19 Employees Share Their Biggest Work Mistakes

Adulting is hard. There’s paying bills, bathing on a regular basis, eating right and everything in between. Add a “job” to all of that and something is bound to fail…and most of the time, it’s work.

Check out these 20 people and their stories of workplace failure.

1. Close Call

I use the company car, which is wrapped in that advertisement stuff with our name in plain sight. A lady cut me off, so I sped up, nearly side swiped her, then flipped her off, forgetting that I was in the company car.

Later that day, the lady called and complained. I was lucky enough to be the one that answered the phone. I assured her that I would “get it taken care of”.

2. Superman

Back in high school, I had a job as a web designer at a small web shop servicing non-profit organizations. My bosses didn’t let on that I was as young as I was, and they handled all the face-to-face client meetings.

My job basically entailed designing and preparing the website for our clients. One of our big clients was Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. I sliced up the site and put in filler text, knowing full well that only people coming from our internal IP would be able to see the development.

I should mention that my company was small, close-knit and had a great (albeit vulgar) sense of humor. Rather than going the standar lorem ipsum route, I instead filled in something along the lines of “Herp derp I’m Christopher Reeve, I drive myself with a straw. Weaknesses include kryptonite and falling of horses.” It got worse, but I’ll let your imaginations fill in the blanks. There were about four paragraphs of filler text.

I came in to work after school one day and all three of my company’s owners/my bosses were waiting for me. I thought they were pulling some prank, but they asked me to come into their office. At this point I knew something was definitely up.

My boss: “Chris and Dana saw the site.”

Me: “What? Who?”

Him: “CRPF. Chris and Dana Reeve. The director wanted to show them the progress. Apparently he didn’t check before he showed it to him in person.”

At this point I think my stomach hit the floor and kept going straight on to the Earth’s core. My boss told me he’d let me know what the next steps were, but just to know that I was in deep, deep shit.

Anyway, I didn’t get fired (despite how adamant Dana Reeve was about the fact) and I had to write an apology to the Reeves. I found out later that Chris actually had a pretty solid sense of humor and thought it was funny. RIP, Mr. and Mrs. Reeve.

3. Glitter dick

Working in tourism, i give tours to generally a group of 70-80 tourists of a very famous structure. My roommates at the time were 3 welsh rugby players, some wild guys. We all go out one night, I had a bit too much to drink, and go back to pass out for work the next morning. I am a little late waking up so a quick brush my teeth and bolt out the door. I’m riding the metro to work, and everyone is giving me very odd looks.

I down 3 tylenol, down a bottle of water and head to my first group for the day without think anymore of it. About thirty minutes into the tour, I hear snickering and laughing from the younger kids. Even some adults were looking at me trying not to laugh. A guy comes up to me in the middle of me explaining where the structure got its sandstone and says “Hey man, you have drawn dick on your face, and it’s glittery”. I kind of laugh it off in disbelief, but he shows me on his iPhone camera. I sprint to the bathroom to wash it off, plotting my revenge on my roommate, which I eventually got.

4. Rough landing

I worked installing Directv for a few weeks…fell through the roof, attic, sheet rock, and landed on the living room table. It just wasn’t for me.

5. All In

For many years I worked in windows and doors. This gave me an opportunity to witness some massive fuck ups. Some were made by contractors, some were made by manufacturers, some by my mill and indeed some by me. I had spent years developing an excellent reputation for working on high-end homes. I worked with the architects on the front end, the clients and the contractors on the back end. It was a sweet deal for a guy in his late 20’s. The money was good and I was turning away clients.

So it was a real boon for me to land a gig in Seattle working with some great clients on some amazing homes, being from the bay area, I reluctantly agreed to move to Washington. These jobs were big and needed serious project management so I needed to be on site a few times a week.

Well, the primary residence I was working on was located in the Orca Islands and was a completely custom job; custom paint, custom wood, custom mill work, custom glass, custom hardware. The total job cost was $750,000+ and I was acting as an independent contractor supplying the material.

