Sometimes our brains just stop functioning and we do some seriously bizarre stuff. Probably all of us have heard of or experienced 'brain farts' or 'brain.exe stopped working,' and the results of the phenomena are usually pretty strange and hilarious. That is why after this Redditor asked: "What is the most bizarre thing you've caught yourself doing after your brain's autopilot misfired?" it resulted in some amazing and engaging stories.
People shared loads of amazing examples about this topic, from leaving things in the fridge, to getting ready for high school when they're all grown up. Do you have any brain farts to share? Please do so in the comment section below! And if you're interested in more of this type of content click here.
#1I sat there at an intersection in suburban Palo Alto at 11PM, patiently waiting for the stop sign to change.
Image credits: anon
We talked to Dr. Gleb Tsipursky about this topic and he gave some amazing insights: "Researchers have discovered that we have, roughly speaking, two systems that determine our mental processes: the 'autopilot system' and 'intentional system.' The autopilot system corresponds to our emotions and intuitions. This system evolved to help us survive in the ancestral savanna environment and mostly relies on the amygdala, the older part of the brain. It guides our daily habits, helps us make snap decisions, and reacts instantly to dangerous life-and-death situations. The snap judgments resulting from intuitions and emotions usually feel 'true' and 'right' precisely because they are fast and powerful. We feel very comfortable when we go with them. Decisions arising from our gut reactions are indeed often right in those situations that resemble the ancient savanna."
#2Turned around and went back home because I forgot my car keys.
I was driving.
Image credits: anon
#3Cup of coffee in left hand, phone in the right hand. Go to my room, take a sip of my phone and throw coffee on the bed.
Image credits: Concentrix
However, Dr. Gleb shared that the 'autopilot' isn't really necessary anymore: "Unfortunately, in too many cases they’re wrong. Our modern environments have many elements that are unlike the savanna. With growing technological disruption, ranging from teleconferences to social media, our modern world looks less and less like our ancestral environment. The autopilot system will therefore increasingly lead us to make disastrous decisions, in systematic and predictable ways, which are called cognitive biases."
#4I used to work at McDonald's drive-thru. 5 days a week, 8hrs a day; so I had been hard-wired to say, "Welcome to McDonald's. How can I help you today?" Every single time I heard the headset beep. Straight-up Pavlovian.
One day there was a particularly wily fly that was always just a second ahead of me. I became very focused on killing this fly.
I don't know how many times I said it before a coworker finally stopped laughing long enough to tell me, but it turns out I'd been saying "Welcome to McDonald's. How can I kill you today?" To every car in the drive-thru.
Not one customer even paused or acknowledged the fact that Ronald McDonald threatened them with murder. They just wanted their goddamn nuggets.
#5I made the best ever chicken stock, lovingly simmered for 24 hours. Then, without thinking, I put the colander in the sink and tipped the stock down the drain, saving the scraps. I cried.
Image credits: pedazzle
Dr. Gleb explains the intentional system in our brains that contrasts the autopilot: "The intentional system, by contrast, reflects rational and analytical thinking. It centers around the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that evolved more recently. This thinking system helps us handle more complex mental activities, such as managing individual and group relationships, logical reasoning, abstract thinking, evaluating probabilities, and learning new information, skills, and habits. While the automatic system requires no conscious effort to function, using the intentional system requires a deliberate effort to and is mentally tiring. Fortunately, with enough motivation and appropriate training, you can learn to turn on the intentional system in situations where the autopilot system is prone to make systematic and predictable errors."
#6As a teenager, I worked at McDonald's. My McDonald's was 24 hours and, during the summer, I worked the overnight shift. My sleep schedule would get all messed up.
My parents woke me up for dinner one evening. I zombie walked to the table and sat down. My dad asked me to say grace. I bow my head and say, "thank you for choosing McDonald's, may I take your order?"
Image credits: arndta
#7I dropped my pants when going through TSA....For those who fly in the super early morning it can be rough. I purposely didn't drink coffee so I could sleep on the plane...
I was on the security line, and did the normal routine of taking stuff out of my pockets and putting them in my laptop bag. Then off with the shoes, placed on top of my luggage, then off comes the belt as usual. Then of course when you take off your belt you take off your pants.....uhhh Nope damnit. Put them back on and WTFed for a moment as I finished up in security. Luckily not *that many* people fly at like 430am.
