View Full Version : Your worst job mess up
04-09-2002, 02:52 PM
I personally, dont have any great stories, since I've only worked at a pizza restaurant, and its hard to screw up the job I was doing big time.
But I'm sure some of you have made some big mistakes (everyone does), so go ahead and share.
04-09-2002, 04:33 PM
Well, not me personally but one of the people on my programming team switched two variables in an array reference and loaded the module before anyone caught it.
It took us eight hours to back everything out and the company lost an estimated 4 million dollars in that time.
Amazingly, the programmer in question still works for us!
04-09-2002, 06:38 PM
Stood by helplessy as the a landing gear door strut of a Boeing 777 ripped through the rear spar (the rear portion of an airplane wing) and upper surface of the right hand wing. Cost a cool million to repair the wing, the customer was not a happy camper. The ironic part is that was my last day working at the Everett Boeing plant, I had been transferred to Renton to work on 737's. That is part of the excitement of building new commercial airplanes for a living.
04-09-2002, 06:42 PM
Not a very original story:
I spilled a giant-size margarita in a customer's lap. He gave me a big tip, then asked me out. I turned him down. :cool:
04-09-2002, 07:36 PM
About 1984, my (very small) company got its first IBM PC.
About 3 months later, I managed to erase the ALL the company's data. I lost almost nothing, because I paid attention to backing up my files. Everyone else lost BIG TIME.
Two weeks later the CEO did pretty much exactly the same thing, and I was out of the doghouse.
04-09-2002, 08:01 PM
In my earlier home health nursing days, I had some trouble with directions to a patient's home. He was confused when I called him and couldn't help, so I just started out on my own. You have to understand that I live in a BIG desert, and roads don't always look like roads. I ended up missing a turn somewhere, and followed a dirt/sand road up a hill. It suddenly became very steep
and narrow, with a cliff on one side. I did not have a cell phone at the time, so I was stuck following this little road until I hit pavement again. I was miles from anywhere, late for my appointment, and it was HOT.
I ended up making my way back into town, stopping at a pay phone, calling the office to say I was too sick to make the visit.
Needless to say, I was embarrassed to show my face for many weeks after.
Now I do the same sort of work, but with a very good map and a cell phone.
04-09-2002, 08:10 PM
We were flying a recon mission in the Mideast. We take a lot of classified junk on board with us, including laptop computers.
On this particular mission, my squadron XO (the second in command) was flying the mission with us. Not a big deal, but unusual enough that it added a little pressure in our mission prep and varied our usual routine in getting all the classified junk from the storage building to the van to the airfield and then to the plane.
As one of the senior guys on the plane, I was one of the guys in charge, except for this mission, when the XO would be in charge. Well, because of the rush and the change in our routine, I somehow left one of the classified laptops in the van. So, there was a highly-classified laptop sitting unattended in a van in the Mideast for about seven hours. I'll always remember the moment I realized what had happened. About half way through the mission we were searching for the laptop because obviously it wasn't where it was supposed to be. I was feeling fine, because every now and then something gets misplaced, but no biggie--it's a plane, so whatever it is, it has to be on the aircraft someplace. But we searched and searched for this laptop and it finally hit me after I realized that "someplace" wasn't on the aircraft this time. I had one of those gut-sinking feelings and had a few visions of the end of my career. Compromising classified stuff is a career killer. The XO handled the news well, but I could tell he was pretty ticked. Bad enough leaving the laptop in the van; even more painful with the XO right there next to you wondering why you don't have your shit together.
When we had left the storage building earlier that morning, it was dawn and still pretty dark, even as we arrived at the airfield and offloaded the classified stuff. Somehow, in our rush to the aircraft, the laptop must have fallen off the back seat and slid underneath the seat. It was pitch black under there and I didn't see it. I always do a bag count to verify we have the right amount of stuff and haven't forgotten anything, but not that morning. The change in routine and the pressure of the XO being there had rattled me just enough so I forgot to do one. The one friggin time in my life I didn't do one!
