Your Greatest Workplace Pranks
April Fools' Day is a holiday that often brings out the (mischievous) kid in all of us -- a time to flex our creative muscles and come up with some fun and silly jokes to play on our coworkers. We asked Monster members to tell us about some of their favorite pranks. While many of the more than 100 stories we received fell along similar lines, these really stood out for their originality.
Fun with Food
People here eat anything in the break room. So I made bite-sized chocolate-chip cookies. But instead of one cup sugar and one teaspoon salt, I switched the two -- one cup salt and one teaspoon sugar! It cooks up good and looks good, but pop a bite-sized one in your mouth, and about three seconds after the first bite -- wow, salty, spit it out! There were 70 "cookies" gone, even though I also put up a sign saying, "Guess what today is?" Most people saw the humor. And now I don't have to make any treats anymore, because people are scared to try them.
At my office and probably most offices, candy always draws a crowd. One year, I dipped cotton balls in chocolate and arranged them nicely in a candy box. I just left them on my desk for everyone to help themselves. Imagine the looks on their faces when they bit into what they expected to be a creamy goodie and found instead a bite of mushy cotton ball.
April Fools' Sick-Out
Many years ago, I worked for a department store in the credit department. The manager was male with that attitude of the late '60s. We all met in the HR office and one by one called in sick. He was freaking. He would have to approve applications, run credit reports and apply payments all by his big old self! Then we all arrived 15 minutes late in the elevator. He was shocked, happy and loved us all!
You're Not Supposed to Be Here
I put a pair of men's boots with pant legs gathered around them in one of the stalls in the ladies' room so it looked like a construction worker was sitting in there. Caused quite a stir!
I hadn't planned to do anything for April Fools, but March 31 found me working late in the office on an overdue project. These were the dotcom days. I was a programmer, and I didn't yet have a family waiting at home, so it wasn't a big deal to be working alone in the office until 10:30 p.m. On my way out, I was reminded of what day it would be when my cube mates came in and on a whim decided to exchange their nameplates on the wall with the nameplates of friends in a different part of the building. Pretty soon, the project snowballed until I had switched everyone's nameplates -- perhaps 300 in all. It must have been after midnight before I got to sleep.
The overall effect was as I'd hoped: A fair number of people went in search of their nameplate and met new colleagues in the process. Unfortunately, I missed most of the jovial atmosphere I'd created. By the time I walked in at my usual 10 a.m., a woman in HR had gone around and undone most of my handiwork on her own. Since she was a friend, I fessed up so that I could exhort her to stop and let the fun continue. What I'd forgotten was that at that company, April Fools was also payday, which meant that the new HR intern wouldn't be able to dole out our paychecks until she could actually find their owners. Oops.
I have been a plumber for 28 years and a clown my entire life. When the two meet, look out! Joe was the guy who always wanted to be in charge in front of his friends and colleagues. I said, "Joe, I need some special pipe for this job we're doing." He, of course, asked, "What kind of pipe?" "Well, it's called fallopian tubing," I said.
We went to the supply house (who was in on the joke), and I asked, "Max, do you have any three-quarter-inch fallopian tubing?" He replied that he most certainly was out, but the guys down the street have some. "Joe, call them," I demanded. Of course, wanting to appear in charge, Joe called them right up and asked, "This is Joe, and I gotta have a roll of three-quarter-inch fallopian tubing." To which they replied, "What?!" While all the people who were in on the joke rolled on the floor, I said, "Joe, you been had, dude!" That tamed him, and he found his place on the food chain. I'm sure he passed it on to some other poor, hapless soul.
Several years ago, I created a very professional-looking announcement in PowerPoint. It read: This machine has been upgraded to allow voice commands. Simply insert money, and speak in a clear voice to have your favorite beverage dispensed. I attached it to the front of the coffee machine in our company cafeteria and stood back and watched as dozens of people tried to shout into the coin slot of the same old coffee machine we had been using for years.
People who were caught were more than willing to let others follow their own paths, until we had heard more foul language than most of us had ever experienced in the confines of those hallowed grounds.
A Sign It's Time to Clean Your Cube
There was one particular engineer who had a really sloppy cubicle. Everyone teased him that there would be a body under all the piles of papers. One night, we went in and buried a mannequin and then piled the stacks of papers back around, over, etc. We let things go a couple of days, just having facilities tell him to clean his cubicle by the weekend. Knowing he would put it off until the end of the week, we just kind of hung around chatting, and it wasn't long before we heard a scream come from his cubicle as he found the body.
A Little Too Close
At the plant I worked at, we had a real class clown named Lester. He was always pulling tricks on people, and no one could ever seem to get ahead of him on anything. It happened to be in the spring, and in Iowa, that means turkey hunting. I went hunting with Lester a few times, and this gave me an idea. One of the guys I worked with was a pretty fair artist, so we got some colored markers, and I told him that I wanted a heart tattoo put on my shoulder with an arrow and the name Lester on it. It looked really professional and real, so I went to the break room just a few minutes before Lester was to arrive, and I told everyone there what was up. When Lester walked in the room, I told him that while hunting with him I felt like we had "bonded" and to "seal the deal," I had gotten a tattoo to remember him by. When I pulled the sleeve of my shirt up, the look on his face was PRICELESS. The man no one could get ahead of was completely speechless. All he could do was drop his head and mutter, "That's pretty nice." Needless to say, the break room exploded in laughter.
It was a LONG time before Lester pulled any more pranks.
Held for Ransom
The best prank I ever pulled was back in the '80s. A coworker left and bequeathed his swimsuit-of-the month calendar (back when this was allowed) on a rotating basis to the remainder of the men on the team. The guys signed up for which month the calendar would reside in their workspace.
Well, I promptly kidnapped the calendar and left an anonymous note demanding a hunk-of-the-month calendar and signed it Gloria Steinam -- spelled wrong on purpose [to throw them off]. The guys went nuts and quizzed all the women on the correct spelling. Naturally, we [women] got it right. Every day for a week, I left a more elaborate ransom note. It culminated with a message cut out of newspaper and magazines, with a plastic Baggie full of sand, water, a couple of shells and a Barbie bikini.
Oh, I got a hunk-of-the-month calendar, all right. It was full of pictures of Orville Redenbacher, Santa Claus, little boys in Underoos and a stunning picture of one of the guys standing on his deck wrapped in nothing but a towel! That calendar was seen by every woman in the company. It was great!