When students who don't follow directions realize that they've earned a zero on their essay, what I often hear is this: "That's not fair! I worked too hard on this essay to get a zero! I deserve some points for all that work!"
So, I've been trying to think of some comebacks that they can understand (although I realize that they will still be angry, hate me forever, and believe that I am "unmerciful"). Here's my best one so far:
--Do you think that a referee would listen to a player who said, after a touchdown had been called back because of an offensive foul, "But I ran too hard not to get the points!!"
Got a great one to add to my list?