We’ve all had those moments in life when our brains seem to fail us and we make unimaginable mistakes. Oftentimes, while the chaos is unfolding, we have a brief moment of realization where we think, “I messed up”—and usually by then, it’s too late. Here are true tales of the moments when Reddit users realized they really messed up.
1. Well, That Didn’t Work
I messed up huge when I managed to destroy a $4,000 piece of test equipment by connecting the wrong leads. For the briefest of moments, the screen showed an over-voltage warning...That's when I knew.
2. When You Forget To Cancel The Free Trial
My husband messed up at work when he bought a bit of software to test...and forgot to cancel it. The consequences were horrifying. A year later and $70,000, he had to fess up to his boss. Luckily, his boss said "Don't worry, I'll spin it as efficiency savings".
3. Extreme Dumpster Diving
I once threw away a cashier's check for $50,000. I didn't think it would be a big deal as I didn't understand the difference between a cashier's check and a regular check. We had thrown the trash in the dumpster at work, so my dad and I went down around midnight and tore open all the garbage bags in the dumpster before we found it.
4. Okay, This One Takes The Cake
I read a manifest wrong and pumped the wrong chemical down an oil well. It gets worse. This literally ruined a brand-new well worth about 4 million dollars. They had to abandon it.
5. This Plus That Equals Fire
I’m a research chemist and dropped a small lump of sodium hydride, which has the consistency of moist fine sand but also can set itself on fire if there’s too much humidity on the floor. This lump must have landed on a singular drop of water as it instantly burst into flames and launched little flaming blobs everywhere.
Thankfully it was small enough that it burned out in a few seconds and I now deny any knowledge of the little scorch mark on the lab floor.
6. And Down They Go
I worked in a commercial kitchen. This was the first day with the new head chef. I had just finished making and plating hundreds of deviled eggs. As I moved them into the walk-in fridge, the wheels of the cart caught on the lip and sent ALL OF THEM straight on the floor.
7. Quick, Five Second Rule!
I was carrying a huge tray of mac and cheese for dinner for 62 people. Besides some salad, this was the only dinner. Everyone was in line with plates in their hand waiting for food to arrive. Then it happened. With all eyes on me, I suddenly tripped and spilled all of it on the floor.
8. It’s Not Supposed To Bend That Way
I used to downhill skate pretty regularly. I took my time and had some safe spots away from traffic. I took a tumble once and popped up on my feet, but my right leg instantly crumbled. I looked down and my right foot was crooked, 90⁰ to the left. "I done messed up" was running through my head 100x every second for weeks after that.
9. Instant Regret
During my first marriage, and on the first day of our honeymoon, my husband and I were at a nice sightseeing spot. I took a photo of him in front of a memorial. After taking the photo, I said: “Oh, I think I cut off your feet in that shot”. That's when the twist happened. He throws a total fit about it. That's the moment I realized I messed up marrying him.
10. Slow Motion Regret
I was riding electric scooters with some friends and they thought to ride down a hill covered in potholes. And of course, I hit a pothole going like 20mph and I got some air. This was the "I messed up" moment…It was like the intro to a movie. Slow-motion with me mid-air, with a "You're probably wondering how I got in this situation" voiceover.
When I hit the ground, my shoulder took most of the impact and broke in two places. It still hurts some days even years later. After landing and moving to a bench nearby, my vision just completely went for a minute or so. From the moment I hit the air I was regretting every second of riding the scooter. I knew I was in for a painful landing.
11. Knock, Knock—Guess Who’s Here
My biggest “I messed up” moment was when the authorities showed up at my door and raided my house. It was a complete surprise. I was on the hook for hacking offences. The short version is they took more IT equipment from me than I knew was possible and kept it for seven months, then suddenly dropped the case and gave it all back in various states of disrepair.
In the meantime, I used to get panic attacks every time the phone would ring, and I was going to take a long run off a short bridge. Obviously, there's more to it, but that's the basics. Not recommended. I served every day of that seven months, even though I wasn't convicted.
I suspect I know why I didn't end up behind bars, and that reason was their incompetence.
12. Double Trouble
Let's go back to my first kitchen job. I was a prep cook for a bakery/coffee shop. One morning, I was making cinnamon rolls and following the recipe. Or so I thought. I pull my first batch of 30 out of the oven, and the owner comes by for a taste.
