People Insist On Telling Their Malicious Compliance Revenge Stories
25. Sorry, I Don't Make The Rules, Karen
“So I work in college dorms in a sort of generic first response role – we do a bit of everything, mostly security, but also medical, fire, psych – it’s a weird and often quite tough job but quite rewarding. These dorms are kinda like a gated community a couple of miles away from the main campus.
At the top of this village, there’s a hub where all the staff is based. It also serves as a venue for events and has some facilities for the students (catering, gym, etc) as well as a few meeting facilities in the staff area which any department in the college can book out if they so wish.
Between the staff parking spots and the back doors, there are also disabled parking spaces.
Now, one day I was coming in for my (10-hour) night shift and to my dismay, I found that all the staff parking spots were occupied, which basically never happens. But I knew that the HR department had a big thing there that afternoon (in the meeting facilities I mentioned) so I figured out what was going on.
And though it’s not technically against the parking policy (they are college staff after all), usually, staff who don’t actually work in the building are expected to park in the visitor parking bays, not the staff parking.
So I had a problem. It was 10 minutes till the start of my shift.
I’m not allowed to use the student car parks. What about visitor parking? Well, that gets locked up overnight (until after my shift ends). If I parked there, then in the morning I’d have to go unlock the visitor parking, bring the key back, leave, and one of my day shift colleagues would have to go lock it back up.
My only other option was to park down the hill, but then by the time I got there and walked back up, I’d be late for my shift and miss the handover.
You see where this is going. I want to make it clear that I would never normally park in a disabled bay.
It’s generally a scummy thing to do. I’m disabled myself, but not in a way that entitles me to use disabled parking. However, there are a few things to note here:
Nobody ever uses those bays, unless we have a disabled person coming in for an event, because the back door is key card access only and there’s no bell, so it’s little use to students or members of the public unless they’ve made a prior arrangement to be let in.
There weren’t any events scheduled that night, and the chances of someone disabled randomly deciding they need to park at the back of the hub (which is near nothing else) unannounced is negligible, never mind three of them – remember there are three bays in total. Besides, in the middle of the night, they could just park next to it at the side of the road because there’s about as much traffic there at night as on Route 50.
So, I decided I’d park in one of the disabled bays – the one farthest from the door, next to the staff spaces. Due to the long and unsociable hours, I get to take breaks liberally as long as it doesn’t interfere with anything. In the extremely unlikely event that more than 2 disabled people had called in to park and access the building, which I’d find out about during handover, I’d just take a break right after starting, drive my car away down the hill and walk back up.
I go in, get the handover, and as expected, no one is expected to come in. I was the supervisor for that shift (our shift patterns are rotating and the longest in service is the supervisor) so I set up my colleagues for the shift, log on, set up the cameras the way I want them, read my e-mails, turn on my radio, yadda yadda.
After a while I get one of the guys, Phil, to cover the cameras so I can go tell a resident he’s getting disciplined for vandalism.
I then have one of those golden sitcom moments where I open the office door right before someone was about to knock on it. I recognize her immediately, she’s the Dean of Facilities – we’ll call her Karen.
Now, we’re not in the Facilities Section. We’re in the Auxiliary Services Section. So, this lady is not my boss in any capacity. She is, however, far higher up the food chain than me, so it’s this awkward situation where unless I have a great reason not to, I still have to bow down to her or I’ll get called into HR for insubordination, especially since the building we’re in is technically operated by the Facilities Section.
Some more context: Karen is one of the most hated figures among low-level staff in the entire college, your classic power trip jerk. You can practically see the satisfaction in her eyes whenever she talks down to anyone on a lower salary than her – which is all the time – and she’s pulled no end of downright evil stuff in her many years with the institution.
So a startled Karen practically pushes me back into the office. It turns out she was attending whatever event the HR department had on in the building that afternoon, and she was one of the people parked in the staff spaces out back. Now, she doesn’t have an office in the building, so by convention, she should be parking in the visitor spaces (but again, that’s not technically in the policy).
Anyway, she saw my car parked in the disabled bay on her way back to her car – she knows who I am, we’ve had numerous (always unpleasant) interactions in the past, and she saw my name on the staff sticker in my windshield.
Karen: ‘Where do you get off thinking you can park in the disabled bay, OP?’
Me: ‘Well, nobody uses those.’
Karen: ‘Oh what, so you think you’re above the rules just because it’s you who enforces them?’
Me: ‘Look, it’s no big deal, I’ll go move the car.’
Karen: ‘Oh no, not on the college’s time you don’t.’
Me: ‘I’ll take it off my break.’
Breaks are for relaxation. Moving your car is not relaxation.’
Me: ‘Well, then what do you want me to do?’
Karen: ‘I want you to issue yourself the standard $70 fine.’ (see what I mean about the power tripping?)
Me: ‘Are you serious?’
Karen: ‘Absolutely. You need to learn that you don’t make the rules.
You just enforce them.’
At this point, I stare at her in disbelief. Now, I have a short fuse at the best of times, and I really want to yell bloody murder at her, but I value my job, so I swallow my pride and go write myself a ticket. More context there: We’re essentially subcontracted by the city to do the parking and traffic enforcement for all roads and parking on college land, so the authority behind these tickets is the city, not the college.
I know if I go talk to that vandal student now I’ll just let off steam at the kid unfairly when it already wasn’t gonna be a pleasant talking-to, and I know that sitting and staring at the cameras would just make me seethe, so I go restock the staff kitchen, then talk to the kid, and after that, I get back to the office.
Bear in mind that Phil, my buddy who I put on the cameras, witnessed the whole thing.
‘Is the jerk still here?’ I ask. ‘She’s just on her way out now,’ he says pointing at one of the cameras, followed by ‘Huh, that’s weird, she’s leaving through the front.’
Karen regularly comes here to use the gym at the end of the work day – it’s free for students and staff.
That’s presumably what she was doing today, too, seeing as it’s now been a good 45 minutes since she humiliated me. When she does that, she takes a cab home, because she lives at the opposite end of the city and traffic is a nightmare at this time in the evening, and we all know it’s a million times less awful being stuck in traffic if it isn’t you who’s driving.
She then takes a cab back the next morning to pick up her car and drive to the main campus.
It’s now that I make a wonderful realization (yeah, yeah, I’m a hypocrite, sue me): I pull up the parking policy, scroll through it, and there it is, in delicious bold lettering.
It is not permissible for members of staff to leave their cars parked in a staff parking area during non-working hours. It then lists a few exceptions (mainly breaks and stuff like that), none of which apply to Karen.
So I’m about to write a ticket when I have an even better idea.
You see, our cameras are pretty snazzy. About 6 years ago, all the cameras that monitor the roadways were updated to plate recognition cameras by the city, so now on top of 40 days of saved camera footage, we also have the plate log, which has (so far) been kept indefinitely, and can be used to figure out when a car entered the compound and when a car left, since we only have three entry/exit roads.
I explain my plan to Phil. He has absolutely no reservations about doing me a solid and spending time going back through the plate log system to see how many times Karen has left her car parked here overnight.
4 hours later, and he’s assembled all the dates. Over the past 4 years and however many months, weeks, and days since the plate system came online, Karen has left her car overnight on a staggering 585 (yes, FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FIVE) separate occasions.
So I log into the city’s ‘Fine Portal’ software. Yep, that’s actually what it’s called. (You can only write tickets for ongoing/momentane violations; if you spot something using auxiliary systems like cameras or what have you after the fact, you need to issue a fine by mail.) I put in her office address, and start entering all 585 dates, and times, and copy and paste the reference to the exact part of the parking policy as well as the city statute that gives this policy the force of law, for every single one.
The result is a thing of beauty, spanning 13 pages, and totaling $40,950. At this point, all the guys are back in the office so I call them around, knowing they’ll all enjoy this almost as much as me.
When I press ‘Log and print’, I’m hit with a warning I’ve never seen before: ‘The fine you are about to issue exceeds $10,000.
Are you sure you wish to proceed?’ Everyone is dumbstruck; I start laughing, then Phil, and then everyone else. It’s GLORIOUS. I print it, stuff it in a windowed, prepaid, city envelope, and put it in the external mail. (The city doesn’t allow us to use the internal mail nor hand deliver fines, I guess it’s for paper trail reasons.)
The cherry on top is, I then get to also issue a ticket and put it under her windshield because of course she’s also there that night! Of course, the next time I come in to work after she receives this, she’s waiting for me in the office.
Karen: ‘What the heck, OP? Do you really think this is gonna fly?’
Me (with puppy dog eyes): ‘What do you mean?’
Karen: ‘The ticket! The fines! Do you really think this will fly?’
Me: ‘Rules are rules, Karen.’
Karen: ‘You know as well as I do that that’s never actually been done here.’
Me: ‘Well, Karen…
I don’t make the rules. I just enforce them.’
(exit Karen, stage right)
Now there’s more to this, some good, some bad. I’ll start with the bad:
Karen ended up suing, I had to go to court on my day off, the silver lining was I was theoretically there representing the city and so I wasn’t being sued personally and had the city attorney.
