Massive Workplace Mess-Ups

August 18, 2022 | Derek Choi

Massive Workplace Mess-Ups

It’s inevitable that people make mistakes at work. But sometimes, those mistakes are huge. And occasionally, those mistakes are absolutely massive. These 50 Redditors share stories of when they saw, or made, jaw-dropping errors while on the job.

1. The Wrong Cut

I’m a hairdresser. I had a very wealthy woman as a client, who had a LOT of thick hair, and wanted to paint highlights on her hair and make it a vivid color. Cool. So, we went through the process, and I’m noticing that her hair is really dry and delicate despite it being really long and thick, so I make sure to rinse her bleach out a little earlier than planned.

Except for the mass of hair kept the water from getting to the highlights on the very bottom. I start blowing her out, and that's when I realized I'd messed up. I notice there’s an entire section where it matters if you have long hair and like to put it up, like the section at the very bottom, which has broken off to shoulder length.

I was sweating bullets, watching this short hair flapping in the wind, and nearly cried when I had to tell her what happened. She got a small undercut at her request and was really nice about it, but it scarred me for a while.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

2. The Demolishment

I practice as an architect in the UK; I was working on a job which was a refurbish of a listed hotel. The problem was that this hotel had had a fire, and then sat open to the elements for five years before the refurbishment work began. Obviously, the entire interior basically had to be stripped. My firm was hired to do design and specification work, but no on-site inspection or design for the demolition and slapping works.

If we had been hired, we most certainly would have been able to stop the accident; the workmen on site decided to speed up the demolition work. They brought a small digger up the old hotel lift, to the 4th floor, and began the demolition work there. The consequences were gruesome.

The entire interior of the building collapsed; three people were crushed, and several others were seriously injured. I take health and safety way more seriously than most of my colleagues, but it's because I know how stupid mistakes and oversight can lead to terrible tragedies.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

3. An Important Email

An especially important and very big customer placed an order for some chemical bulk to be delivered early Jan. Our contract with them stated that every day we were late, we would be fined millions. The bulk plant finished on time and just needed the drums to pour the bulk into. The warehouse comes up to my office because I was the purchaser responsible for buying the drums, asking where the 250-liter drums are.

“It's fine,” I thought, I placed the order before Christmas, I remember doing it. Then, I check—and my stomach drops. Why is the supplier late…? They're never late... When I check again, my mouth goes instantly dry, and I start to sweat. I had placed the order, but I forgot that for this particular supplier, I needed to email them the production order.

We had just changed the system to automatically email the supplier after we placed an order, but not for this one supplier. I knew this but must have forgotten. These drums had a two-week lead time from the supplier, so I knew I was in trouble. Not only would we have had millions of pounds of fines, but the production plant would have been put on hold having to store tons of bulk with nowhere to put it.

I went and told my boss and just told him I had messed up. Being an awesome guy and boss, he thanked me for being honest and told me it was going to be okay. He called the supplier, sweet-talked them, and because we were a good customer, they allowed us to take another customer’s order. The drums were delivered the next day. That was about nine years ago, and I still think about it.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

4. Horsing Around

In Sweden, when you're in the 8th grade, you get to "practice" work for a week, like a short internship. I managed to get a dream position for me—I got to take care of the horses of a famous Swedish show jump rider, who had his horses in a large stable complex along with other super expensive horses. Anyway, when cleaning the stable isle, you opened the door to the stalls and swept the hay into the stalls.

One day when I was sweeping, I opened the door to a stall, swept stuff into it, and then moved on to the next, opening that, and then I heard the sound of hooves entering the aisle. I turned around, realized that I forgot to close the previous door, and the horse was about to make his grand escape.

I panicked and started running after the escapee, only to hear a second set of hooves entering the aisle, as I of course had forgotten to close the other door before running after the rouge horse. By the time 15-year-old me had a chance to react to the new situation the first horse had already made it out of the stable. I just froze, didn't know what to do.

The stable manager caught the second horse before it got out of the stable and started screaming that I was an idiot. I was mortified. I ran out of there and planned to just go home, admit defeat, and start googling "What do idiots work with". I hid for half an hour until a staff member found me.

He told me they caught the other horse. He was really nice about it, and said I gave him the time of his life getting to admire the mares in the stable next door for a while.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

5. A Mess Of Marble

I work in marble installation and had to do an apartment complex. The building I was in had ten bed and bath units I had to install. I measured the first three and they all had roughly the same measurements, so to save time, I decided to just go ahead and cut all the panels at the same time. It was an idiotic assumption.

The other seven weren’t anywhere close and I ruined 21 panels of cultured marble. I was quite angry with myself. I tried to fudge the installations and just cover up the gaps with silicone, but after I tried on one, I knew it wasn’t gonna fly.

I go back and tell the pour room that I need those 21 panels remade. They remake them and it takes about three days. On the way back to the Jobsite, I almost get in a wreck and have to slam on the brakes and swerve. Guess what happened to those panels?

