Glen Jones/Shutterstock, Reddit

Employee Gets Revenge On Employer For 11 Years After Getting Disciplined For Being 22 Seconds Late

I think I would lose my mind if I ever had to work in an office like this.

My feeling is: if the work is being done, I don’t particularly care if people are in and out “on time”. I’m not paying someone (or being paid) to exist in a space, I’m paying for the work completed.

u/ChiefSteward recently wrote a post in the Malicious Compliance subreddit titled “Discipline Me for Being 22 Seconds Late Without Notice? Got it! Won’t Happen Again!” and yep, it’s a good one!

black and brown analog desk clock
Photo by Joshua Olsen on Unsplash

First, it’s insane that this lasted for YEARS. But to start, OP explains the late policy and that this employer uses a points system to let people go.

This happened several years ago because it was some malicious compliance that lasted for years.

My former employer uses a points-based system to track attendance. The parts of the policy relevant to this story are:

Tardy with call-in prior to the start of shift: 1/2 point

Tardy with no call: 1 point

Accumulate enough points and you’re fired

There was also a train track near the facility and sometimes, you know, it had trains! You can’t really … go through a train. So you may just be late.

There’s a set of train tracks crossing the street that leads to this facility. Occasionally, trains will stop while blocking this crossing. If you’re caught there in the last few minutes before you’re supposed to clock in, you have a decision to make: wait or go around. Either way, you might be late. Sometimes you’ll decide to go around and then the train clears the crossing and the folks who waited get in before you. Sometimes you’ll wait and watch through the gaps in the train cars as folks who went around pull in to the parking lot while you’re still idling at a blocked train crossing. To be clear, “going around” involves taking a lot of secondary county roads as well as a few field access roads (it’s an extremely rural area), so you literally never know what kind of road conditions you’re going to find along the way around. The roads may even be entirely unusable during the winter months where snow covers them.

OP got caught behind the train and waited for it to pass; they got to the punch clock and the clock in time was a-okay! Phew!

One night, during my years on third shift, I was stopped at these tracks and decided to wait. Eventually the train moved on. I raced into the parking lot, used my key card to zip through the turnstiles, and ran to the punch clock. My clock in time was 10:30PM.

But… OP got stuck at the biometric machine, which wasn’t reading his fingerprint. So OP skipped it and told their manager.

They have these biometric punch clocks that read your fingerprint to clock employees in and out. Sometimes these clocks just will not read your fingerprint. I got to the punch clock and it said “10:30”. I’m golden. It doesn’t track seconds. I entered my employee ID number and placed my finger on the sensor. Three beeps: failed read. Tried again. Three beeps. Tried once more. Three beeps. Nope, not trying again because by this time the clock was likely to tick over to 10:31 in the middle of reading my finger.

When I got to my assigned work area, I told my team manager what happened. He said don’t worry about it, he’d manually punch me in.

I should have listened. But I’m a worrier.

OP headed to the attendance office and, as expected, something was amiss. The office advised OP to leave earlier. Really cool, guys.

In the morning, when the front office people started showing back up, I went to the attendance office to confirm that my situation was all good. The office administrator decided to check my “gate time”, and use that as the determining factor. I scanned my key card at 10:30:22 PM. That’s a tardy, no-call. One full attendance point to be issued. I reiterated that it was a train stopped on the tracks, completely beyond my control. She advised me to either leave earlier (and just wait an extra half an hour for my shift to start on the majority of days) or else get a cellphone (I didn’t have one at all back then) to call in with from the road next time.

Instead, OP started calling in absent every. Single. Day. It was so annoying that OP was asked to stop, but learned something else: calling in too early makes it hard to get the notice to the right place.

Well, what I did instead was start calling in absent “just in case something comes up after I leave home but before I arrive at work” in the evenings before leaving for work. The first few days the attendance office up front was just bemused. After weeks, they became annoyed. After months, they’d apparently complained enough and I finally got told to stop. During the course of this conversation they revealed that calling in too early before the start of your shift made it extra challenging to make sure the notice gets to the right members of management, because the message is no longer flagged as “new” by the time they’re creating logs for the next shift.

From that point on, OP called before leaving the facility.

This was great news for me. From then on, every morning before leaving the premises at the end of my shift, I used one of their phones to call in absent for my next shift that evening.

The office tried to write OP up, but was slapped down by the labor union. The manager who had tried to help OP was always given real notices directly if anything was up.

They tried to write me up for insubordination but the labor union slapped it down, pointing out that the collective bargaining agreement specifies the time we must call in by, but does not specify a time before which call-ins may not be made. Cue the huge grin across my face.

I never forgot that my team manager tried to do me a solid though. If I was actually going to be late or absent for some reason, I would call that TM’s desk line directly to let them know.

OP kept doing this after they got a cell. And their work continued to be annoyed AF.

Even long after I finally got a cell phone, I continued doing this; I’d just call-in on my way home, instead of sticking around to use their phones after my shift. Found out years and years later from some union reps that upper management never got over this. Drove them nuts that they got beat at their own game by something so simple. It didn’t bring the walls crumbling down, but it was a persistent, enduring source of frustration and impotence for them. And really, knowing you can manage all of that with just a 22 second phone call a day… that’s the kind of thing that gets you out of bed in the evening.

TL;DR: I got full discipline for being 22 seconds late without calling in to give notice due to a stopped train blocking access to the workplace. So for the next 11 years, I called in absent from work every single day “just in case”, then still showed up on time every time, creating a little bit of extra work for the person who decided to discipline me in the first place.

And just to clarify… Nobody should ever have to get to work a full 30 minutes early.

EDIT: Probably the number one observation I’m seeing is that I should have just sucked it up and left for work earlier. I’ve commented this a couple times already, but so nobody has to dig for it: I usually left so early that I got to work before the 20 minutes prior to the start of our shifts that we were allowed to clock in. This stopped train event was a rare and unpredictable exception, but the crossing was regularly blocked for a few to several minutes by a moving train. Not to mention all the other random stuff that could come up on your way to work.