The court ended up reducing the fine to $10,000 which was apparently the city’s maximum for post facto fines issued at one time (I guess that’s why the warning was there), but Karen had sued to get the fine dismissed entirely so it was still a victory, kinda. She also tried to take it up with HR but the Dean of Auxiliary Services also hates her and he stuck up for me to HR so that went nowhere.
The best thing, though? This year, I was appointed to the Auxiliary Services Policy Review Board. Last week, I managed to get the parking policy amended. It now says that if staff visit a building other than where their office is, unless they are teaching a class, they need to use visitor parking if there are fewer than 20 staff parking bays at the building and there are empty visitor bays. So, starting in June, Karen won’t be allowed to park in the staff spots at all – and of course, all of us will be vigilantly enforcing that!”
24. Demand I Pay This Bill? Last I Checked, That's Not My Driveway
“A few years ago, my ex and I rented a one-bedroom house on a dead-end street in the downtown area of the city I grew up in. We had three cats and I lived close enough to my job that I could walk to work every day. The city had (and has) a poor reputation, particularly with regard to substance abuse, but none of that affected us.
The landlord who owned my home had for some reason actually built two homes on the same property – mine, a small one-bedroom home, sat maybe six feet from the street, and my back neighbor’s home, a two-bedroom, was kitty-cornered behind mine; there was a long shared driveway on the left side of my house that ended at her front door.
The number for the neighbor’s house was 11 1/2, and mine was 13.
From the beginning, we had issues with this neighbor whom I hereby dub JN for Jerk Neighbor – her entire life would make a great story. She would frequently invite herself over to our house for dinner or drinks, she would have people coming and going loudly at all hours of the night, and frequently had the police at her home to kick out various men.
By the time we moved out of that house, she had somehow caused an electrical fire in the house that had cost about $35k to repair.
Keep in mind that this house was maybe fifty feet away from mine, and neither home had particularly thick walls.
Mostly, we ignored JN. We didn’t spend time with her, we didn’t answer the door when she knocked, and we just left her alone – the most we interacted with her was when I would give her misdelivered mail.
We wanted nothing to do with her and the hurricane of chaos that was her life. Of course, JN didn’t like this – she wanted to be in control of everything on the whole street.
The driveway that led up to her front door was large enough to fit four cars – a fairly big deal in an area with mostly on-street parking.
But JN insisted to us when we first moved in that we were NOT allowed to park in this driveway – the driveway was only for her and her guests/children/man of the week. She said many times that she WOULD NOT allow anyone to block her car in at any time.
This driveway was directly on the side of my house: my desk was in our converted dining room and was right next to the driveway. Every morning there was a car parked directly next to these windows, and every morning that car started up (crazy loud, because it was a real piece of crap car) at about 6 am, right around the time I was sitting down at my desk with coffee.
Luckily, I’m a morning person: if I had been asleep during this time, I would’ve been mad.
I occasionally had family and friends come by and would warn them to not park in the driveway, but a few times they did. My sister was moving at one point and needed to store some things in my basement, but the only entrance was outside at the back of the house – so she pulled up into the driveway and started unloading boxes.
JN flew out of her house and flipped out. But my sister has her own anger issues and handled the crazy situation all on her own. JN did this to two of my friends, my brother, and my mother on separate occasions – she started to flip out on my grandfather once until she saw my mother come up from the trunk of the car with his wheelchair.
JN went back into her own house this time.
My ex and I didn’t want to deal with her. We had our own problems and certainly didn’t want to get involved in hers. Sure, it means that we couldn’t use the side door of our house that let out onto this driveway unless we had two hours to get stuck talking to her, but we decided to just adapt.
We had some lawn on the other side of our house that was brown and overgrown with poison ivy – we cleaned it out, filled it with gravel, and made it our new parking spot. Voila! Crisis averted.
Then came winter. A particularly bad winter. We had feet of snow piled up.
My ex had gone out and shoveled out our car and a path from our front door to the car. He was out there every hour, clearing off the path and the car and laying down rock salt. My job was waiting until the last possible second to close, so I wasn’t sure if I would be heading to the office or not.
My ex kindly made sure the car was available in case I needed it.
JN was MAD. We could hear her in the driveway yelling at the guy of the week to shovel. We could hear her saying all kinds of bad stuff about us. And we could hear when she broke her shovel, threw it into the yard, and stormed back into her house.
Later that day, a plowing company came. Two guys dug out the cars, let JN move them, and plowed their driveway. They even did their front steps. They were gone in less than an hour.
Then the landlord showed up.
The landlord never showed up at the property unless there was a big deal.
My ex and I were in the kitchen at the time (which was also adjacent to the driveway) and could hear JN’s loud conversation about how expensive the plowing company was and how much snow there still was in the driveway – it was still snowing.
The landlord knocked on our side door.
I opened it with a big smile. ‘Hi Landlord, hi JN. How are you?’
JN shoves paper at me: it’s the invoice from the plowing company. ‘So I’m SURE you noticed that we had to have the driveway professionally plowed. I talked to Landlord, and you have to pay half of this bill.’
Me: Yeah, I’m not going to do that.
JN: It was expensive! And Landlord says that we can take part of it out of next month’s rent.
Me: That’s nice. But I’m not paying for that.
JN: You have to!
Me: Actually, I don’t. I didn’t know you were getting the plow guy, and I don’t use the driveway.
Landlord: If service is performed on the shared parts of the property, you should split the costs.
JN: See! You have to!
My eyes narrow as I turn back to look at her.
Me: You’ve made it very clear that it’s not my driveway. I’m not allowed to park in it. I had to make my own parking space. You can pay for your own driveway.
JN was speechless. She had really thought I would’ve just done what she wanted.
Landlord: You made your own parking space?
Me: Yes. I’ve been told since I moved in that I’m not allowed to park in the driveway and I’m not allowed to block her car at any time. She’s yelled at everyone who has come here to visit me that has parked in the driveway, even if they are just stopping by for a few minutes.
JN finally looks ready to re-enter the fight, but Landlord speaks first.
Landlord: Thank you, OP. Enjoy the rest of your night.
I smiled at them, closed my door, and locked it.
I could hear JN trying to argue with Landlord, and could even hear her walk up and down my steps wanting to knock on my door again. But Landlord was firm: she had to pay for the bill herself.
And, after that, she had to let me park in the driveway too.”
23. Don't Skip Anything? Alright, Mom, Buckle In!
“I am bilingual, I speak both English and Japanese, Japanese being my first language.
My mom can only speak Japanese. My mom also really likes to cook. She’s really ambitious in her cooking endeavors, and she loves to try new things. Ever since the internet became more convenient and she discovered that she could look up recipes there, that’s what she did.
Then once I became fluent enough in English to translate, she began asking me to translate recipes for her. She’d usually find recipes on Food Network or something, or even occasionally buy a recipe book off Amazon that’s completely in English and have me translate it so she can recreate the recipe in our humble Japanese kitchen.
Soon I got more tech-savvy than her, so she started simply asking me to search for recipes of foods she’s only heard of. Now that the searches are in English, this yields even more results. Awesome. So now she’s not only getting recipes from big-name websites, but she’s also getting them from smaller and less well-known sources too.
Now the first problem that arises is completely my fault and I acknowledge that. One day I was reading an online recipe I found for her, and I really, really didn’t feel like it. I was bored and distracted, and I either read the measurements wrong or skipped a step or something.
But in the end, the recipe was a disaster. My mom freaked out, and honestly, I was freaking out because there was no edible food.
I checked the recipe again, fully alert this time, and realized my mistake. My mom chewed me out for it, I apologized, and all was good.
The next time, she wanted to make some kind of thing, I don’t remember what it was.
I found a recipe for her on some little old lady’s blog. Cool.
And this is a running joke at this point but we all know, that whenever someone posts a recipe on their own personal blog, they always, ALWAYS put a massive wall of text of some story of their life that’s briefly tied to the food the recipe is for.
So obviously I skipped it.
Unfortunately, my mom had been looking over my shoulder at that exact moment, and the following conversation ensued.
(This was a couple of years ago, so I’m paraphrasing and translating the words from Japanese)
Mom: What did you do?
Me: Oh I just skipped ahead to the-
Mom: You skipped it!? How can you read the recipe then?
Me: Don’t worry, I didn’t skip anything important
Mom: How do you know that if you haven’t read it?
Mom: Read everything! I don’t want something like last time to happen!
Me: Are you sure?
Mom: Yes! Read everything, don’t skip anything!
So I reluctantly scrolled to the top. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, but I don’t particularly enjoy this chore, and I’m only really in it for the food. So I was already annoyed about having to do this.
And now having to scroll all the way back to the top of this monstrosity of a food blog was even more annoying. So, I maliciously complied to the T.
Basically, I read my mom a dramatically tearful account of some woman’s probably made-up story, about how when she was little, her grandfather had cancer and she and her mother would visit him in the hospital, knowing that he wasn’t going to survive any longer…
or something. And mom made these cookies to cheer grandpa up. Even though he isn’t alive anymore, she still remembers him with these cookies.
(I seriously don’t remember what the real story was, but I’m sure it was something like this. All stereotypical food blog story stuff.)