They broke.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

6. A Long Way Back

Back in the floppy disk, pre-Internet days of computers, I was tasked by my job to do a software installation onboard a coast guard ice breaker. I flew from Ottawa to Halifax. Then I caught a taxi to CFB Shearwater, from where a twin otter plane flew me north to a small town on the border of Quebec and Labrador. From there, I was flown by helicopter to do an at-sea landing on the ice breaker.

After landing, I went down to the engine control room, where the computer was located, but when I laid out the disks, I almost screamed: disk 1, disk 2, disk 3, disk 4, disk 6. Disk 5 was still on my desk all the way back in Ottawa. Oops.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

7. I Dropped It

I dropped a screw inside the engine of a TGV train. Oh god. We spent half an hour trying to catch it by moving a magnetic stick inside the crankshaft, with oil spilling everywhere.

The engine was new and about to be mounted on a train that was supposed to run later in the day, I was so terrified that I would possibly cause quite a lot of trouble since no other train or engine was available. My manager finally got that screw and definitely deserved his half a dozen croissants the next morning.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

8. Rivers Of Soda

My co-worker was trying to take down a pallet, but he had the forklift too close to the racking. It was a recipe for disaster. He accidentally pushed the support beam above the pallet he was going for so far up that the pins busted and both pallets, FILLED with two-liter coke bottles, tipped over.

Luckily, nobody got hurt, the pallets were wrapped, and neither one fell completely. However, they were hanging so far over the edge that most of the contents ended up falling anyway.

That entire end of the warehouse was flooded with Coca-Cola. There were so many bottles on the floor that we couldn’t drive equipment through, and we were wading through the sea of coke, squeegeeing it out the loading dock door. Four months later, we could still feel the stickiness.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

9. Beware Dangerous Chemicals

I just barely prevented this from happening. An undergrad was working in the genetic research lab I'm doing my PhD in. Keeping things clean and eliminating contamination are pretty high priority in our lab. Different people will use different chemicals—ethanol, hydrochloric acid, or bleach are the most common.

The undergrad decided he was going to rinse some bottles in bleach before placing them in the hydrochloric acid bath to make them extra clean. I stopped him right before he turned our lab into a gas chamber.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

10. In The Trash Bin

During the first week of my first job in animation after I graduated, I had to move a bunch of scene files from one server to another. The files were heavy, so I was told to just cut and paste them to make it faster. I accidentally put them in the wrong area and without thinking just deleted them, went back to move the files again...And they weren’t there.

I had forgotten I hadn't copied them. I lost five minutes of full animation, my long-time friend who recommended me for the job got in trouble because his backups didn't catch the files, and my direct supervisor worked for 21 days straight to help redo all the animation. The studio and everyone involved were way nicer to me about it than I expected.

I kept my job, and I brought in donuts for the whole crew for a week after. But it was an awful start!

Massive Mess-UpsFlickr, Vancouver Film School

11. Rivals, Exposed

I was working for my stepdad, whose advertising agency was working with two companies that had at one time been one company. The original client did not know that my stepdad was still working with the people that had broken off from their company and started a rival company. I was sending out monthly billing and of all the invoices to have stuck together, these two stacks of invoices stuck together, and I didn't notice.

I mailed the original client their invoices and their rival's invoices in the same envelope. If they would've stuck to any other invoices and been sent to anyone else, it would not have been a big deal, but it was not good. The client fired my stepdad and that lost his ad agency a lot of money because they were a huge client.

I got fired. They all knew it was an accident but still, I felt terrible. I still feel terrible and that was 30 years ago when I was only 19 and my eventual ex-stepdad is now gone. Sorry, Bob!

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

12. Your Inbox Is Full

I accidentally left out the “MoveNext” method on a loop that sent out an email broadcast, which meant it mailbombed the first recipient in the loop until we realized what was happening and stopped the process. The CEO’s email was the first email address in the loop. He was a jerk anyway and was absolutely incoherent with rage when his outlook crashed when downloading 15,000 emails inviting him to take a satisfaction survey. Good thing it was only a test!

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

13. Fishing For Info

I gave my log-in information to a phishing scam because I didn't notice the email domain was slightly different than our actual ones. I decided to worry about it the next day because I already left work, but then I got paranoid and decided to go back and change my password just in case someone tried to use my account for something.

The problem was that I take the train home and have to walk about 15 minutes to get to the station, so by the time I got back to the office it was almost empty and my face was really red because of how hot it was when I was walking. Of course, my supervisor still happened to be there, and he was pretty surprised to see me back that late.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

14. This New Stuff Looks The Same

Back in college I worked as a tire and oil change technician. One day I was working on a Subaru Outback or Forester, I think. It was getting four new tires and an oil change. Now typically when we change a set of tires, we also replace the valve stems, so most of us would typically use pliers and rip out the old valve stem to quickly deflate the tire.

The only time you couldn't do this was when they had pressure sensors built in. Those were solid and metal though, and we would have to take the slow route and remove the core from the valve stem to not damage it. This Subaru had black rubber valve stems, so I started ripping them out. They were tougher than usual, but I managed to rip out three before I realized they were pressure sensors. Oh no.

Turns out some of the new Subarus at the time had special sensors made to look like standard black rubber valve stems. We ended up having to replace all four, which wasn't cheap. Well, heck. I start to do the oil change. I raise the car all the way up and quickly locate the drain plug for the oil. I quickly drain out all the oil and replace the filter, which, thankfully is right next to the drain plug.

