People Share Their Most Cringeworthy ‘We’ve Always Done It That Way’ Story
“We’ve always done it that way.” Most of us have heard this phrase at some point in our lives. Maybe it was said by a grandparent, boss, church elder, or co-worker. It might have made you cringe a little. Tradition alone is no reason to continue doing something the same way, especially if it is obsolete.
If doing things the traditional way is no longer effective, then people need to stop saying “We’ve always done it this way” and instead find a new, better way of accomplishing the task. Here are some people’s most cringe-worthy “We’ve always done it that way” stories.
#1 By Hand, Not Typed
When I moved from Pennsylvania to Washington, I had to register my car. It was no biggy, except that the title was still held by the bank since I was making payments on it. Now for some reason, even getting a copy of that title is a bit of a long process.
I didn’t want to deal with that, especially when PA’s Department of License (DOL) and the bank were already making everything difficult. So I went to my local (Washington) DOL and explained the situation. They looked up the process and said, “Well this is dumb… Let me take care of it. We just need a single number off that piece of paper anyways. Should take like five minutes. What state is your title held in?”
“…You might want to sit down.”
Two-and-a-half freaking hours later, the bank finally says they will release a copy of the title if they get an official request from the DOL in Washington State.
Great! They get put on hold, the DOL lady types up a quick request and faxes it over.
All I see is a look on her face like she’s about to start screaming. She puts them back on hold.
“So apparently, they need a handwritten request. A typed copy isn’t something they can legally work with.”
“Wha- but, why?”
“I’ve no idea! They just thought it was incredibly unprofessional that we sent them a typed document…”
On top of requiring a handwritten note, apparently, this is not unusual for PA/WA transplants since PA is one of the few states that still issues paper titles, and is VERY protective about who is even allowed to look at that title.
#2 Decades And Still The Same
Decades ago, anybody who obtained your bank account number and the bank’s routing number could make an unauthorized withdrawal of money out of your account.
Nowadays, such is still the case, despite the fact that technology is apparently so much better now…
Banks still say there’s no way to prevent this…
#3 Easier Isn’t Wrong
My most recent job was as a developer at a small software company. When I started, there was no source control; the programmers would sit behind a computer and compare their code line by line with a file compare tool.
When I brought up that there was a tool to fix this, they didn’t trust it. “We don’t want to change how we do things just because it’s easier.”
#4 But The Clients!
My company has offices in a few countries. I recently went to one of these offices for two months to re-train the employees there because the office was clearly struggling and on the verge of being shut down.
Now, I’m not saying I’m amazing at my job, but I know what I’m doing. When I’d try telling them about any small change they needed to make, they’d say: “But this is how we do things here. The clients won’t like change!”
“Yes, but you’re clearly struggling,” I’d reply. “Have you asked the client if they’re okay with change?”
“So how do you know they won’t like it? Anything is better than what is currently kicking off in that office.”
But nope. They don’t want to change.
#5 Perpetually Problematic
I have a few friends who work at the hospital near me. They say the doctors, in general, are overworked, but some of them in specific fields, like anesthesiologists, their techs and other similar departments, are kept perpetually understaffed and dangerously overworked… At what’s consistently named one of the best hospitals in the US. It’s scary.
#6 They Aren’t The Same!
We use stock pickers where I work.
Prepare for hell if you use a picker that a first shift guy wants because “they’ve been using it for the last 10 years!”
I’ve gotten threats to my property and job just because my shift just so happens to overlap theirs sometimes and I’m on some random piece of equipment.
#7 You Can, I Can’t
We’re not allowed to leave the keys in the forklifts for obvious safety reasons. One of the other forklift guys had a go at me on the first day after I got my license because I took they key out and handed it to him. He said “Leave it in the truck!” and I said, “Nah I’m not allowed to. You can keep it in the ignition— I can’t.”
Like, it’s hard enough working in a way that doesn’t anger the veterans.
#8 Get Out Of My Robe!
I once was in a church choir that wore uniform robes. Robes were paid for by the church. People who’d been in the choir a long time had nonetheless marked the tags of “their” robe. One morning, I arrived early and put on what I thought was an unclaimed robe.
