back to article Learn the art of malicious compliance: doing exactly what you were asked, even when it's wrong

Ah, gentle reader, welcome back once again to the comfortable backwater of The Register we call Who, Me? in which readers' tales of not-quite-rightness are immortalized for the ages. This week we meet "Steve" (not his real name) who was in the US Air Force in the mid-1970s. As he was engaged to be married and base …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, I am the guy who ends up getting called to fix the mess *after* someone follows instructions but, rather than stopping if there is a problem, blindly carries on regardless. Or even worse, decides that they know better than the instructions and decide to 'do it their way'.

    Keeps me in a job so I can't bitch about it too much!

    <Disclaimer> Not my instructions by the way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Steves Failure

      Steve's failure was to not explicitly ask "Are you sure you'd rather not sort them by surname?" While if I had an employee do what Steve did, sure, I'd not penalize him as he did do what was asked. But if he had a history of that behavior rather than asking questions in a manner designed highlight that the request was non-standard when he believes the request was malformed, he'd go to the top of the layoff list. I am not interested in employees who play games at the company's expense, any more than I am interested in employees who are Prima Donna's. Both types of employees I am better off without.

      1. Roopee Silver badge

        Re: Steves Failure

        Whilst I understand your points about employees who play the system, Steve didn’t fail, clearly the manager failed.

        1. NoneSuch Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Steves Failure

          Reminds me of the Flintstones episode when they were glued to a bowling ball. "When I nod my head, hit it."

        2. juice

          Re: Steves Failure

          > Steve didn’t fail, clearly the manager failed

          They both failed.

          The manager failed by getting the details wrong, and failing to realise when being repeatedly asked to confirm.

          Steve failed, first by dint of the fact that in none of his four requests to clarify the work needed, did he ask for clarification as to why the manager wasn't asking for them to be sorted by last name, or for a justification for sorting them by first name.

          And then Steve failed even further, because the result of his actions was to force two of his colleagues to spend an entire day fixing things, which was bad for both the company and the individuals involved.

          It's not even clear from the story as to why Steve decided to do this.

          In the first instance, there's no suggestion that there was any bad blood or friction between him and the manager.

          And in the second instance, while I know there's a bit of a trope around Full Metal Jacket-esque brainwashing of soldiers, Steve was in the Air Force rather than the army, so I'd expect (or at least hope) that there'd be more scope for people to use their intelligence and/or initiative.

          In fact, I even stumbled across an article by a USAF Staff Sergeant, about the importance of PPPPPPP...

          https://archive.is/20121212024531/http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123012084

          As a young Boy Scout sitting in a junior leadership training class, I was taught something that sticks with me to do this day. The subject was the Seven Ps: Proper prior planning prevents pitifully poor performance. This phrase ties in very well with our day-to-day mission here.

          ...

          This also applies to procedures and plans that were in place before we arrived. If you see something you know is not working well and causes problems, don't just shrug it off and say, "That is how we do it here," do something to change it.

          Admittedly, this guy was writing in 2005, so probably wasn't even born in the 1970s, but the people teaching him as a Boy Scout would have been active in that era!

          So, yeah. I definitely understand the occasional appeal of doing exactly as you've been told, even - or especially - when it's provably wrong[*]. I just can't see why that seemed like a good idea within the context of this story.

          [*] I'm mildly reminded of Terry Pratchett's golems here, since they'd sometimes continue to carry out their instructions - no matter how dumb - as a form of rebellion, Sometimes for centuries...

          1. G.Y.

            !Re: Steves Failure

            old rule: There's no "why" in the army!

            1. Neoc

              Re: !Steves Failure

              Yes there is. Otherwise it'd be "Arm".

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: !Steves Failure

              "old rule: There's no "why" in the army!"

              Exactly, in the lower ranks, you are taught to do as you are told, when you are told and no delays. I have to agree that he might've/shouldv'e phrased his clarification question by asking "First name rather than last/surname?" but he did get the supervisor to commit and the supervisor could have come back later if he realized he'd given wrong instructions and had the work done over. Sometime a bit of mindless paperwork is just what's needed. I can do that sort of thing on autopilot. When MP3's came out, I bought a cheap CD/MP3 player and would stick on an audiobook when I needed to do mundane filing or rote assembly work. It helped pass the time and I like to read. Listening to a story can be an acceptable substitute except for a few narrators that too often get hired for the Sci Fi stuff I like and don't know how to pronounce the words.

          2. eldakka

            Re: Steves Failure

            They both failed.

            The manager failed by getting the details wrong, and failing to realise when being repeatedly asked to confirm.

            Steve failed, first by dint of the fact that in none of his four requests to clarify the work needed, did he ask for clarification as to why the manager wasn't asking for them to be sorted by last name, or for a justification for sorting them by first name.

            And then Steve failed even further, because the result of his actions was to force two of his colleagues to spend an entire day fixing things, which was bad for both the company and the individuals involved.

            I disagree.

            This was entirely, 100% the managers failure.

            The manager asked a random staff member who usually doesn't do this particular job to do a job they don't routinely - and thus not trained in the methods and procedures the employer uses - do. Therefore it was 100% on the boss to ensure someone who doesn't usually do that job was given clear, concise, complete and accurate instructions on what was to be done.

            If this had of occured with the staff member who would usually do the filing, then I would agree, that person should query the boss with their reasons behind why they are querying it ("we usually do it by lastname, are you sure you want it done by first this time?"). But some random who doesn't usually - and based on context apparently had never - do that job? No, why would it be assumed they'd know the 'proper' way to do it if it's a task they'd never been assigned to do before?

        3. GBE

          Re: Steves Failure

          Whilst I understand your points about employees who play the system, Steve didn’t fail, clearly the manager failed.

          And we all want to work with a guy who goes out of his way to maximise the damage and embarrassment caused by the mistakes of the people with whom he works. Good thing for Steve he never made any mistakes in his life, eh? Maybe the boss was such a total ass that he deserved it, but the boss wasn't the one who suffered. I doubt Steve's colleague who had to fix the mess Steve consciously and maliciously created was amused. Steve sounds like a first class pratt to me. [Yea, I'll probably get downvotes for this.]

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Steves Failure

            The fact the initial post got so many down votes just underscores why so many programmers write flawed code. The initial post was pointing out that Steve believed he had a communication failure taking place when be thought his boss was misstating what was supposed to be done, and rather than attempt to clarify the request, he just reinforced it with a minimal AC technical response. As others have pointed out, he had a strong belief the job would have to be redone by others, wasting their time & company resources. I've worked at some great places with great colleagues, and if Steve did that at any of those places, that one incident would mark him as a obnoxious dumb ass to all of his peers for the rest of his time at the company.

          2. eldakka

            Re: Steves Failure

            > And we all want to work with a guy who goes out of his way to maximise the damage and embarrassment caused by the mistakes of the people with whom he works.

            You don''t work with the boss, you work for the boss. Never forget that. The boss isn't your friend. The boss is the one who bears the responsibility, that's why they get paid more and have titles like "boss". It is the bosses responsibility to ensure work is carried out as required, and they do that by providing unambiguos, accurate, complete instructions, and it is the employees responsibility to carry out work as specified. It is not an employees job to cover for a managers own fuck ups. It is not an employees job - especially outside the employees area of expertise - to decide the boss is wrong and ignore them.

        4. Woodnag

          Re: Steves Failure

          The adage goes "Quality is everyone's responsibility".

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Steves Failure

            At the end of a production line at a company where I once worked was a burn-in station where a QA tech would wire up the new equipment and run a comprehensive set of tests. One of our upper-middle managers was "touring the manufacturing facility" one afternoon and asked the tech "is this where the Quality is installed?". The tech, knowing the manager was pretty much clueless, answered with a simple "yes" to avoid an explanation.

            For years afterward, we all cringed when this manager gave tours of our production floor to visiting big-wigs ... He always concluded his tour with a stop at the burn-in area, and with a big flourish would proclaim "this is where the Quality is installed!" ... You could hear the capital Q in the word. A senior IBM field service engineer/rep once took me aside and asked if the guy was for real.

          2. that one in the corner Silver badge

            Re: Steves Failure

            > The adage goes "Quality is everyone's responsibility"

            Ah, that old saying, wise advice from the ancient Babylonian Total Quality Managers. Like so many maxims, to the modern ear the literal meaning of the words is confusing or even humourous, as the common usage of "quality" has changed since this phrase was first coined.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Steves Failure

            "Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width"

            (damn, that makes me feel old!)

        5. Boozearmada

          Re: Steves Failure

          agreed, the manager's the twat in this instance

      2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        Re: Steves Failure

        I'm pretty sure that in some organisations, that would be seen as insubordination. Organisations, such as military ones...

        If you've had a "don't ask why" behaviour drilled into you, then you can hardly be blamed for not asking questions.

