Getting Super Satisfying Passive-Aggressive Revenge

We all have to do things we don’t want to do—things we find stupid, or boring, or completely pointless. This especially happens at work, when we can’t say no to our horrible bosses, or when some other authority figure is involved. Yet somehow, these Redditors made following stupid instructions to the letter the perfect form of passive-aggressive revenge. Welcome to: “Malicious Compliance.”

1. Time To Face The Music

I was talking to some friends from undergrad and this story from my freshman year came up again. The second semester of my freshman year, I was taking a music theory course.

The professor was very serious about her job and this class was a bit of a weed-out class for students who wanted to pursue Music Education (I was taking it for fun).

By the time the end of the semester rolled around, I got the feeling she didn't really like me much because I didn't pay attention in class but still got As on the homework/exams/playing tests (I'd played piano for a decade by this point), so she couldn't really punish me for anything since I wasn't disrupting the class, but I was just a thorn in her side through lack of participation.

Our final project was to find a poem we liked and craft a song using the poem as the lyrics. As she passes out the requirement sheet, she announced that she would be playing these for the class, so we need to put in effort so that we don't feel embarrassed by what she plays in front of everyone. She shoots a glance at me—the least involved student—as she says that. I took it as a challenge. 

I found a poem called "A Minor Bird" and decided to craft my masterpiece in the key of E-flat minor. The reasoning: 6 of the 7 notes are lowered a half-step. So it's not a matter of thinking "everything I see is lowered," it's "everything but one note is lowered," which is fairly hard to keep track of while sight-reading something that utilizes both hands on the piano.

We were to hand them in at the beginning of class and she would go through the stack and play them, without practicing first. It's a freshman-level class. How hard could it be?

I spent weeks working on this because I wanted to make sure it was both well-written and an absolute plonker for her to play.

I had upperclassmen take a look at it to make sure everything was labeled correctly, and they told me I was the most magnificent pain in the butt ever.

Apparently, this prof had irked most of the students in the department who had taken her class. Then the day comes. We all turn our papers in, and I'm visibly excited by everything. The prof comes in and goes full Dolores Umbridge: "I certainly hope everyone met the requirements and put care into their work. If not, we'll soon find out!" She goes to the piano and pulls the first paper off of the stack.

She makes some comments about it that aren't negative but are a bit goading, regarding the amount of effort it seemed to take to write it. She pulls mine up about 2/3 of the way, sits down to play it, and stops at the first chord. Then my moment came. She looks around, makes eye contact with me, and straight-up glares before regaining her composure and plunking through my piece.

There are several chords that make a nice crunch before she corrects herself (that darn NOT-flat note tripped her up every time), and it sounds like whoever wrote this piece did an awful job because of how it sounded.

At the end, the meek international student—who has perfect pitch—raises her hand, and goes "Excuse me, Dr. ? That piece just has 6 flats in the key, yes?"

Prof: "Yes, it did. I didn't quite expect that." Student: "You...didn't play all 6 flats, it didn't sound." Prof turns, glares at me, and goes, "No, no I did not." I got a 97% because she marked a chord label incorrect.

I went back in and showed her that she missed the not-flat note in the chord, and that it was actually labeled correctly; got it changed to a 100%.

Passive-aggressive revenge


2. Smells Like Teen Spirit

Back in 2013, I was a senior at a high school I had just transferred to.

I had moved earlier in the year because my parents got divorced, and I made the deliberate choice to leave my old high school and move in with my dad, attending a new high school.

I won't go into much detail about the why, but it was my decision to leave my mom, my old school, and my hometown in the Bay Area, and move into a small apartment with my dad.

This comes up later. Normally, switching schools isn't a huge deal, but it was sort of an abrupt move; I wasn't able to take any of the AP classes I normally would have taken because they all had mandatory summer projects that I wouldn't have been able to do in a week. But that wasn't the worst part. A week into the school year, we were told about this stupid senior project they wanted us to do.

In a nutshell, there was some acronym like IMPACT or something, and each letter represented a value of the school. They wanted us to write about how IMPACT had influenced us in our time at the school.

