what are the best and worst pranks you’ve seen at work?

In preparation for April Fools’ Day on Saturday, let’s discuss pranks at work.

One thing I’ve learned writing this column is that pranks are a lot more controversial than I’d previously realized. Some people see all pranks as inherently mean-spirited and thus never okay at work. I’d argue, though, that plenty of pranks aren’t mean-spirited, land the way they’re intended to, and are enjoyed by all.

The two keys to a good prank: (1) it doesn’t derive humor from someone being scared or humiliated or getting bad news and (2) it’s funny for everyone, not just the people executing it, which means prank-pullers need to know their targets well enough to be certain of how the joke will land. Some pranks fail that test, sometimes horrifyingly so.

Let’s talk about work pranks you’ve seen go well — meaning no one felt humiliated, terrified, or angry, and genuine merriment ensured. But let’s also hear about pranks that went wrong. Have at it in the comments.

{ 1,188 comments… read them below }

  1. Ormond Sackler*

    I once had a co-worker list a Craigslist ad with my number advertising tickets to a big concert that night. I got dozens of calls and texts continually for three hours. People were still trying to get tickets after the concert was halfway over.

    I eventually got him back by putting his number into lowermybills .com…he got calls from telemarketers trying to get him to refinance his non-existent mortgage for months.

    1. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      Curious–this is the kind of thing I would’ve been mad about. But it sounds like you weren’t mad? Is that just an example of ‘really know your audience’?

      1. Princess Leia*

        Same! I would get really pissed at this! Obviously I’m glad the joke went over well, but that would be my definition of a bad prank…

      2. rayray*

        Same, I wouldn’t have been amused at all.

        I am not sure what happened, whether it was a prank or what but a Craigslist ad for a….”masseuse” was listed with my number. I got a sudden influx of texts, I kept telling everyone wrong # and one person sent me the screenshot of the ad. It wasn’t funny at all, I was getting a LOT of messages.

        1. Guest*

          Anyone who posted my personal phone number online would be very, very sorry. That’s truly beyond the pale.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Seriously – I don’t want people giving my number to other people I KNOW without my permission, let alone total strangers on the internet.

        2. Indolent Libertine*

          Same thing happened to me!! Someone put up an ad with my phone number on back page dot com, which seems to exist primarily for sleaze. Phone calls at 3am asking if I was “available.” Ugh.

        3. Polar Vortex*

          I had an elderly lady put down my phone number (swapped last digits) for hers for some kind of scam whatsit. I’m still getting calls 5 years later, although it goes in phases. We’re on a new upswing of 3 a day.

          I’d be livid if it was a prank. In this case, I’m just glad the lady isn’t subject to this in case she’d fall for them.

          1. Rara Avis*

            Someone accidentally put down my kid’s number as theirs, so they were getting all kinds of texts and calls for a while — invites to family gatherings, etc. The worst was a call from a medical office leaving test results — so we now know that he is negative for colon cancer. (At this medical organization, which we also belong to, they ask if it’s okay to leave voicemail at your number on record — so this guy clearly gave that permission, but doesn’t know his own cell number.)

            1. Felis alwayshungryis*

              Blimey! Did you contact the medical centre and let them know the number on file was wrong?

            2. Lily C*

              Oh no. Someone in Texas put my email address down as theirs for their kid’s physician a couple years ago. I live in California and don’t have any kids. The first time I reached out the doctor’s office staff was very unconcerned, and it took me a couple of additional follow-up emails and a call to the doctor pointing out that they were violating HIPAA by sending a minor’s medical records to some random person to get their attention. Weirdly, it’s not the first time someone in my family was contacted by someone in Texas looking for someone with our uncommon family name, but at least this time it wasn’t the FBI!

            3. happybat*

              I kept getting someone’s receipts for a while – sent a few polite emails to the company then an impassioned one about how creepy it was to know what size underwear this poor lady was buying. That, they acted on.

              Still getting copies of her job applications though.

            4. Phryne*

              When I switched cellphone providers once, I suddenly got a lot of voicemail messages for one and the same unknown guy…but no missed calls. They were from friends calling him from a party asking what was keeping him, a call from his legal insurance, pretty major stuff. Eventually someone left a callback number, so I called to ask how they got the number. Turned out they did not call my number at all, but a totally different one. Apparently the provider re-used a previously used number for my voice mail box. I called them about it, but they told me there was nothing they could do (even though they obviously recycled that number way to soon). I just recorded a voicemail message saying my name very clearly, and adding I was not in any way associated with that guy and the messages stopped.

          2. Wendy Darling*

            I abandoned my first gmail address after like 15 years because a woman named Charlotte started handing it out to every spammy thing she ever signed up for. Used her own name, but my email. I don’t even know if she realized that wasn’t her address, but I ended up with incredibly consistent spam and half the time if I unsubscribed from a bunch of junk she’d just resubscribe it a month or two later!

            I ended up getting HUNDREDS of spam emails and newsletters a day and just got a new email address and walked away from the old one. I check it once every few months now to make sure nothing’s slipped through the cracks.

          3. calonkat*

            I’m one digit off from an ophthalmologist office in town. Needless to say I get a fair number of calls from people with vision issues trying to schedule/reschedule/cancel appointments.

            But that office restored my vision after I had an issue, so I’m always glad to give them the correct number! With a recommendation if needed! I just wish their appointment cards had their number in larger print!!!

            1. Momma Bear*

              I’ve had this happen, too. I finally figured out that the font was making people think one digit was different. It took some convincing to explain this to their receptionist/office manager.

            2. BeachMum*

              A local Spanish language radio station accidentally used my phone number for an ad that scrolled on the screen in people’s cars. For about a week I regularly received calls asking for song requests, asking if they’d won the prize, and asking me things in Spanish (that I don’t speak). I finally got ahold of the station who fixed it.

              If someone did that to me intentionally, I’d be angry.

            3. Tabihabibi*

              I worked on a project for a local electric utility that required public notice. A certain well known search engine slurped up the data to conclude that a search for “company name” + “town” should suggest, in big bold text, my work number that was part of the project notice. I got a lot of 3am voicemails whenever the power went out….

        4. FrenemyOfThePeople*

          This sort of happened to me. A former friend chatted in “adult” chat rooms pretending to be me and then would give out my number to take the conversation to “phone sex”. I was getting multiple calls a night from everywhere from NYC to India. I’m married and it was horrifying and terrifying and humiliating. We had to change our number. Twice.

            1. allathian*

              Former friend, thank goodness. Any friend who did that to me would get yeeted to the sun so fast…

            2. FrenemyOfThePeople*

              “Former friend” after a disagreement, which may have been the impetus for the action. It took me quite a bit of internet detecting to finally figure out who it was and to confront them. They didn’t even deny it; although they tried likening it to “oh it’s no different than writing ‘For a good time call….’ on a bathroom wall.” But it was really quite disruptive and almost ended my marriage!

        5. a former scientist?*

          Many years ago, back when land lines were still used regularly, my mom spent an hour or so on the phone with an insurance agent trying to sell her a large policy-auto, home, etc. Eventually mom got the price and realized that the quote from a different company was better, so she thanked him for his time and hung up. Apparently, this person was mad at her for wasting his time, and he went on Zillow and started putting her phone number in for “contact me about this listing.” She received upwards of 50 calls from real estate agents looking to sell her properties in Las Vegas.

      3. Ormond Sackler*

        It was a sales job where most of the people working there were guys in their twenties, so the standards were a little different. It was annoying, especially since he didn’t tell me it was him until a few weeks afterwards, but there was a certain “well-played” element to it. The worst part was I had just started dating someone, and was expecting/hoping for a text from them, and obviously I had to wait until the flurry of texts and call died down.

      4. Irish Teacher.*

        I think pranks in general are about knowing your audience and also about the relationship you have with the person.

      5. Observer*

        Is that just an example of ‘really know your audience’?

        100% I would say.

        As they say “don’t try this at home”

      6. Ava*

        sounds like know your audience for sure. i would also find this funny, assuming it was a coworker i knew and liked, but its very much not one i would pull out as my first choice

    2. Wingwing*

      Wow, those would definitely fall under my definition of “bad prank!” Especially because that’s a great way to end up on tons of spam/scam call lists for years to come.

      I had a couple of friends back in the day who would do stuff like sign me up for websites they used and wanted me to join them on, like MySpace and Facebook. But they would do it without my consent, so I would get all these confusing emails about “my account” that I knew nothing about, followed by increased scammer spam in my inbox. That kind of boundary-crossing behavior is a major factor in why we’re not friends any more. I do not want the kind of “friends” who leave me dreading getting on chat every day and seeing a private message from them that says, “Did you find out about your new Deadjournal yet? :)”

    3. Glenda*

      I hid head shots of a Dr all around our clinic for him to find. they were from when he was a baby doc. H would find them in the weirdest places. I also got the labor and delivery floor in on it. I emailed one of the nurses and inter officed a bunch to her to hid all over l&d. he was finding them well after I left and I finally fessed up. we all had a big laugh! ( the pranks he used to pull def deserved this one)

      1. RunShaker*

        I had a coworker that loved to do pranks at work but he did limit it to another guy (both loved pranking each other). He and his wife invited us to visit (we’re in Texas, him in Colorado) in October and it just happened we would be visiting over Friday 13th. Kept talking about it’s “Rubber Chicken Day” and only happens when there’s Friday 13th in October so very rare. I of course Googled it and realized he was pranking me…… So I ordered a dozen rubber chickens, packed them & hid them all over his house. I also got his wife & kids involved. It took him over a year to find them all.

    4. geomoose*

      I saw this type of prank play out once as well– someone had the number listed on a Craigslist ad for a free accordion. The texts that ensued were more hilarious, and the “victim” really played along and chatted with a lot of these people leading to some truly baffling and hilarious screenshots of conversations. I think the weird factor of it being an accordion really make the prank all the funnier

      1. FrenemyOfThePeople*

        OMG I’d love to read those transcripts! Are they still in the webverse somewhere?

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I don’t like pranks that involve unconsenting people. In this case thr prankster raised & dashed the hopes of total strangers. Accordions can cost hundreds of dollars, and they’re a big part of some cultural music. A child wants to learn and a parent sees the prank? That’s mean to them.

    5. Non non all the way home*

      This is not “a work prank that went well”. Involving dozens of strangers in a prank, some of whom may have been very disappointed (or had disappointed children) due to non-existent concert tickets, takes that prank into a mean-spirited one, even if you didn’t mind. It sounds like numerous strangers also got roped into you “getting him back”. I hope you two have matured and now consider everyone that might potentially be affected by your pranks.

  2. CatCat*

    On April 1, big boss at ex-job told my supervisor they had to consolidate office space and supervisor would need to share on office with a person supervisor tended to clash with. Supervisor quit on the spot. Big boss quickly explained it was a joke. Supervisor was pissed but did decide to stay with the company. No more such jokes were ever pulled again.

    1. EPLawyer*

      Perfect example of – EVERYONE has to find it funny. Which that’s not even funny to anyone not the supervisor. It’s just … stupid.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I was thinking “quit on the spot” escalated super fast. Maybe this was a violation of the know your audiance caveat, but I imagine big boss expected supervisor to express dismay, complain, cajole for a minute and then big-boss could say “ha, April Fools.”

        Now he knows how much the supervisor disliked the coworker, though.

        1. CatCat*

          There’s more backstory I didn’t include. This supervisor had shared an office previously (not with the one he clashed with) and hated it. It was super important to him to have his own office and he’d had one for about a year before the “joke.”

        2. calonkat*

          I quit on the spot after being told my data entry job was being moved out of a quiet office onto the production floor (directly under a loudspeaker blasting 80’s country music) and supervised by someone who thought computers were machines you just turned on and let run.

