Ashamed Employees Admit Their Biggest Work Mistakes

January 30, 2020 | Scott Mazza

Ashamed Employees Admit Their Biggest Work Mistakes

We’ve all had that moment. The one where we know we just messed up big time at work. Maybe some of us fessed up to our boss, or maybe we kept it secret for the rest of our lives—but either way, our worst slip-ups probably had nothing on these colossal work mistakes.

1. The Mile-High Flub

I was an airline Duty Manager in the Operation Control Centre. I was like the Maytag repairman: I only worked when there were problems, and my job description was to save the operation, meaning: find solutions where there aren't any. One September, Air Canada crews went on strike, so my airline lent two aircraft with full crews to operate Air Canada flights.

That's minus two aircraft for my fleet. On Sept. 2, a terrible tragedy occurred: Swissair 111 went down off the coast of Peggy's Cove. Less than eight hours later, one of our flights en route to London did an emergency landing in Halifax because there was smoke in the cockpit—same thing that had happened to SR111, except ours was a different aircraft type and only a minor technical problem.

Because of all the media attention, the aircraft had to be grounded for over 36 hours to make sure everything was all right. That's a total of three aircraft that I can't use. From that point on, we went into full crisis management. My phones were constantly ringing and I had to solve each and every single problem. When a crisis like that occurs, we're bound to forget certain things.

For operational purposes, the crew that was supposed to fly the aircraft back from London to Toronto was sent to Lisbon to fly dead-head onto Toronto. Only, the Lisbon flight was subsequently canceled and it was the Lisbon World Fair...there wasn't a single hotel room in the whole city and around. The crew purser, Marie, kept calling me asking me what to do.

I kept telling her that I was trying to find a solution. To this day, I can still hear her sweet little voice: "Berg, it's Marie, We're stuck in our uniforms, sleeping on the floor of a McDonald's. I'm a bridesmaid on Saturday. I have to get back. Please Berg, I have to get back." I was so busy, this one got by me. The crew came back the following Wednesday and she missed the wedding.

I still feel extremely bad about it, especially because she was so nice about it. She never freaked out and she kept her crew calm and they just waited...

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2. No Really, Oh No

Working in an online gambling chat room. Dude comes to take me off my break and comes in the room. At that point, a player had told us his brother had just passed on so I said "Oh No!" Dude taking my place sees this and gives a big "OH YEAHHHHHH!" kool-aid guy style.

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3. Do NOT Call This Guy With a Medical Problem

Firefighter-Paramedic/Nurse here. I dropped a newborn baby. What it sounds like really. As soon as the sucker popped out, she was quite slippery and fell out of my hands right onto an ambulance floor as I was handing her to my partner. In the end it was okay, but the mother freaked out entirely, understandably of course.

I also kicked a cardiac monitor/defibrillator into a pool during an active cardiac arrest. The patient was pulled from a pool, and as equipment was getting shuffled around, the monitor got moved and I inadvertently kicked it. It ended up at the bottom of a pool. They cost about $20K each. Luckily there was another one there.

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4. Buckle up, This Is One Wild Ride

This happened to my friend. So this guy, Dan, is a good guy overall, but he can be kind of a jerk. Well, Dan, who was a medic, used to insist that not using all the cot seatbelts when he was riding the ambulance was fine. He was written up a few times, but nothing would change his attitude. So one day, we get dispatched to a very obese lady who has fallen down.

This poor lady needs to go get checked out at the hospital. 10 of us put her on a special sheet they make, get her out to the ambulance, package her up, and send them off to the hospital, with Dan of course insisting that two seatbelt straps are fine instead of five. As we are heading back to the house, we suddenly hear the dispatcher, in a panic, trying to contact his radio.

The dispatcher is saying “2389 ARE YOU OKAY?, 2389 ARE YOU OKAY??" At this point, she activates the emergency tones, and asks again “2389 ARE YOU OKAY?” So just about everyone and their grandmother knows that something bad has happened, and after the tone activation, we hear the driver get on the radio.

He’s screaming “Dispatch Medic 19 we need help at the intersection of XY”…and then nothing after that. The driver couldn't see what was going on in the back so until he heard the emergency tone, he had no idea something had happened. At this point, the radio lights up with the Chief, Deputy Chief, and Duty Chief responding from HQ.

