August 3, 2009

Dear Clusterflock: Do you do bad things at work?

A few years back I was between jobs and took a job that was just me and my boss. There was no fun in her, but I managed to stick it out until I found other employment. I had to have some fun and as she liked 2 sugars in her tea it got me to wondering how much sugar could a person take in one cup of tea and not notice.

I increased her sugar intake by one spoon at a time and generally left a couple of days in between changes. I kept going until I was bored. I guess part of me wanted her to notice, but she never did. Not even the amount of sugar we were getting through. Anyway, I eventually got her up to 23 spoons of sugar in a cup of tea – yeah, 23! She never said a word and always finished the cup.

The oddest part was, when I got bored and stopped I returned her to 2 spoons over night and she didn’t say a thing. It set me to wondering what our threshold for sweetness was and did 3 spoons of sugar actually taste no different to 23?

Have you ever been bad?


  1. Andrew Simone on August 3rd, 2009 at 10:36 am

    There are three things you can do at a liquor store: stock shelves, fuck with customers, and drink.

  2. Deron Bauman on August 3rd, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Phil. you are wonderful.

  3. Jonathan McNicol on August 3rd, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Seriously, Phil, what Deron said.

    There’s so much going on here. Can we talk more about the sugar? 23 spoonfuls?? The amazing part is switching her back to two overnight. You’re sure she actually drank the tea every day? Did she pay any attention to it while she drank it?

    I’m disappointed that you got bored. I’d really like to know how far it could’ve gone. Do you think she was just being polite or something?

  4. jon_hansen on August 3rd, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Part of my job requires me to dissect a rat for neuronal cell culture purposes. Every week, I euthanize a pregnant rat by asphyxiating her in a small, plastic box that fills with carbon dioxide. Then, I cut her open, and remove all her pups, usually anywhere from 12-16 of them, and cut off each of their little heads before further dissecting out their hippocampi and other brain structures necessary for studying learning, memory, and ultimately, Alzheimer’s disease.

    This is perfectly normal work in my field, but when I tell people what I do, I think they think I’m doing something horrible at work.

  5. Sheila Ryan on August 3rd, 2009 at 11:21 am

    What I would do is I would put ideas in the heads of young men (18-25 years old or so) I supervised. They were generally up for all manner of badness.

  6. Deron Bauman on August 3rd, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Sheila, I had a friend like that. He would encourage and scheme, then chortle wickedly behind while the rest of us got in trouble. God rest him.

  7. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Deron, thank you.

    Jonathan, I am sure she was drinking it – I had already conducted a similar experiment at a previous employ. Not quite as severe, I got up to 5 sugars. The thing is 23 sugars are a bitch to dissolve – I was in danger of having asked of me “why have you been so long?”

    Sheila, I love your agent provocateur like ways!

  8. Cindy Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 11:42 am

    Phil, your tale is just wonderful. I’d love to work with you.

    I do so many bad things at work that I could fill a book. Unfortunately, this is one of those days when I’m actually busy doing what they’re paying me to do, so I haven’t the time. But I’ll be back….

  9. Sheila Ryan on August 3rd, 2009 at 11:48 am

    It all depends on what you consider bad. I mean, there is the whole category Jon brought up — of actual job duties some might condemn.

    I’m hard-pressed to say what was my worst. It really depends on whether you are more offended by puckish deeds directed toward the living or toward the remains of the dead.

  10. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Cindy, I am mildly moist in anticipation – please don’t keep me dangling.

    Sheila, nothing is too bad. Just hoick it up!

  11. Sheila Ryan on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Dang. Dang. The best was not something I did or the boys did, whether on their own initiative or at my behest.

    It was a prank executed by a girl. But I watched and took delight. That was bad.

  12. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Sheila, I understand girls can be good at such things also!

  13. range on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Phil, I guess that your boss didn’t have any tastebuds left, because any sane person would notice right away. Going from 23 sugars to 2 means that the tea must have tasted like there was no sugar at all. Her tastebuds had gotten used to the sweetness. That also means that if she was drinking her tea, sweet things tasted less sweet.

    23 sugars! I can’t believe that! That is so many. She was drinking more sugar than tea. Maybe she didn’t think it was “proper” to mention this to you since you made her tea.

  14. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Range, she was a bitch and would have taken great delight in telling me. She was a heavy smoker as well – I dunno. She drank every cup and never said a word!

