They say the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
One might wonder why we keep trying to collaborate with mice, but even when we don’t, it’s certainly true that our attempts to make things play out our way often backfire.
Here are 15 great examples of that phenomenon via Reddit.
1. A gift for you.
I worked for a consulting company, traveling monday-thursday somewhere in my country. We had a pretty good hotel allowance (enough for 5 star hotels) and a great rule: if you stayed with a friend, you got an allowance (about a third of the hotel allowance) to buy gifts for the host.
I got the rare treat of a 6-month project in the town of my best friend from childhood was going to university. We made a great arrangement: I would crash at his place and spend the evenings drinking beer, watching movies and play videogames. In return, I used the gift allowance to order dinner for the two of us.
After submitting my first expense report, I was told by some HR drone that the gift allowance was supposed to be used seldomly and not for food for myself.
So I booked a room in a five star hotel, was upgraded to a junior suite because of my rewards status and invited my friend to evenings of beer, video games and room service.
After my second expense report, the project manager asked me about the tripling of the expenses compared to the first report. After explaining the situation and pointing out what sum of money it would mean over the 6 months, he got in contact with HR…
Two days later, the rule was rescinded. The project even got my friend (the then newly released) PS3 as a thank you for letting me stay with him.
2. Walk the line.
I was working as a medical assistant at a private practice medical clinic.
Our clinic manager wouldn’t allow the new receptionist to drive to the bank to deposit cash. Made her walk carrying the money bag so that she couldn’t “drive away with the money.” Bizarre. I know.
That went on for a few weeks.
Then the receptionist was mugged and over $1000 in cash was stolen.
She was allowed to drive after that.
3. 15 minutes of shame.
My boss started putting “all staff required to start 15 mins earlier than indicated” on the roster.
I started keeping track of my unpaid overtime and stung her for 3 paid days off.
That’s not required anymore.
4. What’s an internet?
Not mine, but an old roommate of mine was a senior developer for a small company. It was an open secret that one of the other senior devs, a guy who had been there since the beginning, would sometimes spend time looking at plastic surgery photos–before/after shots, photos of active procedures, etc. He did it enough that people would poke fun at him about it, but he didn’t seem embarrassed about it, and it wasn’t harming anyone.
Well, one day a project manager said something to the CEO about this guy’s ongoing plastic surgery obsession, and the CEO flipped. He said that, going forward, no one was allowed to use their work computers to access external websites AT ALL.
Anyone who’s ever been a developer knows that half the job is googling stuff, so this policy pretty much halted productivity in its tracks. It only lasted a day before the CEO retracted the rule, but let everyone know that their browser history would be monitored going forward. After that, no one really changed their behavior, they just started remotely accessing their home computers to browse instead.
5. Cutting corners.
Not a stupid rule, but I think this should apply.
I’m in aviation maintenance and wanted to leave the current company that I worked for 12 years with. During my interview at the new company, I was asked why I was thinking of leaving my current job, being that it was a good and reputable company. I said new management is all about efficiency and NOT the 1 thing aviation maintenance is all about, SAFETY. Interviewer liked my interview and assured their company doesn’t cut any corners in safety vs cost. I get the job.
Fast forward 6 months or so, I’m the new guy, so I get the short end and have to work Xmas Eve. Should be a short day, bosses plane is coming in from Cabo to drop off chartered passengers, fill up on fuel and take him and family to their vacation home in Aspen. Plane arrives and as I’m doing my “post flight” walk around, I see a big problem that forces me to ground the plane.
Boss is clearly not happy, attempts to force me to make an unapproved repair, I deny to do so and I’m sent home. Sweet!! I didn’t quit, it’s documented and I get to go home earlier than planned on a holiday.
Someone else gets called in to do the “Mickey Mouse” of a repair, everyone’s happy, plane taxis out with owner and family, full on fuel and tries to take off. Ooops.
Crappy repair failed, huge component breaks off and goes into the inlet of the jet engine, grenades that engine, planes brakes overheat trying to stop the heavy ass plane with just 1 engine, some fuselage is damaged from the engine that gave out and the plane finally comes to a stop. FAA comes in. SWEET!! Who made this repair? Who accepted to take this flight? What company operates this way!?
So, dummy tech that tried to make the repair gets his license revoked, the boss owns the charter company so he’s fined a HUGE amount and is put on a “probation” with continuous FAA audits AND, best of all, the insurance rejected his claim to the engine because it was negligence. This cost him millions!!! And they couldn’t fire me. I got to tell the story over and over and over with a big smile on my face.
6. Better to give than to receive.
My spouse’s workplace realized they didn’t have a policy about sending sexual images or jokes as part of their email acceptable use policy, so they added it.
Except they made it a firing offense to send or receive sexual content (I think the intent was to stop people from subscribing to such content). They also said that your access would be immediately revoked until a determination was made.
So someone got fired for something else and decided to send their whole management chain a graphically sexual image, then report it using the anonymous tip line. IT got the report, concluded they did indeed receive sexual content, and did as required—suspended all the involved email accounts, including the SVP’s.
