Making mistakes is a normal part of the human experience. However, sometimes a mistake is so brutal that you can’t just brush it off and move on. The following accounts tell of the worst screw-ups people have made in their lives, and though things eventually get better for them, let their horrific experiences serve as a warning. You can mess up—just try not to mess up THIS bad.
1. A Good Samaritan
I was a bank teller working the drive-thru at my branch. I had a fat stack of cash in an envelope, roughly $3,000, that I had set aside for my manager to take to the vault because my till drawer was already full. I was just going through the motions and there was some guy who needed a cash withdrawal. While I was on auto-pilot, I made a HUGE mistake.
I sent back his tube with the envelope containing $3,000 instead of the few hundred he was withdrawing. The worst part was that I didn’t realize my mistake until about 10 or so transactions later. I immediately called my manager and just said, “I messed up big time.” I couldn’t even remember which account the transaction was made on, so I had no idea who to call.
He could have kept that money and we would have never known. Luckily, he was a good Samaritan and he came back into the branch. He asked for the manager, saying: “I believe there was a mistake, I was given way too much money but I noticed it wasn’t taken out of my account. I don’t want your teller fired over this!” The issue was resolved in under an hour and I’m forever thankful that guy was a good person.
2. Traps In Aisle 4
In my 20s, while working at Home Depot, I walked by an aisle full of pallets of doors. As soon as I passed through, chaos ensued. All of the doors came crashing down, as well as the pallets. No one knows how it happened, but I’m pretty sure I was the one that put the pallets there a few days prior. Damages were in the thousands. Luckily, no one was hurt; but I still think about all of the traps I left in that place.
3. Nick Of Time
Doctor here. During the first surgery I ever scrubbed into in my surgery clerkship in medical school, I accidentally impaled the patient’s liver with a tool called a trocar. Just for some background, in laparoscopic surgery, typically three small incisions are made and surgical tools like a camera (laparoscope) are inserted in order to perform the surgery. After making the initial incision, a trocar is placed to widen the hole and facilitate the passage of tools.
Basically, I misjudged how much force I would need to push the trocar through and I very slightly nicked the patient’s liver. I immediately began to sweat and fog up my eye protection, thinking I ended the patient. Luckily, the injury was very minor and I didn’t hit any major blood vessels. The surgeon cauterized the area that I hit to stop some minor bleeding.
A few weeks later, we saw the same patient again to take out her gallbladder and she was perfectly fine.
4. Canine Chaos
I almost ended my dog an hour after adopting her. I had just brought her home and I took her for our first walk. I’ve owned dogs before, so I wasn’t particularly stressed; plus, we had bought a few collars for her ahead of time, so I tried them on and went with the one that fit the best. The walk was fine until we ended up beside a busy road with no street lights. She was getting riled up, wanting to chase the cars, which I obviously wouldn’t let her do.
She looked back at me for a moment, and then in one fluid motion, she slipped out of her collar and sprinted onto the street, chasing cars. I’ve never felt so helpless, watching her stand in the darkest part of the road with cars doing 60 mph, rapidly approaching. They definitely had zero chance of seeing her and I had about 30 seconds to save her. I ran after her, but every time I approached, she just ran away, thinking it was a game.
I had this rising nausea as I was sure I was about to watch my dog lose its life. I did the only thing I could think of: I ran full sprint away from her. She saw me running and chased me all the way back to the sidewalk. When she got there, I just hugged her and stayed with her until I caught my breath. She’s fine and we walk her with a harness now, but that was the worst feeling of my life.
To this day I get flashbacks about it.
5. Into The Abyss
I have been a scuba diver for 22 years and I’ve done over 3,000 dives in my career so far. I have seen only a couple of major dive accidents—one was a heart attack (the guy lived and is doing okay now), and the other happened to me and my two buddies. I was in the Komodo Islands and it was a drift dive, which is when the current is so strong you make yourself neutrally buoyant to purposely go with the current.
We were diving nitrox (a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen with a higher concentration of oxygen than regular air). I had a mixture that was 36% oxygen and my buddies were within 0.5% of my oxygen content. This is important because, under pressure, oxygen becomes harmful to the human body. For recreational divers, there is a depth limit of 40 meters to make sure nobody gets oxygen toxicity. Normally that would set in at around 90+ meters; however, with a higher oxygen content, the safe level becomes shallower.
We had a fourth buddy with us who was a part of our guides group. She was a lady who spoke little English and was very aloof. Our tour guide went into the water and all of us followed him—well, almost all of us. The lady decided she wanted to go her own way, and the guide proceeded to chase after her. The current was so strong we had to climb horizontally across the reef using reef hooks. And that’s when the real nightmare began.
As we were climbing, my buddy’s clip broke. My other buddy and I unhooked our clips and went after our friend. As we drifted, we noticed another group of people from our boat, so we joined them. The dive was going smoothly until I noticed my buddy was trying to take a picture of something. He was facing down, staring at the ground, and when I checked on him, I realized that he was undergoing nitrogen narcosis. Basically, it makes you feel tipsy and causes disorientation and other effects.
I grabbed onto him as our tour guide came over to help. Out of nowhere, the ocean floor started dropping from underneath us. I started pulling us towards the rest of the group we had joined but then noticed that all of our bubbles were going downward. I thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen…until a split second later when I realized we were caught in a down current.
