WORK-LIFE BALANCE / NOV. 21, 2015
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Top 10 Best Pranks at Work and What To Learn From Them

Jackass movie explosion
Portland Mercury

We all love a good prank. Well, most of us love a good prank. Okay, some of us love a good prank, but only if we’re the pranker and not the prankee. Being on the receiving end is not cool. It’s childish, immature, and damn unprofessional.

But being the prankster and dishing it out, on the other hand, is very cool. It’s suave, sophisticated, and aces. A double standard? Perhaps. But as the Christmas saying goes, it is better to give than to receive. You’re not going to argue against Christmas, are you?

So, to reiterate: pranking? Hilariously awesome. Being pranked? Egregiously heinous. I don’t make the rules. I just follow them.

Besides, a well-executed prank can do so much more than “just” make us laugh and improve employee morale. They can teach us things. Important things. Life lessons, if you will. A workplace prank can teach a valuable truism to a colleague that might not otherwise know it already. And that makes you the most amazing and selfless person in the office. You’re kind of a hero.

Stand up, take a bow, and study these prank suggestions. Your colleagues won’t just smile and guffaw… they’ll thank you.

See Also: 7 Gag Toys to Help You Prank Colleagues You Really Hate

1. Caramel-Covered "Apples"

It’s a delicious and popular autumn treat. Caramel-covered apples are a mainstay of harvest festivals, fall fairs, circuses, and shopping mall boutique treat stores. They’re sticky, sweet, and because of the fruit at the center, they’re practically healthy food (right?) – no one can resist.

So, here’s the prank. Buy a big bag of caramels, melt them down, and use them to cover peeled onions instead of apples. Get some wooden sticks at the dollar store. The finished product looks exactly like the fall favorite… but it tastes a little different. Bring them to work and leave them in the break room. Sit back and wait.

Or you could replace the creamy filling in the middle of an Oreo cookie with plain white toothpaste.

The lesson learned? Beware of Greeks (or coworkers, for that matter) bearing gifts.

2. Autocorrect This!

Autocorrect fails
CareerAddict

Autocorrect is a blessing and a curse. We have it on our smartphones (which is essentially the only way we communicate in the modern world) and our computers. In theory, it’s supposed to catch and fix spelling and grammar mistakes before we hit send, thereby saving us from embarrassment. It works pretty well. Most of the time. But you can use it to your pranking advantage.

You need a few uninterrupted minutes with your target’s phone. Head into settings, then possibly general. Once there, look for keyboards, shortcuts and/or text replacement (depending on whether you’re on an Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry). You can add in a few select words and phrases. For example, create an entry that’ll replace “no” with “nincompoop”, or “okay” with “I’m a little teapot”. Most people don’t even notice corrections as they type.

The lesson? We put too much faith in our technology. It’s not infallible.

3. We Apologize for Any Inconvenience

Create a few fake “Do Not Use” or “Out of Order” signs, and tape them to the bathroom door, break room coffee machine, or office copier. Most people will accept it at face value, and not use the bathroom or equipment (even though they might really, really need to). They’ll probably bitch and moan about it… but they’ll blindly accept it.

The lesson? Question everything. Don’t believe something just because you read it (on a sign or otherwise).

4. I Heart Justin Bieber

Find out your intended target’s secret music shame (we all have at least one artist or band that we would be mortified if people discovered we liked… it’s the reason why “private session” exists on Spotify). Ask around. Sneak a look at their “most played” list on their iPod or music streaming service.

Once you discover it, be merciless. Prepare hundreds of pictures, in various sizes, and completely wallpaper their cubicle, desk, or office with them. Don’t leave an inch of uncovered space. Bieber-fy that place! Change the ringer on their smartphone to his latest hit… and set the volume to high.

The lesson? We all have some embarrassing preferences in life… and they will come back to bite you in the ass at some point.

5. Occupied/Occupado

When we need to use the stall in the office washroom, we walk in and take a gander to see if anyone is already sitting on the toilet. If not, yay! It’s our turn. If so, no worries. It’ll only be a few minutes, so we patiently wait.

But you can ensure that wait stretches into hours… all you need is a pair of pants and a pair of shoes. Head in early – before anyone else arrives – and position the shoes at the base of the toilet, and drop the pants so the legs meet at the shoes. Close the stall door (and ideally lock it, which would require crawling out under the wall), and return to your desk.

Anyone walking in will see the “person” sitting on the throne and assume the toilet is occupied. They’ll wait, and wait… and wait… and get progressively more irritated, frustrated, and possibly angry. Ha!

The lesson? Always investigate. Take action. Who is that guy? Why is he bogarting the toilet?

6. Now You See It, Now You Don't!

You’ll need a little finesse for this one, a little time at your target’s desk, and a digital camera. Remove the monitor or close the laptop, and take a photo of the wall and desk behind it (what you would see if the monitor was invisible). You’ll have to experiment to get the dimensions and distance correct. It’s a trial and error game. Once you have it, copy it to the computer, and use it as the desktop wallpaper. Position cables and such so that they meet the monitor where they are in the picture. Done properly, and it will look like the center of the monitor has been removed.

The lesson? Seeing is not always believing. Things aren’t always what they seem.

7. The Slippery Slope

Simple, fast, but oh so funny. Bring a funnel from home (or the employee kitchen if one exists) and pour lubricating jelly into the hand sanitizer dispenser. The next person to use it will wonder what the hell is happening. They’ll furiously rub their hands together trying to get the sanitizer to absorb and dry… but to no avail. Watch them try and hold a pen or pencil later. Classic.

The lesson? There really isn’t one, it’s just hilarious. If I was forced to pick one… um… let’s go with “don’t use sanitizer. Use regular soap and water”. We good?

8. Water, Water Everywhere

Cover every inch of floor and surface in your target’s workspace with full cups of water. Leave no space or wiggle room. To get to their desk, they’ll have to dispose of them two at a time (one in each hand), which will take forever. There’s nothing funnier than wasting company time, right?

The lesson? Idle hands are the devil’s playthings. Your colleagues have too much time on their hands, so be afraid.

9. Dead Mouse (Not deadmau5)

For all the PC users in the office, this one is quick and easy. You just need a minute with their computer mouse. Place a small piece of tape over the laser tracker underneath it. Color it in with a black sharpie or marker, fully and completely (the laser tracker won’t be able to penetrate the black ink). Return the mouse to the desk.

Your colleagues will have no idea why their mouse suddenly won’t respond to any movement. They try to move the cursor, then again, and then again. They’ll swear. They might get up and ask someone for advice. They’ll check the cable to ensure it’s plugged in. But very few of them will think to flip it over.

The lesson? We often miss the obvious reason for something, and the simplest explanation is often the correct one.

10. Just Say "Copy"

Create and place official-looking notes from management or HR that inform your colleagues that the copier, fax machine, toaster, or coffee machine is now voice-activated. Include detailed instructions on how to do it, and what exactly to say. Stand back and listen to people calmly repeating “One copy please” or “Send to 555-867-5309” over and over again. But nothing happens. And nothing ever will.

The lesson? People are gullible and believe virtually anything that a sign tells them.

See Also: Office Pranks that Went Too Far

See? As the resident prankster, you’re really providing a community service. Your coworkers will undoubtedly see it that way, too, and their appreciation and respect for you will grow beyond measure. You owe it to them to prank. If you don’t, they’ll never learn.

Again, you’re a hero. A real-life hero. Kudos.

What else could we include here? What office prank taught you some invaluable lesson (real or perceived)? Leave your additions in the comments section below!

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