Everyone tries to act professional at work, especially during important meetings with the higher-ups. But sometimes, in spite of our very best efforts, things go horribly wrong. From childbirth to an unexpected surprise in their pants, 31 people share the most memorable disruption they had during a meeting.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
1. The naked window washer
I had applied to a corporate job and was called in for an interview. While I’m entering the building, a high skyscraper with glass windows, I hear someone loudly arguing outside in what sounds like a foreign language. I’m in a rush so I don’t take the time to look.
Fast forward to halfway through the meeting. I’m talking about how I need the job and how I’m the right person for it or some such nonsense. Suddenly, a window washer rises into view at the window. He is completely naked. He stands there for a moment, in all his clothes-less glory, then smashes the window, breaking it all over the floor.
At this point we were all standing up, slightly terrified. He jumps inside and slides over the table in the style of James Bond and runs out the door.
Needless to say, the interview was postponed.
2. No use of phone while driving
We were having an all-hands meeting a couple of years ago, and several people (as always) had dialed in on the phone. They ask everyone to mute themselves, of course, but someone always doesn’t.
In the middle of our director addressing all 600 of us, you suddenly hear a car horn on the phone, followed by “STAY IN YOUR LANE, JERKWAD!” Director just stopped, laughed, and then said “As a reminder, it is strictly against policy for any employee to use their phone while driving a car.
3. Close call!
I was in Hamburg in a business meeting on a conference call with a team in New York.
All of a sudden the guys in New York say, “We have to go, there is a plane coming,” and they dropped the line. It took about 15 minutes before we all started getting texts that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.
Our guys were one floor below where it hit. We found out later that they all survived only because they booked it from our call straight down the stairs.
4. Crappy interview, indeed
I was in an interview for an internship after my junior year of college and I was feeling pretty confident, and definitely not all that nervous about it.
This changed, though, when my interviewer began glancing around and shifting uncomfortably. He was a pretty big guy, so every slight readjustment was fairly noticeable. It felt like there was something I had said or done that had suddenly made him visibly distressed.
I wondered what it was but I honestly couldn’t think of anything. Maybe I was a little too friendly with him? Could that be perceived as being a somewhat forward with a superior? The interview went on for five more minutes as I sat there and thought about what I could have possibly done that was so wildly out of line but that I hadn’t noticed at all.
Then, rather abruptly—in the middle of my speaking—my interviewer stood up, and promptly crapped his pants.
It seemed like he must have suddenly realized that he was dealing with a very time-sensitive situation, and was attempting to make it somewhere, but frenzied panic and the basic motor functions of standing up so quickly had simply forced it out. It was all very quick to be honest. One moment I was explaining how my time as a summer camp counselor had taught me valuable leadership and team work skills, and all within half a second my interviewer was on his feet standing in his own poop. This drastic shift in tonality left me completely speechless. I literally did not know how to respond to such a situation, my mock interviews in college had failed to prepare me for this particular situation.
I was just sitting there, frozen with my jaw basically on the ground, while he turned to his office mate and asked her to complete the interview, and then he waddled out of the room.
So long story short, she finished out the interview and I got the job.
5. The ink blot
We were in the middle of a presentation to an important client and my coworker, who was doing most of the talking, had a pen burst in his front shirt pocket. Now this wasn’t a huge leak but, it was a light colored shirt and everyone noticed. So he excused himself to take care of it.
Anyway, we carry on in his absence and he comes back not more than five minutes later and sits down. I turn to look at him and the small blob of ink has since been replaced by a huge, washed-out stain covering about half of his chest. It’s impossible not to notice, but we all do our best to keep it together and not laugh. That is, until someone says, “I can see your nipple.
6. A tragic interruption
I worked IT for a police department and was in a mid-shift briefing to trade out a couple of laptops for patrol cars. All of a sudden the radios all beeped twice and there was a notice that all officers were to report to “assigned school locations” in our local area. The officers took off en mass, clearly knowing what to do.
I just went back to my office because everyone took off so quickly that I did not get the computers that needed serviced. About a minute after that my manager came in and told me that I should come to the break room because there was a massive school shooting in progress. This was the Columbine Massacre.
7. The useless meeting
I had a crappy boss that loved meetings. In one of them her and this other guy got into a discussion and after about 15 minutes I said, “Can I leave? This has nothing to do with me and I have work to do.”
The other 20 people in the room thanked me privately and said they couldn’t believe I didn’t get fired.
