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The nerd’s guide to passive-aggressive behavior

December 15th, 2008 · 73 comments

We’ve received several copies of this instructive flowchart, which the helpful illustrators of Graph jam have made available to coffee watchdogs the world over.

The nerd's guide to not leaving the fucking coffee pot empty

Seeing people print their passive-aggressive flowcharts off the Internet makes our resident nerd, Eric, sentimental for simpler times. He quietly reflects on time spent wandering the halls of Brown University’s CS department back in 2007. In those days, tech-minded individuals still made patronizing flowcharts the old-fashioned way, using OpenOffice on Linux.

Did you just take an ice cube?

Though such documents are most commonly spotted in offices populated by engineers and other technically inclined folk, even Kerry — who is not earning her Ph.d in Computer Science — can appreciate the clarity of a flowchart like this one:

Criteria for the proper tactical usage of the phrase 'oh snap!': a flowchart

related: When Ph.ds get frustrated

extra credit: “Flow chart: is it fucked up?” [boingboing]

FILED UNDER: coffee · flow chart · ice · kitchen · oh snap

73 responses so far ↓

  • #1   cre8tivewmn

    I love that the stick figure and his coffee cup are falling towards a fully drawn tiger! You’d think the administration would notice the loss of staff, though.

    Dec 15, 2008 at 12:42 pm   rating: 24  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   hall monitor

      Is the lack coffee and ice cubes the leading contributor to low workplace morale?

      Hall Monitor

      Dec 15, 2008 at 9:18 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #1.2   Anon

      Holy shit, Hall Monitor, you useless piece of crap. Did you think we would forget our annoyance at your self-aggrandizing and cloying determination to post a link to your P.O.S. site in your signature in a prominent post without adding anything to the community? WE STILL FUCKING HATE YOU! Eat shit and die. Go to hell. And, as always, don’t forget to suck my cock.

      We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forget. We will not standby in silence.

      Dec 15, 2008 at 11:47 pm   rating: 17  small thumbs up

    • #1.3   Canthz_B bang

      Feed a cold, starve a troll. ;-)

      Dec 16, 2008 at 1:12 am   rating: 19  small thumbs up

    • #1.4   anon

      Hey you SOB anon…you stole my name!!!

      Dec 16, 2008 at 1:50 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #2   yousuckatcraigslist bang

    Oh, snap!

    Dec 15, 2008 at 12:43 pm   rating: 15  small thumbs up

  • #3   Canthz_B bang

    Finally, an acceptable explanation for what happened to Roy!

    Dec 15, 2008 at 12:49 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #4   T.U.M.

    We actually had to convince people to STOP making new pots of coffee in my old office. The coffee maker was super-fast, but something about the pot and burner made the coffee taste scorched if it sat around in the pot longer than about fifteen minutes.

    Dec 15, 2008 at 12:50 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #5   Ida_Knowe

    is that “Oh snap or On snap”????

    Dec 15, 2008 at 12:52 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #5.1   Ti O bang

      On Snap; Tools for the Dyslexic.

      Dec 15, 2008 at 2:41 pm   rating: 32  small thumbs up

  • #6   sizeXS

    Yes, but what are the criteria for the proper tactical usage of “to get told”??
    Will you tell me?
    (I think I’m about to get told…)

    Dec 15, 2008 at 12:52 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

  • #7   Canthz_B bang

    OK, is this supposed to be water from the faucet, or the basin?
    Just how much water should be put into the ice tray?
    I suppose the average Ivy League student can figure this out, but mere mortals need more details.

    Dec 15, 2008 at 12:55 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   Ida_Knowe

      Definetly the faucet, never get water from the basin, even if you just cleaned the basin, get the water from the faucet. And fill the trays UP!!! No tiny ice cubes please, if I want small crushed ice, I’ll crush it.

      Dec 15, 2008 at 1:27 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #7.2   Canthz_B bang

      Funnybonectomies are tragic operations.

      Dec 15, 2008 at 1:34 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

    • #7.3   Ida_Knowe

      But, they’re delicious ;)

      Dec 15, 2008 at 2:38 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #7.4   Tricky Dick

      “Definetly” :roll:

      Dec 15, 2008 at 2:48 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #7.5   se

      I always say that it’s better to fill the trays UP rather than fill them DOWN

      Dec 15, 2008 at 6:30 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #7.6   RandyinReno

      Much easier… in fact it’s nearly impossible to fill ice cube trays from top to bottom.