Halfway through, my mom stopped me.
Mom: Where’s the recipe?
Me: I don’t know but it’s not coming up yet.
Mom: Is it going to come up soon?
Me: We’ll find out.
I continue reading about how many years later, this woman is now a mother herself or something and then one of her mom’s friends caught a similarly aggressive form of cancer.
Through her grief, the woman wanted to cheer her up, and dug up this old recipe her mother gave her-
Eventually, my mom had enough of this and made me stop. She was here for cookies, not some cancer sob story.
She’s never questioned me skipping the first few pages of a food blog recipe ever again.
Also, my mom doesn’t really understand spoken English either. Especially not when this story took place. She’s getting better at it now though, and recently she has challenged herself to do some English recipes on her own now that she’s memorized the names of some food items.”
22. Want To Illegally Park Here? Go Right Ahead
“As a male in my country (Austria), when you finish your compulsory education, you have to complete what is known as ‘Präsenzdienst’, which basically means either joining the army for six months or doing ‘Zivildienst’ (compulsory social service is the best translation I can come up with). This social service might include working for the Red Cross, caring for the elderly or mentally disabled people, and basically doing something that benefits society.
Having met some people who work in the army, I bravely decided to do the Zivildienst and was allocated to a hostel for foreign students.
It is important to note that Zivis (as people in these roles are called) don’t make a lot of money. Some of my friends earned about 330€ a month, I was relatively lucky making about 600€ per month, which in a country with such a high cost of living is laughable.
As a result, I wasn’t exactly motivated to go above and beyond the call of duty and was pretty miserable, working my butt off for 10 – 12 hours a day.
The hostel was located right next to a school that held this big event every year where they showed potential new students the grounds, and gave them a bit of a taste of life in their hostels.
This of course always attracted a lot of people with a lot of cars in a town that’s not exactly overflowing with parking spaces. The hostel had its own parking spaces, one for each room, with signs stating that the lot was private property and illegally parked cars would be towed without warning.
On the day of the event, we even put up an extra large sign, stating the same thing, so we did everything we could to stop people from making mistakes.
The day the event rolls around, I was told to make sure that no non-residents parked in our lot. I was a bit annoyed by this, as that meant leaving the heated building to tell already irritated and, more often than not, entitled parents to learn how to read signs and please move their cars off of our lot.
To make sure they do, I was (legally) allowed to clamp any illegally parked car and have it towed. Most people cleared off and were apologetic, others tried to argue with my already annoyed self until I threatened them with the clamp.
Everything was going okay until a black S-class Mercedes (with plates from a town more than 500km away) made its way onto our lot and parked right in front of my office window.
Out got Mr. M(ercedes), as well as his trophy wife and their two seriously obese sons. I thought to myself ‘oh boy, this is gonna be fun’ and went outside to catch them before they left the property. The conversation went a little something like this:
Me: ‘Excuse me, you can’t park here, this is a private parking lot and I am going to have to ask you to park elsewhere.’
M: ‘What? And who are you to tell me what to do?!’
Me: ‘I’m just a Zivi, and I am not telling you what to do, I am asking you to obey the law.’
Mr. M: ‘Haha, a Zivi, what are you gonna do? Run to someone who actually matters to see what he does? Get lost loser.’ (His boys and his wife started laughing at this point)
Me: ‘If you don’t move the car, I c-‘
M: ‘Shut up, nobody cares what you have to say. Do whatever you want to you useless waste of money.’
Okay, tough guy, have it your way. They went off toward the school, I went inside and got the clamp, clamped his wheel, and had him towed. It is important to note that we were partners with a towing service that had their HQ about 100km away.
They came back about two hours later, just as I had handed over the keys to my colleague. I walked out to my own car and from a distance could see Mr. M’s eyes go wide, and his head turning red. He immediately ran up to me and started screaming at me about where his car had gone.
Mr. M: ‘Where is my car, you jerk?! I had parked it right here and now it’s gone, tell me what you have done with it you little jerk.’
Me: ‘Nice to see you again too, I had it towed, which I would have warned you about had you not been such a jerk.’
M: ‘What?! How dare you, you can’t just tow people’s cars like this. I will sue the everloving crap out of you!’
Me: ‘You’re right, I can’t just have people’s cars towed, but I have asked you to leave politely and there are signs at every entrance telling you what will happen if you park here as a non-resident.
What I did was perfectly within the law. Also: Weren’t you the one that told me to do what I wanted?’
Mr. M: ‘That doesn’t matter, where were we supposed to park?! How are we supposed to get home to Town XYZ?!’
Me: ‘Don’t know, don’t care. You can call our towing partners, their number is on the ‘No Parking’ signs.
If that doesn’t satisfy you, you’re gonna have to find someone that actually matters.’
I then went home after asking him repeatedly to step away from me, having to threaten him with calling the police. The next day, our towing partner called me to tell me about this absolute jerk with the Mercedes they had towed the day before. He had to pay about 300€ in towing fees, a 600€ fine for trespassing onto our property as well as a 300€ taxi fare. I know this won’t have hurt him financially, but it was satisfying nonetheless.”
21. Don't Want My Two Weeks' Notice? Okay, Bye
“I used to work in the deli department in a popular chain of grocery stores. We had the most incompetent manager (Clueless Potato) who is also our union rep (so you can’t complain or get rid of her). I have no idea if this is even allowed but this clueless fart has somehow accomplished this and little else.
For example, we would have a Tuesday special that left us slammed to the point where people were upset with the wait times and how quickly it sold out. She would be scheduled for the time the special was happening and take her lunch, immediately once people started pouring in, saying ‘I can’t handle this today’.
Leaving me to serve three counters (fish, cold cuts, and hot food) with a crowd demanding our lunch special.
So I learned to get creative with my annoyance in many ways but I’ll just post the icing on the proverbial cake. Three of us were tired of her antics and planned to all quit within the same week, 2 days apart after Sam (our awesome assistant manager) announced he was getting transferred to a different store (closer to home, at his request).
The first person hands in her two-week notice. No problem. The second person (Let’s call him Tim) goes two days later and comes by to see me at the counter (I was scheduled to work with Clueless Potato for another Tuesday special).
Me: Hey! Did you give your notice yet?
Tim: She refused it.
Me: What? She can’t do that.
Tim: She said ‘I don’t have time for this’ and shut the door on me.
Me: (stews for a few moments before a sudden eureka hits me) Well then I guess I’ll just quit right now.
Tim: (laughs) that would be funny. I don’t think she’s even worked a Tuesday special.
Me: She said she doesn’t have time for any notice so I’m leaving.
I packed up my things and headed to the door to leave with Tim (he wasn’t scheduled to work that day) when Clueless Potato runs up, the fastest I’ve ever seen her move and stopped us.
CP: Where are you going? There’s a line-up waiting for their food! (puffing and angry)
Me: I quit.
CP: (goes beet red) YOU HAVE TO GIVE ME NOTICE!
Me: That’s weird because Tim just said you don’t have time for that.
CP: (looks at Tim who nods casually, causing her face to turn a bold combination of purple and red) YOU STILL NEED TO GIVE ME NOTICE!
Me: That’s nonsense but here’s your notice: I quit and am leaving now. Goodbye, Clueless Potato.
I heard from Sam that she called everyone at the last minute to try to get someone to do the whole Tuesday special and she ended up dealing with that madness herself for a change.”
20. Neighborhood Joins Together To Extend The Green Light
“I live in a subdivision connected to a major road. The road out of the subdivision has a traffic light. In the morning, nearly everybody needs to turn left for work. Even if you want to turn right, you are simply stuck because there isn’t enough room for more than one car.
To compound the problem, the traffic light is green for no more than 5 seconds. We MAY get 4-5 cars out legally, then you have to wait another 3-4 minutes before the light switches.
As you can imagine, this causes people to run the light, swerve around somebody they thought should have gone, etc.
It’s a grab bag of ‘Idiots in Cars’, myself included. If you roll up to the light and see that you are 15 cars back, you know you’ve just added 10 minutes to your commute simply trying to get out of your subdivision.
Well, because of all of our reckless driving behavior, the police communicated via our HOA that we needed to knock it off.
They had a police car parked near our area every morning for a week to keep us on our best behavior. Our board tried to work with the city to lengthen the light but to no avail. That’s when a hero emerged.
We get a random email to the HOA distribution list from an anonymous person.
They laid out our plan for malicious compliance. There is a pedestrian crosswalk light at the before-mentioned intersection that basically goes unused. In my 10 years living there, I’ve never seen it used. There just simply isn’t any pedestrian traffic.
The subdivision hero devised a plan on how to use this crosswalk to our advantage.
Basically, one person in their car simply needs to walk over and hit the ‘Push Button to Cross’, and run back to their car. When the light switches, we now get 30ish seconds to alleviate our traffic jam. Everybody is joining in, and it’s hilarious. My oldest daughter got to do it the other day, and other cars in the line were rolling down their windows and cheering her on. It’s possibly the best neighborhood bonding experience possible. I’m sure our longer lights are screwing up something further down the line, but none of us really care. We’re now on our ‘best’ behavior since we have about 5 times longer to get through the light.”