        There are good reasons, as well, for training people in the military to not question orders. Sometimes the orders coming from the top might not make sense to those carrying them out, and it's not that person's place to insert themselves into the decision-making process.Of course, successful military units also allow for a certain amount of thinking-on-your-feet, as opposed to a rigid decision-making structure (cf the current conflict in Ukraine where Russia's inflexibility is an obvious weakness), but even then, it's down to the military commander to instruct his troops to do that.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

          Not Questioning Military Orders from Above

          I've not been in the military, but it seems to me that the way-higher-ups have have access to info the ground troops do not, so troops are trained to follow orders without question, because during a battle, there are no time-outs for explanations and clarifications. The bad side of this is that the higher-ups may not have access to current, local ground-info which changes the effectiveness of their strategic plans from probably-a-win to probably-a-loss.

          Another problem is that that the protocol of relaying orders strictly via chain-of-command can introduce latencies which render orders ineffective, or worse. During the Battle of Mogadishu, General Garrison was flying in an observation helicopter and could see the convoy. He passed his orders (e.g., "Turn left at the next corner.") down the chain, but by the time the lead driver heard those orders, the lead driver had already passed the corner in question.

          The "obvious" answer to this problem would be to have the general speak directly with the driver, but that solution went against military protocol.

          It's also possible that the radios in his helo didn't work on the frequencies and modes of the radios installed in the lead HMMWV, so one or more translators, listening on one radio and speaking into a second radio may have been needed. (And that problem is a failure of planning and equippage.)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not Questioning Military Orders from Above

            In armies with a professional NCO corps, officers tell units what to do, the sergeants are then responsible for how to do it. Smart officers know to get out of the way at this point.

            Russian army doesn't have this, so officers are having to try to lead in the field. Explains the high attrition of senior officers who should not be on the front line and comically bad execution.

            As one video of a Ukrainian soldier notes "We are really lucky that they are so fucking stupid".

          2. eldakka

            Re: Not Questioning Military Orders from Above

            > The "obvious" answer to this problem would be to have the general speak directly with the driver, but that solution went against military protocol.

            Which driver? it's a convoy, probably dozens of drivers, hundreds if not thousands of troops under that general's command. It's not possible for someone in that position to know what every soldier under their command is doing at every moment. It's not "military protocol", it's sensible compartmetalisation. All large organisations, whether military, commercial, govermental, do this. The general would have ordered some colonel to arrange the convoy trucks, and the colonel may have appointed a couple major's or captains to look after certain parts of the convoy, major one in charge of the first half dozen trucks, captain one in charge of the last half dozen. Then the major would have told an NCO "I want the trucks in this order, with driver and a couple guards per truck" and the NCO would have turned around and ordered individual soldiers to individual positions "You, driver, first truck, you driver second truck" and so on. So the general wouldn't have known which driver to contact to order to change the convoy's route.

            So the general would have ordered the colonel to have the route changed, who also doesn't know who the driver is, he'd have orderd the major to get the route changed, and so on. And you can't have everyone plugged into everyone's comms nets, it'd be chaos, unnecessary data for a squaddie to filter out when a general is ordering someone in a unit 5 miles away to do something. So you'll have segmented comms too, with a web of nets, a staff net, convoy command net, squad net, etc.

            Now, I'm not saying there wasn't a comms problem, there was, it sounds like it was badly organized to have the ability to pass on commands to the lead driver fast. But that's not a "military protocol" problem, it's a planning problem, where there should ahve been arrangements put in place - outside the normal ones - to get orders to the lead driver more quickly.

        2. I don't know, stop asking me.

          Re: Steves Failure

          > There are good reasons, as well, for training people in the military to not question orders.

          Yes and no.

          Some orders *must* be questioned and even refused, as stated during the Nuremburg trials on the "Befehl ist Befehl" defense.

      3. Solviva

        Re: Steves Failure

        Why ask an infinite (OK finite in this case) number of possible ways for which the boss does NOT want the cards sorted, as opposed to the single possible way the boss does want the cards sorted.

        Customer walks in to a car dealer, asks for the car in red.

        "Are you sure you don't want it in black?"

        "No, red"

        "Are you sure you don't want it in white?"

        "No, red"

        etc for all the available colours.

        vs

        "So to confirm, you want the car in red"

        "Yes"

        1. Sven Coenye
          Facepalm

          Re: Steves Failure

          Don't laugh, but that is pretty much the way it goes these days. The missus had just that experience at the local Toyota dealer ~ a month ago. Still no new cars on the local lot and even with 3 preferred colors, 4 weeks of searching by the dealer turned up zilch.

      4. demon driver

        Re: Steves Failure

        So your company is another one of those where the bosses fire the workers because of the managers' mistakes, while the managers merrily continue to take home their exorbitant salaries. Would you like to give me the name so that I don't apply there by mistake?

        1. Mister Dubious

          Re: Steves Failure

          I heard that! Who said it? Come on, who's the smart arse? If nobody tells me I'll keep the whole class after -- Ah, I might have known. Put on this dunce cap and go sit in that corner until I'm good and ready to let you go, Elon.

      5. KarMann Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Steves Failure

        That's OK, the employees are better off without bosses like that, too.

      6. Ian Mason

        Re: Steves Failure

        No, the manager failed to understand that someone in the military is trained not to question orders. It's OK to question your own understanding of the order, but you don't question the order.

        The trick to questioning an order without actually questioning it is to repeatedly ask if you've understood it, which is exactly what happened here. This gives your superior plenty of time to figure out that they have got it wrong without directly suggesting that they have got it wrong. If you've got a good officer they say "Sorry, I got that arse about face. What I meant was...", if you've got a badun they blame you for misunderstanding the order, correct the order as if you hadn't understood it, and get a 'accidental' bayonet up the jacksie on the next exercise.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: Steves Failure

          The Ruperts need training properly. Otherwise they'll end up having an accident with a grenade.

          1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Steves Failure

            or worse, they can have their browsing history exposed...

    2. spuck

      Where there's muck, there's brass...

      ...or in the words of an enlightened co-worker of mine: "It all pays the same."

  2. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge
    Stop

    PROTIP - if somebody asks you two or three times if you're really, really, really sure about something, stop right there, step back, and take a good, hard look at your request.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At a big company I was working for 20 years ago, it became rather fast widely known that if I sent an e-mail with the magic words "is it normal that...", it was time for an emergency meeting because of a security breach due to the incompetency of our major consultancy firm...

      Note that I was not working in security at the time, but only on application integration on the new platform.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I cannot upvote this enough!

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "PROTIP - if somebody asks you two or three times if you're really, really, really sure about something, stop right there, step back, and take a good, hard look at your request."

      Windows users have been trained to click away all those "Are You Sure?" requests for years. :-)

      I still upvoted though, because you are right!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or alternatively, do something so bad the first time they is never a second request to perform the task.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Can confirm.

      I'm crap at ironing, takes me hours. Wife got so impatient with me doing it she doesn't ask me to do it again.

      1. cookieMonster Silver badge
        1. Steve Button Silver badge

          yeah, genius!

          She probably cooks your meals too. I'm sure there's no resentment, and it's not YOUR flannel that gets used to clean the toilet (yes, I knew someone that did this - not to me)

          I'm sure you can think of other subtle punishments that you might have been receiving for your "genius" lack of ironing skills.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I found some shirts (I think from WE) that were truly self ironing by fabric instead of coated with some stuff that ought to make that happen but never does.

            Once I worked out just how good they were (it's really a 'let it dry on a hanger' job) I bought a load more - problem solved.

            If I could only find a suit like that - the search continues..

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Try suits from Rohan - most creases drop out.

            2. jake Silver badge

              "If I could only find a suit like that"

              What is this thing you call a "suit"?

          2. wolfetone Silver badge

            "She probably cooks your meals too"

            She doesn't. I've tried her cooking, my shoes were more palatable than that.

            So as you see, it works both ways.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "She probably cooks your meals too"

              She doesn't. I've tried her cooking, my shoes were more palatable than that.

              So as you see, it works both ways.

              Why is everything a competition to some people? As you imply, a long-term relationship is a collaborative effort. I have the ironing problem - absolutely useless at it - note, not that I am deliberately bad at it, but that despite trying, my wife wouldn't trust me with more than a teatowel or a pillowcase. However, although she is a perfectly good cook, she doesn't enjoy having to do it. My cooking can be a bit rough-and-ready, but I find it a relaxing exercise and am happy to cook whenever necessary (though some help with inventing the menu would be good).

              Eldest doesn't enjoy ironing, but is actually very good at it, and it's a useful excuse to stick something on the TV and not be accused of "not helping around the house". Another absolutely loves cooking and will happily take over when I'm not around. One hates loading the dishwasher and will do anything possible to get out of it, but reasonably happy on the end of a vacuum and almost getting to the stage where they can be left alone with my new drill to put up a shelf.

              Family life should not be an exercise in totting up which means one person feels aggrieved because the hour they spent ironing is "worth more" than the half an hour another person took to empty the dishwasher, put away the things and then re-load.

              Remind me again how the conversation headed in this direction?