      Dec 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #7.7   anglophile bang

      Not at all, Randy! Simply turn the tray upside-down and hold it under the faucet. That way the bottom fills up first.

      Maybe it would help if I drew a diagram?

      Dec 15, 2008 at 9:27 pm   rating: 5  small thumbs up

    • #7.8   Canthz_B bang

      In zero-g you could hold the tray “above” the faucet to accomplish this feat.

      Dec 15, 2008 at 10:27 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #8   Alana

    Ha! This is amazing. That tiger picture almost made me snort with laughter. Well played!

    Dec 15, 2008 at 1:36 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #8.1   Juliet

      The tiger picture did make me snort with laughter. I loves it!

      Dec 15, 2008 at 3:18 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #8.2   AuntyBron

      But me and Mowgli blamed Bagheera. That was wrong of us. Very wrong indeed.

      Dec 17, 2008 at 9:38 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #9   aaa

    Y’see, what the first two notes seem to be missing is that the most effective way of getting something accomplished in a group setting is to not do it and wait until somebody more anal retentive than you gets fed up with whatever it is not being done and does it themself. I mean, it works for me all the time and like, nobody hates me at all. I think…

    Dec 15, 2008 at 2:55 pm   rating: 16  small thumbs up

  • #10   kibbles

    That “oh snap” flow chart is now on my dorm room door. Too funny.

    Dec 15, 2008 at 3:05 pm   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #11   Canthz_B bang

    Tigers are notoriously cranky until they’ve had their first cup of human of the day.

    Dec 15, 2008 at 3:20 pm   rating: 27  small thumbs up

    • #11.1   T.U.M.

      “We’re doing an advert for Tiger Brand Coffee. ‘Tiger Brand Coffee is a real treat Even tigers prefer a cup of it to real meat.’”

      Dec 15, 2008 at 3:36 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #11.2   Ti O bang

      Can I hear the jingle for it please?

      Dec 15, 2008 at 6:21 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #11.3   Sirius bang

      You can if your cable provider has BBC

      Dec 16, 2008 at 12:28 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #12   Juliet

    I’m probably the only person in North America who doesn’t know what ‘oh snap’ has to do with ‘being told’. Why does anyone say this? Can anyone please explain?

    Dec 15, 2008 at 3:21 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #12.1   Troy McClure bang

      This is mysterious to me also—though I have the excuse of not living in North America! The phrase’s meaning is clear, but I’d like to know its origin. In Australia & NZ you say “snap” if two people do or say the same thing at the same time (like “jinx” elsewhere).

      Dec 15, 2008 at 5:01 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #12.2   Canthz_B bang

      It’s just a nice way of saying “Oh, shit!”, Troy.

      Dec 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #12.3   park rose bang

      Cheers, Cb. I always read it as ‘jinx’, so the phrase’s meaning has always been pretty unclear to me :)

      PS: read back to Claw’s post on Australians from a couple of days ago to see why this might be so ;)

      Dec 15, 2008 at 6:15 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #12.4   lownote

      Ah, thanks for the clarification. Us Brits use “Oh, snap” to mean “jinx” too so was more than a little confused :)

      Dec 20, 2008 at 3:17 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #13   Amber

    LOVE the “oh snap” flow chart. Printing it out!

    Dec 15, 2008 at 3:24 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #14   claw71 bang

    Dear White People,

    We hate to inconvenience you considering all you have done for us but in light of recent cultural developments we have to politely request that you stop using African American colloquialisms in an effort to enhance your superficial familiarity with out culture.

    Sadly, most of these phrases were never “cool” in the first place but the few that were immediately lost their allure when they gained popularity with the rank and file members of white society.

    It’s not our desire to exclude you from out culture, it’s just that you don’t seem to get it. These phrases, such as “oh, snap” are often abused by white people who simply lack the cultural experience to appreciate the nuanced situations when the usage of these expressions is appropriate.

    It’s unfair for you to continue doing this. During the 1970s you did not see black people borrowing expressions such as “tits” or “boss”. You also don’t see African American people trying to utilizes phrases such as “cool beans” or “okey-dokey”.

