"All I Heard Was, 'Thomas, Noooo'": Workers Are Sharing The Biggest Mistake They've Seen A Coworker Make, And I'm At A Loss For Some Of These

Since most of us have to work, it's quite common to work with a few colleagues who make mistakes in their jobs.
NBC / Via giphy.com
And while there's absolutely nothing wrong with making mistakes (because it's important to grow and learn!), some colleagues tend to take the crown when it comes to the kinds of mistakes they make at the Doing work.
NBC / Via giphy.com
When I saw Reddit user u/xk543x ask the Reddit community, "What's the dumbest mistake you've seen made by an incompetent colleague?" I knew the answers would be entertaining. So I've rounded up some of the best answers below:
1. "My wife worked at a gas station and found that her colleague who had worked there for years refilled the napkin dispenser by stuffing them one by one through the front slot. She went upstairs, untied the back and and apparently his jaw hit the floor. He never thought there could be a better way to do this.”
Witthaya Prasongsin / Via Getty Images
2. “A pharmacist working in a pharmacy gave a customer a flu shot and tossed the used syringe into the bin with the new syringes instead of the bin to dispose of. Another pharmacist later went to get a new syringe and was eventually stabbed with the used syringe. Triggered a total shitstorm."
3. “Putting all the patients' artificial teeth together in a bowl to soak them in a dementia ward. It took us weeks to try to match the patients to the teeth - and no, they weren't labeled with the patients' names. I doubt that's true Teeth ended up with the right patients. It was guesswork.”
Gannet77 / Via Getty Images/iStockphoto
4. "At one Petco, all the guinea pigs were in a large perspex pen with a partition in the middle. Boys on one side and girls on the other. An employee decided that all long-haired guinea pigs should be on one side and short-haired on the other. It took forever to sort them out and all the females were pregnant."
5. “I worked as a radiation protection technician at a power plant that was refueling. My job was to sit outside a contaminated area and if anyone wanted to take something from the area (tools, etc.) I had to make sure there were no radioactive particles on it. To do this, you wipe the tool with something like a tissue, and then hold the tissue up to a machine called a frisker. If the needle on the Frisker crosses a threshold, then the tool must be cleaned or left in the area. One day I come back to relieve a man who had been sitting out of range for two hours. He tells me that there have been no problems and that everything is settled. I look at the Frisker, bend over and turn on the machine."
6. “Removing the plastic wrap from a pallet of five gallon cans of (flammable) acetone. He didn't have a box cutter, so he melted them with a lighter. This was in the middle of a commercial paint warehouse. If it caught fire, you would see it from space."
—u/Former wordsmith
Nikolay Chekalin/Via Getty Images/iStockphoto
7. "There was a guy who drove a forklift through a wall in the warehouse. We work in IT. It wasn't Michael Scott or Dwight. The guy was assigned to go to the storage area in the warehouse to get some laptops. When asked why he was using the forklift (which he had never driven before or even been allowed to touch), he said, 'I thought it would help.'"
8. "My colleague at the bowling alley had to walk down a lane where a group of very young children (maybe 4-8 years old) were bowling to retrieve a ball that had stopped about halfway to the pins in the gutter. When he had picked up the ball, my other colleague told him to take it back to the kids, but this guy had it in his head that it would be best to throw it back at the group of little kids instead, one of the adults with the kids was a big, muscular guy who could stop and pick up the ball without hurting anyone."
9. "Pour hot frying oil into a plastic container. Guess how that went?”
10. "He was making pizza and he broke the pizza board (the thing with the handle that you make the pizza on and then put the pizza in the oven). I found the other one and he lost it. So I told him to make pizza on one of the plastic cutting boards. He put the pizza on the board in the oven and just left it there. The board melted. No more pizza that day.”
Gabe Ginsberg / Via Getty Images
11. "He tried to get his lighter out of a deep fryer with his hands. Boy was that clean up fun.”
12. “The office we were working in has been closed due to COVID and the company has gone 100% remote. A new lead engineer has been hired to work directly with our product team and also lead a team of developers. During our company-wide weekly Zoom meeting, after he finished presenting for the company, he turned off his camera but forgot to mute himself. More than 100 people overheard this man playing Fortnite and talking to someone else about the company in the background, among other things. It only lasted a month."
13. “I used to work as a pharmacy technician. Most antibiotics for children are available as a powder in a bottle. We add distilled water to make it liquid when we receive prescriptions as the solution only stays stable for 10 to 14 days depending on the prescription. Every day a father dispensed an amoxicillin prescription for a child. The product was prepared and given to the father. He went. He came back two hours later and said the drug smelled funny. I think, "Duh. Drugs often do." But I still blew the scent up my nose with my hand and he was right. Something was wrong. I gave the bottle to the pharmacist. He agreed and immediately made another bottle. The original antibiotic bottle smelled like pure alcohol."