Super easy. I lower the car back down and put five quarts of oil in it. But when I check the oil level, it's sky high. At that point, I realized I had made a grave mistake. I had not drained the oil; I had drained the transmission fluid. Turns out the transmission drain plug and engine drain plug are close together and look similar. Who knew? Oh no again.

Another tech had to run a full transmission fluid service on it after that and the filter had to be delivered from a nearby parts store. I took a lunch break after that, pretty mad at myself. Thankfully, the customer was pretty understanding about the whole thing and of course, the shop paid for everything. They remained a regular customer there as well.

I changed the oil many more times on that same Subaru and I never made that mistake again.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

15. The Runaway Car

I briefly worked for the city zoo. We used "carts" that were basically an ATV with a bed on them for cleaning enclosures. Zoos are large so we also used them just as transport. We had one with a known wonky parking brake. Maintenance had refused to replace it for months. One day, I had to park it on an incline. I kicked it after parking, and it didn't budge.

I turned around at least three times as I walked away to make sure it was still not going anywhere. Five minutes later, I come back to hysteria.

Naturally, as soon as I was gone, it had rolled down the hill and taken out half the fence to the camel ride area. It knocked some lady over. She was fine, I think she had just been knocked off balance versus full-on hit by it. My manager wasn't mad at all, maintenance finally gave us a new cart, but I still got written up because of protocol.

Massive Mess-UpsFlickr, Chad Horwedel

16. The Doctor’s Mistake

I was a trainee dental nurse for a year, and about four months in, we had one patient come in for a pretty standard procedure. Looking at her chart, she had a history of heart problems, and the anesthetic the dentist gave her contained adrenaline. This stuck out to me as weird, but I was four months in, and she was ten years into being a dentist, so I kept my mouth shut.

The patient went into cardiac arrest on the table after being given the anesthetic and got wheeled out by paramedics after I called an ambulance. Turns out, she shouldn't have been given adrenaline and the dentist just didn't check her medical history properly for whatever reason. That practice got shut down a couple of years later, and I still feel guilty every time I think about it for not saying something.

The woman was okay afterward, but it was very scary.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

17. My Hand Slipped

I was 19 and it was my first day at work as a dishwasher. They gave me the grill, which was entirely encrusted in nasty burned-on carbon, and told me to take it out back and clean it. For about an hour, I chiseled the carbon off it with a screwdriver and a butterknife. I was almost done, but there was one bit stuck in the corner, and because I'm an idiot I tried to get it out by chipping upwards with the screwdriver.

The screwdriver slipped and continued upwards right into the tip of my nose. So, I run back into the kitchen, completely filthy and bleeding profusely from the face, and yell "I'M SORRY PLEASE DON'T FIRE ME"! They were very understanding and did not fire me. And once I got cleaned up and stopped the bleeding it turned out I didn't even need stitches.

I ended up working there for several summers and eventually made it up to line cook.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

18. Left In The Fridge

I worked in a biochemistry lab that extracted a protein from animal tissue for study. We stored samples in a fridge in the lab, and one night the fridge failed. My boss was cleaning it out while I worked at a nearby bench. He opened a jar of rat spleens, said "Whew! That's stinky," and threw it in the trash. A second later the smell hit me.

My knees buckled and I nearly vomited on the spot. I ran from the lab, and within half an hour the entire 3rd floor of the C wing of the medical school emptied out. A lot of researchers got really mad at us that day! I learned about two powerful biochemicals that caused those smells: Putrescine and cadaverine.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

19. The Long Way Around

I’m a truck driver. In a small town in rural Tennessee, our info on the facility there noted a $7,500 fine for leaving the posted truck route. Outbound truck route signs and the information blurb on my Qualcomm are quite different, and there were a bunch of cars around. Not wanting to chance that fine, I followed the sketchy truck route signs.

Turns out there were two truck routes, and that was the wrong one to pick. I ended up driving my fully loaded, way underpowered semi up rural Tennessee mountain roads. I was going up a twisty, steep, narrow switchback road with  79,500 lbs in a semi that can barely get out of its own way.

The trailer would slide over the double yellow with my cab touching the brush on the outside of the lane, as I crawled up that mountain at 15mph. The entire way from the town I picked up to Monteagle had zero turnarounds. Zero. None. Only dirt side tracks and small residential areas. It ended up putting me 120 miles out of route, I lost my chance at a shower for the night and made me late for my next appointment.

Then, and I checked later what the truck route was supposed to be and found out that the $7,500 fine was only a $75 fine.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

20. The Animals Are This Way

I accidentally sent a group of preschoolers towards an escaped wolf. I worked in a coffee shop and soft play area inside a zoo. Everyone who worked there was part-time and at college or school. There was little training and a high turnover, so no one know much apart from the basics, and we were left to it. There was a radio behind the counter, mainly the zookeepers used it to talk to each other, and we occasionally used it if there was a lost child.

One day over the radio, we heard a very loud '

" and thought that was a bit odd. A group of small children on a school trip were leaving the building and asked for directions, I pointed them where to go, and off they went. A few minutes later they came running back followed by a keeper who started screaming at us why we didn't have the radio on.

