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This is a question Screwing up at work

Someone on the security team signed off that a fake bomb had been recovered at Old Trafford when it hadn't. Cue one controlled explosion and a postponed soccer game. Tell us your tales of workplace screw ups and the consequences of your mistakes.

(, Tue 17 May 2016, 8:59)
Pages: Popular, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

Are you dancing?
I once attempted to do a sexually provocative dance.
I failed miserably.
I screwed up a twerk
(, Thu 19 May 2016, 15:02, 1 reply)
Five years ago I had a job as a heating/aircon engineer.
The job was hellishly boring and involved a lot of crawling about in confined spaces, most of the time for the same one client with an antiquated system that really needed ripping out and completely replacing. To keep myself amused during lunch breaks, I smuggled a small quantity of soil up into the top office's roof, reasoning that with the humidity and warmth it would probably be ideal conditions to get some seeds started. Soon enough, I had a tiny fruit and vegetable patch going.

It was only discovered by accident, when the King Edward crop expanded beyond the edges of the ventilation channel's top panel and a few tiny potatoes fell inside and were sucked away, to end up falling out of the ceiling onto the conference table, right in the middle of a board meeting. My boss demanded to see the 'garden', and I was out the door later that day. The letter of reference he grudgingly gave me said just four words: 'grows misc on duct'.
(, Wed 1 Jun 2016, 22:32, 8 replies)
Ha I worked in care in the UK, every day was a screw up.
Although there are plenty enough times I've screwed up at work, I prefer the moments when everyone screws up, at once, and in a particularly spectacular fashion. Briefly working in the care sector gave me plenty enough opportunities to see this phenomenon first hand. (Obviously no names will be mentioned.)
About 5 years ago and fresh out of college I was working for a nameless care-for-profit organisation in a residential site for adults with severe developmental disabilities. People with ASD were the main service users but the company was quite nasty overall, a real scam on tax cash. That being said there were a lot of on the ground workers were genuinely invested in the residents and cared for them a great deal, me included.

A lot of our residents were there for difficult behaviours, we called them crises, but they could be anything from biting or vomiting at you, to getting butt nekked and running straight into oncoming traffic. These behaviours were usually the result of some big ass temper tantrum caused by something that had happened or changed, that they couldn't process.
Ok, so, there was this one lass that I worked very closely with. Her issues stemmed from changes to her routine, changes to her room, and females younger than her (she saw herself as a child despite being about 30.) She could talk but it was limited, and she was cute as a button most of the time, like saying hi to everyone that walked within a 500 meter radius of her and reciting her routines peppering them with ancient ad jingles and nursery rhymes. However when something changed... well. It was like an army drill went off, half the bloody workforce would mobilise, padding, arm guards, 600 wet wipes. I always wondered 'why this mass panic over, frankly quite a short very sweet lass?' because 99% of the time she handled it well. We would try to prepare her for this stuff every day for months in advance; "Your room's being painted in 36 sleeps. Now put the sticker on your chart." Kinda thing.) I thought I had an idea of why after working with some of the more intense residents, but nowt could have prepared me for this one.
_ Now her room was largely empty besides a sofa, a dinnertable and her kitchen... she liked it this way. She had a cupboard with gifts from her (really very lovely) parents and that was all that she would allow. She briefly had a pink flowery radio but one day she came out, smashed it to pieces on the floor and said "Radio finished!" and that was that... radio was finished.

Anyway we had been away on a short trip to some park or something that she went to every week and when we got back she went in to her room as usual. 2 minutes of silence, I was mentaly ticking off her getting home routine in my head from outside (it was that repetitive you could get it down to the second.) first her coat, then a drink of water, a murmur whilst she recited her afternoon routine, then in for her 12th daily bath and... The fire alarm!? What!? No. She'd kind of started the mid scream/ wail continuous noise she made when she'd begun to cry, then something I'd never heard before, a kind of intense wet cracking sound, like a leg being pulled off or something. I radiod for assistance because fuck doing whatever it is I was gonna have to do by myself, and I went in cause that sound sounded like a get in and help sound. I was greeted by the site of a thirty odd year old woman squatted over a steaming pile of shite with a huge grin on her face, her fingers in her ears and her pants round her ankles... She, with reflexes like a legged ferret, scooped this up, screamed "poo poo!" at the top of her lungs and hurled the stinking brown gob straight at me. I attempted to dodge but she splattered it pretty much everywhere, she then covered with shite up to her elbow barrelled towards me. Needless to say I got the hell outta there in time for my three colleagues on the unit to arrive take one look at me and say "Get the babywipes."