We are thinking the worst. We arrive and notice the two officers that beat us there are beet red, and we can hear cursing, and screaming. At this point, I knew everything was going to be okay because I could recognize the voice. I come around to the back of the ambulance, and this is what I see: A pair of soaked blue uniform pants and boots, covered by a very large, incontinent woman.

What had happened is that the driver took a turn, the weight of the patient snapped the belts as Dan was kneeling down, and he ended up pinned to the floor. Unluckily for him, the movement also caused the huge lady to pee on him. He could only reach his emergency button, which in retrospect is good for him, because otherwise he would have been found like that at the ER dock.

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5. It All Comes Tumbling Down

I accidentally knocked over two aisles filled with wine glasses. Lucky for me, everyone was too busy freaking out—there was apparently a customer nearby who also got a few cuts on his legs—that they didn't notice me slowly slipping away and reappearing a few seconds later to ask what happened like I was totally innocent.

No one ever suspected it was me, but I still felt horrible because it was over a few thousand dollars worth of stuff that I broke, which may not sound like much, but when you're 15 years old working on $11/hr, five hours a week...

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6. Total Wipeout

I accidentally deleted the e-mail accounts for my entire organization...stopped the command once I realized what happened, but by that time it had wiped out three-quarters of the mailboxes, including both of the owners' accounts. That was a dark, dark day...I'll always be careful with "rm -rf" from now on though...

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7. Sound the Alarms

I screwed up opening a simple valve and shut down a port on my first day on the job. Estimated cost was £6 million. I was a brand new industrial QA chemist working for Exxon. The lab was located in the middle of the plant, it was a two-story glass-fronted building slap bang in full view of the control tower.

This was a production facility, the docking point for ships offloading petrol and fuel oils. The other plants on this strip of the dock were a natural gas cylinder company and four other petroleum companies, all with their own lines, ships, and docks. Job 1 was to test the viscosity of lubricant oils at low temperatures. For this job, one needs blocks of dry ice.

The CO2 cylinders were stored on the first floor under the stairs at the front where all that glass was. I went down there, box in hand, hooked up to the pipes, and tried to turn the wheel on the top of the 6 ft tall cylinder. Unable to budge the darn thing, I resorted to good old brute force and used a metal pipe to coax that thing loose. It was the worst mistake I've ever made.

I snapped the handle off and the whole canister (thankfully secured to the wall) dumped its load of compressed CO2. So…the whole building is now filling up with white gas and I can see alarmed yellow-helmets rushing around in the control tower trying to figure out what was happening. Knowing that they would suspect a fire, I ran out of the building trying to signal that things were ok.

For some reason, the sight of a lab-coated dude running from a building billowing smoke, waving his arms above his head like a maniac was interpreted as a bad sign. They hit the port alarm. The port alarm that sounds like a tornado siren. The port alarm that can be heard throughout the entire city. The port alarm that means all facilities must immediately shut all lines down and evacuate all personnel.

Yep. Every plant shut down and a throng of workers downed tools and headed for their evacuation points. Two of the tanker ships stripped their lines and started to remove themselves from the impending doom. Shutting these facilities down is NEVER done, ever. It was an unmitigated fiasco, and to this day (15 years later) when I go back to my home town, I still get tanker drivers beeping, honking, and pointing at That Guy Who Shut The Port Down.

The worst part of all of this was I got that job through nepotism: My dad also worked there, just not that day. So after the storm had cleared, I headed over to his house. "Hey kid, how'd the first day go? I heard the port alarm, odd time for a test, what was happening...?" "Ehh the thing is....."

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8. An Expensive Lesson

My dad always tells of a story when he (an electrician) plugged in some wires backwards and blew up a $10,000 piece of equipment. His boss was really cool though and told him, "Just consider this a $10,000 investment in your education."

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9. The Sound of Silence

I stopped all power to a stage in a venue with 1,200 people raving hard. Longest 30 seconds ever while I switched the broken cable out...

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10. A Super Screwup

Back in high school, I had a job as a web designer at a small webshop servicing non-profit organizations. My bosses didn't let on that I was as young as I was, and they handled all the face-to-face client meetings. My job basically entailed designing and preparing the website for our clients. One of our big clients was Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

I sliced up the site and put in filler text, knowing full well that only people coming from our internal IP would be able to see the development. I should mention that my company was small, close-knit, and had a great (albeit vulgar) sense of humor. Rather than going the standard lorem ipsum route, I did the what ended up being the worst thing imaginable.