She takes one bite, spits it out, and asks me what my process was. I told her I doubled the recipe as she requested, so you know 14 tablespoons of cinnamon. The problem: That number I thought was a seven, was in fact a one.
13. Ew, What Did You Put In This?
When I was in like eighth grade, I tried to treat my parents by making meatloaf. We were eating and they said it tasted weird and asked what I put in it. I listed off the ingredients including garlic, and they asked where I got the garlic. Well, from the shelf at the bottom of the pantry of course!
It was not garlic. It was tulip bulbs. That was also the day I learned tulip bulbs can be poisonous if consumed. Thankfully, we were all okay though.
14. Too Little, Too Late
My biggest “I messed up” moment was when I was drinking because of my severe anxiety and depression. I was ignoring my wife telling me to get help, which eventually led to her filing for divorce. We’re two months in since filing, and I am so self-aware now that I am filled with regret every day.
15. A Quick Slip
I decided to scrape out old, stale brownies that had hardened to the pan, using a bladed utensil. The thought flicked through my mind a fraction of a second before the blade slipped out of the pan and plunged into the center of my palm. Instantly, I knew I messed up. What a dumb decision that was.
16. Kids Are Weird
This was years ago, and I still think about it sometimes. I was sleeping over at a friend's house, and when I woke up in the morning, I thought it would be funny to sit on his cat. To be fair, I was ten years old. But that wasn't all. As if this wasn't already a stupid idea, I pulled my pants down.
I want you to picture this: A fat ten-year-old idiot, about to press his bare bottom into a cat…tell me how well it's going to go. After being scratched in the behind, I went home crying, thinking how badly I messed up. I stood outside for a few minutes until my mom woke up and let me in.
She gave me a quick bath because I was bleeding. Oh, but there's still more. It wouldn't be until a few years later that I found out she was convinced my friend's stepdad hurt me, which definitely didn't help my mom's schizophrenia. Honestly, what was I thinking?
17. Locked Up…From The Inside
I messed up. I locked myself in an empty lock-up. I was reviewing a job site at 5 pm on a Friday, and I was the last guy there. My cell phone had just run out of battery. It was a new county courthouse in the USA and it was nearly complete. I was checking door functionality, mechanical function only.
The whole building had electric security on each door but it was turned off. I had a master keycard and an actual door key to override the door locks, just in case. At one point I mindlessly walked into a side chamber of the main courtroom. I realize it’s the detainee room.
As I turn back, I hear the door click shut. I tried the electric keycard that I had. It didn’t work, because no electricity. I tried the regular key that I had, and the lock didn’t work properly. I tried again. Nothing. And again, nothing. And again a few more times. It still doesn’t work.
I bang on the door and shout for help for a few minutes. It’s useless, no one’s there. I try the door lock a few more times. It doesn’t work. There is approximately 62 hours until anyone was supposed to be at the job site again. I messed up. I didn’t want to but I ended up kicking the door and after a few minutes it broke.
It broke around the lock, with the lock staying connected to the frame. Everyone laughed at me on Monday.
18. Oh Hey There, Stepsister
I messed up by sleeping with my mom’s boyfriend’s daughter. I mean, we weren’t technically step-siblings because my mom wasn’t technically married to her dad.
19. Yeah, You Did!
About 20 years back, I was driving a car WAY too fast. During a bend, I felt the back of the car start to slide…then, nothing. The next thing I remember is waking up in the back of a wailing ambulance and I couldn't move...panic set in. **I HAD MESSED UP**
Turns out my car did a 360 (or more) and hit a tree on the driver side and came to a stop. The reason I couldn't move was because I was strapped down. Turned out I walked away with just a mild concussion. The car, meanwhile, was totaled.
I was still paying off the car and it basically pushed me into SEVERE money problems for the next seven to eight years. So, I’ll say it again…I definitely messed up.
20. That Was A Bad Mix
I went turkey hunting with my new father-in-law this morning. We drank a boat-load of foamy beverages and ate Indian food the night before. I soon found out that was a bad idea. I pooped my camo overalls so badly that it filled up my boot and I left a trail on the five-mile hike out of the woods.
Next time, I won’t be drinking AND eating Indian food.
21. A Regretful Yes
I let my then-husband learn how to tattoo on me. I'm only down about $2,000 so far getting everything fixed. He did practice on grapefruit and fake skin beforehand. He also did a tattoo on himself first. But that was not enough experience to attempt a full sleeve, among other pieces he did on me.
