People Are Sharing The Worst Secondhand Embarrassment They've Ever Experienced, And Their Stories Are Causing Me Physical Pain

Reddit user u/A55A55IN100997 recently asked, "What is the worst secondhand embarrassment you've ever felt?" The thread quickly filled with hundreds of genuinely painful, cringey stories. Here are some of the standouts:

1."I was selling some kettlebells on Facebook Marketplace, and a woman, early 40s maybe, bought them. She came to pick them up, and as I handed them over to her, she obviously wasn’t expecting them to be as heavy as they were. As she suddenly strained to counter the weight, she ripped the most extreme of farts you have ever heard. It was gargantuan. I was shocked but also proud. I’m usually pretty good at making light of any situation, but I found myself speechless for the first time in my life. If I could, I would’ve returned serve, but even on my best day, I don’t believe I could create such a symphony. We both kind of stared into each other’s eyes and she said, 'Well…' and turned around and walked off. I think about her often."


2."I once went to an Italian restaurant with someone who was learning Italian and knew quite a bit. None of the staff were Italian; it was essentially just a pizzeria in a small town. She insisted on ordering for the whole table in the language with the correct pronunciation, etc. The waitress was about 17 and didn’t know what was happening while we all just sat there."


A pepperoni pizza with a golden crust sits ready to eat
Krblokhin / Getty Images/iStockphoto

3."We have a parents' Facebook chat for the parents in my daughter's class. One of the dads texted, 'I know that we both have families, but my heart wants you, and I keep seeing you in my sleep every night.' Clearly, he texted to the wrong chat."


4."I was home watching TV, and we had a huge indoor sliding glass door. We had a repairman over; he was walking fast with his face hanging down. He looked up right as I was trying to warn him and smashed face-first into the glass. He quickly opened the door and ran out, leaving his face printed on the glass. Omg, I died for him."


Close-up of a person's hand turning on a light switch
Ruslandashinsky / Getty Images/iStockphoto

5.I was at a dinner party when my friend's mother-in-law asked another one of our friends when her baby was due. She wasn't pregnant. Anyway, MIL should have simply apologized but instead doubled down with something to the effect of, 'It sure looks like you're pregnant.'"


6."A girl graduating from college fell repeatedly on the stage. She fell at least three or four times, like something invisible was sweeping her leg out from under her. Even she had a 'WTF' expression on her face."


Graduates in caps and gowns at a commencement ceremony
Rattankun Thongbun / Getty Images

7."There was a guy in college who walked into class late. The room had auditorium seating, and the only open spaces were in the fourth row in the middle (about 25 rows and about 50 seats per row). This guy walks in and sits down about 15 minutes into the lecture and opens his laptop, which, as soon as the lights boot up, starts BLARING porn (at the build-up to the big finale, to boot)! He couldn't log in fast enough to mute it or turn it off, so he slammed it shut, put it in his bag, and walked out with it still blasting at full volume. We heard it finally stop as he was about to leave the building."


8."We were at Denny's, and my dad was smacking the side of a ketchup bottle to get it to come out. He was so into his story that he hit the bottle too hard, and ketchup shot across the table onto the lady sitting to his left. She was wearing white."


Overturned ketchup bottle with sauce spilling out onto a white surface
Picsfive / Getty Images/iStockphoto

9."I walked in on my ex-boyfriend's mom having a swingers party. Everyone was naked. I stood still before processing what I saw, and then I ran away."


10."I didn't even have to be alive to be embarrassed for my mom when she was dating in her 20s. She was on a date with a guy she liked and ordered a salad because she didn't want to get anything in her teeth. Mid-conversation, she bit into a cherry tomato, and it exploded, squirted across the table, and blew out the candle in the middle of the table. I die every time I think about this."


A single candle with a wisp of smoke rising from its extinguished wick against a dark background
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

11."I went to an open house, and this older realtor was helping the listing agent. He was excitedly walking around this empty house and discussing features while looking back at my husband and me. He ran headfirst into the chandelier that would've been positioned over a dining room table had one been there. It happened so quickly we couldn't even warn him. He got tangled in it and ripped it down as he fell face-first to the ground, cutting himself up badly in the process. We both still cringe when we think about it. We saw him out at the supermarket recently, and both whispered, 'Oh nooooooo.'"


12."When I was a teenager, my mom sold our old couch on Craigslist. A local college student bought it, and she brought her dad to help load it into a van. He asked if he could use the bathroom before loading it up, and my mom said sure. He was in there for a long time — about 15 minutes. Finally, he emerges holding the bathmat crumpled up by the edges (like a dumpling). He just says he 'missed.' Without being prompted, he clarified that the bathmat contained poop rather than pee. The look on his daughter's face was indescribable. They still had to get the couch out."


Turquoise shaggy rug on a square-tiled floor next to a wooden door, contrasting textures
BuzzFeed / Julian Ward / Getty Images

13."I almost don't even want to write this down; it made me so uncomfortable! I was at a leadership course with about 150 NCOs in the military. A high-ranking officer (I think a colonel) was giving us a big motivational speech in an auditorium, and his nose was dripping, but it was a solid string that he somehow wasn't noticing. I want to say maybe he had blown his nose or used a tissue at the beginning, but then, as he was talking, this glistening snot string descended, sparkling in the spotlight. I was in the 10th row and could see it so clearly, and there was just no way to help him know so he could fix it. I've never seen anything like the holding power of this thing. It ended up being down at least 8 or 10 inches, just dangling."