I instead filled in something along the lines of "Herp derp I'm Christopher Reeve, I drive myself with a straw. Weaknesses include kryptonite and falling off horses." It got worse, but I'll let your imaginations fill in the blanks. There were about four paragraphs of filler text. I came into work after school one day and all three of my company's owners/my bosses were waiting for me.

I thought they were pulling some prank, but they asked me to come into their office. At this point, I knew something was definitely up. My boss: "Chris and Dana saw the site." Me: "What? Who?" Him: "CRPF. Chris and Dana Reeve. The director wanted to show them the progress. Apparently he didn't check before he showed it to him in person."

At this point I think my stomach hit the floor and kept going straight on to the Earth's core. My boss told me he'd let me know what the next steps were, but just to know that I was in deep, deep trouble. Anyway, I didn't get fired (despite how adamant Dana Reeve was about that fact) and I had to write an apology to the Reeves.

I found out later that Chris actually had a pretty solid sense of humor and thought it was funny. RIP, Mr. and Mrs. Reeve.

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11. Let’s Go to the Tape

I used to work for a TV company that makes a lot of high profile shows, including one of the most popular shows on British TV, which is also broadcast around the world. Our client had gone out on location and shot all their footage for an episode of this show and brought it back to my work...only for me to then lose their tapes.

The show goes out on a Wednesday night, and it got to the Sunday beforehand and we still couldn't locate five of their tapes of footage, because I had put them somewhere, and not in the location I logged them into on our system. Everybody chipped in to help look for these tapes, staying behind and pulling 16-hour shifts to search for them.

But when push came to shove, we couldn't find them and my company had to pay for the client to re-shoot their footage. Not the end of the world, right? Wrong. It turns out that the footage on the tapes I had misplaced had been shot from a goshdarn HELICOPTER. So my company had to fork out £18,000 for the camera rentals, the crew, and the hire for a chopper!

And then real kicker is that as soon as they had shot it again, the original tapes turned up.

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12. His Loss

I left a huge folder for a multi-billion (yes, that’s a “B”) lawsuit on the subway. Some homeless guy finds it, calls the opposing attorney, and ransoms the darn thing. Luckily, there was nothing in the file that wasn't secret or not public record. Needless to say, I was fired.

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13. Full Transparency

I accidentally sent out the salaries of every one of our executives and the owner to about 100 people in the company. I had requested info from HR (just a list of eligible employees for something) and what they sent had the default sheet 1/sheet 2/sheet 3 tabs at the bottom of the workbook...

Sheet 1 was the list I had requested, Sheet 2 was, for some reason, executive compensation.

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14. It Feels Like Something’s Missing…

It went a little something like this: I work at a small cinema in a small town where everyone knows everyone, and I put my hand up to work the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Everything was going well, cinemas were working fine, the food was plentiful and everyone was having a wonderful time.

Until I remembered I never actually had the hard drive (our cinema is DCI) for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

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15. They Don’t Call It Pop for Nothing

I used to be a product merchandiser for Coca-Cola a few years ago. Basically, what I did was go to grocery stores, meet the driver dropping the delivery, and stock the shelves as fast as possible, then get to the next store, repeat. My second day on the job, I was stocking 2L bottles at this mega grocery store, running a bit behind because the order came in late, so I was moving fast.

Dropped a bottle of Sprite on the floor, and it hit cap down. That little jerk shot up in the air and cleared four aisles. Luckily, it didn’t hit anyone. Then, on my last day of working for Coke, same thing happened, except this time it went flying straight for the cash and nearly hit some lady in the head. As I headed to the back room to get a mop, every employee was lined up, applauding.

One of them offered to clean it up, as it was the funniest thing he'd seen working at the store. That was the last bottle I stocked working for Coca-Cola.

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16. License to Ill

I once forgot to buy £48,000 worth of Microsoft licenses for a council. They were not pleased when they found out.

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17. A Slip of the Hand

I was in the middle of a remote assistance session with a user who was having trouble with his Outlook. I resolved his issue and proceeded to send a test email to myself along the lines of “test test this is a test.” I was doing a million other things at once, so I wasn't paying attention to the screen or keyboard, and when I looked at the screen, my heart sank.

