Sure, you can screw up a few small things at work here and there, but when it causes thousands of dollars of damage for the company, you’re fired on the spot. In this article, employees share the biggest workplace screw-ups they’ve ever witnessed.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
When I worked at Home Depot we had a guy who was really something special.
When driving a forklift during store hours you’re supposed to have a spotter with flags guide you through the store. It’s pretty much an instant firing if you don’t. So anyways, this guy drives the forklift into the store with a pallet of cinder blocks, and no spotter. He proceeds to hit a shelf, which damages a cinder block on the bottom. He panics, realizing he damaged a $1.00 cinder block, and speeds through the store on the forklift, weaving in and out of customers, and gets caught by the manager trying to dump the entire pallet of blocks down the garbage chute to cover his tracks. That was his last day.
I worked at a nice Chevy Dealer a couple years back. It was right when The Corvette ZR1 was just getting released. We got one in that was a pre-order from one of our wealthier clients. It was one of the first off the line. (Jay Leno actually has the first). Anyway, one of the salesman thought it would be a great idea to take it for a quick spin. I dont know what he was thinking! How he would account for the miles on the car. This by the way is unheard of and never really happens. Well you guessed it, he crashed it. A $120,000.00 car (at the time), super charged v8, ordered a year in advance for a customer…
My company rented out a theater for the premier of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and we gave tickets to our top clients, potential investors, future clients, etc. One of the guys on the sales team lost a bet to his client so he had to show up wearing a Star Wars costume. We were debating what costume he should buy. To get another employee’s opinion, I forwarded the whole e-mail thread. There were a lot of expletives written into that thread accompanied by photos of Leia in her slave bikini. Instead of sending it to “Kyle at my company,” I forwarded it to “Kyle my next potential customer who I had not yet met but was meeting for lunch that day.” I send him a separate e-mail apologizing and explaining, but instead of e-mailing me back he responded to the whole thread saying “Have him wear a Star Trek outfit with a wand and Gandalf hat… that will confuse A LOT of people.” Needless to say, lunch went well.
I worked at an Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and my office rented Mercedes and Audi’s to the Mercedes/Audi dealership across the street. My boss and I were working one Saturday, and we forgot we left a Benz over in the dealership parking lot unlocked, with the keys above the visor. It got stolen that night of course, and my boss tried to blame me for it, and say that I did it on purpose to have it stolen. Ultimately, she was just embarrassed and didn’t want to take responsibility for being careless. Her branch ended up eating the cost of the car, and our relationship was pretty sour from that point on. I quit about 5 months later.
I worked for Wal-Mart for several years. One morning I smell an electrical fire. We call the fire department. They come in and say it’s contained, but we should evacuate the building due to the acrid smoke. Most firemen don’t even enter because of the fumes. Management says no, employees cannot leave.
Eventually we find out one of the deli guys decided to “defrost” a package of jalapeo poppers (they’re to go from freezer directly into fryer). He figured putting the entire package in for FOUR HOURS on the regular high setting would do the trick. We checked – he really did decide it needed four hours. This is the same employee that wanted to test that the fryer oil was ready… so he stuck his finger in it (severe burns ensued).
Office manager “visited” the office in the middle of the night with 2 exotic dancers, all high off their minds. They set off the alarm and got arrested. But the police did not come by the office at 8 in the morning to explain, why the door was unlocked, and there were inappropriate stuff on two of the desks…
Ahh good times…
I watched a guy in a warehouse try to pull a skid of oil (four 55 gallon drums) down from the fourth rack which was about 25 ft. high with a forklift. Well, he only put his forks (which were angled slightly down) a little less than halfway into the skid before picking it up. About 2 seconds after he cleared the rack, the skid slid off of his forks and landed on an engine core that was on the floor below causing 3 out of the four drums to bust wide open. We didn’t have the means to clean up 165 gallons of oil so we had to close and call Hazmat to help clean up. He got fired.
A financial firm was looking to open a cash-for-gold place. A senior manager lead the effort. He secured a property, hired staff, rigged up high-end security, and secured partners to resell the gold to. Warehouses ready for storage with their own security. Millions of dollars was spent.
The thing is, it’s a pawn business and this guy never looked into whether or not that was legal on the property/area he bought. The whole thing was lost and he was fired immediately.
I worked in a mall, and a guy in an athletic store two places up saw a spider in the back room.
He decided to take a shoe cleaning spray and try to kill it by setting the spider on fire. He kind of succeeded but the spider still scurried away, under the shoe boxes, still on fire.
The guy realized he was probably going to be in trouble so he just walked out of the back room and shut the door behind him.
Yes, that was enough to close the mall and a number of stores.