Turns out Tarzan is the call sign for an escaped animal and a sign to lock the doors and stop guests leaving. My bad.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

21. Flinging Flour

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 continues to spin. The packed dining room erupted in laughter, and she ran out crying with flour all over her face and hair.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

22. Wrapping It All Up

I was a temp worker in a factory. We would fill boxes of stuff, put those boxes into bigger boxes, stack the boxes onto pallets and take them to the giant wrapping machine that spun around the pallet to wrap it in saran wrap or cellophane. One guy took his broken skid full of improperly stacked boxes onto the platform for wrapping and had his other two skids close by, too close.

The machine starts and immediately hits one of his pallets, knocking over a bunch of boxes, spilling stuff everywhere. The main pallet in the middle isn't stacked well so the cellophane just knocks all the boxes over, he's at the 3rd pallet with the powered pallet jack under it. But at this point, the mayhem has turned into a domino effect.

He reverses to get it out of the danger zone but accelerates too quick and the entire stack falls over. The machine is still spinning and knocking stuff over, he's trying to stop his pallet jack, and everyone stops working to look at this bozo and everyone lets out a groan because we're all going to have to clean and fix his mess without his help before work can continue.

He can't help us anymore at all because he's super fired.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

23. A Burning Feeling

I worked at a car detailing place. We had enormous buckets with taps on the end of them for all of the chemicals we would use to clean the cars. One day before we closed up for the weekend, I decided to do an acid wash on my car to get all of the tar off of my bumper and wheels and such. Turns out, when I came in on Monday, I forgot to turn off the tap to the acid.

Everyone had to wear a mask in the place for a couple of days because of the smell. Between the hole in the ground I dissolved and the cost of all of the acid I wasted, it took a few paychecks to replace.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

24. A Little Waterlogged

I used to work at a company that organized festivals for art, music, and literature. We were in the midst of organizing our annual literature festival. In the weeks leading up to it, everyone kind of pitches in with everything. We had created gift bags for the writers who would be presenting talks and workshops at the festival.

These were some lovely gift bags, too. Lovely bottles of wine, L'Occitane skincare goodies, scented candles, books, literary magazines, etcetera. My team was in charge of putting the gift bags together, and we had a massive storeroom in the basement of our office where we were keeping all the gift bag things as they were delivered.

It was a super hot Friday, there were storms predicted for the entire weekend, and my supervisor asked me to close the windows in the basement before I locked up for the weekend. I told her I would, but I completely forgot. You can see where this is going. We had cardboard boxes full of literary magazines that were going to go in the gift bags.

They got rained on all weekend. By the time we got into the office on Monday and by the time I made it down to the basement, they were a soggy mess. The cardboard boxes had completely disintegrated and the magazines inside were falling apart, too. We had to reorder the magazines at a significant cost for the gift bags, and I was reprimanded by my supervisor.

She basically read me the riot act. As a fun bonus, the rainwater went all over the floors too, some of the gift bags had been soaked through, and I had to hang them all up to air dry around the office...Which was embarrassing.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons


25. A Popcorn Surprise

I was making popcorn, but I had learned that if we used a bit more seasoning and oil, the popcorn tasted insanely better. What I didn't know was the popcorn machine had broken earlier and wasn’t stirring the popcorn anymore. So, after I had made a new batch, and no popcorn was coming out, I decided to check on the machine and a hot glob of oil flew into my eye.

I started cussing and screaming in front of a whole bunch of customers and got rushed into the back to wash my eye out.

Massive Mess-UpsFlickr, Tim Evanson

26. Spinning Like A Helicopter

I watched an apprentice set up to make a relatively simple part. I don't remember the exact dimensions of the part, but it was no longer than four or five inches. I believe about 10 pieces were required. The apprentice goes to the material rack to pull the required material. Simple mild steel, or cold rolled steel. The only available lengths were about six to eight feet in length.

The apprentice takes the material to the lathe and slides it through the headstock and through the Chuck with enough sticking out to make the piece. Tightens Chuck and starts to set up the cutting tool. As I look over, I notice about five ft or more of material hanging out of the headstock. I'm thinking to myself what is he doing?

I can't remember exactly what I was doing at the time, but the job was almost complete, so I figured I'd go over and see when it's done. In the meantime, the apprentice is figuring out the required spindle speed for the material. With the material being about 16mm diameter, the apprentice figured a high speed was necessary to machine the piece.

I heard the lathe turn on and whizz up to speed. I looked up to see the material hanging out from the tailstock rotating and wobbling in a spiral cone kind of formation. Not good!

By the time I could even open my mouth to tell him to shut the machine off, the material bent at a 90° angle at the headstock. The only way I can describe what this looks and sounds like? Think of a blade on a helicopter rotor but the helicopter is flying sideways, about to crash, and said blade is hitting the floor.

Within seconds, the concrete floor is being chipped away with chunks of concrete flying all over the place. The apprentice just crouches and covers his body with his arms and his hands are covering his head. I run halfway through the shop to hit the emergency stop.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

27. A Tragic Mistake

I'm a nurse and at the time this happened I was working in a nursing home with a rehab unit.