He had very little practice, and his work displayed this. It was mediocre. He was extremely manipulative and controlling, so I didn't have much say. I've been working with a great artist in my area who's reworked it, and the $2, 000 could have been doubled and still be worth it to me.
I'm starting to feel good about how I look now, and to me that's priceless. But I’ll always be reminded of how badly I messed up allowing that to happen in the first place.
22. Whoa, That Was Way Too Close
When I was a little kid, I was watching NOVA on PBS one night and it was about the history of diving. They had scenes of the old divers with the air tubes connected to their helmets. So, later the next day I was playing on my swing set and I decided I would pretend to be a diver.
I tied a rope to the top of the swing set and then wrapped it around my neck and jumped off. Unfortunately, the rope was a few inches short and there I was dangling from the swing set, unable to touch the ground and unable to get the rope off my neck. Boy, did I ever mess up.
Fortunately, my dad was JUST rounding the corner of the house, finishing up mowing the front yard, and he saw me. I passed out by the time he got to me but he did get me down and the only thing I really suffered was rope burn around my neck. I definitely remember the moment my tippy toes wouldn’t touch the ground and thinking “Oh no, this isn’t good”.
And that’s the story of how I accidentally hanged myself.
23. Timing Is Everything
To set the scene: I’m 10 years old, and I have IBS. BAD IBS, like pooping water 12 times a day on average. Easter that year I pooped five times before 7 am. Anyway, I have hockey practice one night, which is the same night my parents also had their cards night with friends.
So, I go to the coach’s house before practice and play mini-sticks with his son. Cool. I like mini-sticks, this is a fun idea. Fast forward. Playing mini-sticks, and I feel a watery poop coming. I ask “where’s your washroom?" No answer, he’s too focused on sniping a Gino past me. I’m nervous and young so I don’t ask again.
But these aren’t the type of poops you hold. Neptune himself is shoving his watery trident out of my behind as I’m trying to play. I’m done messing around and say “I really need to go, where’s your washroom?" He nonchalantly gestures behind him “over there”.
I hustle to the throne. I get into the dark washroom and try to find the light. My hands are shaking and clammy. I hit the switch. It starts to get really bad. No light appears. In my panic I hit it again. Nothing. It was one of those lights that take a second to turn on. I’m frantically flicking it on and off. Finally, light.
I turn around to release the fat man reincarnate, but don’t get my pants down in time. Warm, watery, chunky poo covers half of my pants, my behind, the floor, the toilet, and even the wall a little. The cold feeling hits my stomach. “Oh no” I think. What have I done? What can I do?
I begin to scrape heaps of poo out of my pants when I hear “hurry up we need to leave we’re going to be late”. Ugh. What do I do? Oh no. I clean myself as best as possible, and I go to the front door. My friend looks at me and says “did you toot?”. I say “I may have... uh... pooped myself”.
He giggles, his little sister giggles. They think I’m joking. Soon they will not. We get to practice. I take my pants off to get dressed and he looks at me and says “Oh, you really did poop yourself”. I look down, my legs are covered in poo smears. I finish practice, knowing the nightmare is over and my mom will pick me up. But I didn't know what was coming.
Coach says, “Your mom isn’t home yet, you’re going to come back to our place and she’ll pick you up later”. Panic strikes again. But no, I’m an opportunist. We return to the scene and I immediately go to work. I go to the washroom and begin scrubbing the caked-on poo off the porcelain to no avail. I need products, but all I have is wet TP.
My mom picks me up, I tell her what happened. Her response? “I am mortified”. I’m sorry, YOU’RE mortified? I’m covered in poo!
24. A Moral Dilemma
The thing I feel was most messed up was sleeping with my best friend's ex a day after they broke up. It really made me question my morality and the person I wanted to be at the time. Never again. Compromising your morals is never worth it.
25. Huge Mistake
I really messed up when I told my immediate superior that I wouldn’t pass urinalysis. So, I got processed out of an $80,000/year job with the Navy. Then my urinalysis came back clean.
26. Lesson Learned
I was riding with no helmet and smacked the pavement. I broke my skull, but miraculously survived with four days of bleeding out of my ear in the hospital, six weeks of triple vision, and years of recovery. But I have very few ongoing issues. That was my “I messed up” moment, and boy did I get lucky.
