Strangset thing that happend to me was in the LU research Lab. When one of the chemistry technicians came down and asked me why the led display on his photometer was running when the mains socket switch was off. Turned out the earth bonding on the mains supply sub transformer had become disconnected from the lab power supply.
Bigest evacuation I caused was in a small medical laboratory when I poured some concentrated nitric acid into a 2 litre beaker to clean it, not knowing that the fluid in the beaker was pure alcohol. Very bright orange clouds of fumes and smoke occured.
As a 7 year old plugging a motor car headlamp bulb into the mains socket was a good way to blow the fuses and draw a super flash from the socket, just thought I was going to light the bulb, it got me a very sore backside from a very startled father.
Many years ago I was at work one evening when the power went out. It turned out that a good chunk of the immediate neighborhood was out also.
After the power was restored, one of the utility guys told me the story of what happened. Some kids had broken into an abandoned factory nearby. They climbed to the roof of the building and were tossing pipes and other metal objects off the roof, trying to create some fireworks by hitting the power lines below.
What these genuises didn't realize was that by creating a power outage in the area, it would also plunge their building into complete darkness. By the time they fumbled their way through the pitch-dark building back to the ground floor, the police were waiting for them.
I see now that I'm not the only one to have this happen to!
Back in my early technician days (ca. 1966-7), I was proof-running a test procedure on a small test console. When I turned on a 28V power supply output switch, nothing happened. Going "off-book", I figured one of the panel's push pin circuit breakers might have been open, so I pushed each one in. Still nothing. Getting more into the troubleshooting ("cocky"), I pulled the 28VDC breaker out, then pushed it back in.
Simultaneous with pushing the breaker button in, all power in the huge highbay test area went down, cigarette lighters came out, and the emergency lighting flickerd dimly on. I was still holding my finger over the breaker, with my mouth hanging open...
Best one I had (not electrical though) was when I was travelling on an open road....came to a corner and braked gently. At that very instant an ad came on the the radio, for a smash repair place, that started with the squeal of brakes and a collision. Took me an anxious couple of seconds to realise it was nothing to do with me braking....
My neighborhood in Southern California is about 50 years old (my house was built in 1966), so we have some very old underground power cables that have started failing over the last few years. I've since filed a complaint with the state power commission, and the power company, San Diego Gas and Electric, has made substantial improvements.
But a few years ago we had one of the many sub-neighborhood blackouts, lasting a few hours. The very next night, the lights went out again, and we all thought, "Crap, they didn't fix the problem." As the power stayed off for quite some time, and we called around on cell phones, we found out that some fool had flipped the wrong switch and killed power all the way down to the Mexican border (about 200 km) and even east into Arizona! It had nothing to with the wiring in our neighborhood after all and was just a coincidence!
Once in our data center a tech was working on the door to the data center. He pressed a switch by the door to try to open it, even though it said EMERGENCY. Darkness with the sound of an IBM Mainframe spinning down, then silence. Some tech: didn't even know where the door switch was. He'd hit the Emergency Power Off, which one is only supposed to press when on the way out the door during a fire, which cut everything including the UPS. Not a graceful way to shut things down!
One of our clerks told him, "You'd better go down to BWI (airport) and get on a plane right now, because you don't want to be here when Mr. [boss-man] gets back from lunch!"
Shortly after that they began to put clear plastsic covers over the EPO switches, held on with Velcro. Of course, as we all know, there's always time for the Universe to make a better class of idiots. Fortunately, that never again happended for the EPO, but we always managed to run into new, improved idiots users.
I worked with an EE once who told of doing a presentation at the Pentagon to some brass. The show was on slides, so he loaded up the projector, greeted all and announced his show's topic. Click goes the ON switch and instantly there was a pop from the projector. The projector's light was lit for a moment, then it went out. So did all the power in the room. So did all the power in the wing of the building. After all the shouts and yelling quieted down, he said " the product works much better than this." to a long, stoney silence.
Great story! So challenging to work with people with no sense of humor: <<After all the shouts and yelling quieted down, he said " the product works much better than this." to a long, stoney silence.>>Although, I can see why the Pentagon might be a bit touchy about power outages.