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"Those Errors Aren't Caught When It Happens": Employees Are Spilling Secrets They Only Feel Comfortable Sharing Anonymously

"I’m a college professor. I definitely have favorite students and I definitely grade a-holes more strictly."

Recently, I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community if they had any secrets of their jobs the rest of us would find interesting.

People had the option to submit secrets in the comments of the BuzzFeed post, or drop their secrets in a 100% anonymous Google form. Here are some responses from that Google form.

the anonymous form

1. "I am a content writer. We write most of the medical articles you find through Google. Most of us have no clue how the human body works, and we have no medical background whatsoever. Nine times out of 10, those symptoms you have are not as serious as we make them out to be. We are, in a way, obligated to mention that you might have a serious illness like cancer if there's even a slight possibility of it. If we don't, the companies or clients we write for might get into trouble."

2. "I work as a wildland firefighter. People seem to think we have a few big fires a year. In reality, thousands of small wildfires occur every year. The public does not know about them because usually they are too small to care about, or in the middle of nowhere. Wildfires only get coverage when they are large and threatening communities."

3. "As a housekeeper in a very popular international hotel brand, we NEVER wash the duvets in between guests unless they have stains on them. It’s also very common for the housekeepers to just rinse the dishes and put them back into the cupboards in the suites, instead of properly washing them."

someone making a bed

4. "Worked at a popular hotel for four years. Don't be self-conscious if you're not used to staying at fancy hotels. We're generally nicer to guests who don't travel that often. Ask as many questions as you want, we're very happy to help. Our worst nightmare is the know-it-alls who walk around like they own the place."

5. "Don't be surprised (or offended) if hotel and B&B staff seem hostile at check-out time. Many guests don't realize how tough it is to clean rooms in the time allocated to us. Even if the rooms are small, they require attention to detail to make them look like they've never been lived in. And every minute you stay after check-out eats into the time we have to make it perfect for the next guest. So please be considerate and leave on time."

6. "I work in theater management. People urinate in seats all the time. Best our maintenance team can do is let it dry and spray it down. When someone vomits in the house (theater auditorium), the carpets aren’t cleaned because all they use is the sawdust packets and vacuum/sweep it up."

close up of a dirty theater seat

7. "I worked at a historic theatre/event space. If a drink spilled in the balcony seats, it was almost guaranteed to leak through the floor and onto the patrons sitting below. When I was an usher we had to act like this was absolutely shocking when a guest told us they’d been leaked on, though it was almost a nightly occurrence. Some patrons were nice about it, some were…not. Unfortunately, due to the age and construction of the building, there really wasn’t any way to prevent this. It would’ve involved essentially rebuilding the entire balcony. So, we just dealt with it and treated every guest like they were the first person it had ever happened to."

8. "I’m a college professor. I definitely have favorite students and I definitely grade assholes more strictly. It goes a long way to talk to your professors and ask for help if you need it, even if you don’t love the subject or the class."

9. "When I worked as a swim instructor and lifeguard for children, I found out that when a child pukes, poops, or has a nose bleed, the most they can really do is try to remove any debris and they can add more chemicals, but usually they don't unless they can tell something is off when they test the water. They would sometimes remove everyone from the pool for either a short few minutes, or typically if it took a little longer to clean up or it was obvious to the parents that something happened, they would cancel the next 30-minute class and resume after and not tell anyone what happened. They also don't sanitize the lane lines or other equipment. During COVID, we were told to dunk our supplies underwater for 30 seconds to sanitize between classes and that it would be sufficient enough. That's one of the more unfortunate facts from public pools."

people swimming in lanes

10. "Absolutely do not file fraud claims with your credit companies that you aren't sure of. We seriously investigate them all. Not just over a certain dollar amount, not just certain types of purchases, all of them. We have a dedicated investigations team. They get access to security footage, look you up on social media, all of those things. I once had a man claiming that he had not intended to buy a boat and someone must have fraudulently gotten the loan in his name, because he 'didn't even live near the water!' Watched the cameras and it was legitimately impossible to tell if it was him, obtained a copy of his driver's license to make sure the one we had was up to date, still we weren't sure. I only had a few days left to make his claim final, I checked his Facebook, and lo and behold his cover photo was him and his buddies drinking on the boat."

11. "TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Ross stores, Burlington, etc.: All discount retail stores buy from the same vendors."

12. "Starbucks caramel macchiatos are made with vanilla syrup! the only 'caramel' part is the drizzle on top."