“Twat twat this is a twat.” Luckily, the user I was on the phone with was a good sport and thought it was hilarious. I was pretty mortified.

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18. The Town Fool

I worked as a cameraman in high school. One night, I was working alone at our town hall filming a committee meeting and my boss gave me the keys. I was told to break down and lock up after the shoot. I forgot to lock the town hall. My freaking town hall was wide open for a whole weekend. I realized this after I returned the keys, so for the whole weekend I was freaking out, thinking everything would be taken and they would trace this mistake back to me.

Nothing was taken and everything was fine. I've never actually told anyone this before.

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19. This Mistake Goes up to 11

My worst mistake would have to have been when I was running live sound for a major festival. The show was supposed to start fifteen minutes ago and I was trying to figure out why we only had the left channel playing. I scrambled, traced every wire, and was getting calls from the guy who contracted me asking what the heck was going on.

Just as the band was about to quit, I noticed one key element: The volume knobs on the right-stage amp rack (about eight different amp modules) were all turned to negative unity. We always leave the racks in the exact same state, so we can do on-the-fly setups. The last person to pack it up decided to zero out the entire thing.

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20. The Mad Chemist

I am a chemist, and over a period of about a year, I was doing a series of very dangerous reactions. Essentially, I had to mix a strong acid with an alcohol solvent and several other chemicals, put the chemicals in a strong glass bottle (high-pressure reactor), seal the bottle, and submerge the reaction vessel in 175-degree (c) silicone oil.

If any of you have heated up a closed container, you know this builds internal pressure inside the container. I kept a valve on top of the reactor to monitor the pressure; the container was rated to be safe at pressures up to 150 PSI. Unfortunately for me, one particular day I started warming up the reaction, and the heat was applied to the solution just fast enough in just the right way to start a runaway polymerization reaction.

If you're a chemist, you just cringed. This runaway polymerization reaction gave off massive amounts of heat very quickly, thus shooting the pressure of this flask from 130 PSI to HOLY HECK RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! The resulting explosion was so loud it sounded like an 18-wheeler slammed into the side of the building. Luckily for me and my lab associate, no one was in the room when the explosion went off.

Hot shards of glass were spewed across the entire room, as well as a nice spray of hot silicone oil. Even worse, this explosion happened right next to the CEO's office. He ran out looking for me, to which I assured him, "We totally have everything under control (oh God oh God please don't walk in there and notice I ruined your hundred thousand dollar lab)."

Luckily, the damage to the facilities was minimal, no one was hurt, and I got to keep my job!

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21. Bad Time Management

It was my first day flying solo as a manager at Burger King. It was a Sunday morning. A lady had called in a moderately-sized order to pick up. I made sure we had it ready to go and thought all was well. It had been about 15 minutes past the time she was expected to arrive to pick up the order. Soon, it was 30 minutes and the three or four bags containing the order were still sitting on the heat chute.

By this time, breakfast had closed (at 11:00 AM). About another 10 to 15 minutes later, I figured she probably wasn't going to come in, so I threw it out. As luck would have it, she showed up just after the food she had ordered went into the trash. When she asked for her order, I had to politely tell her that since her order had been sitting on the heat chute long past the time she was due to pick it up, that I had thrown it out.

She gave me the iciest stare anyone had ever given me. She didn't say a word and then she walked back out. I can't say it was necessarily entirely my fault, since the food was long past its shelf life as she had come in so much later than when she was expected. Since I was the only manager on duty and it was my first day alone, I wasn't sure what the protocol was for holding late call-in orders, so I had to just make a judgment call.

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22. Nepotism Doesn’t Work, People

I lost my father's company three million dollars in assets due to a typo. As an 18-year-old intern.

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23. You Drive Me Crazy

I worked in a warehouse once unloading trucks of mostly food and sometimes cigarettes. I was unloading a few pallets of cigarettes and accidentally hit the gas instead of the break. I reamed the boxes. I thought I was fired for sure, as reaming a box of cigarettes costs quite a bit. Turned out, I missed the Marlboros and hit some mini cigarettes that were packed on top.

Things are only like $5 a carton. Boss was happy he didn't have to fire me for it so it worked out. Another time I ran the thing into a shelf, which knocked it over and then knocked over the one next to it like dominos. I didn't have a driver’s license at the time, so I'm not really sure why they kept having me drive that forklift.