I quickly checked my depth and realized I was at 130 feet and sinking quickly. I grabbed my two buddies by their tank valves and kicked as hard as I could. I ended up getting us all up to the surface. After a few minutes, I notice that we were alone. I blew into my whistle and heard a response, so I swam towards it while towing my two buddies.
Eventually, I reunited with the group; however, because we all got caught in the down current and the water was moving so fast, we ended up more than a mile from the island where we had been diving. We were still drifting away. We threw up our marker buoys and started making plans to go to one of the other islands that we were drifting past depending on how long we would be drifting for.
I told the group to wave the buoys in distress, but to conserve their air for emergencies and to keep the lights off until nighttime if it came to that. Luckily, another boat saw us in distress and rescued us. I put us all on DCI (decompression illness) watch and we monitored our symptoms for the next 24 hours. We were all okay and nobody had any lasting physical symptoms.
Though, a couple of people had PTSD, which is understandable given how close we came to dying that day.
6. Gates Of Hades
After a high school football game, I had some friends come over to my place for a backyard fire. We couldn’t get the wood lit, so someone had the bright idea of getting out the gasoline. As I poured some of the gas onto the barely lit fire, the fire traveled up the stream and into the gas can. I went into full-blown panic mode as I held this now flamethrower that could explode in my hand at any time.
I then had the genius idea of tossing the gas can into my pool that was nearby. Little did I know that gas floats on water, so when I threw the gas can into the pool, it looked like the Gates of Hades with flaming water flying everywhere. My friends were astonished at the scene. Everyone ended up leaving and I just waited for my mom to come home and end me.
7. Totally Stalling
One day, I woke up, wrote to my friend, and we played the entire game A Way Out in one sitting. We took a break at lunch and I ate some sandwiches with a funky-smelling blue cheese that we had in the back of the drawer in the fridge. It tasted just fine, so I didn´t think much of it. Later on, I ate the rest of the cheese as a snack while we played. Oh, how wrong I was.
About an hour after we finished, my co-worker came to pick me up for work. We were at the cleaning makeshift headquarters near a factory that was being built, and we were there alone because all the workers had left for the day already. While mopping the toilets, I thought to myself, “I should probably just go now.” So, I entered the stall with my bucket and mop and tried to go.
It was fine, but when I cleaned up and put on my pants, I felt my stomach rumble. Thinking I wasn’t done, I pulled my pants back down and tried to go again. That’s when things got bad. Worst yet, my co-worker was at the opposite side of the headquarters, cleaning the other part of the building, so she couldn’t hear me. At one point, I started getting dizzy, and I was pretty dehydrated. Still, the worst part was yet to come.
A few minutes later, I felt the need to burp and I gagged a little. I thought to myself, “Oh no.” I had just enough time to reach for the bucket with water from my mop…and then I started throwing up. This went on for five minutes straight. I just remember sitting there regretting my life choices. Why did I ever think eating those sandwiches was a good idea?
Finally, my co-worker came to my part of the headquarters to check on me. She opened my bathroom stall and there I was, pants pulled down, squeezing a bucket between my arms and thighs. She opened up the window, picked up her phone, and called my mom (we were working for my mom’s cleaning company). At that point, I was crying, because I wanted it all to stop.
My mom asked, “How are you feeling?” All I could say was, “I shouldn´t have eaten all that blue cheese…” before I turned my head back into the bucket to vomit some more. My co-worker ran to get me a bottle of water and two activated charcoal pills. I chugged it in one go. A few moments later, it was all over. It all stopped. My head was spinning like crazy.
I couldn’t even sit straight, so I had to lean against the bathroom stall. My mom came to the scene. At that point, I was pretty weak and dehydrated, but I was alive. When I wiped and flushed, I tried to stand up. My feet were so weak from how much I tensed up my muscles that the moment I stood up, I fell back down on the toilet, nearly passing out.
I leaned against the stall, and my mom literally had to pull up my pants because I just couldn’t do it on my own. They helped me walk to the car, and by the time I was home, I had just enough strength to wash and go to sleep.
8. In A “Flash”
In high school, I had these jeans with a zipper that would automatically open whenever I put my hands in the pockets. For some reason, I continued to wear these pants; mostly out of laziness to get a new pair I guess. I was wearing those jeans in one of my classes where the teacher was really cool and I got along with her pretty well.
For some reason, I thought it would be funny to go up to her while she was sitting down, put my crotch area about half a foot away from her face, and go “Watch this” as I put my hands in my pockets to unleash my zipper. I didn’t realize that my boxers were opened and, well…everything flopped out right in front of her. I have NO IDEA why I thought it was a good idea.
Thankfully, she said she didn’t see anything…but I’m still traumatized by that whole situation.
9. The Slow Trickle
In middle school, I was on the track team. I used to avoid going #1 in school for no other reason than an inconvenience. Anyway, one day at track practice, I couldn’t hold it, but I was at the starting line getting ready to run. Before I started running, I had already started to go in my shorts. I pretended I was stretching and got really close to the ground. It didn’t help much.
My shorts were wet all over. How no one found out, I’ll never know.
10. Systems Down
15 years ago, I had one of the file servers crash in the middle of data migration. It was a double-drive failure that happened all at once, plus the backup I had only consisted of the stuff that changed in the last seven days. Luckily, only about 20% of the personal files were on that device. But here’s the unlucky part: Half the executives’ files were on that device. So politically, it was bad.