          The unemployment office decided it was “constructive dismissal”

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Smart unemployment decision. That’s a recipe for distraction-driven errors AND constant jaw grinding.

    2. Shirley Keeldar*

      We really need a new rule, explained to the entire population of the world: “I told you a thing that might plausibly be true and you believed me” is not a prank, not a joke, not funny, and just…a jerk move, really.

      1. Clisby*

        +10000

        Also – if the “prank” you think is so funny is going to cost me even one nanosecond to undo – it’s not funny, and you’re a jerk.

      2. LaLa*

        Yes. These types of jokes are the kind kids try on each other and quickly find out they don’t work as well as their imaginations led them to believe. It’s weird when adults do it.

      3. Enai*

        Yeah. Telling someone that lava lamps (yes, the entire contraption) are mined in the Andes right where the brass is also extracted is one thing, but “Sorry, I know it’s your day off, but you’ve got to work on $date” just doesn’t give the victim a chance to know it’s a put-on.

        1. Wintermute*

          the fake fact is a prank that has little chance to go wrong unless someone has a really, really fragile ego and would rage over finding out they’d said something silly.

      4. Elitist Semicolon*

        When I first started my current job, I was in charge of coordinating a meeting of folks flying in from around the country. My main liaison with the group was a notorious micromanager, and, while she was lovely as a person, had been driving me nuts with her need to rehash every detail of the agenda (as in, she had me revise it EIGHT times, and the one we ended up with was the same as the third version). Two days before the meeting, I came down with a cold, and when I get sick, I get both very tired and very easily upset. The day before the meeting, my supervisor pulled me aside and said, “Hey, Barbara called and said her hotel fell through. I told her she could stay with you, since I know you have a spare room.” I don’t know what my face did, but he quickly said, “I’m kidding! I’m kidding!” while I stood there, almost crying, asking, “why would you do that to me?” I’m sure he was trying to lighten the mood because I’d been stressed, but…no.

    3. ThisisTodaysName*

      Our facilities person/office manager, from literally day one, took a dislike to me. I’m not sure why. She would never use my name she’d call me “that IT Girl” etc… But when we reorg’d the office and she assigned everyone their offices, I got… a supply closet. Literally, I saw the original blueprints and it was a supply closet. It was the smallest office in the place, AND she tried at one point to put one of my hires IN IT WITH ME. I was like “WHERE????”

  3. Audrey Puffins*

    At my old job, I was blessed with a co-worker who shared my sense of humour and enjoyed spoonerising words. One day, while he was out, I very carefully replaced his printed-out list of internal phone numbers with a nearly identical list except I had spoonerised all of our co-workers’ names. It took him several weeks to notice and our team enjoyed it greatly, victim included. Very low-key, very personally-tailored, very enjoyable, could probably never better it.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          This was a plot point in an old (Jim Henson-still-alive era) Muppets piece here a character was cursed to talk wackbirds. The solution to the whole problem, as she informed everyone, was to find the werrible titch and

          …Bake the hall in the candle of her brain…

      1. Jessica Ganschen*

        Spoonerizing is switching the first letters of a pair of words, like “shake a tower” instead of “take a shower” or “runny babbit” instead of “bunny rabbit”.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          My grandfather was a compulsive spoonerism . . . er?

          Anyway, I haven’t heard “runny babbit” in years and I just had a big old flashback.

        2. LizW*

          Not the first letters but I routinely tell new customers at the local farmers markets that we sell Kitchen Lizards (Chicken gizzards). Amazingly, Fish and Wildlife has never been called.

        3. I edit everything*

          One of the English teachers in my high school called a girl “Spoonerism” as a nickname. Her real name was Shelly Schmidt.

          1. JanetM*

            Oh dear lord, what a case for application of the (fictional) Court Clerk Slap Law: “Mr. and Mrs. Kane? You want to name your daughter candy? WHAM! Think again!”

          2. Pennyworth*

            There is a famous episode of the UK program The Chase where the correct answer to a question was Fanny Schmeller.

      2. HalJordan*

        Swapping the first sounds of two (or more) words around. Often happens with names:

        E.g., “Nancy Fife” –> “Fancy (k)Nife”
        “well-oiled bicycle” –> well-boiled icicle

        Named for an Oxford don (William Spooner) who (apparently) did it a LOT

          1. 30 Years in the Biz*

            We had a team in our lab christen themselves the “Cunning Stunts” as part of their Halloween group costume. They were in Microbiology, a department known for its humor. Who else would create a song to the tune of “15 miles on the Erie Canal” and call it “15 Miles Down the Anal Canal”. Or frame and post a diagram of female genitalia hand drawn by a doctor to show the site where a bacterial culture sample had been collected? Best of all when one of the microbiologists moved on to a new hospital they sent her a pair of women’s’ underpants at her new job with a letter that said “We found these in the bushes next to the lab. The janitor recognized them as yours, so we thought we should return them to you”

            1. Elitist Semicolon*

              I would absolutely not find the underpants prank funny even if my best friend and/or my mother did that to me.

            2. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

              The phrase “Microbiology, a department known for its humor” is going to live rent-free in my head for at least a week.

        1. Phony Genius*

          I once read about a radio announcer in the 1950’s who got fired after an accidental on-air spoonerism involving the name of actor Forrest Tucker.

          1. SunriseRuby*

            During my junior year in high school, one of my history teachers shared with a class that many of the English teachers he worked with dreaded the time they had to teach “Huckleberry Finn” because of the potential for spooning that name. “Dread” seemed like kind of a stretch, but I still get it!

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            A very senior UK politician has the surname Hunt. The accidental spoonerisms involving his name in TV news broadcasts are now reaching epidemic levels.

            I think they are genuinely accidental, but newsreaders must now have a complex about saying his name wrong, and get target fixation on the worst non-slur swear available.

            1. There's a G&T with my name on it*

              Particularly when trying to say “Jeremy Hunt, Culture Secretary…” as he was at the time of the most widely broadcast.

          3. PhyllisB*

            When I was a young teenager there was a popular song called The Name Game that made rhymes with different names. It’s too involved to explain here so Google if you’re interested, but we all thought we were so clever when we used the name Chuck.

          4. Lady Knittington*

            Similar to James Naughtie getting very flustered when he realised he’d mispronounced ‘Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’ on the BBC at breakfast time. It’s funnier than the original slip up.

              1. Brian the Snail*

                Disappointingly, it’s not pronounced at all like it’s written. It’s more like Nokatee.

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          When I was a kid in primary school, our Geography book occasionally spoke of Texas and Mexico. More than once, I came close to saying Mexas and Texico (the latter being a garage/service station; not sure if it’s just an Irish company or multinational).

          1. TK*

            Texaco is one of the giant global oil companies, in line with ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell. They were founded in Texas and the name is literally just an abbreviation of “The Texas Company.”

            1. A CAD Monkey*

              Texaco is no longer a company. It was bought by Chevron ~20 yrs ago. There are still Texaco stations, but it is all Chevron fuel blends. Worked as a contractor for Texaco while in college during this time.

        3. Lizzo*

          I think my brain does stuff like this without my permission sometimes…never knew there was a name for it!

      3. JSPA*

        Named afer a Reverend Spooner, who did it all the time, accidentally, including in sermons.

        I remember “Kinquering Congs…” off the top of my head, but there are a great many.

        1. TriviaJunkie*

          Might be rumour, but I heard he did it to Queen Victoria and referred to her as “our queer old dean” to her face!

        2. allathian*

          It’s kistomary to cuss the bride?

          That’s not just swapping the first letters but the first syllables. Funny regardless.

      4. Wintermute*

        a traditional spoonerism is when you transpose the first letters (or syllables) of a sentence into a new sentence, but it’s come to mean any initial letter transposition.

        It was named after the good Reverend Spooner, an Oxford don who may be the first recorded dyslexic, and his well-known phrases such as when he delivered a speech to a divinity course “truly the lord is a shoving leopard”

        Or when he accused a student of tasting two entire worms, hissing all of his mystery lectures, and, it is alleged, fighting a liar in the school quad and bid the student leave the school “by the next town drain”.

        Most of his best “creations” are apocryphal but his tendency was very well known and there are two historically-attested original spoonerisms (one speaking of the “weight of rages” instead of the rate of wages and another referring to a hymn as “the kinkering congs their titles take”)

    1. Routine_Poutine*

      One of my parent’s best married couple friends were Hank and Jackie, and I was forever having to catch myself from saying Jack and Hanky.

      1. Omni*

        I once read about two sisters named Kit and Sharon, and after a few mix-ups they started to fight over which one was “Karen.”

        1. DataSci*

          I knew a couple (still know them, but they’re no longer a couple) named Karen and Sharon. It took me a long time to stop making mistakes about who was who (and they look nothing alike).

          1. ThisisTodaysName*

            I have a set of identical twin Aunts named Sharen and Karen. So offended if you didn’t know which was which but I only saw them once a year… c’mon!

      2. xo bebe*

        Ah yes, my partner’s best friend Clint and his wife Tiff, or as I call them, “Cliff and Tint”

        1. Bexy Bexerson*

          My dad’s name is Jim, and my stepmom’s name is Kay.

          During their wedding ceremony, the pastor messed up and said that we were gathered there today to unite “Kim” and “Jay” in holy matrimony.

          We’re a fun-loving, joke-cracking family on both sides, so there were giggles from just about every pew. I’m honestly surprised it didn’t turn into a running gag in our blended family of jokesters.

          Now that I think about it, almost 40 years later…I wouldn’t put it past my dad to have pulled the pastor aside before the wedding and slipped him a twenty spot to do it on purpose.

          Dad’s been dead for a few years so I can’t ask him, but I’m definitely going to ask my bonus mom.

      3. Elitist Semicolon*

        I had neighbors name Heather and Laura once and the number of times I accidentally called them “Leather and Haura” was…appalling.

        1. IslandDweller*

          My Dad used to call friends of mine (Helen and Mary) Melon and Hairy. They didn’t love it.

      4. Lizzie*

        There were roommates in my dorm in college, Dan and Andy. For some reason, I would always have to stop myself from referring to them as Ann and Dandy

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      In a job 30 years ago I shared an office with two of my friends. I went on vacation. While I was gone, one of my friends got a label-maker – the old kind that had a wheel and embossed the letters onto a piece of tape. I returned from vacation to find every single thing on or near my desk labeled. JAY’S TELEPHONE. JAY’S MOUSE PAD. JAY’S PENCIL CUP. JAY’S COFFE MUG. Apparently they had a slow afternoon and one thing led to another….I was highly amused and left most of the labels on, especially JAY’S STAPLER since that had a tendency to wander around the office.

      1. pagooey*

        I worked in a bookstore. One slow afternoon, we labeled everything behind the counter: SMALL BAGS, MEDIUM BAGS. REGISTER 1, REGISTER 2, SAFE, BROCHURES, BOOKMARKS. But then we got carried away and added things like our names, and IMPATIENT CUSTOMER SHOUTING QUESTION just below the Plexiglass panel where people would, indeed, do this. We also had the old credit-card embossers, with carbon-paper credit slips, and we labeled at least one of those KNUCKLE BUSTER.

      2. ThisisTodaysName*

        When a male co-worker went TDY, the 3 females in the office (besides me; I was new and not part of the clique yet) carefully took out his desk drawer, put a piece of plywood under it and slid it back in and pulled out the plywood, so that when he returned, and opened his drawer, everything fell to the ground.

      3. My Dear Wormwood*

        I saw on reddit a guy whose office had a thing about “everything MUST be labelled” and one day he found the fuse box and labelled each switch things like T-Rex Paddock and Visitor Centre.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Cute on light switches.