  15. Cindy Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I will not discuss anything for which I might be prosecuted. I know my rights.

  16. Daryl Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Does “bad things at work” include military service?

  17. Sheila Ryan on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Only if you asphyxiated pregnant civilians and cut out and decapitated their pups.

  18. Cindy Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Got a pet rat, which angered the physical plant manager to no end (“This is a health facility,” blah, blah, blah). Told me to get rid of it. Instead named the female rat after said male plant manager–Dale. The rat stayed.

  19. Cindy Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Drank Crown Royal with my former boss any time we had a bad day. We had quite a few bad days.

  20. Cindy Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 1:01 pm




  21. Cindy Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Got on the P.A. System and said, “Dr. Hunt, Dr. Mike Hunt, please come to the front desk.”

  22. Sheila Ryan on August 3rd, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    I felt bad for the janitor who had to clean up, but his handwritten memo to my boss, citing us for detritus including 23 beer bottles, ‘stepped-down’ chocolate cake, and a greasy Twister board — that made me proud.

  23. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Cindy, it’s not a trap, I promise.

    Daryl, if they were paying you, YES!

  24. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Cindy, you are now officially part of the club.

    Just as a matter of interest, did he come to the desk?

  25. Amy Mabli on August 3rd, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    These are all lovely stories. I cannot comment at this time since I am in the process of looking for a job and you never know when you are being Googled, my friends.

    Maybe I should just say that I’ve never done any bad things at work, only superbly good things!

  26. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Amy, I believe that to be true and I would urge any prospective employers to listen to me!

  27. Daryl Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    After one week at a new base, I told them they must have lost my papers because I had checked in and had sat in all of the long lines to fill out forms at base ops. I had actually just skipped most of the many stopping points. So they handed me a batch of papers to sign and I didn’t have to spend two days in those lines. (Cindy–please don’t add anything to this; I’m not sure about how time limits apply to the UCMJ.)

  28. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Daryl, one of those occasions when succinct is exactly what is required – I’d have been tempted to post under Christopher Walken. But then I’m a wuss.

  29. Cindy Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Phil, we got several inquiries into the evening as to whether Mike Hunt ever showed up to take his phone call.

    I will not speak of the time I took my staff across the state line to gamble.

  30. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Cindy, I think that I have mentioned here before that when I was a police officer I worked with a brother and sister called Adora Dick and Ivor Dick.

    Speaking of borders, back in 2003 when in southern California, Calexico/Mexicali to be exact – I stumbled into Mexico for 15 minutes. The conversation with the American border control on my return was interesting.

  31. Cindy Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Oh, I’ve accidentally ended up in Mexico a few times myself! Not to be confused with the times I’ve snuck across as a reverse wetback.

    Adora and Ivor Dick. That’s just grand. I almost made the announcement for Dr. Meoff, Dr. Jack Meoff, but I decided that Mike Hunt was more subtle and therefore funnier. It left people wondering if I’d done it on purpose or whether some prank caller was just giving me a hard time.

  32. Phil Bebbington on August 3rd, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Oh, I love to keep people wondering. That’s half the fun!

  33. Sheila Ryan on August 3rd, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Cindy, compañera, you are an Accidental Mexican.

  34. Sheila Ryan on August 3rd, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Ha. I wrote “citing us for detritus”.

  35. Kelsey Parker on August 3rd, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Y’all, if you’d passed by my cubicle just now… you’d have known I was up to no good because no one grins like that while doing their job. Thanks for making me happy, like you always do!

  36. Cindy Scroggins on August 3rd, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Sheila, your detritus citation reminds me–I got a ticket on the way to Marfa! My first ticket in 35 years! It’s because my ears are all messed up and, as a result, my built-in radar that has warned me of police in the area didn’t work. So I got stopped for going 83 in a 70 mph zone. I was amazed to learn that I was going only 83. It didn’t upset me, really. $175 is a small price to pay for 35 years of driving with gusto.

  37. Guy on August 5th, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I once replaced a co-workers name plate outside his office with one that said Mr. Poopypants. This was after he set my computer (which faced the hallway) to a male impedance site. Also, putting a piece of scotch tape over the old ball roller mouses is usually fun. More juvenile than bad, but it was fun.