We were then told that, should we not do the senior project, we wouldn't be able to walk for graduation.

I heard this and thought it was stupid for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that I had only just gotten there, so their dumb acronym didn't mean anything to me.

I brought this concern up to the lady telling us about the project, and her response was that I just "figure something out, or don't walk." Well okay, then, here we go. I brought it up with my dad, asked if he cared whether or not I walked for a high school graduation. He did not. So I just figured that I wouldn't do the project. End of story, right? Wrong.

You see, a few months into this senior project, they did a checkup on every senior. We just lined up in our homeroom to talk to some lady from the principal's office and told her how close we were to being done.

When I walked up, I told her that I wasn't doing it. She was confused. "You're not going to do it? You have to. It's non-negotiable."

"No it's not. I don't have to do it." "But you won't walk if you don't do it." "Yeah." Then we just sort of stared at each other, and she wrote my name down and shooed me away. I correctly assumed that this would not be the last interaction I had regarding this non-issue. Several weeks later, my suspicions were confirmed. I was pulled out of class and brought into the main office.

They ushered me into the vice-principal's personal office, where she made a bit of a show of pulling out some papers. She told me that the meeting was regarding a misunderstanding I may have had regarding the senior project.

She was apparently told that I didn't know what to do for the assignment, and I chose to boycott the whole thing as a result.

I quickly corrected her and explained that I very clearly understood what they wanted me to do, but that I thought it was stupid and wasn't going to do it. I also explained that I understood the penalty, and was fine with it.

She, like the first lady, seemed confused by this course of action and just let me leave, since there wasn't really much of a conversation to be had.

A few more weeks later, I get pulled out of yet another class for this same thing. Again, I'm brought up to the vice-principal for a one-on-one. When I get there, she looks like the cat that ate the canary, and I knew I was in trouble. She begins, "So, I know you were in here a while ago, and you said you didn't want to do your senior project..."

"No," I interrupted, "I said I wasn't doing the project." “Well," she continued, "we had a chat with your mother over the phone earlier this week. She told us that she really wants you to walk on your graduation." I was quiet for a moment. "Um...

I live with my dad." "Right, but your mom said she'd like to attend the ceremony and see you walk." "I don't think you get it," I stated, "I live with my dad for a reason."

If ever there were an expression that perfectly exemplified the dial-up tone, that's the face she made. After she collected herself, I was released and headed back to class. By this point, I was mostly just not doing the project because it was dumb.

But them calling a family member to strong-arm me was crossing a line. On top of that, they tried to strong-arm me using a parent with whom I was no-contact.

I decided right then that, no matter what, I wasn't caving into them. Screw the project, screw the school, screw the weird tactics they were trying to use. Though, in my anger was also confusion. Why the heck did these people care so much about one guy not doing an optional assignment? Also, I made myself very clear, so was that the end of it right? Spoiler: It wasn't.

A few more weeks later, I got pulled into the actual principal's office. The principal, for reference, was one of those guys that tried to make a show of being overly friendly and goofy, but to the point where it came off as superficial.

When I got to his office, he was his usual extroverted self, greeted me, and sat me down in front of him.

"So, I've heard about this whole senior project problem you've had going on. And I get it. Trust me, I really do—you're new here, so our motto hasn't had as much of an impression.

So, after talking about it with the folks grading the projects, we think it'd be just fine if you had a modified project. Just do a project on one letter of IMPACT, and you're golden."

He gave me a big warm smile. "No." "Sorry?" He asked, still smiling. "I'm not doing it." His smile was slowly fading, "But you only have to do one letter. It's really not that much." "Yeah, I got that. I'm still not going to do it." I stated. "

But you won't be able to walk on graduation day." "Yep." "So what's the issue, exactly?" "You called my mom."

His mouth was open like he was going to say something, but I guess nothing came to mind, as we sat in silence for a good twenty seconds, him trying to formulate an argument, and me just staring. I told him if that was everything he needed to talk about, I would be heading back to class. He didn't protest, so I just left. It was after this meeting that I got the real story.

Apparently, California schools will shuffle principals around every few years for some reason that probably makes sense, but I don't care enough to research.

