"My vet tech instructor worked at a zoo in the past, and there was a co-op vet tech student there who had just finished her program. She was very headstrong and did things the way she wanted them done; not the proper way. Well, there was this rare opossum (last breeding male in captivity of its species) who had a cold, so they had it in the ICU so it would have the best care. As it was rare, it was important he didn't die. It was time to give him his pain medication. In animals it is given anywhere under the loose skin you can lift and inject underneath. This is commonly done at the base of the neck. Tent skin, inject, done. So my instructor is in charge of the co-op student, both in the ICU. The student insists she can give the injection, so my instructor gives her the go ahead as it is a simple procedure, and she's been trained. You really can't mess up.
So this girl goes to inject at the base of the neck but isn't lifting the skin out of the way. The instructor says how to do it correctly, and the students refuse to do it and insist she was taught at school that she didn't have to tent the skin. After a mild dispute, the instructor says whatever, he will be fine. And the student proceeds with the injection. Well, it wasn't fine, and the possum starts seizing. She had given him the injection into his spine. You couldn't do that so easily, even if you tried. At worst, she could have theoretically given the injection into muscle; not the spine. He died soon after. The LAST BREEDING MALE IN CAPTIVITY DIED because of this student's ignorance. I'm sure my instructor wrote her name down so she would never accidentally hire her in the future."
"First day working with a new construction crew, I was to meet my new supervisor at the local McDonald's and follow him out to the construction site. I arrived to find they'd hired two new guys, someone else and me. The boss pulls up in his truck and tells us both to follow him. The other guy and I, each in our own vehicles, follow the boss through the parking lot to where we turn out onto the main road. Boss turns left. I turn left. New guy turns right and drives the wrong way. We never saw or heard from him again. Cell phones don't work out in the mountains where we were, so you have to meet people in person. No telling why that guy turned the wrong way, but sometimes I still wonder about that guy. Such a strange way to start your first day at a new job. Guess he didn't need the money as bad as I did. Turns out to be the best construction crew I've ever been on. That guy has no idea what he missed."
"At my old job, this mistake was called the Perfect Storm. I worked in a call center for an oil field. The foreman would call in oil, and we'd type in the order number, create an order for the oil to be picked up by our trucks, and send it off to dispatch.
The call center girl got the number off by one digit. So instead of picking up oil in the eastern part of our state, they picked it up in the western part of our state. Usually, this wouldn't be a major issue, but this particular time, the oil that was supposed to be picked up was h2s. H2s oil is extremely poisonous. The foreman, knowing he'd done his job, left for the weekend. The h2s oil kept pumping, filled up to max, and spilled over the edge and onto the ground. This is where it gets expensive.
The EPA has to come out and assess. We are fined for that, of course. There also happens to be a farmer who lives right next to the pump. His soil is tainted for the next seven years. Not only do we have to pay fines, but we have to pay the farmer for his ruined crops. It was a $15 million mistake. Because one digit was off."
"I worked doing audio video installations. We were in a school system, and we asked new guy to pull a wire from the first to the fifth floor thru a cable chase. Typically this involved pushing a fish tape or other semi-rigid wand thru the path, attaching the new cable, and then pulling the wand out with new cables following. Fish tapes are usually bright plastic, pink or orange. That detail comes back later.
So new guy got his instruction and proceeded to the first floor closet to prep for the pull. He sees the fish tape is already there, but it's stuck. He pulls on it, can't free it up, decides to just cut it and re-tape the end. He attaches the new wires and heads up to the fifth floor to pull up the fish tape.
He gets there and can't find the fish tape. Typically, it's obvious; it's a disk about 20-inches across that the tape spools onto. You can't miss them. But it's not there. Our intrepid installer checks the fifth floor and the third-floor closets, but no fish tape. On the second floor, he finds the tape in the wall but no spool. And it's here he notices the tape is being run down a different cable path. Something's odd here.
Then our site lead walks in, carrying the fish tape.
You know what else is bright plastic orange and in walls? Fiber. The guy cut the district's data backbone fiber to use it as a pull string."