Image credits: anon
"We tend to think of ourselves as rational thinkers, usually using the intentional system. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The autopilot system is by far the more powerful of the two systems, determining 80-90 percent of what we do, think, feel, and decide. Our emotions often overwhelm our reason. Moreover, our intuition and habits dominate the majority of our lives. We’re usually in autopilot mode. That’s not a bad thing at all, as it would be mentally exhausting to think through our every action and decision. However, it’s bad when this system makes the same errors, again and again. Fortunately, you can use your intentional system to interrupt these errors. You can change your automatic thinking, feeling, and behavior patterns to avoid mental blind spots."
#81. Unwrap candy.
2. Throw candy in trash
3. Stare at wrapper
Image credits: DIDNT_READ_YOUR_SHIT
#9I took the metro home then realized i drove to work.. that was a long night.
Image credits: FecesInYourFaces
All in all, both of these parts of our brain are quite important: "It’s crucial to recognize that these two systems of thinking are counterintuitive. They don’t align with our conscious self-perception. Your mind feels like a cohesive whole. Unfortunately, this self-perception is simply a comfortable myth that helps you make it through the day. There is no actual 'there' there; your sense of self is a construct that results from multiple complex mental processes within the autopilot and intentional system. When I first found that out, it blew my mind (every part of it). It takes a bit of time to incorporate this realization into your mental model of yourself and others, in other words, how you perceive your mind to work. Bottom line is that you’re not who you think you are."
#10Once I was laying in bed very tired watching tv. All the characters on the show piled into a car together, and I thought for a second "s**t I forgot to put my seatbelt on" before realizing I was safely in bed and no where near a car.
Image credits: athena94
#11Rubbed aftershave in my hair and put gel on my face.
The worst part was that after I put the aftershave in my hair, I laughed at myself, thought, "F**k, what was all that about?" and then added the hair gel to my skin.
Image credits: MisterEvilBreakfast
We also spoke to Instagram account Psychology Facts (we made an article about them which you can check out by clicking here) and they also shared their insights on this topic: "The human brain's autopilot system, also known as the default mode network, can sometimes lead to bizarre or unexpected behavior. The default mode network is a group of brain regions that are active when an individual is not focused on a specific task. It is thought to play a role in self-reflection, planning, and daydreaming. When the default mode network is active, an individual may find themselves engaging in behaviors that seem unusual or unexpected to others, as their brain is not fully focused on the present moment."
#12The two that come to mind are while playing XBOX I got up to get a drink, then sit back down and can't find my freaking controller. I'm tearing cushions apart, looking under stuff, looking in drawers, etc. Turns out I took a soda out of the fridge and put the controller in the spot I took it from.
The other one happened the other day. Drove home from work, parked, went upstairs, opened the door, started to take off shirt. Then I remembered it was the middle of my shift and I hadn't left to go home, but just go buy a drink.
Image credits: KMApok
#13When I was in high school and living on the family farm, I used to feed the horses and barn cats every morning. Waking up at 6am for this as a 16 year old guaranteed that I was half asleep. So, I grabbed the cat food like I always did, walked to the table where my cat's bowl was like I always did, and poured some in. My cat always jumped up on the table right away to start eating right away, and one morning as something jumped up in front of me I absentmindedly pet it as usual. The hair felt a little rough so I looked down and instead of my friendly orange cat, there was a skunk. Just chilling there eating the cat food while I pet its back.
Image credits: danseaman6
"For example, someone might find themselves absentmindedly walking into a room and forgetting why they went there, or getting lost in thought while driving and missing their turn. These behaviors can be a result of the brain's autopilot system misfiring, as the individual's attention is not fully on the task at hand."
#14I woke up from a deep sleep having the feeling that there was an earthquake going on so naturally I call to my wife who I realized was in the living room reading and asked her if everything was okay and she asked why? I said there was just an earthquake is everything okay she said no you just farted in your sleep and woke yourself up. I went back to bed....
#15There was a 6.0 earthquake at about 3 am so i was asleep. The quake lasted 20 seconds and I woke up about 16 seconds in standing in the hallway hugging a vase. What the f**k.
