For an unfortunate number of people, there’s a little complex we like to call “foot-in-mouth” syndrome. Even if you don’t mean to say something insensitive or silly, people everywhere just can’t seem to help themselves. These people were on the receiving end of said phenomenon by getting asked these terribly insensitive questions.
#1 In Your Situation
I broke my back when I was a teenager and am now paralyzed from the waist down. I remember this one time when a girl from school asked me, "Are you planning on end your life?" Completely dumbfounded, I said no and asked her why she thought that about me. She then said, “It's just… if I was in your situation…”
#2 Are You Sure?
When sitting my dad and stepmom down to tell them I was diagnosed with an awful illness. "Are you sure? You're always over-dramatic like your mother. She watched too many soap operas." Then the following months, after treatment and major surgery, they told people I wasn’t sick and I faked it. They were there for the major surgery and the treatments. So I get asked by family, “Did you really fake your illness?" Like, wow.
#3 You’re Being Inappropriate
They asked how a criminal took my daughter’s life. I said a knife. They then said, "But I mean, how? You found her, tell me how. What did she look like? Was she tortured?" This was not a member of law enforcement; they don't ask questions like that. This was a stranger who saw our story on the news and came up to me in a crowded public place when I was with my older daughter and newborn grandson.
I responded very loudly that her questions were inappropriate. She came up to me, talking super loud that she saw us on the news so she got everyone’s attention. I figured I’d speak loud enough for everyone to hear in case any of them didn't know it was rude to ask things like that they'd learn that day.
She then walked away. She took a picture (I heard her camera go off as she pointed it at us) then called someone and proceeded to loudly tell them she talked to us. I wish I could say she was the only inconsiderate person we've dealt with, but sadly I can’t. I will say we’ve had more positive interactions with strangers than negative.
#4 Bad Timing, Lady
I caught my girlfriend of four years with someone else. After weeks of self-loathing, I decided to try and rebound. I ended up sleeping with a girl who always tried hitting on me when I was still in my relationship. While in bed, she asked (in what was an attempt at being sexy), “How does it feel knowing someone who you told you loved every night was doing this with someone else?”
#5 Her First Question
The first time I met my fiancé's aunt, she mentioned that I was part Mexican. After she said that, her aunt's first question was, "Are you here legally?" I answered with my Pennsylvania accent, "Yeah, I was in born Delaware County, PA. My family background is just Mexican..." I really wasn’t expecting that from her.
#6 Open-Mouthed Smile
When I was 16, I got asked by some random guy at my aunt’s house if I knew that I was prettier when I wasn’t smiling. I’ve always been self-conscious of my teeth and he made it so much worse. I grew up poor so my parents weren’t able to pay for braces. As much as I hate my teeth, other things always came up first. I’m 28 now and still hate them but will at least smile in some pictures.
#7 What What You Eat
I got back from the bathroom at a restaurant. My mom asked, in front of my family, “Do you go into the bathroom to throw up after you eat?” She spent many years of my life telling me I was too skinny, I don’t eat enough, etc. I was borderline underweight for a long time because of an untreated thyroid condition, but since that incident, my mom has gaslit me about the body-shaming she used to encourage in me and the people around me. I’ve only been conscious of what I eat after that.
#8 National Holiday
“Are you going to make your sister’s passing a national holiday?” This was because my sister passed at 43, the first significant loss ever in my life. This was the one year anniversary and I knew it would be hard for me, so I requested the day off of work. My co-worker said she knew about 30 people who had passed since she was 14 and asked me that question. I used to put up with her weird quirks, but from that day on I hated her. I also didn’t remain friendly with her.
#9 Don’t Come Back
My parents had a restaurant and they hired this sweet little 14-year-old who was super keen to work. She had a birth deformity in her hands that left her with one thumb and one finger on each hand. She would deliver the plates one at a time (for obvious reasons). A rude old man obviously didn’t look at her hands and lectured her on how, if she wants to succeed as a waitress, she needed to learn to carry multiple plates.
After that, she nodded, was polite and continued to wait on them. My dad didn’t want to embarrass her further by making a big deal in front of her, but when the table left, he followed them out and informed the rude old dude about her hands. All of his family were super embarrassed and they haven’t ever come back.
