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.