Popular TV sitcom 'The Office' has spawned a re-emergence of some good, clean old-fashioned workplace pranks. Whether its prank phone calls, whoopee cushions or staplers in Jello molds, the characters on 'The Office' remind the rest of us that working a day job in a cubicle does not have to box you or your creativity in.
Sandwiched between the first official day of spring and Tax Day, April Fool's Day is often overlooked by many who think pranks, hoaxes and practical jokes are only for the young, not the young at heart. But even if you are not a planner or into elaborate, collective pranks, check out our list of top 10 office pranks that have a proven track record of success and are sure to garner some laughs any day of the year.
1. A job with a silver lining
Rob Imbeault felt bad for his friend, Eric Pharand, controller/chief software developer of Ottawa, Canada-based 10 Count Group of Companies, because he never took a vacation. But, once Eric finally did take some time off, Rob rallied the office troops and "took full advantage" of his co-worker's absence by wrapping Eric's entire office, including individual stickie notes, in tin foil.
2. Keys to frustration
Marc Kruskol of MJK Public Relations remembers a time when he worked in an office that had electronic typewriters. One day he happened upon the instruction manual and found you could easily change the keyboard from QWERTY to DVORAK. Marc waited until his co-worker went to lunch and rearranged his keyboard, but didn't move the keys to correspond to the new order. "When he [Marc's co-worker] came back and started typing he totally freaked. Every letter he typed was wrong. He was going nuts and wanted to call a service person."
3. It's in the cards
Steve* found his colleague's box of 1,000 business cards in the top desk drawer and removed about 20 cards. He wrote funny sayings on the back of the cards, such as "I am a loser" and "I don't wear underwear." He then placed the 20 funny cards throughout the box of cards as if they were all the same. About two weeks later, his co-worker handed out a business card at a networking event that said, "I am a dork," and immediately went over and dumped out all his business cards.
4. Rip-roaringly funny
It certainly doesn't get easier than this office prank, says Caroline Williams of Spark Training & Coaching Associates in Toronto. All you need is a piece of fabric, a co-worker to target and something to throw on the floor for pick-up. "Find a target, drop something and hope they bend down to pick it up. When they do, rip the fabric in your hands. They'll wonder what is showing and the look on their face will be priceless.
5. Leaning desk of Pisa
Stephen Smith, of Logos Bible Software Bellingham, Wash., spent six months executing his office prank that was a continal source of laughter for many. "Over a period of time, I slowly lowered my co-worker's desk until one side was six inches shorter than the other. Folks in the office spent months IM'ing the target to see if he would notice the lean on his desk. "Doesn't today just seem off-balance?"
6. Misbehaving mice
Karen sat down at her desk on April 1 to find that her mouse was not working properly. While checking the connection and the keyboard to find the source of the problem, Karen's screen lit up with calculations -- calculations that she was not typing. "My boss had come in early and switched the keyboards and mice around so each person's typing appeared on a co-workers computer."
7. Bathroom humor
Aaron Rasmussen said that there have been so many memorable pranks at Harcos Laboratories, he wonders "if the staff needs to grow up." One year for April Fool's Day, Eli, one of the company's co-founders, poured 1.5 gallons of Harcos' synthetic blood formula into the communal toilet in the building's bathroom. "He just left it there to horrify neighboring offices and workers."
8. Snacktime shenanigans
Fran Briggs of the University of Phoenix, in Arizona, and two of her fellow academic counselors were the brainchildren behind this breaktime prank. "We had one co-worker, Brian*, who ate a bag of Lays plain potato chips every single day at 3PM. There was no variety," says Briggs. In an effort to increase Brian's horizons, Fran and her colleagues waited for him to head to the break room for his daily Lays fix. "Once he left his desk, we dumped thousands of Doritos, Cheetos, Funyons and BBQ chips all over his desk." Only problem: Brian was less than amused with the April Fool's Day prank -- and dealing with red, sticky, powdered fingers after the cleanup did not help broaden his food choice horizons.
9. Commercial catastrophe
Giovanna Di Bicarri of Briefs Magazine wanted to help coax her five interns out of their shells, so she planned an office prank to help break the ice. The interns' major project was to create a commercial to promote the company's annual golf event. Giovanna had one of the producers "update" the commercial by dubbing all the voices in Spanish and ending the commercial with the actor "mooning" the camera. When the fake final of the commercial was sent to the interns with a note that said: as aired on TV last night, it is safe to say that they were all shaking in their boots. Giovanna says that her interns haven't retaliated yet, but she fully expects some office prank or trick to rear its head soon.
10. A branding bonanza
Veronica Graves, who works at the parent company of Blimpie sub shops, took one April Fool's Day as the perfect opportunity to show one of Blimpie's marketing managers some "branding love" while he was out of town. "We decorated his entire cubicle with Blimpie sandwich wrappers -- from his walls to his desk to his stapler and his floor."
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* These names have been changed to protect the pranksters.