[Insert Muttley laugh here]
December 1, 2006 11:46 AM   Subscribe

PrankFilter: Help me prepare for my next retaliation!

My cube neighbor and I have had a little back-and-forth over the past couple months here at work. It started when he managed to "tag" me with these big red stickers we were using to mark items to be thrown out (three times...). I got him back with a "blue screen of death" screensaver. Then he tried to rig one of those party poppers to my chair so it would go bang when i swiveled my chair around.

I caught the party popper in time, so now I'm waiting for his next attack. In the meantime, what are some fun and harmless (to person and property/data) ideas for my next assault?

Items available: office supplies, dual-monitor computers, Nerf guns, electronic components, packing materials.

Restrictions: preferably nothing that makes lots of noise; I sit right next to him and I would have to endure it, too!

So let's hear your best office pranks (whatever end of them you were on)!
posted by backseatpilot to Work & Money (42 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
With the advent of cell phones, my personal favorite prank is going the way of Pauly Shore movies -- but if they're near a regular landline, put a dab of shaving cream on the ear piece and call him up.
posted by RavinDave at 11:56 AM on December 1, 2006

Sabotaging the feed paper in the printer or copier by copying something onto it... this could either be in order to confuse him into wrestling with the machine to try and get the paperclip out, or could be a doodle or note on the paper to ruin something important he's printing. Like some text saying "I, 'His Name Here' am a wanker and a drooling pederast" on the fourth or fifth page of a presentation.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:56 AM on December 1, 2006

Oh, yeah ... work place stuff. We used to leave cryptic written messages on desks like: "Ron called about lunch (627-xxxx)" and they'd call it up and get McDonalds. Or give'em "Mr. Sanders" (KFC), "Mr. Bear" (the Zoo), etc. Our boss had to put a halt to it, cuz no one in the office would return calls.
posted by RavinDave at 12:10 PM on December 1, 2006

My all-time favorite office prank is where we had the programmers for the corporate intranet make the intranet do very weird things for a specific person. For example - converting every 10th word to "clown", replacing nav bars with pictures of kittens, etc. Adding an easy way to turn the "feature" on and off so it wouldn't happen when he had someone else look at the screen was a nice touch also.

Of course you need a homebrewed intranet to do this, and you need to be on good terms with the IT folks.
posted by Bael'Gar at 12:12 PM on December 1, 2006

My favorite pranks aren't elaborate set-ups, but a series of cascading mini-pranks. Tape the drawers of his desk shut. When he finally pulls the tape off and gets the drawer open, he sees you've filled it with packing peanuts. Once he gets those out he realizes you've planted copies of TigerTeen magazine in the bottom. The best part of these kinds of pranks is they keep waiting for the next thing to happen, well after your plans are exhausted.

One day I was leaving early for a doctor's appointment, but the girl one cube over didn't know that. So, when the time came, I got my coat and briefcase and stormed out the door, saying viciously, "Tell [boss's name] I quit."

Also, the most versatile tool in office pranks is scotch tape. Tape down the button on his phone and hang it back up. Then call him. He picks up receiver but the phone keeps ringing. If you hang up after one or two rings and hide the tape well, you can usually get them at least twice.

It occurs to me now that I probably should get back to work now.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:14 PM on December 1, 2006

Also, I have a surplus of nows and am trying to get rid of them anyway I can. Now.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:17 PM on December 1, 2006

Put scotch tape on the bottom of his mouse.

Put scotch tape over the RJ45 connector for the network, and then plug it back into his PC.

Take a staple, bend one of the legs 90 degrees so that one leg will always stand straight up. Repeat with several staples. Place them on his chair.

Rearrange the keys on his keyboard.

Have the sysadmin block his favorite Internet sites.
posted by Fat Guy at 12:17 PM on December 1, 2006

When he's away from his desk, change the language on his mobile phone to something incomprehensible.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:23 PM on December 1, 2006

Take a screenshot of his desktop, save it as his new wallpaper and ditch the real icons.
posted by KathyK at 12:24 PM on December 1, 2006 [2 favorites]

Staple the mouse wire under his desk so it can't move very far.