              And so it goes on. It's even the same at work, where two part-timers were taken on to do essentially the same job. Over the years, one has migrated down one path and the other down another. Yes, they can both (mostly) still do each others' jobs (useful when one's on leave for example), but this arrangement works quite well.

      2. Julian 8 Silver badge

        didn't work here. Most of my clothes are now unironed and have been for a year (this is mainly the jeans and t-shirts which are worn at home - and being WFH it is not a problem).

      3. Peter Prof Fox

        If God had meant us to iron shirts

        She wouldn't have given us jumpers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If God had meant us to iron shirts

          My wife cannot stand the sight of an unironed shirt, I've tried to explain that as we are keeping the heating low and I'm wearing a jumper that only the front and collars need ironing but he just cannot bear to have the sleeves and back unironed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: If God had meant us to iron shirts

            what about the front?

            1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: If God had meant us to iron shirts

              too many pockets with Bics

      4. jake Silver badge

        Easier method.

        Neither the Wife nor I enjoy ironing. So neither of us owns anything that requires it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Easier method.

          OK, but I found that turning the thermostat down takes the fun out of running around naked..

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Easier method.

            Horripilation is a form of erection as well.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Easier method.

            You're not running fast enough.

          3. that one in the corner Silver badge

            Re: Easier method.

            > takes the fun out of running around naked.

            Age will do that to you.

            "I don't know what he was wearing, but whatever it was, it needed ironing"

        2. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: Easier method.

          Neither Mrs IP nor I see the point of ironing, so we don't do any. We don't possess either an iron nor an ironing board - I'm well into my fourth decade of unironed clothes, Mrs IP at least into her third (we've been together for over 20 years of unironed bliss).

          1. vcragain

            Re: Easier method.

            The last time I decided I needed to iron something it took me ages to discover where I had parked the iron ! In thinking about it now, I realize I have no idea where it is or the ironing board for that matter !

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Easier method.

              Last time I went to do some ironing I discovered I had removed the plug to use on something else... don't remember when that was or what got the plug

              Plugless in Gaza...

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Easier method.

            My wife uses the word "iron" the way most people use the word "fuck!!" :-D

        3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Easier method.

          I enjoy a bit of ironing (much as I do woodworking, say, or doing a bit of soldering, or what have you), but no one around here seems to wear anything that you'd iron, so I haven't done any in years. Probably not since I last taught at university, and even there wearing an ironed shirt stood out a bit.

          I wore a tie (yeah, I like those too) to a big, important customer meeting some years ago, and of the perhaps 30 men there, I was the only one with a tie on. Most of the guys had some sort of jacket (suit jacket, sports coat, blazer...) or a sweater over a dress shirt, but no ties.

          Seems like men in the US mostly just don't dress up anymore.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Easier method.

            There's a reason that ties were fair game for anyone with a pair of scissors at most early Silly Con Valley companies ... hand-built one-off prototypes often had voracious cooling fans. The theory was that if we starved 'em of ties they'd be too weak to do much other damage. Not even IBM Field Circus folks were safe from the shears ... HP, somewhat wisely, decided ties were pretty useless fairly early on, as did DEC's Palo Alto contingent. Most of the other big names followed. Some of the Military Brass working out of Ford Aerospace, Varian & etc. had special dispensation to do without neck-ware "so they'd fit in with the locals" ... We had high hopes that it'd become a world-wide movement and we'd be done with the useless things for good.

            The only real use for a tie is as a handle when trying to shake sense into the wearer.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Easier method.

              I decide what I wear and why. In quite a few situations it's a matter of simply respecting the dress code, so if you had come at me with scissors I would cure you of the folly of seeking to impose your (lack of) dress sense on me in a non lethal but definitely memorable way.

              Am I a fan of ties? I don't mind either way. I prefer without, but there's such a thing as respecting decorum. I would not seek to impose my view on others, but I am of the opinion that anyone trying to impose their will or view on me through physical means gives me license to enact harsh attitude correcting measures. All in the name of self defense, of course.

      5. chivo243 Silver badge

        Old timers advice to the young married man... when you're asked to wash the dishes after dinner, wash them slowly and badly. The second night break a plate or a glass. The third night, enjoy watching the new missus washing the dishes!

        1. UCAP Silver badge
          Joke

          Old timers advice to the young married man... when you're asked to wash the dishes after dinner ...

          ... go out and buy a dishwasher.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Also ecologically defensible - it appears the hand job requires more effort [fnarr fnarr] and resources. Hot tip: use loose powder, by far the most economical.

            1. David Nash

              I heard a recent study found that washing by hand in a bowl of water ("British way"?) is most economical/environmentally friendly. Modern Dishwashers are second, and washing by hand with continuous running water ("American way"?) the worst. Makes sense.

              1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                The "British way" you mention doesn't actually get the dishes clean, though. It might remove the food and grease from them, but it does so by solubilising them using detergents, and unless you rinse them properly, you end up with a thin film of that food and grease on them once they dry. Hint: if they're on the drying rack with bubbles on them, they're not clean.

                Unless you want to do your rinsing in cold water, then using a dishwasher to both wash and rinse is probably more efficient. Modern dishwashers have eco cycles that take several hours and use much less energy for drying, so are probably arguably better than doing it by hand. They're almost certainly more water efficient, if not energy efficient.

                1. Steve Button Silver badge

                  YMMV.

                  It might not get them "clean" but it gets them "clean enough", assuming you have the water really hot, and don't use too much detergent. When I do it they look clean, they smell clean and they taste clean. How clean do they need to be?

                  You'll need to wear marigolds to keep from scalding your hands, which may not exactly be fashion accessories (but I don't give two shits about that).

                  If you are having a roast dinner with dessert, then you might end up needing two (or three) bowls of hot water, but generally one does it.

                  Throw in all the dishcloths at the start, so it kills off all the bacteria in the very hot water (that's my theory, but they don't smell horrid if I do this every day, so that's "good enough" again)

                  While writing this, I'm realising that I've probably given this far too much thought. (OTOH, it's something that we do at least once a day every day, so perhaps not?)

                  1. jake Silver badge

                    "Throw in all the dishcloths at the start, so it kills off all the bacteria in the very hot water"

                    Not unless your water is extremely hot.

                    Chances are that most of the "stinky" bugs are killed off by desiccation, so allow your dish clothes (sponges, whatever) to dry completely between uses.

                    1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                      The big problem with sponges, in particular, is that they don't dry completely between uses, and they provide an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, with moisture, nutrients (food residue), and a very large surface area on which biofilms can develop. Once you've got a biofilm going on, they're actually pretty tough things to get rid of. If you use them as scrubbers, and properly rise the dishes, this probably isn't much of a problem, other than the fact that they're likely to smell like a baby has shat in one of your kitchen cupboards.

                      Another big problem with sponges, is that they are almost invariably made out of non-degradable and non-recyclable single-use plastics as well. If you regularly chuck them out when they get stinky (which can be in as little as a few days in warm and humid weather), that's a lot of waste going to landfill.

                      I tend to reserve for handwashing those things that need a really good scrub to get burned on food off-of them. I prefer to use a steel wire scrubber for this (as long as they're non-stick) because it is both more effective, but also doesn't go quickly stinky like a sponge, lasts many months, and can be recycled in the household waste stream when it has got really tatty.

                  2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                    "It might not get them "clean" but it gets them "clean enough", assuming you have the water really hot, and don't use too much detergent. When I do it they look clean, they smell clean and they taste clean. How clean do they need to be?"

                    For those Brits of the correct generation, they need to be "squeaky clean" :-)

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  That's the exact reason that prompted me to install one. I like my dishwashing done properly, and as I know what havoc dishwasher liquid residue plays with my insides I also rinse things again when handwashed which does not exactly help reduce the amount of water I use.

                  What comes out of a dishwasher (after admittedly a long time, 1h20 is about the shortest) is clean to the point of being close to sterile, yet requires far less effort and resources. As a matter of fact, I've come across a study that states that rinsing dishes before you put them in the dishwasher is a waste of time and water, apparently a modern machine doesn't need the help. Even better :).

                3. jmch Silver badge

                  Dishwashers waste a lot of energy 'blow-drying' the dishes.

                  Much more efficient (not to mention better results) rinsing with cold water and letting drip / air-dry

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Mine empties and heats a tiny bit of left over water until it turns to steam (at least, that's what I think it does). It doesn't have a fan to blow with :).

                  2. spuck

                    Wasted heat?

                    But this time of year, the energy going into heating the air to dry my dishes (in the dishwasher) isn't wasted at all. After drying the dishes, the hot air ends up leaking into the kitchen and raising the temperature of the air there, too.

                    Unless I'm actively cooling the kitchen, any appliance generating heat (dishwasher, range, oven, toaster, etc.) reduces the amount of heat that the furnace needs to provide, no?

                    Granted, my furnace is powered by natural gas, so we could debate the efficiencies of natural gas vs. electric heat...

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Wasted heat?

                      The heat from the dishwasher is from resistive elements, a terribly inefficient way of producing heat (except at very cold temperatures). A heat pump is far more efficient than resistive elements. For furnace vs dishwasher heating, I suspect the furnace is more cost efficient, but depends on gas and electricity rates.