The policy has since been reworded
7. Take a walk.
The bottom floor of my secondary school was a square that had corridor all the way around. After some incident where a kid got knocked over, they implemented a one-way system.
Unfortunately, they were Very Strict on enforcing it. If you accidentally walked past your class, you couldn’t just turn around.
They seemed very proud of their new rule… until everyone started showing up late for class because they had to do extra laps of the bottom floor.
8. On Wednesdays we wear pink.
A long while back, but my school banned the color pink because a bunch of students were wearing it one October and they thought it was a “gang” thing.
It was for breast cancer awareness month.
The rule didn’t go well for them.
9. Shift switching.
In Las Vegas the fire departments had a policy that if someone called out and you covered their shift, you get paid overtime.
Eventually ever firefighter at every department was trading shifts so that they were always making overtime. Went on unnoticed for over a year.
It was a HUGE scandal and the ones in charge who let it go on and effectively cost the city millions had the book thrown at them hard.
10. Smoke ’em out.
My HS had a smoking in the bathroom problem and to solve it, rather than having a teacher outside the restrooms during hall time, they locked all the bathrooms except one. This made it so you had to wait in a stupid long line with 1200 other students trying to use 3 stalls for each gender in the 10 mins between classes.
During class time they had the assistant principal sit outside the one open bathroom and they would check your ID and sign you IN and OUT and only 1 student in at a time.
• Major health code violation
• Kids would be holding it all day.
• Girls on their cycle needed the restroom and would often have to get a pass from class to go use the restroom bc the lines were too long during breaks.
• Smokers still smoked in the gym locker rooms during changing time.
This rule didnt solve anything but made it very unhygienic and rather annoying to just use the restroom.
11. Ups and downs.
To make moving between classes more efficient, they had designated up and down stairways. But they didn’t take into account that the stairs were located at the ends of the very long corridors , which meant it was impossible to get to your next class on time.
Because of this, no one bothered trying to get to class on time and just blamed the stairway rule.
12. Quotable quotas.
Every shift, there’s a quota we need to fulfil. And then, even if you do fulfil it, you have to keep working until your 8 hours are up.
Cue everyone speeding for 4 hours, having a 3-hour lunch/coffee break, then slowly moving their *ss for an hour. No rule about us taking necessary breaks if we’re still capable of reaching the quota.
Now we’re allowed to stop once we’re done.
13. Social skills.
Back in 2011, a company I worked for had the bright idea to block all social networks because, you know, employees should work instead of slacking off on Facebook.
I could write volumes of books on the toxic culture in that place, but the Owner/President who lived in a different country and visited about once every few months was universally feared by everyone and a few days before his arrival the whole building went into panic mode.
So a few weeks after the social network ban, his royal highness shows up, and 5 minutes later half of IT department is scrambling to his office. Apparently there was an issue with the Wifi, or at least that’s what he figured since he couldn’t log onto Facebook.
It was fixed in seconds.
A few years and three promotions later, I make a joke about it with him. Instead of a laugh, I get a confused look.
Turns out he still thinks it was “some internet problem” since whoever decided to ban social networks didn’t have the b*lls to tell him about it after the incident.
14. Organized crime.
At my old school you could get suspended for most minor infractions. This included smoking.
However if you were a witness to other people smoking then you would get suspended along with them.
So this ended up with everyone constantly working together to hide the smokers at all cost otherwise just about everyone would be suspended.
15. Very alarming.
I am the one who lives closest to work, so if the building alarm goes off overnight, I’m first on the list to get the call from the alarm company.
It used to be that if we had good reason to believe the alarm was not an actual break in we could tell them not to summon the police and ignore the alarm. (I can access the building cameras from home. The most common alarm was the cleaning crew who were always messing up the disarming.)
Then a sister site ignored an alarm that turned out to be an actual break-in, and the facilities director decided that no matter what, if there was an alarm we should have the alarm company summon the police, then go to the building, get the police all clear, and re-set the alarm. This was a pain in the *ss but rare enough and I lived literally 2 minutes away.
Then we contracted for the alarm company to come in and replace all of our panels and sensors. It was a nightmare process that ultimately ended up taking months, and the whole time there were phantom alarms, sometimes multiple times a night.
Each time I had to go out in the middle of the night, I’d prepare the required report, send it to the facilities director, and request to go back to the old process. Each time he said no, we couldn’t afford to miss a potential real break-in.
After about three weeks of this nonsense, I was due for some time off. I was going out of town, and the protocol for that was for me to ignore calls from the alarm company so they moved to the next person on the list… which happened to be the facilities director.
In the five days I was off, I must have ignored at least four overnight calls that all would have gone to him next. Then suddenly, nothing. When I got back I was informed that for the duration of the alarm update, we just weren’t going to arm the building at all.
So much for “can’t afford to risk a break in!”
Don’t make dumb rules, and don’t rely on mice for anything.
Do you have more examples of this kind of thing?
Tell us in the comments.