No one thinks of themselves as a screw-up. We’re all the heroes of our own stories. Even when we screw up, it’s human nature to blame someone else — there’s always something outside of our control that kept us from being our best selves; the radiant example of perfection we all know, deep down, we are.
But sometimes, our mistakes are so very, very bad we have no choice but to shrug our shoulders and say, “today, I messed up.” And I’d argue that it’s that level of humility that makes the Redditors who post on the Today I Messed Up subreddit the true heroes.
When you can take a mistake and really, honestly say “yo, this one’s on me,” you’ve can a) start to grow, and b) make strangers on the internet laugh about that mistake, and maybe even go, “Hey, glad that wasn’t me.” And so, here are some truly brave (and also hilarious) stories about people’s biggest screw-ups.
Earlier this year, AncestryDNA had a sale on their kit. I thought it would be a great gift idea so I bought 6 of them for Christmas presents. Today my family got together to exchange presents for our Christmas Eve tradition, and I gave my mom, dad, brother, and two sisters each a kit.
As soon as everyone opened their gift at the same time, my mom started freaking out. She told us how she didn’t want us taking them because they had unsafe chemicals. We explained to her how there were actually no chemicals, but we could tell she was still flustered. Later she started trying to convince us that only one of us kids need to take it since we will all have the same results and to resell extra kits to save money.
Fast forward: Our parents have been fighting upstairs for the past hour, and we are downstairs trying to figure out who has a different dad.
And thank god they came back with an update.
Update: CHRISTMAS ISN’T RUINED! My mess up actually turned into a Christmas miracle. Turns out my oldest sister’s father passed away shortly after she was born. A good friend of my mom’s was able to help her through the darkest time in her life, and they went on to fall in love and create the rest of our family. They never told us because of how hard it was for my mom. Last night she was strong enough to share stories and photos with us for the first time, and it truly brought us even closer together as a family.
The overhead fan in our bedroom uses one of those compact halogen light bulbs. Six years ago, the bulb burned out and got really dim, just barely a glow. I bought a replacement bulb but when I put that one in it was also barely lighting up so I realized the unit was bad.
The fan still worked GREAT, it literally is the best fan I’ve ever had. I didn’t really want to replace it even though our bedroom doesn’t get much natural light so it is pretty dark.
I am definitely picturing this man as Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.
Over the years, my wife and I have had to make due with no overhead light. We open the windows during the day, and at night use a combination of bedside lamps and the bathroom light. I keep some flashlights up there for when we are cleaning or looking for something etc.
After six years of living in the dark, this winter I just decided I would replace the damn thing. But before I did, I decided to try one last time with another bulb because, however unlikely, it’s possible BOTH bulbs I had tried were bad.
That would fit almost too closely, right?
So I’m up there installing the new bulb, grab the remote (the fan has a remote) and as I’m turning the light on I realize:
The goddamn thing is dimmable.
For six g years we lived with the inconvenience of no overhead light and the whole time it was just because the damn thing was set to “dim”.
While I was in a shop with a roommate a few weeks ago, he saw these really cool shawls that we both couldn’t get out of our heads; he returned last weekend to buy them and now we have these shawls. Mine makes me look like a Star Wars character and his looks like the Outlaw Josey Wales, these are seriously awesome shawls.
The first night we wore them, everybody at the bar thought they were awesome as well. Then this girl and her friend arrive on invite from Shawlbro, and they are seriously turned off by our sweet shawls. Then I get a call from my girlfriend. She’s tired and wants to hang out at mine, and so I bid these mean girls and Shawlbro adieu and head home.
I’m still wearing the shawl when my GF arrives and she’s also really taken aback, she won’t even kiss me until I take it off. The next morning she starts asking me if I’m gay. And she’s really serious and aggressive about it.
I tell her I’m not gay, that if I was I’d definitely know if by now, and she counters with her major evidence of the fact that I own a shawl. She gets weird and leaves, and then sends me a text later about how she “needs to think about what kind of man” she wants.
Yesterday I invite her out, she’s stumbling over her words and talking about how she likes tough guys, and eventually, I just tell her very politely to get f-ed because I’m pretty insulted by this point. On the way back, now that I’m not directly in front of her, I get this long apologetic text from her but the crux of it is that yeah, she’s just not that into me anymore because I wore a shawl.
Later on, I tell Shawlbro about this, and he also had a blowout with the girl he was seeing over his shawl that very same night we went out.
We are both going to keep wearing the shawls. They are warm.
My dentist is a very nice and professional man. Our first appointment was going pretty smoothly until he made some innocuous remark about us “being strangers.” My immediate reply was “oh, you’re not a stranger! You’ve been inside of my mouth for 20 minutes!” I did NOT intend to make a sexual joke. His face turned red and he was clearly embarrassed but he continued on like a true professional.
I had my second dentist appointment today. I actually mentally prepared myself to be a model patient who didn’t say anything weird, but he had been working in my mouth for about five minutes when he started to seem really uncomfortable. His face was red and he was breathing a little heavier. I was a bit concerned and also confused.
He keeps working in there and then I realize what the hell is happening. My dentist was wearing grape-flavored gloves. I had been absentmindedly licking his fingers the whole time. Never going back.
My son has autism (level 1, previously called Asperger’s) and due to that he has multiple psychologists and doctors. We decided to get a new primary doctor who works closely with his other providers to better coordinate his care this past summer. I brought my son in for a standard “well child” visit, and spent nearly an hour with this new doctor going over his issues, and medications, history etc.
