Monday, August 03, 2015

Office pranks sign of healthy morale

Office pranks can be a source of amusement and often indicate good morale among the employees. My boss and my bosses' boss are both on vacation this week so I thought this would be a good time to write about office pranks. 
I have been the recipient and the source of more than one office prank over the years. I remember them fondly. And, I have heard about others that I wish I had been in on. 
My prankster days go back to college. I was deeply involved in our school's radio station. As a freshman I had the idea I would attend the basketball games and every other event where attractive females might be in attendance. 
I was sidetracked, however, when on on a football night I was asked to read the news on our radio station during halftime. I was hooked and the rest of my college days were spent rushing to the radio station after class and when my bare minimum studies were complete. 
By my sophomore year I was writing outlandish stories about people who worked at the station as students or employees. 
In one story, Dave, our chief engineer, was testing microphone cables by attaching them to the ceiling and swinging on them. 
I never signed these essays but I posted them to the bulletin board to see if anyone would read them. They did. 
At a staff meeting, one of my victims said, "If you sent as much time studying as you spend writing those things, you would be an 'A' student!" 
No one seemed to be offended by my pranks and they took them in good humor. 
On another occasion, a couple friends and I posted a sign high on the wall of our college's public radio station that read, "Stamp Our Opera!" It was left there for years. 
My buddies decided one Saturday to leave me in the dark by turning out the lights in the studio when we were off the air. In those days we could get away with not broadcasting 24/7. 
They thought I was recording a show and the light switch was in the reception area outside the studios. 
So, they blocked the door with a chair so I couldn't leave the studio to the lights back on. 
It wasn't me. 
The man in the studio picked up the phone and called the outside intercom. 
When my friends answered, he said, "Is this a joke?"
"Oh, no, it's Mr. Myers," my buddy told his friend. 
They quickly removed the chair that was blocking the door, turned on the lights and left before they could be discovered by the music professor. 
Pranks sometimes involve holidays and travel. 
I heard about a lady who took a miniature Christmas tree, a stuffed elf doll and other decorations to the office where she worked. By the end of the season, that elf could be found in all sorts of compromising positions involving the tree. 
Another woman took a set of plastic snowmen to work. The computer repair guys kidnapped one of the snowmen and by the magic of Photoshop, sent him around the world. He was "photographed" in many of the world's great venues; in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall of China and other places. His pictures were emailed to company employees. Eventually, he returned home in time for Christmas.
When I went on vacation one year, I did some landscaping around our house. At the time I was the news director for a radio station. 
I was surprised when I stopped by a hardware store and the clerk was surprised I was in town. That left me confused and scratching my head.
I later found out the morning DJ and the guy who was reading the news that week told their listeners I was on a whirlwind trip around the world. Each morning they talked about my adventures. 
Sometimes, pranks are done out of frustration with people. 
Again, when I was in radio, my on air pranks turned into promotional announcements for our announcers. 
We had a guy on staff named Bill who was anal about his desk but he didn't mind rummaging through my desk looking for things. He was anal about other things too and could be a real pain to other people who worked with him. 
So, I relabeled a bottle of Tums to read "Bill Pills" in the hope he would find them. When that made no difference in his behavior, I began rearranging his desk after he left for the day. The phone would be turned around, his stapler would be upside down and his neat desk would look like a hurricane hit it. 
It drove him crazy, so it became that much more fun. 
I started recording promos for Bill and our other announcers. 
I would take sound bites from movies and suggest the sound bites were people talking about our announcers. For example, our morning radio personality and my friend, Harvey, had the same name as the giant invisible rabbit in the Jimmy Stewart movie, "Harvey." So the promo went something like, (Jimmy Stewart:) "He's about 6 feet tall and he's invisible." (My voice:) "Listen to Harvey Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 on this station." 
For Bill, I expressed my frustration by using a line from the movie, "Stripes." 
"Touch my stuff and I'll kill ya.!" 
That recorded line was followed by me promoting Bill's radio show. 
I think he loosened up a little over the next year or so but I had fun trying to teach him a lesson.