Your worst job mess up

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.

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!

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.

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:

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.

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.

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. :slight_smile:

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.

What does a contortionist need with a computer? :smiley:

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.

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.


  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:

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 :smiley:

That’s okay, I got a better job.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.