  38. Ken on August 5th, 2009 at 9:08 am

    Used to prank a co-worker I did not like (many years ago when I was younger and meaner). Two I remember:
    1) Replaced her PC screensaver with the melting screen screensaver ( which essentially took an image of the current desk top and slowly melted it to the bottom of the screen) when she returned to her pc and saw the half melted desctop she actually called desktop support! Did not even try hitting a key or moving the mouse!
    2) Another time I just needed to print a doc and was too lazy to go back to my cube (on another floor at that point) so I created a new account on her PC using the username ‘Candy’. When she noticed the username in the login prompt on the next business day she called security convinced that ‘candy’ was involved in some sort of corporate espionage…

    Yeah, I was a mean bastard back then.

  39. range on August 5th, 2009 at 9:26 am

    @Phil that explains it. Smoking too much dulls the tastebuds, but that prank was pure gold. I’ve done bad things at work, especially when I was working for the provincial government in Quebec, though I won’t really comment.

    What surprises me is how much time you have to waste when you are a public servant. You can’t be efficient, oh no, because you get told off for being too fast! Can’t have the old wankers look like they are wanking instead of working.

  40. Andrew Simone on August 5th, 2009 at 9:51 am

    What I remember most fondly about the liquor store (now that I have more time to answer this):

    The store was more like a warehouse, it was huge. We used to send one of the newer guys to the dollar store down the street to buy toy guns with suction cup darts and split up into teams, one in the front and the other in the back. It was primarily a game of stealth since the darts did not fly far.

    I was known as the crazy one since I would climb the twelve foot racks and jump down to the floor for a surprise attack, or leap from the fifteen feet high five-blocked 30 pack stacks. Those stacks were rickety and swayed if somebody leaned on them. Surprisingly little was ever broken.

    We would do this on Monday evenings when the store was very slow. If a customer came, somebody would yell “Michelob” since nobody in their right mind would buy that.

  41. KinOfCain on August 5th, 2009 at 10:20 am

    I worked with a guy who was a hunt-and-peck typist in the purest sense of the word, he would stare at the keyboard to type out a word, then look at the screen to see if it came out right.

    One day I switched his “n” and “m” key caps.

    After about 5 minutes of him cursing I felt bad and told him what I’d done. Quite frankly I was surprised it worked as well as it did.

  42. Phil Bebbington on August 5th, 2009 at 10:42 am

    This thread surely has more in it!

    Hunt-and-peck typist nearly made me force tea down my nose. I love that expression.

    I do have more for you, I just need to get my head straight.

  43. mandolin on August 5th, 2009 at 10:52 am

    We had a somewhat hated boss — he was gruff, impersonal and frequently the bearer of bad news. During a particular low point in morale for the company, he put an 81/2×11 sheet of paper with Impact font over his desk, behind his head on the wall, that read: YOU CAN TALK TO ME ABOUT ANYTHING ANY TIME.

    Uh. Right. That’ll solve everything. We made a copycat sign and replaced his that said I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT SHORT AND STOUT. He didn’t notice for a week. And then he was pissed.

    The idea was floated to throw some praying mantis eggs in his bottom desk drawer (you can get them at a nursery) but was sadly discarded. That would have been awesome.

  44. Deron Bauman on August 5th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    we used to say a bad day climbing beats a good day at work, so I guess these two anecdotes fit right in:

    putting an open jar of peanut butter in a friend’s chalk bag as he was gearing up for his first attempt at new route.

    digging up and hiding the spoon one friend had buried to hide from another.

    does that make sense?

  45. rob on August 5th, 2009 at 11:09 am

    a small piece of clear tape over the telephone receiver button works every time.

  46. christy on August 5th, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I used to work at a biotech company that was spread out in several buildings. Every Friday we got a box of donuts and bagels for each building. There was a creepy IT guy who would come to our building (only after the donuts appeared) and eat our chocolate donuts. After a couple of months of this, I injected the donuts with hot sauce. That was the last we ever saw of him in our building.

  47. Phil Bebbington on August 5th, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Whilst a police officer I worked at a police station with a dictatorial chief inspector. I was working night when a colleague and I were sent to a report of a large fish in the road – an odd assignment! There was indeed a very large and dead carp. We returned to the police station and placed it under the false bottom of a cupboard in his office.


  48. nikki on August 5th, 2009 at 11:48 am

    we shadowed a coworker on her computer. made her think that her computer was possessed. all we had to do was type messages to her (from whatever was possessing her computer) or taking control of her mouse. we did that randomly for about a month, and then gave up since she believed it all wholeheartedly. it was too simple.