From then on, even as an adult, I wear a helmet when riding anything.
27. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie…
I was cleaning our fish bowl and I accidentally dropped it into the sink. It set off a horrible chain reaction. First, it cracked our kitchen sink. It was the type of sink connected directly to the counter. Because of this, no one would contract to cut out the sink because it could have cracked into the counter, which they would be responsible for.
So, because of the crack we had to replace every counter in the kitchen. While we were at it, we figured we should refinish the cupboards as we always wanted to...and do a whole new backsplash of thousands and thousands of individual stones. And since we were doing that, we repainted the kitchen.
However, as it flowed through the whole house, we had to repaint the whole inside of our home too. And since we were at it, we replaced our interior doors. But while doing that we bought a new front door too. And since everything was moved, we had our internet and wiring in the walls redone and fished through the walls and ceilings.
All because of one crack in the sink.
28. This One Is A Big One
I was a bank teller working drive-thru and I had a fat stack of cash in an envelope (roughly $3,000) that I had set aside because I needed my manager to take it to the vault. I was over the max amount allowed to keep in the drawer at any time.
I’m just going through the motions and some guy was doing a cash withdrawal. While I was on auto-pilot, I sent back his tube with the envelope containing $3,000 instead of the few hundred he was withdrawing. The worst part was, I didn’t realize this until about 15 minutes and 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 it was on, so I had no idea who to call or who he was. He could have kept that money and we would have never known.
Luckily, he was a good Samaritan and came back into the branch and 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 and came back to return the money.
29. How Embarrassing
When I was in 7th grade, my parents woke me up from bed and took me to the guest room, where they proceeded to show me the history on the internet browser on the computer. Uh, oh.
30. When One Door Closes...
In my 20s while working at Home Depot, I walked by an aisle full of pallets of doors. As soon as I casually walked by, all of the doors came crashing down. Pallets and all. 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 booby-traps I left in that place.
31. A Blender Blunder
Our very-old blender started puffing out smoke when I was using it, so I frantically unplugged it at the wall and started taking it apart. This was the worst thing I could have done. It was when I heard the whirring and felt the blade go through my finger tip that I realized that in my panic I had instead unplugged the toaster from the socket next to it.
32. This Was A Dangerous Mess Up
I was working a facilities job in my early 20s and was a heavy smoker at the time. I worked for a very wealthy company and had a no smoke rule, so every time I needed a smoke 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 boss ordered a roll-away dumpster to the site. This roll-away dumpster happened to be put around the corner of where I smoked.
One night I was burning one and got a call to go do a fix on a machine, so I put it out before finishing it, with the intent to come back later. It broke in half while I was doing so and in frustration, I tossed it into the dumpster.
I do the fix on the machine and go back to the shop office to sit down. Five minutes go by and one of the other facilities guys comes running in and tells me there is a fire. I run to a fire extinguisher and run outside to see there is a huge fire in the dumpster, so me and three other people jump in the dumpster to attempt to put it out.
After two long minutes I look down and see flames coming from underneath the cardboard I am standing on and decided it was time to dial the fire department. The flames erupted 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 afterwards and the fire department recommended we all go to the hospital immediately due to smoke inhalation. My smoke sent three people to the hospital...and a security camera above the dumpster saw the whole thing. I was fired and banned from the place I worked.
In the end I was very fortunate nothing was damaged and nobody was seriously injured. Definitely was an “I messed up” moment.
33. Free Dirt
I used to work at an aggregate company. Once I got an order address wrong and sent 22 tons of topsoil to some poor dude’s laneway. Whoops!
34. Wrong Dial, Bob
Many moons ago, my husband was making dinner and came into the living room while the oven was preheating. As we watched TV, an explosion rocked the kitchen. The casserole dish had exploded, sending glass shards everywhere. It was on the burner that he mistakenly turned on instead of the oven.
I didn’t go to the dentist for five years out of sheer laziness. Five cavities, one pulled tooth, one full tooth implant and a root canal later…I regret that decision.
36. He Lost All Common Sense In That Moment
I pulled up to stop at a red light in the left lane. I turned and smiled at an officer in the right lane next to me. I still can't believe what I did. Without thinking, I put my foot on the gas and ran that red light.