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#10 A Mom’s Beliefs
"Why didn’t you just date him?" It doesn’t sound too horrible by itself but this was said to me by my best friend’s mother shortly after he took his own life. He had a crush on me for a while and I loved him dearly, but I'm gay. He wasn’t going to change that and he never really tried to, but his mom thinks he passed away because I rejected him.
#11 The Whole Store
My father-in-law asked me if my husband and I if we were eating okay while at college. My response was, “Yeah, we’re able to make ends meet and get groceries. We even have a little money left over.” His response was, “Yeah, I can tell you've been eating plenty. It looks like you ate the whole grocery store.” I was 5'4 and weighed 110 pounds.
#12 Two Days in the Year
When I was nine, my best friend passed away from a stroke. I was the one who brought her to the school office and stayed with her as paramedics came to take her to the hospital. She passed four days later. It was an extremely traumatizing experience and caused a lot of pain and mental health issues. I learned to cope by giving myself two days of the year devoted to thinking about her and letting myself feel my emotions fully. Those two days are her birthday and the day she passed.
One day, when I was in high school, I was hanging out with my friends at the local park. We were discussing what we were going to do the next day and I told them that it was the anniversary and that I might not go to school that day. That's when one of my friends turned to me and said, "What are you going to do? Mourn?" and then she laughed like it was a joke. All I could say to that was, “Yeah of course.” That was the first time I noticed that my friends didn't respect me like they did each other.
#13 Your Own Life
"Now that your father is gone, you can have your own life. Are you going to have kids?" This was asked to me by an older cousin at my dad's wake. He had the audacity to ask me that as the body was only a few feet away from us in a casket. No, I would much rather have my father alive than gone at 63 years old.
#14 Cool Patch
When I was in Afghanistan a while ago, we had an aircraft go down. A couple of years later, I was asked by someone how he could get a specific morale patch. The patch was made in memorial of the crew we had lost. The guy who asked me thought that that particular morale patch was cool. When I told him that the patch was made in memoriam, he continued asking how he could get that "cool patch." I didn't know what to say. It was super awkward for me.
#15 Why Would You Do That?
I struggled with trichotillomania (hair-pulling) as a kid. My mom tried all kinds of things to help me quit the habit. But since it wasn’t the root problem, just a symptom of anxiety, most of her attempts made it worse instead of better. I remember one time when my cousins were over for lunch. We were all gathered around the table, enjoying our food and having a pleasant conversation. Out of nowhere, my mom announced to everyone, “Have you noticed that she has no eyelashes? She always pulls them out.” Everyone turned to stare at me and one of my cousins said disgustedly, “Why would you do that?”
#16 I Didn’t Bother
I have a seizure-like disorder called chorea-athetosis. They present themselves in these really inconvenient episodes where I lose partial control of body parts. One time, I was on a date with a dude. After I told him of my situation, he said, “Wow. It’d be pretty hot to have you seize while we’re in bed. Think you could arrange that?” I didn’t bother with him after that.
#17 College Prep
I had a mandatory one-on-one meeting with my high school counselor about college prep. The first thing he did when I walked in was scan me with his eyes and say, “Well, I guess we don’t need to worry about filing your college athletics form, do we?” He then put the form I came in there for (to swim in college) back in his desk. He was just trying to imply that I was scrawny.
#18 No Right to Pry
Constantly, "What’s the worst call you've ever been on?" Don't ask firefighters or EMS this question. Don't ask nurses or doctors this question. Don't ask police officers or military this question. Stop it. The way I see it, I'm paid to carry that weight. I knew what I signed up for, I love my job, and everything has a price to pay. However, that does not give anyone the right to pry. If I want to talk about something, I will.
#19 Emotional Response
My ex-mother-in-law ran into me and asked when I was due. Thing is, she knew I miscarried a child with her son. It was one of the reasons we split up. She also knew because of that, I couldn’t have children. I just happened to have a still slightly swollen abdomen after a full and total hysterectomy at the time. Needless to say, I had a very hormonal and emotional response!
#20 Some Witty Comeback
“Are you adopted?” I’m an Asian female. I was working at a restaurant in college part-time and one of the white male customers just asked me that with no preamble. Apparently, all Asian girls are adopted out, obviously. I told him I wasn’t after I got over my shock. I wish I had some witty comeback at the time.