I went to my boss right away with a quote to have the disk cluster re-built. I sent the disks out that day, restored as much as I could, then went home that night and told my wife that I’d probably be canned once it was all fixed. After all, the whole debacle racked up $15K in expenses and 36 hours of downtime for about 13% of the data.
I ended up getting called into the CEO’s office a week after everything was fixed. He wanted to know my side of the story directly. I told him that, at the end of the day, I was in charge of that stuff, so it was on me. But I also stressed that we had an extremely tight budget which didn’t allow for a lot of safety mechanisms and that the window to move data like that was limited.
So, I did the best I could with what I had and the double failure still occurred. I didn’t get fired, nor did I get much of a budget bump…but did get a good raise six months later. That said, I think it still took a long time to gain trust back with the rest of the execs.
11. Trippin’ Out
When was a stupid teenager, I took double the number of psychedelics because they were not kicking in fast enough. We were in a park and my friend had a whole stash on her. Unknown to us, the park closed at 10, and that’s when they kicked in big time. A couple of patrol cars came around to make sure everyone was out of the park, and we were sitting in the car. They pulled up behind us with the lights on, and I had a total meltdown.
I was sweating buckets, from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet. My friend (while tripping out of her mind) calmly explained that I was having a panic attack and needed to be left alone. They believed her and let us go. I called my buddy to pick me up and take me home. I later found out that I had locked myself out of the house, and my mom was out of town.
I couldn’t stay at my buddy’s place, so he drove me a couple of cities over to another friends’ place. I ended up arriving at her doorstep at 1 am. Her Catholic parents were not happy to see me.
12. Epic Face Plant
I was riding my bike around the edge of the lake as a child. Somehow, I got it into my head that riding on my wood dock would be perfectly safe. Less than a minute in, I went off into shallow water, with the gears catching onto the wood. I ended up hitting the rocks face first, and it was so painful. I have never felt my spine curve that much. At that moment, I knew I had messed up.
In the aftermath, half of my face was skinned, and my glasses had punctured in two places around my eye socket. I walked up to my mom and just said “Hi!” while dripping in blood. She was not pleased.
13. Keeping The Faith
I tried moving to Seattle from Buffalo with only $1,000 saved up, thinking I had a job lined up. Turns out, they’d only interviewed me to get information, and I scrambled to get employment as I stayed in a hostel. The temp agency got me to work, but three weeks later, the call center no longer wanted me there. I got the phone call, in the room I was staying in, that I wasn’t being kept.
After a lot of thought, I realized no matter what, I would be completely homeless. I took the last $300 or so I had left and bought a bus ticket back to Buffalo, salvaging the stuff I could. To me, it was better to be homeless in a city I knew than in a city where I knew nobody. I ran out of money completely in Wisconsin, I lost my wallet in Chicago, and by the time the bus reached Buffalo, it had snowed a bunch, so it made it difficult to drag my stuff around.
Two and a half years later, here I am, back at work in Seattle. I have a roof over my head, reliable transportation, two jobs, and a large number of new friends. I’ve been here for nearly a year now after managing to get back onto my feet with my parents’ help after the disaster in 2019, and I truly have never been happier. Your mess-ups and failures are not the ends of the world, even though, as I stared out the bus window in November 2019, I felt it was for me.
14. Just An Off Day
I worked at a fast-food restaurant when I was 17. I had a very long and busy day once, and I was extremely tired after my shift. The manager on duty asked me to stay late to do the overnight porter’s job, but I told him I was exhausted. Still, he didn’t take no for an answer, and after him pressuring me some more, I reluctantly agreed. Cue my big mistake—I drained the deep fryer of its oil and forgot to turn it off.
A huge fire ignited inside it, with the flames almost touching the ceiling. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and quickly put the fire out, but now I had to clean all of the white powder. I grabbed a bucket of water and tossed it into the fryer. What I didn’t know was that under the fryer, there was an open valve and a bucket full of very hot oil. An eruption of violently boiling oil exploded at my feet and the whole kitchen was in smoke.
The white powder was everywhere and the entire kitchen floor was now covered in crackling oil. My manager showed up and found me in tears. In shock at what he saw, he just told me to go home…but I couldn’t abandon the mess I had just caused. I spent the whole night cleaning up the mess until the sun came up. I could not believe I wasn’t burned by the flames. I wasn’t even fired!
15. Lost Gems
I worked at a warehouse that stocked and rented jewelry showcases of all kinds for trade shows. We had a trailer of six-foot counter cases that were like 70% glass. All but the last row of cases were left on dollies for quick unloading when it came to the dock (these cases never left the yard; they just went into a trailer to clear room in the warehouse).
We were pulling the truck into the warehouse to clean them for a show. We had to open the trailer doors before we backed up to the dock. Stupidly, I opened the doors, then decided that while it was backing up, I’d run behind it. The driver saw me make that move and he slammed the breaks. That’s when I saw my life flash before my very eyes.
The momentum sent all the cases on dollies flying out of the trailer and onto the concrete. About 22 cases were shattered on the ground. Luckily, the warehouse manager kept his cool and just told me I was lucky I didn’t get crushed by all those cases. That was easily my largest contribution to company loss.