Our principal was going to be switching schools after the semester had ended, and one of his big plans was to leave that high school with 100% participation in the senior projects that would otherwise not affect any final grade...

He used the threat of preventing students from walking at graduation to pressure everyone into doing the dumb project. ...Almost everyone. I stuck to my intentions and refused to do it.

And sure enough, after the deadline had passed, they made a big deal about how happy they were that 99.6% of students completed their senior projects, even though they were hoping for 100%.

And the absolute dumbest part about this exercise in stupid? After everything was said and done, I was called in one last time to the VP's office.

She told me that despite my refusal to do the senior project, they were still going to let me walk, and gave me five tickets for friends and family. I laughed, walked out without the tickets, and didn't attend my own graduation.

Passive-aggressive revenge


3. Can You Spare Some Change?

Despite the big bold sign written at our store about not making change for big bills, almost everyone with $50s and $100s thinks they don't need no stinking bank and will just go to us to get that big bill broken down.

Well, it keeps wiping out our tills when they raise a fuss and eventually they called corporate. Their response was to have us rescind the policy and...carry more money in the tills.

Obviously, they have never worked a till in their lives, otherwise they would know why we don't carry disgusting amounts of money in the register. But they didn't tell us we needed to have $20s and $10s. So we decide to start some malicious compliance. We go to the bank and their mouths twist into a grin when we tell them about our plan. We get dozens of $5s and $1s...and wait.

First guy walks in and smugly places down a $100. His change is $95. Here we go! I start singing the Schoolhouse Rock song. Five ten fifteen twenty twenty five...he gets nineteen $5s. He asks where the $20s are and I tell him "We are out.

People keep paying with $50s and $100s and wipe out the $10s and $20s." Second guy comes in and pays for a $0.50 cookie with a $50.

When he gets nine fives he says he wanted twenties. I inform him that he could always go to a bank. This continues for four more people. Take THAT.

Passive-aggressive revenge


4. Cutting Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face

Back in the days when 33.6kbps modems were THE thing, I worked for the engineering department of a growing company. This company had started small. It was privately owned, and the VPs had all put in a portion of their own money to start the company.

By this time in the story, they were finally making a respectable 30-40 million a year in profits.

But they still acted like a small company. In other words, penny-pinching. Our engineering department was designing circuit boards with embedded computer systems.

And to program these, instead of soldering the microcomputer to the board, we would solder on a microcontroller socket, and then plug in an "In-Circuit Emulator"

that would pretend it was a microcontroller, and allow the programmer to create the required program.

This In-Circuit Emulator, or ICE, was made by Hitachi. It plugged into a free PCI slot on your PC, and had a ribbon cable that would attach to the specialized microcontroller die that plugged into the socket. It was an absolute mess. It gave our tiny IT department headaches. It cost $15,000, and it was an absolute necessity for most of our most popular product lines.

And there was only one of them. And we were renting it. It cost $4,000 a month. The first month we had it, our CTO and Marketing VP planned our whole new product line around this family of microcontrollers.

So, at the end of the month, us engineers ask management to buy this for us, since we would be using it for a while. The Engineering VP saw the price tag and told us to just rent it.

Surely we would be done with it soon. Engineers, being practical, forgot about the objection and just put our noses to the wheel. The CTO and Marketing made plans to keep us busy using this microcontroller line for a while.

They pre-ordered a few million chips. After a year, the VP of Finance asked about this recurring contract line item. They called the engineer who had originally started the contract.

The engineer helpfully forwarded the approval from the Engineering VP, and his later email asking to buy it, and the VP's reply where he demurred. By the end of the week, this toy was ours.

Along with a second one, since finance determined that product rollout was being affected by not enough access to the equipment. Hitachi just gave us the first one.

Stopped charging us, and never asked for it back. We paid $15,000 for a second one. No one got fired or demoted. But at the next department meeting, the Engineering VP tried to tell us that we didn't have enough money to upgrade our PCs.

That one engineer spoke up, "Would $40 thousand cover it?" The company found the money.

Passive-aggressive revenge