    We embrace a society where equality, tolerance and understanding are the norm, but we hold these truths to be self evident that certain means of expressions should not be utilized by everybody.

    In addition to rendering cool expressions lame, your continued use of failed experiments such as “oh snap” or any of the Snoopisms only serves to remind us of just how silly we must have sounded when we first coined them. Think about the “Valley Girl” gibberish you engaged in the 80s and consider how you would feel if you were constantly reminded of those failed contributions to popular culture. You are perpetuating our misery!

    So it is with the utmost respect and sincerity we say to you: Whitey, stop talkin ghetto.


    The Brothas

    Dec 15, 2008 at 3:42 pm   rating: 46  small thumbs up

    • #14.1   Canthz_B bang

      Two snaps up, claw. ;-)

      Dec 15, 2008 at 4:02 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #14.2   aaa

      On behalf of all white people, I must regretfully inform you that it’s our job to ruin everything for everyone else.

      Sorry, man.

      - The Transparent One

      Dec 15, 2008 at 4:27 pm   rating: 35  small thumbs up

    • #14.3   sprucemoose bang

      Oh, is that the origin? I thought it sounded gay, but I’m an old man, and I don’t keep up with modern slang anymore.

      Dec 15, 2008 at 7:38 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #14.4   harmonicpies bang

      Yeah, rilly, that’s totally uncool! It makes me want to, like, barf, like, rilly!

      Dec 16, 2008 at 12:02 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #14.5   Anon

      …immediately lost their allure when they gained popularity with the rank and file members of white society.

      a.k.a. “We’re elitists and reverse-racists who hate everything about whites. But it’s okay, because minorities can get away with more non-PC attitudes than majorities.”

      Dec 16, 2008 at 9:15 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

    • #14.6   Dee Vee

      Ohhhhhh, SNAP!

      Dec 16, 2008 at 9:19 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #14.7   aaa

      Lemme guess, Anon, you probably thought Sacha Baron Cohen was anti-Semitic after watching Borat.

      BTW, there is no such thing as reverse-racism. Racism is racism.

      Dec 16, 2008 at 10:12 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

    • #14.8   Canthz_B bang

      Anon, everything is everything, and nothin’ ain’t nothin’, Baby.
      Can you dig it? ;-)

      Dec 16, 2008 at 12:08 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #15   Amanda B

    Nice post up at Stuff White People Like about this very topic. We cling to things that were once cool to validate our cultural awareness. “See, I’m not so white and nerdy.” – “See, I’m not racist – I listen to jazz.”

    Dec 15, 2008 at 5:28 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #15.1   Canthz_B bang

      Sorry, Kenny G doesn’t count for many cool points. ;-)

      Dec 15, 2008 at 5:51 pm   rating: 14  small thumbs up

  • #16   Canthz_B bang

    A flow chart is what they call a blueprint at the Tuskegee School of Architecture. :-P

    Dec 15, 2008 at 5:55 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #16.1   Bunnee

      I’ve also heard that it is a calendar of a woman’s “cycle”. :)

      Dec 15, 2008 at 6:11 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #17   magickat

    Oh my GOD! The stick figure falling towards the evil cat has me completely dying. That chart has made my day.

    My year!

    Oh thank you, thank you,

    You complete me!

    Dec 15, 2008 at 5:58 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #18   Wade bang

    As per flow chart #1, Terry Tate Office Linebacker says:

    You kill the joe, you make some mo’!!”

    Dec 15, 2008 at 7:09 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #18.1   Canthz_B bang

      Special! :-)

      Dec 15, 2008 at 7:57 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #18.2   Skwerl bang

      You are now my new hero, Wade

      Dec 17, 2008 at 3:08 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #18.3   Wade bang


      Then you might enjoy this xkcd offering, Skwerl:

      Flow Charts

      Dec 17, 2008 at 6:35 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #19   Kou

    I’m still a CS student, so the brilliance of the tigerdoom chart must be printed now saved until a later date when I actually have a job and a break room to place it in.

    I imagine one day sitting at my computer in my back office cave wondering why I didn’t go to business school like my rich friends did when, out of nowhere, a coworker will walk up and ask who the jerkoff was to took the last of the coffee and didn’t make more.

    I will go home and carefully unpack it from its special folder with the penguin stickers, then go back to work the next morning and carefully tape it to the cabinet above the coffee maker. Only then will I be complete.