8. So awkward
A woman in tactical purchasing answered her phone, which was on full volume, mid meeting with 2 vice presidents, 3 facility managers, and 3 dept heads present. She did not leave the room, and proceeded to discuss her child’s recent suicide attempt and current prescriptions for like 15 minutes. No one had the heart to interrupt her so we just sort of postponed the meeting until she finally hung up. Half the room had left by that point. Extremely awkward.
9. The mysterious complainer
Years ago, I was in a conference call with all our branch offices. Maybe 14 people in the room, and another dozen or so on the call. The co-owner is giving some talk. Right as he pauses, we hear over the conference speaker, Oh my God, this meeting is so stupid!
The co-owner is a very imposing gentleman, and you can tell his blood is boiling. “WHO SAID THAT!?” he screams. There’s dead silence in the room. “WHO SAID THAT!?” he repeats. Again, dead silence in the room and on the conference call. He eventually calmed down, even though no one admitted to the gaff. We think one our technicians simply forgot to mute his mic, but we were never able to figure out who it was.
10. So thats why they were late!
I was working for a popular restaurant in high school. There was a meeting at 8am on the first Saturday of every month. The only person absent was the head chef (male) and a line cook (female) both who had closed the night before. They walked in together halfway through the meeting, looking like they just woke up. The line cook had a condom stuck to her shoe. Everyone knew exactly what went on that night.
11. Good time to learn a lesson
One of my employees was dialing in from home and hadn’t muted his phone.
You could hear his dog occasionally barking in the background, a couple people chimed in, “Well, Rex clearly agrees with that decision. He didn’t get the hint.
Then one of his kids starts banging pots and pans together and he finally realized he should mute.
We’re a pretty relaxed bunch and it was an internal call (no clients on the line) so it was an OK time for him to learn that lesson.
12. No giving birth in the conference room!
Towards the very end of my pregnancy there were all sorts of jokes about who would do what IF I went into labor at work. All fun and games until I actually went into labor at our regular Wednesday meeting. Luckily, real life 1st kids take a lot longer to come out versus what you see on TV shows and movies.
Pretty memorable meeting for sure. My boss was relieved when I calmly got up and left to go to the hospital. I think he seriously thought the kid would be born right there in the conference room.
13. The accident
We were in our weekly meeting and heard a huge boom, similar to thunder, but louder and longer. Everyone ran to the window and the car detailing shop next to us was in flames and pieces of the building were strewn about everywhere. They evacuated our building and I got the afternoon off, and miraculously no one died.
14. Cat interruption
I was in a Skype meeting with work. I have one of those aftermarket cameras that perch on top of the computer monitor. My kitten, the fluffy spawn of evil, decided that it was a good time to try and eat the camera. Fortunately she did not succeed. Everybody at work knows my cat’s name now.
15. Worst timing
I was an intern at a fortune 50 company and they had all of us interns in the board room on a conference call with the head of recruiting and bunch of other interns nationwide. We all had our mics muted and were messing around but at some point someone unmuted mine.
I don’t remember what the context was but I started the Taken bit: “I don’t know who you are… I will find you and I will kill you”
Everyone in the room is laughing and all of a sudden the head of recruiting goes “Excuse me? Need I remind you this is a highly professional call and threats, no matter how they were intended, will be taken seriously.
We all went quiet and I kind of panicked but fortunately never got in trouble from any higher ups.
16. Not even disrupted
An exiting CTO who was leaving under some scandals. I started in the company while he took a month of sick leave after it was discovered he had bought equipment from our company to use for his personal business. He was apparently a pretty easy going guy, but as his time started dwindle, he became more impulsive and irrational.
One day, my boss was going over some stuff with us techs about some new procedure.
“So you see, this chart shows how we intend to integrate our–“
The CTO ran into the meeting room, Kramer-style, and drunkenly announced, “ANYONE… ANYONE WHO BUYS A DOMAIN IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY NEEDS TO SEE ME BEFORE THEY PAY WITH US FUNDS!! NOT. A. FINGER!!!” and then he paused, and ran out of the room.
“… so this integration will reduce time needed for cross-department approvals…” my boss continued, as if nothing had happened.
17. Meeting with 8 dogs
Worked at a dog-friendly office, and we had an all-staff meetingso about 20 people and probably about 8 dogs. HR is in the middle of a presentation, when a 30-lb dog (corgi mix, so long and skinny with short legs) jumps up in an office desk chair sitting up by itself towards the front and it starts spinning. And spinning. And spinning. It spun for over a minute and everyone lost it. The dogs face said WHATEVER. I’ve never laughed so hard in a meeting.