19. Write Something Relevant? I Know Just The Topic
“I was an English major in college, eyes bright and full of the illustrious visions of me as a best-selling author. My classes were going really well for years, and my professors took a lot of time to help me refine my style when I needed help. To make a sports ball analogy, every semester just felt like a celebratory post-point-makey butt slap.
Life was all like, ‘Nice one chief. Way to make the point for the big league boys. We are sure to win the… season… game… tournament…’
God, this analogy is falling apart. ANYWHO!
Things were swell until I signed up for an advanced course which I was terribly proud of. I suck in every minute aspect of my life other than writing; so, this was a huge deal for me.
Then the course began, and it went about as well for me as it would for a long-tailed cat in a rocking chair convention. Here are our players: Me and my professor, LiterallySatan.
Dr. LiterallySatan hated me with the burning intensity of a microwave fresh hot pocket, the smoldering, cheese goop of her loathing scalding the palate of my dreams.
She was obsessed with the classics and essentially rejected modern writing styles outright. She also told us that it was below her to update her syllabus (which was obviously against policy) because she was hired for teaching, not data entry. We had no idea from one day to another what we would be graded on, what assignments we were expected to turn in, and when, or how much those assignments would be weighted.
Besides being generally a blight on humanity, biased towards classical writing styles, and ya know literally satan, she also had it out for me when I wrote a somewhat provocative romantic story to depart from my typical writing style. I even told her when I turned in the paper that I really wanted to try to challenge myself because romance doesn’t come to me as easily, but I wanted to talk to her during office hours after she graded it to talk about improvements in depth.
I got an email two hours later saying to meet her in her office. What followed was a screed about how my characters didn’t end up together in the end and how it was ‘an assault on the foundations of literary principles.’ She then tore out a page from a classical writing guide from Elliot or something, highlighted a portion, handed me the page, and said, ‘I’d take that to heart.
Your next assignment is a third of your grade and has to be a review of another piece of writing that hasn’t been used in class. Try to write something relevant for once.’
The passage read as follows, ahem: ‘… some writers innately possess a style totally, and utterly beyond the attention of the average reader.
Their writings tend to be tedious or, at worse, nauseating.’
Alright, LiterallySatan. I spent the next 48 hours in a flurry of writing, editing, deliberating, and revising the most scathing review on the least used piece of writing in that class: the syllabus. Not only did I use it as a platform to methodically dismantle the egomaniacal one-woman circle jerk that was her class, but I also cited each of the policy violations that she was breaking from both the mistakes presented on the syllabus and the mistakes due to it being so outdated.
All of it was wrapped up in a tidy five-page manifesto which included a handy reference page quoting relevant policies. I thought the paper was so relevant in fact, that I thought it would be relevant to send it to the Dean as well as other members of our university’s board. They seemed like they really liked it, and I guess LiterallySatan did as well because she gave me an A and told me that I didn’t need to come to class anymore.”
18. Just Do My Job? Sure, But It May Take A While
“I was working for a company that does repairs and maintenance for petrol station equipment. We went to repair a broken petrol pistol at a truck/lorry refueling station which had one petrol pump at that location. The next one was far away.
The seal/valve between the pistol and hose was leaking so we needed to change the valve and pistol connecting to the hose.
(pistol is the part you stick in your car fuel tank). We need to follow certain safety regulations of course since we are dealing with petrol and restrictions are quite heavy on petrol stations in general as you might imagine. We need to put safety barriers with zip lines around the pump meter before working to prevent cars and people from entering the vicinity of the pump/meter.
This truck driver comes there and hops over the line and starts immediately yelling to us what is the deal like it’s our fault the hose is broken. I take off my gas mask and tell him politely to step behind the line since there are liters of gas on the ground and on the bucket we emptied the hose to etc…
He starts gripping the hose which has no pistol in the end and tells me to put the pump back on and he could just refill without the pistol like using a garden hose. I tell him politely to go and wait behind the line since this will only take 5 min.
(It would take 5 min to connect the new pistol to the hose and he could fill up). Well, he tells me to shut up and do my job. Then I say not so politely anymore that because he did not listen and was being a jerk I will now do my job then.
I connect the hose to the new pistol and start doing mandatory safety and metering tests to the pump (which I could have done after I let him refill in between if he was not being a jerk).
As I was doing these things he kept interrupting so every time I took 5 min to explain in extreme detail what I am doing and why these checks need to be done and I did this exact same thing 3 times when he kept interrupting my work.
After the 3rd time, he realized that I was doing it on purpose and backed off.
So 45 minutes later he got to refuel and told me he would complain to my boss. I gave him our company card and told him in very explicit detail again how he had just broken several laws intruding into the safe area jeopardizing our safety and everyone on the station. Needless to say, I did not get a complaint. (These sorts of things happened all the time.)”
17. I'll Have To Lock You Up? I'm On It!
“My dad is a pretty buff guy measuring at about 6’1” (+/-187cm). Before my parents were married and had me, they went to this campground every time they both had some days off. At that campground, there was a general washing area where you had a lot of washing machines and some ginormous dryers.
My mom and dad were washing some clothes in the GWA. There were some other people my parents knew there but everyone was just minding their own business or making small talk with my parents. Then some idiot comes walking in and starts chatting up my mom. My dad, knowing my mom would turn him down, is just minding his own business or talking to some people he knows, until he hears my mom scream his name.
Dad: What’s wrong?
Mom: He tried to kiss me multiple times. When I told him I was going to my partner and turned my back he slapped my butt.
Dad: (starting to get angry)
Idiot: Well she asked for it. What are you gonna do? You’d have to lock me up before I stop chasing this little bird.
My dad, grinning ear to ear asked the people next to him whether they had heard what he said. They nodded. My dad then proceeds to pick up the idiot, put him in the dryer, and then shut the door. My dad opens the dryer and takes the idiot out after a minute or so.
When the idiot asked why my dad did that, he responded ‘I locked you up.’
2 hours later there was a knock at the camper door. Apparently, the idiot had called the cops. My dad asked the cops whether he could go get some people. My dad fetched everyone he remembered being in the GWA.
The police asked everyone what happened and they confirmed that the idiot did say my dad should lock him up. To make an already long story short, the idiot wasn’t arrested or anything. But he did get a warning and the cops told him that he should be thankful that my dad didn’t just knock his lights out. Because that would be ‘the protection of a third party’.
In my country, if someone is attacked and you step in to protect the victim it’s seen as protection of a third party.”
16. We All Need To Work 40 Hours? Ok, But Don't Be A Hypocrite
“My husband is the king of malicious compliance. He will listen to a request and make sure to follow it but sometimes not in the way intended. Husband worked at an IT job that was a project-based company. Sometimes he would work 80 hours a week to complete projects and other weeks he would work closer to 30 hours if he was between projects.
Along with his co-worker (CW).
Jerk boss (JB) was promoted based on seniority and was on a power trip. He was the boss of two people only (Husband & co-worker). He was a crappy worker, never showed up to work on time, and would frequently leave early as well. Jerk boss never worked a 40-hour work week even when projects were happening.
Co-worker and Husband didn’t really mind since he didn’t know what he was doing.
Jerk boss pulls Husband and Co-worker into another crappy meeting.
JB: It has come to my attention that you both are stealing from the company.
Co-worker and Husband look at each other confused. Neither knew what he was talking about.
JB: Time theft is a serious offense. I know both of you didn’t put in the full 40 hours last week.
CW: Husband and I worked about 75 hours the week before due to a big project deadline. We thought since there were no urgent projects we could take it easy this week.
JB: You are required to work 40 hours a week with no exceptions.
Husband: Do you work 40 hours a week? I saw you leave at 3 pm yesterday.
Jerk boss got angry at Husband’s question: Of course I do! I got in at 4 am yesterday which is why I left so early.
Now if you don’t comply I will write you up. Understood?!
Co-worker was angry but Husband wasn’t. He was scheming. For the next month Husband arrived early every day at 5 am and said hi to Jerk boss’s office mate. Jerk Boss was never there when Husband arrived.
Husband would then tell Jerk boss’s office mate would you let me know when he gets in? I got a question for him.
Once Jerk Boss arrives he would walk over to Husband’s desk. Husband would see him (usually around 10 am) and write down the time in a notebook. Big enough for Jerk boss to see it with the title on the top of the page ‘Jerk Boss hours’. After Husband did this for a month (JB averageed about 25 hours a week, by the way).
Jerk Boss confronted him.
JB: Why are you recording my hours? You should not be concerned about that!
H: Just want to keep the company honest. I am doing the same for CW and wouldn’t you know he has made sure to do 40 hours each week.
JB: Even if you turned that into HR it wouldn’t matter.
It is your word against mine!
H: Not really. I call you at 5,6,7 am on your work phone (a company-issued cell phone that he leaves at work) every day. You never answer since you aren’t there. Your phone record, my log, and several witnesses might make HR listen…
JB was silent and then simply said: there is no reason to involve HR. We are fine the way we were before. We all do a little time theft.
H smiles: Of course, maybe we should just go back to the way it was.