          Not cute on life-safety equipment — which circuit breakers are. (Ask an electrician or anyone who’s had wires start to overheat.)

      4. Loredena*

        Years ago a project was implementing ISO9000 and we were labeling our shelves, manuals, logs…. I was labeled Reference.

    3. JarsMenkar*

      As people have said, know your audience. Because your friend appreciated the joke, it was funny.

      1. RagingADHD*

        And because it took them a while to even notice, it didn’t interfere with their ability to use the list – which is the funniest part of it.

    4. Shiba Dad*

      I haven’t seen a reference to spoonerising/spoonerisms in a LONG time. I forgot what they were.

      1. ViolaZuppa*

        There’s a great Renaissance Faire performer called Zilch the Torysteller who tells spoonerized stories like “Rincercella”, “Rittle Hed Hiding Rood”, and “Jomeo and Ruliet”. I have recordings of him that I can’t listen to while driving because of the laughing.

    5. Cedrus Libani*

      Someone did that to the name plate on my boss’ office. They did a good job; it looks like all the others, the boss didn’t notice for months. When he did, he was so delighted that he left it that way.

    6. allathian*

      I think languages are cool and puns are much better than their reputation as the lowest form of wit. I can’t stand most pranks, but I would’ve loved this!

    7. Carolyn*

      When my son was little, he called Lucky Charms Chucky Larms. We still call it that to this day and he’s 26.

  4. Cyborg Llama Horde*

    I bought a bag of large, colorful googly eyes. I don’t remember if I was the last person in the office (my team, anyway) on March 31st, or the first person in the office on April 1st, but I carefully cut out a bunch of little squares of command strips (so it would come off easily and not leave gross sticky residue) and affixed two eyes to each computer mouse, picking the colors according to the taste of each person. I thought they were incredibly cute.

    Not only was it enjoyed by all, the eyes were still there on almost every mouse when I left that job several years later.

    1. NameRequired*

      I would love this. I shared a house with friends in college and we covered the place with googly eyes. Our keurig had eyes, the coffee table drawer had eyes, anything that looked like it could have a mouth was given eyes.

      1. BubbleTea*

        My stepmum’s fridge-freezer has giant googly eyes on the freezer door and the handle between the two doors looks like a mouth. It’s surprisingly cute!

      2. googly eyes*

        I did that to my friend’s place: She was away on vacation so I was watering her plants. The day before she was to return I got many googly eyes (the ones that are self adhesive, on the sheet) and went all over her house: plants got eyes, her faucets, microwave, pillow, shampoo bottles… Everywhere.
        I did also buy a handmade bar of soap she’d like (and left in a brown bag!) and sent her a text message: you have a present in the bathroom.

        She loved the eyes, she was very confused about the text msg.

        1. Random Dice*

          Christopher Walken had a hilarious Saturday Night Live skit where he’s a plant guy, who’s afraid of plants… so he puts googly eyes on all of his plants. Christopher Walken seriously using the words “googly eyes” is surprisingly funny.

        2. ThatRemindsMe*

          Lol, that text message reminds me of a time at work when someone left a backpack in the toilets which caused a slight security concern until it was recognised.
          Me, not knowing this backstory, only heard one woman remark to another “I heard you left a bomb in the toilets” and I drew the natural conclusion.

    2. Spooncake*

      My partner and some coworkers on the same team did something similar: they stuck two googly eyes above every dial on the lab equipment so it looked like every machine had a little face.

    3. ConstantlyComic*

      Googly eyes are the best! I work at a library, and one of my coworkers put them on all of the scanners, which is a delight both to us and patrons.

      1. RunaroundBlues*

        At our library we put them on the staplers (along with names)…and we noticed that people returned them to the desk more often!

    4. Limepiranha*

      Two years ago for April Fools I put googly eyes all throughout the house for my boys. When I started to take them down they shut me down and now I get to explain to guests why 2 years later our piano, clock, etc have eyes…

      1. Silver Robin*

        My brother and his partner did googly eyes all over my house for Halloween (they were dressed as Evelyn and Waymond from Everything Everywhere All at Once). They asked permission first, but we absolutely still have them up. Guests are regularly amused to find them, repeat guests are surprised when they realize there are more than they originally found.

      2. Baroness Schraeder*

        Hah, same! My 7yo (now 9yo) loved it. The final touch was a giant pair of eyes made out of large paper plates attached to the tree outside her window which greeted her as soon as she opened the blinds in the morning. Those ones are obviously gone but there are many that still remain on various appliances around the house. Last year I went for the classic grapes-wrapped-up-as-easter-eggs prank which was also a win!

    5. Allingoodfun*

      We Googly eyed a coworkers desk while he was on vacation and all found it hilarious and in good fun. Especially when he kept finding very carefully hidden pairs of eyes days and weeks later. I’m pretty sure his monitor still had eyes on it when he left.

    6. UKgreen*

      HUGE fan of the googly eyes here! There are some dotted about in one of the open-plan offices in my work that have been there for years.

    7. Corporate Goth*

      Someone did this at my super-stuffy old job, but they kept getting replaced as fast as they came down. Googly eyes were everywhere for a while. Including on the toilet paper dispenser, which was just creepy. It wasn’t appropriate at that organization, but was harmless until it spread too far.

      Someone also went around putting other “fun” stickers on everyone’s nametag but mine. They either intended it to be a slight or knew how I’d react to someone defacing my things. Possibly both.

    8. The OG Sleepless*

      I did googly eyes last year! Setting, animal hospital, most of the people that were working March 31 were off on April 1. I went around on the 31st and stuck googly eyes on phones, computer monitors, lab equipment, the X ray machine, you name it. We also went into the schedule for the next day and put in a couple of fake appointments aimed at getting people’s goats like “3 year old Rottie, annual, aggressive, needs muzzle, nail trim” with fake names.

      Sadly, late that afternoon we also had an unsuccessful CPR on a very large dog. We didn’t have space for him in the freezer, so we called the crematory for an early morning pickup the next day and left him next to one of the treatment tables.

      So, in a typical veterinary silly-meets-macabre situation, I wrote on the dry erase board, “THE EYES HAVE IT!” with a couple of big googly eyes. Underneath: “PS: Don’t believe everything you see on the schedule. PPS: The deceased dog is not a prank, he is being picked up first thing AM, sorry :-(.”

    9. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

      well now i know what i’m going to buy off amazon and decorate my new place (apartment and office) with. thank you to this comment and the replies for giving me ideas! :D

    10. L'étrangère*

      My French colleagues were very fond of double-sided sticky tape under the mouse, innocently laying in wait…

    11. A Simple Narwhal*

      We had friends stay with us do something similar with our pantry! We still have googly eyes on our flour and sugar containers and I get a kick out of it every time.

      1. Ermintrude (she/her)*

        Now I’ve got something to pull on my family’s various abodes and my best friend/ex-housemate’s. :D

    12. CJ*

      I had a coworker do this when I went on my honeymoon! I came back and every picture on my desk had googly eyes (on the glass of the picture frame, so no lasting damage). I thought that was it…but for weeks I’d open a drawer and find more. And I was the office manager, so she hid them ALL over in places only I would see. It was one of my favorite pranks and it made me so happy every time I found a pair! (Our CEO did make us take off the pairs we put on the office kitchen appliances, but she was in good humor about it.)

    13. Elle*

      My favorite part of this is the careful and thoughtful use of command strips. Excellent prank, 10/10.

    14. GooglyeyedAbyss*

      I’ve done this for April Fools day (boring office art of animals makes an excellent ‘victim’, although you might consider cutting out a tiny bit of the adhesive part of a post-it to use for the sticky part to avoid damaging any art that doesn’t have a glass or plastic cover) and I’ve also done this as a parting gift at workplaces that I enjoyed (the ones I enjoyed were the ones that would be likely to receive it well). It certainly helped me to stay in touch when I got texts a few weeks later that my old coworkers had found the ones that were out of plain sight.

    15. irianamistifi*

      Googly eyes are the ultimate ratio of low-stakes to high returns prank. When my inlaws went on vacation and I was dog sitting for them, I bought an inadvisable number of googly eyes and put them on… everything. Ikea also happened to be selling stuffed eyeballs at the time (why?! I’m not sure), and those went up on the light fixtures in the dining room.

      They were very surprised when they came home and they just kept finding more eyes. Yes, I know you barely drink, but I did put googly eyes on your rum bottles in the liquor cabinet. A week later, I got a picture that they had finally discovered that I had put tiny pairs of eyes on all the eggs in the fridge (giving them a wide-eyed and terrified sort of look). A month after that, they noted that some of the art in their house also had googly eyes now. It’s been 4 years and every now and then, they still send me a pic of a new set of eyes they’ve just found.

    16. CareerChanger*

      We did googly eyes on people’s cubicles. We also one time put a bunch of Nic Cage faces on people’s family pictures (just taped over the frames or whatever). Harmless and silly.

    17. Usagi*

      We love googly eyes! One year I put googly eyes on every photo of my boss’ family she has up in her office (she was probably the biggest proponent of googly eyes in our office). She thought it was hilarious and left them up, and even put googly eyes on the new photos she brought in later “to make sure everything matches.”

      What she didn’t realize, though, was that I had actually reprinted all her photos with photoshopped googly eyes as well, so if the googly eyes were removed, there was a hidden pair beneath (the original photo was behind that one). She didn’t find out until about a year later, by which time the googly eye craze had died down a little, when one of her photo frames broke from being dropped. It led to everyone putting googly eyes on each others’ stuff all over again.

      I like to consider myself the Mother of the Googly Renaissance

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        When Alison does her highlight reel of pranks, I feel like there needs to be an All Googly Eye edition. This would absolutely make my list. The preprinted photos with googly eyes is high level genius.

    18. Oska*

      You reminded me that I have a pack of googly eyes in my jacket pocket, and the office is nearly empty today…

    19. Tierrainney*

      I did this at work a few years ago. I had to stay late for something on March 31, and had a planned out of office on April 1. So no one thought of me when they found it. There are still staplers with googly eyes floating around.

  5. azvlr*

    Veteran’s day was a few weeks after I started my new job. I came to work with a sign taped on my door that said, “Thank you for your service.” (I was in the Navy.) I noticed some writing on the back. Turned it over and it said, “Go Army. Beat Navy!” It had been placed there by one of my colleagues, who was former Army.
    It was that moment that I realized I was in the club! Best prank ever!
    This team does a lot of kind-hearted stuff like this.

    1. ForLoveorMoney*

      We “tin-foiled” the boss’s office for his birthday. I mean everything. Pencils, pens, binders, desk ornaments, staplers, his chair. It was great! He thought so too.

      One coworker would always flip another coworkers screen. I don’t remember the command…alt and arrow or something. She could never figure it out, but it was funny watching her come back from lunch.

      1. Rex Libris*

        Another easy computer screen prank is to screenshot a coworker’s desktop, replace their wallpaper with the screenshot, then click “hide desktop icons”. It has the effect of making them think their screen is frozen. Not that I would ever do this.

        1. EPLawyer*

          I would HATE that. I need to work and if I can’t work, I am not going to be happy. Don’t mess with people’s computers (googly eyes maybe excepted, know your audience).

          1. Susannah*

            Exactly. Reminds me of the intern who disabled the Caps Lock key on a staffer’s computer. No no no….

          2. Elitist Semicolon*

            One of our interns downloaded an image of a borked laptop screen onto my computer and set it to full screen view. I almost cried when I came back and thought my laptop was broken.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          post-it note over the laser spot on the underside of a mouse. (In olden days, the equivalent was removing the mouse ball.)