A lady marched onto the altar of a church in her civvies to demand that I undress, in front of the congregation, and give “her” robe back.
#9 From 10 To Half
The job I was in would handwrite patient notes, type them up, then print them again, only to file them.
I suggested typing them from the get-go as everyone had laptops anyway, and then attaching the digital notes to the patient profile on our global drive.
Once all existing notes were archived, we went from having 10 onsite filing cabinets to half a cabinet.
People are technophobic.
#10 Not Doing It Alone Anymore
I work on cars. My boss will insist we do things his way because that’s the way he did it before he had any employees. However, we keep having to lull him into letting us do things our way because his way was just slowing down and hurting our business. He’s seen the progress we’ve made (mostly in revenue but also customer satisfaction), so I don’t see what his issue is.
Also, when he’s not there on Saturdays, we are able to get more work done in a day than this guy will do in a week because of how efficient we are.
#11 Designated Box Flattening Area
“You put empty boxes here in the Empty Box Area. When the area fills up, you move all the boxes over to the Box Flattening Area on the other side of the warehouse and flatten them there. After that, you bring the flattened boxes back across the warehouse and leave them in the Flattened Box Area next to the Empty Box Area.”
“Why don’t we just flatten the boxes here so we aren’t spending time hauling things across the warehouse several times?”
“What? Why would you do that when we have a designated Box Flattening Area?”
“Why not designate a new area that’s closer?”
“Because the area is over there… If I see you flattening boxes out of the Box Flattening Area, you’re fired.”
#12 Easy Way To Get Buried
I work in the construction field as a safety technician and sometimes our older subcontractors will do trenchwork as deep as 10 feet without any sort of protection from collapse.
When I stop work to tell them that it’s dangerous and they could die, they get heated and tell me that they’ve never had any problems with trenches and they’ve always done it equipment-less.
We politely ask them not to come back until they take a trench safety class.
#13 Too Much “May”, Not Enough “Be”
I’m leaving archaeology because of this. “It’s the way it’s always been.” Sometimes, we won’t have work for a full month, and the next project might or might not come for another two weeks. How am I supposed to survive after no paycheck for six weeks? Oh? That’s how it’s always been? Yeah, I’ll pass, thanks. Good luck.
#14 90 Seconds Of Change
I work in a restaurant, and one night, I went to clean the soda nozzle on the fountain. I removed the one for lemonade and it broke a busser’s mind. He said, “We leave that one on overnight.”
“I know, I’m just gonna give it a little scrub and hook it back up.”
“In case someone wants water—” (We have a porter who cleans the place, the busser thought I was trying to deny this guy a glass of water).
“It can be reattached. I’m going to clean it and reattach it within 90 seconds. It just needs to be cleaned every once in a while.”
He looked like his heart was broken. Restaurant workers are extremely susceptible to microcosmic thinking. Felt bad for the guy.
#15 Even In The Mines
I work in mining. We had these old, hard-core field mapping devices that were hanging on by their last legs. The IT department sourced awesome, tough tablets that were 10 times cheaper, ran better software and also could play videos for when you got stuck in the pit.
One dude freaked when he realized we were phasing out the old devices. He came to me (his boss) and insisted I buy him one of the old devices or he couldn’t do his job. As if we would spend 10 times the amount to keep an antiquated piece of kit because he was too stupid or too lazy to learn how to use the new stuff. He was our absolute worst performer too. I was almost hoping he’d dig his heels in so I could finally be rid of him.
#16 Why Do We Use Boy/Girl Seating?
I work in a preschool, and this older woman constantly insists on children sitting this way. Even when she walks into the middle of a lunch that she’s not catering, she’ll make kids stop eating, stand up, and move them around just so they’re sitting boy-girl.
I honestly can’t see any reason to use it.
#17 That One Guy
IT guy here. In this day and age, people are still refusing to adapt to changes in technology.
