Mistakes happen, and people break things all the time. Although it's never intentional, that doesn't change the fact the item is broken, sometimes beyond repair. The only thing that makes this so much worse is when the item is expensive. Just ask these people.
People who broke very expensive items share the dirt on how it happened. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I broke a $3,000 diamond at work once. It was a wedding ring. I was tightening a little princess cut (the square one with the sharp points), and all of a sudden it turned into a broken 'milky/frosted' mess. You would be surprised at how easy it is to break a diamond; especially when they have super-sharp points. You can't scratch them, but they will break.
The aftermath was a 'Hey, that happens,' and some more training.
I broke several more stones after that, but all small and easy and cheap to replace. Best job I've ever had.
"I had a complete mind blank while being on a remote session on this server. My main machine needed turning off for some reason, and I forgot I was still in this remote session to a server. Hit Start and shut down and got 'Are you sure? Please type something in this box to confirm this action.'
So, I just mashed the keyboard thinking, Of course I want to turn it off.
It went off. But another screen appeared behind that. Oh no, I'd just turned off a server that hundreds of other analysts use for work. Suddenly cries of 'Hey Server001 has stopped working,' 'Yeah me too,' and 'Same for me'
Then my desk phone rang. It's the data center, and they were not happy.
'DID YOU JUST TURN OFF SERVER001?'
'No...' I uneasily replied.
'Then why does it say: Shut down by Dale, Reason given: aosbfsiodufsiudbfsdfsdbjf?'
I managed to get away with it by saying the screen froze so I mashed the keyboard, and then it turned off. Not sure if management ever found out but I was never told off by them."
"I was in IT at a very large call center back in the '90s. My boss and I were in the back of the room where the phone system was, trying to move some boxes around. There was a huge UPS on large casters he wanted to move back towards the wall a couple of inches.
So I grabbed one side and he grabbed the other, but it barely moved. So he put his knee against the side of it to apply more force. Unfortunately, his knee pressed the power cut-off button and removed power to the entire phone system. This resulted in about 1200 call center agent's calls suddenly dropping. The system was designed to re-route traffic to two other smaller call centers that were not prepared for it.
It took like 15 minutes for the phone system to reboot, but by then the damage was done. There were multiple meetings that ensued in the next few weeks to determine what happened and how to prevent it in the future. They estimated it cost the company about $120K, and our 'fix' to prevent it was a small piece of plastic velcroed over the power switch on the UPS."
"My mom told me to get a cake out of the oven for her while she went to the store I was in the middle of a COD match when it was time to take it out so I ran, took it out of the oven and put it on the glass table we had in our kitchen, and ran back to my game.
Fast-forward a few hours, and my mom comes home and is screaming at me for what I think is her not believing I took the cake out of the oven. But when I go downstairs to tell her I did take it out of the oven, the table where I left the cake was shattered to pieces on the floor, and the cake was smashed into the carpet."
"I was trying to align a laser in my lab the first month of my PhD program. It had to enter the galvo (beam steering device) at a very precise angle. I was putting the last bolt in the mounting bracket, and my hands were sweaty and the bolt just shot out of my hand. If I tried to do this, it could have never happened, but that darn thing made a perfect football spiral right through the aperture hole into the sealed $25,000 optical device (it is completely sealed except this hole).
I heard the 'plink-plink' sound as it managed to hit both mirrors inside and the focusing optics. I started bawling, sure that I was about to get booted from the lab. This device was special-ordered from Germany and it would be months and $$ to replace. I channeled Carmen Sandiego and somehow managed to find the cell phone number of the single engineer based in the USA and surprised him while he was at a gas station.
The poor dude was so confused that a 22-year-old sobbing girl got his number. That lovely human told me how to access the secret service panel, and I was able to get the bolt out, but I had to void the warranty to do so. It ended up still functioning, but for years whenever we got a new student they'd ask how the heck it seemed like there were scratches on the mirrors inside (distorts the beam in some locations) and I would pretend I had no idea. I never adjusted that bracket again I always made someone else do it... I'd seriously start to sweat just thinking about it."