13. "I’m a college professor. There’s literally ZERO oversight when it comes to how we confirm your grades. We can create whatever gradebook we want and submit it and no one in the admin office will ever question it."

professor giving a lecture

14. "If you want to get something waived from your bank (late fees, interest charged after your 'no interest if paid in full' promotion ended, insufficient funds fee, etc.) and the front line rep can't do it, ask to file a formal complaint...Don't berate the person you're talking to. They have to follow procedure. Just let them know you understand they cannot accommodate your request and you wish to file a formal complaint."

15. "I worked in a warehouse for a certain popular exercise bike at the height of the pandemic and can tell you you can get a 'refurbished' bike for way cheaper by calling the company directly to see if they are available. I've been told this is the case for a ton of companies, they just don't advertise it, and the refurbishments often have negligible damage, like a small scratch or even nothing (just was a return by someone who hardly used it). We definitely sent out refurbished bikes for hundreds of dollars less that were in the same condition as new."

16. "Don’t put a package you got in the mail on your bed or any other surface you’d like to keep clean. As a postal worker, after we’re done sorting all the packages that came in for the day, our hands are visibly disgusting. Also, your packages are not handled very nicely behind closed doors. They’re thrown, kicked, etc. So don’t fret if the mailman barely tosses your package. It’s seen MUCH worse."

17. "I’m a recruiter — I know the saying is to first to speak on rate loses, but you can actually turn it into an advantage for you. During your initial conversation with a recruiter, mention a rate a little higher than what you’re at/targeting. For example, let’s say you’re currently making $50K. When the recruiter asks either what you’re making or what you’re looking to make, tell them that you’re currently at $60K, and in order to make a move, you’re targeting $65–70K. If you end up getting an offer, then you’ve gotten a much higher base! And if they 'low ball' your offer, it’ll still be higher than what you’re at, but you have room to counteroffer and negotiate higher! The recruiter only has market data on the average salary of what the industry in your area is making. We don’t, and won’t, verify your salary. Just don’t go too over the top and mention something that’s obviously too high for your role."

hands counting money into another hand

18. "Family law attorney here. Also, I hate friends and family of clients. For example, I give a well-thought-out legal explanation of a situation and a plan going forward. Then the best friend comes in and talks about the emotional issues and talks my client out of everything we discussed [that would] protect her interests to get revenge on an ex. So since the client gets the ultimate say and I can’t force an agreement, the friend’s nonlegal advice ultimately gets listened to over my legal opinion that is being paid for. Happens far too often and no matter how much someone respects my opinion, friends and family have an established relationship and especially in family law cases where emotions are charged. Clients listen to outside advice too much."

19. "Veterinarians don’t have relationships with pet food companies. We don’t get paid or get special benefits for recommending certain brands."

family at the veet

20. "I worked for a large well known clinical diagnostic laboratory where any type of human samples would be sent to get tested, like if blood was drawn at your doctor's. I always tell my close friends to get critical tests done twice. Mistakes are not caught right away and when they are, you will have been given your results already. The quality control at those large facilities is quite slow, due to the volume of samples coming in daily, and those errors aren’t caught when it happens."

21. "Clinical dietitian here. When you are in the hospital and we come see you, please know we are NOT the food police. Most of the time, if I'm seeing you, it's because I want you to eat more, not police or restrict you. Unless your doctor has restricted your diet, I don't care what outside food your family is bringing you, I just want you to eat SOMETHING. Please be kind to us. We know when you're lying to us about your eating, and we already have an idea of what your nutrition status is before we even walk in the door."

person with a bowl of fruit in front of them

22. "As a therapist, my job is to reflect the meanings you already have in your life. We act as mirrors. I’ll show you what you already see, just in a different way. I hope you succeed, I want to hear your struggles, and I expect you to fail sometimes. Our main goal is to create a safe space for you. Please never be afraid to tell me the dark/kinky/weird stuff. We have heard SO MUCH. I’m here to support and challenge you, not judge you."

23. "The airline industry is a black box to most people, including most of the gate and ramp personnel that service your flight. There are so many complex and interconnected facets of the industry that dictate the experience you have as a traveler, and 95% of them are well beyond the influence of anybody at the airport. Major delays and cancellations are entirely out of the control of the airline representatives you encounter at the airport on your journey; airport personnel are just the weary middlemen who are doing their level best to do right by you given a whole host of uncontrollable factors."

"The flight delays that are typically caused by airport personnel are usually no more than 5 to10 minutes and might be the result of a breakdown in the baggage delivery timeline from the bag room, boarding that started a few minutes late, an excessively high volume of checked bags that take longer to load, or perhaps someone forgot to service the lavatory in a timely manner.

