People hear a lot of dumb things when they're at work. It makes sense, that's where everyone spends a pretty good portion of their time. Between idiotic customers and dumb co-workers, it's amazing how much stupid stuff some people witness. Sometimes, it's amazing that the people saying this stuff even got the job in the first place!
Here are all the best stories from people who thoughts "are you really that stupid?" at work. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I was a camp counselor for many years. Periodically during the winter, fellow counselors and I would meet up for drinks/dinner to catch up. So I was out to dinner with two girls I used to be on staff with and it's raining pretty hard outside. One of the girls, who was staring outside, looked back at us and said, 'Isn't it amazing that it's raining around the world right now... I mean like, it's raining in Rome right now.' Or something along those lines. It's important to note, that we were nowhere near Rome and there was no way she somehow checked the weather in Rome before she came to meet us. My other friend probed her for more info in order to try to grasp what was happening and it became apparent.
She literally thought that when it rained in one place, it rained around the globe simultaneously. It was mind-boggling. Local weather stations? Nope never heard of it. Different climates? Not a thing.
I lost contact with the weather-goddess a few years ago but I still see my other friend a couple times a year. No matter what the weather is, we reference this quote."
"Over one summer, I worked as an intern for fashion week. We had to give out IDs to all the models so security knew who to let in backstage. We had laid out the IDs alphabetically so it would be easier for everyone. One model came up to me and said she had been told to get her ID from me. I was going over some other paperwork I had to monitor so I said, 'Yeah, just go ahead and get it.'
She pointed at one and said, 'This one?'
The ID she was pointing at said Miguel. I asked her, 'Is your name Miguel?'
She shook her head. 'No, it's Abby.' I went through the pile of A's and handed her the right ID, all the while wondering how anyone could be so dumb."
"About 20 years ago, I was a project manager for a major US telecom. We had a very diverse team in place and had just settled a large integration project. As a reward for the completion of the project, we were being treated to lunch by our manager, a woman who graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. She was a decorated fighter pilot. She definitely wasn't someone I considered to be stupid or ignorant...until that day. One of the requested menu items was pizza. Since my immediate subordinate on the team was a devout Muslim, I told our manager that we needed to be sure there was no pork on his pizza. She said it was no problem since she was ordering pepperoni. I told her most pepperoni included pork and she started laughing. I looked at her funny and she asked if I was joking. I said, 'No, Sadiq is adamant about his diet. Pork is a big no-no for him.'
She shook her head and said, 'Who puts pork in a fruit?'
I said, 'I'm sorry, I thought you said pepperoni.'
She said, 'Yes...pepperoni...the fruit.' I was completely perplexed. After a few moments of silence, she said, 'You do realize pepperoni is a fruit, right? It grows on trees.'
I was so stunned by the statement, I didn't know what to say. Finally, I said, 'Pepperoni is meat. It's basically a sausage.'
She laughed and said, 'I don't know where you heard that, but pepperoni is definitely a fruit. There's no meat there.' After another awkward silence, I called one of my co-workers over to help me out.
I asked him, 'Does pepperoni contain pork?'
He said, 'Well, yeah...beef and pork.' Our manager started laughing again. This attracted the attention of a few other folks who were standing nearby and she was stunned at our collective ignorance regarding the origin of pepperoni since all of us were trying to convince her that pepperoni was, in fact, a meat product.
This was in the pre-Google era and it took a couple of days for someone to bring in a book that listed the ingredients of pepperoni. She was utterly confounded to think she was wrong. This was an educated woman in her mid-late 40's who had thought pepperoni was harvested from trees for her entire life until that point. She honestly thought it was a tubular fruit that was thinly sliced and put on pizza.
Sometimes you run into an argument that's so completely absurd, you don't know how to proceed."
"I once worked in a sandwich shop. A guy came in and went on a whole thing about how his cholesterol was too high. Then he made me scrape all the bread out of the roll and cram it full of mayo. He said that's how his doctor told him to do it.
I thought about trying to tell him he maybe had carbs confused with cholesterol but I was not going to argue with a customer and what he was pretending his doctor said."