Now I'm behind a computer screen away from heavy machinery. I'm sure everyone is safer for it.

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24. Having a Gas

When I was a kid, I used to work at a gas station. It was one of those one-man stations where the attendant sits in a little booth in the center of the pumps. This was before the days where you could pay at the pump. You would go to the booth, give your credit card to the cashier (through the little slit under the plexiglass) and they would open your pump.

One day, one of the pumps jammed, and I had to go out to fix it. As the station was very busy, I hurried out to the pump, and then I heard a sound that made my stomach drop: the click of the door closing behind me. I had locked myself out of the booth. Needless to say, the variety of people who were trying to get gas and now couldn't were quite upset.

Not quite as upset as the people who had their credit cards locked inside the booth, though. I ended up having to call my manager at home from a payphone to bring another key to let me back in. I was left dealing with irate customers for the hour it took him to arrive, and turn away other irate potential customers, one whom was completely out of gas and stuck there.

My manager had a chuckle when he arrived and I later learned that this eventually happened to everyone, and that you could use the stick used to measure the gas levels in the tank to push through the tiny slot in the front through the booth to unlock the door.

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25. Don’t Mess With the Internet

Not my mistake, but I think our CEO wins this. I used to work for a telecom company and our CEO went to a site to look at our new fiber optic shelter. While going around the shelter, he accidentally stepped on fiber that was transmitting more than a quarter of the data of our country. All our country had outbound connection problems for 18 hours.

It affected more than 10 million people.

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26. Spam-a-Lot

I once worked for a music PR company. My first job was to send a promotional email out to about 1,000 journalists. I forgot to BCC every one and instead just CC'ed them. 90% of the mailing list unsubscribed. As you can imagine, those 1,000 journalists were this PR company's bread and butter. I…did not keep my job for long.

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27. Horsing Around

My very first job in high school was at a horse farm with about 25-30 horses. One of those places where rich people board their horses because they don't have the time or space for full-time horse ownership. The owner spent about a week training me on my duties. Each horse had their own stall and most of them had special diets that had to be memorized.

I figured the hardest part would be remembering which stall got which feed so I concentrated really hard on remembering it. The part that seemed easy was bringing the horses in from their pastures to the barn. There were three separate paddocks for obvious reasons; one for the geldings, one for the mares, and one for the stallions.

The owner showed me how all you really had to do was open the gate for one group. The horses would make their way to their own stalls. After locking that group in their stalls, you let the next group out. Simple enough, right? Well, the day came that the owner let me do my work unsupervised. I mean completely unsupervised. I was the only one at the stables.

I'm pretty proud of myself that I got the food combinations correct, so I head towards the mares. Normally, the horses would be waiting because they knew it was feeding time. Today, they were nowhere to be found—until I opened the gate. Suddenly, 25,000 pounds of horseflesh came charging up over a hill and toward the gate.

Every single horse on the farm was within the mare's paddock. I freaked. There wasn't a darn thing I could do but get the heck out of the way and hopefully they would go to their own stalls and I could save the day. Nope. I don't think a single one of them went to the right stall, and moving them around was impossible.

I sat there, not sure whether I was angry at whoever put them all in the same field or disgusted in myself for failing so miserably at my first job. After they were all done, I put them back where they were supposed to go, although I'm quite sure I was so flustered that I put some mares in the gelding pen and vice versa. Convinced it was somehow all my fault, I was too cowardly to call the owner and tell her what happened, and I never went back.

To this day, I imagine them coming back to the stables, only to find horses in the wrong pens and complaining about what an idiot I was.

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28. A Black and White Issue

I was officiating a soccer game of 15-year-old boys. The teams’ respective colors were RED and WHITE. There was one African American boy on the Red team. As the game progressed, it got more dangerous and out of hand. At half-time, I informed both benches that I would be calling the game tight, and that the next flagrant foul would not go unpunished.

30 seconds into the 2nd half, the African American boy had a hard foul. I blew my whistle very aggressively and yelled, "TAKE A REST BLACK!" After realizing what I had said, I immediately tried to correct myself. I stumbled over every word. The damage was already done. One player on the other team said to me, "Not cool dude.”

