We often tend to make decisions for our own personal benefit. What we often do not realize is how crucial of an effect a decision of ours can have on someone else. Sometimes it can be too late before we realize our mistake.
These people have been through such experiences that have since plagued them with remorse. As shared on Reddit, these are their stories.
(Content has been edited for clarity).
"There was a guy I used to work with who went on a holiday with his girlfriend. While he was away, we thought it would be hilarious to spread a rumor around the office saying that he had proposed and she said yes, thinking that when he got back he'd be like, What the heck? His inbox was flooded with congratulations messages from colleagues.
Little did we know, though, that he actually did propose on holiday. She said no. He came to work for two days that week, then we never saw him again.
I am a horrible person. He was not just a colleague but a good friend. I didn't start the rumor maliciously. It was supposed to be the joke that he would have had a good laugh about and move on from if it had gone how it was intended."
"I was playing a show with my band, opening up for another band that was on the verge of breaking big. They were gracious enough to let us on their bill. They had a few notable people from record labels come out to the venue that night, who were seated right by the stage.
As I was setting my guitar rig up for our set, I accidentally knocked over a mic stand from the stage that fell onto the table that the record executives were sitting at, which led to their drinks being knocked over and spilled all over them.
I wanted to apologize and buy them new drinks, but right as that happened, the lead singer of our band began to play the first song. From the corner of my eye, I could see them getting up to leave. They never came back."
"Right after college, I worked in a copy/shipping/print shop, like a FedEx store with more services, basically. The day before Valentine's Day, this college-age guy came in and said he wants to get something laminated. It was a Transformers Valentine's Day card he made for his girlfriend when they were in grade-school together. He recently found it and wanted to give it to her a second time, years later.
Pretty dang sweet, right?
I was in the middle of a large print job, so I told the guy it would be around 30 minutes before I could get to it. He paid, gave the card to me, and left. I finished my current job and went to laminate the card. I put the card in the plastic sleeve and between some heavy cardstock, fed it into the machine's rollers... and the machine ate it.
It got caught between the rollers. The machine started twisting and ripping it all up, melting the plastic together, and crushing the card. I tried to reverse the machine and get it out, but it was jammed in there really good. I wound up having to actually take the machine apart to get it out.
The card was utterly trashed - singed, crumpled, ripped, and sealed in lumpy melted plastic. When I told the guy and showed him what was left of the card, I felt like I was kicking a puppy. He just had the saddest, most helpless expression on his face. I feel bad just thinking about it. That poor guy."
"I was the only IT employee in a company of 35 people. We had an employee whose entire job was to manage a spreadsheet. She had to sort files for each line item, print the desired number of copies from column B, sort the prints by size, and make packets to send to the relevant department.
To help her out, I wrote a massive Excel macro that did her eight hours of work in 30 seconds. I replaced all of her responsibilities with the push of the keys 'Ctrl-G.' I was saving her 7 hours 45 minutes per day. She was thrilled that her entire day was reduced to ctrl-g, then wait for the prints to complete. Her excitement didn't last long.
Instead of finding something for her to do, the boss fired her, and I got employee of the month honors and a $750 award for saving the company money by eliminating her position.
I immediately connected the dots as soon as I heard. I tried to find her or find her contact information to apologize, but never did. I was angry at the boss at the time.
I eventually left the company when it became apparent that they were happy to pay the lone IT employee a measly $32,000 per year."
"I was young. My wife was home pregnant with our first child and I was out late one evening getting her a drink from Sonic. At the time, I was working a full-time job and going to school at night, so I was tired. It was after 10 p.m., and I was waiting on traffic in a median to pull into the fast food place. It was all clear, so I started to drive. All of a sudden there was a loud bang. I blacked out for a second.
It turned out that a guy on a motorcycle whipped out of the gas station next to Sonic and I hit him on my way through. I never saw the guy's lights. I blacked out because the air-bag went off and knocked me out for a second. When I came back, I was rolling forward through the oncoming lane and I saw sparks flying when I looked out my driver's side window as the motorcycle skidded down the road. I put my car in park, got out still dazed and fell over. A bunch of people at Sonic ran over to me and the guy on the motorcycle. The thing is, he had his kid on the back who was about 15 or 16 years old.