                  3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

                    Dishwasher Features

                    The basic, "bought-in-bulk by large flat-rental companies" model dishwasher I have has a front-panel switch which deactivates the heated-air-drying feature.

                  4. jake Silver badge

                    "Dishwashers waste a lot of energy 'blow-drying' the dishes.'

                    Yours might.

                    "Much more efficient (not to mention better results) rinsing with cold water and letting drip / air-dry"

                    Mine does just that, if I tell it to. But I usually use the heat option so they are done before the next meal. The water is heated with a GSHP, the heater & fan are solar powered.

                    I'm not doing dishes for a dozen adults (plus or minus), three times per day, by hand!

                4. Richard 126

                  Why is there a need to wash dishes? Today's food cleans most of yesterday's food of the plate and tomorrow's food will clean most of the remains of today's off.

                  1. Grunchy Silver badge

                    I have to admit to using Scruffy the Pooch as a highly convenient, self-powered dishwasher. All he wants is for the China to be placed within his reach (on the floor). Spotless every time!

                    1. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

                      Be careful of the human foods that Scruffy ought not to eat. A lot of them are easy to avoid in this context, but onions and garlic are really, really common in packaged foods, and are toxic for dogs.

                      1. jake Silver badge

                        toxic for dogs

                        Include chives, shallots and leeks with your onions and garlic.

                        Also, grapes (and raisins) and chocolate. Anything containing xylitol (including some toothpastes and mouthwashes). Avocados, persimmons, and macadamia nuts. Anything with caffeine in it, and anything with marijuana in it. Tobacco of all kinds. Peach/plum pits. Apple seeds. Alcohol (duh!), and hops.

                        For a more extensive list, consult your local veterinarian.

                        1. swm

                          Re: toxic for dogs

                          Our dog would eat anything: chicken bones, mixer beaters (only licking), corn cobs etc. But would not eat pop corn.

                  2. spuck

                    Ah, the Pease Porridge method

                  3. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    If you leave it long enough it will eventually wander off your plate on its own..

                    1. Lil Endian Silver badge

                      You know what happens to sausages left unattended for three million years? They cover seven-eighths of the Earth's surface.

                5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

                  Who the hell doesn't rinse the dishes after cleaning? Do they enjoy Fairy*-flavoured meals?

                  *other detergents are available

              2. Steve Button Silver badge

                That's how we do it at home ("British way"). We did have a dishwasher, but didn't replace it when it conked out for the 5th time (it was a Bosh and cost over £500 IIRC, so should have been reliable).

                1) We tend to cook from scratch, so a lot of pots, oven pans, frying pans + the steamer or slow cooker... none of which can go in the dishwasher.

                2) We can share the job as a family (and talk). someone fetches, another washes, someone else dries up and puts away. It's all very quick.

                3) When we had a dishwasher, we had to load it "just right" or plates would stick together, glasses would flip upside down and be full of baked on crap and need washing again.

                4) If we left a single piece of sweetcorn or a pea, it seemed to block the thing, and need someone to come out and fix it.

                5) It's more energy efficient. If you don't leave the tap running.

                6) The job is done in ten or twenty minutes. You don't have to wait for the washer to finish, and then put everything away (after you've already settled for the evening).

                I'm not saying I'll never get one again, but while we've got kids at home, it's much easier this way.

                Now don't get me started on why we didn't replace the tumble drier!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Now don't get me started on why we didn't replace the tumble drier!

                  You have the kids running around with laundry until it's dry?

                  :)

                  1. Steve Button Silver badge

                    LOL. Don't give me ideas.

                    We just hang it on the washing line (remember them?) for 3/4 of the year or hang inside for the rest of the time. Much cheaper. We get plenty of free wind, and the sheets are so much nicer when they have been aired in the sun (plus bleached a bit by the sun) compared to the tumble drier.

                    1. Caver_Dave Silver badge
                      Boffin

                      And remember a washing line is both solar and wind powered!

                    2. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      What exactly is your washing made of that you need to keep them on a washing line for 9 months?

                      :)

                    3. PRR Silver badge

                      > We just hang it on the washing line... for 3/4 of the year

                      3/4 of the year??? WHY?

                      When I was wee, Mom hung wash on the line in winter in Colorado, a bit down from Pike's Peak. It went stiff but sublimated in a day or three. (Yes it is a dry cold.)

                      Here in coastal Maine we hang most wash when not raining or snowing. 90% of the damp comes off carbon-free. Jeans will stand on their own but so? A 15 minute dryer tumble finishes it.

                    4. Paul Cooper

                      "We just hang it on the washing line (remember them?) for 3/4 of the year or hang inside for the rest of the time. Much cheaper. We get plenty of free wind, and the sheets are so much nicer when they have been aired in the sun (plus bleached a bit by the sun) compared to the tumble drier."

                      And even more efficient to use an electric dryer (these days a heated airing rack - see previous post!) during the hours of daylight if you have solar panels!

                2. Arthur the cat Silver badge
                  Trollface

                  a lot of pots, oven pans, frying pans + the steamer or slow cooker... none of which can go in the dishwasher.

                  They can. It's just not advisable. Especially the electrically powered ones.

                  1. Steve Button Silver badge

                    OK Mr pedantic troll, we *could* put most of that stuff into a dishwasher, but we'd need 4 cycles to fit it all in.

                  2. jake Silver badge

                    "They can."

                    Not the frying pans and dutch ovens and etc. They are all cast iron, as gawd/ess intended.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Fair, cast iron shouldn't usually see anything more than water, or you'll have to prep it again.

                3. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                  I have a Bosch as well, it has turned out to be pretty reliable (although as I write this, it is awaiting an engineer to come and fix a blocked pump, the first fault in 4 years of daily operation)

                  1) Pots and pans, and the insert from the rice steamer / slow cooker go in the bottom of the dishwasher

                  2) If my wife and I are in the kitchen at the same time, which is small, we get in each other's way. It is not harmonious.

                  3) Loading it "just right" means putting the plates and dished in the bottom and glasses and mugs in the top. I rarely need to put things through twice (maybe spoons used to stir porage, that sort of thing). If glasses are flipping upside-down, you are doing something very wrong.

                  4) That's why they have filters. Take them out and clean them every now and then. Also, dishwashers don't magically make lumps of food vanish, and more than washing by hand does.

                  5) How do you rinse your dishes, if not with running water?

                  6) Put it on overnight. Empty it in the morning. It takes two minutes while you're waiting for the kettle to boil for your coffee.

                  You're right about tumble-drier though. By far and away the most energy intensive appliance people own (and a fire risk if you don't regularly empty the lint trap), when you can hang your clothes on a drier for free.

                  1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

                    I have a Bosch dishwasher, but give everything a scrub first. 8 years with no problems, and I never clean the filter as the only thing that goes down it is water and cleaner, no food.

                    1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                      Food scraps get scraped into the compost bin (or fed to the hamster). AS far as I can tell, Bosch are pretty reliable, and I think I've just got unlucky with a waste pump problem. I've certainly been using the same Bosch washing machine for the last 20+ years with no issues, although I'm probably tempting fate by writing that.

                    2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

                      Pre-Scrubbing Dishes

                      .. rather defeats the point of using an "automatic" dishwasher. I've got the bog standard model in my flat, and I've never pre-washed anything (though I do paper-towel-wipe the dishes into the garbage can first), and have not had any problems with the dishwasher failing to get the dishes completely shiny-clean.

                4. tiggity Silver badge

                  I'm confused by this:

                  "We tend to cook from scratch, so a lot of pots, oven pans, frying pans + the steamer or slow cooker... none of which can go in the dishwasher."

                  Most of our cooking from scratch, plenty of oven cooking and steaming

                  Stainless steel steamer - fine in dishwasher, so are stainless steel oven pans, frying pans* etc.

                  "Crockery" oven pans / dishes are fine in dishwasher too.

                  I can understand the slow cooker as I'm guessing you have an all in one "plug in" slow cooker

                  But I'm still confused about the rest - do you have all your cooking items made of exotic materials? Or are even things as basic as a sit on the hob set of steaming pans replaced by a plug in "all in one" bit of kit?

                  * Though obviously if pans are "seasoned" e.g. as a wok should be, then do not dishwash them (wash carefully by hand) as you want to keep that surface intact.

                  1. Steve Button Silver badge

                    It's simply a matter of space. With a family of 5 and often with friends / partners over too, there's simply not enough space. A large frying pan would take up most of the bottom of a dishwasher. The slow cooker would just about fit in (it has a separate bowl) but would take up a massive amount of space. The steamer trays (glass) would also fit in, but you can't stack them and they won't go in sideways. We'd be doing 4 loads per day (and waiting for the stuff inside).