On a rainy day, empty the hole puncher into his umbrella. You won't see the effects of this, but imagine what happens when he goes outside and opens his umbrella.
posted by bDiddy at 12:30 PM on December 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

invert everything in his cube. All the things pinned to the walls, his monitor, everything.
posted by Megafly at 12:33 PM on December 1, 2006

Edit his hosts file so Google redirects to Hampsterdance.com
posted by adamrice at 12:36 PM on December 1, 2006

If he is the type who looks at the keys when he types, switching the M and N keys on his keyboard could be a good option. It took the last person I did this to 3 calls to tech support to finally "solve" the problem.
posted by ro50 at 12:49 PM on December 1, 2006

Best/worst office prank played on me.

Taped a LIVE grasshopper to the inside of the handset on my phone. I didn't realize anything was amiss until I felt what I thought was my hair poking me in the cheek. I pulled the phone away and saw the grasshopper. I screamed like a girl. Good thing I am one.
posted by clh at 12:50 PM on December 1, 2006

I can't take credit for this as I got it from someone else but...

If he has the habit of checking his voicemail over speaker phone (so annoying!) leave him a few messages. "Hi, this is [make-up-name-here] calling from Blockbuster about your overdue movies. We're looking for 'Big Black Lumper Jacks', 'Bi-tanic', and 'Bio-Dome'." Or make up an embarrassing personality and leave a voice message mimicking a request for a follow-up date.

If he has a personal copier at his desk, take a few sheets of blank paper, photocopy a paper clip onto it, and randomly put the paper-clip sheets into his stack of paper. Bonus if you can get him to call tech support over because of the "paper clip in the printer".

Write a bunch of sticky notes saying "See me when you come in - [Co-worker's name]" and leave them on everyone else's computer screens. All day long he'll have to explain that he was pranked by you.

And finally, steal some beloved office desk toy/thing and hold it for ransom, complete with a note with pasted letters and photos of the item in danger. If it's a guy make the ransom demand that he has to tell the boss he's a happy little girl or something.

Sorry for the length! I just love office pranks.
posted by sephira at 12:52 PM on December 1, 2006

My Google-fu yielded this site, which might be able to help you. They have a list of pranks with time, cost, and job risk listed for each.
posted by sephira at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is great! Keep 'em coming.

A little more info if you need it - we're engineers and huge tech geeks. Honestly, I was surprised the BSOD screensaver actually worked, but I think mouse taping, etc., may be a little too obvious.

His cube is also a huge mess. There's crap everywhere, both personal and work items. He also has a whiteboard.

I like the nested prank idea... It should have some sort of grand finale, though, like spring snakes popping out of his desk.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:01 PM on December 1, 2006

--- Replace the autocorrect words in Word(warning, this is very subtle) -- find a word that he will use fairly often, or even a really common word (have every "the" spelled "teh" or "thee"). It usually takes a day or two to notice (because Word switches the word without telling you) and in the meantime, he is sending out a large number of misspelled words to everyone.

--- Tape up or sabotage the "release" which raises the level of the chair -- when he sits in it it will fall to the lowest level

--- Hook all the paper clips together so that when he pulls one out, they all come out together.

--- On a daily basis, after work, go in and empty his stapler so that it has 2 or 3 staples in it. He will have to refill the stapler every day or so.

--- Make short strips of transparent tape and put them on the roll. This takes some doing but worth it as they try to pull of a new piece, it keeps breaking after about inch of tape is pulled

-- You can do the desktop-screenshot-and-remove icons thing, but it is nicer and safer to right-click on the desktop and uncheck "Show Desktop Icons" which is under "Arrange Icons By"

-- Whoopee cushions +/or liquid ass FTW

"The Office" style:
--- Put his stapler, etc in Jello
--- Move the contents of his cube to a stairwell or bathroom
--- Fax him stuff from himself, on his letterhead, from his "future self"
posted by wonderwisdom at 1:05 PM on December 1, 2006

My all-time favorite, which takes a little setup time:

Chia Keyboard, especially for messy people.
posted by Invoke at 1:16 PM on December 1, 2006

If the situation escalates (you mentioned nerf guns) and you need something in a hurry, check out Office Guns.

Even just a standard double maul gets incredible distance.
posted by utsutsu at 1:19 PM on December 1, 2006

And you could replace his whiteboard markers with permanent markers (sharpies, etc) as long as they feel similar.

(And FYI, in case you are wondering, you can usually get permanent marker off a whiteboard by writing on top of it with dry-erase marker -- the dry-erase ink acts as a solvent on the permanent marker)
posted by wonderwisdom at 1:21 PM on December 1, 2006

Best office prank EVER.

I made this mistake of allowing a co-worker to take my picture at an after work "function." I was blasted. The face I made was so monstrous and ugly it would make babies who are not even born yet cry.