    Dec 15, 2008 at 11:41 pm   rating: 17  small thumbs up

  • #20   Trillian

    LOL! Kou you crack me up. That’s so true of most of the people who put up these signs. Though at least the downloadable flow chart has no spelling mistakes or crazy add ons (Thanks Terry).
    plus the little stick man with the stealth tiger of doom kills me.

    Dec 16, 2008 at 12:13 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #21   Crash bang

    Did you make coffee ?- –> No —> Feed self to tigers —> Oh Snap !

    Dec 16, 2008 at 2:40 am   rating: 11  small thumbs up

  • #22   Dee Vee

    I truly heart that last one.

    Dec 16, 2008 at 9:16 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #23   GhostWriter bang

    There is a potential problem with Flowchart #2.

    If the 2nd ice tray is empty, then, by following the flowchart, you would pour water over top of, and thus probably degrade, the last two ice cubes that were ready to deploy. How could you have a nice day after doing that?

    Dec 16, 2008 at 10:08 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #24   Amanda

    Seems so simple, but still some need gentle reminders, lol.

    Dec 16, 2008 at 11:43 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #24.1   Mishee bang


      The office manager at my work used “gentle reminder” in an email to all the other day.

      you must be southern…

      well, bless your heart, but why do you have to put your blog link in your comment when your name links us right up to the same damn place?

      Dec 19, 2008 at 9:57 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #24.2   amanda

      oops, I didn’t realize it was posted twice! Bless my heart! I’m from Texas. yee-haw, folks.

      :::gets on horse and gallops away because people are passive aggressively rude via the internet::


      better? :P

      Jan 15, 2009 at 9:41 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #25   GhostWriter bang

    Anyone who can properly use the term “tactical” is my nomination for our new SecDef. Congratulations, notewriter #3!

    Dec 16, 2008 at 11:47 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #26   Dani

    I actually posted the first flow chart in my office and it engendered its own passive aggressive note asking the “geniuses” on our floor to make their own coffee.

    I still don’t know if he misunderstood the flow chart, or was just THAT angry.

    Dec 16, 2008 at 1:38 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #27   Mishee bang

    Notes like these are why people piss in the communal coffeepot.

    Dec 18, 2008 at 10:15 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #27.1   nick

      Bad grammar is another reason why I piss in the communal coffee pot.

      The criteria for when you should use the phrase “Oh Snap!” lists only one thing, so surely it should be a criterion?

      I clearly need to get out more.

      Dec 19, 2008 at 8:56 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #28   osCommerce

    Thanks great post.

    Jan 29, 2009 at 6:14 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #29   Satya

    “tech-minded individuals still made patronizing flow charts the old-fashioned way, using openoffice on linux.”

    Whoa, what?!

    The old-fashioned way would be LaTeX (pronounced “la-tech”, I kid you not) or Postscript on Unix.

    Jan 29, 2009 at 9:23 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #29.1   Mark bang

      You mean, pronounced “la-tek”. :oops:

      More appropriate would be editing the TeX document using vi. LaTeX is too new-fangled for the truly nerdy.


      unzip; strip; touch; finger; grep; mount; fsck; more; yes; fsck; umount; sleep

      Jan 29, 2009 at 10:45 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #30   Jasper von blowhole

    Why do people take the time to take a crappy, blurry picture they want to share with others? This is like having glaucoma. Is it too much to have you master your camera? Yes, I’m aware this is passive aggressive. (Yes, I’m aware this is passive aggressive.)

    Feb 28, 2009 at 2:23 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #31   Gemma

    we would forget our annoyance at your self-aggrandizing and cloying determination to post a link to your P.O.S. site in your signature in a prominent post without adding anything to the community

    Apr 8, 2009 at 1:02 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #32   Shamone

    Oh snap! They didn’t refill the ice cube tray after they used the last cup of coffee to make their iced coffee.

    Jun 10, 2009 at 1:40 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #33   …since we’re a community

    [...] related: the nerd’s guide to passive-aggressive behavior [...]

    Oct 25, 2009 at 8:51 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #34   If you’ve ever suspected the tech support staff of acting a little bit passive-aggressive… |

    [...] Passive-aggressive flowcharts [...]

    Jan 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up


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