In America, nature reserves are federally protected, and people can receive huge fines for crimes such as littering. One retirement community lived right next to a nature reserve, so they had to abide by these rules. But one man’s neighbor refused, even though the man warned him about it. This is a redditor’s brilliant story about malicious compliance.
A Surprising Story Of Malicious Compliance
With over 430 million users and 138,000 subreddits, Reddit has a community for everything. One of the most popular subreddits is r/maliciouscompliance. Malicious compliance is when someone intentionally follows a person’s instructions knowing that the person will suffer for it.
The subreddit has a lot of posts about work, relationships, and parents. But nobody expected one of the top posts of all time to about a person’s grandfather who talked to his neighbor about his backyard.
It Started In A Unique Retirement Community
In September 2019, user MLC2001 (whose account is now deleted) posted to the malicious compliance subreddit. He said that his grandfather, or “Gramps,” recently moved into a retirement community.
The community sat right on the edge of a nature reserve. In the United States, nature reserves are under federal protection, although laws vary by county. Since he lived right next to the reserve, Gramps did not have a backyard. “His backyard was basically non-existent,” the poster said.
He Didn’t Mind, But Some People Did
Gramps did not mind his limited backyard space. After all, he had an entire nature preserve that he could look at anyone he pleased. However, others did not share Gramps’s gratitude.
According to the poster, Gramps noticed that one of his neighbors had a larger backyard than him. “His next door neighbor’s backyard extended a good 8ft past his,” MLC2001 wrote. Gramps did not know whether that neighbor had permission to lengthen his backyard or not.
The Neighbor Moved Around The Fences
One day, Gramps noticed that the neighbor seemed to be redefining his backyard. He was laying down expensive pavers that would extend his backyard even longer than it already was. The paver stretched all the way to the fence post that divided that retirement community from the nature preserve.
The neighbor was already pushing the boundaries. Clearly, he was not supposed to be that close to the nature reserve. But he did not stop there.
He Even Began To Pave It
Gramps’s neighbor did not just lengthen his pavement. According to the poster, he also yanked the rickety wooden fence out of the ground, moved it two feet back, and stuck it back in. The neighbor even began clearing land to pave it.
Now, Gramps knew that his neighbor was in trouble. The neighbor clearly thought that the park rangers would not notice the two-foot difference, but Gramps understood otherwise. He needed to confront the neighbor.
Gramps Knew How Steep The Consequences Were
The Reddit poster wrote, “Gramps used to work for the national park services as a young lad.” He knew that breaking the rules of a nature reserve could rake in some hefty fines. For example, littering requires people to pay between $100 and $1,000. Violating the Endangered Species Act could cost someone $50,000!
Gramps “thought he had better warn his neighbor of the consequences of his actions.” Unfortunately, he was still the new man on the block.
He Confronted The Neighbor
When Gramps moved in, he “tried to be friendly with all his new neighbors.” He introduced himself and recorded everyone’s phone numbers just in case something happened. He did the same with the neighbor who was trying to pave his backyard.
The Reddit poster said that Gramps approached his neighbor “for a little chat.” The poster did not clarify what Gramps said; however, we can infer that he warned the neighbor that moving the fence was not a good idea.
The Neighbor Immediately Got Defensive
Before Gramps could say all that he had to, the neighbor became defensive. He told Gramps, “You’re new here; I’ve been here ten years.” But that did not stop Gramps from trying to warn the neighbor.
Finally, the neighbor got fed up and said, “mind your own [expletive] business.” Gramps decided not to press the issue. The rude neighbor clearly was not going to change his mind, and Gramps knew what was coming to him.
For One Year, The County Investigated The Neighbor
For the next year, nothing happened to the neighbor. Most tourists visited the reserve in the winter, and the area emptied during the summer. That is when the county arrived to check on the community.
According to the redditer, the county officials were “going back and forth behind his neighbor’s house; the workers [were] pulling out maps and taking photos and making phone calls.” Meanwhile, the neighbor in question was nowhere to be found.
Spilling The Beans On The Neighbor
While this was going on, Gramps spoke to the other neighbors about the man who moved the fence. Gramps’s new friends told him that this was not the first time that neighbor tried to move the fence.
As it turned out, the neighbor had moved the post several times over the years. “In reality, his backyard is supposed to be even smaller than Gramp’s backyard!” the redditer wrote. That meant that he would be in even more trouble.
He Even Parked His Car On The Reserve
To make matters worse, the neighbor had a specific reason to pave the reserve. “[The] neighbor put pavers in the back specifically to park both his golf cart AND a cherry red sports car back there for the summer,” said the post.
The county would have to move both of these cars to restore the reserve, meaning that they could be towed. And the neighbor had no idea–he was away at another vacation home! Gramps just had to sit and watch.
Then, He Received The First Fine
After several county employees visited the neighbor’s house, they eventually taped a notice onto his door. Gramps walked over to read it. It stated that the neighbor “was in violation of encroaching onto protected lands.”
He had 30 days to move both of his cars and remove the concrete. Also, he had to pay a fine of $11,000. The fine was so high because the paved roads interrupted the lives of endangered species that lived on the reserve.
And The Punishment Would Only Get Worse
The notice said that the neighbor must remove his cars and the pavement within 30 days. Not only that, but his fine would increase for every day that he did not pay it. Eleven thousand dollars was the minimum.