16. A Blonde Moment
At a job interview for Whataburger, the guy asked me: “Do you think you could handle this job?” And for some insane reason, I answered like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde when she says, “What? Like it’s hard?” after her ex is shocked that she got into law school. As soon as I said it, I realized I sounded like a jerk and I watched this 30-something manager sneer in disapproval at 16 year old me, probably shouting in his head about arrogant youth or something.
He thanked me for coming in and that was that. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. The dumb things you do in your teens, man.
17. Wyoming Drift
I live in Wyoming. I was getting into rally racing a while back and I had an all-wheel-drive hot hatch. The town over has a football field that they don’t use anymore (it’s exactly how you’d imagine it to be), and the track around the field is dirt. One night, on the way home from the bar, I decided to take a few laps drifting on the corners. I did pretty well, and I left about 15 minutes later with nothing bad happening.
However, I decided to go back after getting halfway down the road, just do another lap or two. I was doing well, but then I started pushing the boundaries of the car and on one of the turns, I lost it and slammed into a concession stand, putting a hole in the corner. After that, the car wouldn’t run because the front axle got ripped away from the transmission.
At that point, it was late at night, so I had really no choice but to call the authorities and say, “Hey uh, I messed up.” The officers were mad at first, but they softened up after a few minutes since I was compliant. I felt terrible. I still feel bad about it.
18. Urgent Matters
I went to a hospital for my kidney check. At one point, I suddenly needed to go to the washroom, so I went out and searched for one. I immediately went in and did my business, not realizing I had just made a huge mistake—it turned out to be a ladies’ bathroom. In front of the single toilet, there was a line forming, with everyone waiting for me to get out all of a sudden.
The scariest thing, however, was that the first woman in line was a 90-year-old lady. When I went out, I saw a line of over three women waiting for me. Their first reaction was: “What the heck are you doing here?” At that point, I started staring at the sidewall like some type of psycho while limping as I got out of the bathroom. I’ve never been so ashamed.
19. Time Out, Ref
I used to coach a soccer team of four-year-olds when I was 14 or 15. I played soccer 10 years prior and still played at the time. During one game, they went to take a water break, and I was on the field juggling. The kids were always fascinated by it, so I kept doing it. After the water break ended, I kicked the ball out one direction and they all ran towards it to bring it back so we could resume playing.
I did this often so all the kids were used to this, and they knew I could kick pretty hard, so they all typically stepped away when I went to kick. We were on a time crunch during that game, so I didn’t want to kick it too far out. But in this particular game, a kid didn’t step away. He was right outside of my periphery, so I didn’t even see him. He ran right out in front of me as I kicked—and I absolutely clobbered the kid.
I felt so horrible. The kid was fine though; he was laughing and he got up immediately. But man, I couldn’t shake that image from my head of what could have happened if I had decided to kick it hard that time. I never did it again and I stopped coaching after that season. The parents were so sweet to me and they told me that it wasn’t my fault.
20. In Tow, In Toe
This happened when I was about seven years old—I chased my brother inside our house and as I yanked the front door open, my big toe got caught on it. A horrifying pain engulfed my entire foot. The space between my toes had torn and I was in immense pain. My brother said I went silent and his face turned white after he looked down and saw all the blood on our deck.
He was a great big brother, though. He scooped me up and set me down on some stairs with a towel, then ran to get our mom and dad. One emergency trip later and I was able to get all stitched up. If he didn’t act quickly, I would have had to amputate my toe.
21. Geez, Take A Hint
Two years ago, I was into goth, emo, and punk girls—and I had this one friend at work who fit in one of those categories. We started getting along well over time, and she kept wanting to hang out with me. One year, she invited me to her birthday party, telling me that “there’s gonna be drinks, so if you need to spend the night, you’re more than welcome to.”
Being the oblivious idiot that I was, I didn’t get her hints. I started looking back at our old messages and I don’t know how I didn’t realize she was flirting with me the whole time. We would stay up until 5 or 6 am just talking and yet I still didn’t get a clue. She has a boyfriend now, but I promised myself I wouldn’t be so clueless in the future.
22. Little Fires Everywhere
I spent one of my summers at my grandparents’ house in the Colorado mountains. I was playing with fireworks alone, and being around 10 years old at the time, I wasn’t exactly responsible. I ended up lighting one of those bouncing, spinning things and I threw it off the hill onto the gravel road. That was not my brightest moment. It went crazy, letting out sparks everywhere as it bounced off the road and down another hill.
I rushed after it and found that every place it had touched, it had started a small fire. Each one was already about knee-high. Luckily, I was smart enough to stomp each one out. To this day, I always think about what would’ve happened if I didn’t go down the hill after it.
23. Forced Adulthood
One night when I was 17, I went to see my boyfriend. My mom told me she’d kick me out if I ever went to my boyfriend’s house—she didn’t like him because the one and only time she met him, he talked back to his own mother across the dinner table. After a small argument with my mom, I ran out the door and walked to his house. When I got home, the unthinkable happened.
She had a small laundry basket of clothes ready by the door and she said, “Don’t even think about taking those shoes off! You thought I was joking? Get in the car.” Then, she tossed the laundry basket into the trunk, took my house key, and drove me to a women’s shelter in town. When we got there, she basically pushed me out of the car and said that if I came back onto her property, she’d call the authorities.