JB would eventually get fired but for drinking on the job about a year later.”
15. Don't Appreciate My Help? Enjoy Getting Fined
“So this happened to my dad in the late 90s/early 2000. He was a flight engineer (FE) at the time on a Boeing 747.
Before every takeoff, the FE was supposed to calculate a bunch of stuff (took about 8 minutes) for a takeoff at full thrust and/or if the situation was right, less than full.
For an extra 30 seconds, my dad would usually just calculate both and hand the papers to the captain, and they can choose the one they want. No one ever had a problem with this, and most were impressed and grateful because often they would ask the FE to make the other one anyways (foreshadowing anyone?).
The captain (C) was 3 months away from retirement and was the most entitled captain my dad (D) had ever flown with up to this point. He quickly realized this when, after giving him the 2 sheets before takeoff C looks at them, and throws the full thrust sheet at him in an ‘I’m way better than you peasant, you’re just an idiot’ kind of way.
My dad is startled and C says something along these lines:
C – Do you know the 8 things you have to consider when making these calculations?
D – Yes, it’s (names them all).
C – (Slightly surprised) Well then, you should know that I only want the less-than-full-thrust one. Oh and… You’re still on probation right?
My dad is taken aback by his sudden rudeness and doesn’t reply.
C – Yeah you are. Now learn something from this.
They were heading to England, and C was just a massive entitled jerk the whole flight. After an overnight stay, it’s time to head back.
Now on most takeoffs, the 747 didn’t do full thrust. It just saves fuel, which saves money and makes the companies operating them happy.
London was a different story, however. Without full thrust, the plane wouldn’t be able to climb fast enough to avoid triggering the noise sensors on the ground (that would just mean the plane is too low, therefore too loud for the people below) and would then lead to the company getting fined a few thousand dollars.
My dad was fully aware of this, but in true malicious compliance fashion, only wrote down the less-than-full thrust sheet. He gives it to the first officer (FO), who then reads it over to make sure everything is correct. He realized my dad’s mistake, looks at him, is about to say something, but then smiles.
FO – All is correct
C – (Smirk smile) See, you DO learn!
They take off and C is actually almost pleasant on the way back, most likely because he thinks he’s won or something stupid like that. After landing and just before getting out of the plane the FO says:
FO – Oh and by the way, keep an eye out for the violation in 3 days’ time.
C – (Suddenly on the defensive) What? No! We did everything properly, and nothing went wrong, what are you talking about?
FO – London, we needed full thrust to avoid the noise sensors, I thought you would’ve known this.
C – (Realising the mistake, face turning pale) But-
FO – And with how you treated D, do you really think we would’ve reminded you? So yeah…
You’re getting a noise violation.
Either because he was the one taking off, or he was the captain so he was the one in charge, so for something like this his license is on the line (can’t remember which one it was in that case) only C would get a notice. Since my dad was still on probation he couldn’t say anything, so was really happy the FO stepped up.
Apparently, C’s face was priceless. A mix of hatred, confusion, defeat… The whole shebang. LOL.
Sadly, since my dad’s company didn’t have any memos or procedures for the special takeoff at London (it was mostly common knowledge), C didn’t get in trouble or have it stated in his license record or anything (kind of a bummer) and the company paid the fine (double bummer in my opinion).
However, he was known as M. Perfect and had his face on many of the company websites and papers. Getting a call from a manager about that was a massive hit to his ego. My dad never got to fly with him before he retired, but it would’ve been interesting to see if C treated him with more respect or made his life a living misery on future shifts.”
14. I Hope You Enjoy The Call-Out Fees For Not Letting Me Onto Your Property
“I run a gardening business, I also do a fair bit of irrigation work. I have several real estate agents that I do regular work for whom because they are good clients I wave the call-out fees for, the agents know this and appreciate it.
Most irrigation companies charge $80 call-out fees.
I get asked to fix the irrigation at a property, I am warned that the tenant is a little odd and to ring him the day before I arrive. I do this but there is no answer.
I swing by the next day and the tenant is sitting out the front of his house.
‘Hi, I’m here to fix the sprinklers.’
‘No, go away.’
‘It’s not going to cost you anything, it’s all organized through the owners.’
‘I don’t care, you’re not coming onto my property, I will call the police if you try.’
‘That’s fine, I’ll come back when you leave.’ (I was informed that the tenant would be moving out in a month’s time.)
I then rang the real estate and told them what had happened.
‘Yeah, he’s been doing that to all the tradies we send there,’ was their reply. ‘We will send you again when he moves out next month. Just be sure to charge 2 call-out fees, and we will take it all out of his bond.’
In short, a man makes life difficult for real estate agents by refusing to let tradies into his house, real estate responds by telling tradies to just bill them the call-out fees twice, and I score an extra $160.
(The real estate told me he did the same thing to an electrician – God knows how much 2x of those call-out fees were.)”
13. Won't Listen To The Plant Operator? You'll Regret That
“I work in a large industrial plant as a plant operator. Now us operators know our jobs and given enough experience we get to know our particular plants really well.
Think of it like you may not be able to explain in depth the chemical reactions and physics of how your car works but you know how to drive the bloody thing and maintain it.
Management however seems to think we’re all idiots and routinely overrule us and try to micromanage the plant operations. One such interaction was this:
The plant is running like crap because it was summer and the temperature had hit 45 degrees C (113f).
I made some adjustments to various pumps and valves and the plant was just hanging in there…
all we had to do was ride it out till the sun went down and the temperature cooled. We were going to make it now after the adjustments. The control room phone rings…
Manager: Why is the plant not running at full capacity?
Me: It can’t in this heat, I made some adjustments and we’re just hanging on.
We’ll be able to speed up after it cools down.
Manager: Nonsense, I need you to reverse all that and speed up now.
Me: If I do that, this is what will happen… (I go on to explain step by step how the plant will first malfunction and then fail and how it will take at least a week to get it going again.
A small slowdown now is better than a week of downtime.)
Manager: Nonsense, none of that will happen.
Me: Ooookay… You really want me to do this?
Manager: Just do it!
So I reverse the adjustments and watch over the next hour every single thing I told him would happen come to pass. By the end of my shift, the plant has to be shut down and we lost a week…
Just as I predicted. The kicker being that every hour of downtime cost the company $15,000 in lost production on top of the repair cost.
That manager lingered on in the company for a year making a few other epically bad decisions. In the end, leaving for ‘Undisclosed reasons’. Undisclosed to us lowly operators but we all could guess why.”
12. Only 8 Patties On The Grill At A Time? Sure Thing, Boss
“I worked for a big fast food store which is known for its big yellow M (also known in Germany as ‘Restaurant zur gelben Möwe’ – restaurant of the yellow gull).
Well I was fresh and CW (a nice coworker who started a month earlier than I did) showed me all there is in the kitchen and how it was done, there were two parts to the kitchen: the grill side and the chicken side.
The chicken side was super easy… But the grill was a bit complicated. You put the buns in the toaster and then put the patties on the grill, you have about 10 seconds to put on ingredients on 8 burgers before the patties are ready and after the buns are done.
So my coworker tells me that on days when there is too much demand they put 16 patties on one grill when the buns are ready (you are supposed to only do 8 on one grill, there are 4, and after you put buns in the toaster) so I memorized it.
I worked there for about 3 months and do as my CW said on days with high demand, in comes SM (Shift Manager who was nice but was strict) who sees it and lectures me about how we should only put 8 patties on one grill, and if I don’t do that I would get a warning and then be fired.
I now know that every so often there is an event in the big city (Berlin for the ones that want to know it) and we are located on a federal highway (Bundesstraße), so many people stop here a little bit before closing time, about half an hour. This was one of those days 3 of those four grills were cleaned already and I was the grill master and SM was the cashier.
They ordered and I did as I was told only 8 patties at a time, there were about 20 people in the store that ordered separately. After half an hour I had only finished half of the orders and then the other half had enough and wanted their money back because of the long waiting time.
SM tried to help me but with just one grill it was impossible to be faster than I was. So the store lost about 300 € that night.
It’s not much I know but after I clocked out SM came to me and said if there ever is a day like this again I could do the 16 patties and that felt great.”
11. Demand A Recount? If You Say So
“My husband works in agriculture, specifically managing a grain silo. He does a lot of work when it comes to the management, handling, and storage of grains.
One of the services they offer farmers and buyers of grain is grain sifting. They do this to remove dust and soil, other seeds that got mixed in with the grain, loose bits of husk and grass, bugs, etc.
Sifting can often increase the grade of the grain because the impurities that lower the grade are being removed.
The sifting costs also depend on what they find in the grain grading prior to sifting. Bugs need to be managed differently from broken seeds and bits of grass, there are certain types of seed that can get mixed in with the grain that isn’t safe for consumption, so if they are present, the discarded grain also has to be managed differently.
One of the seeds that they cannot have in the grain is Datura Ferox or fierce thorn apple. This is a common weed that they get during the summer growing season. It has to be sifted out completely, and the waste needs to be discarded, it cannot be resold as feed.
The sifting costs increase as the number of seeds they find in a sample increases, as it takes more effort to get it out.