Image credits: ApacheFYC
They also shared their own personal experience with autopilot: "The most bizarre thing I’ve caught myself doing after my brain’s autopilot misfired was when I was still in high school. I was in a classroom and everyone was dead silent because we were working on our homework, and most of us wore earbuds and listened to music while working. I remember listening to 'Black and Yellow' from Wiz Khalifa, which I apparently found an incredible song as a 12-year-old, because I remember that out of nowhere, I started singing along loud and clear with the chorus. I did this for around 5 seconds before I noticed everyone was staring at me, and I should probably stop distracting the rest of the class."
#16I was playing guitar and reached to grab a cracker, then I ate my pick.
Image credits: A-Perfect-Triangle
#17Jumped out of bed frantically. Put my clothes on. Brushed all the s**t on my floor under my bed..paused. And realised its 3am in the morning and I don't have school. I'm 23.
Image credits: anon
"It's important to note that the default mode network serves important functions in the brain, and it is not always a negative thing when it is active. The human brain's autopilot system serves a number of important functions in the brain that help to support mental health and well-being. It allows individuals to take a break from the demands of the outside world and engage in activities that support self-reflection, planning, and creativity. While the default mode network can sometimes lead to unexpected or bizarre behavior when it causes an individual to become disengaged from their surroundings, it serves important functions in the brain and is not always a negative thing when it is active."
#18Trying to get into a random person's car because I thought it was my friend's. The person whose car I was attempting to break into was very terrified.
Image credits: Rock-Facts
#19When I was around 13 or 14 I woke up in the middle of the night, in my own bed and room, and thought to myself: I need to go home before my parents realize I'm not home. So I sneak out of the house, part of me obviously aware that my parents were sleeping and I needed to be quiet, and walked a block away. Then I realized I had been in my own room and just thought what the hell am I doing. So I walked back and snuck back into bed. So weird
Image credits: marleylovestrees
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#20My sister had a brain fart and left the water running in the kitchen.
I went to turn it off, and flipped the kitchen light switch. Repeatedly. Then started cussing when the switch wouldn't cut the water off. Then got my tool box and started taking the faceplate off the light switch so I could see why it wasn't cutting the water off.
At that point my other sister, who witnessed all of this, kindly pointed out that I had lost my ever loving mind and cut the water off herself.
#21Walked into the bathroom at work to pee, and instead of unzipping my fly, I unbuttoned my dress shirt, took it off, then took off my white undershirt as well. Then realized I was standing shirtless at a urinal and wtf'd.
Image credits: ghettoeskimo
#22Tried to turn the sun off.
Bad hangover, opened my back door, feeling for the light switch.
No light switch, the light was day.
Image credits: mauxly
#23After an 8 hour day of cashiering at Target(which has so many robotic-small talk conversations), I stopped at the dollar store. The conversation went something like:
Cashier: Hi, how are you?
Me: Good, how are you?
Cashier: I'm good, thanks.
Me: That's good. Did you find everything okay today?
That conversation was had to the effect of everyone in line and the cashier looking at me like I was psycho.
edit: I'm glad I'm not the only one who's done awk things on cashier autopilot! And thanks for the gold! <3
Image credits: anon
#24I meant to put a brand new roll of toilet paper on the roll and instead just plopped it in the toilet.
Image credits: anon
#25Night before last, I went to the back yard to bring the dog into the house. Autopilot moved my feet 10 or so steps out the door, telling the "dog" to come in. My brain then caught up and remembered the dog was in bed and I was indeed approaching a black bear that was eating watermelon rinds from the trash can.
Image credits: warwatch
#26Drove 20 min to my old house after I moved..was just zoning out
Image credits: MycoBro
#27Applying deodorant on my armpit with my shirt still on.
#28I was getting ready for work and had a contact in one hand and a vitamin in the other. Popped the contact in my mouth and washed it down with a glass of water. I'm sure the stomach acid took care of it.
Image credits: anon
#29Tapped a picture in the newspaper hoping to see the full article. Took me a good 5 seconds to realize where I messed up.
#30Was jogging late at night. A guy reached out his hand in front of me as I passed.