            1. Phony Genius*

              This used to be easy in the 90’s when there were key caps. Kids in school switched those two letters all the time. Also, Alt & Ctrl. Or sometimes it was the arrows. Even reversing the number keypad (which is hard to spot since it’s supposed to be opposite of a phone keypad).

          1. Anonymous Scientist*

            Someone at my office did stickers over the laser spot with a little picture of a joker printed on the sticker.

          2. KMD*

            Had this one done to me, but it was a piece of tape. I think he was disappointed how quickly i figured it out!

        3. Corporate Goth*

          Security IT departments don’t necessarily look fondly upon this, depending on where you work and how much of their time was wasted. Saw several incidents of people nearly getting fired for things like this.

        4. Random Dice*

          I did that once, screenshot-and-hide-icons. It’s my only prank I’ve ever done, and it didn’t go over well. It permanently damaged our relationship, and was a good lesson not to do pranks at work.

      2. Anna Badger*

        I worked in an HR division where nearly everyone had access to v v sensitive information, and flipping the screen was the standard thing to do whenever anyone walked away from an unlocked monitor. prank and mutual/cultural infosec enforcement in one!

        when my colleague mentioned this to one of the actual infosec guys whose actual job enforcement was, he was so pleased that he bought us a cake.

        1. SarahKay*

          Same here – I work in finance with similarly sensitive information, and that was the go-to for my co-worker and I if one of us left our screen unlocked.
          Ten years after, it took about six months of covid WFH before I broke the habit despite me being the only person in my home.

        2. Mandy*

          Yes! We used to send around very mundane all company emails if a pc was left unlocked (small company, right culture). My favourite was ostensibly from an extremely serious, cravat wearing analyst asking “could I borrow 30p for a pack of Jolly Ranchers please?”

        3. Tau*

          Our “you left your screen unlocked” prank was to open Slack and post in the general channel (as that user) “Hey everyone, I’m going to be bringing in cake tomorrow!”.

          Some victims actually did supply cake, but not everyone.

        4. Nina*

          At a previous workplace that was very uptight about security (for good reasons), the classic with an unlocked computer was to message the infosec team from it.

      3. BrightLights*

        We did this a… nonzero… number of times to people who didn’t lock their computers when leaving their desks. (Job required working with PII of minors, so this was actually important.) It was an effective way of building the habit when verbal reminders failed.

      4. Fair dinkum*

        I once installed a screensaver that looked like the format hard drive screen. On a school computer though, not a work one.

        In the 90s you could set the colours of windows items in your preferences. Buttons are blue, background is grey etc. A friend of mine set everything on the work computer to black.

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        My dentist’s pens had plastic fake teeth on elastic string. The pens had the name of his practice.
        The teeth glowed in the dark.
        Epic fail to keep pens from being stolen…. we

    2. NoIWontFixYourComputer*

      This was actually done in space, back in the ‘60s.

      During the Gemini 6 and 7 mission, one spacecraft placed a “Beat Army” sign in their windo

  6. DoodleBug*

    Mild as far as pranks go (including mild reactions). Back in the early 2000’s when iMacs first came in different colors, I was a student worker in my college computer lab. We had an array of iMac colors in the lab, each with a matching keyboard and mouse. On April 1, the early shift went into the lab and mixed around all the keyboards and mice so that nothing matched.

    As I said, mild amusement and smiles ensued from the users of the lab. No extra work was created (all the equipment was still in the same room, and the keyboards and mice were not individually inventoried with the computers — all that mattered was that each computer had a keyboard and mouse — and the powers that be didn’t care so no one had to put them all back with matching computers at the end of the day).

    1. Phony Genius*

      When I had the same job that you did, we downloaded Commodore 64 emulators onto every computer in the lab, and insisted that it was the latest technology. (We got away with it because you could get back to the “real” computer with a simple 3-key command.)

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I miss the old macs greatly. Back in the day, if someone went on vacation we would replace all of their default alert sounds with goofy sounds…Homer Simpson saying, “Doh!” or a springy noise “boooinnnnggggg”.

      I went on vacation once and my boss or coworker had taken a screen shot of my desktop, icons and all, rotated it 180° and set it as my background wallpaper so it looked like everything was upside-down.

      Totally harmless and funny. Often we would just keep it that way until the next vacation.

      1. DoodleBug*

        I almost forgot, among the “ops” (student workers) we would rotate each other’s desktop 180 degrees — there was a 3-key combo that would do it in Windows. Now this wasn’t just the *background*, but the actual entire monitor image! So the person would be navigating everything upside down while trying to look up online how to undo the switch.

        1. Mack*

          Ctrl alt downarrow. Also works left arrow and right arrow. I found this out by accident because that key combo is a very useful default in Linux. Ctrl alt up to fix!

        2. Suzanne Brown*

          We did this same prank a number of years ago to our boss. She got a laugh out of it

      2. Certaintroublemaker*

        One of my friends wanted to borrow my Mac to type a paper. Before she came over I changed the sounds to make the Return key play “Don’t touch that you fool! That’s the history eraser button!” from Ren & Stimpy. She needed to get that paper done, so she just typed the whole thing dealing with it at every paragraph.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          Oh no! The thing with the old mac alerts was that the computer wouldn’t do anything until the entire alert played; so a long alert would just “lock” up a computer until it was finished. That used to be another prank to do to someone — record a really long alert sound or even just a long silence. Not so bad once, but if she was typing up a paper, she’d probably lose her flow every time she hit return.

        2. Phryne*

          Once pranked myself with sounds. I had a collection of sounds from C&C Red Alert and amused myself with replacing the windows sounds on my pc with them. I was not quite sure what all of the sounds were for, but oh hey, let’s replace the standard error (or something like it) with a sound named ‘explosion 4’. Turns out that sounds was the one that is triggered when you do something small and innocent like hit an arrow button when you are already at the end of a document… and explosion 4 was a nuke. Nearly gave myself a heart attack.

    3. Nesprin*

      We had an obsolete iMac slightly less far back in the day – someone had setup text to voice so that every time it crashed (hourly) it would say “I’m sorry, it’s not my fault”.

      1. DoodleBug*

        My shutdown sound in high school was C3PO saying “Pleeease don’t deactivate me!”

        1. LizGross*

          My mother-in-law (back in the 90s) set the shut down noise to HAL saying “I’m sorry, Dave. Im afraid I can’t do that.” My much less tech savvy father-in-law’s name is David. This caused significant panic and consternation the first time he tried to shut off the brand new home computer.

    4. A person*

      I had colleagues that liked to rearrange people keyboard keys to spell things. It was always funny.

      They always left the home keys in place so sometimes it would be months before someone noticed.

  7. Sara*

    This isn’t fully a prank, but I used to be an admin for a VP of the sales team and he loved to hide around corners and jump out at me. I screamed every time, he found it hilarious that I was easily startled. I was annoyed at first, but since he did it even when I moved to another department (I ended up working at that company for 8 years), it just became a thing that I dealt with every once in a while lol. It was funnier to me when I moved to a satellite office and he did it when he visited there too – those employees were very confused as to what was happening and I was just resigned to it by that point.

    1. Corrigan*

      When I was in grad school, my friends would do this to me. I’m also easily startled, so they’d all try to get me if they were coming to find me for lunch, coffee, etc. It was good natured so I didn’t mind that much.

      One time a friend tried to come in as quietly as possible. Apparently he was standing behind me for 2 minutes before I noticed (and of course jumped when I found him there.)

      1. Thunderingly*

        When I was 16, I worked at a pizza place, and one of the delivery drivers would honk loudly and suddenly whenever he saw me driving around. The first few times I was so startled it probably wasn’t very safe but I got used to it, fortunately.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            And HE can shell out for the replacements and explain to all the angry customers why their food is late!

            1. Thunderingly*

              I wasn’t a driver for the restaurant, though. I’d just be going about my life when he’d do it.

      2. Crazy Cat Lady*

        OMG my husband does this to me all the time. The last time he did that I had just returned from a walk. I had face planted on some concrete (I was fine) but had some scrapes and a bit of blood. He jumped and screamed himself when he saw me. it was almost worth falling when he saw me

      3. I edit everything*

        I have a friend who is so quiet, he can do this to everyone. We joke that he should have become a spy. You just look up, and he’s there. It’s really kind of creepy sometimes.

        1. Former Brat*

          My sister’s friend swears that our dad is CIA because he has this same gift and worked a (boring in reality) civil service job after retiring from the military. The friend has believed this for over 20 years! :D

      4. talos*

        I once walked into my dorm, took a 30-minute nap, woke up, looked at my phone for 15 minutes, then said something to my roommate (who had been there the whole time). He was startled.

        1. Clara Belle*

          I used to work alone on 2nd shift, preparing negatives on a light table. A joker from another department jumped through my door screaming and I reflexively threw my exacto knife. It landed in the door jam, two inches from his face. He never did that again!

    2. Beth*

      I would have suddenly acquired the involuntary habit, when startled, of hitting the perpetrator in the face, then apologizing and saying it was a completely automatic reflex and I couldn’t control it.

      That was how I dealt with people who thought it was hilarious to tickle me. It’s amazing how quickly they stopped.

      1. Enough*

        Tickling is the worse. In graduate school I was a t a local bar talking to some guys who were there for a conference. One stood behind me and tickled me. I told him twice not to do that. the third time I put my elbow in his stomach. He friends loved that.

      2. GrooveBat*

        I would have made it a point to carry a full cup of coffee around with me whenever he was in the vicinity and then jump and splash him when he popped out.

      3. 3DogNight*

        That’s actually my real natural response. Full sternum punch, with no thought given before it happens. The two or three people that ever tried to jump scare me only did it once.
        **Note, I’m the least violent person I know, sincerly, so those that get hit are always shocked.

        1. JustAnotherKate*

          I once watched a friend (maybe 4’11” and 90lbs) level a tall stranger who grabbed her from behind on the dance floor. Because she instinctively drove her elbow back…into what would’ve been the stomach area on someone closer to her size…but was a bit lower on this very tall guy. Oops, sorry not sorry, don’t grab random women!

      4. Tickle Monster*

        I love tickling my kids when they ask for it, and they love it, too, since they either ask straight out or “attack” me until I do. I had to teach them pretty quickly about a safe word. They enjoy yelling, “Stop!” but will get aggravated at me when I listen. *sigh* Now we have a safe word and when they use it I immediately stop. But I had to learn that the hard way – as I used to tickle my sister until she’d get pissed at me. Oops.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      My coworkers did this to me once when I was pregnant and I had a contraction. They did not do it again.

    4. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      once a manager did that and I hit her in the chest. ( The manager charged it to the game because I warned them)

    5. Julian*

      I would be so mad. I also have a very strong startle response and this kid in ninth grade did that to me all year. I was in tears by the end of it.

      My dad used to do this to us (in better nature than the kid) but stopped once I “accidentally” elbowed him in the stomach.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      We have a pass-through window that is supposed to be for patient meds and such, but it never caught on for that use. It’s right next to the workstation in the pharmacy, so what it’s really good for is walking by on the other side, opening it quickly and yelling “BOO!” at your coworker sitting at that computer.

    7. Might Be Spam*

      My kids used to do this to me. If I didn’t scream enough, they wanted me to go out and come back for a do-over. Succes was judged by my scream volume.

      When my sisters were in the basement with friends, I would scream down the laundry chute. It was a two floor metal echo chamber and got pretty loud. I guess my kids take after me.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      He’s lucky you aren’t the “swing wildly and connect with his jaw” type! I startle badly, and you may have guessed.