In all cases, delay contributions by airport personnel are minimal. Major delays and cancellations are usually the results of aircraft maintenance, weather (convective activity or frozen precipitation: this can be anywhere in the system; the weather doesn’t have to be at your airport to cause a major delay), Air Traffic Control delays (usually the result of weather anyway), and, in this post-COVID employment economy, flight crew availability.

There is absolutely nothing the airport personnel can do about these situations other than deliver the message and wait for the proverbial shots to start flying. The people who do make these decisions are tucked away, safe and sound, in an airline operations control center, usually hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the airport you’re at. Please be kind, please be patient, please understand we are humans doing everything within our control (which isn’t much) to assist you on your journey."

person waving traffic control at a plane

24. "I work at a funeral home in Minnesota so I can't say this applies to every state, but we do not provide the cause of death on a death certificate. The doctor who is assigned the case does and only they can change it if you get a copy and think the cause of death is incorrect. We also don't print them. The state does because they are an official, legal document. So no, you can't have a copy when you come in to give us the vital information to provide to the state. There is SO much paperwork and legal stuff that goes into dying, and it's hard to explain to people that they have to be patient while the other parties (doctors, medical examiners, churches, cemeteries, crematories, the health department, etc.) do their part to get everything in order. We're doing the best we can to get you what you want but a lot of the time it's out of our control."

25. "[I'm a] former business strategist within a health insurance company. A lot of people have probably experienced challenges with their billing and when calling to inquire find out it is due to coding issues. There are a number of known sources for this issue, but the hope is that you either give up or pay."

26. "I’m a nurse and often help people to the bathroom and nine times out of 10, people will not wash their hands. The hospital is so germy. I will give them hand wipes and sanitizer and they still won’t use it."

hands being washed

27. "Park ranger here! If it took you hours to hike to the location you injured yourself, it's going to take us twice as long to rescue you. Prepare accordingly to prevent injuries. Also, have a map (that you know how to read) and keep your gas tank at least half-full! Parks are in the middle of nowhere. Your car says you have 15 miles before empty? The nearest gas is 45 miles. I can't tell you how many times I told people, 'Well, it's mostly downhill, so pop it in neutral and coast!'"

28. "I work at a national nonprofit working on equitable access to affordable housing. Directors and below recently received the usual 3% salary increase. But senior directors and above got anywhere between 12–15% more. All while we’re in a huge inflation. Oh, and senior directors (based on the last tax document 990) earned over $180K."

29. "Therapist here! Therapy is a process. You can’t have 2–3 sessions and think that everything you wanted to work on will be magically better. Some people are in therapy three months, some as many as years. Trust the process!"

person talking to their therapist

30. "I work in customer service and dealing with people can be incredibly difficult, but when you have an upset customer, do not interrupt them! Let them vent even if they’re saying something stupid, but do not interrupt and don’t feed into it. Let them vent as long as they’re not calling you names or being offensive to you. You can end the conversation right there if that’s the case. Most of the time when they vent they let their frustrations out and they just wanted someone to listen to them bitch and moan."

31. "I'm a bartender at a chain restaurant. When you order top-shelf mixed drinks at your table and not the bar, you never get top shelf."

32. "I worked at two different movie theaters for over four years and I can tell you the butter you lather your popcorn in is FAKE. It is 'butter flavored oil.' Any time I had to refill the pumps, in bold letters, the box was clearly labeled, and they are similar to the soda syrup refills for soda machines. So gross."


33. "Everyone orders Pumpkin Spice Lattes. At least when I worked at Starbucks (albeit this was several years ago), everyone—all races, all genders, all ages. They’re just tasty and people like them. Everyone orders Frappuccinos, too. So don’t feel embarrassed about your order. The only time you should feel a little embarrassed is if you order 10 Frappuccinos five minutes before closing, and if you do, tip well and be nice to your baristas!"

34. "Pizza delivery: We know who tips well and who doesn't and it does affect how fast your food gets to you."

35. "I’m a recruiter and I really do want to know about interesting travel you’ve done, interests you may have like cooking or bluegrass music, and if you speak another language, even a tribal language spoken by very few people, I want to know that! These things make you interesting and set you apart."

people shaking hands in an office

Do you have a secret from your job you think everyone else should know? Whether it's gross, interesting, or helpful, share them with us in the comments below, or, if you want to share them completely anonymously, use this Google form.

Correction: An entry was removed as it didn't meet our editorial standards.