"We were driving in the late 90's in upper Wisconsin. No GPS. I was a pre-teen and was allowed to sit in the front seat because my two younger siblings were being little brats. So there I was with the only map of Wisconsin, in the front seat, with the window down. Now you might think the map got ripped out of the window by the wind. Nope.
See I decided to put the map outside the window like a flag and watch it flap in the wind. The 'wind' was going roughly 60 mph. My dad starts yelling to put the darn map inside the car. He begins to close the window to force me to pull my arm in. I pull my hand in as fast as I can. The map rips in half. And of course, I was left holding the bottom half of Wisconsin.
All I could do was just look at him pie-eyed like I never could have imagined that could happen.
We were in the backwoods of Wisconsin, and for those that don't know, many of those areas are Native American lands. We got REALLY lucky and some random patrol guy type came by and asked us what we were doing. My dad made me explain and show the torn map. He laughed and called me an idiot.
The good news was he had a map in his car, outlined the path out, and sent us on our way. I still cannot believe that I was allowed to hold that new map and help get us out of there."
"I was an assistant manager of Stratford Upon Avon McDonald's back in the mid-90s. Stratford Upon Avon is one of the world's busiest tourism sites, especially for Americans and so McDonald's had a huge town store there, with three levels, and a huge kitchen to cope with demand.
So mid-morning on one summer Saturday, I was in the office next to the kitchen getting some paperwork done before the lunchtime e rush, and I noticed a bulb had gone in the gas/electrical notification board we had in the office. This was a large central point that notified us where a bulb had popped, or electrical fault, etc occurred, and it had around 200 small green or red lights. One of them was burned out and looked black.
This was something I’d fixed numerous times before, and there was an easy technique I’d used previously. I went to the tills and picked up a drinking straw, and slid it over the bulb until I felt the bulb release.
But this time there was a popping noise, followed by silence, and all the lights going out.
I pushed the bulb back in, and still silence and darkness. Dang. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a busy McDonald's kitchen, but it’s a noisy place with buzzers, beepers, fans, and people yelling over the noise.
What we had was an eerie silence. No yelling, no noise, no nothing. The store manager responded first. He was in the lobby and started asking customers to leave the building. He went out into the street and found the whole town center was down.
It took a whole day for the electrics co to dig up the road, find the problem and fix it. We had to throw out everything in our freezer and fridges and I ended up having a weekend day in the sun, something McDonald's managers don’t often see.
I never told anyone it was me."
"When I got my first maid’s job at 20, I was dispatched to clean this woman’s in her early 50’s house. She had a beautiful house with even more beautiful decor.
She showed me around her upstairs and had some dope diorama she made by hand. She was a piano teacher and had a baby grand. She told me she went to France often, and most of the decor in her house was from France. She pointed out a specific freestanding shelf, filled to the brim with glass art, a tea set, and this fascinating clear fish glass art piece that had some gold metal work on it. It was big and had some heft to it. She told me four other maids had broken something on this shelf, and to be VERY careful when cleaning it.
After she gave me a tour she left to go by the grocery store, telling me her boyfriend would be back shortly. They were in the process of breaking up and he would probably be coming in and out.
So, she’s gone and I’m going room to room cleaning. Starting top to bottom, which begins with dusting. I get to this prized shelf. It was a bamboo frame with glass shelves that could be removed. I am touching it with the utmost care, so I thought, using the lightest touch I thought possible. Suddenly this thing wobbles and before I knew it two shelves fly off and come absolutely crashing to the ground.
If I could have dissolved into the floor I would have at that moment. It was just a concrete floor and glass shards as far as the eye could see. All these curated possessions shattered into a million pieces.I had no clue what to do. Before I knew it she’s walking in the door. I tell her what happened and how I can’t begin to say how sorry I am.
I’m crying, she’s crying, saying 'All I could do was tell you, all I could do was tell you to be careful.'
Then it gets worse. Her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend comes home, obviously sees the commotion, and tells me 'That’s why I told you not even to touch those shelves, everyone breaks something on those shelves.'