She ghosted me for almost a year. The only reason she got back in contact with me was to ask if I’d gotten into substances “as the shelter people do” and if I had gotten a job yet. Now that I’m 23, she uses me as a negative example for my younger brother because, according to her, I’m what happens when you’re lazy, possess zero work ethic, and don’t go to college.
I’m what happens when your mom kicks you out WAY too early and you have to claw your way up via welfare, going in and out of shelters, and renting rooms while attempting to become an adult literally overnight.
24. Hydro Hazard
I’m an HVAC tech. About 13 years ago, I was replacing an expansion valve on an air handler in a 2nd-floor apartment closet which required a torch. Well, I had my torch going and I didn’t realize there were sprinklers two feet above where I was brazing. BOOM! The sheer force of the water blasted through the closet wall, flooding the whole apartment and the apartment below.
I couldn’t get the water turned off, but luckily the FD showed up very fast and shut it off from the main. Horrible day. I wasn’t fired, surprisingly…
25. Super Well Done
One night, after a long night of gaming, I decided to microwave some chicken nuggets. I got them out of the freezer and read the package: “30 minutes on high” blah, blah, blah. I shoved them in the microwave for 30 minutes and went back to watching my movie in the living room. About five minutes went by, and I smelled this awful stench. It was at this moment I knew I had messed up.
I jumped up and ran to the kitchen to see smoke pouring out of every crack and crevice of that microwave. I opened the microwave door, fanned the smoke away, opened the back door (to let even more smoke out), and grabbed the plate of chicken nuggets with a hand cloth. They were literally black rocks that looked like coal. I poured them in the trash and they burnt straight through the bag, then I decided I didn’t need food anymore and should just sleep instead.
Turns out, those 30-minute instructions were meant for the oven.
26. For My Eyes Only
I went to a bank once to ask a question. I handed some paperwork to a manager, who was already holding paperwork relating to a vault (presumably with very sensitive information on it). He put my paperwork on top of what he was already holding and simply handed back the entire stack when he was finished answering my question. I looked at the stack of paper, saw that I had his document, and handed it back saying, “Is this yours?”
He SNATCHED the document out of my hands really quickly, and then looked at me with eyes all scared and wide. He probably saw his job flash right before his eyes.
27. Technical Difficulties
I had been working in IT for about three years when I got tasked with getting our existing grassroots advocacy tool ready for Elections 2000. This was big. People were just starting to use the internet to find out election results. Election 98 was no problem, and our single host served all of the traffic. We had six hosts for the election in 2000.
Little did we know that it was about 100 hosts too few. We loaded it throughout the day, and it was unlike anything we’d ever seen. We’d basically just reboot them every 20 minutes so someone could see something. It didn’t help that folks couldn’t call the race due to Florida, so everyone just kept checking for updates. The next morning, I thought I was gonna be fired—but it didn’t happen.
I didn’t press my luck though, and I left before the next one came around.
28. Mothers Always Know
A while ago, I was taking biotin supplements to strengthen my hair and nails. I had never taken them before and my mother warned me that the supplements had made her nauseous and she had to stop taking them. Well…I didn’t listen. Let me just say that I took my mom’s advice to heart later that day when I started getting nauseous during my morning choir rehearsal.
The girl in front of me was showered in…love.
29. Back It Up
I was trying to back into a parking space in my 18-wheeler in the pitch black with blinding snow all around me. At the time, I had barely six months of experience under my belt. I got all lined up but the truck wasn’t straight and all the backing and straightening was causing me to shimmy to the right every time I did it. I didn’t think to get out and look one more time—instead, I kept going and smashed the heck out of the front end of another truck.
I was fired and sent home on a Greyhound the next day. It took me like a month and a half to find a company that would hire a guy with six months of experience who was fired for safety reasons. But I eventually found a company, repaired my record, and now I have seven years of driving experience, making roughly $60k a year.
30. Fungal Fiasco
I’m currently busy with the final year of my master’s in plant pathology. I’m working with a fungus that causes wilting symptoms on bananas. Last year, during one of my trials where we screened plants for disease progression, I forgot to take samples that would have been used in quantifying the amount of fungal DNA in the plant material. It dawned on me this week that I will have to report on the results at some stage before final submission.
It’s not the only variable we look at, fortunately, but it’s quite the substantial loss of data that could have contributed to my research. This lack of DNA data might be the cause of the failure of my three-year-long study. I messed up.
31. A Losing Game
I got sick last June. I was trying desperately at the time to recover financially from 2020 (I had lost jobs, all my theatre gigs, AND I was denied unemployment). June came around and I started working three jobs, so I simply did not have time to be sick. But I did get sick–I couldn’t move, I had a 104-degree fever, I couldn’t keep any food down…it sucked.
When things weren’t improving, I was talked into going to the walk-in clinic from my home. I really didn’t want to go, but I was having fever dreams and (apparently) talking to deceased people at times. The walk-in staff told me I was too sick for them to deal with, so they pushed me in a wheelchair over to the Emergency Wing. Turns out that I had viral colitis.
The treatment for that was a bag of IV fluids (which I desperately needed, I will admit) and to “go home and be on a liquid diet for three weeks.” I now wish I hadn’t gone in as that IV bag cost me $6,000, which I didn’t and still don’t have. Remember those jobs I lost because of 2020? I lost my insurance, too. My insurance didn’t start up again until September.
