Their Boss Demanded They Print Out An Entire Website. Tens Of Thousands Of Pages Later They Almost Got Fired.
by Matthew Gilligan
Here we go again, friends…
It’s another story from Reddit’s “Malicious Compliance” page that will make you roll your eyes at the incompetence of someone in a power of position who thinks they know best.
And this one is quite satisfying!
It comes from a person who explained that they were a technical writer.
Print out the internet? Yes Ma’am!
“This is about a decade ago, but still well within the realm of the internet.
I was a technical writer for the government and had slowly been transferring our old employee handbook (think government bureaucracy from the 1940s) into a modern and actually useful doc (think one page with our policies and links to useful websites, like Office of Personnel Management, forms for workman’s comp, etc.).
My boss wanted the whole thing printed out, on her desk the next morning. This was Monday of the Thanksgiving weekend. I printed out the 200 or so pages and just had the links to the various websites in bold. This took about an hour, and I left it on her desk before going home that night.
Their boss was clearly not happy with what they did.
She calls me in her office on Tuesday afternoon and proceeds to yell at me at how stupid I am, do I think people can just go to a website when it is on paper? No. I need to PRINT everything out.
They tried to explain what was really going on…
I calmly tell her that these sites are pretty dense and deep and it would be about 10,000 pages. She says she doesn’t care, it needs to be ON HER DESK first thing Monday morning. Mind you, this is now Tuesday and we usually had some of Wednesday off.
I was not really planning to work Thursday Thanksgiving or Friday, as I had applied for leave and was looking forward to a nice relaxing long weekend. I don’t have family, but I had plans. But ok. I asked for, and got the request to have “everything pertaining to the employee handbook online in a printed format.”
I also had real work and real deadlines. A quick bit of context: She was my boss, she did my performance appraisals and she could make my life miserable and possibly fire me. However, my clients were teams that put together engineering plans, biological assessments, scientific journal articles, reports to Congress, etc. that had real-world deadlines.
And they had other, EXPENSIVE things on their plate, as well.
On some of these, if you missed the publication date, your agency paid $100,000 a day in delay fees. Or you would **** off a congressperson, which is never a good idea. And I was really getting sick and tired of my bosses requests that took me away from my actual work.
So I was printing and printing all the rest of Tuesday afternoon, and then Wednesday. I had to go to the site, print, click on the next link, print, etc. On Wednesday, we got a congressional (a letter from a congress critter that was actually important).
They worked on the holiday…and they kept printing…
Had we not gotten that, I might not have done what I did… I got overtime approved pronto to take care of this request. So I did work Thanksgiving. As I was doing that, I kept on printing. And printing. I used up every sheet of paper in our 14 story building.
I kept on researching the response for the congressional, printing, going to the next floor to carefully get that packet of paper to tuck under the appropriate page, etc. I had paper in about 20 different conference rooms.
I could have done the congressional in about 8 hours. BUT it was not due until Monday. And all of this printing took me a good 24 hours of work. So I put in for 32 hours (Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun). Got it done.
It ended up being A WHOLE LOT of paper.
This is now two stacks of paper, each about 6 feet high. I was waaaay under in my estimate of 10,000 pages as it was more like about 30,000. (Remember, I had at least 5 printers going at once for 4 days etc.). I put this in my boss’s office (which was already none too clean and pristine).
I got written up, with a disciplinary hearing and everything. The charge was …. malicious compliance. I kept my job only because I did have her request in an email.”
Let’s see how folks reacted to this story on Reddit.
This reader thinks the boss is totally toxic.
Another person talked about the need to CYA, cover your ***.
This Reddit user shared their own ridiculous story.
Another reader talked about how they handle these kinds of situations.
Yeah, this situation sucks. Glad they didn’t get fired.
That’s a whole lotta paper!