiter you worked with may be gone in six months and that’s why a lot of ghosting happens."
"Yeah, recruitment and headhunting are not altruist professions. They're not social workers looking out for clients best interests."
"I got a high-paying job via a headhunter. After three months at the new place, I realized I hated it, and I quit."
"Three days later, I got a call from the headhunter, and he was IRATE, YELLING at me over the phone at the top of his lungs. He called me every name in the book, and went hoarse from yelling."
"Turns out, he gets paid a commission for placing me at that job ONLY if I stay at least 90 days. I just happened to quit on the 89th day coincidentally."
"So he lost out on a good chunk of money thanks to that."
"The roses you buy at Valentine's Day were harvested around Xmas. It's the worst time of the year to buy roses and I don't mean because they're more expensive. They're also the worst quality because it's a longer holding time between harvest and use than any other time of the year."
"Never ever ever send flowers through an order processing service. Look at the location you're in or sending to and talk to a florist in that area directly. Don't pick a picture off some external website. Ask the florist what they have and can make that fits your budget. If you're worried, ask them to text you a pic of the completed design."
The Psychology Of Groceries
"There is a lot of money spent every year that decides where specific items are placed on grocery store shelves."
"If you're at a grocery store that's part of a chain, and you look at a shelf and there's an item that's approximately at eye level, I guarantee you that the company that makes that item paid a lot of money to put them there. There's lots of weird psychological tricks that go on in terms of how stores are laid out."
"Candy, sugary cereals with mascots, the more expensive toys...etc. all at child height."
"The milk and toilet paper are always in the back because those are what people often make a quick run to the store for. By putting it in the back, it forces the customer to walk past all sorts of tempting end caps. The chances of the person going in for one thing and coming out with a bunch is increased."
"People joke about doing this all the time at Target, but it's not just a joke, Target actually paid a lot of money to get customers to spend a lot of money. All by designing things just so."
"I learned this in the one and only marketing class I took. It was really interesting, while also being kinda horrible."
Turns out the world is even more manipulative than I thought!
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”.