18. The screaming woman
I was at a school board meeting once for work. The board is moving through the agenda it the typical boring way when some woman got up and started screaming about how she has no kids and should not have to pay school tax. One of the board members was trying to tell her that the high rated public schools increased her home value, but nope she just kept screaming at the top of her lungs until the once super old security guard walked over and told her to leave or he would have to call the local police.
19. A surprise pair of underwear
I woke up late the morning of a very important meeting. I threw on the same clothes I had left draped over the chair from the day before and tore into the office at full speed. Miraculously I managed to make it in on time.
In the middle of the meeting I started to feel uncomfortable, like my pants were too tight. I tried to discreetly reach down the side of my pants to adjust things, only to find a big wad of fabric. Not knowing what it was, I gave it a tug… and… out came a pair of underwear. They had gotten stuck in the leg of my pants when I stripped them off the night before.
So there I am, in an important meeting, at a conference table, as all eyes turn to me, and I’m holding a pair of underwear in my hands.
So I shoved them back in.
20. The late group member
First year of undergraduate, we have a design course with an outside client so for most of us this is our first time dealing with the “real world”. Meeting with client, one group member is late but it’s going alright. Then the door opens, missing group member pokes his head in and yells “OH CRAP! and runs in to sit down. We all look at him funny and pretend nothing happened.
21. An uninvited manager
I once was in a private meeting discussing whether to hire an applicant. Someone realized they left a sheet of paper at their desk, got up and opened the door to go get it. As soon as the door was open an uninvited manager fell through the doorway; he’d been right outside pressing his ear against the door to listen in.
22. An emergency!
December 1999 and I’m expecting the birth of my second child. Now, the previous day we had the company Christmas party and I realized about halfway through that my wife had no way to contact me if needed. So this day I took the cellphone to work (those were the days eh, only one cellphone). But I made sure to tell her only to call only in an emergency.
So we’re in meeting to go over who is going to handle my work while I’m gone and the phone rings. My boss looks at me with eyes wide open ‘NO!!!’, and I sheepishly answer the phone :
This had better be an emergency.
My water broke.
23. Terrible news
Having a meeting in a college class. We had broken up into small groups to work on a project. About 20 minutes into class, a classmate of mine who had been down the hall runs in to say “There’s been a homicide on campus!!”
All I could think to myself was “I must be thinking of a different definition of homicide because there’s no way that’s what he means.”
A swat team quickly came in after. He was right.
24. Office disaster
I work on the top floor (technically top floor of the lower portion) of a high-rise. It had been raining heavily. During a meeting, we hear a HUGE crash and screams from outside the meeting room. We run out to see that a portion of the ceiling collapsed with streams of water pouring into the office like a waterfall. It barely missed an intern.
25. Breast pumping during a conference call
I was working for a finance company we had this compliance issue pop up. Problem is our legal counsel that normally dealt with that issue was on maternity leave. We were going to have to draft a letter, our alternate was a little out of their element so her boss gave her a call and she agreed to hop on a few calls and help us navigate this.
Me and her had a great working relationship kinda thing where you could say just about anything. I’d called her before hand to do a little pre work for the meeting we are chatting and she says her breast really hurt and she might need to pump during the call. I offer to push and she says no lets just get it over with. Conference call starts. Sure enough about 10 minutes in there is a low key swish swish sound. Totally minor if you’d ever heard a pump you’d know it, I’m sure nearly everyone on the call knew what it was no one said anything. 15 minutes in the director of the group that caused the issue finally calls in. Starts spouting off what needs to be done, largely covering stuff we’d already gone over and ends his opening rant with whoever’s got the washing machine can you just mute or better yet drop. VP who had been silent so far chimes in with “Doug we’ve got this, you can drop.
26. The seltzer water
I was pretty new to the company and was at my third or fourth department meeting. There was another manager there. A very attractive woman my age. Well she sits down at this meeting in a rush. She was the last to arrive. She was carrying a bottle of seltzer water with her to drink. She opens the seltzer and it explodes over the entire conference table. Soaking all of us. I laughed, she laughed, some others laughed and some didn’t. I’ll never forget it.
I asked her out about two months later. Now our daughter is a junior in high school.