      1. littlehope*

        I have a really violent startle reflex, especially to being unexpectedly touched, and I once gave someone a bloody nose when they tickled me. I was sitting down, they were standing up, they bent over and tickled me, and I reflexively high-kicked them right in the face.
        I didn’t do it deliberately, but frankly I wasn’t sorry. They had been repeatedly warned, and nothing else had ever made them stop. That did.
        Sometimes “If you tickle me I might hurt you” isn’t a threat, it’s just information.

    9. Former Young Lady*

      We had a jackass in my old department who did this — only to the women, of course.

      I always wanted to have a hot cup of coffee in my hand when it happened, so he could feel some instant karma. It was not to be, but I think I did toast his eventual firing. (Turned out startling women was the only thing he knew how to do, basically.)

    10. Dragon Tea Smithy*

      I had a guy that worked at the cable company I was temping for years ago who loved to grab the back of my chair while I was working and suddenly tilt it back like I was about to fall. I hated it and screamed each time. I got him back, though. He was recently married and visibly annoyed when the regular office people would ask him about when they were going to have kids. So I went on a bunch of baby related websites and filled out forms in his name for product samples to be sent to the office. He probably was receiving them LONG after my temp contract ended there.

    11. Jessica Ganschen*

      I’m also fairly easily startled, as my coworkers in the Air Force quickly found out. One time, I was tasked with going around the shop replacing the emergency exit maps posted on the doors with an updated version. While I was in the middle of this, one of my coworkers walked up behind me, making no particular effort to disguise her approach, and said in a conversational tone, “Boo.” I still shrieked, loud enough that one of the sergeants came out of his office wanting to know if somebody kicked a dog or something.

  8. cv*

    I worked as a cashier many many years ago, and working pens were always needed so customers could sign their credit card slips. But as we all know, pens go missing all the time – the customers would forget to hand them back, the floor staff would ‘borrow’ them to take notes, the manager had a habit of absentmindedly tucking them in his shirt pocket (caught him with FOUR in there one day). So I labeled my pen with an orange sticker that said “CASH.” I figured I could at least be able to prove someone had taken the cash pen.
    I came in to work the next day and the assistant manager had taken the orange stickers and liberally labeled everything at the cash counter – computer monitor, keyboard, phone (landline wired right into the counter), receipt printer, counter itself, every drawer on the inside of the counter, anti-fatigue matting, that pointy receipt holder, cash drawer, cash tray (inside the 20s slot -found it when I was counting out that night). And he stuck one on my nametag as I was laughing my arse off.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I’ve worked several places that had large artificial flowers taped to the pen handles so they were inconvenient to accidentally put in your pocket. So the pen holder on the counter, yes, looked like a flower pot.

      1. Recently Retired*

        Several Doctors and Dentists offices in my area have flowers on their pens. I have a difficult time deciding which color I want to use.

        1. Carol the happy elf*

          My dentist’s pens had plastic fake teeth on elastic string. The pens had the name of his practice.
          The teeth glowed in the dark.
          Epic fail to keep pens from being stolen….

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            Oops- this went through slowly, and I thought it got erased.
            We spend much time looking over coworkers’ shoulders for the next addition.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I’ve seen that lots of places! Also little toothpick flags and drink umbrellas.

      3. calonkat*

        No idea if it’s still the case, but for many years Walmart and Kmart required cashiers to supply their own pens for customers to write checks. The reason for all the flowers and attachments was if a customer walked off with the only pen, the cashier had to clock out and buy pens with their own money so the cashier could go back to work. Target just supplied pens to their cashiers. It was especially egregious when walmart would hand out pens during back to school promotions but never be able to supply the SAME walmart branded pens to their cashiers.

      4. Gabe*

        I did this so people wouldn’t steal my pens… but they stole the pens anyway and left the flowers. :(

    2. CJ Cregg*

      Back in the 90s, my dad was good friends with several of his coworkers. One day he brought in a nice wooden hanger for his suit jacket and labeled it with his name. The next day he came in to find every accessory on his desk (stapler, tape, everything) labeled with his name. He still gets the biggest kick out of it to this day!

  9. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Best: Installing a fake blue screen of death screensaver on coworker’s PC. Since we worked in IT and he’d done it two years previously it was funny to see how long he took to realise that his computer wasn’t fried.

    Worst: The guy (not same dude) who left a very graphic letter on a woman’s desk professing his love and that he couldn’t live without her and then made it quite public that it was a joke and that he’d never be attracted to her. This was in 2003 thereabouts and I vaguely recall her running off crying.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      Blue screen of death screensaver is diabolical and funny as long as people are in on the joke; it could really land either way.

      1. MarsJenkar*

        If I were making the fake BSoD, I’d probably make it so the most visible text said something like “Oopsie woopsie”.

        1. Emma*

          That would only make it more believable nowadays, with windows 10/11 and its completely useless “friendly” error messages

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Oh we’d never have done it if we didn’t know that he’d find it funny. He did laugh afterward that it was highly amusing that he spent time looking up the hex error messages (which were ASCII characters spelling out something amusing)

      3. Magenta Sky*

        My boss fancies himself a joker, but we reached a state of truce after I took a screen capture of the desktop of a computer he used, loaded it into a graphics program and maximized it without menus. Click all you want, sucker, no programs are going to open.

        And told him the next time he pranked me, I’d turn the monitor sideways (which is trivial, if you know how), and redefine all the fonts to move every letter one key to the left, and remap the keyboard to move them back. So everything would look right, and print right, but every word would be misspelled on a spellcheck. (Though in reality, it would have been easier to set the spellchecker to a different language. But he didn’t know that.)

        He decided not to mess with me any more.

      4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Confession: As a CS student and part-time programmer, I wrote a tiny DOS TSR program that hooked the keyboard interrupt and introduced typos at a rate proportional to the typing speed. Type slowly and everything appears normal. Pick up the speed, and more and more frequently a key is swapped with its neighbor. When you slow down to see what’s going… nothing!
        We were all young, all had an IT background, and could appreciate such things in a geeky way (the office had s certain Big Bang Theory feel… in the late 80s). Once found, victims had fun dissecting the code to find out how I did it, and to plan their counter-prank, of course.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      The “passionate letter turned mean dude” guy can go….suck a lemon.

      What.
      A.
      Douche.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        From what I remember it was really a creepy and explicit letter – and we never found out of he actually meant it to be a joke or had decided the day gave him plausible deniability if she turned him down. Thoroughly nasty fellow though – he was extremely good looking but hoo boy the personality was trash.

    3. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Sort of similar?

      We set the autocorrect spelling function in a coworker’s computer to automatically switch the word “and” to something that was ridiculous and definitely G rated (might have been “purple people eater” or something along those lines)

      Being not all that tech savvy himself, it was an amusing 15 minutes of listening to him trouble shoot, throw his hands in the air, “would you come look at this I think I’m losing my mind over here”, and cackling like mad when we fixed it.

      He later physically relocated the letter and number keys on my keyboard. Didn’t realize I’m a touch typist ;)

      1. Magenta Sky*

        “He later physically relocated the letter and number keys on my keyboard. Didn’t realize I’m a touch typist ;)”

        Someone did that to the keypad on my computer once. I didn’t notice until they asked about it several days later, since I 10-key.

      2. Barney Stinson*

        Worked for a guy who was always forgetting to lock his computer when he walked away. I set up his Microsoft Word to replace ‘the’ with ‘The Ohio State University RULES’ every time. He was a big Wisconsin fan, so this was fun to watch.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Best: Installing a fake blue screen of death screensaver on coworker’s PC. Since we worked in IT and he’d done it two years previously it was funny to see how long he took to realise that his computer wasn’t fried.

      It’s my standard screensaver–love the reactions.

      The only hardware I’ve installed it on that I didn’t own were Intel Macs. Reactions ranged, but included priceless.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Hope the latter guy got fired! That’s both gross and cruel AND harrassment!

    6. Lizzianna*

      This is similar to what we did to my boss one year. I don’t remember why we had access to her computer, but I took a screenshot of the desktop, so it showed an image of all the icons. Then I made that the background and hid the icons. No matter how many times she tried to click on them, nothing happened.

      We finally fessed up when she was getting ready to call IT.

    7. I should be working*

      related to the blue screen of death, I had a coworker who was always trying to remind people to lock their screen when they left their desk. His MO if someone left their computer unattended was to download a meme he made which was a picture of himself with a disappointed look on his face and the words REMEMBER TO LOCK YOUR COMPUTER, and then set it as the desktop background.

  10. Kaye*

    My manager was very pleased with himself for scoring full marks on the test at the end of our data protection training, told us all about it… and then walked away from his desk (we all worked in an open-plan office) leaving his computer unlocked. The training had made much of why and how you should lock your computer. The temptation to take a screenshot and set it as his desktop background after minimising all the windows he’d had open was too great to resist.

    1. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      Thank you for reminding me of my glorious youth in which computers had entered schools but basic desktop security had not, so I had a blast replacing backgrounds and screensavers with kittens and other nonsense repeatedly.

    2. Chris*

      As a trainer, to encourage people to remember to lock their computers when they walked away, I would flip the desktop upside down on any unlocked screen I came across.

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        At my first software job, if you left your computer unlocked when you went to lunch, a guy named Corey would come around and send an email to the whole team, from your address, saying “I like Nickelback.”

        1. Bee*

          Oh god, we did something similar when I worked at a radio station – if you left your Facebook account logged in on the on-air computer, the next person to notice would post a joke status on your account. I can’t remember what it was, but it was something similar to “I love Nickelback”! (This was all circa 2009, and we were college students, so we didn’t have smartphones and used Facebook a LOT.)

        2. SoftwareEngineerAndAlsoAHouseplant*

          I had an internship where if you left your computer unlocked, you would come back to find you had sent an email to the entire floor offering to buy donuts. After the second offense, you were expected to follow through.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I worked somewhere that people would do that! We were dealing with HIPAA-protected information & government contracts, so locking your computer was a security requirement.

      3. Lady_Lessa*

        That’s not hard to do, because one of my cats (at home) did that. Took me a while to Google the correction.

        GRIN you should see how the web pages are changed that I try to read during a meal are changed by the cat walking, standing, sitting and laying on my laptop keyboard.

      4. Colette*

        In one group, if you left your screen unlocked, someone would send a meeting invite to the (small) team inviting them all for lunch, your treat. (Everyone knew it was a joke).

      5. FlyingAce*

        A fellow trainer would do an image search for a grinning monkey and set it to full screen. Offenders would be warned “next time it won’t be a monkey face.” Repeat offenders would get a monkey butt :D

      6. The Last to Know*

        I had an IT guy that would change our background to Justin Bieber if we ever left our computers unlocked.

      7. Sandi*

        In college we would send an email love letter from the person who left their computer unlocked to someone else they knew well. We wouldn’t do this to strangers, and it was clearly a joke. It was very effective.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      This wasn’t a prank per se, but it caused just as much chaos when it happened to a friend of mine. I will call them Jane.

      Jane worked with a team that had a shared laptop (the laptop was basically there to sign onto the virtual machine, no personal info was being shared). One of Jane’s coworkers had immigrated from Eastern Europe, and as such, she was more familiar with the DVORAK keyboard layout rather than the QUERTY keyboard (this is a different and in theory more efficient layout of keys for an English keyboard). So whenever she was using the laptop she’d change the keyboard language to DVORAK (this can be done on a Windows without needing to sign in).

      Well one day she forgets to switch it back then goes on lunch. While she is gone, chaos ensues. Another coworker tries to get onto the laptop, fails repeatedly, and calls IT. IT comes over and also cannot figure out what has been done to this laptop. They’re thinking it’s a virus or a bug, which is extra bad since they work with protected personal information.

