The question on reddit was simple: “What’s the most awkward situation you’ve ever been in with a stranger?”
Being in awkward situations is a nightmare scenario for many people. They would do anything to avoid awkwardness with somebody they don’t know. My question: why?
If you just LAUGH immediately at the situation, and acknowledge the inherent humor of it all, the entire situation is diffused. No weird anxiety. And if the other person or people don’t laugh, oh well. That’s on them. Yes, yes… easier said than done, but this method has been working for me for years and it hasn’t failed me yet.
Still, it’s fun to read when things went super awkward for others, so here are 15 of the best from that Ask Reddit thread.
1. “This set off the assault alarm…”
On the first day of my new job, I was in the elevator going up five floors.
As the doors were closing, a girl barged through and thumped her backpack down.
This set off the assault alarm in the external pocket of her bag.
2. “I found him half in a cupboard, soaking wet, with his hand on a burst water pipe.”
While my dad was out of the country, there was a major leak from the water tank in the loft which caused serious damage to the property, including a hole in the ceiling.
I called a repair guy. While he was working on the leak, I heard a huge “boom,” followed by a string of expletives before he called for help. I found him half in a cupboard, soaking wet, with his hand on a burst water pipe.
I ended up having to help. This involved me climbing up to the loft (in a short dress and stockings while he was basically laid on the floor underneath the ladder) and trying to turn off the water from there. This didn’t work, so we ended up switching places so he could professionally investigate.
Swapping places involved me getting soaking wet, and having to press up against the guy to minimize the risk of further damage.
3. “…he gave me a REALLY strange look when I walked in.”
My girlfriend and I were eating with some friends and I needed to go to the bathroom. It was open, so I walked right on in.
The room was pretty big, with a urinal and sink on one side, and a toilet on the opposite side. There was a guy in at the urinal and he gave me a REALLY strange look when I walked in.
I went on over to the toilet, went #1, then totally realized I was in a SINGLE PERSON BATHROOM.
By that point, the guy had hastily run out after finishing his business. I took care of my own affairs and had to do the walk of shame past him as I walked back to my table.
I told my significant other later that night and she thought it was hilarious.
4. “…I saw her jacket and reached over to grab her.”
At an art studio in LA, my girlfriend was wearing a denim jacket.
As we looked at a piece together, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her jacket and reached over to grab her.
A sudden “Oh!” could be heard from beside me and a woman 30 years older than me was just standing there, blushing.
I told her I thought she was someone else, then ran away to my girlfriend.
A few minutes later, the lady found us to talk about young love and how cute we were together.
5. “Do you have a large Woody?”
My son had small Toy Story figurines but wanted big ones for Christmas.
I walked into Toys R Us and asked the male clerk, “Do you have a large Woody?”
He turned bright red.
I wheeled around, marched out and didn’t go back for months.
6. “See this nice man? You should go on a date with him!”
I serve in the Air Force. One time, I got injured at work and had to go to the hospital. Nothing serious; I just dinged my finger super hard ( and messed up the ligament).
When I got to the hospital, I walked through the front door, still in uniform. Some nice older man came up to me and thanked me for my service. I told him I appreciated his support, and then he abruptly asked me if I was married.
As soon as I told him no, he turned to a random woman walking by and said something along the lines of: “See this nice man? You should go on a date with him!”
At first, I thought maybe he knew the woman, but by the shocked look on her face, I could easily tell he did NOT know her. She stopped for a moment and he asked her again. She just went wide-eyed, kind of stuttered for a moment and then bee-lined it for the door.
I really didn’t know what to say.
7. “Probably only 5% of them knew of my existence.”
I was adopted at birth. I learned who my birth family was in when I was in my early 30s. I met one of my sisters, but nobody else yet.
My sister told me that our grandpa was going to be taken off life support and that he wanted to talk to me before he died. We traveled to the hospital, which was several hours away. We met our mom in the hospital lobby for the first time ever, then went into grandpa’s room together. All of our family members were there to say their goodbyes.
Probably only 5% of them knew of my existence. Suddenly, all the attention was on me, the stranger. They had me kneel by his side as he apologized through tears for pressuring my mom, who I just met, to give me away for adoption years ago. People looked pretty shocked. The experience flooded me with a thousand emotions, and awkward was definitely in there somewhere.
8. “He then let out giant flatulence.”