14."I had a very awkward and nice professor who gave his lectures to our class of 200+ students with a microphone around his neck. One morning, right before class started, when almost everyone was there, he had to go to the bathroom. I'm sure you can see where this is going. Luckily, we only heard him go #1, but the microphone was good, and every sound (down to the zipper) echoed through the hall. We all just looked around at each other in shock and awkwardly laughed until he came back. No one said anything to him, and I hope no one ever did."


A diverse group of students attentively listening to a lecturer in a university classroom
Skynesher / Getty Images

15."I went to school for software development. It was a very difficult program with a high failure rate. We were chatting on the first day of the second semester, and a guy I knew from the program chatted with us. Now, in the first semester, he struggled. We all knew he struggled. I was kind of surprised to see him. We talked about grades, and he said, 'Oh wow, you guys saw your grades? How?' Yes, he'd gotten through the semester and never checked his grades. We pulled up the school website, he logged in, and we pointed him to the grades section. He asked, 'What do these Ws mean?' I looked over and saw he got a W in three classes, a grade lower than F. I'm like, 'Uh, that means you can't really be here right now. You should talk to the registrar's office.' He was honestly more confused than anything. He wandered off, and we never saw him again."


16."I was on a double date with a friend, and it was his first time taking this person out. Later, he told me he was holding in his farts the whole time. During a silent part of the movie, he sneezed and accidentally pushed out a massive fart that smelled awful. I had to fake a trip to the bathroom because I was crying from laughing so hard."


Two people in a cinema with popcorn, one person excited, another apprehensive
The Good Brigade / Getty Images

17."A girl went up in front of hundreds of people to accept an award, but all she heard was the name 'Olivia' and assumed it was her, but the actual winner was also named Olivia. When they realized they gave the award to the wrong Olivia (because the actual winner came up), this girl screamed, burst into tears, and ran off stage."


18."I was on the Tube heading into work, and it was the 9:00 a.m. rush hour, so the carriage was full. The doors were closing, and some lady tried to run to get on. The doors closed, and she slammed into them; they opened again, but she hesitated, then tried getting on again as the doors closed again and got caught in them AGAIN. She tried fighting through them for a bit, then gave up and stepped back onto the platform while everyone on the carriage watched silently. I cringed so hard."


Woman standing on a platform as a blurred train passes by
Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

19."I was at a museum, and a lady beside me leaned in for a closer look at something. She bonked her head straight into the glass. She thought nobody had noticed until she saw me laughing, and then she just about died."


20."I sat across from two ladies at lunch. When they got up to leave, the tablecloth had been sandwiched between one lady's thighs. The tablecloth pulled down her skirt to her knees as she stood up. Of course, the smashing of the dishes that fell called attention to anyone who had not noticed as she stood there in her undies, pulling up her skirt."


Elegant table setting with glassware and utensils for a formal dining experience
Giovanni Bortolani / Getty Images

21."In college, we had to introduce ourselves with a fun fact in my public speaking course, and this one girl introduced herself in a British accent, her fact being that she liked to talk that way because she loved to travel. This girl was in my department, so I knew she was from the tri-state area and not British. The professor asked her to repeat herself because he hadn’t caught what she’d said. Instead of taking the out, she said the whole thing again. Maybe it doesn’t sound that bad, but it still makes me cringe to this day."


22."Once, at a wedding, during the father-daughter dance, a young girl around 2 or 3 took off running across the dance floor. The dance floor was in the center of the venue, so she quickly attracted the crowd's attention. Her mother ran after her but only made it a few steps before she face-planted, and her dress flew up around her head. She was in my general vicinity, and everyone saw a grown woman's undies not 10 feet from the bride. I recoiled in my seat as if I had been the one who mooned the wedding."


People socializing in a banquet hall with a chandelier and vibrant ceiling light display
Vasko / Getty Images

23."A colleague of mine put in his two weeks. For context, he's a fairly attractive man. Well, this woman from HR (of all places) comes by his cubicle to wish him well, I guess? Anyway, she gave him a lap dance right there in front of the entire office."


24."In undergrad, in one of those huge auditoriums, I saw my professor trip over a cable, then stagger like 47 steps across the entire breadth of the room, collapse into the door, and fall to the ground outside with his butt up in the air, underwear yanked way up out of his pants. Damn, that was a theatrical fall."


Person tripping over an office power cord. Safety hazard highlighted
Cunaplus_m.faba / Getty Images/iStockphoto

25."I walked into the breakroom at work and caught two coworkers making out. They were both married, but not to each other. They both turned beet red, mumbled something about getting back to it, and hurried off. This breakroom was downstairs and involved going down some noisy stairs, so they were really into it if they didn't hear me coming. As I discovered later, they were not discreet, and I was the eighth person to catch them."


26."At a large pre-wedding rehearsal dinner, a close female childhood friend of the groom gave a speech. Although she didn't use the word 'love,' the gist of her speech was, 'I've always loved you [groom], and wish it was me marrying you.'"


Woman reading a card at an event, guests in the background, expressing joy and surprise
Martinedoucet / Getty Images

27.And: "I was in fourth grade at the elementary school spelling bee. One of the kids (near the front of the gymnasium and sitting on the floor) had an accident and left a puddle of pee on the floor. Before it could get cleaned up, a girl slipped in it and fell on her way to the microphone in front of the entire school."


Oooooof, I'm cringing so hard it physically hurts. Ouch. What's the worst secondhand embarrassment you've ever experienced? Tell us in the comments or submit anonymously using this form.

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.