But I got lucky. We always park near the aircraft, and there's usually a Marine guard near it. The guard was there the whole time, so we knew there wasn't any compromise of the laptop. So somehow I came out unscathed. Pretty boring and long, but hopefully original. :)
Wonko The Sane
04-09-2002, 10:42 PM
I dropped a user's hard drive on the floor in front of him. His back was turned, and I heard the heads clang into the disks. He had no personal data on the drive, and I got away scot free.
04-10-2002, 11:01 AM
Originally posted by Wonko The Sane
in front of him. His back was turned
What does a contortionist need with a computer? :D
Mine was a mess up of my boss, but I was along for the ride, so I guess it counts. Boss and I show up about 1:00 p.m. at the client's site to install new software on their CFO's computer. Installation doesn't go well, and before long, we're up to our elbows troubleshooting things. 4:00 p.m. comes and the CFO says he'll be leaving in an hour. 5:00 p.m. comes and goes and takes the CFO with it, his secretary's right outside if we need anything. She leaves about 6:00 p.m. We're still spinning our wheels at 9:00 p.m. when he gets the brilliant idea to swap out the guy's modem with another one.
"I don't have a spare modem, boss," says I.
"I don't expect you too," says he (whew!), let's just look around." So we begin scavenging around this company's offices at 9:00 p.m., alone in the building, putting our employer at God knows how much liability risk. We find their computer guy's office, a brand new modem on his desk, rip it open, install it, finish our pizza (did I mention we ordered a pizza about 8:00 p.m.?), and get out.
His boss ripped him a brand new orifice when we got back to our office the next day. He kept yelling, "You know, all they have to do is call up and say they're missing the 20 laptops they had delivered that day, and what can we say about it?"
I laughed my ass off all the way home. I hated that jerk.
04-10-2002, 11:22 AM
I was working in an investment banking firm and we used to print the address right on the label of envelopes all the time - just pop the envelope in the printer tray and away you go.
So I had a document that couldn't be folded and had to be put into a large envelope. I put the large envelope in the printer and hit print - the envelope got sucked into the printer and nothing came out the other end of the printer. NOTHING. I opened up the printer - no envelope. I looked in the tray - no envelope. I seriously couldn't figure it out.
Well, the envelope was one of those synthentic fiber things that can't be torn - I had melted it in the laser printer. AMAZINGLY, the stuff was sort of soft and stiff (at the same time) and I was able to pull it off the rollers and the printer worked just fine. Scared the crap out of myself.
04-10-2002, 11:54 AM
1. Working for a non profit charity, some one else in the office had some artwork for an upcoming skate -a-thon. She passed it 'round for us to all check it. None of us caught the typo "Mucular Dystrophy Association". :eek:
2. A few years later, working in the correction center, I was one of two people who had access to a certain file cabinet that was kept inside a locked office. As I was opening the file cabinet, the entire lock assembly pulled out with my key. :eek: So, I tried to put it back.
and my stomach fell as I heard it
all the way down. Inside. the locked file cabinet.
It was time for me to go home.
came back the next day and figured out a way to release the locking assembly, which allowed the drawers to open, then took out all 4 drawers to retrieve the locking assembly and put it all back together again. :cool:
04-10-2002, 02:37 PM
I was a service advisor for a car dealership. I was taking an 83 year old woman's Intrepid home for the night to try and diagnose the electrical problem. I didn't make it home, I did, however make it into the lady in front of me when the traffic slowed to a halt. $4700 damage which the company had to eat since the insurance deductible was $4000
I got fired about 3 weeks after that :D
That's okay, I got a better job.
The Big Cheese
04-10-2002, 03:01 PM
I'm a programmer. I ran the program that prints the 'Hunters Choice-deer hunting permits'. We printed them on 8 1/2 x 11 sheets, 3 on a sheet, then cut them and mail them out. We did them in batches of 10,000. Since there were about 450,000 people hunting that year, I had about 45 batches. Deer hunting is rather big in this state, in case you can't tell, very high-profile.
