Let’s face it, we all make mistakes from time to time. As the famous saying goes, “to err is human.”
However, there are mistakes--and then there are mistaaaaakes. Some screw-ups are just too huge, outrageous, and consequential to be classified as just ordinary, common errors. They belong in the special category of epic blunders. It’s not easy to get to this category—but once you’re there, there’s no going back!
Here are 42 of the most epic blunders people have ever witnessed firsthand.
In college, I was taking an important class for my major and had a big test. The teacher allowed a cheat sheet, because the test is so complicated. So my classmate comes in with his cheat sheet, and proceeds to joke that it is actually cheating.
He wraps it around his water bottle like the brand sticker. The water bottle was sweaty and proceeds to soak into the paper. His touching of the paper shreds it. He ended up having to do the final without a cheat sheet and failed.
My greatest blunder of all time is when I crashed into a car in the DMV parking lot... on the way to take the driving test. I did not pass.
I worked at a car wash. We had add-on services people could get. One was Armor-All, for $5 per region. A guy came in and ordered a full interior and exterior Armor-All on his brand new truck. He had King's Ranch seats, so our salesman didn't add that charge, as we generally didn't Armor-All them. King's Ranch is a type of suede that's generally a really pretty tan color and super soft. It costs about $3,500 for them. Armor-All is essentially a grease that makes leather and vinyl shiny.
When he got back to his finished car, he pitched a fit because we didn't Armor-All his seats. We explained that he didn't pay for that charge, and that we wouldn't, in good-conscience, do it. So he threw a huge fit, screaming and cursing and insisting to talk to the manager. We all tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn't budge. My boss was a bit of a jerk, so finally he said, "Screw it. We’ll do it. In fact, we’ll do it for free."
So we did. I felt like I was committing a mortal sin rubbing greasy solution all over these beautiful suede seats, but the customer is always right, eh?
The guy walked back to his truck after it was finished with a smug look of satisfaction, until he looked at his seats and his entire face dropped and turned ghostly white. I said "Anything else I can do for you?" In shock, he said, "H...how do I fix this?" I told him, "Get it Armor-Alled a few more times to even out the color, but it'll never be the same again. Sorry. This is why we tried to talk you out of it." Sweating and shaking, he just said, "Uh, thanks." and drove off.
I know someone who interned at GE Transportation. Apparently, she needed to measure the distance between two terminals on an engine, so she decided to just lay a ruler across them. A metal ruler. She ended up frying the engine and caused around $3 million in damages. They did not rehire her next year.
A public company I worked for got phished out of $500,000. They apparently received a wire request via email and thought it was from one of our foreign subsidiaries. It was actually from a scammer. Someone didn't confirm the request, the CFO signed off on the wire, and we blew $500,000 out of our assets.
Our controller was teaching an accounting intern how to process payroll. On the day he was supposed to press "submit", he inadvertently reversed the process—don't know the mechanics of it—and instead of direct depositing funds into our accounts, funds in the amount of our paychecks were withdrawn from our accounts. An email went out to alert us of the snafu and I can remember someone down the hall audibly yelling "What the heck??!!"
The controller fixed the mistake and issued reimbursement checks for overdraft fees. We never saw the intern again.
A guy carjacked three different cars—one after another. The first one had a child inside. He went the wrong way down the interstate for a bit, struck a state patrol officer, and destroyed at least five other cars along the way.
The reason for this rampage: he didn’t want to spend time in jail on a drug charge.
He’s now serving the drug charge and, as the drug charge closes, he will be charged for the other crimes—effectively landing himself in prison for the rest of his life.
In total: Three carjacking charges (15 years minimum each), kidnapping (15 years to parole), assault on an officer (5 years minimum), attempted murder (15 years minimum), plus anything else they choose to throw at him. It adds up to a minimum of 80 years. So, yeah—that’s what you call a blunder.
My cousin once sent an email meant for his girlfriend to everyone in his address book. He wrote in great detail about the things he was going to do to her when he got home.
This probably happened 15 years ago, and I'm sure he has convinced himself that everyone has forgotten. Unfortunately for him, things like that stay forever.
I worked for a small e-commerce retail brand. One night, me and the email marketing person were the last ones in the office, heading out to happy hour right after she finished setting up and sending a marketing email to our email list—of about 15,000 people.
We were trying to come up with a subject line and she was testing different ideas out, typing them in the subject field just to see how they looked. We were feeling uninspired and stumped on a good line, and were growing antsy and a little loopy. She laughed, made a noise of exasperation, and typed, “I HATE THIS” into the subject field. We both laughed, and I kept trying to think of a good idea.