The cops got there and they called life flight.
They both survived, but the kid was some big football star at the high school and probably would have had some scholarship lined but, because of the accident, he had to get some major surgeries and steel rods put in his legs. Nothing ended up happening legally as it was ruled an accident and there was no followup, except for what I did to make sure they survived and about the kid.
I'll never forget the look that kid's grandpa was giving me at the scene of the accident when both his son and grandson were being picked up by life flight and weren't sure if they were going to make it."
"I was taking a psychology class and the professor required all of his students to be test subjects for the psychology lab. His intent was to introduce us to lab research to see what it is like and to help provide test subjects for students doing research - a good idea and helpful for everyone.
I went in to do a research study and was given a piece of paper with a very clear set of instructions that I had to sign acknowledging that I understood the instructions perfectly. The test had to do with visual identification and processing. I had to stare at a computer screen and wait for an image to flash on the screen for a fraction of a second and then press a blue button if I thought the image was a letter or press a red button if I thought the image was a number.
A moment later the screen would flash and a message came up prompting me to pick blue or red. That message came up so that I could tell that the image had flashed even if I didn't realize it. The test was trying to figure out what you could see and how fast you could see it. The researcher sat next to me and did a few practice runs with me. I did that a few times and got the feel of it and we started the test.
I was very focused on trying to make sure I did not blink and to do a good job picking letters from numbers. About 10 minutes into the scheduled 15-minute test, I noticed something that scared the heck out of me. I asked the researcher, who was in another room, to stop the test for a minute. He came in the room thinking that maybe I needed a bathroom break or something. I felt stupid and scared that I might have messed up during the test by getting the instructions backwards because at the bottom of the screen where the words blue or red came up to prompt me to answer, I noticed that the instructions on the screen read 'blue for numbers, red for letters.' I told him that I felt really bad because even though he explained it like I was five, he had me sign a piece of paper saying I understood, did a practice run with me, I still got it mixed up.
I was apologizing and I could see that he was a little aggravated, but he was very nice. I explained that I thought I was supposed to press blue for letters and red for numbers, but I messed up. He said that I was right. I told him that I had been doing that and was in a grove, and then I saw the onscreen instructions were the other way around.
'What?' he replied.
I had never seen anyone go pale right before my eyes.
He went to the other room and started the test again. We both looked at the screen and it indeed had the opposite directions displayed. He went through three or four answers and was shaking before he jumped out of his chair and ran out of the room, down the hall, to his advisor's office. A minute later he and his advisor came in and his advisor looked at the screen and the paper instructions and turned to the researcher.
'David, this is bad,' the advisor said.
The researcher was a wreck. The professor asked me to go to the department office and wait for him to get a statement. I gave my statement and the rest is history.
I had unintentionally confounded David's data and had a significant portion of six years of his research invalidated just a semester before he was supposed to finish and defend his findings, causing him to have a nervous breakdown and drop out of the program. I know I didn't do anything wrong, but I felt terrible that his work was ruined because either no one else noticed before me or no one else spoke up because they might have been afraid of looking dumb."
"In the tenth grade, my good friend and neighbor and I brought Smirnoff Ice to school. They were leftovers from a barbecue. A group of about five of us would sneak and drink them throughout the day. During third period, I got called down to the office and, of course, I was freaking out.
The principal came in and sat the empty bottles on his desk. By that time, I was about to pee in my pants. As soon as he opened his mouth, I panicked and blamed everything on my friend. I even wrote statements confirming what I said was true. I also ratted out everyone who drank, even those who took sips. We were all taken to get tested for other substances and my parents were furious. Later on, after telling everyone that my friend was the one who ratted them out and not me, everyone stopped talking to my friend. She even got kicked off the soccer team. Soccer was this girl's life.
The most messed up part? My friend's mom was so mad and embarrassed by her actions that she packed up and moved out to nowhere-land, without saying a word to anyone. To this day, my old friend won't add me on Facebook or even answer apology messages."