"Back in 1999, when I was about 20, I was working as the lead technical support analyst for an online banking software company (the company's product was the software, banks were our clients). My manager hired this drop-dead gorgeous Indian girl for our team and had me train her. She had a Master's in Computer Science from an Indian university, no work experience, and didn't seem to know anything about computers. Granted, I was an arrogant 20-year-old at the time, but I remember boggling that she didn't know what a command line was, let alone how to code or write scripts.
Anyway, of course, because of her degree, my boss put her exclusively on our biggest client: AMEX.
One of our nightly processes was Billpay. We used a third party bill pay vendor to process these payments. The 'refresh' was data sent in real-time to that vendor, and this happened nightly for all our clients. They would take this data, auto-ACH the money from the endorser's accounts, and send payments off to the bill pay recipients. AMEX, being the biggest customer we had, processed something like $3 million in bill pay payments every day.
One of the AMEX nightly bill pay processes breaks. The file processed, in real time, a little over halfway through and then stopped. Generally, when this happens, there was a bad character in a payee, address, or something. The software we used was purchased from a third party and we didn't own the source, so all we could do was 'fix' mistakes. Normally, our process was to open the refresh file, find the payment that broke, truncate all of the payments before it, fix the broken one, and resubmit from the newly fixed payment on. This hiree had been trained on this process numerous times.
So, she comes into the office in the morning and is notified of the process break. What does she do? Submits the entire file again and, of course, it breaks, again.
She does this eight times before coming to get me to ask me what to do. She processed over half of this bill pay file, in real time, probably $2 million in payments, eight additional times before coming to get me.
The mess of a situation was immense. It took the entire company days to unscrew what she did. Not only did X amount of customers now get their bill pays processed nine times, but overdrafts, and fees from the processes that came after to notify the banks of the charges, which happened automatically. It's been a while, but I remember that it ended up costing the company over $1 million in time, lost revenue, and lost funds.
When I left about six months later, she was still there, still supporting the biggest client. The division of that company that handled the online banking piece was shut down a few years later."
"I was working for a contractor company that did ramp service for some airlines out of a small airport. This guy was the biggest screwup I've ever met and will be referred to as such. We had to train Screwup to do the same simple tasks many times throughout his employment. We sent complaints about Screwup to the manager plenty of times, but he was too lazy to hire somebody to replace Screwup, so he stayed.
Anyway, we all wear high visibility vests while we're out there around the aircraft. One day I see Screwup not wearing his vest. Being the lead, I could get in a lot of trouble for someone on my crew not following safety standards. I tell him to go put it on, and his response is, 'Oh sorry. I'm not really used to wearing stuff like that.' He had been working for us for six months. Should be used to a lot by now.
So Screwup sprints off to the break room to grab his vest. A few minutes later, he sprints back carrying, not wearing, his vest. He ducks underneath the plane waving it around to let me know he's got it. Great. We move on, load up the aircraft, and send it off like normal. As we're walking back to the gate, I notice Screwup carrying what I recognize to be an antenna from the belly of the plane. Oh crap. '[Screwup], where'd you get that?' 'Oh sorry, I meant to tell you earlier. This broke off on my jacket when I went under the plane.' OH CRAP! I call the airport's emergency number and tell them what happened. They get in contact with the pilot who, thankfully, had not taken off yet. The pilot turns around and we bring them back into the gate. Mechanics, pilot, airport authority, and airline higher ups come around to inspect the plane, ask us what happened a bunch of times, and see what they can do. Screwup had apparently broken off a backup antenna for an auxiliary antenna that doesn't get used hardly at all. They deemed it not important, and the plane went on its way. Obviously, our company has to pay for the repairs, which was around $20,000. It was enough that the company ended up folding, and everyone lost their job. A lot of us got lucky, and when the airlines decided to use their own employees instead of a contractor, we were able to get hired by them, but I will never forget that guy as the worst person I've ever had to work with."
"A couple years back, a guy started at my work, and on his first day was reading through all the SOP's and various other job specific stuff, when he fell asleep. Now granted this isn't good, but the new boss made him come in at 4:30 a.m. to match her insane schedule for some reason. His new boss walked in, and the following conversation took place:
New Boss: 'Hey, wake up!'