  49. JNJ on August 5th, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I worked at a very large computer software company, and the pranks ran to the geeky. One of the guys who worked in driver development wrote a piece of software that occasionally re-mapped keystrokes to nearby keys, so as to mimic (slightly) sloppy typing. He installed it on his manager’s keyboard. The real genius was that the error rate increased slowly over time and occasionally went to zero for long periods of time.

    I could actually hear the guy swearing at his keyboard.

  50. michel v on August 5th, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I guess all IT guys do this: whenever a coworker leaves their desk, we check whether they locked their session or not. If they did not, we send prank emails to half the building, like “come to my desk for donuts!” or “I like Brussels sprouts”.

    Another classic is taking a screenshot of their desktop, setting their taskbar/dock to auto-hide, hide/minimize all windows, and setting the wallpaper to the screenshot; takes them quite a few clicks to realize the trick.
    Then there’s adding a user, then later log in remotely as that user to play sounds with command line utilities.
    (Just realized the screenshot trick could be automatized on macs with some AppleScript!)

    Other than that, can’t say I’ve been so mischievous at work… so far.

  51. t.edison on August 5th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    A director I worked with didnt get on well with one of the producers but they had to share an office, so whenever the producer was out of the room he would set the default start site on the guys web browser to some satanic cult homepage…
    And then tried not to laugh next time he booted up his browser

  52. Purposefully Anonymous on August 5th, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Two pranks come to mind:

    I had a former boss who was sort’ve gross. He was creepy and geeky. You could always hear him making throat clearing noises.

    One day he had a sneezing attack. From all the way across the building you could just hear the wet spray that SURELY had to be filling his office. One sneeze. Two sneezes. Five sneezes… at around nine people out in the cubes started chuckling and making quiet comments. I had time to walk to the front of the building, retrieve my umbrella where I’d left it, open it up and parade it through the office (to the amusement of all) and then prop it up over the top of my cube (which was in the theoretical line of fire) before the sneezing stopped. I left it there for months.

    He commented on it later on, saying he was glad that I would do something quirky like putting an umbrella up in my cube and told everyone, “We need more personality like this!” The laughter was barely contained.

    The second comes from my days as a waiter. We had an absolute prick of an executive chef. He would come in once every three or four months, throw his weight around and generally let everyone know that he was in charge.

    Towards the end of the night he’d always get a glass of wine and keep it underneath the line. He stepped away for a stretch and, seemingly spontaneously, a coworker (about 6’4″, 230 pounds), reached down his pants and slid his fingers along his general crotch area.

    He proceeded to rub the “substance” on the rim of the glass and we all stood around as the chef polished off the glass throughout the remainder of the evening.

    We called it “The Nemec” named after the chef, although we spent a long time debating whether we were naming the act or the substance.

  53. Liz on August 6th, 2009 at 4:44 am

    I used to work the night shift in a petrol station (gas station, for you US peeps!). It was really boring, and between about 2am and 5am there was literally NOTHING to do. After a few weeks of this job I was slowly going out of my mind, staring out of the big window where customers can pay through, when I saw a cat walking across the forecourt. Without hesitation, I pressed the loudspeaker button that lets you talk to the whole forecourt, and barked as loudly as I could for about five seconds. The cat nearly had a heart attack and just bolted off looking like it had got an electric shock. I laughed for, literally, hours. It was the best fun I ever had in that job.

  54. melissa on August 6th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    from my days as a server…we had a regular female customer that was a real pain in the ass and generally a snob. she always had special requests for the chef (can he add this? not add that? etc.) her requests were always accommodated and she always expressed her appreciation but in a less than genuine way.

    she usually ordered dessert with a decaf cappuccino (really. what’s the point?) because otherwise she “would be up all night.” we took great pleasure in serving her that cappuccino – fully caffeinated.

    to quote from the movie “waiting” : don’t FUCK with people who handle your food.

  55. greta on August 6th, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Once, on the way to lunch, we went up to the computer of the head sales jerk and typed “format c:” as a joke, thinking the PC was off. It wasn’t. Only the monitor was. So we confirmed with a “Y” and went to lunch. The howl that went up when he got back to his desk was priceless.