#21 All Your Fault
“You know your brother’s death is your fault?” This was asked by my mom at the hospital…. when I was only six years old. She asked this after we just got into a car crash and he shielded me, taking most of the damage that took his life. My mother then blamed me for his passing for 11 years after the accident happened.
#22 The Youngest Son
When I told my mother I finally had a girlfriend, her reply was pretty classic. "I recommend you be very cautious of any girl who’s interested in you. What do you really have to offer? Not much." Gee, thanks mom. I guess the girl was really just after my kidneys? For the record, I love my mom. This was her misguided way of being overprotective of her "naive" youngest son.
#23 Jumping the Bandwagon
I was asked if I knew what I was putting people through by being as sick as I was. I'm so sorry that I woke up one day and decided I wanted to have a disease just to inconvenience you? If I knew it wasn't convenient for you to worry about me all the time, I never would’ve decided to jump on the sickness bandwagon.
#24 Tearing Him a New One
“Oh, so you want a Twithx?” I’m 30 now but grew up with a lisp. I was also in speech therapy for years. When I was eight, I went up to a concession stand at my brother’s little league game and asked to buy a Twix. The teenage guy behind the counter, trying to impress his lady co-worker, decided to repeat my words back to me. It made me cry. It was one of the only times in my life I’ve ever seen my mom go full Momma Bear. She asked me why I was upset, and when I told her, she marched up to that dinky little stand and tore the guy a new one.
#25 What Are the Perks?
As a 19-year-old disabled woman, I've been asked tons of insensitive things. The most is probably a tie between someone asking me if I'm using a walker for the "perks" and if I'm faking my disability for better accommodation at university. I can’t handwrite, can barely walk without assistance, and can’t stand for periods of time. What are the perks and where can I get them?
#26 I Guess That’s Fine
My brother passed away while I was in college. I went to talk to one of my professors in person about missing some important classwork for the funeral. I told him why I’d be gone and all he said was, “How did he pass?” I was kind of taken aback but told him. His response was, “Oh. Yeah, I guess that’s fine if you miss class.” He turned back around to his computer.
#27 Learning Some Tact
I wore makeup when I was a teenager and was very insecure. My cousin asked, "Do you wear so much makeup because you have a lot of zits?" We later realized she's on the autistic spectrum and these kinds of comments made a lot more sense knowing that. She's a lot more socially aware now and I'm proud of her for learning some tact.
#28 That Conversation
"You don't know what fear is.” That was the response after admitting to my two best friends at the time that I was afraid of my father. We'd all grown up with toxic dads, but because my family wasn't obvious about it, they believed my home life was perfect. I still have a hard time talking about it, in part because of that conversation.
#29 Best Manager Ever
About three weeks after my brother passed, I went back to work. This lady and her daughter came in and I’d never seen her before in my life. She introduced herself to me as a good friend of my mother. I never heard her name before, saw her face, and didn’t see her at the funeral. My manager was also close by.
This woman started to say how sorry she was to hear of my brother’s passing. She went on and on and I started getting upset. My manager started to approach us. The lady then asked, “Oh, how did he pass? I heard he took his life, is that true?” I froze. My manager grabbed me and said to the lady, “Excuse me. She’s needed in the back, and if you’re not going to buy anything, you need to leave.” I turned around and walked to the stock room with tears running down my face. She was the best manager I ever had. Thank you, Johanna.
#30 There’s a Difference
Someone once asked me if I worked at a Taco Bell because "I looked like someone who would." I’m not going to lie, I don't even know what that means, but it ruined my week. Taco Bell workers: don't take offense to this unless you think that you "look like" a Taco Bell employee in plain clothes. There's a difference.
#31 All the Shame
“Didn’t you have more acne the last time I saw you?” My skin is horrible to me. I have eczema on top of being super oily, so when I was in elementary school, I had more acne than most of my peers. I was often ostracized and even teased because of it. Even my own parents treated me like I wouldn’t be attractive until I had zero acne.
Keep in mind, it was nowhere near the severe cystic acne some people get. It was just more acne than what was normal at my age and looking back, everyone was overreacting. But at the time, my skin had become my biggest insecurity. Eventually, I got really into skincare and I started to see results. The idiot who asked me that was seeing me for the first time in three years and it brought back all the shame I felt about my skin.
