Prank #6: Training with a Twist
Pranksters: The training class at PrintingForLess.com
Scene of the Crime: PrintingForLess.com, based in Livingston, Montana
The Mission: While William Malek was in technical service representative training, he had to leave the office for two weeks to fly back to Stanford and wrap up some teaching engagements. While he was away, the rest of the training class at PrintingForLess.com got together and ran all of his equipment, including his mouse, computer screen, keyboard and phone through their shrink wrapping machine in the bindery.
Prank #7: Pranking the Pranksters
Pranksters: The employees at WRBV-TV, as told by Brian Eckert, former program director and production manager at the station. He's now the director of Media and Public Relations at the University of Richmond.
Scene of the Crime: WRBV-TV, Channel 65 in Vineland, New Jersey
The Mission: Eckert was out of the office the afternoon before April Fools' Day about 20 years ago. He and his co-workers had been involved in an escalating series of practical jokes. In his absence, his fellow employees got the key to his office and turned everything upside down, including the furniture, papers and office equipment. Unbeknownst to them, Eckert arrived unusually early the next day. He was stunned at what they'd done but decided to one-up their stunt. So he turned everything right-side up and left the office to get coffee before everyone arrived. When he got back, he unlocked his office and walked in like normal, pretending not to know what happened as they peeked into his office with confused looks on their faces. Unless they're reading this now, Eckert says they still don't know what went wrong with their April Fools' Day stunt.
Prank #8: Caught in the Act
Prankster: Hans Engebretson, senior account executive
Scene of the Crime: OLSON, based in Minneapolis
The Mission: Advertising agency OLSON was in the middle of a dispute with the city concerning a 10-foot-tall brick statue atop their office building. Officials had asked the statue be removed, however OLSON argued the "Brick Man" was both their icon and a piece of art. Hoping to get CEO John Olson fired up about the dispute, Engebretson left Olson a stern message from his own cell phone, disguising his voice and warning him that the agency was being fined $400 for each day that passed since their violation notice, which at that point totaled $12,000. Olson panicked and called the agency's COO. After hearing her advice, he called the number back, but Engebretson was on another call with a client so couldn't answer. The call went to voicemail, and Olson discovered the prank. Though he sprinted toward Engebretson's desk red-faced and head shaking, they all got a good laugh out of it. OLSON won the battle, and the "Brick Man" remains on the rooftop to this day.
Prank #9: Is That Your Final Answer?
Pranksters: Kimberly Hassler, former copy writer, along with co-worker Jeff White. Hassler is now a writer with Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Networks in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Scene of the Crime: Lieberman-Appalucci, based in Allentown, Pennsylvania
The Mission: The senior copy writer at Lieberman-Appalucci, John, wanted to be on Who Wants to be a Millionaire in the worst way. He told White he had qualified for the show the night before when he called an 800-number and was anticipating a call that day. He warned the receptionist to page him if anyone called and no matter what, not to put any calls into his voice mail. White lured John away from his desk, while Hassler, a regular prankster, placed a fake call to him saying she was a producer with the show and would like him to call back. When John returned to his office, he saw he had a message and was annoyed with the receptionist.
He frantically punched the number into his phone (which was the real number to ABC Studios in New York) and told the person who answered what he was calling about and was put on hold. Meanwhile, Hassler walked into his office and asked if she could have a month off from work to travel. When he said no, she asked, "Is that your final answer?" When he said yes, she asked again, and he realized what she was doing.
Prank #10: The Intern and the Press Release
Pranksters: Jeff Hardison, former account executive, along with co-worker Nate James. Hardison is now employed with McClenahan Bruer Communications, based in Portland, Oregon.
Scene of the Crime: A Portland, Oregon-based advertising and PR firm
The Mission: Around April 1, 2000, different teams within Hardison's former company were hiring so many new employees that the current ones were growing upset by all the new faces they didn't have a role in approving. So Hardison and co-worker, James, worked with their IT administrator to create a fake e-mail address for a "new intern" named something like Jessica Benet Ramsfeld. They sent out an e-mail to the entire company from her address, laden with misspellings and teenage slang. The scenario: Since "Jessica's" supervisors were out of the office for her first day, she ended up having to send out a news release about a new ice cream flavor for their gourmet food client. The ice cream flavor was going to be called "Spirit Cow" in honor of the Dalai Lama's visit. They attached a horribly written news release about the ice cream, with "Jessica" explaining that the release had already crossed the wire. People flipped--especially new employees who felt threatened.
Pull the Perfect Prank--Without Losing Your Job
It may start out as fun and games, but there's always the occasional prank that goes a bit too far, resulting in a firing or even a lawsuit. Pamela J. Holland, COO of BRODY Professional Development in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, says there's a balance to having some fun with your fellow employees and crossing moral and ethical boundaries. "People need to be very careful about office pranks. While I am a firm believer in the benefits of humor and laughter in the workplace, people should really think about what they're doing before they do it," advises Holland.
Here are some guidelines she recommends when pulling your prank:
- Make sure it doesn't embarrass someone or cause disruption in the workplace.
- Think through all possible consequences of the joke.
- Don't use April Fools' Day as an opportunity to "get back" at someone you don't like.
- What's OK to do at home with family or friends may not be appropriate for the workplace.
- If your boss is the subject of your prank, be extremely careful. You need to know this person extremely well, understand their sense of humor and never do anything that would diminish your boss's authority.