How to respond to office prank
August 6, 2014 6:12 AM Subscribe
I was just at the butt end of an office prank that I believe was rather cruel. What do I do from here?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (47 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in a small company that in this city has exactly two employees, me and my boss. I am his executive assistant (essentially -- the title is something different). We rent office space from a slightly larger company, which has 4-6 employees in the office. The other company has something of a culture of pranking. Today, at the end of the day, I closed my computer screen and left the office, but the computer was not set to lock automatically. (Sigh. After this incident, it's password protected.)
A junior executive at the other company sent an email to my boss, from my account, with the subject line "Fuck you." The first sentence was "you're a loser and a stupid ___" (where the blank is the word "boss"). The second sentence was "i hate you." and then my email signature. (Not quoting directly and adding the substution of ____ because I'd prefer the email not to be easily Googleable.)
My boss replied to my email, "wtf." Then he sent another email "Tell me what you really think." Only then I saw his replies on my phone, and I first responded by saying that I would swear on anything I didn't send it, then wrote another email on a fresh chain saying "I have NO IDEA how that email was sent. Just got out of an appointment to see this. I PROMISE you I did not send that and it's the exact opposite of what I think."
I was shaking, terrified of getting fired. I think I'm a hard worker who is an asset to the company, but in recent months there have been a couple times where I've made small but noticeable slipups. Nothing truly catastrophic, but I don't think it's crazy to think something seriously bad could lead me to being fired. So I immediately drove back to work to sort this issue out.
On the drive over, my boss gradually realized that it was probably a prank from one of the other people in the office. He emailed me not to sweat it and told me to make a joke with the junior executive about me supposedly getting fired. I said I'd "bring my heretofore undiscovered acting talents to the table." When I arrived in the office I tried to play it off as a joke with the junior executive, we laughed together about it, and then I wrote one more email to my boss lightheartedly making it clear that it was indeed that junior exec after all.
So on some level it's cleared up now, and I'm not getting fired. Tomorrow my boss and the exec will likely both be in the office and they'll probably chuckle about it while getting coffee. I guess my main concern is taken care of, but I think this prank was really really cruel. But if I call him the guy out on it, I come off like the guy who can't take a joke. (In addition, I'm the only gay person in the office of all straight people and almost all guys -- not that anyone's homophobic, but I'd come off like the gay guy who's simply not "one of the guys." I'm a slightly quiet, introverted, and sometimes anxious person anyways, so not coming from the strongest point to begin with.)
So what do I do? Do I just let this sit? Do I prank him back? Do I call him out? If so, how?