I’m not saying anything besides how sorry I am, despite him not having warned me about that because he wasn’t even home when I arrived. I overhear her on the phone with my company, as I’m crying and cleaning, saying to the representative how it wasn’t about the money, these items were thousands, it was about the fact that it happened. I’m just sobbing silently because I’m so sad I caused this.
She was the nicest woman. Even though moments before she’d been almost on the floor, having to hold herself up with the support of the wall, she told me she saw this as a sign she just needed to go to France again and collect new pieces. And she made these cool mosaic tables with inlaid tiles, and she’d just use the broken pieces of her former art to make another one.
Her boyfriend also came back down and was like 'Hey I realized I actually hadn’t told you not to touch those shelves. To be honest, she’s just going through a really hard time right now. Not only are we breaking up, but her niece who was responsible for her son's death also showed up on her doorstep earlier this week. When her son was a kid, he was swimming in the pool while her niece was babysitting and he drowned.'
The kid was only eight or so.
I finished cleaning her place, and I also wrote her a long note saying how sorry I was, how I could tell she had a beautiful home that represented all of her passions and personality so wonderfully, and how I felt so horribly for adding to her stress.
It was actually so sweet. Her boyfriend told her I had something for her, and I gave her the letter. She gave me a big hug.
I felt so bad about those items I broke, and on top of that, this perfectly nice, and really cool woman who had so much on her plate couldn’t have been nicer about it. Of course, she was sad and so shocked, but really it could have been so much worse.
Still, can’t believe I broke all of those items."
"When I was in high school, I was a police explorer (kinda like a pre-cadet program, looked good on college applications). We would wear police-looking uniforms with duty belts, do ride-alongs with officers, help out with traffic control for parades and major accidents, get the dispatchers' coffee/lunch, things like that.
So five explorers, about 10 local cops, and a couple of sheriff's deputies were getting breakfast before we were going to set up traffic control for a Veterans Day parade. We finish up and go to get in our cars to head out. I had just turned 18 and was the only explorer with a license, so I had checked out a patrol car to shuttle the rest of the kids where they needed to be for the parade.
I'm backing out of the parking spot with a car full of kids, and I back into a pickup parked across from me. No damage to the cop car, but I managed to destroy the truck's headlight and grill. I called the shift sergeant, and he said he'd be on his way. He told me to go into the restaurant and find out who owned the truck, and to let them know the city would be covering the full cost of repairs.
So I go into the restaurant and it turns out to be the dishwashers truck. So I walk into the kitchen with one of my Spanish-speaking kids (again, we're both in police uniform) to tell the guy what happened.
He sees us walking toward him and bolts out the back door and across the highway. The set arrives and I fill him in. He gets the guys info from his plate and runs him out. No warrants, no wants, no criminal history at all. We explain to the manager and she calls him. He comes back and said he ran because he didn't have papers, he was undocumented.
My sergeant explains that we're local the police department, and we don't care about that at all. A city wrecker picks up his truck, and a local mechanic has it fixed for him in a day.
My punishment was that I was forever referred to as 'twenty thousand two' (the vehicle code for hit-and-run), and for the rest of the year, my seat at any briefing was the Barbie hot wheels car from the juvenile interview room."
"Somebody messed with the wiring around my desk. I had everything labeled, making it clear where everything was supposed to plug in. Some weekend crew decided to do some fiddling around in my desk's vicinity and ended up unplugging everything then plugging it all back in.
When I came back to work, I realized my net wasn't working properly. Found my clearly labeled 'Ethernet Wall Corporate Network' cable jutting out, so without thinking much of it, I plug it back into my clearly labeled 'Corporate Network Wall Outlet.'
Immediately, the network goes down. Not just in the office. Globally. Frantic phone calls right and left, productivity screeches to a halt. Two hours later, I find myself on the receiving end of multiple furious glances from people employees at my rank who did not want to be summoned into a private meeting.
Apparently, by plugging my network back in, I created a bandwidth loop. I broke the company. Millions in productivity were lost. And it was all my fault.
