Thursday, April 01, 2010

An April fool, as it were

"You couldn't fool your mother on the foolingest day of your life if you had a 'lectrified fooling machine!"--Homer Simpson, to Bart

Usually April Fool's Day isn't a production at my office. There are a couple of small pranks, and most of us are vigilant about changing our computer passwords, and people say something that everyone knows is wrong and follow it with "April Fool's," but that's about it. This year was...different. *Everybody* got into the fun. Staplers were emptied, phone receivers were taped down, fonts were upside down, and an exec's computer was programmed to make a noise like the Emergency Broadcast System's every time he clicked an icon. I think it's because we've had a lot of stress in the past year, and there was a lot of steam to be blown off. I usually don't do anything on April Fool's Day, mostly because that's when people expect a prank and I like to have the element of surprise. I got dragged into it today.

My work husband B., bless his heart, just doesn't have the subtlety to be a prankster. He started the festivities by shaking my can of Diet Pepsi while my boss called me into her office for something. I noticed there was a big handprint in the condensation and it was a bit warm, but really, what tipped me off was the fact that he was standing around watching me and hinting that I should open it up. I immediately stuck it in the fridge and bought another out of the vending machine. While I was on another errand, someone dropped a Glenn Beck book into my bag. It had a bargain bin sticker on it, and on the inside cover was a note: "For my biggest fan, [Lilo]. Send your mother my love. Love always, Glenn Beck." It was uncanny how Beck's handwriting looked an awful lot like B.'s. I figured I'd have to give him my thanks for that book, with its thoughtful inscription, later in the day.

It was a day that called for caffeine, lots of it. Around 10 am, I decided to get the Diet Pepsi that B. shook for me out of the fridge. Now, I try not to be obnoxious about having a food allergy. I don't need or want to be treated with kid gloves. But since I'm allergic to chicken, turkey, eggs, and pretty much anything else relating to birds, I have to pass up a fair amount of common foods that many people find perfectly good. Then I have to explain that I really can't "just have the turkey sandwich" or try your homemade cheesecake. After a few years, people who work with you know. Anyway, I've learned that in offices in Manhattan, a lot of people eat special diets to accommodate allergies, conditions, their religion's requirements, their ethics, whatever--it's almost weird to not have a dietary quirk.

Bet you know where this is going. I pack my lunch most every day but Friday. As I bragged to Bluzdude last night, this helps keep costs and calories down. Well, when I went for that soda, I noticed my bag had been messed with. Sure enough, my hummus wrap and other goodies had been replaced with a turkey sandwich, a hard-boiled egg, and a slice of cheesecake. I hate wasting food, but I dumped the mess immediately without touching it and tried not to squeak over it. My doctor tells me it's probably a survival mechanism and the reason why I made it to age 30 without having my allergy diagnosed, but I find just the smells of turkey and eggs extremely, gag-inducingly repulsive, and they were reeking through the Saran Wrap. So I had to wash my bag (it's drying now), and I had to eat out an extra day this week.

This needed to be addressed. Soon. I didn't say I'd opened my lunch bag to anyone, but I figured out who the culprit was pretty quickly. She's also an "administrative professional." She'd been working on a presentation for her boss. I decided to "help." I created a lovely PowerPoint presentation at my desk. As I tweeted this afternoon, all 6-7 pages of it were written entirely in LOLcat. (I was inspired by a list from a few days ago.) It was pink, and the LOLcat-style words were rendered in a scrolly royal purple font. She loves Hello Kitty, so I figured she'd appreciate some Hello Kitty graphics. And let's not spare the sparkles! She foolishly left her computer wide open when she went to lunch. I quickly figured out which file was her boss' big-deal presentation, uploaded my presentation, did a hasty edit on PowerPoint so her computer wouldn't give me away as the writer, and saved the prank presentation under a name that was very similar to the one she'd assigned the real one. I made it so she'd be able to find her real presentation, but would have to sweat a little first. Soon after she got back, she screamed, "OH MY GOD NO!" in gratifying and echo-ey fashion. pulled a prank on Manhattan today, too. I've never had an In-and-Out burger, though I understand that they're legendary west of the Mississippi. (I've hardly even been out west. When I ate meat, I made classically Florida-girl choices--Back Yard Burger, Steak and Shake, Checkers.) In-and-Out Burger has long maintained that they won't come East. Well, there was a sign announcing a future In-and-Out Burger by Union Square today. My work husband has spent time out west, and really wishes he could have In-and-Out burgers lots more often. So I told him about the new one coming to town. I did *not* tell him that it wasn't for real. He got all excited, looked it up, and then accused me: "You knew it was a joke!" I handed him his Glenn Beck book back and said, "Now we're even."

I can't write about pranks and offices without sharing my absolute favorite ever. I've seen lots, done lots, and been on the receiving end of a few. This is one I did. This was in Orlando. There was a very conservative Evangelical Christian woman in my office who was very strident about her opinions. Of course, we just absolutely loved each other, because I was also openly bi and Pagan there. In addition to being strident and making a lot of people angry for a lot of reasons, she had some terrible work habits. One of them was checking voice mails on her speakerphone. Loudly. We had a huge open-plan layout that we drones called the Big Room. My boss spoke to her about it several times, but she'd fall right back into that habit.