I high-fived him.
Turns out he was hailing a taxi.
Image credits: Derped_my_pants
#31I was making ramen noodles and a pitcher of crystal light at the same time. Berry flavored ramen is....not good.
Image credits: SalsaPicanteMasFina
#32I picked up my toothbrush to brush my teeth but I also had the urge to p**s, so I obviously toss my toothbrush into the toilet.
Image credits: anon
#33I am currently at university and live on the fifth floor of a dormitory. All the floors are identical other than the colors of the paint on the wall. One day I was taking the elevator up to the fifth floor and I was sending a text to my mother. When I arrived at my floor a person I had never seen before got on the elevator. I consciously noted that it was weird because I knew everyone on my floor, but I walked to my room and walked in. My living room seemed slightly off and then a girl walked into the living room and casually goes, "what are you doing in my room." That's when I realized I had gotten off on an earlier floor and I just absentmindedly walked into someone else's room. Needless to say I got out of that room really fast after realizing what I had done.
Image credits: anon
#34I found myself taking a bath with all my clothes on.
Never told anyone. Just went back to sleep.
#35Grabbed milk from the fridge
Grabbed a dinner plate from the cupboard
Began tilting the gallon jug toward the dish
Was about to pour myself a plate of milk when my mom walks by and asks what the f**k I'm doing
#36Let's just say that now whenever I'm looking for my phone, the first thing I check is to see if it's currently in my hands.
#37The night before my very first day at work where I have to bring my own lunch. I got all the ingredients out to make my sandwich for tomorrow and immediately after I made it I walked into the living room turned on the tv and ate it.
#38I had a very long day of computer drafting, think +12 hours sitting and staring at .5mm lines, and got really lost so I asked the person next to me what the hell I did wrong because they seemed like they would absolutely have the explanation. I got most of the way through the answer before I realized not only had I asked my frazzled reflection a question, but I also calmly and matter-of-factly responded. I went home after that.
#39I was trimming a raw chicken breast and saw a spider in my kitchen. I screamed and immediately threw the chicken breast at the spider and embedded it in the meat. Whoops.
Edit: to those asking if I ate the chicken breast afterwards: I forgot to mention that the spider was on the floor.
#40Put cat food in the coffee maker. 10/10 would not recommend.
#41Drove to work and realized when I got to the parking lot that I forgot to drop the kids at school. The kids knew too and stayed quiet thinking they'd get to miss school. Love those sneaky little devils.
#42Swished my mouthwash for a solid 30 seconds and then just spit it on the floor where I was standing.
#43it was 2am and way past bedtime, and I'd pulled an all nighter the previous night too. while finally clearing the table I was playing video games on, I decided to put all the water bottles away that had been out for days and days. I tossed the empty ones but my cat was being rambunctious and trying to open the trash can, so I picked her up.
I was holding my cat and putting some unfinished water bottles back in the fridge. she struggled free and hopped onto the counter but I was too tired to scold her so I continued grabbing huge amounts (6 or 7 at a time, both hands) of half-full water bottles from the counter and into the fridge
I pick them up, I put them in the fridge, I pick them up, i put them in the fridge, I pick her up. I put her in the fridge. I close the fridge. I take two minutes to finish up the dishes. I turn off the kitchen light. I hear faint mewing. I wake up. I open the fridge. she is so cold, but she is okay.
now every time I open the f*****g fridge she climbs in. sometimes I don't notice her and she's trapped for a moment until I hear mewing. and I know it's all my fault.
(edit to clarify that I don't just start new water bottles halfway thru. it's over days and days)
#44Painting a picture, take a drink from the paint brush water instead of my coffee.
#45I just threw a knife in the garbage and washed some breadcrumbs
edit: also there was this one time I went along posting an askreddit question just like normal and in my absent mindedness I forgot to uncheck "send replies to my inbox" and then it got fourteen thousand comments. whoops.
Image credits: Kirushi
#46Not something I did, but something I thought. I was mindlessly clearing off my computers desktop,I had just selected a huge batch of files to drag to the recycle bin. As I dragged them over the recycle bin, right after I let go of the mouse I thought, "Oh no, that was a big batch, I hope it doesn't overflow.".....That's when I knew it was quitting time.