They radiod for more backup because by that point she was bollock naked and moving her sofa towards her garden fence so she could hop over and make a break for it. My manager explained that the noise I heard was the noise she makes when she legitimately 'crisised' and that it was understandable that I shoulda gone in to check on her cause it does sound like a horrific injury. The one thing we couldn't work out was why? What the hell had made her do this. At that place there was always an answer, one resident would do his thing exactly 3 days after his parents visited, everytime. He had this delayed processing disorder, it took them a year to figure it out. We figured it must have been something at the park, there was a dog that walked close to her, but she liked dogs mostly cause she'd grown up with them. We later discovered that the maintenance guy's, at the managers insistance, had fitted new soap dispensers into every resident's toilet. Including hers, without warning, whilst she was on her park trip, despite all of her very well documented issues with that shit. She'd gone into the bathroom, taken one look and immediately flipped. But of course we had no idea, the manager in question hadn't thought to tell poor old us and maintenance ain't the first guys you radio when a resident's in meltdown.
It took four hours to calm her to the point where she might accept her settlng routine. She raged, swore, slapped, bit, shat, kicked, spat and scratched, she tried to break down the garden door, she seemed to settle, a couple of people would have to go, cause they had their own residents to deal with, then it would kick off again and she'd strip down, hop the fence and charge towards the main road naked and covered in shit. We were allowed to escort and restrain her when she was being violent or escaping au naturale into the public but not to keep or lock her in her room (and for good bloody reason too, entrapment is wrong, I was very careful to make sure I worked within guidelines at all times, but duty of care came first.) she could come out and eventually would as part of her calming process. Eventually she began to listen and calm.

Now here's where I fucked up... her calming routine entailed her to take a bath, she was calm, talking again, still covered in shit and then we told her to go take a bath before we could have dinner. She went back into her bathroom took one look at that fucking soap dispensor and "POO POO!"
Bare in mind at this point we still thought she was upset about the park dog.
Eventually my shift ended, she was still raging but it was the night guy's problem now and to be sure they were fairly pissed about it. Next day we came back... still raging, hadn't bothered sleeping. It took the whole next shift... best part of 9 hours to calm her down, by that point we'd found out about the fuck up and sent a heavily padded man in to rip out the dispensor so the next time we did her routine it worked, but trying to explain to a partially verbal screaming autistic lady that her soap dispensors gone now is a lot harder than it sounds, and it probably sounds hard.

It was the one time I saw her go for it. The other 99% of the time she was catagorically lovely and I genuinely looked forward to working with her there were one or two other incidents but I worked with her still for a while after that and of course I would never dream of holding it against her, the entire reason she was there was cause her condition meant she wasn't given a choice in her behaviours from birth. I don't regret working there, it taught me a lot of skills for dealing with difficult behaviour that I've put to use in the job I've had since, hell it wasn't even my worst job in my opinion. It's just another example of poor communication from management completely fucking up several peoples day at once, mainly hers.

Apologies for length but it needed exposition.
(Title of George R.R. Martin's sextape.)

TL:DR, Differently Abled person flips out for 2 solid days over a switched soap dispensor. Man fucks up and extends madness. Lots and lots of tangents.
(, Fri 20 May 2016, 19:09, 5 replies)
Bathroom misunderstanding
I once worked in a small but expanding business in London. When the flat above the shop became available we took that over too. The bathroom became a unisex staff toilet and the bath was boarded over leaving only a gap for the slightly leaking taps.
One day one of the girls came out shrieking that someone had shit it the bath. Unbelievable. But everyone just knew who the likely culprit was. He was a new guy and the last person known to have been in there.
He was summonsed and despite his cries of innocence was ordered to clean it up or lose his job.
Under protest he made a start, only to find that it wasn't shit. It was one of the boss's fat Cuban cigars which had expanded with the wet from the weeping taps. Poor sod didn't get any apologies either.
(, Thu 19 May 2016, 8:56, 1 reply)
Worst Screw Up
Writing a COBOL program to send refund cheques. For some unexplicable reason I started the count at 1, incremented by 2, and checked if count=50.