That weekend my co-worker devised a fiendish plan.

He proceeded to blow up the picture and clip out my face in Photoshop. He then printed out about two hundred copies of a various sizes.

He then cut out masks of my face enough for all my co-workers plus some.

That monday he had another co-worker distract me my taking me out to lunch. While I was gone he put those things EVERYWHERE. In Drawers. In the bathroom. In the refrigerator. EVERYWHERE.

When I came back at lunch he had every coworker wearing MY face. Every computer had my face as a screen saver and desktop.

I was literrally everywhere.

The topper was my wife showed to pick me up after work. Wearing my ugly face.
posted by tkchrist at 1:21 PM on December 1, 2006 [4 favorites]

Another from "The Office":

Gradually (over the course of a couple weeks) add more and more nickels to the inside of their phone's handset.

Then, one day, remove all the nickels and call them on the phone. If all goes well, they will be conditioned to the heavier handset, and hit themselves in the head when answering.

No idea if this would actually work, but if it does...classic.
posted by 777 at 1:32 PM on December 1, 2006 [1 favorite]

Steal one of his favorite things from his desk and put it up for sale on ebay. Email him the link. (Don't actually sell it!)

Antique him! (Throw a bag of flour over him so he looks like a porcelin statue.)
posted by infinityjinx at 1:35 PM on December 1, 2006

This is one of my favorites and one that really went over well. It sounds elaborate but it's easy to set up, especially if you practice it a couple of times (without the ammo, of course)

Quoted from an old Dilbert newsletter:

"You need: 2 paper clips, one rubber band, a business card and a bunch of "holes" from the hole puncher.

Open the drawer and wedge a paper clips on each end, toward the front of the drawer. Stretch the rubber band across the width of the drawer, attaching it at each end by the paper clips. Insert the business card into the center of the rubber band and wind the rubber band many times so that when released the business card will act like a steamboat paddle. Put a pile of paper "holes" under the business card then close the drawer carefully to prevent the rubber band from unwinding.

The Induhvidual who opens the drawer will be met with a hail of paper "holes" as a festive tribute to your genius.

(Tip: It's best not to use your own business card.)"
posted by bondcliff at 1:54 PM on December 1, 2006

Take a staple, bend one of the legs 90 degrees so that one leg will always stand straight up. Repeat with several staples. Place them on his chair.

That's just evil. tkchrist's prank (the one pulled on him) is pretty amazing.
posted by oaf at 2:00 PM on December 1, 2006

change the language setting on his keyboard to the Dvorak layout.
posted by Lucinda at 2:17 PM on December 1, 2006

Some great ideas here. Especially liked the tape on the bottom of the mouse and the umbrella ideas.

You could always do the tried and true switching of left and right mouse buttons.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 2:33 PM on December 1, 2006

My friend S was working for a startup in 99 that didn't have enough computers for everyone, so he was sharing one with his friend E. While he was away from his desk, E typed up the following email (using his account) to another co-worker, R.

I have soiled myself. I need you to take me home so I can change my pants. Please come get me as *discreetly* as possible.

A classic. You probably won't even need to get on their desktop for this one, as it's usually pretty easy to spoof mail that's only going intra-office.
posted by fishfucker at 2:41 PM on December 1, 2006

As well as the excellent M and N key switch, another great one is to rearrange the keys on his phone, to match the keyboard's numeric keypad. You will notice that the two have opposing directions. Nothing will look wrong with the phone, but he will not be able to make calls correctly until he figures it out. To ensure this provides maximum fun, get some other co-workers or people from outside the company to leave voicemail messages before he arrives at work, asking him to call back urgently.
posted by Joh at 3:38 PM on December 1, 2006

A favorite from a friend of mines office. Every day, he came in to work to discover another piece of his office chair or his desk (nuts, bolts, levers, etc) laying in front of his keyboard.

Or so he thought. He never found anything actually missing from his equipment, but he had to fastidiously check every piece of his furniture to make certain that it wasn't load a load bearing part that was going to make his chair collapse the moment he sat down on it.

Or, the next time you go on vacation, buy one of those musical greeting cards. Pull out the irritating little music maker and hide it above the ceiling tiles. It will take him forever to find it and slowly drive him insane.
posted by quin at 6:07 PM on December 1, 2006

The company I work for is going through a blackberry craze right now, so my favorites of late have involved hiding a person's bb in various locations. The best was in a vent that required special tools to get into.