We had two massive dip-cases of ice cream at the shop at the mall. The switch to turn off the lights was very stupidly located right next to the switch to turn off the freezer.
I came in one morning to find all the ice cream in puddles in the dip-case. My poor worker who accidentally flipped the wrong switch was beside herself.
It was a mess to clean up, but luckily it ultimately cost us nothing because the company refunded us for the ‘damaged’ ice cream.
I was working a summer job at a corner store in a small neighborhood on the outskirts of town. I was asked to train a new employee, about 20 years my senior, during a night shift. After about 6pm, there are very few customers – perfect for quiet training of all the different systems in the small store.
He starts coming up with ideas for how things could run better. Like, we need to make a fresh pot of coffee for the customers (there are no customers this late, and they are not buying coffee), and make fresh cookies, and re-arrange all the shelves, etc. I asked him to stop, but he wouldn’t. I told the manager why the store was so out of order the next morning and that I was sorry. The new employee was fired immediately. We suspect he also stole some cigarettes when I went to the bathroom.
The head of ER who sent nearly every woman complaining of chest pains to Psychiatry (hysteria or anxiety) or, if they were unattractive, home after a rough tongue-lashing (neurotic, making it up for attention, or wasting my time and hurting your poor, hard-working husband by not being home for him, what kind of monster are you.)
Most had suffered a heart attack. Some died. All had real, actual medical issues.
When I worked as a waitress there was this guy who was allergic to mushrooms. So he ordered a bacon and egg omelette and I put in a memo saying”no mushrooms – allergic.” As if out of spite, the kitchen left one shred of mushroom in the guys omelette. The guy had a reaction but luckily it wasn’t so bad that he needed to be hospitalized. I apologize profusely but I’m sure he probably thinks I tried to kill him.
I worked in a salmon processing plant in Alaska. There was a guy in his mid-20s who had worked there before, so they assigned him to run the holding tanks. The tanks were two huge (like 3-storey tall) tanks that stored the fish from the boats. One day the guy thought he had drained both tanks of all the fish, so they called it a day. We didn’t work with fresh fish for two days, when we got back it smelt like death. Turns out he hadn’t drained one of the tanks, so the fish sat in lukewarm water for 3 days. He destroyed about 500,000 lbs of salmon. After that, he worked in the gutting section.
The new guy at my job works faster than me and made about 100 circuit boards (they’re small, so it didn’t take him long at all) with the IC in backwards. He didn’t notice, boss didn’t notice, I wasn’t there at all… boss started mailing them out. Probably about 30 or 40 of them got sent out internationally, so boss had to email all recent customers notifying them of the screwup and offering to replace it if it was messed up, and provide the return shipping for the bad boards. This included an order for ~10 or 20 to Australia. Boss told THAT guy that if they were messed up, we’d just send him new ones and not to worry about the return.
So now they’ve got to take in the returned ones, ship out good ones, fix all the ones that are messed up (taking out ICs is a pain in the neck), replace the ICs and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
My first job was at a fast food restaurant, working the grill. We got an order for mozzarella sticks, which are always cooked fresh when ordered, and the guy running the fryer dutifully dumped a batch in the basket and put it in the oil.
Timer goes off, this guy pulls the basket and dumps the cheese sticks in the fries basket per protocol, but one remains stuck to the basket as he puts it back in. He realizes his mistake; he has to get that last cheese stick out of there.
So what does he do? Does he lift the basket back out of the 200’F oil? Nope, he just sticks his hand in there.
Thankfully he was quickly shown the error of his ways and only burned his fingertips.
My ex boss. For the past year I’ve worked for a horrible man. Seriously, he was a jerk. He laughed at stressing people out enough to put them on antidepressants.
I quit a few weeks ago after finding new work. I found out this week he’s been fired for embezzlement essentially. I caught him pocketing bonus money and it turns out he’d signed some very dodgy contracts that had cost the company a few 100k.
Our work is niche. He’s screwed in my local area. No one will touch him and the company is going legal so that will be all over DBS checks. No more well-paying job for this former manager.
A friend worked in a small town supermarket which had some dodgy electrics. They way you fixed a fuse switch out back. One day the electrics are going a bit funny so friend’s supervisor asks him to go into the back and flick the switch. He goes to the area where he knows it is and sees one massive switch and one small one. Assuming the massive one is the intended target he turns it off. Wrong switch! The entire building’s power goes off and when he puts it back in the original position, it stays off.
All the fridges broke leading to all the food getting spoiled and the electric doors didn’t work, not to mention all the lights, tills, etc.
For his mistake, he had to stand outside for the several hours that the power was and explain to potential customers why they were closed.
