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RedPowerLady's avatar

What is the most significant stupid mistake you have made at work?

Asked by RedPowerLady (12566points) May 12th, 2009

Today I broke the rearview mirror off of the van. They didn’t offer me van training and I told them I had never driven one before… It got me thinking what stupid mistakes have people made at work. So what’s yours?

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26 Answers

killertofu's avatar

i can’t remember a significant stupid mistake, but i do know a coworker in a different department said and called to my boss: “Jesus f**kin’ Christ you stupid c*nt”

jrpowell's avatar

When I was at the theater we had a bulb burn out. At the urging of management I changed it before it had the 15 minutes to cool. The bulb exploded. That is a 1200 watt bulb. Ours were 4500. Luckily I had a face mask and a kevlar jacket on. But it was a terrible experience.

janbb's avatar

I tried to repair a broken laser printer when our IT guy was on vacation and scratched a $3,000 printer drum!

drClaw's avatar

I haven’t made any mistakes interesting enough to talk about (knock on wood), but a kid I was training as a marketing analyst made a mistake on one of his first solo accounts that lost $25,000 over night. The accounts budget for the month was $5,000. Pretty substantial mistake during your fist 2 months.

skfinkel's avatar

Telling an insecure boss that I had some questions about a project and would appreciate talking with him about it. Big, big mistake. Instead of helping me, he cut me off. It was horrible. Years later (way after I was out of that job), I called him and we had coffee. (This was only to see if he would say terrible things about me in a reference for another position.) He apologized and said he had treated me badly and was unfair to me—and that I did a great job, and he would give me an excellent reference. And he said that he was glad I had called (which you might imagine was not at all easy for me to do) since he had often thought about how poorly he had treated me and was glad to get this off his chest.

This was pretty high up in state politics, and it was truly grueling.

galileogirl's avatar

My most common mistake is saying “Yes”

But there has only been one stomach-churning, OMG I’m going to be fired moment in my career. For the youngsters, I am taking you far, far back in time when there was no internet and govt documents could not be word processed.

I was typing up the W-2 forms one January and made a typo. An employee had earned $30,000 and I entered 3300. in her FIT. I had used commas on all my other amounts so I erased all the carbon copies and entered $3,300.00 in the employee’s Fit.

Weeks later I got a letter from the bank that the IRS had frozen the company’s bank account. I almost threw up-you don’t want to screw with the IRS. My boss was out of town so I had to get it straight before he got back. When I got through to a real person at the IRS it became obvious my correction 3,300 had been input as 33300 so it looked like we were short by $30,000 in tax deposits. I pointed out that the employee’s gross pay was $30,000 so it was impossible to withhold $33,000.

The real person eventually agreed and told me I needed to write a letter and the problem would be fixed in 30–60 days.

Not good enough, I cried, How can I run a business without a bank account? And my boss was not a guy who understood OOPS! For 2 days I talked up the ladder to Washington to no avail. Finally I called Nancy Pelosi’s fix-it person and she got our account unfrozen in hours. I never did tell the boss until I quit, months later.

drClaw's avatar

@galileogirl WOW you win first prize! Just thinking about your situation makes my palms sweat, but I applaud your perseverance fighting your way up the governmental ladder!

Lupin's avatar

I removed a part of the fuel system on one of my test vehicles. To save time I left the fuel line in place, pointing at the open intake manifold. Since I was the only person working on the car, I did not bother to remove the keys or put a sign on the steering column with a “Dead” label. That evening, Maintenance was cleaning the floor and tried to start the car so they could move it. Incredibly, the car started! There was a backfire into the raw gas and poof car fire. The garage was filled with Halon. Very expensive.
I believe that mistake alone brought one of the auto manufacturers 0.25 seconds closer to impending bankruptcy.

SuperMouse's avatar

Way back when I worked for a bank and we had to type loan documents by hand. I typed up a deed of trust with the wrong trustor, i.e. the wrong bank. In other words some other bank held the collateral for the loan we made.

Milladyret's avatar

At work? That would be a breach of patient-confidentialty.
In other words: I ain’t tellin ;-)

charliecompany34's avatar

losing a bullet-proof vest.

DarkScribe's avatar

Significant to whom? Me, my employer or my resume?

I got caught smuggling a girl on board ship in my early Navy days. I actually got caught when I was smuggling her off three days later. It cost me several weeks of canceled shore leave and a severe reprimand. (The reprimand goes on your Service Certificate.)

