Minor Incidents That Led To Major Disasters.

From grabbing a couple's house keys by accident, to mistaking a fire alarm for a light switch, people share minor incidents that led to huge screw-ups.

[Source can be found at the end of the article]

I used to work at a nursing home, and one of the medication technicians got the dosing wrong on one of the residents' medications. It was "minor" because she was not off by much to the untrained eye, but the misdosing was enough to where when the resident took it, it killed her. She was very old and had some health problems, but wasn't on death's door or anything. It was definitely the medication that killed her. It ended up being a huge deal (of course). Every medical technician was retrained, the one at fault was fired and I have no idea what happened to her afterward.


I worked at a company where to leave the server room you had to push a big red button right next to the door to unlock the magnetic lock on the server room door. I was in and out of the server room hundreds of times over five years.

Cut to me, interviewing for a new job at a different place. They also had a big red button by the server room door... emergency power shutoff.

I told them on the day I interviewed that, if they hired me, it was in their best interest to put a flip-up cover on that button, and, after explaining why, they laughed and said they would.

They didn't.

It was not a good day.

But, I did warn them, and they did acknowledge that I warned them. And they installed a flip-up cover


I was sitting by a hotel pool. Someone left their keys on the outdoor table. The keys looked just like mine. When I packed up my towel and stuff to go back to the room I instinctively grabbed the keys. THEY LOOKED JUST LIKE MINE!

Those poor people (a young couple) went through hours of hell wanting to go home but stranded at the hotel. After a few hours I realized I picked up keys that weren't mine.

I felt so damn guilty. Went down to the front desk, where the young couple was lingering. Girl had mascara running from crying.

Idiot me told the truth and tried to explain my honest mistake. If looks could kill I got those looks from the couple and the hotel desk guy. I should have had lied and just said I found them.


Probably the time I accidentally overcharged a customer $2000 while at work. I work as a cashier and when this guy came up, he had something that we weigh and charge by the pound. Now, normally when we ring up something, the decimal pops up by itself so you dont have to type it. Well, I forgot it doesnt pop up when putting in a weight and accidentally put in 512 pounds instead of 5.12. Needless to say, customer was not happy after he paid and then realized what happened.


I was working at a school during the summer (so the building was largely empty) and a firm had come in to work on the pipes. This meant that the water had to be shut off. So I was told to check if the water was off by going into a room and turning on a tap. I did, no water came out, and I told them to go ahead.

The firm finished their work, the water was turned back on and everybody went home. The next day, we came back in to work to find the room I had checked the tap in was flooded. Turns out, because no water came out when I turned it on, I didn't turn it back off. So when the water was put back on it was left running all night.


I was working at a grocery store, and had just turned 18 and thus been promoted to ID-checker for all the other cashiers. It was super crowded one night and I was rushing and panicking a little bit and accidentally read 1996 as 1986 and typed it in and left. A few minutes later, two cops came in, turns out the guy I sold the beer to was an undercover sting officer. I was immediately fired and given a court date, where I was officially arrested. Take your time and read ID's kids.


When I was a student I worked part time testing fire alarms. One day I was working on this panel that had a really loud buzzer in it and I had the smart idea to put some tape over it so it wasn't as loud every time we tested a detector, but when I went to remove the tape my watch touched something and caused a short that fried the panel. The company I worked for ended up getting a fairly large contract to upgrade the fire system throughout the whole building.


I didn't look into the floor mounted plug socket before I plugged my laptop in under the desk. Shorted a half days work for an office floor comprising maybe 50 desks over an area of about two tennis courts. So somewhere between 100 and 200 man hours of work down the drain. Turns out the previous occupant liked aluminium foiled sweets and a bit got mixed up with the floor socket. I heard the commotion whilst on my hands and knees under the desk. Talk about smoking gun. That was a tough stand up.


I lost my wallet once. I drove to the bank to get money to go across the street to the DMV and get a replacement driver's license. Got in a car accident going less than a mile away (two left turn lanes, guy in left lane decided he was gonna go straight... straight into me). Was in my mom's car while she was on vacation, and I don't have my license and couldn't find insurance card. Took about an hour to convince the police and this guy that I'm not a thief. Get everything straightened out. Get my license, go back to the bank to get more money out (would only allow a certain amount without ID), and to get a new debit card. Get a phone call no more than an hour later that someone found my wallet. Then I had to ruin my mom's vacation.


I missed the return deadline for some medical supplies my office didn't need but I returned them anyway... the return was rejected so we had to pay for the supplies and three rounds of shipping because we had to get them back after they rejected the return. So my company had to pay a few grand for the supplies and about $100 in shipping total... if I sent it before the weekend it would have been fine. It would have been cheaper if I never tried to return it.


When I rooted my phone, the process was:

Copy a chunk of the internal storage to a file

Modify the file

Copy it back into storage

Since it was exploiting a firmware update function there weren't nice names or protections; you had to manually specify the disk sectors.