It was never going to equal 50.

So I printed (but thank the fuck didn't send) 30,000 cheques to the same guy.

But it was in the 70's..... You really don't want to know how we had to code back then....


As an aside - what's happened to QOTW? Where are all the trolls? I only look at B3ta once in a blue moon and don't post due to the vitriol and crap I used to get from Badger and the Talk crowd. But, if they've gone, I might start posting again.

Been here in Oz for more than 10 years and have a lot of crazy shit I can write about..

And, as always...

Cheers
(, Fri 20 May 2016, 15:36, 19 replies)
I've always been fairly observant...
It was my first day in my Summer job at a local advertising company. The boss was showing me around the different rooms and introducing me to the staff. He walked me through the designers' pen, by the secretary's desk and into the account managers' area.

"Here we are preparing for a big sales pitch for the Northern School of XYZ. We're taking all these mock ups of posters, brochures etc over to them today for a presentation." he said, and we moved on to the next part of the building.

Perhaps if, at that moment, I had mentioned that on every single piece of advertising they'd used "Nortern" rather than Northern then the might have delayed the meeting, redone all the materials and won the contract.

But it was my first day. So I kept my mouth shut. And they didn't.

It's my b3ta birthday! Bloody Hell! It's my 10th b3ta birthday!
(, Mon 23 May 2016, 9:27, Reply)
Something that goes over a thousand lines and which none of you will bother to read.
Star Wars.
(, Sat 21 May 2016, 13:08, 3 replies)
Back in the days when elearning CD roms were still a thing, I sent some Authorware files to the CD printer to burn
However I missed the crucial subfolder in my zip, the thing that would actually make the whole thing work. It was due to go out to most 7-9 year old school kids in England. Our first print run was 100,000 CDs. None of them worked. I threw all the boxes of them in the skip.
This normally would have had major consequences for me, but at the time the place was totally dysfunctional. We were haemorrhaging money, the board were in open warfare with each other, and my boss was about to start his own company (while stealing a lot of IT equipment, as it turned out later). So nothing happened. Nobody asked me what happened to all the CDs. In a week or so I put in the same order, this time with the right files, and our accounts paid for it without any questions. A year later the place was taken over by Pearsons, an american multinational that retrenched most of the staff and gutted the company, but by then I'd moved onto my next disaster.
I might have not sent as many CDs to landfill as AOL, but I gave them a run for their money, dammit
(, Fri 20 May 2016, 1:23, 3 replies)
Not me but a friend
Rachelswipe will sympathise. My friend was a junior solicitor at a very large law firm in London. Junior solicitor was one cog in the wheel of a very large transaction involving the refinancing of an international hotel chain. The money involved was in the hundreds of millions. The transaction was due to complete and all was good so she just carried on doing her thing as instructed and completed the task that had been set by her superior (a slightly larger cog in that machine). She filed all the 403s for all the hotels in the UK part of the chain (of which there were dozens).

A 403 is the form you filed to release the mortgage a bank has over its corporate borrower's assets. That's fine if the transaction was going ahead because a new bank was stepping in. Problem was the deal had not gone ahead and my friend had just removed those hotels from that bank's list of assets - about a 500m pounds worth of security. Imagine your mortgage being written off in one fell swoop the multiply that by several thousand... I don't think the bank was very happy seeing its security disappear overnight.

Of course it all happened on a Friday night so there was a very anxious couple of days while every favour to be called in was called in and apparently a relevant judge was found on a beach in Cornwall on Sunday morning to give an emergency order to reinstate the mortgages.

Needless to say, it got my friend noticed by many of the more senior members of her firm... She kept he job though.

TL;DR overpaid overworked solicitor makes a mistake
(, Tue 17 May 2016, 18:06, 4 replies)
I was once trying to clear some space on a unix server
and found buried about 10 levels deep a copy of the entire home directory.