In civilian life I played a practical joke that backfired – faked a folder full of medical documentation supposedly related to a sex change operation for an unpopular colleague and left it where a rival Journo who was dating the person in question would be sure to peek at it. He was a TV Journo and I knew he wouldn’t be able to broadcast anything without editorial checking and approval – but he handed it on to a gossip print journalist from a rival media organisation and it was published. The person who was the target still hasn’t outlived the rumours – more than twenty-five years later – even though I ‘fessed up. (She was a nasty, extraordinarily ambitious,“stop at nothing” bitch though – and that is still the case.)

Jude's avatar

I used to work at Canadian Tire (huge hardware store) during high school. We had these rather awful looking navy blue polyester wrap around skirts as our work uniform. At the time, I was working in the“Toys and Christmas decorations” department. One shift, I went to climb a ladder, so I could bring down some lights that were high up on a shelf and I ended up stepping on the tie of the skirt.. and it down it went…to my ankles, while I was standing at the top of the ladder. A few old dudes shopping for artificial trees got a eyeful.

lukiarobecheck's avatar

Blasted my resume to everyone on the entire floor. Luckily, it was for a position at the same company, otherwise, I would have been gone.

YARNLADY's avatar

As payroll clerk, it was my job to notify the insurance company when an employee was terminated. I saw that one person had zero hours, and notified the insurance company he was not longer employed. This was wrong, he was on leave only, and the boss had to jump through hoops to get him added back on.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Some years ago a store I worked in came under new ownership and new mgt. who promoted me into a great career spot which I loved and was doing very well in. Personal issues came up between a boss of mine (also a friend) and the new mgt. to where they fired him and I was hasty and short sighted enough to throw a tantrum and quit in protest. Dumb, dumb, dumb because it’s a position that most people don’t get a crack at unless they slave in a lot of trenches, I’m still in the trenches waiting for an opportunity to wedge back onto the buttered side of the bread slice.

wundayatta's avatar

This was my first real job. I was working on a dairy farm. The first time I got to drive a tractor to do real work (turning the hay over so it could dry better), I made a huge mistake.

It was a really hot day, and I smelled something burning. Something burning? In a hay field? Well, what do you expect with a dumbass high school kid? I drove to the shade under a big tree, and looked at my tractor and saw the exhaust pipe was smoking. It had a little cow manure on it (it had been used mainly as a shit scraper, so there was cow manure everywhere on the tractor). Cow manure is used, in many parts of the world, as fuel for cooking fires.

Anyway, as I was sitting there, staring at the pipe, I heard my coworker, who was bailing hay in the next field over, yelling at me. I looked over at him, and I could not help but notice this nice little fire, kind of the size of a campfire, blazing in the hay about where I had first smelled the smoke.

We lost forty acres of hay that day. I came to work the next day expecting to be fired. But my boss never said anything about it to me. The only thing I ever heard him say was what he said as we stood at the edge of the field with the firemen and all, “that’s the fastest forty acres I ever took up!”

RedPowerLady's avatar

Thanx to everyone so far. These stories have been fantastic! They are certainly helping me feel better about my stupid stupid mistake.

cookieman's avatar

I mistakenly ran a radio ad that promoted a workshop that ran the week before!

Needless to say, we had dozens of people show up looking for the workshop on the wrong Sunday.

The owner, my boss, was none too pleased.

augustlan's avatar

I completely erased the hard drive on the computer. Twice.

bright_eyes00's avatar

falling in love with a co-worker

miasmom's avatar

When I was in college, I had a job as a work study student. I loved my job, my boss was great, so I stuck with it for all 4 years of college. I think it was the summer before grad school, I was still working there and they had just got a golf cart for the office to drive around campus on errands. They decided to let me drive it because I was so responsible. So one day another work study and I went on some errands, we were driving back and I was cruising a little too fast, well she wasn’t prepared when I turned the corner and she flew out of the cart. I asked her if she was ok and I made her promise not to tell anyone because I was so embarrassed. Well, the next day she comes to work in crutches! She had hurt her leg so bad, so I told my boss everything and from then on no students were allowed to drive the cart. I felt horrible.

filmfann's avatar

I can’t recall making a significant mistake at work. Lots of insignificant ones.
My co-workers, though, are another story.
My favorite is when one of them called my boss’s voicemail, and left him a terse, angry message from their cellphone. When they finished, they closed the cellphone, thinking that turned it off. It didn’t. The voicemail then recorded 10 minutes of conversation about how they wanted to do physical damage to the boss. Oops.

_bob's avatar

Here are some more examples.

Irishmar's avatar

Its really not that major, but I remember it the most I sent a letter to all of our vendors signed by the President of the company, Instead of Kind regards, I typed King regards, and he signed it and it went out. Pretty funny now looking back. He was not amused at the time.

augustlan's avatar

@Irishmar That made me chuckle. :)

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