#32 High School Sweethearts
I’m Filipina. When I first met my partner’s half-brothers, one of them asked me if I already had my green card. As the night went on, one of them also joked and told me I looked like the typical mail bride that they see online. My partner and I were high school sweethearts. I was petitioned by my father and the process took 14 years before we were granted citizenship. So hearing that made my heart hurt for my family and their hard work just to get us in the U.S.
#33 A Million Questions
My sister called to let me know my grandma had passed away while I was at work. She had been ill for a while but I still wasn't prepared for it. She was the first person I was close to who I'd lost. I went to talk to my boss so I could go home and sit with my family. I told him and then had to sit in his office trying to hold back tears as he asked me a million and one questions. I was trying to answer until he asked, "Were you even that close to her anyway?" I was astounded and after I regained composure, I just walked out of his office to go to HR.
#34 What Can You Say?
I have an Arabic-sounding name (to Westerners anyway) and half my family is Muslim. I’m white and look the part (ethnically Slavic). I was dating someone a while back who took me to meet their family. They did warn me that their father was terrible, so I figured that I'd have to endure a couple of uncomfortable questions. It sucked but it wasn't anything new by that point. The first thing I was asked as the man shook my hand was, "So how much dirty skin is there in you?" I just turned around and left the apartment without another word. What can you even say at that point?
#35 Barging In
My mom once asked if I went to the bathroom after dinner to throw up. It was at Thanksgiving and I was in middle school. I was like, “No, I went in to use the toilet.” She said, "You go to the bathroom every time after you eat. I don’t believe you." My bad? She started just randomly barging in on me to "catch me in the act.” She told teachers at school to watch out too. They didn’t barge in on me but I got a lot of looks. I was overweight too so it’s not like I was losing weight or anything.
#36 The Absolute Worst
I had a best friend pass away in a freak camping accident (a tree fell on their tent, ending them instantly). I was taking care of their cats during the time and ended up taking care of most of the logistics of cleaning out their house, canceling their graduate program of study, collecting stuff from their place of employment, etc. Their parents were a wreck. I also helped coordinate the funeral and spoke at the wake.
Because it was a friend and not a close family member, I couldn’t take much time off work. So, I was back at work much sooner than I should have been. All of the faculty and staff I worked with were informed that I was going through some stuff. Mostly, everyone kept their distance and were professional. This one faculty member who was a creep and had hit on me repeatedly came up to me one day and said, “Why do you stupid Americans camp outside anyway?” He said this while laughing.
I was washing my lunch dishes in the public break room space at the time and it was just the two of us. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, slowly turned to him and calmly said that if he didn’t leave the room at that very minute, I couldn’t promise what I’d do to him. I was so furious and had to leave work for the rest of the day. People can be the absolute worst sometimes, man.
#37 Thanks, Mom
I have quite a few scars on my legs from eczema growing up. I’ll admit that it took me years to feel comfortable showing my legs again. One time, my mother saw me in shorts as I was about to head out. She then asked, "Why are you wearing shorts? Aren't you ashamed of your scars?" Okay then. Thanks a lot, mom.
#38 A Dinner Party
Large chests run in my family. I am 135 lbs and 5'9", and I wear a size 30 G bra. If I'm wearing anything remotely form-fitting, you can absolutely tell that I have cartoonish, absurd, grapefruit-sized tatas. I don't like them and am actually on a waiting list for a reduction because I have no illusions about the advance of gravity. At a dinner party I threw a few months ago, the wife of a friend asked me whether they were implants as I was serving her food in front of the whole table. There's no good way to answer that!
#39 Your People
I’m Indian and dating a white dude from the Midwest. I made an awesome melted Brie for a Thanksgiving appetizer. One of his aunts told me, “That was so good! Maybe next time you can make something that your people eat.” She said it with the emphasis and everything. Excuse me, “my people” eat turkey and dressing for Thanksgiving. We actually season it all, too, Karen.