OK onto the story.
It’s harvesting season now, and my husband’s silo is starting to get busy. All the farmers in the area know my husband and know he is fair when it comes to grading the grain, as well as helping out where possible.
Enter a farmer from a completely different region. They drove their yield up to sell it to one of the mills in our area, so he doesn’t know my husband.
My husband comes out of the office to greet the farmer and find out how they can help him, and he is immediately put off by this guy.
The first thing he does is just rock up at the silo without first calling or making arrangements with HQ to use their services. Fine, it happens sometimes, but then you wait your turn. Not him though. He gets there and insists that they help him out immediately, despite them being busy accepting grain from the local farmers.
The grain grader at the silo takes a sample of the grain and finds datura ferox. 130 seeds in a sample, which is fairly high. They calculate the sifting costs and take it out to the farmer, who immediately starts screaming and shouting. Yes, he knows there’s datura in there, but definitely not THAT much, he found 52 when he graded it himself.
They must do it again.
So the grader does another grading with a subset of the same initial sample he took, and gets 130 again.
Obviously, the farmer doesn’t like this and insists that my husband come and take a look at what a ‘bad job’ his grader is doing and goes off on the ‘he should be fired for not knowing how to do his job’ spiel.
By now my husband is already extremely frustrated with this guy. He has trucks waiting to be graded from farmers that actually arranged to come to deliver today, they are all busy, and his grader has now been busy with this for double the time it should take, for something they are getting minimal income from.
So my husband takes over. Takes a new sample, and grades that sample himself, all with the farmer watching. This time, my husband finds 165 seeds in the sample.
He wasn’t even done with the grading when the farmer goes, OK fine, sift it, but charge it on the 130 grade. And my husband just said, nope.
We found 165, we’re obligated to bill on the highest number of seeds we found.
His insistence on getting my husband involved ended up costing him about $250 more.
If he had been nicer to the staff, less rude, and more polite, my husband would have accepted the 130 gradings and left it at that.”
10. He Didn't Think The Teacher Would Read His Essay...He Was Very Wrong
“Now this is my dad’s story, but that means it’s from a man who once was a teenager in the late 70s.
The story takes place in an 8th-grade catholic school when my dad was in class. His teacher was the kind who did not tolerate disobedience, so his punishment was a thousand-word essay on whatever word he had put up on the board.
So if he put your name up for talking, you had to write an essay that night. My dad was the baby of the family so of course, he was one of the most social ones there. One day his name went up and he had to write about Mississippi.
Now the essays just have to be about the word, so you could talk about the river or trees from there, stuff like that.
My dad wrote about how it was spelled.
‘Mississippi is spelled with an M, Mississippi is then spelled with an I…’ And he did that for as long as he could. He only got a couple of hundred words so he then began to talk about penguins and how they cannot live in Mississippi.
It was funny but didn’t use enough words.
My dad eventually got the idea that the teacher wouldn’t read it. If he did, then that means the teacher would have to be reading at least two 1000-word essays a day in class. It was late so my dad decided to write a fan fiction about his class.
It involved a love triangle with the popular kids in class.
The next day my Dad turned it in. The class went on and they began doing quiet work.
‘I never knew Cathy was in love with Jared while Jared was with Samantha,’ the teacher said. He looked over to my dad with a raised eyebrow.
‘And Chris was secretly in love with Samantha?’
The whole class blew up, and some took it to heart for the rest of the year. The best part was that now my Dad knew the teacher did read the essays. For the rest of the year my dad just did what everyone else did, tape together 5 pens and write 200 words.
At least he wrote 1000 words.”
9. Don't Want A Female Server? Here's An Inexperienced One
“I used to work at a restaurant in an amusement park. It seemed like 70% of people turned into Karens and Chads the minute they stepped through the turnstiles, but maybe that was just my skewed perception of being in customer service. But anyways, we had this family come in one day, and they were sat at a table that would have them served by one of the nicest, most capable waitresses we had.
The dad would have none of it, saying he didn’t want to be served by a female, he needed a male waiter because they do a better job. The waitress was a bit upset, took it kind of personally, and we all had to tell her how ridiculous it was that she would consider it to be true.
Management caved and got him a different server, which I’m sure if they didn’t he wouldn’t have tipped her anyways, but what I loved was seeing who management gave him as a server.
The amusement park hires a lot of international workers. There were people from all over the world. The guy they put on his table to serve him was from Colombia, English was not his first language, and he was a bit inexperienced as a server. The customer ended up getting worse service because of his generalization and demand.
To be clear, the worse experience wasn’t because he was Colombian. But because he was new and not a native English speaker. The waiter was an awesome dude, and did become an excellent server quickly.”
8. Faster, You Say? Hope You've Got Stamina
“I work as a sound designer for theatre. My job involves finding or making music and sound effects and layering them all together as a cohesive whole.
Despite what many people might think, prima donnas aren’t really the norm in theatre. It really is a team effort. So many elements have to come together that, if it wasn’t, the whole house of cards would fall.
I’ve known many directors choose a less able actor over a better one purely because they were easier to work with. And I’ve known a couple of exceptional actors left out in the wilderness purely because they were, well, jerks.
Anyway, I was working on a show with this actor we’ll name ‘J’ (for jerk, obviously).
‘J’ was a good actor. Really good. And he knew it. So he had a ‘wee bit’ of an attitude that always made him unpleasant to deal with. Plus, given his ability, he also tended to be lazy, knowing it’d invariably be ‘alright on the night.’ This would mean poorly learned lines and ill-remembered blocking (where you stand), ultimately affecting the entire cast.
It was never pleasant working with him.
It was dress rehearsal day and we were ‘topping and tailing’. This is basically running the show from cue to cue, leaving out large chunks of dialogue so that the tech team can firm everything up. An actor really has to have a good grasp of the geography of the play to do this.
It ain’t easy. And ‘J’ was flailing miserably. Not helped by the post-session head on him from the night before.
We got to this one section of the play that was a little more complex than the rest. There were eight or nine really quickfire cues that depended on J’s dialogue and position onstage.
And ‘J’ failed miserably. He paced around uncertainly, fired out incorrect pieces of dialogue, and generally looked like a guppy out of the bowl. The rehearsal broke down.
Our director, a lovely bloke, stopped the proceedings and asked ‘J’ if he was okay. ‘I’m fine,’ says yer man, ‘HE’S just not giving me the cues quick enough’ dramatically waving his arm in my direction.
The director, really only in an effort to placate yer man, turns to me and says ‘Pat, would you mind giving ‘J’ the cues a bit faster, please?’
Playing cues is an art form in itself. Playing sfx exactly on cue every time can sound artificial. A cue needs room to breathe.
Sometimes, you delay a cue for a second or two just for dramatic effect. And believe you me, a second of silence in a theatre can feel like an eeeettterrrnity, especially when you are fighting every urge in your body to press the play button.
Fast cues can be problematic too. Fortunately, I did several years in panto where fast cues are the norm.
It was a fantastic training ground. You talk to the actors. Remind them that they are the cue, not me. You talk to them about where they’ll be and what they will be doing prior to the cue being fired. You even get to the stage where you anticipate firing the cue to make up for the latency (of an order of tens of milliseconds) between pressing the button and the cue firing to get it exact.
I know fast cues well.
So I was a little angry, and hence the malicious compliance.
‘J’ had a lot of lines and movement across both ends of the stage to do during this three-minute odd section, all while reacting to the sound cues. Normally I would have judged playing the cues to compensate for this effort, giving ‘J’ a few short beats to adjust after he delivered a line to prepare.
We started to run the scene again. ‘J’ hit the first cue. Boom! Just as the last syllable left his mouth I fired the first sfx. Out of place and unprepared, ‘J’ had to run to his next mark onstage. ‘J’ got to the mark and delivered the next cue.
Boom! Barely had the words left his mouth and we were straight into the next cue. Off his mark again, ‘J’ ran to the next spot. Boom! Boom! Boom! It went on and on…
Constantly getting caught off his marks, ‘J’ started moving faster and faster, inadvertently speeding up his dialogue in the process, and getting hit with faster and faster cues.
It was hilarious, like an old Harold Lloyd. After three minutes, an obviously knackered ‘J’ was panting heavily. And THEN he had to stay on set and, visibly shaken, finish the rest of the scene.
The director looked up at me and smiled broadly.
I did the same for the dress rehearsal. And opening night.
And the ENTIRE run. Every night. And ‘J’ couldn’t say a bloody thing! Hey, I was only doing what ‘J’ had asked for. It was a glorious thing to watch.
I still remember with glee one night during a performance when ‘J’ had just finished that section of the scene. He looked up at me in the gallery and, breathing heavily, threw me the filthiest, darkest look imaginable.
I just smiled. There’s an old saying in theatre: don’t screw with the techies, they’ll always screw you back.
Funnily enough, we get on fantastically now.”
