Service of Big Mistakes

April 8th, 2021

Categories: Admissions, Errors, Medical, Mistakes, Typos


When I make a mistake in my work I want to hide under a piece of furniture. When I realize what I’ve done it takes away my breath. At first I can’t admit it to a soul. I’m so lucky my mistakes don’t kill, usually haven’t been expensive to repair, few people know about them and most can be fixed followed by profound apologies. I remain disgusted with myself for quite a while.

I empathize with others who make mistakes and if news gets out on top of it–oh my.

I wrote about “heart-stopping goofs” back in 2011. One described a royal mug mishap where the image of bride-to-be, Kate Middleton, was paired on porcelain with her brother-in-law, Prince Harry, instead of her intended, Prince William. Put yourself in the place of the marketer who opened the shipment and first saw Kate and Harry.

How would you tell your boss if you’d discovered the recent mishap at the Baltimore plant? Somebody mixed the ingredients for two vaccines resulting in the contamination and tossing of 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s. Thank goodness those involved admitted the error. I hope they were not fired. Kudos also belong to the boss for creating an atmosphere in which staff feel they can come clean about their mistakes.

What mistakes–yours or others–have given you goose bumps? How has your client or boss reacted? If your error, you don’t have to admit it: post anonymously or attribute the blunder to a friend.


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4 Responses to “Service of Big Mistakes”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    One of the costliest errors one can make is to take the wrong advice. The consequences can be lifelong and severe. May mixing up a couple of royals be everyone’s greatest oopsie. Their Highnesses undoubtedly recovered and were able to recall the incident with a chuckle. The responsible party will have learned a permanent and valuable lesson: That of paying close attention to ones work.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The person who must cover the bill for who knows how many “wrong” porcelain mugs cares even more than the embarrassment of the mistake, especially if they are not paid much to begin with.

    You are right about making a mistake when taking bad advice. I find that if I don’t listen to my inner self or I try to do something that doesn’t feel “like me,” I am very wrong almost every time. When I mentored college and grad students one of the first things I told them was if something I or anyone else suggested didn’t feel right they should not do it.

  3. MarthaTakayama Said:

    This is a painful topic for me. I am forever blaming myself for mistakes big and small. My sister accuses me of reacting with equal intensity to things of very different import. I suffer from the awful typos that run amok in all my emails. I worry that I may have been too weak in responding to a problem or that I may have been too critical when protesting the indifference of medical personnel.

    However, before I saw the movie “9 to 5” I used to squish as many papers. all typed incorrectly, as I could fit into my pocketbook. This was back in the days of carbon multiples. I would go to the Ladies Room and bury them in the large trash cans. I was working for the Italian Trade Commission, was a tragic typist even in English and had to type form letters also in Italian, There was no way I could let my coworker or my boss know the extent of my errors or the waste of materials. I did enjoy my job because it was like going to Italy every day and had many elements of a the Italian sit-coms of the ’70s and the ’80s.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I have known this about me for years but only now do I pay more attention: I do my best work in the morning and throughout the day and my worst after 6 pm. That’s when most of my mistakes happen. I can do busy/backroom work or first drafts long into the night but not important correspondence. As for typos, auto-correct these days has fun with us all. Atrocious when it plays with the spelling of a person’s name and I don’t catch it.

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