Toward the end of the visit she says to me, “Well, he can get the gardasil vaccine today,” to which I reply, “Oh, no he can’t have that, I don’t want him to get autism.”
I should maybe note here that while I think my sarcasm is on point, I must have been a little too serious-looking because she just stared at me. The silence lasted an eternity while I imagine she was deciding how to proceed. Eventually I laughed and tried to assure her I was only kidding, but she only returned a nervous sounding chuckle and left the room.
As my son and I were discussing whether I was offensive (he thought I was hilarious) in walked the nurse with a stack of information about vaccines. He started his lecture about vaccine safety and potential risks, etc. and no amount of my assurances that we are not in fact anti-vax would stop him. He just kept saying, “Okay, well I have to tell you this,” in a way that suggested that the doctor told him to give me the full spiel.
My friend Jenna moved into a nice, new condo last month and I finally got a chance to check it out for the first time today. I ended up arriving before she got home from work so she told me to let myself in with the spare key under the potted plant and to make myself comfortable. I did, and I made myself a sandwich.
So I was meandering around eating and checking out her swanky new place when the front door opened and a really large and unfamiliar man with a duffel bag came in. Dude was intimidating and I’m a 4’11” woman so I was immediately scared. He looked shocked to see me. I’m looking at his duffel bag and realizing that I surprised some piece of crap burglar! I panicked and threw my sandwich at his face and then locked myself in the bedroom.
I’m shaking and he pounds on the door yelling at me to get out. I start screaming at HIM to get out and that I’m calling the police (total bluff because I didn’t have my phone). He then yells back that HE is calling the police on ME. This gives me pause.
At this point, I look around and realize the bedroom I’m in definitely appears to be of the male persuasion. I ask him through the door if he knows Jenna (last name). He tells me yes, she is his next door neighbor. WELL. Apparently, Jenna’s neighbor ALSO keeps a spare key under a potted plant.
So, today I let myself into my friend’s neighbor’s place, smacking him in the face with his own sandwich and then screaming at him to get the fuck out of his house.
There’s this girl I like at work, and we’re really good friends. We’re having lunch and we’re making those ironic depression meme jokes as most friends do. For some reason I (in my unknowingly- stupid way to get her laugh) got the idea to say “Well hey, you know what’s just one letter away from sad? DAB!” and promptly did the deed. Also I have ability to cry on demand so I just stared stone-cold her and let two tears fall down.
She finds it funny. Extremely funny. So funny she drops to the floor and starts laughing her *ss off. After a good 30 seconds she starts grabbing her chest and coughing. I asked if she was okay when she starts wheezing and begins to convulse a bit. Freaking out and thinking she’s having a damn seizure, I start to reach for my phone.
And in the exact second, my manager randomly decides to come in and sees this big guy towering over this poor little girl on the floor.
I only manage to cut off my manager’s impending rage by saying I think she’s having a seizure and I’m calling 911. Fortunately, I was able to explain to her what happened after the ambulance came.
Turns out she has asthma, and my joke caused a flare-up, and was waving her arms to try to tell me to get her inhaler. Whoops.
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Today I sold my bitcoin at a bitcoin ATM. I go home and order some pizza, take some money from my wad, and put it in a pile on the table next to me. The total was like 20 dollars, so I put down 23.
The pizza delivery girl knocks and I grab the wad of all the money, not the $23 stack. I give it to her and she starts crying she keeps saying “are you sure? You don’t know how much this is going to help me.” Freaked out, I say okay and just rush inside.
Right now after waking up being passed out I realize what I’ve done — gave away all my bill money for this month lol.
A friend-of-a-friend has apparently been into escape rooms for a while now, and finally decided to create his own as a Halloween party experience for his friends.
Since I don’t know him, and wouldn’t realistically be coming to the party, I agreed to take part in a test along with three other random folks that had been gathered for the dry run.
It ended up being a group of four people who totally didn’t know each other at all, as opposed to a cohesive group of friends. Immediately at the start of the game, everyone got quiet and started looking around slowly. The escape room was history-themed — photos of historical figures and explorers on the walls, a cheap dollar store style globe on an end table, and so on. Lots of books stacked around.
The first thing I did was look at the combination lock on the door, which had four numbered rollers. I put in the first relevant number I thought of, 1492, the date Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas.
Things got a thousand times more awkward. I apologized and explained the situation to the host, who told me to sit down for the duration, re-locked the door, and asked the remaining guests to figure out where the combination was hidden. The host was incredibly angry, but only in so much as I could hear it in his voice and see it in how he moved (mainly closing and re-locking the door hard).
So last Thursday night I saw everyone tagging their step dads in the Budweiser commercial. Without watching it, I sent it to my stepdad. About an hour later my step dad and mom call me and ask if I’m hinting at something. My step dad is like I know you had intent.
As someone who never does anything with intent, this is terrifying.
I’m like HUH??? OMG IN THE COMMERCIAL THE ADULT CHILDREN ARE ASKING THEIR STEPDADS TO ADOPT THEM. So he starts crying, thinking I want this. Now I can’t tell him that I didn’t mean to. Friday he squeezed me so tight and said he wants me take his name and make it official. Etc etc. all I can think is wow that sounds like a huge hassle. But I can never say anything about it being an accident. So like now I’m being adopted and changing my name.
Human relationships are complicated. How do you set boundaries with friends? How do you break up with someone you still love but know would be better off without you? How do you choose a fork to eat your salad with when you’re eating at a rich person’s house and they set out, like, 14 forks?
That’s what advice columns are for. Here are some of the most jaw-dropping, uncomfortable, horrifying, and outrageous questions ever asked of advice columnists.