I'm a little embarrassed to say that I lifted the basic idea from Scott Adams' the Joy of Work, which was written in the mid-1990s and has tons of good, classic pranks in it. But the execution was terrific. I usually don't involve other people in my pranks--too much chance something can go wrong--but I needed help for this one. The phones in my office had special lights indicating that a call was coming from elsewhere in the office, so I couldn't use mine. Plus, of course, she knew my voice. My best friend Yemaya O'Reilly owed me a favor. I told her I'd forgive her the $20 she owed me if she would call Stupid Bitch's extension and leave a message similar to the script I handed her. It involved an adult novelties store that is locally infamous in Orlando.

I turned the volume on her phone way up before I left one night, and Yemaya left this message on Stupid Bitch's voicemail early the following morning: "Hello, [Stupid Bitch], this is [Yemaya] calling from Fairvilla Adult Megastore. Good news--your special order just came in! Yes, we managed to find that Mr. Big and Buzzy vibrator you've been wanting, and I'll put in some D batteries for you so you can enjoy it right away. We also found that wintergreen lube you like! Slip and Slide's still making it, but can you believe they only sell it in Europe now? Of course, you can come pick it up on your lunch hour, or whenever you like. Have a great day and a really great night!" I figured Stupid Bitch would be too flustered to turn down the volume or take it off the speaker right away, and boy, was I right. Everyone in the Big Room, whatever their race or color, was turning purple--Stupid Bitch from embarrassment and anger, the rest of us from laughing to tears. When she went to lunch, other people put wintergreen mints and D batteries on her desk, which prolonged the fun. I actually felt a little bad, but the great thing about her was that she was so obnoxious, she snapped me out of it real quick, allowing me to enjoy the prank without a speck of guilt.

If you have a good prank story--giving, receiving, or witnessing, today or a while ago--I'd love to read it in comments!

Links, links:

Great stuff from the National Zoo this week! Their new Andean bear cubs just got their first exam. The little darlings didn't like it, and vocalized their feelings about exams quite strongly. Also, Mei Xiang, a/k/a "Mama Panda", may have a cub on the way.

Haiti's original Declaration of Independence was recently found in London. This is a significant thing for a country that really needs some good news.

Anna Paquin (Sookie on True Blood) came out as bisexual while filming a PSA for a gay-rights group. Very nice to see a non-embarrassing celebrity come out as bi.

Because Constance McMillen's classmates at Itawamba High School (where the prom was canceled rather than let her and her girlfriend go) apparently don't already know how to harass an L, G, B, or T teenager for Jesus well enough, the American Family Association handed out special free "youth-oriented" Bibles there today.

Finally, there is now such a thing as Hello Kitty Wine. This is absolutely not a joke.


bluzdude said...

Oh man do I ever have work-prank stories... But I'm going to have to save them for a post of my own.

I will tell you about an April Fools Day prank I conceived, but never actually did...

My building has an elevator system with 8 elevators... 4 on each side of a hallway. When you got out on my floor, either direction you looked, you'd see the same sight... a plain yellow wall. The only difference was there was a painting on each wall. One had a building with a steeple, the other, one with columns.

When I'd get out of the elevator, I always knew to head toward the steeple side. I know I get turned around very easily, so unless I'm really thinking about which wall of elevators I was getting on, by the time I got to my floor, I'd have no idea which way to go. But I knew I could head for the steeple.

So I figured there must be a lot of other people that did the same thing, so on one April Fools day, I seriously considered switching the paintings, to see how many people ended up on the wrong side of the building.

But I was still pretty new there and wasn't quite sure how big a deal this would be. (I work for a financial institution... they're not really known for their levity.)

But now... I totally wish I'd done it. It would have killed. Can't do it now though... they painted one wall green since then.

Similarly, we also have a stairwell and it at one time was undergoing a refurbishing. They's painted the doors, painting over the floor numbers and in their place were the numbers written on notebook paper and taped on the door.

I wanted to move each number up one floor. Because you KNOW when you're trudging up the stairs, you could easily lose track of how many flights you've gone up. Again, I didn't do it... too many executives could have been involved, and I was still pretty new.

These are my favorite kinds of pranks... ones that take some imagination, and don't do any real damage.

Love the voice mail prank though. It had to be done.

Casdok said...

Love your presentation and the answer machine pranks!! Excellnet! Hello Kitty wine - what ever next had to look just in case it was an april fools!!
Anna Paquin - as you say good to see.
bluzdude sounds like you did miss some good opportunities!

bluzdude said...

Lilo, (and friends of Lilo)

I just did a post on some of my office pranks. And of course, Lilo, I give you credit for the post idea.

Prank You Very Much

lightfeather said...

Darn it! No one, but no one played a prank at work this year. Sigh... it was fun to read yours! Hate to waste a meal either but changing your food was really not cool.