A patient had been there months recovering after a broken hip and had really struggled. Her roommate was a cancer patient. Her last day there, while she was sitting in the front lobby excitedly waiting for her daughter to come and pick her up to take her home, she went into respiratory failure.

She was sent to the ER via 9-1-1 and passed like an hour later. A few hours later, the hospital calls and says she had a huge amount of oxycodone in her system. They didn't administer Narcan soon enough because we sent her medication list with her and she didn't have any narcotics listed among her meds, so they weren't even thinking about a possible overdose.

Turns out the older day shift nurse had administered her roommate's Oxycontin 160mg dose to the wrong patient.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

28. Forklift Fumbles

I worked in a small company, only about eight employees. Not one of them had a forklift license, and neither did I. Anyway, I was the one that they made drive the forklift if we needed to unload a delivery. I hated it, but really had no choice, it was that or get fired. So, I get in the forklift at 4:10 pm and back it up. That's when I hear an ominous smashing sound.

I'd run straight into the brand-new shutter door that was only partially open. I sheepishly go and tell the boss, who is seething. He said he's calling the door repair company and "Of course you'll wait with me until they arrive". Excellent. No ETA was even given by the repair company and we're in a relatively rural area, so the response time was terrible anyway.

It gets to 6:20 pm and I've had enough. It was winter, so dark out, I had an hour's drive home and still no ETA on the arrival of the repairman. Now, things at this place have not been great for a while and I have multiple grievances about the way the place was run. I ask if I'm done and can leave. The boss says no. That's when I lost it.

I then go on a rant, bringing up everything the place does incorrectly, and even illegally, and then he bursts out with
YOU CAN EITHER STAY, OR..." And before he finished, I say "Or I can leave? Goodbye". That was that.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

29. What Are The Ingredients Again?

This kid at work I swear is the bane of my existence, he does the dumbest stuff all the time, but this takes the cake. We cook these ham and cheese pocket things on a clamshell grill, it's basically just ham and cheese in a folded tortilla. After asking me what goes in a ham and cheese pocket, he then went on to cook some.

Not sure how he managed to acquire a cloth in the process, but he cooked five pockets and a folded cloth. I approached him when he took it off the grill and put it into the holding tray with the other pockets and was like dude, that's not a pocket, that is a cloth. He just said "yeah"? Like I was the one who had messed up. How do you accidentally cook a cloth?

Massive Mess-UpsFlickr, Hideya HAMANO

30. The Slow Drip

I was forklifting a 10,000-liter tank of paint. Getting the last bit of paint, I need to tilt the forklift and then wait until I obtain as much of the paint as possible to make sure it's empty. You know how you are waiting on the last bit of honey to drip out of the container? It was something like that, and by the time lunch comes, the thing keeps trickling in a good amount.

I decide to go to lunch to see if it will finish by then so I can start my work. I know full well the smaller container will not overflow at all. After lunch comes, I am staring at a 40-meter paint spill, which probably cost the company a ton of money since the paint is unique enough to resist acid to melt through steel. It's a rich aerospace company so they were fine.

Remember how I mentioned I need to tilt the forklift a bit? I forgot to do so, then instead of trickling down into the other smaller container it was dripping along the pipe backward, trickling around the container. I was surprised I didn't lose my job there.

Massive Mess-UpsFlickr, Jo Naylor

31. A Small Mismeasurement

Had a brand-new Makino Mag-1 CNC mill at work worth 1.3 million dollars. In other words, an awfully expensive and fancy piece of machinery.

This thing threw chips! It had a coolant mist collection system that was connected to the roof of the machining chamber to pull out the mist and separate it, but it was just too powerful, and it was sucking aluminum chips that would fly near the opening and just fill the filters solid with chips.

So, they had me design a baffle that would help stop the chips from being picked up by pulling air from the front of the machine. It was basically a box with a three-sided cube with flanges that were mounted to the ceiling of the chamber. Had a bit of downtime so I installed it and it looked great, they did some tests and it looked like it was going to work. Job done; I walk away. And then...CRASH!

They call me back, the door on the pallet changer ran into it and bent the holy heck out of it. This was a big door, probably eight feet wide and five feet tall that spins around the central axis of the pallet changer. I had taken this into consideration when I designed the baffle but what I didn't know was the door raised up when it unlocked the pallet and moves in that position.

It then collided with the baffle while it was up the couple extra inches. OOPS! So, the machine is down, this thing literally makes thousands of dollars an hour, so I have to fix it fast. I yank out the door section that is bent and the top cap, but it is bent beyond belief. I run to a parts station to remodel that part.

While they are doing that, I take the door over to a giant press we had and straighten it out. I get that straightened out get the new top cap and get it mounted on the machine. Took a few hours but got it done. Amazingly enough, I never heard a thing later about this even though everyone knew.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

32. The Collector

I massively messed up in a good way…At least from my point of view.

I took a part-time job as an assistant to a debt collector, so my job was to film all the meetings with debtors and write down all the stuff like how much they owe and when's the amount due to be paid. One of the people who owed money was a 96-year-old lady with severe Alzheimer’s who was laying in a hospital bed and the debts were to be paid by her husband who also had some disease and couldn't walk.