So I run the programs fine, then start running the print commands, print them all, it's friday, go home, have a cold beverage.
Monday morning I get a call from Licensing. Someone in Green Bay has two of the same permits. Then another call, then another,..... I start to sweat, wtf?? Check evreything over........d'oh! I printed one batch twice! That means there are 10,000 people out there with duplicate deer hunting permits. Press releases, Law Enforcement gets involved, etc. The newspaper the next day says 'due to a computer error'...... Oh shit.
04-10-2002, 03:05 PM
It was my first day on the job.
Everyone left at the end of the day, but I decided to put in some extra time, and stayed to familiarize myself with their system.
I wanted to see a list of the files and so typed "dir *.*" and pressed Enter. (This was back in the days of DOS.)
Nothing appears on screen. What did ... (oops!) ... I had type "del *.*" instead of "dir *.*".
I scrambled to find a backup. None. I scrambled to find some contact info for the computer guy. None.
I came in the next morning to "Neptune, do you know what happened to the computer?" Luckily they had a complete back-up.
It took a months before I could convince them I wasn't a complete idiot.
04-10-2002, 03:06 PM
I used to do hardware/software support. Once, while working inside someone's computer, I didn't notice that one of the wires had pulled loose from a power connector. When I powered it up, the wire delivered a nice jolt of electricity directly to the motherboard. BZZAP! Flash of light, smoke, the whole bit.
Still, that wasn't as bad as something a co-worker did. We had two Gateways in, one for a PPP software install, one to have the drive wiped clean and software reinstalled. Guess which machine she actually wiped?
I was just starting my short career as a piano mover. Not short because of this particular mishap, but short because my body tired of it after a year and I had trouble making ends meet.
When you move a grand piano, you transport it on it's long side. It's strapped to a skid that nearly resembles a dog sled. A four-wheeled moving dolly then goes under the skid, and you have a mobile grand piano!
On this particular move we wheeled a baby grand onto a stage. We tilted the piano up to get the dolly out. The dolly is now maybe a foot away from the piano on the lid side. We undid the straps holding the piano to the skid. With a flourish, I pulled the moving blankets off the piano. The lid fell open and crashed onto the dolly. Half the lid stayed on the dolly and the other half was on the ground. The lid had completely split in two. Man did I feel stupid. It turned out to be not so big a deal since it was sort of a dried out junky piano and the repair shop was able to fix it in short order.
I've had more stressful screw-ups but they're not as fun to remember.
04-10-2002, 03:31 PM
My biggest mistake would be the time I killed all telephone traffic of a certain kind at a certain Air Force Base in a certain midwest state. It runs off of redundant VAX Alpha's. We needed to update the software on them. That involves rebooting them. You leave the other one up so that the system stays up. Well I shut one down and then proceed to power the OTHER one off. OOOOPS! These takes at least ~4 minutes to come up to full operation and one was just hard shut off. VMS likes that less than windows does. Nothing came of it. The people that care didn't even notice. I didnt get in any trouble. Phew.
04-10-2002, 03:49 PM
I suppose my biggest pooch-screw (recounted in a thread that was lost in the Big Hack) involved turning over a brand-new, 36-foot, $80K laboratory unit in the middle of a straight stretch of I-70 near Eagle, Colorado. Fortunately, I was not found at fault, and more importantly, no one was overtaking when I lost control.
During my benighted days working on oil rigs, there were many lesser incidents that caused much hilarity, but fortunately did not result in major damage or injuries, such as taking a plug off a line that had fluid moving through it at 2000psi, or getting a float-type fluid level sensor caught in a mud pit agitator (with a very impressive noise as the various bits clanged around inisde the metal tank).
Biggest screw-up that I personally witnessed occurred during my railroad days, when one night a locomotive engineer let a double unit (about 500 tons and 2400 HP) get away from him (i.e. he was on the ground instead of in the cab where he should have been). The units ran free down a hill a short distance, impacting a passing coal train, at which point they and four cars of the coal drag derailed, with the whole mess coming to a stop just short of the yard office in which I was working. Scared the living shit outta me.