Well, when copying back into internal storage, I mixed up some parameters and copied it over everything. Erased the OS, bootloader, recovery mode, everything. It wouldn't even power on afterward. Of course I only noticed the typo after I tried to reboot it.

Fortunately it was fairly new, so I was able to just take it back and play dumb. "I don't know, it just won't turn on anymore." Got a replacement, but it took a few weeks since they were out of stock.


The time I left my school bag at the bus stop. Problem was my dad was in the Air Force and we lived on an airbase, so it was assumed to be a bomb. I realised while I was on the bus and called the airbase as soon as I got to school but it was too late. The whole place had already been put on lock-down, nobody could get in or out, people like my mum couldn't get to work off base, and the bomb squad had been called in to explode it. Apparently it cost thousands in wasted resources. Understandably my dad was not happy in the slightest, he was so embarrassed by it all. He made me write a grovelling letter of apology to the commanding officer.


Knocked over my coffee onto a work computer. It was like the perfect storm of spills, somehow getting in the keyboard, CPU and monitor. Worked fine for like 10 minutes then completely died. I got fired, but they were already pissed at me for being late every other shift. This was the last straw. I was bitter at the time but honestly couldn't blame them. It would've looked so bad if they let me continue working there.


Used to play weekly 5-a side football, 6th form vs teachers. I play in goal. My last game before finishing school and I made a save. my wrist swells up for a few days after but I put off getting it checked out. 8 months later I finally get it x-ray and turns out it had been broken all this time.

3 years and a surgery later it's still not fixed, and due to the position of the screw from the surgery I can't hold my own body weight, i.e. Can't do a push up without buckling. I'm getting an experimental procedure in 6 weeks that should stop arthritis but unclear how my sport will be affected.

I wanted to play futsal and basketball at uni, whilst I play rec. I'd have loved to have been able to train properly so I could play competitively without worrying about injuring my wrist up any more.


I worked at the front of the line at night doing stock at a clothing store. The front person opens the boxes and pushes them down the line to the rest of the waiting employees who then sort and put up all the clothes. I adjusted the safety knife one notch too far one night and while opening boxes I cut slashes in or parts off of clothes in every box we opened that night. Because we do it in two hour shifts they couldn't prove it was me (but they knew) I wasnt fired but was never allowed to be front of the line again.


I was doing laundry once in my family's old apartment and when I was tossing clothes into the washing machine I slammed the door (side-loader), punched start, and walked away without realizing the sleeve of one of my long-sleeves shirts was hanging out. As a result the machine completely tore out the rubber seal on the door when it started tumbling and flooded the bathroom where the washing machines were.


Worked in a commodity brokerage at 19 as a gopher. One of my new jobs was to take all the active trades and put them on a worksheet. If a trade went bad clients would have a "stop," that basically was the clients way of limiting the amount of money they lost. Stops were listed next to the trade. I accidentally listed a "Stop" that didn't exist. The trade went south for about 2 days. The client lost close to $100k and everyone in the office knew I was to blame. Didn't get fired. I swing by from time to time, 45 years old now. Friend's dad and the other brokers still remind me how I messed up every time they see me 25 years later.


Was told I'd get a pay advance upon signing the contract, didn't fully understand I needed to submit an invoice for that advance, now I am behind on every bill, may be evicted if it's not paid out this week (very well may not be), and it will take months to recover financially as I pay off late fees and interest. Haven't been able to socialize, exercise, see family, do laundry, or anything that isn't eating the cheapest food available, or working for a month now.


One day the building I lived in was doing one of those water saving things, so there was no water for a period. I turned on the shower to check, no water came out, the problem is that I forgot to turn it off.

Went out of my apartment, about 3 or 4 hours later I come back... This huge amount of vapor comes out as soon as I open up the apartment door, all the walls are sweating and the shower is open.

I lived with my parents back then and to this day I don't know how much money they had to spend because of that or for how long the shower was on.

I still feel extremely guilty for that to this day.


Worked at an ad agency as the web guy. One of our clients was one of the most prominent business magazines and was hosting a big cruise/conference junket for the C-Suite of the 500. Failed to renew a domain, which expired the day before the client was to start marketing the event. Not re-upping the domain meant no registrations for the conference. It was a very double-plus un-good day.


Working in publishing. My supervisor was supposed to check all my work against proofs. One day I was working on publishing an article called "ABC." For some reason I grabbed the proof "XYZ" and entered all the data for the "ABC" article as "XYZ." I showed my supervisor the proof, and because "XYZ" was exactly the same as "XYZ," she approved it, not realizing that I was actually supposed to be doing "ABC." So "ABC" got published as "XYZ," caused a huge shitstorm and lost the company money and clients.... My supervisor got fired. Nothing happened to me.


I was looking for the light switch in the broom closet and my hand brushed against a box and a handle. My sleep deprived retarded brain reminiscened back to Jurassic Park, where the woman is throwing switches in order to power back on the parks electrical system.

