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Malicious Compliance: "I Can;t Tell You... Unless You Ask Me!"


3MALFrom im_from_detroit, MaliciousCompliance

This one comes from a number of years ago, when I worked security for the most popular mall in the area. It was the mall of choice of college students, suburbanites, and mall-walkers alike. It at the time had 6 major retailers (5 with 2 floors), a full gym, and about 50 stores besides, not counting the food court and kiosks.

Now this day fell on a Friday that began one of the worst winter storms the state has seen in decades. It was so bad, that the city nearby declared a state of emergency. Anyone caught driving without a valid reason was given a ticket. Every cop car had a tow truck behind it, and in front of every cop car was a plow truck. Driving home after my shift, I spun out on the ice, going 30mph. The road was 100% straight and flat. It was REALLY bad, and people's safety was at stake.

Now, as anyone in the business knows, malls have contracts with their stores on how long to stay open for, and if they are not open during those hours, they can be fined. So, me working the closing evening shift before the night guy came by at 11pm, had a ton of people asking if they could close early, even before the storm hit. It was maybe 2PM at this point.

I of course radio the head of security asking him about it. He relays back that, mall management, who have already gone home for the day, have decided to see how bad it gets before making a decision.

Now, the director's shift ends at 2pm, but he decided to stick around to see how things went down. The Sargent was also on duty until 7pm, so it was the 3 of us (I think someone had called in sick that night, but I can't remember). As time went on, the mall became more and more deserted.

The director became more and more concerned. He was a true man of integrity, absolutely concerned and dedicated to the safety of the mall and its tenants. That mall management wouldn't take heed to his concerned tone over the safety of the mall, and fact that it was pretty much deserted of anyone who would care if a store is open, left him pretty depressed.

He finally left at 4PM, with the word from management being the following: "If anyone asks you, you can tell them yes, that they can close early. But don't go around telling everyone!"

RHU Characters 178It was total bullshit. The rain was turning into snow, and the weather had the temperature falling to 10 degrees in the span of 10 hours. With that, the director hung his head, and left. The Sargent, feeling useless as well, went to do paperwork he needed to get done, leaving the mall to me, to hold down my empty, ice covered fortress.

I however, had I different plan. I began walking the mall, stopping at every single store. If the manager wasn't already at the entrance waiting for me to come by, I would ask for them. The exchanges would look something like this:

Me: "Ask me if you can close early and go home."

Manager with confused look: "Why?"

Me in a flat tone: "Just do it."

Manager even more confused: "Can we close early?"

Me: "Yes you can."

Manager absolutely questioning what reality he was living in: "Why did you have me ask you?"

Me as I begin to walk away: "My orders from mall management are not to tell anyone unless they ask me."

Skullies smileWithout fail, their faces would contort, trying to make sense of what I just said, and furthermore, what I left implied. And, within 20 minutes, every single shop in the entire mall was closed. So I locked up the entrances, cleared out any wandering patrons, and retired to the dugout.

The Sargent left not too much longer, without any words shared. The tension and stress said enough. I moved my car right next to the service entrance for the office, and spent an hour and a half digging myself out once my shift came to a close.

The rest of the story:

My first shift after this was the midday on Monday, and I just so happened to catch the director as he walked out of the offices to the security dugout. As soon as he saw me, he broke into a rare smile, which he tried to cover up. He couldn't say anything while trying to hold back his laughter and remain professional, but I heard through Sgt. Grapevine that mall management were initially trying to call the director out on the mall closing when they said specifically not to tell people unless they asked.

Well, prior to this meeting, a number of still confused store managers talked to the director during his morning rounds. I'm told he laughed pretty hard, and was greatly relieved, that I had found a loophole. So, when mall management tried to call him out, he was able to, with a mostly straight face, relay to them that we had indeed only told people they could close when they asked. Thing was, I went around telling everyone to ask me.




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