      Finally, Jane’s coworker returns to find the unit in total pandemonium, IT worried and upset, and her coworkers flustered. One explanation later and IT walks back with their tail between their legs to the ribbing of all of the other IT folks, and everyone else got a brief retraining on how to swap out keyboard languages.

    4. Swix*

      A coworker was the only one left in our work area when everyone else went to a meeting. He switched every unlocked desktop background to a photo of the plant manager with a big heart and “I love Joe”. Then he left for an appointment. It was pretty funny.

    5. Anon Again... Naturally*

      In the same vein, I worked in an IT department where an unlocked computer would lead to your profile picture being switched to Rainbow Dash. We then waited to see how long it would take you to notice. Some people noticed right away but a few wouldn’t notice for days.

    6. slashgirl*

      At my first call centre job–if you left your comp unlocked one of your coworkers (usually a work friend cus we were allowed to pick our own seats) would do the screenshot/background trick.

      I did it to my TL once (after he was no longer my TL).

      The other trick was putting tape over the bottom of the laser mice–or bandaids. I did that a few times as I always carried bandaids with me.

      The computer “lab” (half room, about 12 comps) at my larger school used to be next door to my library, with an adjoining door. I come in one morning (after being at smalelr school the day before) to find one of monitors TURNED UPSIDE DOWN. I went to the office to ask the principal about it and she said (in front of witnesses) that one of the kids had used the command to make the picture upside down and the only way she knew to fix it was to turn the monitor upside down.

      I went back, googled how to fix it (I know, but forget because I don’t do it often) and put everything back upright. And bust a gut laughing.

    7. Aggretsuko*

      Reminds me of my old volunteer job again..if you left yourself logged into your social media and then left the building, some fun things might happen to your account. I remember one time declaring that the person had an interest in catfish noodling.

    8. Sylvia Pellicore*

      I worked at a very security conscious workplace (Federal governments contracting). If you left your computer unlocked, a coworker would open Outlook and email the team promising to bring donuts that Friday. It was a good way to remind people about locking, and also we got donuts!

      For the record, we were all at a salary level where a box of donuts wasn’t a huge deal.

  11. the cat's ass*

    2 MAs came in dressed as each other, complete with wigs and traded IDs. Silly fun for all!

    1. Need More Sunshine*

      Similarly, we had a manager’s 2 person team come in dressed up exactly like he always is – jeans, checkered button up, brown belt, glasses, and sneakers. They all had curly brown hair about the same length too! We got a fun picture and a laugh out of it, no one angry or hurt!

      1. londonedit*

        On the last day before they left school to take their A level exams (so their last ever day of secondary education) everyone in my sister’s year came to school dressed as their Head of Year. He was renowned for wearing a similar outfit every day – brown or dark green corduroy trousers, a checked shirt and a knitted tank top. He thought it was brilliant – he’d been teaching for a good 25 years and no year group had thought to do it before! The Physics A-level class in the year above me also staged an excellent prank for their last ever lesson where they moved all the chairs and tables from the classroom, and the teacher’s desk, outside and set them up on the school field in the same layout as the classroom, and then sat there with their books and pens out waiting for the teacher. He realised when he went into the classroom, saw it was empty, and then looked out of the window.

        1. Tinkerbell*

          Now I need to know – did they get to hold class outside?

          (I had an English teacher who would occasionally move class to “the east conference room” – ie the grassy field outside – when the weather was nice!)

          1. MarsJenkar*

            That reminds me of one day in university choir class. I wasn’t in on the plan here, so I got to experience the surprise with the professor.

            One important thing you need to know is that one of the music pieces we were learning was a piece that was meant to emulate the general feel of birdsong. We’d been rehearsing it for a few weeks by that point.

            I got to class at my usual time–a couple of minutes before the start of class–only to find the classroom mostly empty, with only a few other students there. This was unusual, since usually the classroom would be at least half full by the time I arrived. I later gathered that either people had arrived earlier than I had (and left for a different location), or they’d been given a message between classes to go elsewhere. Either way, I was out of the loop.

            When the professor arrived to a mostly empty classroom, a couple of students that had stayed behind brought him (as well as those few who, like me, who were not in on the plan) to the nearby gardens.

            The rest of the students were waiting there–imitating bird calls, like in the song we’d been rehearsing.

            We ended up holding the first part of our rehearsals in the gardens that day, including warmups as well as at least one full run through the bird song. Overall, the professor took the unexpected change in venue in good humor.

          2. londonedit*

            Tinkerbell – I think they did have the lesson outside, it was the last one before study leave anyway so it was basically just mucking around and the teacher wishing them good luck!

        2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          We used to do pranks on my English teacher. She would walk around while teaching, so we all just gradually moved our desks closer and closer together. Another time, we just all climbed out the window and hid outside, waited for her to come to the classroom and be confused for a little bit and then popped up.

          1. BlueSwimmer*

            I have a friend who met her husband in 9th grade when they were seated in the front row by the teacher because they were both ADHD and constantly off task. Whenever she was turned away from them, they had an on-going contest to see who could move their desk/chair combo closer to the front of the room. They weren’t friends, didn’t keep in touch, went their separate ways after this one class where they silently developed this little contest.

            They met again in their 20s at a bar, remembered their 9th grade contest, and turned out to be a perfect couple. She became a high school teacher in my department. One day, a retired teacher came in to sub and it was the ninth grade teacher from all those years ago! My friend was so flustered to see her, but she told us that she not only remembered them, but thought they would make a good couple so she sat them together on purpose. (I have done the same with my seating charts- to help new kids meet friends and to help romance blossom– I have also had to re-arrange the seating chart after breakups.)

        3. Total*

          Clearly, the only response possible is to go outside and teach the class with a straight face.

        4. Miseleigh*

          A group of friends and I had a college professor who was a lot of fun and always joking around. The next semester, when he was teaching the same course to a new class, all 7 of us showed up to one of his lessons. In pajamas. With bags of popcorn in hand. He loved it! Though he did ask us not to do it again… we told a couple of jokes that he hadn’t gotten around to yet, and since the pool of math jokes is rather slim, he might have been worried that he wouldn’t have enough material for the rest of the semester if we came back. (Or maybe it was just because we were somewhat disruptive…)

        5. Cedrus Libani*

          One of my college classes did the “dress like the professor” thing. He liked to wear field-relevant humorous T-shirts. We found one of his favorite shirts, made a bulk order, and showed up dressed as him on the last day of class. He was delighted.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            Oh gosh, this unlocked a memory for me. My awesome AP US History teacher often referred to us as the “Balloon Generation” (i.e., people our age expect a balloon reward for everything, including just doing our job). The day after our AP test, we purchased a huge bunch of balloons and everyone walked into class with one to hand him. You know, as a reward for doing his job. He thought it was hilarious. My favorite balloons were “It’s a boy!” and “Happy retirement.”

        6. Sandi*

          Speaking of moving furniture…

          I once visited a workplace where one of the senior managers had an office that was painted almost completely pink. He had taken the day off for his birthday, happened to pass near the office and noticed his stuff outside and thought that he’d be ready for the prank the next day when he would Surprise! find his items all set up outside. Only to discover that they had temporarily moved some items outside for the day because they were painting all the walls and larger pieces of furniture. He was well respected within the organization, the items were cheap, and he took it as it was meant: their hard work to pull it off was a reflection of how much he was liked.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        My sixth grade English teacher did a prank every year where she pretended to be her own twin sister. She insisted that she had a different name and acted like she didn’t know any of the kid’s names and dressed and did her hair totally different. I’m pretty sure she was actually the teacher and not the teacher’s sister but she did not break character for an instant the whole day and the following year I saw her also dressing differently so figured it must be a prank she did every year.

        1. Expelliarmus*

          But did she actually have a twin sister? Or was she just pretending to be a nonexistent twin?

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      One of the male Emergency Room docs came in on Halloween in full drag dressed as a nurse in an old-fashioned white dress complete with wig, cap, shoes, and white stockings. And a button that said TRUST ME I’M A DOCTOR.

    3. Bibliothecarial*

      One day my colleague and I accidentally pranked our other colleague. We looked similar and we’re wearing dark jeans, the same tshirt, and matching jackets. The other colleague was spooked and kept talking about the creepy girls in The Shining. I probably didn’t help by smiling creepily and inching closer when she wasn’t looking.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      This reminds me of a Halloween costume party at work one year. My old manager and a coworker had a reasonable similarity of looks: both were about the same age, height, and build. Both had dark brown hair cut very short. Both wore glasses. A LOT of people outside our team mixed them up. The easiest way to tell them apart was that my manager usually dressed up just a tiny bit more, while the coworker generally wore as casual an outfit as she could get away with in the office. That Halloween, both of them came in wearing identical shirts and ball caps and khaki pants, but one had a red hat and blue shirt while the other had a blue hat and a red shirt. It wasn’t exactly a COSTUME, but everyone was even more confused than usual!

    5. Ginny Weasley*

      I teach at an elementary school, and we have a similar prank planned for next year. (April Fools is on a Saturday this year, so no school.) The art teacher and I (library), a long with the gym and music teacher, plan to swap places and teach each other’s classes, and not acknowledge to the students that anything is different. Both the art teacher and I love books and are crafty, and our gym teacher happens to play guitar, while our music teacher is a Zumba/fitness instructor outside of school, so the classes won’t be total losses; we’ll still do appropriate lessons/content.

      1. Just Another Librarian*

        We did this at an elementary school I was at (also as librarian). All the teachers swapped. When the kids would correct us we’d look down at our lanyard ids and say ‘no, I’m so-and-so, see it says so right here.’
        We only kept it up until morning break though. It was funny all around.

    6. NotBatman*

      I worked at the same job as my spouse, and we dressed as each other, sat at each other’s desks, and spent the day answering to each other’s names. Everyone thought it was hilarious, especially spouse’s manager who delighted in asking me specialized questions only spouse would know the answer to and letting me try to BS a response.

    7. A person*

      One of my colleagues always comes in dressed and another colleague (different every year) for Halloween. It’s hilarious.

  12. Wait, what?*

    My colleague found out I don’t like mint chocolate so he covered my desk in After Eights. The same colleague was gifted a big Costco jar of olives but never opened the jar or took them home. After they sat on his desk for a good 4 months, I hid them then replaced them with a bottle of olive oil.

    1. DrFresh*

      When I taught in Japan, I always ate the school lunches. I hated the natto (fermented soybeans). This was well known.

      One day, I came into the teacher’s lounge and there were about 50 boxes of natto on my desk :) I had a lot of fun at that school.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Ouch. Natto is…an acquired taste, I’d say. Not as much as the Swedish delicacy Surstrømming (fermented herring) that must not, under any circumstances, opened indoors, but still…

      2. Minocho*

        Natto is not my jam either. I would have to leave the room entirely on whole boiled octopus day.

        I would play rock scissors paper with the kids for extra fillets of mackerel, though!

    2. (not) travelling abroad*

      I would *hate* that first one. I’d be smelling mint forever and all my food would taste of it… no, couldn’t.

  13. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    In the days of “while you were out” phone message slips —

    “Call Kitty at” (animal shelter phone number)
    “Call Mr. Fish at” (local aquarium number)

    1. Roy G. Biv*

      Yep – had a coworker get a message to to “Call Mr. Behr at” what turned out to be the local zoo. They told her “It’s Ms. Bear, and she is sleeping.”