Guy: 'Sorry about that, this stuff is just so boring.'
New Boss: 'Really? Because I wrote those SOP's.'
New Boss: 'Well, I don't want this job to get in the way of your sleeping schedule, perhaps you should go find something more suitable.'
The guy was fired within the first 30 minutes of starting the job, but he wasn't the one who made a mistake.
A couple years later (pretty recently), that dude shows back up at our place as an auditor (I'm in the biotech industry, and we have audits from our customers on a regular basis). He was now going to spend a day auditing the New Boss who had fired him for something that we all (the rank and file scientists) saw as petty. Anyway, he performed the audit and got way up her tail on even the most minute details, and the audit went so bad that his company eventually started buying products from a different company.
So, her callousness at something minor (at least in our eyes) a few years back ended up costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars a few years down the road."
"They don't bother to train anyone they send to wash dishes at my work. They just throw them in the pit and tell them to do the job.
Sometimes that leads to catastrophic what-the-heck-do-I-do related failure.
One thing that is never explained is that you are supposed to change the dishwater in your machine to keep the dishes actually coming out clean because the machine reuses the same water over and over.
One line cook got sent into the pit on my day off. Never changed the water once. By 8 p.m. the white plates were coming out butter-colored and speckled with ash.
Rather than figure out something was amiss and ask how to fix it, he instead took to wiping down each individual plate with a rag so that the slime wasn't as obvious. Then sent them out to have people eat food off of them.
The health department would have had a conniption if they heard about that. I know I did."
"I worked at a beach park in college. We had a new hire come midway through a work schedule, so the supervisor had him doing odd jobs on the 'when we have time' list. New hires were provisional, and the guy was trying to make a career out of it, so he did everything thoroughly and fast.
He'd eaten up about a third of the list before the supervisor sent him to the dunes. There was a patch of dune we had that was being held together mostly by poison ivy - not ideal, but you don't have a lot of options with dunes, so it had to be left to do its thing. It was starting to crowd the boardwalk we had going through to the beach. If left alone, we'd start getting visitors with rashes; no bueno. So the super sent him there with gloves, shears, and a bucket, asking him to make sure the boardwalk was clear of foliage.
The new guy comes back to the station 15 minutes later. You see, he was so gung-ho he decided he didn't need gloves or shears to do the job and laid into the mostly-poison-ivy with his bare hands. It looked like he had Hulk hands by the time he made it back to the station. The super rushed him to the emergency room where they gave him a shot and mummified him to the elbows.
His first job the day he came back to work was to learn to identify poison ivy."
"I was working at an electronics manufacturing company, where they put components in circuit boards. One of the steps in the process was running the completed boards through a router to cut them out of a panel (many boards would come with multiples in panels to make building them easier and faster, then we cut them out at the end of the process).
A new guy had been on the job three or four days, and I was training him to run the router. I set it up for him, we ran a few panels and inspected them.
I was not in charge of this guy. I was told to set the machine up and show him how to run it (which was simple you just load the board, push the button and when it is done remove the board) then my boss sent me elsewhere to work on something else. The boss was 10 feet from where this guy was, and he never asked for help nor did my boss ever check on him.
Shortly after this, the cutting bit broke, and instead of asking for help to put a new one in, he just put one in on his own and called it good. The problem was he put the wrong bit in. So now as he cut, he cut the edge off of one of the components and he didn't realize it until he had all 500+ boards cut. It only took about an hour to cut all these boards, so the damage happened quickly.
The guy had no experience on this machine at all. He had never run it and knew nothing about how to change bits. He just decided to do it in order to show he could solve problems.
They had to get new components then removed each one by hand and solder a new one in place by hand. It took hours of labor, and the part was expensive. It was a very expensive mistake.
He was let go the next day.
I felt bad when they fired him because I felt like he was trying to do the right thing and it backfired on him."