I worked at a university back when Windows XP support ended. We decided to hunt down every last computer still running XP and bring it up to Windows 7. Now, there weren’t many and when we did find one, the faculty or staff using it were always cool with us updating it. Always…
Except for one guy. One psychology professor. He had a couple research computers running a very specific piece of software from like, 1998, for data entry and analysis. This version would not work on Windows 7 and there were way newer, far better versions of this software available, but he chose to stay on the old stuff.
He fought us for a week over this. Refused to let us into the lab and update the systems, but also freaked out when we told him his computers would be taken off our network if they stayed on XP. Eventually, he relented. We got the computers updated, put on the oldest version of that data software that would work, and called it a day. But the guy called us at least five times a month for a year about these systems. Every little nitpick with the new software, every little hiccup on the computers, he’d call. We’d “fix” it, and then he’d look at us with this smug smile and say something like, “Gosh, I sure wish I could go back to the old stuff that worked.”
#18 That’s How We Worked, That’s How You’ll Work
Five-day work weeks, and 40-hour work weeks. In a lot of jobs, it’s totally unnecessary and inefficient, but we’ve got to work that much to prove we’re not slackers! Forget work-life balance, we didn’t have it when we had to shovel coal and we’re not going to have it now!
#19 That’s Not Her Name
After years of my grandfather pronouncing my sister-in-law’s name wrong, I finally corrected him! He stared daggers at me for a moment and all he could come up with was, “Well I’m old, and I’ve been calling her that for the past 10 years and will continue to do so.”
Yes, he does still call her that and yes he is still quite stubborn sometimes.
#20 Will Not Write And Drive
I was ordering food for my coworkers. I asked the girl who took everyone’s orders down to copy and paste them to me, but instead, she called me while I was driving and gave me the orders verbally.
Once again, I asked her to copy and paste the text on her phone with the orders or to forward it to me, because I told her I wouldn’t be able to remember all the orders. But she insisted that I just wrote the orders down. She still, to this day, refuses to learn how to copy and paste or forward texts.
#21 The Nature Of The Field
People in the tech world like app developers or operations teams often don’t want automation or to move on to the newest technologies because they’d rather stick to their antiquated ways of doing things. This is literally the nature of the field.
“I’m going to get into this field about making things to improve people’s lives but when it’s my turn, I’ll refuse to learn the newer, better, and usually easier way of doing things.”
#22 Audit The Stationery Budget
I work with contracts. I have a coworker who refuses to review them on her screen, so she prints out several 20-50 page documents per day and reviews them manually. She then tosses them in the recycle bin.
She probably goes through one-to-two reams of paper a week. I tried to explain to her that she can review them without printing them off, but all I get from her is: “That’s the way I have has always done it.”
#23 Coincidental Benefits Only
The college lecture format. Most professors teach that way because it was how they learned, and it was good enough for them! But there’s a surprising amount of research going on about how to effectively teach, and people who do such research (including Nobel laureate in physics, Carl Wieman) have compared traditional teaching methods to bloodletting as a medical treatment. That is to say, any benefit from it is purely coincidental.
#24 Just Co-Ordinate!
Every time there is a scheduling conflict at work, I offer to make a calendar for free. I got to everyone in the office once a week and ask them what new stuff they have going on. Every time I offer, the response is, “Well, nobody is used to coordinating schedules, so it probably won’t work.” I die a little inside.
#25 These Are Not The Old Days
Banks not transferring money on weekends. This is because in the old days, without the Internet and such, the money transfers were done by hand. But now it is done by computers. The only reason it still happens is that one of the banks has the money and gets interest on it over the weekends.
#26 Electronic Copies Work Fine
Used to work for a city councilman and he insisted that anything that was sent to him electronically must be printed out. Every single email. Our printer used to have to get replaced all the time because it couldn’t handle the sheer amount of printing. I used to feel so bad about how much paper we were wasting and I even offered to teach him how to use his phone for this kind of stuff, but he insisted it’s just how he’s always done it.
#27 Worst Way For A Scientist To Think
I’m a scientist. In my lab, I always ask, “Why do we do it this way,” whenever I see the lab technicians do something inefficiently. I get this response all the time: “Well, we’ve just always done it that way”.