They were in so much trouble that I just zoned out and forgot to fill all the papers and I gave it to them all blank. The debt collector later told me that if I ever left the paper blank it would basically mean that we told the people they officially don't owe anything. So, I just kept my mouth shut and quit the job the next day.

I hope that the poor people indeed didn't have to pay anything thanks to my mistake.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

33. Quick, They’re Gone!

When I was 18, I had been recently promoted to customer service rep at the local K-Mart. I got a call asking for security, but had been told earlier that there was no one working in security that day. So, I said something like, "Sorry, they're not available right now," and then ended the call. Later that day, the worst happens.

About an hour before close, someone broke into the back of the store and stole a bunch of stuff from the technology department. I think they got a bunch of laptops or tablets or something. The next day, my manager's boss called me into his office and told me that because I "insinuated" there was no security on site, that I was responsible for the break-in.

I think it was bull, they never sued me or docked my pay or anything. If I'd been braver when I was younger, I would have asked "Why was there no security in the store to begin with"?

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

34. Freezing It Over

There was this guy who I’ll just call Bob. Bob works extremely high up in the North American Primary Metals division for Alcoa International. Bob decided that one of two Aluminum smelters in the US was paying too much for its contracted power rate. He decided to terminate the contract in late winter last year. However, the majority of my facility's power was provided via a hydroelectric dam.

In winter, water freezes, thus flowing through the dams much slower, and yet power demand increases as people try to keep their own homes warm. The weekend after Bob ended the power contract, a cold snap hit our area for about three days. What should have been a couple hundred thousand dollars of power for that weekend ended up costing us more than 20 million as all excess power needs were paid at a premium.

About a year later, our facility is upside down in a few other areas because of mismanagement, but it all started with Bob cutting our lifeline. Here I sit today unemployed, as the facility was deemed unprofitable, and a majority of our workforce was forcibly laid off two months ago. 700 direct jobs, thousands of other areas impacted from the loss of this facility, and literally millions of dollars taken out of our local economy because Bob went against 60 years of common sense.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

35. She Got It For Free?!

After working at a retail place for over a year, I was helping train a new girl at the register. A few moments after her last customer left the store, she suddenly made a sound I could only describe as a "small animal dying" kind of sound. I look over at her and she's just staring down at the register with this horrified, Grudge-like expression on her face.

I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "That lady I just rang up had over $400 of stuff, and I forgot to process her payment". Then she started having a miniature panic attack, convinced she was going to lose her job. She wasn't fired, and I never heard of the lady coming back to pay for her stuff.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

36. Doing Due Diligence

I was doing work experience for the Inland Revenue, once responsible for UK's tax collection, as well as other things. This was WAY back before we had computers in offices. Letters were typed in the office and envelopes were handwritten. Since I was the office junior, I was given the relatively foolproof job of handwriting envelopes and stuffing them with leaflets about forthcoming tax demands.

I was given a ledger full of names and addresses to use. I carefully copied out all the names and addresses exactly as they were written, stuffed and sealed the addresses, and stacked them ready for sending. Fortunately, someone more senior than me went through them all and pulled out the ones with "dec'd" written after the names.

Those people, deceased, wouldn’t need tax demands! Oops. As a manager said to me later, "We're good, but we're not THAT good".

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

37. The Name Of The Junk

In the early days of email marketing, I sent an email to 1,000 people, inviting them to a free conference. After about an hour, 60% of the emails bounced back, some of them with a "profanity" flag attached. I was bemused: there was no profanity in the email and my boss had double-checked the text. Then I looked at the code of the email—and my jaw DROPPED.

I had used Outlook Express to design and compose the email and I'd drafted it in the junk folder on my desktop. That junk folder was called ‘Effin Bull’ in more coarse language, and Microsoft in its ridiculous wisdom had embedded the file path in the code. I sent the email again but by this time our domain had been blacklisted by a few nodes.

The CEO flew to a different city and hired a conference room in a big hotel, and not one person turned up.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels


38. The Signal’s Gone

A vendor of ours claimed that an antenna they installed for LTE was faulty. I asked the engineer on site to confirm and told him to troubleshoot all possibilities first because this site required a huge crane, shutting down two lanes on a highway, a crew that was certified to work in a crane basket, a ton of insurance, and shutting down a highway exit. It was quite a lot to get organized.

The day of the swap everyone is on the site, the crane vendor and crew is there with a new antenna when I decided I should look to see if there was something the engineer might have missed. There are a bunch of different colored cables we used to power up these antennas. Each sector of a tower will use a specific pair of colors so the crew on the tower and the engineer at the base know which antenna they are powering on.

Well turns out the engineer at the base had paired up pink and black instead of what should have been red and black. I made the change really quick and the crew that was in the crane confirmed that the antenna powered on. Meanwhile, the engineer that was supposed to be working at the base of the tower was running late but once he got there...Boy, did I have bad news for him.