Suddenly, she screamed out loud, and I looked up to see “Email Sent!” on the email client page. She had just sent the email to 15,000 people, including everyone in our office subscribed to our email list. Three minutes later, our boss called to fire her.
Good news is, we still made happy hour.
I watched a couple ride a motorcycle up a hill past my house at what the accident investigators think was about 85-90 mph. There was a tree at the top of the hill that could not be seen from below. A friend of mine ended up being the tow truck driver on scene. Neither of them was in one piece.
I worked in a chemical pilot plant. An operator forgot to add a powdered catalyzing agent to the chemical reactor before he closed it up, so he opened the lid and poured it in.
However, he poured it too close to a vent line and the agent was sucked into the line where it eventually made its way to a three-story vent condenser building. The building had a large fiberglass duct that was common to all of the equipment.
When the agent reached the duct, it caused a reaction the set it on fire. The duct smoked like a cigar all the way through the building up to the rooftop fans. The plant had to be closed for three months to repair everything.
Two employees had been going back and forth via email about how much they hate their bosses’ boss. They said some really awful stuff, including very personal insults about his looks. They had been replying to the same email thread for roughly three months.
At one point, one of them asks if the other wants to go to a ballgame. The other says only if he can get out of work, but that it’s unlikely. They go back and forth trying to solve the issue. After a few days of back and forth, they come up with a solution that means they could probably get out of an overtime shift on the weekend.
Without using their heads, they forwarded the email explaining the proposed solution to their boss, who then forwarded the question to his boss.
Second boss scrolls down and reads the whole email chain—including all the conversations about how he's the ugliest loser they've ever seen, and how his breath sometimes smells like he ate his own feces for lunch.
They never got fired, but both ended up getting other jobs just because of how awkward it was from that moment on.
One time this girl I used to work with was reaching up to a shelf to get some bottles. Next to the rack of bottles, there was a huge tub of baked beans. I'm talking huuugggeee. She somehow managed to make it tip over while attempting to get the sauce bottles, resulting in beans everywhere. All over her. All over the kitchen. All over everything. It was pretty traumatic!
Oh man, here we go. I went on a cruise with my family this past summer. I was sitting at a mini bar seating area near a side of the boat, just grabbing a bite to eat before we set sail. I then look down and see this forklift moving around, carrying a massive stack of glass panes.
After watching for a minute, I see the forklift stop and the panes all start falling and smashing everywhere. Literally, like something you’d see in a cartoon. The forklift driver looks over and quickly starts driving off. The poor dude by the truck grabs a broom and starts sweeping.
I work in a medical clinic. The mail delivery company that handled a shipment to us of frozen human eggs decided to ignore the “Remain refrigerated” notice on the container because their country had a long weekend we didn’t.
As a result, the container sat in the back of the delivery truck... for three days. It was thousands and thousands of dollars down the drain—never mind the waste of energy involved from the donors’ perspective.
I saw a guy in my office accidentally hit “Reply all” with a file attached that pertained to his personal taxes. It included the social security numbers of his whole family, his income, wife's income, etc. It was sent to over a hundred people.
We were working on a construction site. The forklift got stuck in the mud right next to the building. A bunch of guys all got around the thing, trying to push it out of the mud. One guy was in a very bad spot behind the forklift when the driver threw it in reverse. It ran over the guy’s entire right foot. I think they had to amputate. It is very hard for me to believe they were able save it.
I watched a ground crew tow a $40,000,000 helicopter into the side of a hanger.
Over the summer, I was at a bar in a small beach town when a drunk guy in his 20s got kicked out by the bouncers. This bar can get rowdy and it’s right across from the police station, so there’s usually a cop around.
Now, I’ve personally been kicked out of this bar before when I got too drunk after a breakup. It’s really not a big deal. There’s no ramifications to it, you can just come back when you’re sober on another night and you’ll be totally good.
This guy wasn’t having it. The police tried talking him down, saying “Look, you’re not in trouble, but you need to leave. Sleep it off. It’s almost closing time.”
Instead of listening, the guy tried to sucker punch the police officer in the face.
He went from sleeping it off at home to getting a criminal record for being an idiot.
This one lady was driving a gigantic hauling truck down the road and clearly going way too fast. Eventually, she slammed into a curb and went over a big drop. This bent the hell out of the axle and caused at least a million dollars in damage.
The craziest part? She was back driving another one the very next day!
My former boss was a chef in a restaurant. One of the line cooks was in charge of pulling down the hood vents and cleaning them at the end of the night. They are above the grills and fryers.
