October 1, 2023 at 1:40 am

‘Six months later I get a series of desperate phone calls.’ Laid Off Worker Is Told By Superiors He Must Delete Company Files From His Personal Disk Drives. So He Maliciously Complies.

by Matthew Gilligan

Source: Reddit/AITA/iStock

Just doing my job, boss…

Don’t you love it when your managers tell you to do something on a job that you know is wrong but they insist, so you just follow orders?

It happens all the time…and all you can really do is shrug your shoulders and do it.

That’s what this person did and I think we can go ahead and file this story under “Malicious Compliance.”

Take a look.

Sorry, I deleted all the files you told me to delete.

“My job was to design and write software prototypes for individual high-value customers.

If they liked it well enough, then a real software engineering team would build the real product. Occasionally, I would run the prototype for a few months while the customer evaluated if they wanted to buy the real project.

Now these prototypes are not a lot of code, but they do run with a lot of data. Even compressed, it can be a terabyte or more. Having done this work for years, I’ve accumulated a small disk farm of past projects, which can be very useful when a customer asks for something just like we did last year, but with a small change or two.

The company resisted buying hard drives for this, but it saves me so much time, I ended up buying one or two a year myself until I accumulated about 10 of them. Figure over $1000 worth of external drives.

Then unexpectedly management changes, new management thinks they can replace old software guy with a cheaper new software grad and I am laid off, with two weeks to “train” my replacement.

(Yes, it’s blatant age discrimination, but impossible to fight, so I just went for a graceful transition to my next job.)

Except, I have $1000 of personal disk drives with old customer data on them. Company insists that no ex-employees may take any company data off premises and all files must be deleted. I don’t want to just leave the drives at the company, but they insist I must delete all data before taking them home.

So I offer: They can buy them from me

I will eventually use them for something else, but I can leave the data on them in case someone needs it

Not good enough. New manager insists I must delete all data and all backups before I remove the drives. Okay. That’s what I do.

Six months later I get a series of desperate phone calls. New software grad has been unable to build any new prototypes. Old customers are calling to get old prototypes updated, and new software grad has no idea how to do that. Executive VP is calling to ask what would it take to bring me back to do my old job.

Sorry, I’ve got a new job now. And even if I didn’t, I cannot just modify the old prototype because you insisted I delete all old copies of it. If I did want to modify it, I’d first have to re-create it from scratch. The code still exists in their source control, but the data is the heart of the prototypes. And that old series of six month’s apart data we collected is gone for good, no matter what.

Sorry, you screwed yourselves exactly like I told you would happen. Hope whatever you saved by hiring a new grad to replace an actual experienced programmer was worth it.”

Check out what people had to say.

One reader made some good points about inexperienced developers.

Source: Reddit/AITA/

Another individual shared a story about what happened to someone they knew.

Source: Reddit/AITA/iStock

And this reader said you always have to go for the jugular if they beg you to come back.

Source: Reddit/AITA/iStock

Seems like these people got what the deserved.