"I work in a door factory. I put doors on a router, set them somewhere, and my coworker puts glass in it and sends it off. I usually get ahead of my coworker. In this instance, I had multiple piles with different orders. My co-worker asks which pile to start on, and I tell him the far right one. He goes for the one on the far left and I'm yelling at him, not that pile, the far right. He proceeds to go farther left and look for doors that aren't there.
I came to find out that this dude doesn't know his lefts or rights. I had to teach him the differences twice now. I showed him that trick you do with your left hand to make an L last time though, and he hasn't messed up since."
"My boss and I had to cover an event a few hours away, so we carpooled to the location. Now for a little backstory, I am decently well-traveled. My parents made it a point for us to go on vacation every year to a new national park or outdoors destination and we usually traveled by car. My boss was born and raised in the same town we work in. She only leaves the city to visit family in NYC which is about 1.5 hours away.
So we were driving from Massachusetts to Western Vermont. Once we get off the highway, there was nothing but farms everywhere. She was literally amazed by all the green grass, trees, horses, cows etc. Like alright, it was a little odd that a 30-year-old was amazed by this but she did grow up in the city so whatever. We were stopped at a railroad crossing for like a good 5 minutes and she was complaining about the holdup. I explained this was 100% normal and really wasn't a big deal. While we are sitting at the crossing, she noticed a sign that says how far towns are from the current location. Like Burlington 8, Dover 15 etc. Well, one of the towns had the same name as a town close to where we were traveling from.
She said and I quote, 'This is a really roundabout way to get to Ludlow, I mean you can just take 291 for like 5 minutes and you are there.' At first, I was like she has to be joking she couldn't seriously think that we were in Ludlow, Massachusetts.
So I responded with, 'I think that sign is for Ludlow, Vermont.'
She goes 'I didn't know that multiple states can have the same town names, isn't that confusing for the postal service?'
At that moment, I realized I work for an idiot."
"I worked as a bartender and had a bunch of rugby players come in. Each of them asked for a bottle of Budweiser and a bottle of Smirnoff Ice. They mixed them in pint glasses to make a 'turbo shandy.'
So, I asked why they were drinking that disgusting concoction. They explained that Budweiser is about 5% ABV and Smirnoff Ice is about 5% ABV so if you mix them together, it's 10% ABV and gets you wasted quicker.
I tried to explain the concept that if you mix something that is 5% with something else that's 5%, you get something that is 5%. They laughed at me for not being able to do basic maths. So I asked them if they mixed one bottle of Budweiser with another bottle of Budweiser, would that be 10%?
They told me of course not, because both of them are the same thing."
"When I managed a coffee shop, I told a girl to go clean the condiment counter, which had a toaster on it.
A few minutes later, I saw her holding the toaster over the sink while it was still plugged in. She asked, 'Can I just run water through this to clean it?'
On one hand, I'm very glad she asked. But, on the other hand..."
"I was a dispatcher for a soft drink distributor in our city in the late 80s. We had given each bottle truck driver new pagers. They displayed phone numbers or whatever you punch in. I gave my drivers a small card with codes - '4' meant to call me, '3' to call your SO, etc. This was a real time saver and the fellas loved them. I had this sweet-but-dumb employee. He was a huge corn-fed farm-boy type. Well, this employee could not get the hang of the tech, or the codes, anything. The entire thing was a magical mystery to him. So my standing order to him was, 'If your pager goes off, call me.' I would then give him his message over the phone. This became our system.
Fast forward to later that summer, and the State Troopers are calling me. This driver had wrecked his truck, spilling products all over the neutral ground on the interstate. The truck was ON ITS SIDE. My driver was ok and was asking to speak with me.
Turns out the pager had been accidentally switched to vibrate. He had it in his shirt pocket and had his arm on the windowsill as he was be-bopping down the interstate. I had paged him and he mistook the vibration for a bee that he thought flew in his sleeve. His subsequent panicked thrashing wrecked the truck. All of this was figured out by the Troopers, who were beside themselves laughing. Free product for everyone on site. It got cleaned up right quick.