We spent 9 months planning every detail, generating a construction document of 500+ pages. We spent 2 whole days before ordering the product going over the specs line by line. I had the client and the contractor sign off on every line item. Finally I got a deposit on the material and initiated the order. The whole order took 6 months to receive.

Once everything was in and the contractor was ready, I made plans for the delivery. It was not an easy delivery, so I brought in a driver I knew from my work in Big Sur. It was muddy mess getting the material to the job site and took 3 trips over 5 days to fill the unfinished garage with all of the windows. We met with the contractor and inspected the goods, everything was fine. He signed off and all I needed to do was go home, wait for the final check (the part of the payment that had my profit in it).

I stopped and had a beer with my driver friend and headed back down to the ferry dock to take the ride over to my house on Bainbridge when my phone rang. It was the interior designer. “These aren’t the right color.” he said. All the blood in my body drained, I quickly grabbed my briefcase and started to flip through the work order, every fucking page of the 500 pages of order said the color that was delivered. I insisted, “I’ve got the contract signed by the client and the contractor. It’s the color that was ordered!” “This color will not do! I have ordered siding, trim, everything is coming in for the color we changed it to!” I hesitated and asked to let me review everything and get back to them.

I got back to my office and gathered all my paperwork and right there, dated on the order’s file folder, “Change color to blah, blah, blah“!

I ate the windows, I ate the temporary windows I supplied them to keep the job on track, I ate charge backs from the contractor, I lost 2 upcoming jobs, I ate the cost of sending a crew out and replacing the windows with the correct ones, I ate everything and had to order the windows again. I had moved my family up to Seattle for this job, I got a house, I bought a new car, etc. I was All In on this job.

I went out of business at the end of the job. Returned to the Bay Area and went back to college. I will never put my self in the position where a one line fuck up will fuck anything up that bad.

6. Boredom wins

I was bored.

I had to run past the entire deli counter screaming to get to the sink when I lit my shirt on fire.

There were at least 15 customers in line.

7. Car wash

I used to work at a car rental place. My job was to clean the cars, get them ready for customers and do the inspection of the car before people took off with them. One day I was in the lot parking a truck that I had just cleaned and got out to head back into the office. It wasn’t uncommon for people to come up to me with their rental papers and ask for the keys to their car so as I was walking back, a couple of older sort of grimy looking guys walked up to me. The one guy said “hey, we’re all done inside and the lady said that truck is ours.” I’m not even going to make excuses for why I did it but without even asking a question I said “ok great, here ya go!” and handed him the keys. I thought it was weird at the time because when I handed the guy the keys, his friend said “fuck!” under his breath and looked pissed. Anyways, I walk back into the office without a care in the world and I see my boss. She asks if I saw those two guys out in the lot and I said “The guys who rented the truck? yep.” Then she looks at me with her jaw on the floor and says “NNNNnnnoooooooooooo.” She turns around immediately and calls the cops to tell them we just had a truck stolen from our lot.

Weeks go by and eventually the truck turns up out in the middle of nowhere. The cops find needles and booze all over the inside and they returned it back to us. I had to go to the police station to pick the guy I gave the keys to out of a photo lineup.

8. Snow Day!

I was a stage manager at a 3000 seat hall in downstate NY and was doing a performance of julio iglesias. Due to a snowstorm that day, I predicted a cancellation, so myself and about 5 other stagehands hit the hotel lobby bar for about 3 hours prior to doors. The radio DJs who were supposed to introduce him did not arrive on-time. Even with the snow, the house was sold-out and packed… I walked out on stage and stumbled over a cable, and almost fell from the deck – recovering, I walked up to the mic (with spotlights on me all the way) and proceeded to blank on his name, and managed “JEWEL-E-O EN-GRACIAS'” and ambled off the stage. Narrowly escaped unemployment.