The best part is that the company he worked for fired me two months earlier, but I was hired on by the antenna and radio manufacturer only days after they fired me. It felt good to throw a $30,000 bill at them because of their incompetence.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

39. A Near Miss

Air Traffic Controller here. You'd hope I would not have anything to say in threads like this. I was under training and the guy training me "gave" the runway to the visual controller for landing an aircraft when he still had workers on the runway. The way it works is, the ground controller "owns" surfaces for use with ground vehicles and taxiing aircraft.

He then removes them from these surfaces for landing and take-off of aircraft and "gives" the surface to the other controller dealing with landings and take-offs. You are expected to do a visual sweep of your surface prior to hand-off and upon receipt, this was done, but the workers were off to the side of the runway working on something at the time.

As the aircraft is given its landing instruction, they notice a vehicle crossing the runway and call a missed approach and go-around. The controller, baffled, asks what the heck the workers were doing there, the ground controller thought he gave them a restriction to remain off and away from the runway, but he hadn't. His control license was pulled.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

40. Bursting Pressure

I work in a heavily regulated, incredibly high-pressure field. You can get blackballed by the industry if you slip up because at a certain level everyone knows everyone. I reached a position where I had a lot of responsibility. I was the face of very valuable projects. I beefed the stats on one of the most valuable... ever.

I had been lied to, but one of my responsibilities was to ensure no one lied about studies. It was ugly enough that I was convinced I was done. Like, "in the industry" done. I envisioned everything collapsing around me. I was already battling mental illness. This sent me to the hospital with suicidal ideations. I stayed for a week.

I missed a month's worth of work, which was torture because I was used to having complete control over everything and never missed a day/often lost vacation. I got back and found that news of my mistake had hardly traveled. A few engineers had rendered the project messed up beyond all reason. It literally could not proceed because of what they'd done.

I went back to the hospital for therapy pretty regularly for a while. I saw three other people from my company paying visits and wondered if they saw me.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

41. I’ll Just Undo That…

We had a woman at our work who was hired as a maternity leave replacement. She accidentally deleted the entire google drive. It collectively holds all the company price lists, marketing materials, sales and customer service training guides, passwords, logins, and procedures. It is updated in real time whenever anyone accesses it. But then she made an even bigger mistake.

The worst is that she deleted it, realized, and restored a recent version. It took them three weeks to realize that no one’s work was syncing to the drive. We lost three weeks' worth of work. She actually tried to deny what she did, but everything is recorded somewhere, and it took two Google techs coming out to work out what happened. She got fired for her adamant denial.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

42. I Need To Get Out

I had a temporary moment of insanity and jumped out of my boss' work van while he was driving it. Smashed my head on the road, nearly bled out, and an ambulance drove me to the hospital. We're still good friends. Basically, what caused the temporary insanity is that it was really cold out, and he had the heat up insanely high in the van to the point where the air quality was awful.

I basically couldn't breathe. We were both wearing heavy coats too. I wanted to open the windows to get some fresh air and he wouldn't let me. I told him I needed to get out of the van, and he didn't care, he told me we're heading to the job site. I warned him three times that if he didn't park the van, I was going to jump out. He continued to refuse to park. So, I kept my word and I jumped.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

43. Is That The Right Amount?

I overpaid my restaurant team around £33k in service charges over a period of eight weeks because of some corrupt excel formulas that weren't double-checked before submission. When the company discovered what happened they wanted the money back, and I had to break that news to the team in a 1-on-40 meeting early one morning before service.

I then had to have a 1 on 1 meeting with each employee to set up a repayment scheme with them based on how much they owed. As an aside, I had only just moved into the role and the overpayments had started a few weeks before my appointment, but I was still responsible at the time. Some of the guys owed around £1800. It was the worst month in my career to date.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

44. Smelling Fumes

This was technically during my time in university, but I believe the guys who made the mistake were postgraduates. I was working in the chem labs, and I noticed I was becoming groggy and slow. I could smell ether but given that I was dealing with small quantities, it was sealed, and I had left the Winchester sealed in a fume cupboard, I rationalized I was just tired.

Eventually, it gets bad enough that I halt working on my sample prep and go to get some sleep. As I'm leaving, I look behind the divider to the other side of my bench there's another diethyl ether Winchester just a few feet from where I was, unsealed and just vaporizing. Thankfully, our new labs were well ventilated, but it was still enough to make me feel pretty rough.

Given that the department was way over budget that year and they made me quite sick they got quite the telling off, I hear.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

45. Pi Gone Bad

I crashed a hospital multimillion computer charting system after entering in the number π. I was a charge nurse at my local hospital, and I recently just watched the movie “Life of Pi". I remembered the scene where the kid wrote out π on the chalkboard. One night at work, I copied and pasted the number π into one of the “virtual test patients” in our computer charting system.

I crashed the system for four hours and had to call in the emergency IT team at 4 am. I got in trouble, but not fired. I’d like to think having a good standing with the hospital and managers saved my job. I still work for this hospital 22 years later.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

46. In The Deep End?

I work as a lifeguard, and we use walkie-talkies to communicate. One day, this guy drops a walkie-talkie into the pool. Instead of jumping in to grab it, he wanted to stay dry. So, he leaned over the edge of the pool to try to grab it. Smart plan, only problem is that it was four feet deep and there was no way his arms could reach it.

