Whatever you say, boss!
Some people just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Know what I’m saying?
And here’s a funny story from Reddit’s “Malicious Compliance” page about a person who just decided to follow the boss’s rules…and hilarity ensued.
Let’s take a look!
Sweep the Side Alley Until it’s Spotless? You Got it, Boss.
“A couple of summers ago, I took a part-time job as a server at a local pub/restaurant.
I had a full-time job, so this was just for experience and to pick up some tip money on the side. The pub had been closed for a few years after the old owner couldn’t afford it anymore, so when the new owners picked it up and got it ready for opening again, the town was pretty excited. It’s a bit of a town landmark, right in the middle of our main street.
I applied as soon as I found out, and ended up getting hired! I was one of the younger servers, alongside a few older ones. Most of us were women, and the older servers really looked out for us inexperienced ones.
Overall, the others on the team were really nice, save for a couple of nasty ones. My new boss Gary (not his actual name) was… well… not as great.
Gary’s favourite saying was “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” He thought if we took even a second to catch our breaths, he was losing money from us “slacking off.”
On slow days, he would find menial, pointless tasks for us to complete – wipe the bar counter (even though it’s been wiped 3x in the past half hour already), re-organize the menus (even though they’re already perfectly organized), fill up more condiment cups (even though there’s already fifty salsa cups ready to go). Stuff like that.
The most tedious task, especially in the early months of the summer, was sweeping the side alley that leads to the patio. There were these massive maple trees along the path, and they would drop leaves and seeds like crazy, especially on windy days.
One afternoon in early June, there were only a handful of us working. It gets slow, and I get assigned the sweeping task. I sweep up the back alleyway as much as I can, but the wind is blowing and the trees just keep dumping more and more seeds onto the path.
I do my best, until a coworker calls me back inside to help serve tables – she didn’t want me missing out on tips, bless her.
I seat the table, get their orders, and start entering them in. Just then, Gary storms up to me.
- Gary: “What are you doing?”
- Me: “Entering table 15’s order. Why?”
- Gary: “The side alley is a mess. I don’t pay you to slack off.”
- Me: “I swept up as much as I could before this table walked in. It’s a really windy day – that’s why it keeps getting full of leaves and seeds. You’re more than welcome to check the compost bin for how much I actually did sweep up.”
- Gary: “No. We don’t finish things halfway here. You’re going back out there and finishing your job. I want it to be spotless. Linda (not her real name) can take table 15.”
Gary then switched table 15 from my account to Linda (an older server)’s account. Linda and I got along great – she worked as both a server and a bartender, and used to be a General Manager with another restaurant chain.
She decided to join this team after her retirement as a part-time hobby. She taught me a whole lot while I worked there, and I’m grateful to have met her.
- Linda: “I’ll hang onto your share of the tips. Best not to make Gary angry.”
- Me: “He really wants me to make it spotless – does he know how impossible that is? I’d have to be out there all shift.”
That’s when Linda gave me a smile, and the lightbulb turned on in my head. I still had two hours left in my shift, and it was going to be right into dinner rush. I grabbed the broom and dustpan, and got to work.
I would sweep as much as I could, but every so often, another strong breeze would come by and hundreds more helicopter seeds would flutter to the ground. I kept going. At this point, it started to get busier. A line-up soon began to form out the door.
Linda was taking care of tables, but very soon it became clear that the other servers needed someone else to deal with everyone. Linda let them know what was up, and most of them, who tolerated Gary at best and hated him at worst, understood.
I kept on sweeping.
Like Sisyphus and the boulder, the task was never-ending. I scooped up pile after pile after pile of leaves and seeds, to no avail.
After 45 minutes or so, the side door opened suddenly, to reveal a red-faced Gary.
- Gary: “Why aren’t you in there serving customers?”
- Me: *gestures at the alleyway*
As if the gods themselves had heard the malicious compliance brewing, another strong breeze shook more seeds onto the partially-cleared alley, right in front of Gary’s face. The look on his face was priceless.
He told me, in a quieter voice, to get back inside and start taking orders. I handed the broom off to him, and he began to sweep. And sweep. And sweep.
The other servers and I had a good laugh about it inside, and I managed to make decent tips that night.
Gary realized he couldn’t exactly fire me for following his orders perfectly, and ended up being more relaxed about the side alley – no one really cares about some leaves and seeds on the ground, so long as they’re not obstructing anyone.
I ended up working there for the rest of the summer before quitting. I hear the pub had to be passed on to new owners after Gary’s disorganization got the better of him.
My next shift, I found a broken broom in the garbage. I’d like to think it was the work of Gary, red-in-the-face and exhausted from battling against mother nature.”
You got time to lean, you got time to clean! I’ve definitely heard that one before…
Let’s see how folks responded to this story on Reddit.
This person said that the restaurant industry is full of these kinds of manager and they made a good point: people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses.
Another reader made a good point: if you work in a job like this, just come up tasks that you don’t mind doing so you can look busy and you won’t get anyone asking what you’re doing.
Another Reddit user said in these kinds of jobs you mostly just have to LOOK busy.
And another reader agreed that looking busy and doing menial tasks really does keep managers and bosses off your back.
Now you know!
What did you think of this story?
Does it remind you of anything you’ve dealt with before?
Talk to us in the comments!