04-10-2002, 05:48 PM
Mine was a near-equivalent to "rm -rf /" on a my first unix system. (for the lucky unitiated, it deletes all files).
Backup tapes were unreadable. All of them. I hadn't been backing-up correctly.
It took me 36 hours of straight work to get it mostly to where it was before the accident.
04-10-2002, 11:18 PM
Years ago I had a job putting tires on cars. One day I forgot to tighten the lug nuts and the guy got about a mile down the road when his passenger front tire fell off! No big deal, noone was injured, and the company fixed his car.
My Darn Snake Legs
04-10-2002, 11:46 PM
Well, I use to work for a Pappasito's Mexican Cantina in Houston.
I dropped a cocktail-tray of water glasses on a little girl. I actually caught the glasses and all the girl got was a shower. She thought it was fun and the parents were generous, so it was ok.
I felt better when I heard that the guy who was training me had dropped two of those fajita sizzle-trays on an old lady and sent her to the hospital!
--==the sax man==--
04-10-2002, 11:48 PM
A screw up I witnessed but didn't do. Backups were taking two tapes, but the operator didn't want to mess with two tapes and asked programming to find some stuff that doesn't change and not back that up.
Programmer goofed and almost nothing was getting backed up. This was discovered after a disk crash, of couse. They were able to 'recover' since someone had, months before, taken a good backup home. All the transactions has to be re-entered by hand.
The backups ran real fast, though.
04-10-2002, 11:57 PM
Well, mine isn't exactly in line with the OP but close, I think.
While working in the Network Operation Center(NOC) for the worlds largest internet service provider the user graphs dropped vertically by 25%. In other words, we lost over 300,000 users in under a minute during peak hours. Someone yelled "Holy 'bleep' check the user graphs". We did and chaos insued. I paged and called everyone I had to, including 3 VP's of the company. One of the people I called, let's call him M, had direct access to the call centers. I asked M to tell me what the call centers were hearing from the customers. Anyway, everyone was on at least 3 conference calls and totally freaking out. I was speaking to a VP and trying to figure the revinue impact of this little event, 4 million was my guess depending on how long it lasted, when M called me again. I told the VP that I had new information and put him on hold. M spoke up and said "I know what the issue is.". I asked him what was up and he said.........
Wait for it
Wait for it
"The last episode of Seinfeld started at 8."
When I head that I just about died. I yelled to the NOC supervisor that I thought, due to M, I knew what was happening. The NOC Supe asked and I told him what M said. There was a collective D'OH.
Sure as shit, right at 9 the user graphs went back up to normal.
I never liked Seinfeld before that. Now I have a real reason to hate that show.
04-11-2002, 02:00 PM
Wow...mine's not very impressive compared to most of the ones above, and that makes me feel somewhat better. :)
When I first moved to the Bay Area fresh out of college, I got a job working in the classifieds department of one of the local papers. Mostly I took ads and made sure they got into the paper right, but one time we were running a promotion that allowed service/tradespeople to advertise in a special color supplement which was cheaper than they'd have to pay for color normally (but still more expensive than regular black and white). We got lots of ads, and it was my job to check the final layout and make sure everything was okay. I was very careful to check each ad, make sure everything that was supposed to be there was there, and so on. I found a few minor problems and turned it in with "OK with indicated changes" and went home happy.
Well, the next day the spread ran, and it looked great--
--except it was in black and white! I'd forgotten to indicate that it should be color!
<sigh> I didn't actually know you *had* to indicate that it was in color, and my boss had neglected to tell me, but I still felt guilty about that. We had to refund part of everybody's money to make up for it.
Since then I've been pretty lucky--and I'm very glad it wasn't me who left out the table of contents on the 450-page technical manual and didn't notice it until we'd gotten back the 400+ printed copies (which happened at a subsequent company but had nothing to do with me, thankfully).
04-11-2002, 09:11 PM
My embarassing mistake happened just yesterday, I killed a guy, well....sort of.
Here's what happened.