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29. Slippery When Wet

Oh God…here goes. Working at McDonald's three years ago, little kid spills coke on the floor. I happily wander over to clean it up. Mop that stuff up lightning fast with a smile and everybody is happy. Go behind the counter and retrieve the “slippery when wet” sign to place over the newly-cleaned area, and when I get there, distracted by something, I slip! Embarrassing right? You have no idea...

My foot slips out like a javeline and kicks a baby's high chair, the baby's head whiplashes against his table so hard both of his shoes fall right off. I just stared in horror at the family. I place the sign down like an idiot and run back behind the kitchen for my dear life. Then I proceeded to crack up in the most maniacal nervous laughter accented with breaths of horror. What had I done?!

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30. Foot in Face Disease

My story involves harming small children. I was working at a video store and was turning on all our display televisions. The controller was dead, so I was doing it the old-fashioned way by going up to each television and hitting the power button. Some were higher up than others, so I had to climb to get to them (probably against company policy).

Well, I climbed up a pillar to turn on a television near the top of the wall and when I jumped off, I landed right on top of a 6ish-year-old kid who was watching from right under me. When he got up, he had a perfect red shoe print on his face and was screaming. His dad came over and said not to worry, and proceeded to scold his kid for standing right underneath me. Whew!

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31. Delivery Dunce

I work for a lighting manufacturing company. We sold a huge amount of light fixtures to UPS that they were using in their warehouse facilities. Imagine a huge order with skids and skids of shrink-wrapped fixtures. Everything was going great. Even was asked to step up the delivery date to meet a deadline. Told them sure, no problem.

Fixtures make it to the job site…except…they arrive in FedEx trucks. I did not live that one down for a long, long time.

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32. Crystal Clear Idiot

I broke a champagne flute at a wedding once. It was one of the bride and groom's matched set. I was picking up cake plates and saw the glass on the edge of the table, told myself, "Be really careful, that's at a bad spot," and then proceeded to tap it just enough to knock it off the table to the ground, shattered. The glasses were crystal and a family heirloom passed down through their Jewish family from before the Holocaust.

I have never felt more guilty or terrible in my life. I still think about it sometimes and want to curl up in a ball and die.

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33. Close Shave

I was working at a shaving razor company. They had these large coils of metal that they ran through a machine. I had no idea what the heck I was doing, and removed the cover on the coil. This large coil just starts spinning fast and unraveling everywhere. I tried to stop it with this cutting tool I was holding...because I was supposed to take a sample of the metal.

This scrapes a huge line down the side of the coil. I managed to stop it and wind it back up, then put the cover back on like nothing happened.

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34. Paper Thin Excuse

I worked payroll for a contractor for a railroad company and I was in charge of making sure all of the companies got paid. I did pretty well and liked the job, but one of the companies who had the biggest contract with us (millions) had an invoice that was just one page while all the other contracts were pages upon pages of figures.

I ended up misplacing the invoice for a month, so they didn't get paid. This caused our company to lose this contract and pretty much go out of business. I was really young, and looking back on it, there were so many things that I should have done differently but just didn't realize. Plus it was, in my opinion, way too much work for one person, which I had said a few times before.

Either way, I felt really bad...still do. I ended up quitting a little while later. The owner didn't tell anyone why we lost the contract, but me and him both knew.

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35. A Whole Lot of Baggage

Another paramedic here...I've made some mistakes, of course, but this one was a doozy. My partner and I got a call to a station for an "altered mental status, suicidal ideation" patient, a 22-year-old female. She seemed a little bewildered but was pretty much oriented if a bit distraught. The authorities just didn't know what to do with her.

They could have put her on a hold, but because she was acting a little weird, they couldn't rule out that she might be on substances. More precisely, they were being lazy. I was talking to her and she told me that her boyfriend kicked her out of the house. She wasn't from around this city and had moved here to be with this guy.

She had no family, nowhere to go, and she felt that she was having a nervous breakdown and wanted to go to a hospital as she didn't feel safe...she was on the edge and thought that perhaps she should be committed for a few days while she collected herself. She had three huge suitcases with her...two of them had all of her clothes and small personal items, and the third had several of her paintings and art supplies.

Everything she had in the world was in these bags. We brought her and her things out to the ambulance and loaded her up. Took her history and vitals, and went en route to the hospital. We arrived, unloaded her, brought her into triage, and got her assigned a room. Then she asked me, "are you going to bring my bags in?"