7. Lady Learned Why She Should Keep Her Mouth Shut
“This happened about a year ago, I was 17 and this was my first major job, selling fish at a fish store (yes, we only sold fish: raw, smoked, fish beef, and so on…) anyway, its VERY well known locally, and I got paid 12€/h to work there so, heck yes! My boss was an older gentleman, I think he was 60 and he was the one fishing so he wasn’t in the store THAT much, so he gave me free hands when it came to selling the fish, I could give discounts whenever I want.
I could do buy 2 for 1 sales if we had a lot of something and so on. Well, one Saturday, there were surprisingly few customers, so in comes this lady and her husband (let’s call them OL for Old Lady and NM for Nice Man) and they start looking at what we are selling, we have some whitefish, perch, salmon and some other fishies.
They pick out what they want and I weigh it and tell them the price.
Now, I like to give people discounts if the price is like 25.17€ I take it down to 25, cause it’s easier to count cause 90% of the customers paid with cash anyway. Well, she bought some salmon, I think it was about 2-something kilos, so the price was 37.67, and I thought, ‘you know what, they have been quite nice to me’ so I put it down to 35.
Well, here is what happened next
OL: ’35? that’s WAAAY too expensive, it would be cheaper in the supermarket! Count it again!’
ME: ‘Mrs, I’m sorry you think that, however, our prices are better than the supermarket, cause we actually have better quality fish than they have, so our prices are quite fair!’ (we sometimes SOLD the fish that we didn’t sell on the weekend to bigger supermarkets, cause our pride was having fresh fish, so we didn’t want the old fish anyway.)
NM: (who realized what I actually did) ‘Honey…’
OL: (ignores husband) ‘COUNT…
ME: (gives her the retail worker smile we all know and love) ‘Right away Mrs.!’
NM: (gives me a smile)
OL: (looks proud of what she just did)
ME: (with a sarcastic voice) ‘Oh no, you were right! I counted it wrong!’ (now with a normal voice) ‘that will be 37.67!’
OL: (turns red out of embarrassment) ‘NM Pay him!’ (snags the plastic bag with the fish and walks out the door)
ME: ‘thank you, and have a nice day!’
NM: ‘you too!’
Later told my boss what happened, and we had a good laugh about it!”
6. Don't Talk To Anyone? Good Luck Without Me
“I used to work at a rapidly growing, high-quality fast food chain (oxymoronic, I know, but true) for about 5 years.
During my first 4 years, I worked at a location that corporate deemed a certified training restaurant. Very few locations receive this distinction as it requires the location and its employees to achieve near-perfection in several 850pt corporate inspections.
As a result, we regularly train managers who will open locations in new markets around the globe.
Enter me. I worked at this location through HS and University for 4 years, staying out of management, but obtained title promotions because of the time demands of music school. A new location opens up in my uni town and after 6 weeks my transfer request goes through to work in the new Uni location (45 mi closer to my college apt).
The new location is BUSY, making $12-15k per day. Also, I’m the only crew member with more than 6 weeks of experience at said company. I work night shifts with hourly supervisors, and after a couple of weeks, we all synergize, loving how fast we can get things done and close down.
However, my time with the day shift Salaried managers was always tense. My availability was blatantly disregarded after being promised mostly day shifts. 36 shifts later and I still hadn’t worked a day shift, and every day I’d come in, the day shift would leave, having not done any daytime dishes, taken out any trash, or cleaned LITERALLY ANYTHING.
Conversations behind closed doors with managers concluded daytime didn’t have to clean up because they were so busy (despite their sales only accounting for 30% of daily sales – being at the company so long has made me privy to information usually only management knows/cares about.
Cue the day shift with salary management and the day crew.
They do things differently (no big deal) but they have 1 or 2 fellow kitchen workers that are sorry workers (always on the phone WHILE handling food. Rubbing their nose/face and scratching hair).
Being kitchen lead and certified trainer I ask these 2 to wash their hands after EVERY time they touch their face hair etc.
The shift continues, sorry worker disappears. 15 minutes later, Salary Manager calls me into the office.
SM: some employees have told me you’re being really bossy.
Me: I haven’t done anything beyond communicating food orders and kitchen stocking needs.
SM: Sorry worker says you’ve been ordering him and his buddy around all day.
Me: Oh him? I just keep telling him to wash his hands because he keeps handling customers’ food while on his phone and touching his face.
SM: You’re not a shift supervisor. Let me or them take care of it, you’re a crew member. That’s not your job. You’re not supposed to be telling other crew members what to do.
Me: As a crew trainer I’m supposed to remind new people of the right way to do things.
With the supervisor not in the kitchen all shift, I figured it appropriate. But if they’re going to start doing their job, sure!
SM: Just DON’T TALK TO ANYONE in the kitchen and do YOUR job cooking food, everyone else will handle the rest. We’ve made it 6 weeks without you, they know what they’re doing.
Cue the largest lunch rush I’ve ever seen in my 4 years. $+2500 hour. (During busy shifts, the kitchen lead (me) or a supervisor needs to communicate frequently to keep things running smooth).
There are 45-50 meals on order between diner and drive through with a line out the door and cars out the parking lot down the street.
I’m prepping and cooking as much chicken and fries as possible. The nose wiper is on his phone and all management is at the cash registers. I see the kitchen workers needing to restock, orders set up, and some desperate hand washing. As per orders, I say nothing.
The kitchen proceeds to melt down.
3-minute drive time waits to climb to 17 minutes before a manager walks into the kitchen, and asks me why I haven’t said anything or coached the team through the rush. I look SM in the eyes and say ‘an hour ago you made it perfectly clear I wasn’t supposed to talk, and I should let you all do your jobs.’
Well, all long-wait orders per company policy should be 100% refunded.
All the fresh food I made had gone to waste before line cooks could assemble the combos. Had to make a whole new batch. The waste cost that hour alone was around $250-300. Refunds and apology gift cards amounted to $500ish and I’m sure lots of lost business. Someone even lost their bumper in the drive-thru trying to hop the curb to get out of line.
SM’s corporate boss (who knows me personally from my old location) chewed him out that day during his scheduled visit and when SM tried to throw me under the bus, the boss says he saw the cameras and management was nowhere to be seen in the kitchen, and that an employee with no write-ups in 4 years and glowing semiannual reviews isn’t suddenly unmanageable, but it’s more likely a reflection of SM’s ineptitude.
P.S. I’d like to say he got fired, but the salaried manager was a genuinely good guy who cares about his employees and has turned that place around. Turns out both of our frustrations with each other were actually the fault of the salaried assistant manager (who worked day-night shift transitions) lying about the day shift completing their tasks, and being really gossipy with some of the toxic co-workers. I was made out to be some outsider who was pompous (admittedly, in the end, I got pretty quip). She wound up getting fired and all the toxic workers pretty much followed suit. His restaurant is now one of the elite few recognized by corporate.”
5. I'll Move Out But You'll Be Left To Pay The Rent All By Yourself
“I lived with an entitled roommate and her brother for a year. Well, almost a year, before I was kicked out.
Let me set this up a bit. She’s disabled with a chronic auto-immune disease. She’s on disability and doesn’t work. Her brother hasn’t worked a job ever as far as I’m aware, so he’s on welfare.
He was a nomad for 9 years and came to live with his sister when she was diagnosed, a year before I met them and moved in. (I know, I’m honestly kind of an idiot for not seeing the signs.) For what it’s worth, I work full-time.
We got along quite well, in general.
It didn’t really bother me that they would take my food – coffee, pasta, butter, milk, eggs, cheese, you name it – or that I was often asked to take care of the dishes even though 80% of them were hers and her brother’s, not mine. I felt for her and was fine with helping them out.
The problem was, I was happy. I was working hard, making money, writing music, and starting a new romantic relationship with an old friend. She wasn’t happy. I would give her gifts and food and friendship, but it wasn’t enough to counter her jealousy – and, I guess, something just snapped.
I came home on March 20th and before the door had even closed behind me, she said, ‘OP, you need to move out.’
‘You just… do. This is my house (she paid the same rent I did and was often late), my brother works hard (at being her caretaker I guess?) and he deserves his own room (there were only two rooms – mine and hers, he lived in our living room) so you need to figure something out.’
I knew she expected me to stay for April.
She and her brother would really have to squeeze their funds to make it work to pay the upcoming full rent (her brother didn’t pay while I lived there). But was I about to stay in the home for 5.5 grueling weeks with someone who had randomly turned on me? Kicked me out of my home? And in retrospect, guilted me into giving them household help and free food? I don’t think so.
I applied for 30 houses that day alone. By the weekend, I had signed a new lease. If you ask me to get out, no problem – I’ll be out as soon as possible.
I got my security deposit back from my landlord, who passed that info on to my roommate. She stormed into the kitchen:
Her: ‘So you just got your security deposit – do you have somewhere else to live?’
I signed a lease yesterday and have arrangements to move all my stuff two days from now.’
Her: ‘So… You’re… Not paying for April?’
That was the last time we ever talked. She stormed out of the room, said a few choice words about me to her brother, and slammed the front door.
I almost feel like she expected me to hand her $800 gift-wrapped, and still get out of ‘her’ space. I didn’t stay in my room ever again, moved out quickly and quietly, and haven’t heard from her since.
Don’t tell me to move if you’re not ready to pay the full rent. Bye, Felicia.”