My editor was putting a picture of a newly-dedicated stained glass window on the front page, and he asked me to write a caption since I had gone to the dedication mass and written a story about the widow. OK, fine no problem, I've done this a million times, it'll only take five seconds. Well, instead of writing the caption to say the window was dedicated to her husband, Robert, I made a mistake and wrote that the window was dedicated in memory of her husband Peter. Peter is her son, and he is very much alive!! So not only did I kill the guy, but I also had him married to his mother. Luckily, I managed to get things straight in the story. The widow came into the office this morning to point out my mistake, but I wasn't in yet. I called her and left a long apology on her answering machine, and of course, I will run a correction. She hasn't called back yet. I've made mistakes before, of course, but this is the first time I've killed somebody.
04-12-2002, 06:19 AM
I've been doing Telecom maintenance pretty much my whole life. A couple of jobs back, one of my responsibilities was to prepare and conduct network changes. So I was wiring everything up and programming everything, I accidently disconnected 6 T1's that belonged to 1 customer (It wasn't totally my fault, the paperwork was screwed up) but I should of checked for live traffic before disconnecting things. Oh well, lesson learned
04-12-2002, 08:30 AM
Boy did you make me dig up some memories.
I was working as a counselor at Scout Camp. It was my 4th year out there and I my first year as an Area Commissioner. This meant that I was in charge of 7 different camping areas as well as teaching various merit badges to the campers. We had a week before campers actually were there so that we could set up each of the camping areas.
Each camping area had a sign indicating it's name. I was working on putting up the sign in one area and had my trusty post-hole digger. As I was digging, I noticed that there was this root that was being especially tough to get through. "No problem.", I thought. "I'll just give it one really good WACK, and that will take care of it." It took care of it all right. That root was really a water main that fed water to the cabins on that side of the camp... and I had just punctured it. Water was flying upwards in a beautiful stream out of this hold I had just dug. It took about a week to get it fixed and I got razzed pretty good about it for a long time. Hey, how was I supposed to know where the water pipes were in a "Nature" camp? Anyways, by the end of camp (5 weeks later) everyone forgot about that incident until...
We were setting up some games in our area for the campers to play. It was the traditional type of scout games you would expect. It was requested that I set up a horseshoe pit. I had sent my assistant to find a good spot and set him to the task of pounding the steel rods. He was having trouble getting one of them in, so I grabbed the sledgehammer he was using and drove it into the ground myself, noting that it was rather stubborn, but nothing I couldn't handle. Well...
Later that day, a guy from the phone company was walking through my area tracing a line. Apparently the camp phone (the only one in camp) wasn't working because I had driven a steel rod through the phone line. It also got fixed, but I never lived that one down. After that, for the rest of that week, I was dubbed the offical camp "dowser".
04-15-2002, 02:16 AM
Place of Employment: Local Indipendent League Baseball Team
My Job: Promotions
Story: Time for the base race. I lead 5-6 kids out on the field so they can run the bases while they switch sides. Winner gets some lame prize. So here we are, ground out to short inning over. I open the gate, lead the kids out on the field in front of the sparse crowd of about 2,500. I get about 30 feet from the gate...shit...only two outs. Had to round up the rug rats (who by this time had run every which way) and heard them all back for the next out.
04-15-2002, 03:14 AM
My job was selling use video games in a swap meet on weekends ...
I didnt know that I wasnt supposed to be totally honest when someone asked if i liked a game and such .......
Someone picked up some games and my comments ranged from "its ok to "totally sucked"
Needless to say my boss wasnt impressed
Of course other screwups were dropping nintendo systems having people steal things right under my nose ect
My boss didnt like me at first and I wasnt supposed to last more than a couple of weeks ... i stayed for 5 years She becane one of my best friends
04-15-2002, 07:47 AM
One of my dad's favorite stories about me:
I worked for a chain of pet stores. They sent me out on a delivery run from the warehouse, and someone else packed the van. There was a loose spare tire, and the guy packing the van stood it up against the side of the van and packed stuff around it. As I made deliveries, there were fewer things holding up the spare. At my last stop the van was emptied, and one of the store guys hands me a cardboard box with a bird to return. I put the box in the back of the van and pull out. I hear this big "whump" as the spare rolls to the back of the van and flattens the center of the box. It turned out the bird was going to die anyway, or I would have been charged $200.00.