So I typed rm -rf home/*

Well, I meant to. I actually typed rm -rf /home/*

Which deleted the entire home directory and brought the production server down. Oops.
(, Tue 17 May 2016, 17:56, 13 replies)
many years ago, i had a holiday job as a letting agent in manchester
we had one development over in Liverpool (which encompassed maybe 400 out of a total of 4,000 tenants, but I was in court chasing arrears in Liverpool more often than Manchester; scousers seem to think things like paying rent don't apply to them). I was over in Liverpool county court in the morning for a hearing, then had to go on a flat inspection in the afternoon.

I left the car door open for a moment as I had to pick something up. miraculously, nobody nicked the car, so I drove back to Manchester, 90's music blaring, happily singing away. arrived back in Didsbury, turned off the engine - only to hear a plaintive: MIAAAAOOOOWWW.

looked around. couldn't see anything. went to get out of the car. MIAAAAOOOOOOOW. couldn't see anything.

eventually I found a large ginger scouse cat in the back of the car. it had crammed itself on the floor behind my seat and I had brought all the way to Manchester and not noticed. gaaaaaah.

I had to take it back to Liverpool and then drive back again, by which point I was 2 hours late and the boss was furious.
(, Tue 17 May 2016, 10:57, 5 replies)
Splish splash.
I worked as a carer in an aged-care facility.

One day the cleaner came to me and showed me that there was a small leak on the pipe from the tap to her cleaning mix container. As we had no handyman and I was one of only two blokes who worked there it often fell to me to conduct these sorts of "minor" repairs. It would've meant having to call in the plumber otherwise which could mean up to 2 days wait.
The leak was on the reinforced pipe that was connected to the mains tap and fed into the cleaning fluid. The tap was always on and obviously the pipe was under pressure. When the cleaner pressed the pump on top of the cleaning fluid bottle it released a valve which fed a measured amount of cleaning fluid and water into their bucket using the water pressure from the tap.

The leak on the pipe was tiny but because it was under pressure it was pissing out a small stream constantly. As one end of the pipe was fitted to the tap I got some garden hosepipe with the correct fitting, cut it to length and instead of using a bolt (as was on the reinforced pipe) I attached the other end to the spigot with an o-ring and tightened it with a screwdriver.
"Should be right as rain." I thought to myself as I toddled off for my 3 day break. At least I knew that the cleaner would be able to do her job over the next couple of days should she need to. Then again, she worked the same days I did...

I didn't get the usual flurry of calls from work on Monday afternoon but thought nothing of it. I went in on Tuesday morning and did notice that there was some new carpet in the area where the cleaner's cupboard was. This was a bit of a surprise as part of my job was liaising with and organizing the carpet layer's to come in and that part of the facility wasn't due to have had new carpet. I didn't think too much of it as I went into the cupboard to get something and noticed that my bodgey job had been replaced by a brand new shiny reinforced pipe.
"Oh good," I thought "at least the plumbers got to that yesterday."

I was eventually called into the managers office once they had arrived where I was met by both the facility and regional managers. Both lovely ladies. Both with intense scowls and frowns on their faces. I was in the shit. Big time. I was asked about my fixit job, I took them through what I'd done and why - at the time it seemed a bit strange to have all this attention on such a seemingly mundane job but, who knows, right? Then I asked why?

As it happened -
My hosepipe, having been under pressure - split. At about 5 am on Sunday morning. Flooding the hallway with water and frothy, slippery cleaning fluid. The sound of the pipe bursting and water flowing woke a few of the surrounding residents who came out of their now flooding rooms to see what was happening. One of which slipped on the wet carpet and fell injuring his hip.
The staff managed to eventually get the locked cupboard open, turned off the tap and called the plumber (thinking it was a burst water mains pipe).
The resident was taken to hospital by ambulance and the carpet contractor attended the next day, laying all new carpet and underlay in a long stretch of hallway and 3 rooms.

The eventual insurance bill was for over 11 thousand dollars and the gentleman that fell over never fully recovered - he did not return to our facility and was sent to another higher care based facility upon being released from hospital. The cost of an off the shelf reinforced pipe that would fit perfectly and not burst for at least a few years from the local hardware warehouse? About 20 bucks.