9. Just a little prank

I was working as a janitor in a hospital (if anyone’s wondering, no it isn’t quite like Scrubs portrays it) and I was always looking for ways to make my day more enjoyable. This often led me to play pranks on my fellow coworkers. Occasionally the pharmacy would get shipments on dry ice and I would get to play around with it once they received the medicine. I thought it would be a fun idea to put it in the mop bucket of my friend who was working on a patient floor. I would call her about five minutes later and it would be the perfect prank. Well, I did call her five minutes later and she answered in a panic. She told me she was having a chemical reaction in her mop water and she alerted the head nurse and the on-call hospital manager so they could start preparing to evacuate the floor. I quickly explained the whole situation and the next day I had a talk with my boss. It turns out that even though most of the staff involved thought it was severely inappropriate, they also found it really funny (once all the panic was over with) and my boss even complimented me on my creativity, even though I probably should’ve just been fired.

10. I can guess he ended without a job

Not mine, but a coworker’s. I used to work manufacturing large televisions. The company had just received a shipment of 50 104″ screens from a vendor. A brand new employee was charged with transporting and stacking them. Just as he stacking the 50th screen it slips out of his hands. It falls and shatters all 50 screens. In his first 4 hours of work he manages to destroy more than $2 million in material and set back production by weeks.

11. I scream, you scream…

I used to work at Blue Bell Creameries in Alabama. Cream and sugar are stored in huge, swimming pool sized tanks, (about 25 of them in the whole factory) and it was my job to clean the tanks after they were drained for ice cream production. I would remove the tasting valve, scrub the door, and hook it up to the cleaning line (as opposed to the cream line) To do this, I must wait til the tank is empty, else I would be opening a golf ball sized hole in the bottom of a multi-thousand gallon tank of ice cream.

Welllllllll (Can you guess what happened next?) I got to a tank I was informed was empty, and proceeded to take of the tasting valve. Slowly, I unscrewed the ring that kept it attached. Ice cream leaked out, which it usually does because there is a residual bit of it left in there after running the tank.

More ice cream flowed, and it was obvious there was more behind it, but it was flowing too much for me to screw it back on. The pressure increased, and shot the valve off and pushed me to the floor. It took 6 grown ass men to put it back on there, but not before I lost $10,000 in ice cream >.<

12. Chuck E. Cheese

I used to work at Chuck E. Cheese and was taking a pizza from the kitchen to the customer. At the time, it was extremely busy and there were little devils running everywhere; and this lady was at the far end so I had to zigzag through the games to get to her. So after successfully maneuvering through a bunch of games and small children with two pizzas on my hands, I came within 10 feet of her table and thought I was home free. Well turns out there was a 2 year old kid crawling right in front of me. I tripped on the kid, the pizzas went flying and hit another kid, and both of the kids were crying because I stepped on one and nailed the other with pizza. And before you think this can’t get any worse, I then had to deal with the parents…that part alone still makes me shudder to this day. After about 45 minutes of yelling at me, they pressure my manager to fire me. My managers a cool guy so he said no, but he pulled me aside and told me he would have to pretend to go bat-shit crazy on me to make the parents happy. He did and it was the finest acting I have ever seen a non-actor pull off. It even scared me for a minute. I continued working in that hell hole for another year before I left for college.13. Nascar

Working the races was probably the most boring four hours of my life as it required listening for the lead into commercial breaks, switching the feed to our local commercials for a couple of minutes, and then switching it back to the race. I would usually watch TV or browse the Internet throughout the entire race.

At one point I switched to commercials and completely forgot to switch the race back on. So after a few minutes of commercials, the station went completely silent and stayed that way for about twenty minutes until I realized it was way too quiet in the studio. A minute or two of dead air was enough to get us in trouble; twenty minutes should’ve gotten me fired, but it was NASCAR so nobody noticed…

14. Bless you

I was working in a sterile hood when a massive sneeze hit me out of fucking nowhere. The force of it caused me to duck my head under the hood and blow mucus everywhere inside. The whole lab froze and eyes slowly rolled my way in disbelief like this. I contaminated every sample and they had to call in an outside company to resterilize.

15. You’ve got mail

I worked in a mailroom right out of college for a fairly large company.

We often times had Overnight, Next Day AM packages that HAD to be there or apparently the world would explode. I was responsible for getting these to the drop boxes before pick up time, which means I had to take them with me when I left work and drop them off.