      1. Silver Robin*

        Awww, I love that they played along with it! I bet they got those prank calls often.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I got one of those from my boss just after I had started my new job; phone number of a zoo and the name Mr. Lyon. I was suspicious but my BOSS gave me this slip so I of course dutifully called the number. The operator at the zoo must get many of these, because she deadpanned that I’d been pranked and have a good day (as far as I can remember, it was years ago). I actually didn’t think it was that funny because of the mild embarrassment but also didn’t feel like I could not return the call.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        We used to get occasional prank calls at our veterinary ER, and the crummy thing was that even when you suspected you were talking to a prankster, you had to play along for a few minutes just in case it was real.

      2. Wingwing*

        Was that operator a consenting party to these pranks? Because if not, your boss (and everyone who does this shit) is a grad-A jerk. People answering the phones have our own work to do, and people interrupting that to force us into their pranks without our knowledge or consent is just a dick move.

    3. Baby Yoda*

      My hubby got pranked one year with a mortgage call from “Mr Bear” — turns out the number was to the zoo.

    4. ferrina*

      When my coworker was out, I covered his monitor in phone slips. We were the two D&D nerds in the office, so I filled them out as messages to “Cleric”. It started off innocuously- “We got a tip about a goblin camp. We’ll leave when you’re done meditating”. Then it progressed in typical D&D fashion.

      “Barbarian started a fight in the tavern, so we’re leaving now. Meet you there.”
      “There’s an owlbear in the woods. Be sure to sneak around it.”
      “If you see an owlbear, run. It’s angry. Run to the river, you’ll be fine”
      “Forded the river. The paladin has cholera.”
      “Found goblin camp. We’ll attack at nightfall.”
      “ZOMBIE goblins. We weren’t told they were zombie goblins. The Barbarian went bowling and used the Bard as the bowling ball.”
      “DO NOT GO TO GOBLIN CAMP. Zombie goblins are serving a lich- very, very angry lich”
      “We took casualties. Going to the Mystic Hermit in the woods. Meet us there.”
      “Don’t go to the Mystic Hermit. He’s the lich’s boyfriend. The Barbarian is now a toad. We’re setting up camp in the north woods. We really need healing. Come asap.”
      “Auuggghh!! How did that owlbear even find us?!”

      1. ferrina*

        Same colleague picked up a dice box for me, but instead of giving it to me, he set up a scavenger hunt of post-it notes. I had to go around our small office looking under tables and deciphering clues (rhyming, of course) until I found it. I got more than a few strange looks- it was hilarious!

    5. NotBatman*

      Related: at my mom’s former volunteer position, people would switch a coworker’s name badge with the badge for the org’s therapy dog. Most people spotted it right away, but would occasionally get as far as trying to open a door before discovering. (The dog didn’t have security clearance.)

    6. Nina*

      I know of one that was ‘Call Liz at…(international number in a company that did a lot of international business)’ and when the person called the number and asked for Liz they got a very stiff and calm English person saying ‘this is Her Majesty’s private secretary, is she expecting your call?’

    7. allathian*

      Reminds me of a successful April Fool’s prank when I was in elementary school. From second to fifth grade we lived in a rural village with an actual one-room school, grades 1-6, with one teacher and a caretaker/cook/PE teacher. For most of my time there, I got individualized instruction because I was the only kid in my class, and in total there were between 7 and 11 kids. (Sadly I’ve largely lost the ability to focus on my own thing while others in the vicinity are talking about things that don’t concern me.)

      Anyway, our teacher’s husband played a prank once, he called the school, claimed he was a journalist from a radio show for kids and asked us to sing a silly song down the phone. Which we did. Obviously the teacher was in on the joke and we had a laugh about it afterwards. That said, one of my schoolmates who loved performing was very disappointed that it was a prank and that she wouldn’t get to hear the song on the radio after all…

    8. Oska*

      A text message prank from the early days of text messaging, back when looking up a number took a bit longer, said something like: “Tried to call you but couldn’t get through. Call me back at [number], ask for Harald.”

      The number was for a phone line somewhere in the castle of the Norwegian royal family. (Harald is the king.)

  14. Peanut Hamper*

    I pulled this one off.

    My last job was an absolute nightmare. The boss was a micromanager, passive-aggressive, violent, and an alcoholic who was a terrible manager and managed by gaslighting. He was a trust fund baby who was born on second base but thinks he hit a double.

    I’d tried to leave for three and half years. When I finally did, he took a long lunch on my last day. I still had about 50 of my business cards, and since most people were gone, I took the time to hide those cards all over the premises: desks, filing cabinets, under the copier, in the storage cabinets, tucked under beams in the warehouse, slipped into seldom used areas around the machinery in production.

    They will be finding those cards for years to come.

    1. J.*

      Oh, I like that! Perplexing and perhaps annoying, a bit like haunting that nasty boss, reminding him that you moved on to a better job and he’s still right there. Or, you know, a clean analog for peeing in his territory….

    2. Butterfly Counter*

      This reminds me of the Al Madrigal stand up “Shrimpin’ Ain’t Easy.”

      It’s this, but he did it with small, raw shrimp instead of business cards a a place that wronged him.

    3. BlueStarGirl*

      Six or seven years ago I was in my mom’s house without her overnight so I wrote maybe two dozen post-it “love you” “thinking of you” notes.

      Some I hid (my favorite was two layers deep in a toilet paper roll), others I just stuck on things she uses infrequently, a few were right out in the open. She loved it and was finding them for months.

      I got a text from her last fall that she had just found one. In the intervening years she had packed up all of her things and moved three hundred miles without finding all of my notes!

    4. Shenanigans Required*

      We did something like this! When the director of our department was away on vacation a few years ago, we printed out 48 1-inch square pictures of one of our old VPs (retired and very despised by all) and wrote 1/50, 2/50, etc on each one (purposefully gapping the 2 missing ones so they weren’t 49 or 50). We hid all 48 of them all over her office. She was very good natured and thought it was hilarious as she continued to find new ones for months after that. She kept track of them for all to see and so they could accumulate. It drove her crazy that she could not find those last 2 (that didn’t exist)! When she got promoted, she warned her successor that they might find them someday. We came clean to the new boss so he wouldn’t worry about it, but he kept up the joke with her! She still doesn’t know!

    5. Usagi*

      I love these kinds of pranks! I used to work as a trainer that my company sent to open new worksites/offices. It was always a lot of fun since the people working there were almost all new, meaning they were all super pumped to be there (especially because the company was one of those “cool” companies that lots of people want to work for) and I still connect with people I’ve trained 10+ years (and several companies) later. Every time, I’d print hundreds of little 2×3 photos of my work photo that I’d (digitally) signed and with various but cheesy inspirational quotes, like “you’ve got this!” or “make today a great day!” and hide them all over the office. Some were obvious, like right there in someone’s desk drawer or on the back of their monitor, but others put in very strange, out of the way places — I once opened every 1-year anniversary watch and taped a photo at the bottom of the box, then carefully resealed them. One year later I received about 100 texts/IMs/emails about them, it was great.

    6. Tierrainney*

      sorry about the nightmare part, but I have to remember the hiding business cards part. I have about 1/2 a box with old out dated phone number. I could start hiding some right now.

  15. Corrigan*

    Years ago I worked in an animal shelter. The employees had lockers where we kept our stuff. We generally didn’t use locks, but you knew which lockers belonged to certain people. A co-worker started putting funny looking dog toys in my locker. (They were always clean and we had plenty of toys, so no dogs were being deprived.) Just funny stuffies: fish with huge eyes, a squirrel that looked constipated, etc. I’d do it to her occasionally, but more often she did it to me.

    On my last day at work, I absolutely filled her locker with stuffies from top to bottom, so the next time she would open it they would all fall out. She thought it was funny, and it likely only took her a minute to clean up.

    1. Ally*

      Yes we did a similar thing to a boss once! (Ballon-filled locker and office). It only takes a lil pranking experience to learn that balloons are far kinder than glitter or confetti ;)

  16. ThatGirl*

    My husband’s previous coworker/later boss was a big Dad Jokes kinda guy, even before he became a dad.

    Two pranks I recall him pulling – putting a leek in the break room sink and then loudly telling everyone there was a leak, and telling my husband he needed to call Lee Murh back with the number to the local zoo (lemur).

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Reminds me of the meme:

          Honey, it’s really muggy out.

          If I go outside and all our coffee mugs are on the lawn I’m divorcing you.

          *sips coffee from cereal bowl, waits*

      1. Tinkerbell*

        My 10yo asked me once when we were at the grocery store if we could buy a leek because she wanted to try one. I assumed she’d not like the taste but hey, they’re cheap, and you never know. We got home, stuck it in the fridge, and I forgot about it.

        Something like a week or two later, she came to me out of the blue to let me know there was a leak/leek under the sink. I 100% fell for it :-D

    1. Niniel*

      Oh my gosh. A coworker of mine also loves Dad Jokes, and now I really want to put a leek in his office and let him know it’s there!! This is amazing!

    2. A person*

      I currently do this often with my coworkers… I have a little stuffed plushy leek that I usually put under the lab sink and then send people to look at the leak.

  17. Victoria*

    One of my colleagues, a cataloguer, had piles and boxes and trolleys of books surrounding his desk and we used to joke about his book fort. Eventually we were being moved out of that building, and so with about a week to go a friend and I stayed late one evening. We strung string along the ceiling beams and hung up blankets above the “book walls” to make a proper little fort, complete with blankety roof and fairy lights inside for a lovely cosy atmosphere. He loved it, and it stayed up until the very last day.

  18. Lilo*

    My boss was on the cover of a trade magazine as one of those rising stars in our field and our other boss bought a bunch of copies of the magazine and put them everywhere. He even put one in the break room freezer. It was definitely intended as a “everyone needs to know how awesome [boss] is” kind of prank.

  19. Dust Bunny*

    Little prank: My former supervisor had one of those tabletop Zen sand gardens with a few nice stones and a tiny rake. I found a tiny human skull at a craft store and tucked it in among the rocks. Two weeks later he came into my office and said, ” . . . there’s a skull in my sand garden!” It turned into a running thing: Every once in awhile someone would put the latest addition in the box in the file drawer and add something new–a tiny picnic, a rattlenake, a toy tractor, etc.

    Big prank: The same supervisor was hired away from a similar institution located very near us, and it’s a discipline in which everyone knows everyone else, especially if they’re local to each other. One day we got a big box from Former Institution, containing a big, ugly, art project that Former Institution had been wanting to get rid of but didn’t know how to handle. We let them stew for awhile and then sent them some scrap metal from when one of our air-conditioners self-destructed. They sent us some broken taxidermied fish. We waited a long time until they thought they had “won” and until we got the perfect deaccessionable donation.

    We sent them a souvenir-grade metal chastity belt. I wrote the card so they wouldn’t recognize the handwriting (I actually enlisted a friend who lived in another state in case we needed a remote postmark. She was very disappointed when we realized we could ship it locally). Talk about this actually started circulating among [discipline] professionals outside of the local area until we thought it was getting out of hand and ‘fessed up. They couldn’t top it and we remained in the lead until Supervisor retired.

    I still have the ugly art project in my office.

    1. GoryDetails*

      I love the Zen garden prank! (And now I’m tempted to get one for myself and add little bones or D&D-miniature treasure or some such. I actually *did* make a “snowglobe” but with sand and some plastic bones; I can shake it up and then see how many bones peek out of the “dunes”…)

      1. Dust Bunny*

        One of my siblings is an archaeologist and I am DYING to make a tiny screen and some dish shards to hide in his sand garden, if he still has it in his office.

      2. Random Dice*

        Just the phrase “there’s a skull in my sand garden!” made me snort with laughter.

    2. April*

      What in the world makes a chastity belt “souvenir-grade”? Is that code for “they didn’t bother taking all the internal edges off”? Do they come in professional-grade?