  56. June on August 7th, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Where to start…I once had a job at McDonald’s. Worked the closing shift with a bunch of teenage boys. They all went downstairs one evening, leaving me all alone at the counter. I twisted a straw wrapper to look like string, wrapped part of a napkin around it, and it looked like a tampon. I dipped it in a ketchup packet and tossed it on the table where they assembled the burgers. Straw wrapper, one cent. Napkin, two cents. Reaction of said teenage boys? PRICELESS! Oh, they were horrified, to say the least.

  57. June on August 7th, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Covered a co-worker’s desk and the floor out around it with little Dixie cups half-filled with water.

  58. June on August 7th, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Set a small kitchen timer for 3 minutes and slipped it into the hood of someone’s hoodie and waited. Don’t do this to anyone with a heart condition.

  59. June on August 7th, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Kidnapped a teddy bear from a co-worker. Sent ransom notes made with cut out letters. When my demands weren’t met, I photo shopped a picture of the teddy into a random family photo from the internet and included it with a letter explaining the bear had been placed with a different family who were better able to keep track of his whereabouts. I eventually did allow him to go back home.

  60. Phil Bebbington on August 7th, 2009 at 10:10 am

    More police tales:

    A friend once strapped a dead fox to the engine of our sergeant – he didn’t discover it for weeks, by which time it was firmly welded to the engine block – he was trying to trace a strange smell.

    Also a couple of little ways to get criminals back if you were unable to get them in custody.

    In the winter pee in their radiator – the use of the heater becomes rather troublesome. and if you really want to get someone who is being troublesome – under the cover of darkness slip a few metal balls into the oil filler cap – the engine goes BANG! Of course, that is criminal and I would have never taken part in such activities.

  61. Cindy Scroggins on August 7th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    I like June.

  62. Deron Bauman on August 7th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    I helped get a manager who belittled Amy loudly and publicly fired.

  63. June on August 7th, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Thanks, Cindy.

    Phil, Phil, Phil. I sure hope that’s not your real name.

    Sent a marshmallow peep through a laminator. Melted the marshmallow, leaving a 5 foot pink sugared streak. I don’t recommend this, because laminate is expensive, and people tend to be cranky about it being wasted.

    Also copied a peep on the copy machine. It squashed and stuck to the glass. Messy, messy, messy.

  64. Cindy Scroggins on August 7th, 2009 at 11:25 am

    June, have you seen the library peeps site?

  65. June on August 7th, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Thanks Cindy, that’s awesome! I’ve seen Lord of the Peeps and various peep experimentation and observations, but that’s the first time I’ve seen the peeps doing the research.

    It’s entertaining to microwave them, but it’s really difficult to light one on fire. Freezing them and hitting them with a hammer only works if they’ve been dropped in liquid nitrogen. Same goes for freezing them and dropping them off the roof. If it’s raining, they stick to cars very securely.

    And yes, these are all things I have done at work. In the name of science, of course.

  66. Cindy Scroggins on August 7th, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Deron–are you thinking what I’m thinking?

  67. Phil Bebbington on August 7th, 2009 at 11:52 am

    June, it is!

    I can feel the net closing on me as we speak.

  68. Sheila Ryan on August 7th, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Phil, maybe it’s time for you to go on the lam.

  69. Phil Bebbington on August 7th, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Sheila, I may need to draw on your expertise!

  70. June on August 7th, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Well Phil, you might be safe as long as you didn’t take any photos of yourself while you were creatively expressing of your feelings about your job.

  71. India on August 7th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I’m sad to say that, being such a goddamn square, I’ve never done anything worthy of being in this thread. The only kind of troublesome shit I can recall having done at work has consisted of writing obsessively researched, strongly worded letters and memos that help get people who are pains in everybody’s ass fired. But I haven’t cared enough about a job to do that in years. Depressing.

    At my first bookstore job, in Sacramento, some guys at another Tower store poured a couple thousand of those biodegradable packing peanuts over another guy’s—their manager’s?—car after it had become wet with rain. Biodegradable, yes, but easy to wash off? Apparently not. IIRC, they got kind of fired.

    There was a book that came out around then, Sabotage in the American Workplace, which I probably still have a copy of somewhere; it was full of these kinds of stories, and it was wonderful. Maybe I should read that again, to get inspired.

  72. Cindy Scroggins on August 7th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    But, India, didn’t y’all play Sexy Motherfucker as mood music in your bookstore? I would say that counts for something.

    Let’s see, my bookstore days. Hmmm, what did I do back then….