"I just resigned from my position at a nonprofit. An hour after I left, my supervisor was fired and shown out. He spent a year doing all sorts of low-grade harassment stuff. He made wildly inappropriate 'jokes' about bending me over told to my male co-workers while I was standing right there, constantly accused me of having office affairs with all or any of my male coworkers, etc.
But that was not what made me tell on him.
I turned in my written two weeks notice to him, resigning for various polite reasons because I just did not want to work there anymore. We went to the executive director of the nonprofit, who is a female. My male boss said she was going to yell at me and kick me out that day, so he should go with me into her office. I didn't give a hoot, so I said, 'Fine' and he came with me. She was perfectly wonderful and nice as I resigned.
'How long do we have you?' she asked
I replied, 'Two weeks.'
My boss had full control over if they gave me those two weeks. He could have said, 'No, I want her gone in three days.' They gave him that choice. Instead, he told them that two weeks would be great. He then told me later three days. He then told upper management that I was reneging my two-week offer and would only stay for three days. He started telling the whole office things like, 'Yeah, super unprofessional. She only gave three days notice. Upper management is so peeved!'
Well, I'm NOT A MORON, so I caught on to what he was doing in less than a day. I made up my mind to BURY HIM and, lo and behold, life made it even easier for me. His supervisor wanted to throw me a party, but she said, 'You only gave us three days! I can't get anything ready!'
Say what? I gave you two weeks.
We set a private meeting for my last day. I got calm, controlled, and poised while I was well and deeply angry. I wrote out my talking points, made outlines, and carefully considered my word choices. I even made sure to dress extra professional my last day.
I told her all the frankly illegal things my boss was doing in the department and the stuff he was forging. I told her about how he lied to the staff constantly about where decisions came down from. I told her about how he kept everyone scared and isolated and told us that we would have been blackmailed for going above his head. I also told her the terrible thing he was doing going around lying about my two weeks notice. When I knew that was more than enough to get him fired, I got into the harassment stuff.
We then went to the executive director. I went through everything again. Male coworkers were called down to be questioned if the things I said are true. THEY ALL SAID THEY WERE TRUE and EVERYONE backed me up. I got two weeks of pay, another month of health benefits, and a lot of satisfaction. He was terminated on the spot.
Was it life ruining? Ehhh, he had just bought a big house and now has a three-year gap in his résumé and this nonprofit is super well connected in town. So, maybe, depending on how you view things."
"In high school, I met a girl and started hanging out with her. She expressed interest in me and told me the guy she was dating was controlling and abusive. She broke up with him, and I publicly talked trash about him without knowing anything about him. She was the first girl I'd ever been near and I was obsessed with her. I thought I was just defending her against some punk. We started dating right after they broke up. He took his own life less than two weeks after that.
We dated for a long while after that, but the way she talked about him changed completely, so some of the things I had said about him were most likely untrue. He took his own life, but I'm sure I made things awful for him leading up to it."
"When I was 15, I had ACL reconstruction on my right knee and used crutches temporarily while it healed. During this time, I went to a movie with some friends and found myself in the ticket line behind an attractive girl my age who also had crutches due to an ankle injury. We eyed each other's crutches.
'Hey, nice crutches,' I said. She said she liked my crutches too. My friends and I just thought this was the funniest thing ever - to compliment someone on their crutches while on crutches yourself. The rest of the day, as we walked around the mall and saw people with crutches, I would hobble past them and say 'Nice crutches,' and 100% of the time, it got a good laugh.
That evening, my friends and I were driving through the mall parking lot. It was dark, but up ahead on the sidewalk, I saw a boy, maybe 10 years old, hunched over on his crutches with his parents at his side. Instinctively, I rolled down my window, leaned half of my body out, and yelled as we passed them, 'NICE CRUTCHES, KID!!!'
