April Fools' Day Work Pranks: Silly, Stupid And Sometimes Vicious
Each year around this time, workers at the Como Zoo in St. Paul, Minn., endure a flood of calls from pranksters looking to speak with Al E. Gator, Billy Goat and other assorted fictitious folks who just happen to have animal-themed names.
Last year, the park handled 300 such calls in one day, so this year zoo officials decided to add four phone lines to handle the increased call volume it's anticipating this April Fools' Day, St. Paul's Pioneer Press reports.
Rather than scolding pranksters for tying up phone lines (and employees' precious time), this April Fools' the zoo staff will play along. For example, anyone calling to speak with "Mr. Lion" will be transferred to the animal's own line, answered with a lively roar followed by some promotional info about the zoo.
"We get inundated every April Fools' Day," zoo spokesman Matt Reinartz told the newspaper. "But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
Although April Fools' Day falls on Sunday this year, there likely will be plenty of workplace foolery, anyway. A survey by CareerBuilder.com notes that a third of workers polled in 2008 were victims of office pranks.
Some of the more mundane tricks include covering fellow employees' cubicles with aluminum foil, gluing office supplies to desks and forging resignations, but the survey also uncovered these gems:
- A pair of pants and shoes placed inside the only toilet stall in a men's room to make it appear that someone was using it. The items sat for hours until someone called security to check if a person had died.
- Sending a fake love note to a co-worker from another co-worker.
- Filling a soda-vending machine with cans of beer.
Then there's the story of an unnamed Cleveland secretary who last year called her boyfriend to tell him that she was under her City Hall desk hiding from a gunman who had entered the building and begun shooting.
But the April Fools' joke went awry after the boyfriend, predictably, called police, resulting in a crush of city law enforcement and safety personnel rushing to the woman's office -- where she was promptly arrested after admitting the prank.
She perhaps would've done well to listen to advice by employment experts to keep April Fools' Day pranks in check.
Staffing-firm Manpower suggests that employees rethink before doing something foolish. Among its list of pranks to avoid is feigning armed robbery, a joke that resulted in a retail worker in Columbus, Ohio, being fired, after she called her manager at home to tell him that armed men were robbing his clothing store.
The manager called police, who upon arrival charged the clerk with unlawfully inducing panic.
Happy April Fools' Day, indeed.
Fans of the animated TV series, "The Simpsons," are no strangers to Bart Simpson's prank calls placed to Moe the Bartender in a running gag that has lasted as long as the series itself. Check out this recent example from the 23-year-old show.
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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