#47Vigorously picking my nose while holding a cigarette and driving; crammed lit cigarette up my nose.
#48Turned up at work with the landline phone and my toddler's lunch.
#49I once got my car impounded via brain-autopilot.
I lived across the street from a gas station and didn't drive very often. Once I was filling it up, went inside to buy something, forgot I was getting gas, and walked home.
A few days later I reported my car stolen since I couldn't find it in the apartment garage. About a month later I get a call from the police, saying my car had gone up for auction and only then was it discovered it had been reported stolen. I had to pay about $1500 in impound fees to get it back.
Definitely one of the dumbest things I've ever done.
#50I put coffee in my dog's water bowl the other day. It was very early in my defense.
#51Sometimes I will see something out of the corner of my eye and apparently your brain kind of does an autofill and tells you what you're seeing without actually seeing it. So I will be walking my dog and see a bush or something and think to myself for a split second "oh, there's an ostrich across the street". Then my I'm like "wtf is an ostrich doing here?!" and realize it's just a bush.
#52Last night I picked up a box of cereal to put it away. I ended up accidentally taking it with me to bed.
#53I tried to mail my buddy a check, and it had been a while since I mailed anything. Long enough to forget how mail works apparently. What I did was I wrote my name and address in the center, and his name in the upper left hand corner. The letter then got returned to me. But still, my first thought wasn't, whoops, I failed at mailing this check. Instead it was, well I guess this stamp is old, and the price of stamps went up. So I put another stamp on it and sent it again, to myself, again. My mailman must think I'm r******d.
Image credits: Shaw-Deez
#54Leaving work, I had my hat in one hand and cell phone in the other. Something misfired and I put the cell phone on my head and hat in my pocket. There was a flashing realization that something wasn't right while standing their holding a phone to my bald spot and sporting a look of bewilderment.
I wish someone had seen it.
#55Came into work to work front of house after several extended nights of profound insomnia. I was holding up ok until a gal walks up with a dog in her arms. I always chat people up about their dogs because A. Dogs are awesome and B. people love to talk about their dogs, and often tip a little more when they feel like they've actually connected with you.
Today though... I didn't have two neurons to rub together to break from the script of "hey what can I get you... here's your total... do you want a receipt?" and so I lean over the counter like a drunk, lock my sleep-starved, unfocused googly eyes on this poor lady, and blurt out-
"your dog. Who is he" and then expectantly stare at her like that was a normal and not at all insane thing that I just kinda vomited at her. She kinda stared at me and clutched her dog a little closer and I think I probably went a little cross-eyed and tried to salvage the conversation by talking more. I don't remember what I said but it was definitely not an improvement on the situation. It may not have even been a coherent sentence.
#56I gave my three year old a pacifier and tried handing my newborn a cup of juice.
#57I've thrown laundry detergent in the dryer on multiple occasions.
I'm also used to starting the morning coffee for the whole office at 6AM in the morning. One time I was late and autopiloted to the kitchenette. I tossed out a pot of freshly made coffee and started another pot.
This wasn't my own autopilot, but the most bizarre has got to be when an ex-girlfriend's dad dropped off my ex's kid at my house. I've only met the dad a handful of times before. He just drove up to my driveway, let the kid out, waved at me and drove off. After an awkward phone call, we ended up getting pizza and hanging out until the ex got off work to pick her son up.
#58During a period when I was unemployed for a few months I got into the habit of undoing my trousers before arriving at the bathroom. This lead to a very embarrassing situation I found myself in when I became employed again and just undid my belt and trousers in the hallway while heading to the toilet! Thankfully I realised what I was doing before I exposed myself to my new coworkers.
#59Walked home from the shops, then remembered that not only had I actually driven but my house keys were still in the car.
#60Washed my hand with toothpaste and my teeth with soap. I didn't even have a wtf moment until it was too late.
#61I wrote like 3 sentences of an email today without even realizing I was writing. They were completely not what I meant or needed to say.
edit - people want to know what I said. very uninteresting, just like "this item has a lead time of about 2 weeks, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us blah blah blah", when really I needed to give the guy some specific information about a part that we had in stock, so lead times didn't apply in the least.