“In a lab, we keep several solvents on hand for many purposes: water, simple syrup, mineral oil, and ethanol. One of the technicians added ethanol to the antibiotic instead of water. And we were all puzzled as to how the error could have occurred because all of the solvents are (1) different sizes, (2) have different label colors, and (3) are labeled in large letters. We identified the technician at fault for this error and they couldn't even tell how this error occurred."
14. "They brought the wrong coffin to a funeral. Someone else had to drive to the cemetery with the correct deceased on board, and luckily they made it before the viewing."
15. "A teacher almost left a child on a field trip. We took a large group of five year olds to visit a farm/petting zoo/pumpkin patch. We had three vehicles. I was responsible for my own group, but I noticed that one of the other teachers was very lax in her supervision for most of the trip. When it was time to leave, I loaded my children onto the bus (with some other adults) and conducted a head count/attendance check. Before I got on my bus, I noticed that the other teacher got on her bus and sat BEFORE the kids got on. She walked on first, letting the children follow her. I almost didn't, but my gut told me she wasn't counting her students. When they were all on I went back and got on their bus. She seemed irritated when she realized I was checking on her... I wasn't a supervisor or anything, I was just a fellow teacher so she didn't answer me in any way."
"She said something like, 'We're all fine, let's go!' I knew how many were in each group, so I counted quickly without answering her.
Sure enough, we missed one. In the end I got off the bus and went in search of the child myself. He was still in the playground with kids from another school. When we got back to the bus, the other teacher blamed the kid! She said he "wandered". Really, she's the one who gathered the group and left the play area, meaning she's the one who "wandered away". She was upset when I went to administration about the incident."
16. "He parked in the CEO's reserved parking spot — a clearly demarcated area — and at the end of the work day was surprised to find his car had been towed."
17. "I worked for a nonprofit that hired a fundraising guy just 'for his Rolodex,' and they couldn't care less about his professional functions as long as he was bringing more and more rich people to fundraisers. Well, when the pandemic hit and we were forced to keep our distance, it became clear how incompetent he was with technology and how he loitered around the office for years, sticking to phone calls instead of emails etc. We had our first big online fundraiser coming up, and I warned my boss that this guy had no idea how Zoom worked: he never muted and the camera was always up his nose — he treated it like he would After watching a YouTube video, he invited all the rich people to the event so they wouldn't teach him about a computer program and hurt his ego.
"Then at our massive Zoom event of 200+ people, he placed his laptop on the bathroom counter and proceeded to take on a shirtless mean old man grunting, squirting and squeaking. They had to end the event early because they had no way to mute it, and it went on for a full two minutes with no sign of it stopping. I almost threw my laptop out the window that night.
18. "They tried to cool down hot oil (in a chute, all ready to dump) with a nice big bucket of water. I heard 'THOMAS NO' only to turn and see a GEYSER of hot oil shoot up towards the ceiling before it hit him and rained down around him. Nobody was hurt in any way.”
19. "I worked at an animal hospital for many years. One day unknown to me a little girl and her family had found a dead/dying seagull and brought it in to see if we could help, but when they arrived our veterinary tech had taken the bird for disposal but was too busy , then finish it off (like... put it in the freezer. It takes a minute at most labeling!). So instead he just packed the dead bird into our storage area with dozens of similar boxes and just left it there. Days go by (while he's still at work, I might add) and I come back on shift and something's seriously lined up at the office. Customers complain! Eventually I find the box buried under other supplies. I walk up to my head receptionist and I say, "So... seagull?" and watch the absolute anger grow in her eyes. The technology didn't last long after that. "
—u/Antonio Calvino
20. "Not a colleague, but a kitchen mate. I'm in college one day a week teaching advanced pastry. Two weeks ago we made sugar sculptures out of isomalt. We had to bring blowtorches to 'weld' parts of our sculpture together. Our teacher explained step by step what to do with the isomalt. He explained that once we had formed and cooled our pieces, he would show us how to use the blowtorch. So many of us have been busy shaping and cooling our parts before assembling our sculptures. One of the students sharing a station with me rolled over his head thinking he could just assemble his sculpture without the teacher. He turned on his blowtorch and placed his sculpture on a surface COVERED WITH CLEAN FILM and proceeded to set fire to everything around him."
"At that point I yell at him to stop but he just brushed me off and yelled back that he knew what he was doing. Before we knew it, the cling film was on fire and fire blankets were quickly grabbed.
21. "I worked at Starbucks about six years ago. A new colleague came up to me and asked why the water runs straight through the coffee and doesn't change color? He tried to make coffee without grinding the coffee beans. I still laugh about it every now and then."
22. "I once grabbed an intern's arm just as he was about to grab a 00-gauge (the big wires that power the entire building) with his bare hands to move it out of the way, to show us a problem behind it. It was hot. He claimed it was fine because he would only touch one wire at a time. The lead electrician "respectfully" asked to have said intern removed from his sight before he turned into coal and paperwork. I agreed with that sentiment and, as punishment, made the intern watch OSHA videos for nearly three days."
Have you ever seen a co-worker make a horrible mistake at work? If so, let us know what happened in the comments below.

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