The second after I said this, I realized to my horror that his crutches were not temporary. They were the permanent kind for disabled children with grip handles and bands that wrapped his arms for support. The worst part is that this kid, nor his parents, had ANY idea that it was just teenagers being immature and not intentionally cruel. They could not even see my crutches because they were laying across the floorboards of the car. All they saw was a car filled with teenage boys and girls, one of them yelling out the window to make fun of a crippled kid, then drive off with all of us erupted in laughter.
My friends all shook it off as an innocent mistake, but I cried myself to sleep that night and several more times since then, even years after, when I thought about it. I still get these terrible images in my head. What if it was his birthday and his parents took him to the movies because he did not have any friends and then THIS happened? I imagine him being sad for the rest of the night and his parents trying impossibly to comfort him, then his mother crying in bed that night asking her husband how kids can be so cruel.
I tried to tell myself that he might not have heard me, but I know that is a lie. I stopped being a teenage imbecile at that exact point in my life and conducted myself more respectfully to this day. Over 10 years later, this still haunts me. I still wish I could go back and make sure it never happened, or at least explain to him what happened and tell him how sorry I am. But, I don't even know who he was."
"To start things off, I should say that I am a straight male and the incidents occurred during freshman year of college at a top-20 private university (not Ivy, but close). I met this guy, who I'll just call 'Ben' for anonymity's sake, during my first week there. He lived down the hall from me at my dorm. He seemed normal enough as I had the naive assumption that, because the university was so hard to get into, all of the kids there had a pretty sound mind.
However, things got strange with this kid quickly. First of all, I noticed his large assortment of prescription medicines. I did not want to pry as to what ailment he had, but his eyelids were always half-shut. He always had a mildly stoned expression and chuckled a lot. He was obsessed with working out and fitness and would often be seen doing jumping jacks outside of the dorm in the wee hours of the morning.
Unfortunately, this kid became quite obsessed with me. It was kind of scary. Our dorm was community-based and my roommates would often leave the door open. Often, I would come home from class to find Ben sleeping in my bed. He would do things like find me in the library where I was studying and demand a lot of my time. At first, I was a bit annoyed by this, but I tried to be friendly.
Things got weird once I started seeing a girl. Ben, supposedly, had a long-distance girlfriend at home. I thought he was straight, but he often hung out with other gay students in my dorm. I didn't make much of it, as they were nice guys with other straight male friends. However, Ben would become enraged that I spent time with my girlfriend. If I went out with her, he would write me long, profanity-laced emails telling me how big of a piece of trash I was. I started considering letting my resident assistant know about this but did not want to cause a fuss. The behavior, however, just became odder.
I would constantly tell him not to go into my room when I wasn't there, but he would always go in and tamper with my stuff. I would continually find him asleep in my bed after class. The week when I finally reported him, he had slipped a sleeping pill into my soda and started peering in on me in the bathroom as I was using it. The final straw was when he walked in on me as I was showering and tried to touch my junk. I had to punch him in the chest to get him to back off. felt odd about doing it, but I finally reported him to my RA.
I didn't know exactly what would happen as a result of this, but the university has a zero-tolerance policy on harassment. He was forced to move to another dorm. I thought that things would just resolve themselves and that the both of us would move on with our lives.
But, it just got even weirder. Not even a week after moving out, he was found standing out on the ledge of his window threatening to take his life. He did not jump, thank goodness, but his parents were informed. They finally withdrew him from the university. I never saw him again as he never came back to the university, at least not in the four years I was there. To be honest, I didn't feel bad for him. I was glad that he went home because he really creeped me out and it sounded like he had some issues he needed to sort out."
"I'm pretty sure I got a gas station attendant fired when I accidentally sprayed several gallons of gasoline all over myself, my car, the ground, and him. I was a fairly new driver and I convinced him that I could pump it myself. In Oregon, the attendant must do it.
My car tank was finicky and the handle got stuck. When I tried to pull out the nozzle, gasoline went shooting everywhere. His eyes, my eyes, our clothes were all drenched in gasoline. After flushing out our eyes with water in the bathroom sink, I had to sign a piece of paper that said that it was my fault. He probably got fired anyway. I still feel so bad and embarrassed about it.
Goodness, I've never told anyone about that incident. I need a drink."