#62One time when I was a kid (elementary school), I woke up, walked to the kitchen (kinda half out of it), pressed down on the foot pedal of the garbage can to open it up and started peeing into it. My sis shouts out to my mum 'Mom! FarSightXR-20's peeing into the garbage!' I caught myself pretty quickly, but still.
#63I'm not sure this necessarily counts, but I'm a sleep-eater. In the past 4 months, I've woken up trying to open a can of green beans with my bare hands and drinking from a gallon jug of soy sauce.
#64One time my family traveled to Iowa and we stopped at a McDonald's, they were going through the drive thru but I needed to pee so I went inside. I went out the other exit when I was done and there was a red minivan just like ours so I went to my side and opened the door and wasn't paying attention, I sat down, buckled my seat belt and realized it was a bit different but I still did it. I looked around and the van was full of old people just staring at me, they all looked scared. My family was in the van behind laughing their butts off.
#65Got a bag of microwave popcorn and made it halfway up the stairs before realizing I didn't pop it.
#66There were several nights where I was super tired and very hungry, so I would make some Ramen noodles on autopilot, and the next morning I'd find my car keys in the refrigerator.
Still not sure why I opened the fridge to make Ramen noodles.
#67"[Work place], [work department], this is Pokeeyejai; how can I help you?"
And then I realize I'm answering my personal cell phone... at home.
#68When I was in high school I worked at a McDonalds. Most of my time I was on drive thru taking orders. You get the script down and go into auto pilot everyday you get to work. One day I'm taking an order and tell the man his total like always and tell him to pull forward to next window. It takes me about 5 seconds of staring at this man to realize that I am talking directly to him instead of over the headset. It takes about another 5 seconds for my brain to realize that I am working the front counter and there is no window for him to pull ahead to.
#69I was working at my computer and I had a cookie next to me. I finished the cookie and immediately took a bite out of the mouse, realised it was hard, sucked on it for a seconds then put it down. Only realised what I had done a few minutes later.
#70Years ago I worked at an amusement park during the summer between college, and this one time I worked an eighteen hour shift because we were retrofitting a gift shop. So around hour sixteen I'm practically a zombie, and I go to take a p**s break and slam a Coke. This store wasn't my normal work spot in the park, but the employee break area was identical to mine. I go into the restroom, take a p**s in a stall, not even registering that there are no urinals. As I'm washing my hands another toilet flushes and a woman walks out, clears her throat and just stands there looking at me with her hands on her hips. The building was identical except they switched the restrooms around. I just stammered "sorry" and ran away.
#71I'm a barista and I caught myself I trying to pour coffee into a cup sleeve, not attached to a cup.
#72Put tomatoes and lettuce in the microwave after making a sandwich...and then turn the microwave on...
#73I had a little piece of clear plastic I ripped off my binder in my hand I was going to throw away. In the hallway though, I see the dude I have a crush on and he waves. I panicked, for some reason I decide that he cannot see I have this plastic under any circumstances. So you know what I do? I put it in my mouth and wave back. Success! Until, that is, I start choking on it. I had to run to the bathroom and drink from the sink in order to not die.
#74I usually would stop at a gas station in the morning to get coffee. On more than one occasion I would open the little flavor cups and pour them in the trash instead of my coffee cup. Sometimes I would do this to 3 or 4 cups before I realize what I'm doing.
#75Drove my car to the student union to pick up a package, parked with my hazards on. After I got the package I got food and proceeded to walk back to my room and play GTA for 2 hours before getting a call from University police saying to move my car
#76I recently spent 10 minutes on the phone with statefarm trying to pull up my policy getting increasingly annoyed at the fact they couldn't find my policy number.
Then I remembered... I have progressive.
Never had state farm in my life.
#77Man, where to begin.
* Trying to use my car keys to open my apartment door
* Putting in my contacts in the morning and instead dumping them in the toilet
* Dumping creamer in my water and drinking my coffee black
* Trying to find pants to wear only to realize I'm still topless and already wearing pants. Also was wearing the pants I was already wearing.
It's a surprise I can even make it out the door in the morning. Oh yeah, I tried to lock my door with a cigarette once. Doesn't work, it turns out.