Then my heart sunk. I looked at my partner and we both knew that we had left them outside of the station. "Dude...get her into the room and I’m gonna race down there and get those bags!" I raced down there code 3 (lights and sirens) and heck those bags were gone. Went into the station, asked if they had them, and they did not.

I started driving around the block, getting further and further out until I was driving in circles up to about five blocks out. Nothing. I slowly drove up to the hospital and went into this patient's room. I felt horrible. I told her, "I am so sorry, but we left your bags outside of the ambulance and I can't find them anywhere."

This girl, who was already on the brink, now had nothing in this world at all. Just the clothes on her back. "Are you serious? You forgot them???" and then she started to cry. Her life was falling apart even faster because I was an idiot.

Moments That Changed Their Lives factsShutterstock

36. The Affair of the Necklace

I work at a boutique, and my manager accidentally mislabeled two necklaces, switching their prices. Wouldn't be a huge deal, but one of the necklaces was $200 and one was $1,400. I sold the one labeled $200 about a week later (not having any idea), and then got in trouble for it after my boss saw the $200 necklace marked as $1,400 lying around.

How it was my fault, I'll never know...but according to her, I should have "known" that the little rhinestone looking things on the necklace were real diamonds, and that I should have recognized it was worth more than $200. Yeah.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsShutterstock

37. The Mac Daddy of Mess ups

At the first advertising agency I worked at, one of our clients was an oil drilling company. I was working on some very standard ads for them, one of which had the headline, "FASTER, FARTHER, DEEPER." I made a typo that caused the ad to read, "FASTER, FATHER, DEEPER." Thankfully, my Creative Director caught it before it went to the client.

We all had a big (nervous) laugh about it and the original ended up on the creative department's wall.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsShutterstock

38. Giving New Meaning to Pie in the Face

I worked in a busy pizzeria when I was young. The pizza maker was talking to his girlfriend, who was standing in front of him on the other side of the counter. He throws up the pizza dough in the air to spin it and it comes down and lands on top of his girlfriend's head and still just continues to spin on her hair.

The packed dining room erupted in laughter and she ran out crying with flour all over her face and jet black hair.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsPixabay

39. A Costly Mistake

Due to a misunderstanding with my boss, I wired $7,000,000 of a client's cash to a hedge fund instead of $3,500,000. More importantly, this particular fund "locked" their assets on that date. They would not return the cash, and all investments were locked up (cannot be redeemed) for a year. So, effectively, my client had doubled his investment in this fund, and now had $3,500,000 less cash than he should have had.

That $3,500,000 was to be used to purchase a home and make other investments. I'm not sure I've ever felt more nauseated at work. Second worst day of my professional life. Thankfully, after many, many phone calls and arguing, some of my managers were able to get the funds returned, but it was a big deal. To his credit, the boss who I had the misunderstanding with about the amount of the wire never yelled at me.

He said that he knew I had already beaten myself up enough, and that was that. Never mentioned it again.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsShutterstock

40. Alert the Authorities: I’m an Idiot

When I was working at a liquor store, we had a super-serious alarm system that was ultra-sensitive once you activated it and locked up. Once you set it, you had 60 seconds to get out and lock up. My first time closing, I set the alarm and left, then realized I left something on the counter. I ran back in to get it, then ran back out and locked up again, thinking everything was cool.

As soon as I got to my car, the freaking thing started blaring "ALARM! ALARM! INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT! CALL THE AUTHORTIES! CALL THE AUTHORITIES!" over and over again. People a mile away could probably hear it, it came out of a PA on the outside of the building as well as one on the inside. I freaked out and went back into the building and called the security company (which, thankfully, my manager had instructed me to do just in case this happened) and they had to verify my employment and walk me through turning the alarm off.

I then had to call 9-1-1 to let them know that I messed up and already talked to the security company.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsShutterstock

41. Cookies and Scream

Working for a chocolate factory, and we were to sell 500,000 chocolate-covered Oreos to Walgreens…whoever was in charge ordered 5,000,000. Long story short, company later went under and all us employees enjoyed 4.5 million chocolate covered Oreos.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsWikimedia Commons

42. Can’t Catch Spiderman

A psychiatric patient escaped the unit on my watch. It was my first job out of graduate school and I hadn't even made my three-month probation period yet. A gentleman with bipolar disorder who referred to himself as "Spiderman" actually fashioned an effigy of himself out of linens and put it in the bed. When I did room checks, I thought he was there.