                    Probably when the klds (mostly adult sized now) move out, we'll get one again, but right now with the number of people and with the way we prepare food it just doesn't quite make sense. Economically or logistically. We have a very big kitchen, so we don't get in each other's way.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      We have a very big kitchen

                      So you could fit two? :)

                    2. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      May I suggest a hybrid model? Cooking items (pots, pans, slow cooker, etc) handwashed, dishes (plates, bowls, cups, silverware) in the dishwasher. As another poster suggested, turn it on before going to bed and it'll be ready long before breakfast.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Teflon coated things should not be washed in a dishwasher, apparently, so we don't.

                5. phy445

                  Dishwasher vs sink washing

                  Dishwashers vs sink washing was covered on the BBC radio show "More or Less" in 2021: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000zkzq

                  A full dishwasher was the clear winner back then. Recent Putin enabled energy cost changes might have shifted the balance slightly, but I suspect the numbers still come out in favour of the machine.

                  1. Steve Button Silver badge

                    Re: Dishwasher vs sink washing

                    If it wasn't for the pots and pans it probably would make sense. Just about. Although, as you've said, electricity prices have gone up a lot since then.

                    If you think about it, we're going to need a bowl full of water anyway to wash the pans most days. Might as well use that water to do the glasses, then plates and cutlery first, and then use the (slightly dirty) water to do the pans. If you are having ready meals, and throwing away the plastic packaging it's a different story, but we literally never do that.

                    1. eldakka

                      Re: Dishwasher vs sink washing

                      I wash my pots and pans by hand, most of them while I'm cooking (the ones I've finished with that is), and most of the others get washed before I've sat down to eat, while they are still warm and clean easily. Anything big like that that isn't washed before I've sat down to eat is either going in the fridge because there are leftovers still in it, or can be washed tomorrow while making that nights dinner.

                      I put all the small stuff (cutlery, plates, glasses, cooking utensils, plastic storage containers, etc.) in the dishwasher, and if you don't put large objects like pots in the dishwasher, you can put a lot of the smaller stuff in, so I only need to put the dishwsher on every 3 or 4 days or so, overnight, to be unloaded while doing breakfast.

                  2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                    Re: Dishwasher vs sink washing

                    I suspect the increase in gas prices will have pushed it more in favour of the machine. They fill with cold water, and heat it (with efficient insulation), whereas hand-washing, unless you want your hands to go blue, especially in winter when the incoming water temperature is below 10°C requires hot water for both washing (a bowlful) and rinsing (much more), most probably from a gas boiler. A dishwasher will rinse with cold water, and a lot less of it.

                    1. Steve Button Silver badge

                      Re: Dishwasher vs sink washing

                      We have solar panels* and an electric immersion heater, so we get free hot water when the sun is shining. (and yes, a gas boiler for the rest of the time).

                      *Unless you are phoning me up to cold sell me a service plan, in which case we don't actually have any solar panels.

                    2. Boozearmada

                      Re: Dishwasher vs sink washing

                      I've never had to rinse in my life when hadwashing the dishes, people are just being squeemish. I'll never get a dishwasher, just for lazy people

                      1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

                        Re: Dishwasher vs sink washing

                        If not wanting to eat from filthy plates is "squeemish" [sic] then count me out. I happen to have experience in both the fields of chemistry and microbiology, so I can assure you that rinsing things is very necessary to avoid contamination. I wonder if everyone in your household commonly has a "slight tummy bug" from the traces of rotting food they are constantly eating?

                        1. Anonymous Coward
                          Anonymous Coward

                          Re: Dishwasher vs sink washing

                          Or one from ingesting the detergent. Still working on training our youngest to wash her hands properly - after counting to 20 (and she's a slow counter) while scrubbing, a quick splash of water isn't going to get the soap off. "Rinse until the slipperies are gone!"

                6. Paul Cooper

                  "Now don't get me started on why we didn't replace the tumble drier!"

                  Well, I gave up on tumble dryers after the second one caught fire- and yes, I did clean the lint filter EVERY time I used it! The basic problem is that dust and lint slowly accumulate in inaccessible parts of the casing, no matter how clean you keep the parts that you're supposed to clean. I was fortunate - in both cases we were present and spotted the problem in time to drag the machine into the garden, where it could burn out safely. But if we'd left it running while out of the house, we'd have come home to a burnt-out shell! Both machines were well-known, reputable makes, too.

          2. Woodnag

            buy a dishwasher?

            OP thought he married one.

          3. EVP

            ”... go out and buy a dishwasher.”

            That’s exactly what I did. Works great to this day. Highly recommended.

        2. imanidiot Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Do you want your wife to resent you? Because this is how you get your wife to resent you.

          1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

            Indeed. If you start off married life with that sort of attitude, you won't be married for long.

            1. Steve Button Silver badge

              That was my thinking. If you are talking about your "Wife" then presumably it's someone you are planning to spend the rest of your life with. It being Valentine's Day and all tomorrow, it's probably a good time to reflect on how you treat "The other half". Most people aren't that stupid, and they are going to know your little tricks. And if you've got this attitude, perhaps you've got all the stupid in the family anyway.

            2. Boozearmada

              quite submissive attitude, easier to never get married in the first place, total mugs game

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            He hasn't worked out yet that a dishwasher is WAY cheaper than a divorce..

            Reminds me of a joke I came across:

            He: What do you want for your birthday?

            She: A divorce!

            He: I wasn't planning on spending THAT much!

            :)

            1. Caver_Dave Silver badge
              Joke

              Valentines

              I've bought my wife a Valentines present that will leave her breathless.

              A treadmill.

        3. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          No, if I'd get asked to wash the dishes by hand I'd refuse and get a machine to do the job ASAP. In todays time (and 30 years ago time) anyway.

          The only times I wash dishes by hand are when camping in a tent and other similar no-civilization-nearby cases. And that was about 10+ years ago? I think? A LAN party in some hut in the woods...

          1. imanidiot Silver badge

            I do all my dishes by hand. My kitchen is kinda small so I made the choice to prioritise having a proper cabinet for storage over having a dishwasher.

      6. phuzz Silver badge

        I don't think I know anyone under the age of 40 who regularly irons. With most clothes, as long as you take care to hang them up to dry without creases, you don't need to iron them.

      7. Tom 7

        My mum used to intervene and do my ironing. Fortunately someone invented non-iron shirts and I dont have to hope to play that game again.

    2. Caver_Dave Silver badge
      Happy

      Coffee

      I don't drink coffee, but I have been known (probably less than a dozen times) to make the instant stuff in the cupboard for visitors.

      When I started a new job the boss asked me to make coffee for the team.

      Freshly ground coffee (they were coffee snobs it turned out) looked pretty similar to instant to me, and so I just chucked some in a cup, added boiling water and stirred.

      Que "are you trying to poison us", "are you trying to get sacked on the first day", etc.

      I was never asked again.

      1. Lil Endian Silver badge

        Re: Coffee... and Tea

        When I was a good little boy of about 6 or so, I made my mum a cup of tea, with sugar and milk as she liked it. I didn't know that's not how you made lemon tea... :/

        1. James Wilson

          Re: Coffee... and Tea

          When I was a good little boy I made my parents a coffee. My understanding was that they heated up milk and then added instant coffee so I put the milk in the (electric) kettle and, well, it wasn't as helpful as I'd intended.

        2. Cheshire Cat

          Re: Coffee... and Tea

          An ex-GF of mine kept her sugar in the kitchen in an unmarked pot. Next to an identical unmarked pot used to keep the salt.

          She did not appreciate my attempt to make her a cup of tea. To be fair, mine also tasted nasty.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Coffee... and Tea

            A former co-worker told the story of a friend's very young kid trying to make Kool-Aid:

            He climbed onto the counter (too small to reach otherwise), mixed the water, sugar, and Kool-Aid powder, and took a sip. Turns out he used salt instead of sugar. "I f***ed up!" he loudly exclaimed. His mother, shocked at the language, called his name. Realizing he was in trouble now, he replied "I f***ed up AGAIN!"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Coffee

        I entertain myself with taking bean-to-cup machines apart when the proud owners show them to me.

        Most seem to think that chucking a cleaning tablet in it when it asks for it is all it takes to keep it clean, so when I take the thing apart and show them how close they came to create new forms of life they either do it right from then on - or never use the thing again :). They're very nice to make a decent cup of coffee, but you must respect the fact that it needs some maintenance (that's where RTFM comes in).

        (mine comes apart every weekend, but I do drink quite a lot of coffee)

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Coffee

          Coffee powder from grinding gets everywhere, however much you clean it. Even capsule machines need to be cleaned quite thoroughly every so often.

          I tend to use a mocha coffee pot, it requires a bit more effort to do the grinding / filling + washing daily but the results are better than any but the most high-end bean-to-cup machines.

      3. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Coffee

        For even better effect use hot water from a teapot that had a teabag in it.

        I can't stand coffee so fully understand.

      4. ArrZarr Silver badge

        Re: Coffee

        Asking somebody who doesn't drink that foul-smelling, bitter, hell-juice to make a cup of it is always going to lead to disaster.

        In my experience (of not drinking coffee), the difference between the worlds finest blend and instant out of a tin is like asking a blind person to pick up the red box instead of the green box.