    I reached down a co-workers pants one day, convinced that he had socks in his crotch. He didn’t, but he also didn’t mind my reaching in there, so it was a wash.

    A co-worker and I staged fake fights on our lunch breaks in the mall, loudly accusing each other of heinous acts and each demanding a divorce. That never got old.

    I spent the better part of an afternoon in a glass display case.

    My friend, Steve (of divorce fights above) autographed all of our Pat Boone books, as well as any he found in other bookstores. (I realize that this is not, technically, something bad that I did at work, but since I was a manager and did nothing to stop him, I think it qualifies.)

  73. Sheila Ryan on August 7th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    India, it probably means that you are not a square but a grown-up.

  74. Sheila Ryan on August 7th, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    I take that back. I think you are neither a square nor a grown-up.

  75. Phil Bebbington on August 7th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    June, back then I never took photos of myself!

  76. Jonathan McNicol on August 7th, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    My friend, Steve (of divorce fights above) autographed all of our Pat Boone books, as well as any he found in other bookstores.

    After everything everyone has said here, that’s my favorite little anecdote out of this whole thread. It’s just genius. I may just have to take up Steve’s cause here in cozy New England. Do we think bookstores still carry Pat Boone books, though?

  77. Cindy Scroggins on August 7th, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Jonathan, I’ve wondered if there are any left (this was 1979 or 1980). I do know that a lot of people think they have genu-ine autographed first editions of A Miracle A Day Keeps The Devil Away, though.

  78. Sheila Ryan on August 7th, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I still wonder about my G. Gordon Liddy book with the author’s purported signature and the obvious Nietszche quotation.

  79. Cindy Scroggins on August 7th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    As well you should, Sheila. Steve got around.

  80. Sheila Ryan on August 7th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Steve. That imp.

  81. India on August 7th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    But, really, Cindy, nobody cared that we were playing “Sexy M.F.” in that bookstore.

    I guess . . . so, okay, we had this thing where we could transfer any book from store to store by just putting a store number on it and a person’s name. So at the second Tower Books I worked at, in Seattle, I had the cookbooks section, and I was going through it, surveying my domain, shortly after I arrived, and I found a book called Variety Meats that was, as you’d expect, about unpalatable organs. So I sent it to the vegetarian assistant manager at the store I’d just transferred from. No note or anything; he knew who it was from.

  82. Sheila Ryan on August 7th, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Ah, India. You are naughty, after all.

  83. Mitch Wright on August 7th, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    It has been a while since I’ve pranked anyone — this article has motivated me to rectify that situation. That said, here are a couple I’ve pulled in the past.

    Back in 1988, the NASA installation I worked at had just gotten a new phone system that gave the, now, normal electronic sounding rings. The first thing I did was record the ring tones and upload them to our fileserver. I was then able, with the help of NFS, to remotely log into office mates workstations and play their ring tones which, obviously, came out of their workstation’s built-in speaker. It proved quite interesting how many consecutive phone calls with nobody on the other end it took to get someone peeved.

    After the above prank lost its luster, I discovered an undocumented feature in the new phone system. It allowed you to dial an extension and rather than have it ring it simply output the sound through the speakerphone speaker of the phone. It was, presumably, to be used to be able to do announcements and alike. I started with quick scratchy type sounds and worked up to the infamous “help me, i’m trapped in your phone” voice. My favorite was screwing with an office mate by making a clicking sound every time he hit a key.

    Lastly, as an IT guy there is the old favorite of going to someone’s office on a Thursday, clipboard in hand… nose around a little and they’ll eventually ask why you are there. Just say something to the effect of “I need to get your phone jack number”. Almost certainly they’ll either look puzzled or ask why, just look at your clipboard and apologize with something like — “crap. sorry, I’ll be back tomorrow”. Probably not a recommended prank in this economy and reactions vary.

  84. Jason on August 7th, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I found a USB extension cord and plugged it into the back of the computer of the girl who sits opposite me at work. I then wound that extension cord through the mess of cords that services three adjacent desks. At the end of it I attached a wireless mouse receiver.

    For the following two months, I had the mouse by my feet (if I was in danger of being caught, I would kick it under my set of drawers), and nudged it, moved it, clicked, etc. whenever I felt like it. Sometimes I wouldn’t do it for days, other days I would do it all day.