Anyone who wants to defend that $6,000 price tag can take a long walk off of a short pier. I knew I shouldn’t have gone in.
32. Mice Mania
Three months after moving into my new place, I had a bit of a mice problem. It was winter in Toronto, so it was not all that uncommon to see rodents, but I really hate mice. On the first night, I only saw one; but as they say, if you see one, there are definitely more. I spent ages trying to catch that one mouse but I couldn’t—I must’ve gotten only an hour’s sleep since I was so stressed about it.
Both of my housemates were away for a few days, so I went about setting loads of traps all over the place and stuffing any hole I could find with steel wool. I came home from work later that day and sure enough, I found two mice caught in my traps in different parts of the living room. Even throwing away those deceased mice freaked me out.
I came back inside and decided to do a lap of the whole house to see if any other traps caught anything. In my room, I noticed a small hole to the side of an electrical socket by my bed. I pulled the bed away from the wall and decided to stuff steel wool in the hole. The dumbest decision ever. Two seconds later, a huge spark flew out of the wall and a painful shock ran through my body.
At that point, I didn’t know what to do, so I called 9-1-1, I explain what just happened to the lady on the other end of the phone and asked her what I should do to safely remove the steel wool. She advised me not to touch it anymore and instead asked for my address so she could send a team over. I told her not to bother as it wasn’t a big deal and I could fix it myself.
But 10 minutes later, a huge firetruck showed up outside the house and four firemen got out in all their gear as if they were about to tackle a huge fire. I let them in and explained to them what had happened, and they all just looked at me in disbelief. “Why would you think putting steel near an electric socket would be a good idea?” I felt so stupid.
All five of us went upstairs to my room, but only me and one other fireman went inside. I pointed out the electric socket and he pulled out a plastic pen to scoop the steel wool out of the hole. The whole process took exactly five seconds. He then explained to me why I shouldn’t do that again while the other three firemen stood outside my room laughing to themselves.
My irrational stress over mice nearly ended my life.
33. Slippin’ Through
When I was like 14 or 15 years old, I was drilling a thick, small metal plate while holding it with my hand. Then, the worst happened—I drilled through my finger. The drill bit broke into three pieces when it hit the floor: one of the pieces rolled onto the ground, the second piece stayed in the drill, and the third piece was stuck in my finger. It never got removed because I went to see a doctor a bit late and it had healed by then…
So now I have a drill bit in the entirety of my finger’s width.
34. The Wrong Switch
At the ice cream shop where I worked, I had a shift with a new hire who had just come from another location that day. At the end of the shift, we were in charge of closing the store, and we had to make sure the ice cream tubs were closed and the freezer lights were turned off. The freezer lights switch was right next to the on/off power switch, and they were both unmarked. I didn’t ask the new hire which one she flipped because I was incredibly stupid.
I said to myself “It’s 50/50,” and just hoped she picked the right one. The following morning, I woke up to a barrage of texts saying that there was $300 worth of ice cream lost. Somehow, I still kept my job but they reduced the heck out of my hours. Life lesson learned: I’m stupid and not asking questions will end up making me look extra stupid.
35. Recalculating Route…
It was literally my first day in my new town. I got up early, made a plan, and headed out in my tiny little Scion. I was trying to find a thrift shop nearby, but I got lost after making a wrong turn. I then tried to double back. My phone was in the seat next to me, but it had course-corrected and kept telling me to turn at random places. I ended up blowing through a stop sign.
In my defense, some jerk in a big SUV was illegally parked next to it, and I never saw it while dodging around him. I realized too late that the car wasn’t stopping and I T-boned an innocent lady. The crash absolutely destroyed my little car. My seatbelt did its job, but I got a scar on my neck and a hematoma on my stomach. I was the only one injured and the only one who couldn’t drive away.
I got stuck at a dead-end job for way too long because the public bus system was a barely-functioning disaster. But I walked a lot more. I saved an absolute ton on car maintenance and gas, so I like to think it somehow balanced out.
36. Cat-Like Reflexes
In a high school play, my character was throwing a dart at the dartboard on the flat just next to the stage left entrance. We were doing dress rehearsal with a full audience of middle school kids. This was a recipe for disaster. I missed and ended up throwing the dart RIGHT at the dude who was entering just then. He, being a complete badass, caught the thing, and improved a good joke while in character…which is good, because it would’ve hit him in his Adam’s apple.
Why were we using real darts, right next to the entrance, on a line during which somebody was entering, adult me wonders…
37. Why’s It Spicy?
My son, who was about two at the time, was supposed to be taking a nap but he wouldn’t go to sleep. I was making jalapeños poppers for a get-together that evening while he was laying down. He was crying non-stop so I went to check on him and it turned out he needed his diaper changed. I changed it and put him back down. After a few minutes, he went nuts and wouldn’t stop crying again. I couldn’t figure out why.
Then my hands started to burn like heck from the juice of cutting up jalapeños peppers. And then it dawned on me. I guess some of it rubbed off on him around his diaper area. I felt SO bad.
38. Lesson Learned
I entered my ex’s home with my fiancé after my ex told me I wouldn’t be getting my daughter that weekend. It was my originally-planned time to get her too; he was just being a jerk to be a jerk. I was upset to the max because it appeared we were going through a rough patch after 2+ years of co-parenting successfully without a custody order. I had nothing on paper to back up my time with her.