This is the stupidest response a person in science could have. It just shows that they can’t think critically and shouldn’t be a scientist, to begin with.
#28 Could Make The Write-Ups More Efficient
I work in a hospital laboratory. So many of the policies and procedures here create excess waste and cost the company millions of dollars every single year. Much of it puts our Medicare certification at risk, and most of it is completely unnecessary. When you question it, you are told that “It’s a CAP requirement.” 90% of the time, that is a false statement. I have constantly brought up ways to change the workflow and the procedures here, but I am always met with the old line: “This is the way it has always been done”.
Entrenched management will not allow any changes, and will even write you up for trying to make the process more efficient. Most good people who start working here don’t stay long because of how befuddled it is.
#29 History Is History
I work as a facilities coordinator and building manager at a university student union. I’ve been there less than a year but two of my co-workers have been there for decades.
We are currently going through a number of changes, notably, a new director has started and the place is undergoing a renovation.
These old guys slow up work constantly whenever any of the newer people suggest using more efficient equipment. The workers feel the need to inform us of the whole history of the equipment, why it was bought, who bought it, which room it was used in and which room it was stored in.
They do this to the point that it wastes the entire day and we don’t get around to changing anything. I’ve learned to just never tell them anything and just do what needs to be done, then inform them of the changes. One of them is actually pretty good with the changes after they’ve been done, but it is like pulling teeth to get them to make the initial changes.
#30 No Need For The Pox
Chickenpox and measles parties. Now that there are ways to prevent both of these, there should be no need for them. But a lot of crunchy moms and dads still try to hold them because “We always used to do them before and they were no big deal.” Like, yeah Karen, because there wasn’t a way to prevent them before, now there is.
#31 Everything Analog
I just started a new job at a small clinic and absolutely EVERYTHING they have is analog. Their contacts are in a Rolodex and nowhere else. Old files take up an entire garage dumpster behind the clinic. The schedule, handled by individual clinicians, has to be handwritten week by week. All notes are handwritten.
#32 New Way Has Never Been Wrong
My boss. Stacks of paper on every surface. File cabinets crammed with documents he might need, even though the official version is on the server. He gets a nervous tick if I send him a link instead of an editable copy via email. He downloads the raw data and verifies the reported stats even though the system has never been wrong.
We are both 55 years old.
#33 Done To Parents, Done To Children
Parents imposing their wills on their children, such as when they make their little girl have her ears pierced because that’s what was done to mommy, or circumcising boys because that’s what was done to daddy. Just because it’s old doesn’t make it right or okay.
#34 Old School Commentary
The way sports are commentated. I think a majority of people who watch would rather hear the players talk in real time.
Instead, we have to listen to two or three people talk about whatever random stuff pops into their heads for four hours. They also get paid an obscene amount of money for this.
#35 The Ancient Mindset
In my university, we have to study Numerical Calculus (error quantification, algorithms; basically how a computer deals with numbers) on paper. It took me years to find a professor who would teach it using a computer.
#36 The Sock Tradition
Wearing matching socks. For some reason, society has transmitted the narrative that if you’re wearing socks that aren’t perfectly identical to one another, you’re not normal. I once saw someone try to get rid of one of their socks, just because they couldn’t find the corresponding piece of clothing. Thankfully, I managed to stop them before it was too late. They’re at the bottom of the ocean now.
#37 Same Dues Now As Then
State-level freemason here. My first lodge is 160 years old. When it was founded, yearly dues were $60, which was a month’s salary for a middle-class citizen in the mid-1800s. Nowadays, it’s still $60. They can’t afford to keep the building, and they can’t afford to serve meals. Most of their activities are fundraising to survive. 99% of American lodges are like this, and it makes for such a bleak experience. People walk in and change their mind about joining. For reference, I pay $168 a year for Netflix. These guys won’t pay $10 a month for a better experience and an organization that will survive three years.
#38 Made The Bosses Look Bad
I did system administration work at a collection agency of sorts. They had to print out thousands of pages of credit card statements, redact them with a sharpie, scan them back in order to add them to the database or whatever, then print them again to mail out to people. This was a task that took one woman two-to-three days to do every month.
