A long, long time ago, I was instructing a student in a Cessna 150. We were cleared into “position and hold” (which is now “line up and wait”). The student checked final and there was another trainer on short final. The controller was a little busy so the student rightly stayed behind the hold short line. The controller came back a second later and asked if we were going into position. The student said “uh… that’s probably not a good idea” just as the landing airplane went by. The controller was silent for a second and then told us to “hold short.” He then said “that was bad” and then cleared us to takeoff.
When we finished our touch and goes, the ground controller asked us to call the tower on the phone. After we tied down the airplane, we went inside and I put the student on speaker. The controller apologized and said it was a serious mistake and he had reported it to his supervisor and he hoped everything was okay with us. The student was really gracious and told him that controllers had already helped him when he entered the pattern on the wrong leg and they had always been professional, he hoped he wouldn’t get in any trouble.
I said something similar and we all went away from the phone call happy.
Aviation is nothing but a bunch of deviations and corrections. If we all watch out for each other, things almost always turn out okay. There have been other controller errors in my career but there have been far more pilot errors in my observation. I’m not a controller but I think they have a tough job and they all do a very good job multitasking and blending traffic. I’m glad they’re on my team.