His new lady pulled some nonsense move and lied to the officers about the whole situation, leaving me screwed without unbiased witnesses. I even almost went to prison. I had to sit in a cell for a few hours, and it was probably the lowest moment of my life. I was young, scared, and naive, and I regret it to this day. I spent money I didn’t have after that for a lawyer and won nearly full custody after what they pulled.
39. U R an L
I did marketing for a major US-based restaurant chain in 2015. We were launching a loyalty program and one of our tactics was to put up little flyers and pop-up banners in the restaurants with a QR code that took you to a link to download the mobile app and sign up. I used a shortened URL and was unaware that the short URLs could be case-sensitive.
Our brand standards meant all URLs were to be printed in all caps, but if you typed the short URL in all caps, it would take you to an adult website. We definitely got some customer complaints that day…but in my defense, who the heck types in a URL exactly as they see it when there’s a QR code right there?
40. The End-All Cure
My parents essentially kept giving me too much Benadryl. I, unfortunately, grew up in the age of “Benadryl is a miracle cure” and my parents absolutely swore by it. It started off as a minor allergic reaction, but they just kept forcing it on me any time I had the slightest symptoms. It went on for several weeks. I remember my heart beating so fast I thought it was gonna EXPLODE. The symptoms were terrifying.
I was seeing things, my stomach was in knots, and my mouth was so dry it hurt. It’s all really blurry and I don’t really remember much up until they brought me to nanna’s and I was sitting at the table, waiting for her to make me something to eat. She started to suspect something was wrong when I woke up panicking, nauseous, and unable to move.
That’s when she put a stop to it—she yelled at my parents and stayed by my side until I got better.
41. Major Malfunction
I was commissioning a unique system in a nuclear facility. Effectively, it was a giant pair of copper doors inside a vacuum vessel. It used microswitches inside the vessel to detect whenever the doors were fully open and at the end of their movements. I was using a local laptop to issue direct commands, sending single-step commands to the doors to open them.
At one point, I entered ‘1K’ which is a reset command…and in microseconds, the laptop dropped its connection to the door drivers. As a result, the microswitches didn’t detect that the doors were already fully open, so the motors just kept running, opening the doors beyond their allowable limits. The consequences were disastrous.
I ended up breaking some incredibly expensive equipment that day—like, worth more money than I’d make in my lifetime—and it imposed a seven-year setback on the project.
42. Putting Comfort First
I used to be an undertaker. After a particularly stressful month, I noticed that a lady I was dressing had been overly shoved, poked, and pulled by the coroners, the doctors, and the care home. I decided while dressing her that she had been pulled enough, and after finding out from the family that she liked being comfortable, I didn’t force her bra onto her.
For context, deceased people’s flesh (especially chests) are like those stress balloons filled with flour that hold their shapes. I dressed her, did her hair and makeup, made sure her socks and shoes were done up properly, gave her hair clips, and straightened her rings. My diary manager called me in and told me that the lady’s daughter was in and she was furious about the bra not being on.
I saw the daughter and she was waving the bra at me with tears in her eyes, demanding to know who was responsible. The Diary manager smirked at me (we didn’t get on) and said I was responsible, then shoved me towards the daughter and shut the door behind me. I took a deep breath and asked the daughter to sit. I then explained that I felt her mom had been shoved, poked, and pulled enough and that I thought she could probably do without the bra.
The daughter almost cried, explaining that her mom had always said that she couldn’t wait to not be bound by society’s rules. I hugged the daughter, sent her on her way, and came out of the viewing room to see my diary manager staring smugly at me, waiting to see me get torn a new one from the daughter. Instead, they saw the daughter hugging me and walking away, wiping away tears but smiling.
“My mom is in good hands,” she said out loud for everyone to hear.
43. Smelly Science
When I was in high school, I would help coach the Science Olympiad at a nearby middle school. If you’ve never heard of it, the short version is that it’s a science competition with a bunch of different events focusing on various areas of science. One of the events I helped with was a chemistry event that involved doing chemical tests on powders and making observations on how they react with certain chemicals such as HCl and NaOH.
I did the event myself as a middle schooler, so I was one of the most qualified people to teach it, even though I hated that event. I had done a bunch of boring white powders with the kids that didn’t really react with anything, so I pulled out the potassium permanganate, a purple powder that has some pretty interesting interactions.
My knowledge about it was limited, but when I was learning about the event as a middle schooler, the high schooler that was there used it, and I kind of remembered what she did. So I set them up with the powder and the typical reagents of water, HCl, and NaOH. I also warned them that they had to be careful with it before letting them be on their way.
After they started to do some testing, the room began to smell like a pool. That’s when it hit me. Turns out that when you mix potassium permanganate and hydrochloric acid, you get chlorine gas. I opened all the windows and evacuated the kids out of the room. I thought back to when I used the powder the first time and then remembered that the high schooler never put out HCl, even though she never explained why. Whoops. Everyone was fine though, no harm done.
44. Keep It Down, Will Ya?
When I was living in my apartment, I once had a girl come over. While we were getting intimate with each other, I got a knock on my door—it was my complex’s security guard, asking me to close the window in my room. I had forgotten that it was wide open, and everyone could hear what we were up to. Apparently, the security guard said our noises were bouncing off the walls between the two buildings and echoing into the courtyard.