I installed Adobe Acrobat Pro and I showed her the auto-redact feature that would permanently redact every instance of the credit card number and all she had to do is create a template for each statement type. The lady was ecstatic, thanking me profusely as she alone accounted for printing and scanning over 20-thousand pages per month.
The bosses were angry with me, and even called a meeting about it to yell at me. This was 100% cost savings. She was not a contracted employee or anything. They were mad because I think they felt stupid for not knowing about such a simple thing that saved so much time and money. Here I was, making them look bad.
#39 Just Parts On A Shelf
When I was 15, I did a short internship at a garage.
They had a shelf dedicated to parts that were ordered by clients but never picked up. There were parts on that shelf that had been collecting dust for YEARS. And not just small parts either. Exhaust pipes and stuff.
When I asked what the deal was, I was told “We’ve always put them there,” with no other explanation about why nothing was done about it.
The only thing I could think of at the time was to document all the parts in a book with the name of the customer and date of the order. It didn’t solve the issue, but at least they knew what they had lying around the shop. After I left, I’m guessing the book idea fizzled out pretty quick and they probably continued mindlessly adding to the shelf.
#40 Typewriter Over Computer
I have a state job in Illinois and I have to use a typewriter from the ’80s every day to enter info onto a form. I asked if I could just make a form using Microsoft Word and was told, “No, this is the way it’s always been done.”
And that’s why I had to learn how to use a typewriter at the age of 31!
#41 Save One Step And $10k A Month
I’m the purchasing agent for a small town manufacturer. When I started at work they were spending an ungodly amount of money on sheets of white labels and also colored toner. That’s right, instead of buying colored labels they were buying white labels, then printing FULL SHEETS OF COLOR ON THEM. We ship out several hundred pallets of material daily, each with multiple labels on them. When I started buying colored labels, we started saving around $10K per month.
#42 Computers Are Just A Fad
I’ve shown my father he can deposit checks online, pay bills online, basically do everything on his phone from the comfort of his home. He still drives to the bank to deposit checks to pay the bills because he thinks computers are a fad.
#43 Medical Residents Need Sleep Too!
I was told by a friend doing his medical residency that the current practice of keeping residents cloistered on site, on call, and awake for 24 hours was instituted over a hundred years ago. It persists today in most doctor programs, despite studies that clearly show that performance, decision-making, and recall are severely impaired long before the 20-hour mark. Caveat, I have personally verified these statements.
#44 Never Follow Procedure
My old job required me to draft periodic expense summaries in Microsoft Word. I was then required to print the summary, walk it to the scanner, and scan it to my email so that I could save it as a PDF. When I told my supervisor that you could just save as a PDF without printing, she insisted that I refrain from changing procedure.
I NEVER followed the procedure after that.
#1 Please Not Internet Explorer
I used to work in the IT department at a Japanese company and had a lot of headaches because they would refuse newer technologies despite the fact that they were faster and easier.
Look, I have nothing against people wanting to go with what still works. It’s why people who can still code in COBOL and Fortran still have jobs because many banking systems are built on that… But I swear not EVERYTHING should be done in Excel!
One example is taking screenshots on your browser. Our bug tracker tool had a plugin that could be installed or your browser. It could not only take a screenshot from your browser but could also open the bug ticket form so you could fill up all the details without having to make time to save your image on a document, then write the ticket separately. Not only that, but it could take annotations so you could write over the screenshot for emphasis. It takes maybe less than five minutes to set it up. I had written tutorials online and had them translated in Japanese so it wasn’t a problem for our Japanese team.
It really ground my gears when they would STILL upload an Excel sheet with the photo and use arrows. I would have to download the file, OPEN it, read through their messages when they could just POST IT ALL ON THE TICKET WITH THE IMAGE and anyone can see it in one go.
Then I found out why: the guy who was sending me these screenshots was using Internet Explorer (IE), and the plugin didn’t support IE.
Was there any reason why he had to use IE and not Chrome or Firefox? No. It’s just… That’s what he was used to and he refused to change.