Or, that's what they thought. I had no idea anybody had come in over the previous weekend and upended my whole clearly labeled assembly of cables and ports, and plugged everything back in all wrong. My boss came rushing to my aid, actually standing up to these people. He actually complimented me for taking the extra time to label my wires and ports, something nobody else was doing, because everybody just assumed our network had protections against bandwidth loops (and protections against weekend knuckleheads recklessly rearranging wires of others' desks).
Eventually, after a very unpleasant meeting, I was allowed back to work and assured to never again attempt handling wires without IT supervision. Obviously, not something I could effectively uphold unless IT wanted to move their office next to my desk (since my job required lots of cable swapping/disconnecting). But promises were made, they seemed happy enough to leave without burning our floor down, and I didn't get fired.
But the only reason I didn't get fired, despite breaking a multi-billion dollar company for an afternoon, was those ten cents' of labels I'd taped to those wires, proving they were moved around by idiots. If I didn't spend those ten minutes making and taping those labels, something literally nobody else on the floor did, my life would have taken an absolutely dismal downturn."
"Was in Cabela's, and there was a kid with his parents who was maybe 6 or 7 years old. There are tons of taxidermy animals throughout the store, and in the room we were in, there was a small table with mallards on it. His parents were right next to him and paid no attention while he pet them and grabbed various parts of their bodies for a few minutes. Finally, the parents decided to pay attention, saw the 'Do not touch sign,' and told him to stop. He didn't. As soon as they were occupied again he resumed, yanked on one of the wings and it came off. I can only assume this was the most significant thing he had broken up to that point.
The aftermath? Nothing. Dad noticed, grabbed the wing from the kid's hand, and fumbled with it seeing if he could make it stick back in its spot. After about five seconds of trying, he set it next to the mallard and then went back to what he was doing hoping that nobody would notice. There was an associate in the room and he didn't let them know either. Didn't scold the kid. Didn't take responsibility at all. Just acted like it didn't happen. Definitely the most egregious behavior I've seen from a parent, can't blame the kid since obviously nobody taught him any better."
"When I was three or four, I was playing chase with my babysitter’s son. She’d been my babysitter since I was an infant, and I assume they were like family to me. I was hiding in a bedroom from the little boy and there was a beautiful (to a four-year-old at least) glass swan with blue fluid in it. I was holding it and thinking about how it was the prettiest thing I’d ever seen when the little boy came running in the door. I set the swan down very carefully on the dresser before I ran. I know I did. I was so careful. I knew it was delicate and I’d been allowed to hold it before if I was careful. I was so very careful to put it back just so.
Well, somehow it fell and broke. On top of the white shoes my babysitter’s daughter had gotten for her wedding. I don’t know the financial situation of the family I stayed with, but I assume they weren’t rich as they were babysitting for extra money. I don’t remember the actual punishment I got. It couldn’t have been out of the norm for a four-year-old that messed up as I remember my babysitter as being a lovely caring person. (We moved when I was four and the babysitter sent me a dollar on my birthday up until I was about sixteen when she passed away).
But I do remember the reaction of all the family. The daughter was crying so hard and saying her shoes were ruined, and my babysitter hugging her and then hugging my sobbing self.
The little boy whom I’d always had a very sibling relationship with kept saying over and over 'There’s no way it could’ve fallen off. I SAW her put it back. It didn’t fall. It’s not her fault.'
This from a six or seven-year-old who once told me that the new shoes I was so proud of were ugly just to get a rise out of me.
I’m 52 now and I still feel bad for ruining that girl’s shoes. Very occasionally when I’m putting something on a shelf or organizing breakable things, that swan will flash through my mind."
"I managed to get a scholarship to a really prestigious school, and a few months in I wandered into what I thought was an empty classroom. I was startled by a few students and accidentally broke an $80,000 vase.
Turns out it was part of the decoration for some silly tea club. I was told to work for the club as an errand runner to pay off the debt, or they would tell the school principal. I ended up becoming wonderful friends with the club runners and dated the president of the club and we ended up getting married a few years after graduation!
Breaking that vase should have been the worst thing in my life and somehow I lucked out and it was the best thing that ever happened to me."