Gramps knew that the neighbor’s life would only go downhill, as he was nowhere to be found. Gramps had his phone number, but he did not call him. After all, the neighbor explicitly told him to “mind his own business.”
After 30 Days, Gramps Had A Show
Thirty days came and went. As the reddit user put it, “Gramps [had] quite the show.” Both the cherry car and the golf cart were towed. Workers dug up the pavement and hauled it away.
This all occurred over several weeks. Meanwhile, the neighbor had no idea what the county was doing to his “backyard.” His fines continued to increase, and his cars vanished. “The preserve looked a lot more legit when they were done,” MLC2001 wrote.
Preventing This From Happening Again
While the county was restoring the reserve, they also set up measures to ensure that this did not happen again. First, they replaced the wooden fence with metal posts. These stuck out of cement bases that were buried deep into the ground and connected by steel cables. The neighbor could not move those!
The county also installed security cameras. These solar cameras could observe both the wildlife and any encroachers who would act as the neighbor did.
Finally, The Neighbor Returns
Throughout summer, the county employees transformed the neighbor’s house while they piled notice on top of notice on his door. When November came, the winter residents returned. That included the neighbor.
Gramps watched from his window. The neighbor tore through all of the notices until he got to the first one. According to the reddit post, he “[ran] out back and start[ed] screaming and cussing up a storm.” But that was only the start of his breakdown.
The Freak Out
The neighbor immediately retrieved his phone from his car. Based on his yelling, Gramps concluded that he called the county to find out where his cars went. Meanwhile, he had to turn on the water, electricity, heater, and plumbing.
Gramps stayed indoors the entire time. The last thing he wanted to do was confront the man who was frantically running around his house, desperately calling county representatives, and panicking over what Gramps had warned him about.
The Whole Neighborhood Could Hear His Screaming
Eventually, the neighbor got a county representative to pick up the phone. How did Gramps know this? Because the neighbor had the entire call on speakerphone, and he was yelling at them outside. The entire community knew what was happening.
“The call [kept] getting kicked to other people,” the reddit post explained, “because who wants to help a screamer?” By the end of the long series of calls, he was told to come to the county office.
Three days after the neighbor’s freakout, Gramps ran into him outside his home. The neighbor asked if he was around when the county “stole his car and destroyed his backyard.” Gramps confirmed that, yes, he was there the whole time.
The neighbor angrily responded, “Well, why didn’t you call me when you saw them putting notices on my door? You had my number up north!” Gramps’s response is what made his story famous on the internet.
Minding His Own Business
Gramps admitted that he considered calling the neighbor about what was happening. However, the neighbor told him to “mind his own [expletive] business.” So he followed that advice and kept the news to himself.
This is what makes the story malicious compliance. Gramps followed the neighbor’s instructions, and as a result, the neighbor suffered the consequences. He lost both of his cars and had a fine that was well over $11,000 (although we will never know how high it got).
Commenters Brought Up Some Unnoticed Points
Since user MLC2001 created the post, it has garnered over 35,000 upvotes and 587 comments. Other reddit users brought up some interesting points. One mentioned that the other neighbors did not call the guy, either, so he probably “isn’t the most popular on the block.”
Another commenter questioned whether the neighbor would have believed Gramps if he had called. He and Gramps were clearly on questionable terms, and Gramps did not have to lift a finger to make his point.
The Weird Part Is…The Neighbor Was Lucky
If you search through the commenters, you would notice that the original poster answered a few peoples’ questions. For one thing, he mentioned that the neighbor was gone “just shy of three months.” And the strangest part is: he was lucky.
“Gramps said a few more weeks, and the guy’s car could have been auctioned off with the proceeds going towards the fines,” he said in a comment. As much as the neighbor suffered, he did not end up losing his cars.
Other Neighbors Were Extending Their Backyards, Too
Another strange fact is that this neighbor was not the only one who tried extending his backyard. According to Gramps, others in the community would “fudge the line a little” to make their backyard wider.
“He was the most obvious about it,” the Reddit user said about the rude neighbor. “Over time, [the residents have] become more brazen and suddenly they’ve taken more than they intended.” Perhaps the metal fence and security cameras will make them more alert.
Gramps Wasn’t Trying To Be Malicious
Despite the story being on r/maliciouscompliance, the original poster said that Gramps never felt malicious about his neighbor. “He assumed the neighbor would be notified and would straighten everything out before it got too far,” he told Bored Panda.
“I think Gramps just thinks it’s funny now,” he added. He simply butted out of everything and did not realize the gravity of the fallout until his neighbor returned home. It is the most passive revenge story on the internet.
How Is The Neighbor Today?
Reddit user MLC2001 never created an update post for the story. However, Bored Panda reached out to the user and received some extra information. Specifically, they wanted to know how the neighbor and Gramps get along now.
“The neighbor seems to be more respectful after this incident,” the original poster said. “Can’t say he and Gramps will ever be friends, but…the neighbor has been less of a dismissive jerk than he was the first year and a half Gramps lived there.”
The Life Lesson
Reddit user MLC2001 says that Gramps’s story is a prime example of the rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Had the neighbor listened, he would not have lost tens of thousands of dollars.
Gramps did what he would want others to do, but the neighbor did not. “It never hurts to consider how your actions may impact others around you!” the poster said. Be like Gramps, not the neighbor!