updated 11/3/2009 9:31:45 AM ET 2009-11-03T14:31:45

Whether it happened 20 seconds ago or 20 years ago, embarrassing memories have a way of sticking around, no matter how hard we try to forget. In response to a recent story , readers shared their own humiliations from their past.

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"I worked in a department store mailing out customer statements. My hair got stuck in the machine that folded the statements. I couldn't get my hair out and made it worse by trying," writes Rita, who lives in Minneapolis. "I had to lift up the machine — about the size of a small desktop printer — and carry it — with my hair wrapped around the rollers — into the main office for someone to cut my hair out of the machine. I've actually learned to laugh about this episode and tell it after several stiff drinks!"

Keep reading for more responses.

In the 5th grade, I was sitting with a bunch of girls who were in the "popular" group. I had been holding back a sneeze and all of a sudden I couldn't anymore and out it came... along with a huge gob of snot and mucus....all over my hand and face. It was disgusting.
Nikki, Maine

During World War II they stopped putting elastic in ladies and children's panties,instead they used a drawstring which had to be tied to keep them up. i was walking home from school one afternoon and all of a sudden my panties dropped down around my ankles. There I was in broad daylight on a busy sidewalk. I pulled them up the best I could and held them until I got home. I was ten years old. I still remember it very well. I felt totally embarrassed.
Mary, Tyler, Texas

In 9th grade, I had to give a talk to an auditorium FULL of my classmates...I bombed big-time...I started laughing & just couldn't stop. It was awful. Yet as an adult, I've become a very good public speaker...strange.
Kay, American Canyon, Calif.

In junior high, there was a bully that decided that I was deserving of his attention. He went so far as to set my locker on fire by stuffing a lit match through the vent slots. Adding insult to injury, I wound up getting in trouble for the fire HE set!!! While I don't think there's any damage that's kept me from functioning in society, I have found myself reflecting on those dark times a lot lately as my children enter into those years.
Scott, Ellington, Conn.

This moment haunts me still to this day. It was 6th grade and we did a talent show. My friends and I did NKOTB The right stuff. The whole class just stood and laughed. Now I'm like, wtf was I thinking??
Senaida, Wenatchee, Wash.

When I was in second grade (in the mid-seventies), I had to go to the bathroom really, really bad. So, I asked my favorite teacher if I could go to the bathroom during class. She said "no". When I finally couldn't hold it in anymore, I peed in my pants at my desk. I was SO humiliated!! I remember seeing my teacher holding a baggy with my wet underwear. I wanted to die. My teacher was NOT happy. It crushed me to see her so mad at me. However, I still remember her fondly.
Debbie, La Verne, Calif.

In my Twenties, I earned my living in the construction trade. Working alone, I was putting aluminum siding on a new home in an established neighborhood. The end of the job required siding a very tall wood frame chimney. To finish the top, I was standing on the second to last rung of a very tall ladder. Shirtless and wearing shorts, I was stretched to the max trying to nail the last piece of siding. My over loaded toolbelt slipped down to my ankles, carrying my shorts and underwear with it. There I was, precariously perched three stories in the air, well tanned and bunny butt naked but for my ankles. The neighborhood filled with housewife's and little kids. It took me several minutes to extricate myself safely from this position. I never heard about it, but if anybody saw me, I suppose my predicament was obvious and very embarrassing.
Michael, Woodbridge, Va.

As a ninth grader I was more than excited to go on a school trip to France. As my mother and I boarded Cleveland Ohio's rapid transit to the airport, she casually asked me if I had my passport. I did not. We did not have enough time to go back home, and cell phones were a thing of the future. We got off at a stop and found a pay phone. Luckily, the wonderful woman who cleaned our house for years was cleaning that day and answered the phone. As my mother and I got back on the rapid and continued to the airport, Sarah also got on the rapid, and had a meeting place to hand the passport over to my father, who continued on to the airport with the passport. Back then, anyone could go through security, so he did the O.J. Simpson (back then he was just a football player and star of rental car commercials) run through the airport, only to arrive at our gate as the plane to our connection in New York was backing away. Of course, by this time I was in tears and the teacher in charge of the trip was none to happy with me. My father put the passport on the next plane to New York, and my teacher and I had to figure out what terminal that plane was landing in and make the trek on the buses at La Guardia to meet the plane. I did finally get the passport, and I made the trip, but even 32 years later I still get a sick feeling in my stomach when I think about it. For years I would burst into tears if my mother brought it up!!
Shane, Wilmington, N.C.

I grew up in a big household and we had a courtyard where everyone hung around. And I remember, at 11, I got my period. My godmother took me by her side and stood in the middle of the courtyard and nothing could have prepared me for what she awas about to do. She told everyone to watch out because I got my period and that I was a woman now. Mortified, humiliated does not begin to describe the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach.
Beatrice, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Seventh grade. The "cool" girls. The four of them. Held an election, a vote, to see if I was cool enough to be friends with them. I wasn't. And I'll never forget it.
Kim, Meriden, Conn.

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