The guy didn’t cover the fryers or let them cool down. He just stood on the edges, essentially straddling it.
He slipped. Leg went into hot grease oil. Foot got caught in the grate at the bottom and he couldn’t get it out. The guy had to get his leg amputated below the knee.
At my office, we had a kid clip a live wire in our datacenter and shock himself clear off the ladder he was standing on. In the process, he also elbow-dropped an HP 4250 in what turned out to be a spectacular accident for the ages.
Back in the ‘90s, I was taking part in some Special Ops training in Okinawa. A SEAL Team was supposed to arrive during the night from the sea down the cliffs behind us, to adjunct us. They would be coming in by hovercraft, and would then rock climb up the cliff before dawn.
For some reason, they ended up commandeering the hovercraft, which none of them were qualified to operate, and beached it on a reef.
An amphibious military vehicle was sent out late the next morning to tow the hovercraft off the reef. It sank, and so did the hovercraft. A second vehicle was sent out to try to recover them, and it sank, too.
So, because a SEAL team decided to go "stupid cowboy" during a training op, the military lost three amphibious craft in a day.
There's this woman here at work. Almost every single time the CEO sends an email to all staff announcing something, she replies to all by mistake. Her replies are always just her telling the CEO how good she thinks he is and how much she admires his work and dedication to make our company better. She has also mentioned things like how much Jesus has blessed everyone working here for having him.
A few minutes later, she usually replies to all again apologizing. Yet she never learns her lesson. She now has both the reputation of a butt-kisser and a slow learner. She’s pretty nice otherwise though!
I'm a retired electrician. Over the course of my career, I've seen some bad things happen.
One time, in 1982, myself and another electrician were up in an articulating lift, probably elevated 40 feet up.
We had shut the power off to what it was we were working on the night before, and needed to splice into the existing three phase/480-volt circuit.
I had the wire cutters and said to my partner "Before we cut into these lines, I'd like to go check that power source for dead…”
He said, "Listen, we shut it off last night, what more do you need to check?"
I handed him the loppers and said: "Then YOU cut them..." I turned the other way. He did cut them, and BOOOOM!
It shot out plasma, fire, and molten copper all over him. Luckily, though, he was wearing safety goggles. The breaker feeding this circuit tripped luckily too, otherwise, there would have been a fatality—or maybe even two...
My family started a fairly large recycling business. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, and cousins were all involved. About a week after it opened, my aunt bought around 50 tons of newspaper.
She hadn't checked the prices—they changed quite often—and mistakenly bought it at about 50% higher priced than what it was selling for. It almost single-handedly caused the business to fail. My grandfather was angrier than I had ever seen him.
In the Army, they divide ammo into two categories—war stock, and training ammo. For training, you are only ever supposed to use the second category—i.e. old ammo that’s about to expire anyway.
My buddy was a captain. They had an exercise and he was supposed to send up training ammo. Instead, he messed up and sent war stock.
Millions of dollars of war stock ammo was wasted.
My buddy then tried to hide it and lied about it. They did an audit, he was caught, and he tried to lie his way through the investigation. He ended up getting kicked out of the Army and, since he didn’t complete his contract, he ended up owing the Army like $50,000 since they’d paid for his school.
I once did $600,000 worth of work for a client without having had a signed contract in place. This allowed the client to dispute what our agreement was and there was nothing I could legally do about it. They ended up not paying anything at all. Yep, that was dumb.
I was five feet from a car crash. Some jerk, who hadn’t even fully pulled over to the side of the road, decided to open his door into oncoming traffic. I had to slow down. 30 seconds later, an impatient guy sped past me—and collided with the other car.
The speeder died. Don’t do stupid things, kids.
A co-worker stupidly thought he heard that mercury was healthy, and decided to literally inject it into himself on the spot. He died three hours later.
I used to work at a hospital. A patient had gone through an invasive procedure and was recovering in the ICU. Three techs come by some hours later because there is a tool or something they couldn't find after the procedure, and they suspect they left it inside the patient.
An emergency X-ray was done and they realized that it was, in fact, inside the patient. Since it was their mistake and they didn't want to tell their superior what happened, they decided to wing it and do their own impromptu procedure on the patient to try and get the tool back. During the procedure, something went wrong and the patient died. They still didn't get fired.
When I worked in shipping, my former supervisor told a coworker to "wrap" some parts. The guy thought he said "scrap".
He made it through two of the five parts before the supervisor realized what was going on and put a stop to it.
Easily more than $10,000 worth of equipment, totally lost in under a minute.