    3. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Salve Grumio!

    4. fredds

      In the army, if you do something well, you then get to do that task whenever it occurs. It was jokingly called performance punishment.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        But it makes sense. Who is going to give the task to someone who does the job badly?

  4. b0llchit Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Smoking computers

    Working at a hospital more than 25 years ago... There was one instance where a computer was smoking and nobody turned it off until flames were present.

    I had given the doctors and nurses a very stern talking not to turn off a specific computer because it was paramount for operations. Well, until it started smoking and finally caught fire. Then they did turn it off.

    They had smelled and seen the smoke but remembered my very explicit instructions and let it go until the machine showed flames. They probably feared the wrath of the BOFH.

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Re: Smoking computers

      Lawl! They'd never heard that function follows form, if it's smoking and/or on fire it's no longer a computer!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smoking computers

        Nah, just makes gaming so much more realistic :)

    2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
      Facepalm

      Re: Smoking computers

      I had something similar once. An irate user called down to ask why their job wasn't printing. I checked the print queue - printer offline. "Is it switched on?" I ask. "Of course it's switched on," user says. "Can you just check if it's got paper?" Silence for a few moments. "There's smoke coming out of it," he says. "I take it that's not a good thing?".

      1. KarMann Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Smoking computers

        Finally! 'lp0 on fire's day has come!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smoking computers

      I once overheard a conversation between one of the Computer Operators ( no service desk back then, yes I'm old) and an early PC user who when asked to turn off the flamey computer thingy on her desk at the socket, asked if she had to put her hand through the flames as the socket was on the wall behind the PC. We rang told her to evacuate the building and called 999 on her behalf. Whilst PC's bursting into flame was not a common event it did happen a few times a year, normally caused by vents being blocked by piles of paper, which were a handy fuel when an early CRT monitor with a flat top finally overheated to the point where insulation was melting. second generation machines all had curved or sloping tops to avoid people using them as shelves.

      1. matthewdjb

        Re: Smoking computers

        Sloping tops didn't stop us from using them to dry out clothes when we caught in a downpour.

        1. Lil Endian Silver badge

          Re: Smoking computers

          Hehe, I've dried socks that way :)

          Neither is it easy to explain to a cat that "Yes, I know it's lovely and warm, but you're rather a good thermal insulator!". I'm pretty sure that if a fire had started, the cat would've just sidled off, not even attempting to call the Fire Brigade. Selfish little...!

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Smoking computers

            Selfish little...!

            That is overly redundant in case of a cat.

            1. KarMann Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: Smoking computers

              Not true. There are also selfish big cats.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Smoking computers

            Or tried to put out the fire with the only liquid they're ready to part with. Maybe even doing so preemptively.

          3. Old Used Programmer

            Re: Smoking computers

            My solution was to build a plywood shelf that fastened to the front bezel and had about 4" standoff legs at the back. The cat in question loved it. It was warm for the cat, but the vents weren't blocked, so no thermal issues with the monitor.

      2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

        Re: Smoking computers

        Ah, THAT IS why those old terminals look so round!

    4. Korev Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Smoking computers

      They had smelled and seen the smoke but remembered my very explicit instructions and let it go until the machine showed flames. They probably feared the wrath of the BOFH.

      The BOFH should have bollocked them anyway, just to remind them who's boss

    5. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Smoking computers

      why did you remove "DEVICE=\DOS\NOSMOKE.SYS" from the configuration file?

      1. b0llchit Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Smoking computers

        Well,... the init process and its children did not read that config file.

        Therefore, there was no preventative measures for lp0 on fire warnings and the parallel wired flames eventually trickled back up from the cable into the machine causing smoke and flames in the machine.

  5. ColinPa

    Rate your skill level

    Our management wanted to know the skill level of people in the department, so a questionnaire was created, which we all had to fill in. The questions were along the lines of What is your skill level in Windows/Linux/Mainframe

    0 - I know nothing

    1- There is a lot I do not understand

    2 - I know a lot about it

    We were told to answer the questions - and not to be too clever.

    I had worked on the mainframe for over 30 years - and knew a lot about it. (People came to me for help) - but I knew there was so, so much I didnt know, so I put my self down as "1 There is a lot I do not understand"

    The results were interesting.

    The "experts" all came out as "need to develop their knowledge". The people who knew how to logon (and not much else) came out as "experts".

    At first management were very happy, as they had some data. Some of us techies were asked to review the report and made comments like "give them a kernel dump, and they would not know where to start".

    Us techies then rated the other people in the department, and the results were completely the opposite.

    Management then realised they had asked the wrong question. They should have asked "do you have the knowledge to do your job" ( ie do you know which buttons to push) - but they gave up and this survey was never seen again.

    We learned that you get what you ask for - so make sure you ask the right questions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rate your skill level

      Everyone where I work has to do that every 6 months. I suspect that it actually gets very similar results.

      Any Engineer who rates themselves as 3 or higher (out of 5), would be an expert in most peoples books.

      All mananglement apparently score 5 out of 5 on everything, even the skills that they can't even spell!

      The scorecard system used to identify staff to perform particular tasks, seems to use the Engineer rating pretty well (again taking 3 or higher to mean expert).

      1. ColinPa

        Re: Rate your skill level

        re manglement scoring 5/5.

        We had a guy like that, so we hatched a plan. We had a deep problem which we could not resolve, so we assigned it to one of the "expert managers" with a 5/5 in the area, and made sure his name was on the charts for action and resolution. Suddenly he was not keen to point the finger at us. We eventually got him trained

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: Rate your skill level

          We eventually got him trained

          To stay well out of the way?

          :)

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Rate your skill level

        Somewhere on the planet Dunning and Kruger are high-fiving.

    2. stungebag

      Re: Rate your skill level

      Oh dear, the memories. I know exactly what you mean. We had to take an annual skills inventory. This was reviewed by my line manager and normally came back with an instruction to raise my reported skill level for most of the categories. It was exactly what you're referring to. I knew quite a lot but was aware that there were others who knew much more than I did.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rate your skill level

        I was the manager of a tech support team when the same exercise was carried out, it appeared that whilst the devs were all 'experts' on VM / VSE, Unix, Oracle etc my team were all inexperienced (I managed the actual sysops and DBA's) I had to call a team meeting and force them to replace 2's and 3's with 4's and 5's. In many cases the guys were more expert in their particular field than the vendors 2nd line staff. If I'd not intervened the senior management would have started to ask devs for technical opinions, which were always 'the machines not pwerful enough' or 'I need a better PC' , rather than our responses which tended to be 'optimise your code' or Do you want an index added to make that run quicker.

        1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

          Re: Rate your skill level

          I'm of the opinion that any developer who is writing code that saves things to a database needs to know, properly, how databases work. There's far too much "I only need to know my little bit" in the development world. ORMs are great things, but they really should be used to make the job easier, not to replace the knowledge. Their main problem is that they tend to produce unreadable SQL.

          If you can't explain how an included column in a covering index is used, or why specifying maximum lengths for all your character columns might be a good idea, you should learn! Ideally, a good developer should be able to look at a query plan and tell you what is wrong with it.

          1. Lil Endian Silver badge

            Re: Rate your skill level

            Agreed.

            Even worse, the dreaded "consultant"!

            I was doing a little bit of contracting at a rather large, and much beloved (ahem!) UK organisation. I was working in the finance department, not directly related to any internal IT shenanigans. When I started there was a large project that was already a year long, and had gone over schedule. There was a bottleneck which was ballsing things up. Time moved on. More consultants were brought in, more CPU power was added per their instructions. I explained to the FD the difference between processor bound and IO bound bottlenecks. "Ah!" So all in Finance just smiled[1] every time the project was extended, they knew more by then than the consultants for sure! It was still on-going when I departed two years later.

            [1] There was no point in the non-techie FD trying to make the point with all those suits about.

          2. Down not across

            Re: Rate your skill level

            Ideally, a good developer should be able to look at a query plan and tell you what is wrong with it.

            Instead we get "the database is slow!"

            Once eventually pointed out the query plan (and often the initial design) is crap they then require constant hand holding in trying to resolve the issue.

            Now, there is nothing wrong with needing some help, after all the DBAs are likely to have more knowledge of the RDBMS in question and be more aware of quirks/pitfalls/bugs. However, at least reasonable base level of understanding of databases (if developing code that uses a database) shouldn't be too much to ask.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Rate your skill level

        I had that, only person who had no training as the only stuff I would have needed training on was stuff I did not touch.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Rate your skill level

          I had that, only person who had no training as the only stuff I would have needed training on was stuff I did not touch.

          FOOF?

          OK, somewhat out of the ordinary for most of us here, but it definitely is something I won't touch.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Rate your skill level

            I don't install the stuff, I just work on our main product, I know it better than anyone, no training needed on anything else, as I am good enough.

            Support though - oh dear!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rate your skill level

      I remember a small company I once worked for tried this - but the questions they asked tried to elicit a desired response. I think almost every single question was asked in a way that pointed you towards the answer they wanted. I wish I could remember the questions (it was 20 years ago) but I raised it in a company wide meeting and the survey was quietly dropped.