Nah, it was the fire alarm. At 3 am.

I got super lucky tho because the drill sergeant on duty liked me and it gave him a reason to get out of the office to smoke and, his pizza arrived that very moment. but for the minutes where the alarm was going and the fact that 200 sleepy recruits were funnelling down stairs,. I thought I would be pushing till this very day.


Accidentally paid an overdue phone bill twice trying to pay over the net for the first time for my parents, it was around the time I agreed to pay for the phone and internet in place of actual rent. The initial bill was about 100 due to late fees, ended up paying 200. Really bad because I paid the bill out of my dole money... so until I got the extra money paid back to me via refund (which would take about 3-5 working days, not counting the Saturday I paid the bill or the Sunday after) or until I get my dole paid again (which is every two weeks)... I literally have no money.

Internet Service Provider was really helpful, though. Got the money on Wednesday. And since I pay the bills via the internet regularly and get the bills via email I get a discount so I only had to pay 35 (The bills have gone up since then) after that.


Was sitting alone in a park when it started to rain, I went to leave and was approached by three guys who started talking to me. Suddenly another guy came up to us and started talking to the 3 guys and asked if any of the parked cars belonged to them, think he was park warden, I saw this as my opportunity to leave as I felt weird about the group.

Stupidly I decided to leave on my own out an unknown exit instead of leaving out the main exit with the other man. I got mugged by the group who caught up to me.


Well this happened to be pretty recently, and it wouldn't be a big deal if getting into dental school wasn't my number one priority in life right now, but here it is. I signed up for a summer class (biology) I believe, and right after my car completely breaks down and ends up costing me every penny I had saved up for paying for the summer class. Well, turns out financial aid had paid for the class and I had absolutely NO IDEA. Usually this school had the policy of no payment = automatic drop. Well, I figured that's what was going to happen so I just let it go and didn't worry about it. Being that it was also a 2 week mini course, the 2 weeks fly by and with no warning about the F I was about to receive appears on my transcript, and despite the hours of talking, begging, and pleading my case to the dean and every counselor there I was still screwed. 

Now, I have an F in one of my science courses that is a huge anchor bringing down my overall science GPA/overall GPA. It's my junior year and I have no room to mess up and it sucks.If you have the chance to go to a 4 year university do not think about it twice. You will thank yourself in the long run I promise.


I got into a small scuffle with some girls in the bathroom of my college. Basically, I was dealing with a major chronic illness and was hurling and they decided it was gross and I started getting picked on/etc. We got into a very small scuffle and then went on our separate ways. About an hour later I find myself arrested by the campus police because said girls had told them that I ran out of a bathroom stall and attacked them (despite the fact I was so sick I needed a cane to be able to stand and looked like death warmed over.) Got arrested and charged with battery. Had to go to court while I was in the hospital. They were trying to throw the case out but apparently, from what I was told, the police wrote the report down in such a way that they couldn't dismiss it. So, I got probation and fines for something I didn't do. The stress made me being sick that much worse.

In the end, we finally got a new lawyer who managed to get the old charges dismissed. But now I really try to avoid confrontation even if it means people walking over me because I'd rather not go through this again.


First retail job, office supply store, VERY green, severe social anxiety. Parents insisted I have a job so I very reluctantly took one, terrified. Year two in job (still hugely green) I'm helping a woman push a cart with a case of copy paper to her car (case was ten reams, about 50lbs of paper, a bit heavy) A man was standing in front of the curb cutout loudly talking to another person and ignoring me. So I try to lift this cart down off the curb carefully next to the man. (who was wearing shorts) The cart topples over sideways INTO the man's leg and scrapes it. Not a HUGE scrape but enough. HE freaks OUT, I intensely apologize and put the case of paper in the womans trunk and push the cart back inside and run to hide back into my work wanting to crawl in a hole and die. Had never had a customer conflict before. This was 18 years ago, before I became a heavily thick skinned jaded cold a-hole in retail. So I'm hiding in my work and I hear the man SCREAMING at my boss. The leg scrape man had come in near violently pissed I had not been forceful in asking him to please MOVE (which he legit was ignoring as I had a quiet voice at the time) and had chewed out my boss over his "shit-brained incompetent moron young employee."

I also did NOT fill out an injury form, leaving the company open for the mans lawsuit (oh he was MAD). My boss gave me a talking to that day, how important notifying him was, and how we opened ourselves up to lawsuit, and he wasn't going to fire me. (He sensed how green and full of anxiety I was thank god) But man to this day I wince in pure agony thinking about it. Had I not had the anxiety I should have almost yelled at the guy to please MOVE as I was COMING THROUGH. But I was an anxiety ridden 18 year old, learning how to deal with life without mommy and daddy's help.



We are told that, if you're not confident, you should just "fake it til you make it."

This is great--in theory. In practice, sometimes "faking it" can have extremely real and terrible consequences, which these people found out the hardest of hard ways.

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