So, he keeps going further and further over the edge until he fell all the way in. The funny part is that if he jumped in the water first, he could have picked it up with his feet. Dude wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

47. An Awkward Email

A well-liked director of our art department was leaving for another company. He crafted a beautiful and inspiring message which announced his departure, how much he'd enjoyed working with us, and how he was now on to a new adventure. He sent the message to the entire company. One of his junior employees accidentally replied-all. Her message was unreal.

She went on and on about how she felt devastated—heartbroken to lose the best lover she'd ever had. But that wasn't the worst part.

Thing is, he was married, not to her, and had three children. The bon-voyage celebration was quietly canceled. He left, silently, 10 minutes after the reply had been sent. Without understanding the mail system, she tried to do a recall-all and sent a "Please don't read the message this is attached to. It was a private message between colleagues". Hoo-boy, that was an interesting day.

Massive Mess-UpsPexels

48. Off With A Bang

Chemistry teacher here. On my first day of teaching, I messed up big time. I set my classroom on fire due to an unfortunate incident involving sodium, water, and a glass tank. The problem was that the glass tank was too big, so the hydrogen gas got to build up to a decent amount. Then suddenly kaboom!

The glass tank exploded, there was shattered glass everywhere, and some of it hit the students. Thankfully, they were all wearing safety glasses. A column of water grew from the glass tank to the ceiling and the ceiling started to burn. After a few moments, the fire burnt out, but the fire alarm was loud, and I had to make sure all of the students were ok. Which they were.

It ended up being one of my funniest classes to teach for many years. The students absolutely loved it, but I was a bit of a nervous wreck for a few hours. The worst thing in hindsight is all of the comments from other teachers saying things like “you started your career with a bang” and stuff like that.

Massive Mess-UpsWikimedia Commons

49. Getting Revenge

Was promoted to terminal manager and I was a dumb 25-year-old idealist. We had an essential employee, a mechanic, who kept our fleet of trucks running. At least, that was his job description. Less than a month on the job, it came to my attention that he was a working alcoholic and his work on our fleet was underwhelming.

My boss told me to fire him once we had a new mechanic ready to come in. I told the old mechanic that he should probably start looking for new work if he couldn't do the job. Word got back to him through the pipeline that he was going to be fired. I went to a bar with my assistant manager after working 40 days straight and lo and behold the mechanic showed up. A literal nightmare ensued.

Long story short, the mechanic attempted to abduct me with his son and dump me in a frozen lake. The whole thing became a large dramatic event that put me in the hospital for a few hours and we both lost our jobs.

Creepiest StoryPexels

50. Falling Like Dominoes

I was a spectator to this glorious moment of destruction at the worst possible time. I worked at Best Buy, and all the TVs were stocked in the warehouse on the top shelf, upright and organized like books on a shelf. It was super easy to find which make and model of TV we were looking for because they were all organized alphabetically by manufacturer, then by size and model number.

It’s one week before the Superbowl. Everyone buys TVs now because they'll just return them after the Superbowl for a refund. Free giant TV for the biggest game of the year. So, it's busy as always. The Home Theater section is blowing up with requests for help, but I was busy by myself in gaming. Cue my lunchtime, I eat and spend the rest of my break chilling with some of the dudes in the warehouse also on their break.

TV selection is looking thinned out after, and there were lots of gaps between TVs. The racks they were on weren't exactly high quality, and they rocked with every gentle nudge. One of the warehouse guys is up top, walking around on the rack, trying to organize the TVs to eliminate gaps and condense them all into one big clump.

That's when someone said it and jinxed the entire day. "They look like dominoes".

Almost immediately, the guy up top knocks one of the TVs too hard and bumps the one behind it. This is when the world went into slow motion for all of us. It tips, hits the next one, that one tips, so on and so forth. What's worse, is that in his attempt to catch up to the dominoes, the guy up top is rocking the rack, which is making some of the TVs slide off the side.

The whole thing was over in a couple of seconds, but it felt like hours. Nearly every TV we had in stock had either been tipped and maybe damaged, or got hurled from 12 feet up and definitely got wrecked. The last TV in the domino chain was right on the edge of the rack and when it got hit, flew to the floor, and slid out the open truck bay, falling another five or so feet outside.

When our manager came over, we're all standing there, just taking in the majesty of the event we just witnessed and the aftermath with this poor dude standing on the rack, probably thinking the manager is going to murder him. He looks everything over and is eerily still and silent. He has his hand over his pursed lips, curled tightly into a frown.

He closes his eyes for a second, removes his glasses, and starts rubbing his eyes. Then he bursts into laughter and keys up his microphone on his walkie. "Home Theater, I've got some good news and some bad news. Good news, you're pretty much done selling today. Bad news, doesn't look like you're making revenue today".

A few of the HT guys come over to see what he's talking about and what the noise was and meanwhile, all of us are now laughing hysterically, including the dude on the rack. "No one got hurt, right"? they asked. We all said no. "Well, this is why we have insurance! Let's start opening these up and seeing what we can salvage for open box sales".

Massive Mess-UpsFlickr, Mike Mozart

Sources: Reddit,

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