I had the maintenance department glue the button on his pager so it could not be switched to vibrate anymore."
"This was more than 10 years ago before cryptocurrency existed. I was working at a call center, making reservations for a dinner and show type place. If they reserved online or over the phone, they had to prepay. I had a phone customer ask, 'Can I pay with cash over the phone?'
I asked this customer if I heard them correctly. She verified that yes, she would like to pay with cash over the phone. There was nothing but seriousness in her tone. I informed her she could pay with cash at the box office, however, over the phone I could only accept a credit card. I did not laugh at her or make her feel stupid but inside, I was dying."
"When I was in the Army, I had a soldier that was a very good human being but was in no way, shape, or form a good fit for the military. He was clumsy, unathletic and generally a goof.
I tried to get people on my team to teach classes to the rest of the team. I found it helped them build confidence in their skills and taught everybody else stuff they might not know as well, so it was win-win. For example, I had one person teach basic first aid. I had my SAW gunner go over tearing his weapon apart and cleaning it and putting it back together. etc. Basic stuff like that. I asked this private what he wanted to teach, and he's like, 'I don't really know, Sergeant.' I asked what he's good at and he was like 'History? Or I could do hacky sack.' Again, a good guy, just a goof. Then he said the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life.
We had a dress uniform inspection every month. You'd get your Class A uniform ready (clean and pressed, medals on, brass polished, etc) go outside in formation. You'd wear it for about 15 minutes and then do the whole thing over again next month. The night before the inspection, I walked through my soldiers' rooms and inspected their uniform to make sure everything was in order and nothing was missing. I had to take another guy to an appointment three hours away that morning. 10 minutes before the inspection is supposed to begin, I get a phone call from the guy and he drops this bomb on me: 'Sergeant. My pants don't work.'
I said, 'What are you talking about? How do they not work?'
He said, 'I can't close them.'
I asked, 'Did you get fat this month? I saw you wearing them last month. I saw you wear pants yesterday. What exactly is the problem?'
He told me, 'They're not working. I can't get them closed and I think my dry cleaner sewed my pockets upside down.'
'HOLD UP. Your pockets are upside down? Are your pants inside out?' I asked.
Him: 'I don't think so, Sergeant. I'm not that dumb.'
Me: 'Humor me and check.'
Him: 'Not inside out! I told you!'
Me: 'Okay. Try putting your hands in your pockets and pushing them all the way down.'
Him: 'Should I take the stuff out of them?'
Me: 'Please do.'
Him: 'Woah Sergeant, it worked. My pants work again. I have to go. Inspection and all.'
Me: 'I'm aware.'
Dude's pockets flipped upside down to the inside of his waistband and he had them so full of stuff that he couldn't close his pants. He was 21 years old. I'm still absolutely in awe that the army saw fit to give him a grenade launcher."
"In the early 2000s, I worked at a news station. One of our morning reporters would take press releases from the AP, paraphrase them, and do a health report segment. She went on and on about a promising new cancer treatment called 'Placebo.'
I was running the camera or floor directing at the time, so I was only a few feet from her. I'm pretty sure our viewers could hear me trying unsuccessfully not to laugh."
"A former co-worker of mine and I were walking through a department store during the holidays. There's an area dedicated to ugly sweaters and one had the Star of David all over it. My co-worker points to it and says, 'Oh, isn't that sweater for that Jewish holiday? What's it called? Holocaust?'
I wish her the best."
"A customer came in for an oil change. The technician had used the odometer button to reset the maintenance light which left the odometer on Trip A. The customer picked up her vehicle and came back inside, in a rage, claiming we took her Rav4 out for a joyride.
She honestly believed we racked up 20,000 miles in 1 hour because the trip A mileage read 60,000 and she had 40,000 miles on the odometer. Yup. We drove at 20,000 mph for an hour while you were waiting in the lobby. It took me 15 minutes to explain to her how impossible that was and how the trip odometer works. She was STILL upset."