To be fair, it wasn't all me—the air conditioning guy had been in the room earlier that shift and had forgotten to secure one set of locking screens. Spiderman jumped out the second-floor window, landing in the bushes and breaking his ankle. It was caught on outdoor security cameras, but no one noticed until the next day when I got a call from the nursing supervisor asking me how this happened.

Spiderman disappeared, only to return two weeks later for re-admission, with a cast on his leg, manic as can be.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsShutterstock

43. Safety First

I forgot to replace the filters on my full-face mask before going into a containment area where asbestos abatement was happening. I was filling bags with pure mag asbestos for 10 minutes before I realized it.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsShutterstock

44. The “G” Is Silent

I once sent a direct mail piece out quoting an Angus Reid poll. Left the "g" out, so of course, the spell-check didn't catch it. Based on the feedback I received, virtually all those who noticed thought it was an improvement.

Bosses Fired factsShutterstock

45. Brain on Autopilot

Once while working in retail, I suggested a customer's husband "go on a Jenny Craig diet." I don’t know what happened or what my brain was thinking, but I didn’t really realize I said it until it came out of my mouth. The customer calmly replied, “I don’t think so,” and then walked out. Not my best day.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsShutterstock

46. Wrong Room, Lasting Trauma

A friend of mine is a medical intern medical. There was a patient in her hospital that a whole team of doctors had just convinced the family to remove from life support after weeks. My friend went into the room after reading the wrong patient's chart and told the family she expected the patient to make a full was everything that the family had been praying to hear for months, only to find out it wasn't true.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsPxfuel

47. You Had One Job

Back in the dark ages, I worked for a small-town daily newspaper. There was one large discount store that refused to advertise with us, and would only use the other paper in town (our sole rival), which was more of a "weekly shopper"-type paper. For unknown reasons, the store finally decided to give our paper a chance.

Ad ran, and there in the double-truck, full-color ad, was "Men's shirts $9.99"—minus the ever-important R in "shirts." Yep.  Needless to say, they stuck with the other paper.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsPixabay

48. Gone Fishin’

When I was a teen, I worked at a full-service gas station. One day, a guy came in towing a boat to get gas. A guy a couple years younger was working and thought the owner had taken the gas cap off of the boat. He placed the gas nozzle in a fishing rod holder. It is basically a hole on the top of the side of the boat.

He proceeded to pump about $40.00 worth of gas onto the floor of the boat. The owner was understandably upset.

Biggest Work Mistakes factsPixabay

49. Runaway Driver

I was working on one of those TV shows where you do stupid things in public and film people’s reactions. In the skit we were doing, a man would be jogging with a stroller containing a life-like baby doll, and I was going to hit him with a car. The jogger was wearing bright green—they dress funny on these shows so that you don't mix up the cast with pedestrians. So, I'm cruising up to the stop sign in a beat-up old ford, my adrenaline is really pumping.

This was my first time actually being involved in a skit. I see the bright green jumpsuit, and I rev it—but when I realized what was happening it was too late. I hit the wrong guy. It was just some dude jogging with his kid. I realized what happened when the guy I hit didn't jump onto the hood the way you're supposed to in these stunts. I honestly don't remember anything about the incident after that, I was in shock. The dad had a few broken bones, the baby was fine.

Needless to say, there was a huge settlement paid out. I'm currently pursuing an unrelated career.

Biggest Work Mistakes facts Shutterstock

50. Big Pharma

I was promoted to VP of my company. The company was in trouble, and the CEO had asked me to figure out why and fix it. I arranged for a random drug test. All employees, the CEO, me, everyone. All on the same day, and everyone went down at the same time. Even said I would ignore weed, but anyone with anything stronger would be gone. We get the results back and I fired everyone who had tested positive for any drug other than weed. The CEO and myself were the only two people left working for the company.


Workplace StoriesShutterstock

51. My Boss Is a Heartbreaker

I had a doctor who constantly ignored patients in serious pain. He thought all of them were faking it to get pain killers. After a senior director at Microsoft, who he refused to do an EKG on, died from a heart attack in our ER, it was the last straw. I went to management and told them what I had seen. Thank God they fired him. I couldn't take it anymore.

Time factsPixabay

Sources: ,

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