A restaurant I used to work at had a flaw in the computer system which allowed employees to apply coupons to a cash payment after the fact to make extra tip money (money came from the restaurant not the customer.) It was very rarely used and known by everyone, including the management. One genius, however, abused the system and got caught. As management went through his checks to determine to what extent he abused the coupons, they discovered that he had been regularly charging a few extra cents tip on credit card slips. Fired on his day off, some kind of talk with corporate and legal.
I’m a vet tech and a co-worker told me about a guy at her last job that really screwed up. Long story short, miscommunication and mismanagement happened and they spayed a dog that was there for a dental cleaning. They found out that they messed up when they were going over spay discharge to a confused owner. He didn’t get fired by the way, just reprimanded. I don’t know how the owner took it, but damn that’s one of my worst fears.
He was filtering the fryers. He wasn’t holding the nozzle that was pouring oil back into the fryer while he used a metal stick to push gunk out of the hole at the bottom of the fryer. The vibrations from the metal stick caused the nozzle to fly out of the fryer, spraying oil all over the floor from the fryer to the wall.
Doesn’t sound that bad? Consider how hot that oil is. If someone had been standing there, they could have died or been disfigured. All he had to do was hold the nozzle.
Many years ago I worked for a game developer. There was a game getting ready to ship that our QA department was checking out before it went out for duplication. The game itself was in good shape, and the last thing we checked was the uninstaller.
This was back when Dos was still the leader (I think Win 3 was just out, but the game was designed for dos.)
The games uninstaller accidentally deleted everything on the C: drive rather than just the folder the game was installed in. Most of the time folks would just delete the folder and not bother with the games uninstaller, but had the game shipped and a person use the games uninstaller, they would have been in for a really bad afternoon.
Last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights I walked into the restaurant I work at and found the broken cooler being used to store product. About $5,000 of food sitting at 75 – 80 degrees. Every time, I fixed the problem and threw out the suspect food.
Wednesday night, I got written up for theft and destruction of company property for throwing away food ‘that could possibly have still been good.’
Thursday night I put my notice in. I’m just praying no one dies. Literally.
I can’t stop them from doing this when I’m not there. And yes, if I go in again and it’s like that, I’m refusing to use the product. They can send me home, fire me, or fix the situation. I honestly don’t care which. I’m done.
I worked as a supervisor in a call centre in the East End of London, so really multicultural.
We had a guy who didn’t handle a call very well and got into an argument with a couple of his female colleagues. I pulled him outside the room to talk to him and he started to rant about “a gang culture” atmosphere and how his colleagues were “barbarians.”
He got reported to HR as there had been previous issues with him, but instead of turning up to the meeting he wrote a letter saying everything word for word that he told me and jumped before he was pushed.
At the place I am now (retail) we have foreign work experience students. One pair were found at the back of our vast stockroom playing with a black bin bag- one of them had his head in it and the other was timing to see how long his friend would last before he passed out.
The school was contacted and they weren’t allowed to come back the next day.
I worked at a warehouse for a guy named Big Jerry. When he left a Home Depot warehouse, he was so hated that his employees would camp out across the street and shoot pellet guns at his truck. Jerry opened the place up every morning at 4 and regularly pulled 15 hour days like it was nothing, running only on tobacco and contempt for mankind. One day he’s not at work for the first time in probably 5 years. We found out that Jerry’s mother, the only person in this world for whom he feels something other than pure, unadulterated hatred, has died.
He was back on Monday, and when he came back, a guy named Dwayne was starting. Dwayne had an attitude almost immediately like the job, the company, and all the workers were all below him. So, to take him down a few pegs, Jerry puts him on trash detail. Dwayne’s response, unaware of the events of last week, was, “I’m not taking out any trash. Tell your mama to take the trash out.”
It did not end well for Dwayne.
I had an employee who was working night audit (hotel). I was AGM, so he called me when I was on-call and told me that a guest complained about water dripping from the ceiling in his room on the first floor. “Did you go up to check on the room above it?”
“How long ago was this?”
“Like a couple hours ago.”
I’ve never flown out of bed faster. I threw on some clothes and made it to the hotel in record time. By the time I got to the second floor, I could hear a WATERFALL. The source of the water was, in fact, not the second floor. Nor was it the third floor. No, no… it was the FOURTH FLOOR. We had the water shut off earlier in the day for work that was being done on the pipes. A guest got mad and checked out because it took too long for the water to come back on. Apparently they had tried to turn on the bath and didn’t think to turn it off.
So, the bathtub overflowed for who knows how long, flooded the room, and the room underneath it, and the room underneath that, and finally the room underneath that.
As it turns out, my employee had moved someone from the room on the third floor for the same thing, but didn’t think to check on it. Instead, he decided to call me when a second guest, now on the first floor, complained of the same thing.
THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dollars of damage.