I was at a wedding reception and went to use the bathroom. I was standing at the urinal when a guy came up to me.
He then let out giant flatulence.
“Oof, check out the smell of this! Whew! You gotta let ‘em out here and not by those girls, you know?”
And I just go “Ha! Yep,” and walk out.
I felt very uncomfortable.
9. “Then, her mother raised the girl’s right arm to show me…”
I worked at the entrance gate to a theme park. We used a biometric scanner to verify the identities of our season pass holders. They would scan their pass, then scan their right index finger to get in.
One day, a little girl walked up with her family, who only spoke Spanish. She scanned her pass and then placed her left finger on the scanner.
I asked her, “Could you use your right finger sweetie?”
Then, her mother raised the girl’s right arm to show me she didn’t have a right hand.
Seemed to be due to a birth defect rather than a horrific accident.
10. “…I immediately assumed it was some kind of monster.”
I went for a bike ride in my neighborhood at about 12 a.m. It was pitch black other than a couple of streetlights that were lit every 5 or 6 houses.
I was kind of just zoning out, enjoying the fresh air, when something moved in the corner of my eye. I turned my head to look, and I immediately assumed it was some kind of monster. I let out an extremely loud, bloodcurdling scream in the middle of the night in a silent suburban neighborhood. The mysterious figure turned out to be a blond soccer mom, who screamed right back at me.
I zipped past her on my bike, yelling, “Oh my god I’m so sorry!” over and over again until I got off the street.
11. “All 320 pounds of him came down on top of me…”
I’m a pediatric nurse, but we “float” to other floors when we have more nurses than we need. One time, I was sent to an adult floor to work as an assistant since theirs had called in sick.
An older male patient called out asking for help to get up to the bathroom. He stood, tried to pivot, and his newly operated knee gave out. All 320 pounds of him came down on top of me and we laid there for almost an hour. I had closed the door for privacy, and neither he nor I could yell loud enough to get anyone’s attention.
My phone was 10 feet from me on the floor after it fell out of my scrubs and it rang incessantly. Finally, the other assistant came to find me. The patient was fine since he fell on me, but I was sore for a week. We were nose to nose the whole time and boy was it awkward.
12. “We were so unnerved we ended up holding one another…”
I discovered, whilst at the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, that I am terrified of heights.
A Norwegian woman was having the same experience. We were so unnerved we ended up holding one another and bumping down the spiral staircase on our backsides.
We parted ways at the bottom without a word or a backward glance.
13. “Instead of jumping into my arms, he started recoiling back…”
One time, I was at a dog groomer’s to pick up my dog. He’s fairly small and white. Usually, he just gets a short trim, so that’s what I always expect to see.
I walked up to the counter and requested for my dog. The clerk told me he’d be out in a moment. 30 seconds later, an attendant walked out to the lobby from the back door with a dog that immediately ran to me.
“Hey, buddy!” I said as I walked up and attempted to pick up him. Instead of jumping into my arms, he started recoiling back and gave me a nip. An old man behind me then asked, “Hey, is that your dog?” Thinking that was a pretty weird question, I responded, “Yep!”
At that point, he said, “I don’t think so mister, that’s my dog.” When I took a closer look, I realized the dog looked exactly like mine after grooming.
My face went completely red and the whole lobby started laughing.
14. “Thanks! Hope you find a friend soon!”
I was with my mom buying flowers at a florist for a New Year’s Eve party. The florist was obviously a very lonely woman and wouldn’t stop going on about how she wasn’t doing anything for New Year’s. My mother really felt for her.
One thing to know about my mom is that every now and again, she has a tactless episode and accidentally says what she is thinking out loud. That day was one of those rare days.
After paying for the flowers, my mom said, “Thanks! Hope you find a friend soon!” I looked at her in shock, and my mom gasped. She apologized immediately and literally backed out of the store.
It was so awkward.
15. “…and a bag of other unknown substances.”
In Denver, Colorado, I met some man with a giant suitcase full of stolen clothes and a ripped backpack that he asked me to carry. We stopped to take a break because the suitcase was like, 100 pounds.
Then, he told me to check out what was in the backpack. I unzipped it to find a bunch of over-the-counter pills and a bag of other unknown substances.
When he asked me if I wanted to try some, I just gave him his bag back and went away.
Large Woody… heheheheh.
He said Woody.