27. This is Dave!
I worked at a law firm that was doing a meeting of the senior attorneys and their associates. Some of the senior attorneys were traveling and had to conferenced in. Here’s how that went:
Roger: “Okay, it looks like we’re missing Jim. Can someone get him on the phone?”
Tom: “I think I remember his number. I’ll call him on my cell.”
Tom dials number
Roger: “Hello, is this Jim? This is Roger calling about the meeting.”
Person on Phone: “No, this is Dave. Who is Jim?”
Roger: “Sorry. Looks like I have the wrong number.”
Person on Phone: “Yeah, looks like it.”
Dave hangs up
Tom: “Maybe I misdialed. Let me try again.”
Tom dials number
Roger: “Hey, Jim. This is Ro-“
Person on Phone: “No, Roger! I already told you my name’s Dave!”
28. The surprise layoffs
Where I used to work, we had a 9AM PT Wednesday morning meeting. It was that early because half the team was in California, half was scattered around the east coast, and one person was in Belgium. So, it was early for the west coast so it wouldn’t be too late for the guy in Belgium.
The main company office was in California. This was a mid-size start-up with the usual start-up culture, and so most people got in around 10:30. Usually the office was pretty empty for our meeting.
I was one of the remote attendees. At about 9:45, the CFO interrupts the meeting and awkwardly asks four of the seven people to come with him. Weird. Then a minute later, he comes back to the remaining three. He starts by apologizing and saying they were supposed to grab them when they came in, but they were the first ones in. He also apologized that he was about to tell them this as a group, but he wanted to lay it out: those three had been laid off.
Why do I know this? Because in the room, they had a shared document pulled up on the screen instead of the teleconference. The CFO didn’t know they were still broadcasting. Right after the CFO mentioned the layoffs, our Belgium attendee asked, “…so I’m guessing we should leave?” I immediately signed off when he said that so that they wouldn’t see that I’d waited that long.
29. The strange noise
I work for a tech company, in a group that is 80% women.
We were in the middle of a strategy meeting with our department director, second-level managers, and a couple of peons like me. I’m dialed in from a conference room with my boss and some other folks. Everyone’s supposed to be on mute, but for some reason the meeting leader didn’t mute all.
20 minutes into the meeting, someone is droning on about dependencies and risks and pilot requirements. I’m asking myself why I’m in this meeting. The speaker takes a breath to start her next point, and over the phone, a long, low, breathy moan echoes across the line. Like, the longest moan I’ve ever heard. Definitely a man.
The whole call holds its breath. I, 24 and fresh out of graduate school and in my first big job, stare at the conference speaker in mute surprise and hold in a giggle. As I’m trying desperately not to laugh, my boss cracks up and suddenly the line is a cacophony of women losing their minds with laughter.
After a minute or two, the call goes quiet, punctuated with stray giggles, and there’s an awkward pause. Our department director says, “Um, gentlemen, I believe one of you needs to be on mute.” Shuffling noise, then a beep.
It was a Webex call, so if someone had been looking at the participants list they would have seen who wasn’t on mute. I never found out.
30. Whoa, what!?
It was a government video conference call meeting. Coffee, tea and snacks had been provided on a small table. A lady gets up to get something and starts screaming that the cup was filled with hundreds of baby spiders.
31. A professional meeting turned horrid
In the middle of a meeting with a number of our bosses about the termination of one the three managers our department had, a coworker interrupted to demand we unionize. He tried to explain that the situation never would have happened if we had ‘the weapons necessary to protect ourselves from the public’ and that our wages weren’t competitive; neither of which had any relevance to the topic at hand. Two of the three bosses there (going fairly high up the ladder) had been personal friends with the manager who had been terminated, and the meeting was called to explain the situation and politely request that we not go the route of trying to ‘investigate’ or ‘dramatize’ the situation. It was quite reasonable, well intended, and handled appropriately. So basically, the next ten minutes turned into this horrible back and forth between the (increasingly frustrated) bosses and the (completely oblivious) coworker; wherein he demonstrated that he had no idea how unions work; had no idea how to unionize; had no idea that upper management (like the one who was terminated) wouldn’t be affected in the same way he would; had no idea that he was already being paid a wage far above what other companies are offering, plus excellent health coverage; and finally, had no idea what he even meant by ‘weapons to protect ourselves from the public’. It was the most awkward, horrible, and tense ten minutes I have ever spent in a meeting that started so professional and courteous. Other coworkers even tried to derail him and change the subject, but it just wouldn’t work.