I didn't have to do anymore repair jobs there. Ever.

tl;dr?
Man fixes pipe, wrecks carpet and inadvertently injures elderly gentleman.
(, Tue 31 May 2016, 21:41, 101 replies)
I worked in a bar in Croydon
when I was 18. I was filling 2 pints at the same time (busy night) when one of the barrels ran out, the manager was down there changing it for ages because there was something going on with the pressure. Turned out I hadn't turned the tap off, a fact which became apparent only when the bar floor was awash with Stella. The upside was that I no longer had to work in a bar in Croydon, a town the locals like to pretend is dangerous but is in fact merely a beacon of banal low-grade unpleasantness.
(, Mon 30 May 2016, 11:36, 3 replies)
Practical joke gone wrong
The manager of the number-two-works (synthetic yarn spinning) laboratory was always over worked and would virtually sign any lab request you put in front of him. One day, just as a prank, someone put in a request for a box of atomic weights*. The requisition sheet was put in front of him, he signed it and into the paperwork system for a massive chemical site with over a dozen labs it went - off to our own, on-site lab stores.

About a fortnight later, he got a phone call from the irate man at the external lab suppliers asking him what he was playing at and everybody got a bollocking. It turned out that the site stores didn't know what a box of atomic weights was so sent a requisition in to the external supplied company instead of queerying the lab first. Oops.

*For those who don't know (maybe you had found something more interesting to do in science, like our on-site store manager clearly had), atomic weights are numbers given to elements (hydrogen oxygen, iron and so on) that indicate how heavy their atoms are. In an environment that uses balances that measure down to tenths of milligrammes, to the uninitiated, it sounds like a set of very accuratly manufactured metal weights.
(, Sun 29 May 2016, 12:16, 10 replies)
last

(, Wed 25 May 2016, 12:25, 1 reply)
I'm supposed to set a question of the week,
and produce a weekly newsletter.
Various comical and unlikely events have prevented me from doing so. People have stopped caring.
(, Sun 22 May 2016, 15:04, 8 replies)
Literal street furniture
I used to work three jobs at the same time. No really, that's how I paid for university over the summer. While exhausting these weren't the type of roles to over tax the grey matter. For instance painting crappy student lets with milk thin emulsions paint is easy to let the brain run on auto-pilot.

Splashing paint around merrily, my boss reminded me that a full set of bedroom suites was being delivered ready for the new tenants who were moving in after the weekend. I was to sign for the delivery.

So when I dropped by the office to drop off the keys I happily signed for a delivery from a man in a huge van then went home satisfied with a job well done. Since I had to finish the evening in a call centre I switched my phone off.

What had escaped my notice was the difference between billing and shipping address. I had cheerfully signed off on a delivery and left for home when I was meant to direct the van to the house that I had been working in. Instead the man in a van had unloaded seven full sets of king size bed/mattress/wardrobe combinations onto the busy high street outside the letting agents office. Like the worlds most pikey ikea showroom.

Given that I had switched my phone off and the delivery driver was halfway down the M62 and accelerating, reaching the final resting place was down to the suited pseudo-estate agent sales team. None of whom had room for even the smallest article of furniture in their car. Given that the house in question was only a quarter of a mile from the head office it could of been worse.

This sort of glass-half-full thinking was lost on the people who had to carry seven king-size mattresses the whole distance in the baking July heat fighting off errant dogs and school kids.

I was not offered more shifts.
(, Sat 21 May 2016, 20:33, 2 replies)
Autobill


I once (a long time ago, before all the wonderful SAAS systems) set up a system to process credit cards and do auto-billing of subscribers to our web site. However, I messed up the scheduling, and instead of it running once a month, it ran once a minute. As it took a little while for the billing to actually take place, this meant that every single run decided the subscriber needed to renew and it would bill $29.99. Every minute For about 2 hours. Before we realized.

It took me, and a co-worker several hours of frantic work, manually crediting back all the money. Remarkably of the couple of hundred people affected, only one complained, and once we pointed out that it was already refunded, he let it go.
(, Tue 17 May 2016, 22:05, Reply)
"Shhhhh". She pressed her finger to my lips as she reached under the desk for my rapidly engorging.. oh wait you said screwing UP at work.

(, Tue 17 May 2016, 14:09, 1 reply)

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