"I managed a delivery service for nearly ten years. At one point, the owner decided to merge with a national company that handled our orders out of Texas (we are in Nashville, Tenn.). This merger sucked and lasted less than a year. It was horribly inefficient. Since our orders were dispatched out of Dallas, we would sometimes get orders for wrong states. Another feature of our new orders was the addition of directions, and they were correct maybe a third of the time. Example: you'd get an order from Chili's going two blocks down the street, and the directions would tell you to go to Memphis and back to get to the customer. We had to drill into everyone 'ignore those directions at all costs, we don't care if they're right, use the map we gave you and don't hesitate to call us on the radio!'
We didn't have any problems until this one kid was hired. He was always out of it but hid it poorly, and he wouldn't listen. He wasn't a bad kid and I kind of liked him, but he just wouldn't listen. You'd stand there and talk to him, and you could see his eyes glaze over, then ten minutes later he'd ask you about what he was supposed to do.
He's been there maybe four days, and I've been restricting him to the simple close orders within five miles of the restaurant. He gets lost all the time. So after being lost for half an hour looking for a seven-story building with its NAME written across the top (you could see this for miles), I sent him on an order so easy even he couldn't screw it up. So I thought. It was literally across the street from the restaurant.
He followed the directions on the order that sent him to Cincinnati, Ohio. After about 45 minutes, the customer called wondering where her food was, and I started trying to reach him on the radio. No answer. I redo her food, and send another driver with it. After three hours of radio silence, I get a call from a gas station clerk outside of Louisville, Ky. He puts the Kid on the phone. He's nearly in tears. He's lost somewhere on the outskirts of Louisville, out of gas and with no money. He'd spent three dollars in quarters on pay phones trying to call anybody, but not knowing how area codes work apparently, so he just kept getting his quarters eaten. The reason I couldn't get him on the radio was he'd turned it off so he could jam to his road trip music on his cruise through Kentucky. Even though I was beyond irritated with him, I felt bad for him.
I wound up paying the gas station guy over the phone for a tank of gas for him, we had a little laugh at his expense, and he told me not to be too hard on him. I wasn't going to be anyway. Called his mom for him and explained he was going to be home late. She was a dummy, which explained where he got it from. She didn't listen either 'He's in Louisville' 'Where?' 'Kentucky' 'Where is he?' 'Kentucky, ma'am,' 'Oh Kentucky, they do horse races there.' The next day my boss has a nice chat with him, and placed him with another driver for more training, but he ultimately wound up quitting a few days later. I wonder what happened to him sometimes, bless his idiotic heart."
"I was working as a Dispatcher for an intercity trucking company near Toronto.
We have a daily run to Montreal. At the same time, Montreal has a daily run to Toronto. Rather than have my Toronto driver go all the way to Montreal, and sleep in his truck, what happens is that he drives to Kingston, about halfway. The Montreal guys also drive to Kingston. Then they switch trailers, and the Montreal driver picks up the freight from Toronto and takes it back home to Montreal. My Toronto driver picks up the trailer from Montreal and brings it back home to Toronto.
This is called a 'Kingston Switch' and is a VERY common practice in pretty much every trucking company in both Montreal and Toronto.
Montreal hires two new guys right out of trucking school and dispatches them each a Kingston Switch load. I have two loads bound for Montreal headed down the highway. The two idiots go to Kingston, and switch trailers WITH EACH OTHER, then head back to Montreal. When they get back to their yard, they drop the trailers and head home to bed.
Well, I get a call about 4 a.m. from my guys wondering where the Montreal guys are. The phone lines burn up for an hour before we can sort this all out. We managed to work something out with backup drivers, but it cost us a lot of time.
One of the loads was temperature-sensitive medication, and it was in a heat wave in the summer. The refrigerator unit ran out of fuel, and the temps climbed out of safe range. The entire shipment was worthless, and the storm that followed was legendary. The shipper claimed millions in damages, and we were holding to a $2/lb liability. People depended on the medicine, and it created a regional shortage that was resolved by airfreighting replacement medication from all over the continent.
All because two morons didn't see anything wrong with driving two trailers down the highway, and then bringing them both back to Montreal."
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