    She KNEW it was me. She knew it, but she couldn’t prove it. One time, she nearly caught me out. She noticed the symptoms (usually tiny nudges or clicks – just enough to annoy the hell out of someone) stopped when I left my desk. She asked me to come and look. It was a test I passed by quickly putting the mouse in my pocket. The natural walking movement was enough to convince her.

    She had ridiculous theories, and began recording when it happened in an attempt to find patterns. I think she thought it was some sort of GhostWriter type of mischief. I didn’t see it, but someone told me she had a spreadsheet. Occasionally, I’d leave it with another in-range colleague.

    She unplugged everything and plugged it all back in. After a few weeks of this, she began to think that it wasn’t me at all. She called I.T. at least twenty times.

    At this point, I played the double bluff, i.e. I came clean and apologised, and explained exactly how I did it. She didn’t believe me.

    I.T. sent someone to investigate. He found nothing, and of course, I stopped the symptoms while he was standing there, and started them again when he left. He concluded she was crazy – the job remains unresolved.

    After two months I grew bored, and unplugged it. Some weeks later I innocently asked her if her mouse problems had gone away, and she claimed that they were still pretty bad.

    I can’t explain that.

  85. pedro on August 8th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    When I was a soldier, I was bored at the range. While looking through my binoculars I saw a group of wild pigs. I instantly got on the radio and said pigs in the open 150 meters. Basically I called indirect fire on some wild hogs who happened to be crossing the range. The Sergeant Major was really interested in who was calling for indirect fire on police officers. I have since grown up and would never kill a defenseless animal in that way.

    Another time, when the entire battalion was working together a group of friends and I decided to steal another company’s RSOV’s (Ranger Special Operations Vehicle) and hide them on the other side of the building that company was staying in. This company retaliated by urinating on our seats. The night before we left we escalated and crapped on some of their seats.

  86. Sheila Ryan on August 8th, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Bad covers a whole lotta territory, yeah?

  87. Sheila Ryan on August 8th, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    This is nigh-on one of my fave cluster-threads ever.

  88. Phil Bebbington on August 8th, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    I did work for a book store for a while. I was kind of in charge of goods in and out. We had access to those security tags that are sometimes placed in books of high value – I used to hide them in bags and coats of co-workers so that they set off the alarms as they came in and out of work.

    Juvenile, but, I have always loved juvenile!

  89. Sheila Ryan on August 8th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    I used to do something of the reverse, Phil. I was Curator of Manuscripts in an academic library for some years, overseeing original documents penned by everyone from Albert Einstein to James Joyce to Ulysses S. Grant. Some evenings as I waltzed past the library staffer charged with halting thieves, I would say as I passed through Checkpoint Charlie, “Missed that Presidential autograph, didn’t ya?”

  90. Cece on August 10th, 2009 at 11:05 am

    My first house in D.C. was a rental located in the high cotton — a few blocks behind the U.S. Supreme Court. People loved to walk expensive breeds of dogs and talk about them. I had a white mutt who was a mix of lab, German Shepherd, who knows what else. After a while, I started telling certain people as a lark that he was a “Viennese Salon Hound.” A surprising number of people claimed to have heard of that breed, which of course was entirely made up.

  91. Mark Jaquith on August 12th, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Working in a doctor’s office as a teenager, the older female staff were always yelling at me for clearing paper shredder jams with my fingers. There was no danger, my fingers were not nearly small enough to reach the blades. One day, I reached in to clear a jam, and then switched the machine from “AUTO” to “ON”… I stood there yelling and convulsing as if the machine were eating my fingers. Then I pulled my fingers out, and held them up. I’d colored the tips red with a marker, of course. They screamed like in horror movies.

  92. BaileyThePirate on August 12th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    When i was in school, i would log on to library computers and edit the AutoCorrect preferences in Word. I would tell it to change the school initials into naughty words, “marketing” into “wackadoo”, and perhaps the most excellent of all, Santa into Satan. I don’t know if that last one was ever employed, but I really hope so.

  93. Smedly McFakename on August 15th, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Hmm. We make a computer product that plays videos. On April 1 all the videos it played were “Never gonna give you up.” We rickrolled the entire company.

    I edited the /etc/hosts file on a colleague’s computer so that every time he went to or or a host of other sites, he’d get rickrolled.

    Back when I was a night security guard, I came to work drunk one night (I was in college) and basically spent my entire 8-hour shift passed out at my desk.