I walked into a liquor store at 10 pm to get some wine. No employees were around and the store smelled like weed. Turns out all three employees were in the beer fridge, smoking.
I'm assuming some theft went on in the store while they were off doing this, since I saw people walk out with bottles right before I walked in. I was about to leave when another customer walked in.
Turned out it was some higher up from the company who lived nearby and liked to check up on the stores at random.
He apologized to me, sold me my bottle of wine, then told me he had some calls to make and wished me a good evening.
Pretty sure they all got fired on the spot.
Back in the dark ages, I worked for a small town daily newspaper. There was one large discount store that always refused to advertise with us, and would only use the other paper in town (our sole rival), which was more of a "weekly shopper" type paper.
For some unknown reason, the store finally decided to give our paper a chance. So the ad ran—it was a full page, full-color ad, with the words "Men's shirts $9.99"...
Except our editor accidentally made a typo and didn’t notice until it had already been sent out. He had somehow left out the ever-important letter R in the word "shirts." Yep. You know what it said. Needless to say, they stuck with the other paper after that.
Didn’t witness it, I did it. Back when I was a young teen, I didn’t care about pollution and would drop trash into the sewer grates. I had the keys to my house and my mom’s car in one hand and an empty wrapper in the other.
Which one did I drop into the sewer after hard rains, with the water inside rapidly moving? My keys. Serves me right though. Never littered again.
It was actually my boss who messed up in this instance. I worked at a call center for a bit doing data entry, which involved taking customers' credit card info, Social Security numbers, addresses, etc. The company would regularly stress the importance of being very careful with all the private info we collected.
This particular day, an employee forgot to dispose of the paper they wrote an SSN and card number on, and the boss found it as he was closing up. His way of dealing with this issue? Taking a picture of the paper and blasting it out to the entire company in an email. Every single employee in the company. It even included a hilariously ironic rant about being more careful with this sensitive information.
I ran into him a few months later working as a supervisor at Walmart.
I used to live in a small town. The country/golf club there was very snooty and exclusive. On top of the building was a GIANT golf ball attached to the top of a metal pole. Maybe the size of a minivan.
One night, some guys stole the golf ball off the top of the country club, then drove it to the sea, put it on a boat, and left it on a tiny rock island about 200m offshore. Then they tried to ransom the golf ball back to the country club for a charity donation. I lived on the cliff over this beach, so I woke up that day wondering why the heck there was a golf ball on the rock island—and watched the rest of the drama unfold from my balcony.
The country club refused to pay the "charity ransom" for their golf ball. They got some guy to take his fishing boat out to the island, and tried to roll this MASSIVE golf ball onto the back of the boat. The boat was too small—so they instead tied the golf ball to the boat, so it was half-on, half-off. On the way back, the golf ball filled with seawater and started to capsize the boat. They cut it loose quickly and it sank.
My former coworker hit reply all on an email about a golf scramble. He tried forwarding it to another guy, talking about how excited he was to see one of the new interns in a short golf skirt.
Notice how I said "former" coworker. That was intentional.
I was in a long line to let my little fishing boat in the water at a launch in Michigan. The guy in front of me was with friends. He was going on about his brand new 32-foot boat which looked like a yacht. He was only putting it in this lake to test it out before he took it out to the bay.
As they continued to dote over the boat, they kept removing all the tie-downs...and the winch strap. As they got to the ramp, they pulled forward and straightened out the trailer. As he started to back up, he tapped the brakes--and the beautiful, brand new, pristine boat slid off the trailer and directly onto the concrete ramp. It then slid about 20 feet or more down into the water. Everyone was just standing there in disbelief.
On a two-lane road, a person behind me got angry at my speed and passed me by illegally going into the oncoming lane. What the person failed to realize was that I was going the speed limit because the sheriff was right in front of me.
This dude ends up passing both of us and the police lights come on instantly. I like to think that the sheriff just looked at him as he passed with a deadpan face and then turned the lights on.
I was driving with my boyfriend when we saw the car in front of us start to swerve back and forth a bit. We see the driver clearly taking selfies of some sort and had time to comment on it—before the car plows into a mailbox. Not a cheap one, but a solidly planted thick wooden base one.
We pulled over and jumped out to make sure they were ok, as they were going about 45 mph. We come up to the door and it’s some teenage guy, taking in his bent hood and smashed windshield. So we do the standard "Are you ok? Do we need to call someone?", only for him to reply "No, my parents should be close behind and they're going to kill me."
Apparently, they had just bought him his first car and they were on their way home from the dealer.
My stepfather worked for a large tent company. The team showed up to take down a massive tent after a circus left town—to find an elephant still standing in there.
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