20 things we all do when nobody’s looking

Any of these sound familiar? Go on, admit it, says Michael Hogan.

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Cyberstalk your exes

Just out of nosiness, you’ll look them up on at least three social-media platforms. Hang on, they can’t see who clicked on their profile, can they? Or is that just on LinkedIn? While you’re at it, maybe you’ll quickly check out his new partner, too…

Eat food off the floor

Five-second rule! Although if nobody’s around, you’ll probably pick it up and scoff it regardless of how long it’s been lying there. Food waste is bad for the planet, right? Especially trodden-on crisps, you imagine.

Breathe in

Getting dressed or undressed? There’s always time for a quick appraisal of your body in the mirror – including the obligatory ‘breathe in, just to see how hot I’d be if I lost a few pounds’ pose. While you’re there, how about making your stomach rolls talk by moving them and doing a daft voice? Or maybe that’s just us.

Shave just part of your legs

If your outfit only reveals your legs from the calf down, why waste all that effort doing the rest? Look, you’re busy, OK?


A certain tune comes on. Nobody else is around. Busting a move is only human. It’s the faces you pull when you’re doing it that are more worrying. See also: lip-synching or playing air guitar/drums/keyboards like you’re on-stage at Glastonbury.

Clear your browsing history

Eek! What if someone borrows your work computer or hops on your laptop? Quick! Erase all trace of those shopping sites, that cyberstalking session, that celebrity gossip trawl and the time you googled ‘Can I die of an itchy boob?’

Eat standing by the fridge

Who needs plates and cutlery? Far better to just stand in front of the fridge, snacking stuff with your bare hands. Mmm, cheese dipped in hummus. Yum, a slice of ham wrapped around an olive. Quick, someone’s coming. Close the fridge door and look innocent.

things we all do when nobody’s looking
Check out his cute face… oh, we forgot, you have been. For hours! Image: Catherine Falls Commercial.

Take your phone into the loo

Of course we know how germ-infested toilets are but come on, it’s the ideal time to catch up on Instagram, Twitter and the pesky WhatsApp group that keeps pinging. Just remember to switch to silent or you could get some funny looks. Besides, a quick wipe of your smartphone screen afterwards will sort any bacterial issues, won’t it?

Type ‘LOL’ without smiling

How often are people actually laughing out loud when they write ‘LOL’? It’s just a knee-jerk acknowledgement of a feeble joke. Don’t tell anyone but sometimes you’re barely even cracking a smile.

Check your change

We’re always too self-conscious to check in front of the shopkeeper that they gave us the correct change, so wait until we’re outside before having a furtive look. Might study the receipt as well to check everything’s in order. The money-saving expert Martin Lewis has got nothing on us.

Repeatedly press the lift door button

There are few things more excruciating than an elevator ride with a total stranger, particularly one who wants to make awkward small talk. That’s why when you hear someone coming, you’ll jab the ‘close door’ button like your life depends on it. And then, if they bust you, you’ll pretend you were trying valiantly to keep it open for them, like the kind soul you are. Ahem.

Steal bathroom products

Not just from hotels. Literally everyone does that. We also mean those sly sampling sessions while using other people’s bathrooms. Ooh, you’ve always wanted to try that moisturiser. And that eye cream looks nice. Will they notice if I spritz the perfume, too? Only one way to find out…

Smell your dirty clothes

Ah, the classic ‘sniff test’ to see if it’s still clean enough to wear. Let’s face it, though, it has to be eye-wateringly rancid for you to decide it won’t ‘do another day’. This aromatic checklist might also be accompanied by a cheeky sniff of one’s own armpit or a paranoid check of one’s own breath.

Pee in the shower

The only people who don’t do this occasionally are actual royalty – and even they’re probably fibbing. Except the Queen, obviously. Let’s call it multitasking. Saves water and all. Of course, you’re not being lazy, perish the thought.

Google yourself. Again

You’ve tried it before but it’s always worth another sneaky self-search, just to see if there’s anything new about you. Or, more likely, about the more interesting people who happen to share your name. The swines.

Adjust your pants

Underwear is all very well but it doesn’t half ride up into some unmentionable places. Pick it out, smooth it down, keep calm and carry on slightly more comfortably.

Kick litter under the furniture

Dropped something on the floor but can’t summon the motivation to clear it up? Furtively flick it with your foot under the sofa/cooker. Nobody will know. Well, not until it starts to smell or an angry-looking mouse staggers out, rubbing his head and shaking his fist.

Look at cute animal videos

Everyone does it, just not openly at work. Next time you feel guilty, though, reassure yourself that a recent study proved it boosted employees’ moods and made them more productive. Right, back to those adorable kittens and puppies.

Pull faces in the mirror

Do a trout pout. Blow yourself a kiss. Waggle your eyebrows. Practise raising one eyebrow. Practise winking without looking like you’ve had a stroke. Realise you’re in a public bathroom and someone’s just caught you doing all the above. Scurry out with a reddening face. Repeat it all again next time.

Take and delete selfies

If you’re having a good-hair day, the lighting is flattering or your make-up is on-point, you might reach for your phone and snap away. Try a couple of angles. Pull a few different faces. Then delete them out of embarrassment. So yes, um, that went well. Good job, everyone.