    4. A____B

      Re: Rate your skill level

      Back in the last century, there was a 'skills inventory' developed at my employer.

      You were allowed to view and update your own skills at any time. There were no "are you sure?" or other validation checks.

      So...

      When (and it happened often) a salesman over promised and an over enthusiastic planner had caused a project to be rushed through, there was often a nasty "fix the bodges" maintenance task a few months (weeks?) later.

      What seemed to come as a complete surprise to management was the sudden downgrading or complete evaporation of the relevant skills from those people smart / cynical enough to predict the "faecal fan fiasco" and thus dodge the summons for support. The 'bounce back' shortly afterwards when an attractive new project was in the offing also caused some bewilderment.

      The whole thing was dropped within a year.

    5. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      Re: Rate your skill level

      They should have asked "do you have the knowledge to do your job"

      Due to the Dunning-Kruger effect, this would also be a useless metric.

      The problem with KPIs and other metrics, is that the things that are easy to measure are the things that also tell you the least, and the useful questions are very difficult to boil down into a pretty "dashboard" for the C-levels.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Rate your skill level

        Descriptors or an example for each level might have helped.

        These are tricky to draft and you will need a different set of descriptors for each role but the results will be much more useful for planning training.

        Icon: I used to write such things

    6. jake Silver badge

      Re: Rate your skill level

      "so make sure you ask the right questions."

      Learning to ask proper questions is an art in and of itself.

      http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

    7. Spanners Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Rate your skill level

      Aahhh!

      The good old Dunning Kruger effect!

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

    8. C R Mudgeon Bronze badge

      Re: Rate your skill level

      Ah, a variant of the old truism. Garbage out, garbage back.

      1. Anonymous Custard
        Trollface

        Re: Rate your skill level

        Or more accurate and more problematic - garbage in, gospel out.

        When the garbage gets sanctified and becomes even more difficult to remove or correct.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Classic

    Classic case of "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake".

    That's what some employees do if they think you become their enemy.

  7. Tubz Silver badge

    CHANGE follow the steps to the the letter, even if you can blatantly see it's wrong, no backups mentioned, but you do it anyway and keep quiet, it has been peer reviewed, approved by change board and then implemented. Wait for the fallout, cover ass by pointing out instructions, be the hero by having the back out in place and ready to run. Remind bosses during pay review of how much you saved them !

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Sadly that stuff doesn't count for much during pay review. Or when a few months later a round of redundancies is made...

  8. Contrex

    As I get on well with my line manager, and her line manager as well, I would ask, in a constructive way, whether she really meant what she had just asked for, and outline what I thought the drawbacks might be. I would regard it as silly and unhelpful to compound the foolishness by just blindly charging ahead, and might expect, if I did, at a subsequent post-mortem, to be asked why I hadn't said why it was a bad idea, considering I was paid to use the material between my ears, and the tongue in my head. This sort of this has happened, and I regard navigating such obstacles as a a key skill. I'm sure, given the tendency of toxic management to take credit for underlings' sucesses, and to blame them for management's errors, that I'd come off worse. If the management was toxic, I'd be off anyway.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    Breaking in that new manager!

    When a new manager came in, he wanted our inventory to match his wishes. It was in a relational database... I was instructed to change some fields. After a few reports were ran, and came back jibberish, I had to change other fields. Rinse, repeat for a few months...

  10. heyrick Silver badge

    I'd argue that this is not MALICIOUS compliance, just compliance.

    When you work in a company where the managers think they're a cross between Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and God, orders are handed down from on high and us little peons are expected to follow them.

    So I do. I don't second guess, I don't try to interpret what they meant, I simply do as instructed. If the instructions were wrong, I was not the one who issued them.

    Oh, and before anybody comments on the peons not using their brains and/or thinking for ourselves, we aren't paid to think and the few times that anybody does, if they were wrong and misjudged something, the shit splatters all over the place. We get reminded that managers manage, not us.

    Well, they can't have it both ways, and the least potentially destructive to my job is to do what I'm told unless it is clearly unsafe/dangerous.

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I'd argue that this is not MALICIOUS compliance, just compliance.

      "Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and God" -- Tautology Alert!

  11. jmch Silver badge
    Happy

    Vocabulary win

    Love the term "malicious compliance"!!!

  12. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    productivity

    One evening, the manager tasked Steve with filing all of the completed orders from the outlying stores. ... The following evening, the manager was puzzled. "What the hell did you do with the files," he asked. "It took two people the entire day to go back through the misfiled orders to refile them." ... he was never asked to do that filing again.

    So it takes Steve one shift to file everything according to first name, and it takes two people one shift to file the partially-sorted records according to last name. A competent manager would swallow their pride, but then we wouldn't be reading this.

  13. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    sometimes yes, sometimes no

    "have you ever done exactly as asked, even when you knew the instructions were bad?"

    It depends on the consequences of the bad outcome both to me and the company. (A) There are so many instructions where I don't have the needed background information. When I was young and knew everything, I objected a couple of times to daft instructions that were not daft at all. That taught me to think twice before spouting off. (B) There are so many instructions that are poorly thought out that I have to pick my battles. Is there a real negative outcome to me or the company, versus just some efficiency or possible rework? If the former, I give a hard no and don't back down. If the latter, I usually just do it their way, later taking the appropriate manager aside and telling them how they can save the company some money.

    In Steve's case, it was just some rework and loss of face for the manager. I _probably_ would not have done it the same way, then again I don't know the manager.

  14. WolfFan

    Nothing to see here, move along

    Many, many, many years ago I got instructions similar to those given Steve. I asked if they were sure. They were. I complied. There was a serious problem. Because I had seen the problem coming, I had set up a fix. The supervisor would not allow me to implement the fix, as it would not give him the results he wanted. He _wanted_ the funny results, just in (magically) the correct order. I said that it couldn’t be done. I was removed from the project and negative comments added to my file. I didn’t care, as I had seen the way things were going and had lined up another job elsewhere.

    Six months later the project still had problems. The supervisor was unstuck and sent to the company’s equivalent of Siberia, and senior management asked me if I could fix things, which I did one weekend, at truly exorbitant consultant rates. The supervisor stayed in Siberia until he finally got the point and quit. What should have been two days work took nearly a year and cost way more than it should have.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing to see here, move along

      Good job on you; failure was clearly on the supervisor.

      The big difference between this and the Who, Me? tale is that you pointed out what the problem was, not just "are you sure?"

  15. Grunchy Silver badge

    "Work-to-rule"

    This kind of passive-aggressive compliance has gotta be centuries old & is a type of job action used by unions everywhere.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work-to-rule

  16. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Facepalm

    This is not

    news

    Especially to us down in robot corner where the following is fairly typical...............

    The QA dept call me and say "this new drawing issue is missing the 2 hold down bolts from the previous issue"

    So muggins here calls the customer and says "drawing issue 15 is missing the 2 hold down bolts that were on issue 14"

    And gets chewn out by customer "MAKE IT TO THE DRAWING!!"......... followed by my boss because the customer called him to call me an idiot for asking.

    Made the parts, sent them in..... got the next order and about to stick them on the line

    "WHY ARE THEY MISSING THE HOLD DOWN BOLTS?!!!!!" comes the phone call from the customer whos just lost the first batch overboard because the hold down bolts were missing.....

    why do I do this job?

    1. Ace2 Silver badge

      Re: This is not

      IMO there’s a big difference between asking “are you sure you want it that way?” (knowing that it’s wrong) versus “why is this missing this critical safety component?”

    2. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: This is not

      Keep the communication in a channel where you can log it. Email, and not "say" would be the one on your case. You warning about a possible problem must be traceable, so you can do the full "told you so" round - in a polite way of course. As for "Why do I do this job?" - if you don't know why, run.

      1. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: This is not

        Agreed on all points..

    3. tatatata

      Re: This is not

      I usually ask: "Could you confirm this via mail?"

      This gives them a chance to rethink their initial response (happens around 25% of the time) and covers my ass when things go wrong.

  17. Luiz Abdala
    Pint

    Reddit.

    There is an entire subreddit dedicated to malicious compliance.

    r/MaliciousCompliance needs a beer served cold in a pint to accompany the reading. And lots of hours to waste.

  18. Sampler

    This is my life

    Always a polite "are you sure you want to aim somewhere other than your foot?" confirmation beforehand, but, if then instructed to do the very dumb thing, I will do the very dumb thing, after two decades of this shit, I find it the most efficient approach, because if you try and explain they're shooting themselves in the foot, point out where they should be aiming, it only becomes arguments, back and forths, escalations until you're finally instructed from upon hire to blast the toes off and then there's meeting after meeting of "how could we not foresee this" and "what could be done in the future", this way, we do it wrong, get it out the way and move on.

    Far fewer headaches.

    Someday, someone will learn to stop and go "oh yeah" when I rebut, but, as I say, it's only been two decades..

  19. ben kendim

    Absolutely..