"I'm a bartender. We had a morbidly obese regular who would come in five nights a week and drink at least eight pints of Guinness. Guinness is about 250 calories a pint. He told me one night that he had no idea why he was fat because he didn't eat all that much. I told him it was probably all the Guinness he drank.
He looked at me like I'd grown an extra head and told me that drinks can't make you fat, only food could."
"I once worked at an Italian restaurant with a girl who was about 16 or 17 at the time. The kitchen was always really hot because of the 500+ degree pizza oven. We were all extremely warm to the point of complaining. The girl in question opened Snapchat and was in disbelief that Snapchat said it was only 68 degrees in the kitchen.
I had to explain to her that Snapchat pulls weather info from the internet, and your phone doesn't have a built-in thermometer..."
"My co-worker didn't believe in whales. She thought they were mythical creatures and that there had only been a few sightings of them that were hoaxes, like the loch ness monster or bigfoot or something. We stared in disbelief before patiently explaining they were real. We told her she could go on a whale-watching tour today and see them in literally every ocean. We showed her videos and pictures, etc. I actually felt pretty bad for her, as she was in tears after a while and some other co-workers were making fun of her right to her face.
Amazingly, she was home-schooled in a pro-churchy, anti-science household. She somehow made it through college, though."
"I was working IT in a hospital a couple years back. This is a true story of what happened there:
I went to one of the offices because we had gotten a call about a computer not turning on. We would get them all the time, so this wasn't unusual. 95% of those calls were 'user error' to put it nicely, so already I was expecting bad... But not this bad.
I get there and she is correct, the computer will not turn on at all. I first check the plug. It's in the wall, looks fine in the back of the computer. So I ask 'what were you doing at the time this computer stopped working?' To which she responded with, 'Well, I was using the water cooling feature because I thought it was too hot.'
Now, as a little of exposition, this model of computer had a fan port on the top of the machine that somewhat resembled a funnel. When she said 'water cooled' she pointed to this fan port.
'...None of the computers here are even water cooled.' When I walked back to my desk with the now sloshing computer, my fellows in the IT department were perplexed why I pulled the machine without approval... Until I poured out the water into a trash-can."
"I was supposed to train a new junior at my firm. He showed up at 11:30AM (work day starts at 8 AM) on his first day. When he sat down, I asked him what was up. He said 'Am I late?' and I said everyone gets in at 8 AM.
'Oh, I'm so sorry, but I won't be able to come in earlier than 10.'
No reason was given.
Sadly, I do not have the authority to fire someone and my boss was out for the day, so I stuck with him. At lunch, he arrives back half an hour late.
At 3 PM, he starts packing his bag. I ask where he's going. He said home.
I told him that he had to work the full eight hours. He refused and left. He said no one still works an eight-hour day. I promptly left my boss a voicemail, and when new guy strolled in the next day (at 10:30), the boss fired him on the spot.
Apparently this 22-year-old guy has never worked a day in his life. It was shocking. He thought that working less than three hours was appropriate."
"I spent a few summers diving removing invasive plants from lakes that rich people lived on. As a diver it was my job to hand pick every darn plant I came across and placed in a mesh bag. When the bag was full, I would go to the surface and hand it to my co-worker (who was in a kayak) who would then dump it in a very large rowboat. The main person who worked with us, was on vacation, so this girl filled in for him. Near the end of the day, my and the other two divers were waiting on the surface of the water waiting for the person in the kayak to kayak back to our boat that we used and pick us up, along with all of our gear. I had my back turned to the direction that the boat would be coming from. This was my third year doing this and never had an issue with boats getting too close. Well it turns out the girl did not know how to drive a boat that well, and ran me over going about 25 mph. Luckily, the engine missed me, and I only needed 6 staples in my head to close the gash. I don't remember much other then parts of the car ride to the hospital, as she gave me my 5th concussion. This was all on the first day of her employment and her last. About 6 months later I saw the girl at a small party, and she acted like nothing ever happened and tried making small chit-chat.
O...When she hit me I lost a bunch of my dive gear, I was holding my fins and mask, which I just spent over 200 bucks on, which she never offered to pay back."