I've got a handful of doozies, but this one is probably the most interesting:
I used to work at a Navy contractor that made sonar devices (sonobuoys, if you recognize the term, as well as other sea-going sonar test articles). We were R&D, and typically our projects would last a year or two, produce only a handful of buoys, and include a number of interim tests, usually at sea.
On this particular project, I was the only mechanical engineer, so I was in charge of all the non-electronic things: surface float, pressure vessels, cabling, connectors, and the battery pack. The battery pack was a pretty big item, and the battery pack consisted of about 400 F cells (four F cells make up a lantern battery) stacked up and wired together. Not a bad design actually: cheap, modular, and reliable.
Anyway, we had a big sea test scheduled, and, like usual, everyone was working late the night before the hardware had to ship. I had all the mechanical stuff buttoned up, and the electronic guys were just finishing programming their boards. Last thing to do: "Hey, let's unplug the electronics from the bench power and make sure it runs OK off the battery pack." So we trundle in the battery pack and screw in the connector to the boards....
And thirty seconds later the electronics boards erupt in flames. Since there was no off switch, we all pulled a Three Stooges act, running in circles and waving our hands, until someone was bright enough to yank the correct wires. Well, the electronics are toast, and we can't make the sea test, so we have to postpone at the last minute, and we're behind schedule, and we've got a lot of repair work and troubleshooting to do.
So we troubleshoot. Turns out the battery pack was supplying negative voltage instead of positive, which fried certain critical components. And the reason for that was that the "industrial" F cells I used looked just like a regular battery: a cylinder with a button on the end, except that, unlike a "normal" battery, the button end was negative, not positive. I had just assumed the button was positive, and never, ever bothered to check. Easy enough to alter the wiring now, after umpty-thousand dollars of one-of-a-kind electronics vaporised.
04-15-2002, 11:43 AM
I once made a $6000 typo. That can occasionally happen in the graphics and print industry. I made a typo with a three digit number that designates color. Got the wrong shade of blue (really, really wrong shade)
Worse, another designer I know did a calendar that was missing a week in the month of April. Somehow NO ONE noticed during the multiple proofing processes, not even the client who saw several proofs as they went along. 50 000 calendars were printed. Ouch!
04-15-2002, 02:24 PM
1. My first "real" (summer) job. Scene: toy store (hey, I was 18). First week of work, and my boss hands me a boxcutter, joking "Don't cut yourself, now". I pull the box over, slide the blade out of its sheath and press my thumb down....neatly inserting the corner of the blade into the ball of my thumb.
Of course, I got a bandaid from the first aid kit, but the blood kept literally filling it up and spilling out the top....went through four bandaids before it slowed down. Ever tried to work a cash register while making a fist to keep from bleeding all over the place? It was a while before they put me on box-opening duty again.
2. Waiting tables in a posh private club. About 10 business-y people come in & I'm taking drink orders. This one really annoying, plastic-looking blonde requests hot water with lemon in a faux Marilyn voice. The club demands that we serve tea (and hot water with lemon) by pouring the hot water into the cup in front of the customer out of these little silver-colored teapots. Drawback: if one pours too slowly, the water dribbles down the spout and ends up on the tablecloth. However, if one pours too fast, the stupid lid flips open and the water comes out the top.
So I'm pouring water for this lady, and it dribbles down the teaspout and from there, down the menu she's holding into her lap. She gives me this annoyed look (as one might if someone is pouring water in your lap), but there's nothing I can do---there's no way to surmount the curse of the teapot. To make it worse, one of my coworkers saw what was happening and was cracking up. I'm basically standing there, shoulders shaking as I try not to burst out laughing, while I pour hot water into Barbie-woman's lap. Not my best "waiterly" moment.
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