Well one Friday, had one of these urgent letters. Left work and completely forgot about it. It sat in my car all weekend. Got to work the next monday, the CFO and several upper management were literally freaking out cause the letter didnt arrive (got yelled at, etc). It apparently was a half a million dollar check that this company was waiting for or they were going to take some kind of legal action or something.

It turned out fine, but I wanted to die at the time. Been there.

16. Bankrupt

Worked as a student in a bank-agency.

I wasn’t 18 yet, so I wasn’t allowed to be at the front desk (some insurance-issues), basically I was doing paperwork in the back. Once, a customer wanted to enter, but one can’t just walk into a bank, you have to ring a bell, and have an employee open the door for you by pressing a button under the front desk.

Long story short, he rang, all employees were busy, so I went to press the button. I check under the desk, shit, 3 buttons. The man was looking at me, looking pretty pissed by the waiting-time, so I just press a random button. Turns out it was the motherfucking alarm button.

17. Snake

I work at a pet store. I accidentally threw a snake away. I was cleaning the bedding and didn’t see him buried in his. I dumped it. 2-3 days later my department manager brought it back to me after finding it in the receiving garbage. Somehow I didn’t get in trouble. Snake was fine.


I work in a theme park, and on this particular day, I was manning the control booth. I was sitting in the chair, which was a rolling office type chair, when I decided I wanted to stand. I hopped down and somehow managed to propel the chair into the wall with my ass. The chair slammed directly into a fire alarm, and the lever ended up getting depressed AND pulled down. By a chair. I stared at it in horror for a moment, but nothing happened- until suddenly: “BEEEEW. BEEEEEW. BEEEEW.”

Yup, I set off a fire alarm. With my ass. So when you have a fire alarm at a ride, you have to cycle all of the guests clear of the attraction, kick all of the guests out of the queue, and then evacuate all of the employees while you wait for the fire department to come and give you the ok to resume normal operation. Once we had gotten the venue fully evacuated, I was freaking out. I figured I was in huge trouble, what with inconveniencing several hundred guests and wasting the fire departments time and all.

I came clean to my supervisor immediately- I mean, I was the only person in the control booth, it would be obvious that I had done something, so better let her know of my clumsiness before she thought I had had a more sinister agenda. To my great surprise, she started laughing hysterically and told me not to worry about it.

The ride ended up being close for like an hour and a half, and during that time, I had at least 7 or 8 managers and supervisors from around the park come and make fun of me.

I think the best part of the whole situation, though, was that after the incident, my supervisor and I decided there should be a cover over that fire alarm, so we gave a call to the safety department. We never did get a cover, because apparently a room full of engineers and the man in charge of safety resort-wide spent hours trying to fling a chair at that goddammed fire alarm, and not ONE of them could recreate what I somehow managed to do in one try. With my ass.

I still get shit for that one, and it happened nearly 2 years ago!

19. Bad waitress

I was a craptastic waitress for a summer in university. Seriously. You did not want me waiting your table.

Story the first: Just fresh out of “training”, I’m tending to a pair of women at brunch. I notice an almost empty coffee mug. Out of the goodness of my heart, I decide to refill it without her asking. As I’m leaning over with the coffee pot, I hit it against a ledge of a separator thingy… coffee sloshes out of the pot and all over the woman. Woman is livid. I am humiliated.

Story the second: It’s a busy night, and I’ve been slammed (given too many tables). For some reason, I am also told to tend to a table of eight persons, one of which is the restaurant’s general manager. Hoo boy. Cue me fucking up everyone’s orders, bringing them wrong food (which fucks up the orders of other tables), nearly spilling something on a child, etc. etc. At the end, the general manager has a word with me and actually tells me it’s not my fault, the manager for the night should have realized how busy I was. I nearly cried in front of him.

Story the third: Family slyly requests slice of cake to celebrate birthday of their son. They repeatedly ask me to make sure that it is peanut-free because he has an allergy. I talk to the kitchen, and reassure the parents that the cake I’ve recommended is peanut-free. Deliver cake. Kid needs puffer almost immediately after taking a bite. Fuck.

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