4. Let You Do The Teaching? Watch Them All Fail
“I’m in the Army ROTC program at my high school. I was promoted to Second Lieutenant (2LT) last year, so this year I’m the teacher’s (Master Sergeant, retired from the Army) personal assistant. As such, I’m supposed to help teach the class, correct papers, etc. Now, onto the story. This happened on Monday, so it’s still fresh in my mind.
So, with Memorial Day coming up, all ROTC cadets are supposed to learn how to fold an American flag properly and be tested on it at the end of the week. Having learned this the year prior, I was more than willing to help teach the first-year ROTC cadets. I asked MS (Master Sergeant/Teacher) if I could help PS (Platoon Sergeant) teach them, in front of CC (Company Commander), and he told me that I could and that I would be in charge of teaching them.
We all go out into the hallway, flag in hand, and I position the cadets properly and begin to unfold the flag to start handing it to them when CC stops me and takes the flag from me.
CC: We’re all supposed to be teaching them how because we’re all upperclassmen, not just you.
Me: But CC, you heard MS. I’m in charge and supposed to be helping them.
CC: You’re not in charge here, I am. Now stop talking and don’t help me teach them. I know what I’m doing.
Me: But… Fine.
So CC starts teaching the first years, and immediately I realize how wrong she’s teaching them.
For one, she distributed the flag the wrong way, so the stars were on the right side instead of the left, and when she was teaching the commands, which are ‘ready, step’ and ‘ready, fold,’ she was only using ‘ready, step’ to command them to fold the flag. But I was told not to help, so I don’t say anything.
The icing on the cake came when she didn’t instruct them to hold the flag tight enough so it could be folded into triangles, so she had to start all over when she got to the end.
Now today is the day they’re all getting tested on folding the flag, and none of them know what they’re doing.
I’m the one in charge of the test, so already I can’t help them. By the time all of them got through it, not one of them had gotten higher than a 60 on this test. I tell this to CC and to MS, and show them the results. Already, neither of them is very happy with this.
CC: OP! Why didn’t you help them?
Me: Because, CC, you didn’t want me to help teach them to begin with, even though you knew I was in charge of teaching them.
MS: Is that right, CC? You wouldn’t let OP do what I asked them to do on Monday?
CC: Yes, Seargent.
MS: That’s ok. 50, go.
Now CC has to do 50 push-ups while I go teach the class how to properly fold the flag so they can pass their test, which is now scheduled for Tuesday.”
3. Here Are ALL My Documents
“I live in Europe in a non-Anglophone country. I have always been a language nerd, and since my parents’ divorce, English and everything in it (music, movies, internet) was my escape, so I was fluent before most of my classmates and got my CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English, the highest certification from the Cambridge Council) at 18.
In my country, High schools are basically undergrad colleges and are finished between the age of 19-20, and a problem that almost all public schools have is terrible language teachers – most of them being former Russian teachers with minimal English or any other language education. Also, as my country is small and nobody could reasonably expect to use our language abroad, we put a HUGE emphasis on language studies at all levels of education, and it is often the thing that schools boast about becoming more prestigious.
From early on, my last high-school English teacher and I kicked it off to a bad start. The first test she gave us came back all red because of ‘words which are not in the textbook’. The terrible teacher (TT for short) would do this to me for the full final 2 years! She would take my essays and tests, and cross out any word, phrase, or structure, which was not in the textbook we were using! I maintained that I will go as far as to learn the textbook vocabulary by heart (just to remember which synonyms I was ALLOWED to use) just because of TT’s antics.
I have managed to keep an A for 3 terms because there was nothing she could mark down on my grammar. During the final term, however, TT learned that I wish to go to university to do Anglophone Studies, a specialization her daughter had failed to be accepted for (she told me that as an explanation why ‘I cannot ever hope to be accepted’ at the start of that term) and which, among dozen other things, required good or even perfect marks from high-school language lessons and accepted only 5% of applicants.
TT was dead set to make me fail.
She started giving me the stupidest assignments and extra tests for ‘misbehaving in class’ (being finished early and silently staring at a wall), which required me to ‘mark the exact position of Disneyland on this A4 blind map of USA’ (an exact quote I still remember after all those years), and more of the same crap.
You could tell she was so satisfied by my failing these tests, she would have a grin on her face each time handing out the results.
By this time I have been representing the school in the language Olympics for both English and Spanish. She had no idea because it was organized by another language teacher, and even though the principal made it into a big deal, TT was plainly uninterested.
I have placed 3rd in the Capital City District in Spanish and 6th NATIONWIDE in English. Not listing this to brag, (ok, maybe a bit), but to use it later.
By the end of the term, she got my mark down to a C- (mind you, all the grammar was still As, but her blind maps of tourist attractions had taken their toll).
I went to her to reason with her, but her reaction was ‘If you think a different teacher would propose a different mark, take all of your documents and go to one of my colleagues, but I believe it is clear to anyone that you do not deserve any better.’
SO I DID, I took ALL my documents.
The bloody blind maps, the grammar tests, my by then a-year-old PCE certificate, and my 6th place diploma. I went to the teacher who organized the competitions and explained my situation. SHE WAS FURIOUS.
She took this to the principal, and even though I was waiting outside, I could hear him yell at TT, ‘You are trying to fail the student who was representing us at the national level of competitions!?’ It also turned out that with the CPE I had, by that time, a higher level of English education than TT had.
I got my A. I got to the uni and I love it there. I also started my own tiny language school where, among of course teaching the language to whoever is interested, I help kids whose language teachers are incompetent and/or power-hungry morons.
The impulse for me to write this was walking by the high school last week, and meeting TT.
She acted like we have always been best buddies (a couple of MY students are her students as well, so she knows about me). She hugged me in front of the High-school kids present and exclaimed that I got where I was thanks to working hard in HER lessons. I am still mad I did not get the courage to tell her off there and then.”
2. Make Some More Noise? You Got It!
“I have been a Civil War reenactor for many years. The group I belong to is artillery, meaning we use cannons. It is very rare that we find someone who is unhappy with what we do. Typically those who may have a problem don’t come to our events.
Fast forward to an event in a small town.
My cannons are set up near the entrance of the event. When the battle starts, event coordinators keep people from getting too close to us, but they are in a position where I, as the section commander, can hear what’s going on.
At one point, a local resident storms up to the coordinators, furious that there is a battle happening in the local park.
For this conversation AR is Angry Resident, C is Coordinator, and OP is me.
AR: What is all of this?
C: This is our annual Civil War Days.
AR: Why weren’t the people in town notified that this would be happening? How can you be allowed to have something this loud in town?
C: Sir, this was advertised in the paper, on social media, and through flyers.
AR: That’s nonsense. I didn’t see anything. It’s scaring my dogs!
C: I’m sorry you didn’t see anything, but people were notified.
AR: Well why don’t you make some more noise around here!
OP: (To my two cannons which were loaded) Fire!
On my command, the cannons fire simultaneously with a rather loud explosion. As that AR’s face turns bright red. He screams ‘This is such nonsense! I will be talking to the mayor about this.’
He told us to make ‘some more noise,’ so I did what I could to help him with his request.”
1. Okay, I'll Count Every Piece Of Glass And Plastic And Waste Your Time
“So I used to work at my college in a department but stopped after I graduated. A month before I graduated, one of the professors of the department was moving labs and trying to get rid of things he doesn’t need such as glass and plastic things. He needed help with writing everything down that needs to be taken to the place in our college that deals with the college’s unwanted things.
This place deals with broken things and sells them if they are fixed and crap like that. So the items are restored and reused through the college.
Anyways, if I had a box of beakers or random scrap, I could put on the list, ‘box of beakers’ or ‘box of random things’.
This took 1-2 hours considering how jam-packed the lab was with material the professor didn’t want.
I was almost done when my boss came and told me that the place called him to tell me I needed to count every piece of glass and plastic because they don’t want to deal with possible ‘theft’.
I was already overwhelmed with everything I did and the thought of having to go through it all again just irked me. But I smiled.
I proceeded to count every single glass. They wanted every piece counted for? Fine.
We had stirrer things that look like straws but solid hunks of glass. Broken into two or more pieces? I must count each piece! Don’t want to risk theft!
Oops, accidentally broke a beaker? Count the pieces.
Theft is around the corner.
Unopened box of beakers? Open it up and count each one. Theft isn’t a good thing.
Plastic bottle containers? Count the bottles and lids separately. Theft… well you get it.
Took 2-4 more hours. But the catch is once you write the list and put it through to them online, they come to collect the items and count the list.
The list contained over 2000 pieces of glass and over 1,000 pieces of plastic. And they have to count each piece to make sure they are all there.
I didn’t really see much of what happened after that since I graduated and I don’t work there anymore. I was sure satisfied that by wasting my time because they told me to, in return wasted theirs.
PS: they are nit-picky. At one point a few years ago, they seriously wanted me to turn over a 200-pound large piece of equipment for the ‘serial number’ that was on the bottom because they don’t want to risk taking the wrong thing. We mark what they have to take too (on the machines with sticky notes). So I had no problem with wasting their time.”