#40 What Really Matters
“Are people going to accept them (my interracial kids)?” This question came from my mom and happened when we talked about sending them to language schools. My mom realized what she had said afterwards and apologized after talking to my father. He told her if she ever wanted to have a relationship with their grandkids, she'll have to rethink what really matters. She's never had an issue since.
#41 Didn’t Expect That
My sister-in-law was speaking to my mom on the phone, explaining they had received an autism diagnosis for my nephew that day. The first thing my mom asked was, “Did you eat a tangerine in week 16 of your pregnancy?” or something along those lines. I wasn’t there for it, but what an insensitive, bizarre thing to say. My mom was diagnosed with Aspergers back in the ’80s and has been an addict for the last 15+ years. So, I wasn’t expecting much sensitivity, but I definitely didn’t expect that.
#42 Which Kind?
I'm part Cherokee and someone mentioned in passing that I was part Indian. As I was walking by, an older man was with some friends and asked me something. It wasn’t in a mean way, more of a whatever kind of way. He grabbed my arm to stop me so he could ask if I "was the dot kind or the woo-woo-woo kind."
#43 Nine Years Ago
I was once holding my two-month-old and a cashier lady asked when I was due. I told her two months ago and pointed to my kid. To her credit, she apologized but I still cried for an hour or two after hearing that question. Women should know better than that! God, I'm all mad all over again and that was nine years ago.
#44 A Good While
In high school, one of my friends started hanging around this sophomore who tended to make some offensive jokes and was kind of oblivious. I was pretty open about liking girls, so he found out quickly that I wasn't straight. A few days after I met him, I was hanging out with some friends and my brother after school. When he saw that I had a brother, he asked me if being gay was genetic and if he was gay too. He was serious. I don't know if this was insensitive or just dumb, but it changed the way I saw that kid for a good while.
#45 Yeah, I’m Sure
“Are you sure those are your brothers?” I was asked by a security guy at a college event where only my family could come inside with me. Then, he scoffed in my face when I answered, “Yeah, buddy. I’m sure.” I was adopted, am tan, short, and have dark hair while my brothers have fair skin and are very tall. We look different, but families don’t always have to look like each other.
#46 Sister’s Necklace
I lost my twin sister last year to epilepsy. A week afterwards, my husband and I went out to the shops and I wanted to buy a letter necklace to wear with her first name’s initial. It was a big deal that I was out and not crying. I went into a jewellery store and they had some letters sitting in a display case, but not the letter I was after.
I asked the salesperson if they had any others and she asked what letter I wanted. She asked what the letter symbolized and I said it was my late sister’s name. You'd think she would leave it at that, but no. She asked how old my sister was because I look young. She then asked what she passed away from because 32 is young.
#47 Cute Either Way
I once had a girl in my middle school class randomly turn to me and say, “You know, you’d be cute if you were gay.” I’m male, so I don’t understand how that would benefit her in any way. I also don’t know how my interests would change the way she saw me. Nor would I want someone to change how they saw me based on my orientation. I didn’t realize it at the time, but hey, I actually am gay, so the joke’s on her. I’m cute either way!
#48 Twin Babies
My wife and I have twin girls. When they were just newborns, we took them in for their first doctor visits. They were really small, just a week or two old. While we're sitting in the waiting room, a lady sitting next to us got excited about twin babies. She started asking questions, normal baby things, including how old they were.
We said a week or two and she then looked at my wife who was really skinny. She commented about how good she looked and my wife told her we used a surrogate, which we did. The lady nodded and asked me, "Was it your stuff?" My wife and I just stared at her for a couple of seconds, confused and dumbfounded. I don't remember if we answered the question.
#49 Technically Not
I went to the high school counselor because of my crippling anxiety and depression. I made the mistake of mentioning the trauma I went through when I was six years old. Legit, the counsellor said, "But did he actually try to put himself inside you? Because if he didn't, then technically it's not assault and it isn't that bad.” Um, okay.
#50 Different Poses
One of my kids is half-black. I'm white. I went to get photos taken with her when she was a baby and the photographer asked if she was mine. I said that she was. She then asked if I had her the "normal way" or if she was adopted. I just stared at her for a bit and asked why it mattered. She was obviously embarrassed and just said the first stupid thing that came to her mind which was, "Oh, umm, uh well, I have different poses for adoptive and birth mothers." I'm still wondering what those different poses would be.