37. What A Gem
A techie guy my parents hired to clean/speed up our computers was cleaning up the one in my bedroom. I was 12 years old at the time. He found the naughty photos I didn’t delete from my recycle bin. He then taught me how to delete things from my recycle bin and to his credit never told my parents. I was still mortified though.
38. You Can Always Eat More, But You Can Never Eat Less
For me, it was the classic thought: “This spacey brownie ain’t working”, and then I ate another one. Oops!
39. Rookie Move
One year we purchased a new house. For Christmas that year, I decided I would buy a ton of things we needed off the "for the house" to do list. And then proceeded to gift them to my wife for her Christmas gifts. A clothing iron, blender, pots and pans, cheese grater etc. You get it. Never again.
40. Sorry, Wrong Convo
I really messed up when I was talking smack about my co-worker and accidentally sent it to them instead of the person I meant it for. I went into his office the next day and apologized to him for the message. EEEEK.
41. Sorry, We Don’t Sell Those, Bye!
I worked as a temp receptionist for a company that sells those massive printing presses. I had someone call for a sales representative as they wanted a guillotine. I replied in the nicest tone that we didn't sell those. I mean, who calls a company that sells printing presses to buy a french execution instrument, am I right?
Turns out, it was those big things they use to cut things like newspapers in mass quantities, and we did sell them. I probably cost them a few million, as a competitor landed a big deal with a lucrative account a few days later. Guess what they bought. Oops.
42. Learn Something New Every Day
In my A-Levels I wrote an entire essay on Islam; we studied Judaism. Yeah, I messed that one up.
43. Blame It On The Wet Bandits
After working on a sink at a property I managed, I left the sink on. But I didn’t realize it until the next day! And of course, the drain plug was in and the sink did not have an overflow. It was a huge mess.
44. Oooh, Awkward
When I was a kid, I was playing hide and go seek and wedged myself between the washer and dryer that were in front of the toilet in the bathroom of my friend’s house. I thought it was the best spot. After all, the seeker came in the bathroom twice and didn’t see me. There was just one problem.
Soon after, my friend’s mom came in the bathroom and started pooping. I didn’t make the split-second decision to get out before that happened, so I stayed still. Until we locked eyes…
45. He Forgot To Finish With The Bend And Snap
I was at a job interview for Whataburger and the guy asks "Do you think you could handle this job"? For some insane reason I answered like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde when she says, "What? Like it's hard"?
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.
46. I Bet She Hadn’t Heard That One Before
I went to a job interview after working a 12-hour shift. When asked "What's your biggest weakness or flaw?" I said without thinking, "I'm a pervert". The woman interviewing me just paused and asked me another question, then ended the interview. I didn't get the job.
47. He Caught Water On Fire
I was in high school, and after a football game I had some friends come over for a fire. We couldn’t get the wood lit so someone had the bright idea of getting out the gasoline. As I pour some gas onto the barely-lit fire, the fire travels up the stream of gas into the gas can.
I go into a full-blown panic as I hold this now flame thrower that may or may not explode in my hand. So, I 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 now my pool looks like the gates of hell. The next thing I know the liner is burnt to a crisp and water goes everywhere.
My friends look at me, amazed that I caught water on fire.
48. Oh, Snap!
My ex left her underwear at my house a few months before I started dating my current girlfriend. When I found them, I thought they were my current girlfriend's. I embarrassed myself so badly. When I handed her them like “hey you left these” with a smile on my face, she told me they weren’t hers. My heart dropped like an anvil.
49. He Sat In It The Whole Way Home
On the day I was moving to Jersey from Virginia, I had a date in Virginia. I was planning driving straight to New Jersey after the date. Only, I ate something bad during dinner and my stomach started acting up. But the date was going well and didn't want to cut it short and thought I could hold it until it was over.
Right after the date ended, I got in my car and drove to the nearest restaurant to use the bathroom. Unfortunately, nature prevailed and I couldn't hold it. So, I literally pooped my pants. It was so bad I couldn't even get out of my car. And that's how I drove with poop in my pants from Virginia to New Jersey.
I was worried that I might get pulled over the whole time. I got to my apartment building at three in the morning and walked up three flights of stairs to make less noise. I got rid of my clothes and took a shower. Damage: I had to buy tools and throw away the driver side car seat. It cost me 2,000 bucks.
I had it detailed four times in two months and finally decided to get rid of the car to get rid of the trauma. Also, I married her. And I never told her, or anyone else, this story.