I thought it was hilarious—but ever since that moment, I started getting nasty looks from all the older women in the complex as I was some sort of freak.
45. Just Keep Swimming
I was swimming at a hotel pool with built-in tables and chairs attached to the bottom. I figured it would be awesome to swim in and out between them like a fish in a reef. Keep in mind, this was during the off-season, and nobody in the pool area was anywhere near me. I zoomed through a few chairs, feeling like some kind of underwater rock star when suddenly my chest was on fire and I was not moving. Panic set in.
I had wedged my chest between a chair and table, and my body was underneath the table where there were two inches of cement between me and sweet air. I was pretty sure I was going to be on the Darwin Awards in about forty-five seconds, so I thrashed and wiggled as my life depended on it. Thankfully, I managed to get out, but I scraped a six-by-six-inch patch of skin off both my back and chest in the process.
The idea of drowning is terrifying, but the idea of drowning in a hotel pool due to your own stupidity is both terrifying and humiliating. I think the humiliation is what gave me the burst of energy to get free.
46. Free Show
When I was 18 years old, I tried to scale a chain-link fence, making it halfway up before my arms gave out. My feet slipped and I was left hanging by my shirt AND bra, with my girls waving in the breeze and my shirt pulled up over my face, hooked on the top of the fence. The kid walking by had the biggest eyes, and his mouth was agape as I flailed around, trying to free myself.
47. Turbulent Skies
I jumped out of an airplane for my first solo skydive with two instructors holding on to me…but I didn’t arch like I was supposed to, so I ended up tumbling through the air with only one instructor managing to hold on. He managed to pull my chute for me, but it was too close for comfort. Then, as I was still tumbling out of control, the canopy opened and I ended up with my legs caught in the lines, leaving me upside down.
Also, the canopy was only open about 80%. Somehow, I still managed to ace the landing, but I was super embarrassed when I did touch down. Yeah, I messed up big time…and it could have had the biggest consequence.
48. When Nature Calls
On the day I was moving to NJ from VA, I had a date. I planned to drive straight to NJ afterward, but I ended up eating something bad during dinner and my stomach began acting up. The date was going really well and I didn’t want to cut it short, so I decided I would just hold it in until the date was over. As soon as the date was over, I got in my car and drove to the nearest restaurant to use the bathroom. But in the end, nature prevailed in the worst way possible.
I couldn’t hold it and I ended up soiling my pants. It was so bad, I couldn’t even get out of my car. So…I drove with that disgusting mess in my pants from VA to NJ. I was driving so fast that I was worried that I might get pulled over. Luckily, I got to my apartment building at 3 am. I walked up three flights of stairs to make less noise, got rid of my clothes, and took a shower.
The next day, I bought tools to take out the driver’s seat and I threw it away. It cost me $2,000 bucks. Then, I had it detailed, which was even more money; but eventually, I decided to get rid of the car to get rid of the trauma. It’s all good though because I ended up marrying that girl I went on a date with. She does not know the story. Nobody close to me knows. I will take this to my grave.
49. Up In Flames
I was working a facilities job in my early 20s and I was a heavy smoker at the time. I worked for a very wealthy company that had a no-smoking rule, so every time I wanted to light up, I had to hide behind the building. Due to a recent change in furniture, we were left with lots of cardboard and plastic wrap, so the company ordered a roll-away dumpster to the site. This roll-away dumpster just so happened to be put around the corner of where I smoked.
One night, while on my smoke break, I got a call to do a fix on a machine, so I put it out before finishing it and planned to come back to it later. The only problem is, it broke in half as I was doing so, and in my frustration, I tossed it into the dumpster. I went back inside to fix the machine, then made my way back to the office to sit down. Five minutes went by and one of the other facilities guys came running in, telling me there was a fire. My heart sank.
I immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran outside to see the dumpster completely engulfed in flames. Me and three other guys attempted to put it out, but the fire just kept getting bigger, so we eventually caved and called 9-1-1. The flames erupted nine to 10 feet out of the dumpster when the fire department arrived and it took them nearly half an hour to put it out.
We were all examined afterward and the fire department recommended we all go to the hospital immediately due to smoke inhalation. My sloppy mistake sent three people to the hospital and a security camera above the dumpster captured the whole thing. I was fired and banned from that place entirely. In the end, I was very fortunate that nothing was damaged and nobody was seriously injured.
It was definitely was an “I messed up” moment.
50. Fully Laced Up
My friend is a car mechanic. On several occasions, he’d get work orders on cars that had their climate control intakes near the passenger floor. This was a poor design, as light objects such as plastic grocery bags from the outside would often get sucked into the intake and cause a terrible vibration from the air vents. Customers with this issue would almost always be insistent that nothing could possibly have gotten sucked into their intake…
But then we’d triumphantly reach under the passenger side dash and remove some random object, immediately curing the problem exactly as we predicted. Anyway, one day, my friend told me of this one crabby and skeptical lady who had never been into his shop before. She came in with the same issue for her car, and when he reached under the dash, he pulled out a pair of slinky red lace-trimmed panties.
They both stared down at his hand silently, then she snatched the panties and hissed, “These are not mine!” She then screeched out of the lot, never to be seen again.