WORKPLACE / OCT. 29, 2015
version 18, draft 18

Top 5 Dumbest Mistakes Ever Made at Work

It’s a fact of life: everyone makes mistakes. Some mistakes are harmless, some are embarrassing, and some, unfortunately, happen at work. Some blunders are so catastrophic that we can’t help but ask: “How could someone do something so stupid?” We can only hope that in that instance, we are not looking in the mirror.

See Also: How to Write an Apology Letter for Making Mistakes at Work

While it’s true that mistakes help us to grow as humans, making slip-ups at work can be scary and can sometimes end careers. Whether you’re a new hire, a top sales executive, or a long-time CEO, mishaps will happen. The key is to handling the mistake in such a manner that contains the catastrophe.

Here is a list of people who, somewhere throughout the course of the career, ended up shooting themselves in the foot.

1. Hot Brazilian

An employee of a laser hair removal clinic had a painful hiccup while new on the job.  During her training, a coworker of hers was running late for an appointment with a client and asked if she could cover another appointment. Even though the employee still hadn’t been thoroughly trained on the particular type of laser that needed to be used, she went ahead with the appointment anyway. The strength of the laser was not something the new clinician was used to so her coworker entered the parameters into the computer, requiring the new technician to finish the appointment with two simple steps; point and shoot.

The client, an exotic dancer, was booked for a Brazilian hair removal treatment, which seemed easy enough, as the only instructions were to remove all traces of hair. As the employee began to feel more at ease, she started to chat with the client and everything seemed to be going smoothly.

After the treatment, the client complained that the treated area still felt very hot and uncomfortable, which is not typical for treatments that were carried out properly, so the employee grabbed an ice pack to ease the pain. The rule of thumb is that if a frozen pack is the only thing that will calm the treated skin at the end of the session, something went wrong.  

Assuming the settings on the laser were set too high at the beginning of the session, the employee offered post care and treatment advice for burns to the client. Thankfully, the client didn’t care a great deal and left the clinic without kicking up a fuss.  

However, the next day, the client returned with a crusty you-know-what and asked for a letter to give to her employer explaining that something went wrong during the treatment and that she would need to take time off work. All things considered, she remained calm and laid-back through the whole ordeal.  

Good thing exotic dancers are known for making quite a bit of money; otherwise, we think she would have been a bit more upset about having to take time off work!

As for the employee we hope that in the future she will only take up cases where she knows exactly how everything works. 

2. Poodle Oops

dogs

As a veterinary assistant, euthanizing animals usually comes as part of the job. At one clinic, putting down sick animals almost always fell on the shoulders of the veterinary assistants instead of the actual veterinarians.  

One particular day, a very sick poodle was brought into the clinic to be put out of her misery. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only sick poodle brought in that day. When the veterinary assistant was instructed to get the sick poodle ready for euthanasia, the wrong dog was prepped and subsequently put to sleep.  

Thankfully, the employee did not get fired; however, they still feel horrible about the whole situation. 

3. Return to Sender

While working at a small financial firm, a young employee accidentally activated the sort function in a company-wide Excel spreadsheet, which consequently jumbled crucial information of over 500 clients. Client’s personal details, including mailing addresses, were now completely mismatched.  

The following weekend, several pieces of mail were sent out to the clients. Of course, all of the company’s clients received wrong mail. Clients, co-workers, and management were livid.  The mistake cost the company in the ballpark of $15,000.  The company never discovered the culprit due to the fact that the employee responsible was young and low-ranking. The fact that everybody in the company had access to that spreadsheet also helped with keeping the secret of the guilty party.  

Management spent weeks trying to track down the cause of the problem to no avail. This is one secret the employee swears they will take to their grave.

4. Work Sucks

A desktop support worker for a private aircraft company accidentally made a mess of things when he was cleaning up one night.  The particular building in which the desktop worker was employed happened to be the company’s headquarters which was open 24/7. Approximately six months into his job, the employee was finishing up his shift one night by doing some tidying up, after briefly searching for a place to plug in the vacuum, the employee found an outlet on the server rack.  

Thirty seconds after the vacuum was powered on, every single server went down. Springing into panic mode, the IT worker attempted to repower all of the servers by connecting them to a generator but only made it through half of them before he gave up. Needless to say, the employee got reamed out the next morning. When he asked why he didn’t get fired, his manager simply responded "I would have to worry that the next dipsh*t I hire will end up doing that too."  To this day, the employee’s coworkers call him "Hoover".

5. Jewelry Foolery

jewellery
Jennifertunnell

While still new on the job at her father’s jewellery repair shop, an employee made an irreversible mistake that she still keeps a secret. A customer brought in a small, 18 karat gold cross that had been given to her by her mother who was now deceased.  Needless to say, the cross was extremely special to her. Unfortunately for the customer, this would be the first piece of jewellery that the young employee would ever work on.

As per procedure, the employee put the priceless piece of jewelry on a charcoal block and began to heat it with a torch, all of a sudden, half of the pendant completely melted away. Naturally, the employee was too terrified to tell the customer, so she tracked down a lookalike and gave that to the woman instead. It’s been almost 40 years since the incident, but the employee says she still feels awful to this day.

See Also: How to Take the Blame for Your Mistakes at Work

To err is human, and nobody will ever make it through life without experiencing a number of blunders. Sometimes our mistakes are careless and sometimes they’re simply due to inexperience. There are many ways to properly recover from mistakes, but no way to avoid them, especially if we are new at the job. Yes, they can be mortifying and expensive but they’re not always irreparable (though some can leave quite a scar).

 The next time you slip up at work, take the opportunity to learn from it, and just remember that a few years down the road, it will make an entertaining story!

Know any other embarrassing stories of mistakes made at work? Let us know in the comments below!

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