    As a new hire Assistant Professor I was tasked with keeping minutes of a faculty meeting. I did so, verbatim. Examples: "Professor X said the Dean supported us for opening a new faculty position, but he would like to not let Mechanical Engineering know about it for now." Or, "Dr. Y said we should put EEyyy on the schedule, even though there will probably not be enough students to open it." and on and on. Was never asked to do minutes again...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Absolutely..

      With such level of backstabbing, it would have been hard for me not to do the same. I'd have also been looking for a new job in my free time.

  20. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    I often have customers

    asking me to do stupid stuff, like drop their carrier circuit to test a lower level circuit. But, I won't just mindlessly ask if they're sure, I'll ask for a last name. Usually that's enough to wake them up, as telecom is run on a first name basis and you don't get into last names until you reach director level escalations.

    When they ask why I want their last name, "Because you just asked me to drop ## working circuits riding this carrier to test your one circuit that's down, and I need to document exactly who gave clearance to take down live traffic before I can do that." Most of the time, they cancel and say they'll call back, half the time they never call back.

  21. aldolo

    even for

    under the italian military code you can argue an order with loyatly and collaboration.

    just asking for confirmation feels like malicious

  22. jlna

    not american

    You know apple pie is british right?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: not american

      That early British "pie" recipe was not an apple pie as we know it. It was mixed fruit and assorted spices cooked in a type of shell called a cofyn ("coffin"), which was an inedible container made of flour and water, no salt or shortening. The fruit mixture contained no sugar.

      The British Isles ... where good ingredients go to die. Since at least 1381, apparently. Perhaps now we know where the groans of the Britons came from?

      1. Sampler

        Re: not american

        Hey, British food and women made our sailors the best in the world....

        1. Tomato42

          Re: not american

          Same way Ohio made a lot of astronauts.

  23. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
    Headmaster

    not ambigous

    {The manager said this was to be done "by customer name, by first name."}

    Was he trying to get fired?

    He knew "deep down"?

    He's given two things to sort by , and the order of them. The fact that the second is the first name indicates the first value is not firstname

    If he really wanted to misinterpret it he should have taken "customer name" to mean "company name"

  24. billdehaan
    IT Angle

    Working with defence contractors teaches you life skills

    I wasn't military, but I worked with defence contractors, so in modern terms, I would be called "military adjacent" or somesuch.

    The most basic skill when dealing with the military (any military) is CYA, or "Cover Your A**".

    One of the reasons that the military has a reputation for staggeringly (over)complete documentation is largely due to the culture of CYA that developed, of necessity. In militaries where disobeying orders can get you executed, it's a good idea to have it recorded, repeatedly and in several different documents and locations that you "were just following orders" when you did what you did (sorting by first name, in Steve's case).

    I personally had a team lead who was notorious for saying to do X (sort by first name), confirm it, double confirm it, triple confirm it, and then when it hit the fan, would deny to upper management that he had ever said that, and that I (or another member of the team) had done X on our own initiative. If someone refused to do the stupid thing (because it was stupid), he would tattle to senior management that the person was disobeying orders. If they had proof that he'd ordered them to do X, he's say that the person misunderstood his instructions. No matter what, the subordinate was always the one to blame.

    As you can imagine, he was not beloved within the team for these reasons (and many others).

    So, when he one day decided to order me to do something particularly stupid, I confirmed that he meant it. And doubly confirmed. But I waited until the meeting with the big brass that was scheduled for the next day to triple confirm it. I did the "explain it to me like I'm five years old" approach, and he condescendingly spelled out exactly what he wanted done, step by step, exactly what he wanted me to do. And so I did, exactly in the sequence he'd laid out.

    The results were glorious. They resulted not only in invalidating a flight test and missing a ship date, they put the entire project at risk of cancellation. Senior executives got involved. First he tried the "I never told him to do that" approach, except there were several members of the brass who'd been present to see him to just that. They didn't understand the implications of the orders, but they remembered damned well that he'd not only ordered me to do it, he'd done so repeatedly.

    Likewise, the "well, he misunderstood" argument went nowhere, because I'd repeatedly asked for clarification, he'd provided it, and it matched letter for letter what I'd done, and what had caused the situation we were in.

    But the chef's kiss was his statement that "if I was really telling people to do things that stupid, people would be complaining all the time", apparently unaware that at least six team members (although I was not one of them) had made formal complaints both to management, and in two cases to HR, about being backstabbed exactly like this. When they checked, there were something like 38 such complaints over a period of 3 years.

    Unsurprisingly, in the next re-org shuffle about six weeks later, he was moved into the newly-created "Special Projects" group where he would be leading the team (which at the moment was just him) in said special projects, which were yet to be defined. Internally, this was later referred to as the "Ice Floe" group, named after the practice of some Inuit tribes to put their sick and elderly members who were a drain on the tribe onto an ice floe so that they'd float away and die.

    1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

      Re: Working with defence contractors teaches you life skills

      > CYA

      has been officially cleaned to be CYB, aka Cover-Your-Bases.

      You speak about very old times if you use CYA.

      The Political-Correctness-Level in USA is SO unimaginable high it is difficult to grasp for non US.

      And never ever make the mistake to use W-list and B-list. Use Allow-List, Deny-List and Reject-List. The latter is: The bouncer throws you in the nearest river and you will never be heard of again.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Working with defence contractors teaches you life skills

        "has been officially cleaned to be CYB, aka Cover-Your-Bases."

        What official made that choice, for whom, and when? I've never seen it.

        'You speak about very old times if you use CYA."

        This morning is "very old times"? I suggested to one of our clients who sold a horse trailer that she include the time, not just the date, on the bill of sale, just to cover her ass. She thanked me for the advice.

        "The Political-Correctness-Level in USA is SO unimaginable high it is difficult to grasp for non US."

        I use "cover your ass" and "cover my ass" all the time here in the United States. Nobody has ever bitched at me for it. Perhaps you should actually travel to the place you are talking about before making comments about it? Parroting what you have heard makes you sound like a bird brain.

        "And never ever make the mistake to use W-list and B-list. Use Allow-List, Deny-List and Reject-List. The latter is: The bouncer throws you in the nearest river and you will never be heard of again."

        I use white list and black list all the time. Again, nobody has ever bitched at me about it ... except the nameless, faceless politically correct namby-pamby handwringers that infect/infest certain portions of the Internet. The vast majority of us ignore them.

        And I'm in the supposedly ultra-politically correct California. Don't believe everything you see on Dear Old Telly. It lies to you.

        1. Jou (Mxyzptlk) Silver badge

          Re: Working with defence contractors teaches you life skills

          > I use "cover your ass" and "cover my ass" all the time here in the United States.

          Try that on youtube in a video. Or in a comment. Both might get auto-deleted by youtube. This guy specifically warns and explains why he uses CYB expression, though you'd have to learn German to understand him.

          > I use white list and black list all the time. Again, nobody has ever bitched at me about it.

          No, you just didn't notice how many people shake their head or roll their eyes to see someone still stuck there in 2023. Or you are in a part of the US where PC is frowned upon - due to the size and the huge differences within the US it is possible you live in such an area. I could guess, but with 50 (+1) states and 3100+ counties I have no change to guess right :D.

          > Don't believe everything you see on Dear Old Telly. It lies to you.

          That is a US specific problem, since there are no independent neutral news anywhere. As I mention in The Reg more and more often: After World War 2 the allied forced some specific rules upon Germany, including state financed independent uncontrolled actually neutral news. There is a reason why so many trust that news source. And believe me, if that would change the slightest bit, it would get noticed by a HUGE number of countries. As for a current reference: There is a political reason why Germany delays delivering those tanks, the Russians still remember world war 2 and how my ancestors made it to Stalingrad.

          As for the source of the PC warnings: A German living in America, in this case someone living in San Diego. I could show you a few more of those "Germans living in the US", though there are more channels of Americans living in Germany. And how they get a reverse culture shock every time they come back to the US for a few weeks. Their view on America changes drastically once they are out of the isolated US bubble.

  25. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Not really MC

    I don't see this story as the best example of malicious compliance. The malice wasn't there and Steve did try to clarify that what he was told was accurate without insinuating the supervisor was on drugs/drink. I've worked at a company where they did things oddly just because everybody else did it the other way. If NASA designed something a certain way, they'd not take that as a good example even though NASA probably spent millions figuring out that it is the best way after exploring every single other option, as they do. I do some things the way I do because it makes sense to me and I've been self-employed for much of my working life. When I was manufacturing, inventory wasn't necessarily stacked in part number order. Due to the size and weight of some parts, they needed to go on the ground level and a smaller/lighter version could go higher on the pallet racks. They'd all be "MR-" series parts but the MR-4XX stuff would be on the ground as the pallets weighed tons and the MR-17X parts only weighed a few hundred per pallet. The complimentary "MO-" and "MM-" parts would be in the same area so the system didn't take too long to get used to.

    I did file customers by last name if they weren't a company. We sold mainly B2B so didn't have too many issues with that.

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