My current prank war is with someone who relies heavily on their whiteboard and there's no end of good pranks there. Rewrite everything upside down, translate it into another language, start inserting glaring spelling mistakes right before they have big meetings with their boss, etc. A handy tip: if you spray whiteboard cleaning solution on a well used brush right before they need to use it, it leaves a horrible mess on their board.
posted by saraswati at 6:11 PM on December 1, 2006

The ThinkGeek Annoy-a-tron
posted by TheRaven at 6:35 PM on December 1, 2006

If you're both tech geeks...secretly install a VNC server on his computer. Then at random times in the day, log in to his computer with a VNC cliet, move the mouse around, close some windows, etc. It takes some work to set up and if he's read about this before, he'll instantly know whats' going on.

It's much funnier when dealing with non-geeks.
posted by Cog at 8:04 PM on December 1, 2006

You could alway buy the Annoy-a-Tron. You might be too close to him though so it might backfire on you.
posted by Cog at 8:10 PM on December 1, 2006

the excellent M and N key switch

Please pull this on your favorite touch typist. I kept an annoying stupid-question-asking coworker at bay for an entire day with this one. It works as M+N sound alike, look alike, and are conveniently located next to each other.

The ThinkGeek Annoy-a-tron

Yup, used this one on to pay a prankster back while on a cruise ship (this was premeditated). Took about 8 hours and several staff members to find it. Finally ended with a confused, limited English speaking attendant explaining "this [device] does not belong to Oceania." I can only wonder what that employee was thinking.
posted by vaportrail at 8:47 PM on December 1, 2006

Or put a small piece of scotch tape over the mic on the phone handset. It's surprising invisible. The caller will hear the teacher from Charlie Brown. Might get figured out quick but is super-easy.
posted by vaportrail at 8:55 PM on December 1, 2006

I used a remote controled fart machine at an inhouse meeting.
We usually sat in the same chairs, so I taped the farting machine under a selected co-workers chair the day before. The look on her face was priceless!

I bought it off of ebay. We had more fun with that thing.
posted by JujuB at 10:45 PM on December 1, 2006

The absolutely brilliant prank tkchrist describes (that you simply must do if you can manage it) is similar to one I pulled on a coworker for his birthday, with the help of his spouse. I got his senior picture, in which he was reclining in a hideous mint green sweater and making a come hither face in the manner of a 'N Sync-vintage Justin Timberlake. I had large color copies made and cut them out into heart shapes. I wrote little messages on them (along the lines of "Thanks for being my #1 fan!!!! xoxox Chris") and made sure everyone in his vicinity had one prominently taped to their monitors. I also taped a half dozen near his desk in places where he wouldn't find them for days or months -- ie, at the bottom of a file drawer, under his keyboard, etc. I also made one poster-sized and had everyone sign their birthday wishes on it. If you don't have access to his spouse or friends this might work with a particularly heinous driver's license or work ID photo.

Also, if you know he has an (relatively) embarrassing hobby or interest, you can riff off it. In this way we celebrated another coworker's birthday by enrolling her in the Rick Springfield fan club and displaying the club's welcome material (photos, newsletters) prominently in her cube. She actually scored good tickets to see him in Vegas this way, so win/win.
posted by melissa may at 2:15 AM on December 2, 2006

Response by poster: Haha, I love all of these. I'll contribute something else we managed to pull off.

The same cube neighbor had a picture that someone photocopied and cut the head out of. The head was used for a long time on top of a stick person cut out of foam. One day it ended up stuck to my wall. Having a small face staring at you is creepy.

So I moved it into someone else's cube, hidden very carefully next to a picture frame on his wall. About a week later he came over - "Why is A. staring at me from behind my picture?!" We tried to get people to continue to pass it along, but no luck.

Anyway, for this particular prank I stole his stapler. He's very fond of it, a spring-loaded model from Staples. I left a ransom note. What demands should I ask for?
posted by backseatpilot at 2:03 PM on December 2, 2006

backseatpilot—I don't suppose that was a red Swingline stapler, was it?
posted by adamrice at 4:28 PM on December 2, 2006

backseatpilot: Two, no three coffees from the establishment of your choice. Be sure to return stapler wrapped in as many rubber bands as possible (mug a paperboy if you have to). And tape. Maybe some rubber cement too.

Or, make him do a drop. Once he's paid the ransom, direct him to the newspaper kiosk at the corner (ideally, one of the seldom used free periodicals, like those useless jobhunter things).
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:56 AM on December 4, 2006

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