  20. Elves!*

    My boss at my last job came into his office one morning in December to find about a dozen elves on the shelf in various vignettes – peeking out of a file cabinet, leaning over his computer, writing a message on his white board, zip lining across the ceiling…it was really quite impressive (he was so tickled by it that when I started that job at the beginning of January they were all still up). There was lots of speculation about who’d done it (and how one even goes about amassing so many elves) but was over a year before another SVP fessed up to it.

  21. NeverGonnaGiveUUp*

    I am constantly rickrolling my colleagues, which I realize is a very old joke. Many people don’t understand it, but they still enjoy the song! In December I sent out a holiday video because I couldn’t make the holiday party, and you bet it was just a rickroll. I think the pleasure I derive is much higher than the happiness it brings everyone else, but no harm, no foul.

    1. Yes And*

      My office has a thing where people are invited to decorate their office doors for the “holidays” (i.e. Christmas), which is something I find mildly annoying, but it was my first year in a senior leadership position, and I didn’t want to seem aloof. So I printed out a poster that appeared to be sheet music of a Christmas carol, but if you sang it, it was actually “Never Gonna Give U Up.” We’re a music-based organization, so I figured *somebody* would notice, but no one ever commented.

      1. Librarian*

        My husband created a rickroll dungeon for his D&D group. It took them a bit to finally catch on and then thought it was lots of fun.

    2. Ajax Rose*

      The beauty of it is the fact that it’s an old joke. People don’t expect it anymore. I approve!

      1. 1-800-BrownCow*

        My 12-year old thinks rickrolling is hilarious and will do this to people. He created a skit for Scout Camp for his group that ended with a rickroll. Many of the parents in the audience found it quite funny,

    3. A. Nonymous*

      As long as it’s rickroll and not the decidedly NSFW “alternative” from about the same era (goatse .something until the Christmas Islands domain registry revoked the domain – you can’t make this up!) Don’t worry, the domain is gone now (it held just one, fairly disturbing, picture that was frequently used in pranks of bad taste).

      1. KJ*

        A friend of a friend is a potter & makes goatse mugs. I have one & back when I sat at coffeeshops I’d use it for my in-house mug. The people who recognised it were definitely my people.
        (Mug was also featured on the old blog Regretsy & he was slammed with orders afterwards.)

      2. Katherine Boag*

        There’s a whole generation of internet users that learned the hard way not to click links of unknown origin…

  22. Wait, what?*

    My dad was my Grade 12 Math teacher. He has a horrible memory for names, so he always had a seating plan with him in class to refer to in case he forgot somebody’s name. So I periodically rearranged the seating plan to try to trick him into calling students the wrong thing. It turns out his memory wasn’t as bad as all that because it never did work.

  23. ATC*

    This isn’t necessarily a prank, but it’s a story about Halloween decorations and my first day at a new job.

    For background info, I’m in the US. I started a new job one week before Halloween. When I showed up at the office, the first thing I saw was an open office door (it’s normally closed and locked because the business is concerned with HIPAA so you need a keycard to get in or someone has to buzz you in), lots of caution tape, bloody handprint decals, and a very quite office. I normally wear glasses to see things in the distance, so it took me a beat to realize the handprints were decals. Because of my lack of glasses, I did have a small moment of concern and I wondered if I should take the elevator back to the lobby and ask the security desk if they are aware of any crime that took place.

    I decided to cautiously walk inside and see what was going on. There was a second company on the same floor and they were going on with business as usual, so I figured that my concern/small panic was for nothing. I walked inside and yep, it was business as usual. It was just Halloween decorations. The CEO could see me walk in from his office and came over to greet me. Not sure why the front door was left open. Maybe because they were expecting me or for some other purpose.

  24. Stephanie*

    Not too big but on April 1, my team of 4 was giving a presentation to our Senior Director. While we were rehearsing and waiting for our boss to arrive at the office, 3 of us wore bathrobes and the fourth had a monkey onesie so when boss walked in, that’s what she saw us wearing! She thought it was hysterical.

    Of course we had normal office clothes underneath and were ready for the formal presentation later that day.

  25. ANON*

    Well, our CEO sent an email this week resigning in a few months and I had to ask a few folks if this was a joke or not. Good news for staff is that it is not a joke.

    1. Ama*

      You do have to be careful about what news you send out on or effective April 1, if you are working with an audience that might expect some kind of prank.

      1. Jules*

        I gave my resignation on April 1 last year, which I quickly followed with “This isn’t an April Fool’s joke.”

      2. Katherine*

        Yeah, my employer just announced an emergency drill to be held on April 1st and then quickly rescheduled it

      3. Whomever*

        Back in my student days, someone used the logged in session of someone else who had forgotten to lock their screen to send a threat to the President (this was Clinton, to date me). The Secret Service has ZERO sense of humor about this, though our school was able to use access card logs to prove it hadn’t been the logged in student. I still have no idea what was supposed to be funny about this.

        At a corporate level, let’s not forget Google’s absolutely disastrous April Fools prank around mike dropping on gmail. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/01/google-disables-april-fools-joke-gmail-mic-drop

      4. Jelizabug*

        When I was in college, I finally got to enjoy more than top 40 hits from the only radio station my small town could pick up. I quickly found and fell in love with the 1990s Alternative (grunge, indy, modern rock) station in my new city, and enjoyed the heck out of it for several years.

        Until one fateful April 1, I turned on the radio and they were playing country music – horror! I was all “Great joke guys, haha…” and by the end of the day I was thinking “Ok, it was funny at first, but not anymore. Can I have my music back now?”

        April 2… still country. Turns out my lovely 96X had been bought out and the format switched on April Fool’s Day, with no notice at all to the listeners. Yes, I’m still bitter. And yes, I still have a number of cassette tapes I recorded back in the day. :)

      5. TCPA*

        A few years ago I found out I was pregnant on April 1…I definitely waited until the following day to share the news with my husband!

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Not work related, but my parents told my brother they were expecting me on April 1. They did not think that one through at all and he didn’t talk to them for about 3 weeks after he realized it was not, in fact, a prank.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I had a childhood friend who had six older brothers. She was born on April 1. You can bet that when the doctor announced “It’s a girl!” she thought it was an April Fools prank.

  26. 33023*

    When a co-worker had gone out of town for a few days, we collected a few dollars and went to the local drugstore, where we got about four of those “penguin fishing” games, like this one: https://www.amazon.in/Cardinal-Games-Penguins-Madagascar-Fishing/dp/B003JC2NPG

    We threw away most of it, but hid 79 small plastic penguins around his cubicle. He spent days finding all 79, and days more convinced there was another one, because who would leave an odd number of penguins like that (Me. I would.)

    1. Phony Genius*

      You just gave me a good idea for a similar prank involving playing cards. 51 of them. ;)

    2. Indubitably Delicious*

      Other objects I have hidden similarly, though not in offices: tiny plastic ninjas, tiny plastic flamingos, tiny plastic Cthulhus, tiny plastic glow in the dark zombies.

      1. Nina*

        I need to know where to get tiny plastic Cthulhus. We have a big one on the mantlepiece and I wanna put a tiny one in all my partner’s socks.

  27. Aggretsuko*

    This isn’t really for an article, but I will note that at my old volunteer job, one of the managers (I note these were students, so around 20-22 or so in age) kept trying to prank his friend whenever she came in, except he did super lame, obvious pranks that you’d see, like putting clear tape across the door. She fell for nothing, obviously, but it was amusing to see him attempt to try stuff that wouldn’t fool a fifth grader.

  28. danmei kid*

    Someone duct taped a slice of raw onion underneath the desk chair of another person. This was in the days of offices with doors, not the days of open space. No one could find the smell for a few days. It was awful.

    1. Hannah Lee*

      I’m pretty much in the camp of no pranks involving office chairs. I hadn’t thought smelly things would be an issue, though, so that’s a new one on me.

      The ones I have seen both involved messing with a chair mechanism and both ended badly. It’s like some people don’t realize coworkers could have non-obvious orthopedic issues, and that it’s not funny to make someone nearly fall down or actually fall down when they go to sit down at their desk at work.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I know someone who broke their coccyx this way, and had ongoing issues for months. She didn’t even start with any mobility issues.

        1. allathian*

          I broke my coccyx in high school when a classmate who was always pranking people pulled out my chair from under me just as I was sitting down. It hurt like nobody’s business to sit for weeks. It happened during the last week before our Christmas vacation (yes, it was, and still is called that, even though we’re a more multicultural society than we were in the late 80s) started, so at least I didn’t have to sit on the hard school chair for more than a few days. When we went back to school after 12th night, I’d got used to sitting with my weight on my thighs rather than on my seat bones, so sitting down no longer hurt. It took a while to adjust to putting weight on my seat bones again when my coccyx healed. But I was very careful to grab the seat of my chair before sitting down for years afterwards. Now I only do that if the chair is on casters.

    2. Jim A.*

      I had one super abusive manager back when I was in my early 20’s. One day I took the liberty of filling the center support tube of his desk chair with chicken wings dipped in ranch.

    3. 1-800-BrownCow*

      I consider this maliciousness, not a prank. There’s was a person at my last job that was disliked by several people and someone put a fish between his desk and the wall and it reeked. It took a week before it was discovered and this wasn’t the person’s private office, it was in an open area with cubicles to it affected everyone sitting in that area. People were speculating who did it, but the culprit was not found.

    4. High Score!*

      Back in those days, we’d put a hole in a can of tuna and put in the back of a drawer or under a desk. Toxic people paid the nose price.

  29. Beth*

    I’m in the hard-core anti-pranks camp (lots of trauma behind that, don’t ask).

    But I did have a moment when it was the birthday of our truly wonderful client services rep. The bosses had gotten her a really nice cake and card, but ended up flustered when it turned out that she was leaving early (you know, because it was her birthday). She had just stepped out to the restroom, and they were kind of dithering about how to handle it.

    The minute she stepped back into the office, I went up to her with a VERY concerned expression and said “Esmerelda, I know you’re just about to leave, but would you take a look at something really quick?” and led her back to her office, where the cake and card were waiting.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      My coworkers at one of my crappy early jobs did this: We had a late shift the night of my birthday and they told me we had to “do inventory”. Uuuugh.

      Except “inventory” was cake.

    2. Clisby*

      (Also a non-pranker) – I experienced something like this when I was pregnant with my first child. I was a computer programmer who was working a lot with a particular department on some new software, so I had gotten to know some of them pretty well. One day they called me to say there was a problem they were worried about, so I went over to see what it was. They had thrown me a small baby shower! I wore the Ohio State Rose Bowl sweatshirt for years.

      1. La Triviata*

        I am generally opposed to pranks on the basis that they can go wrong. One year, a long time ago, we had a fad for decorating people’s offices. This would have been fine, but one person put candles in their target’s office with a recording of church music playing. OK, except they’d put a candle on top of a monitor (one of the big old ones) and it was about to melt into the vent slots.

        Another time (same office) we had a fairly new person and they locked his desk drawers. He had NO sense of humor about it and got the office handyman to use a chisel to break out the locks.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      The office manager at a previous job did that on a lot of birthdays. You halfway knew you were probably being summoned for birthday cake, but it was endearing.

    4. Loredena*

      My first post college job did this on my last day there! I was completely surprised and it was really sweet.

  30. An American(ish) Werewolf in London(ish)*

    I worked with a very elegant and ambitious lady in her early thirties – everything was always in its place (and designer, of course). When she’d get into the office (I’m in the UK and we hot desk at tables with screens) she’d carefully arrange her keyboard, computer, pens, mug, bag and phone. She came in one morning, did all that then went to get coffee or something.

    We had facilities on the same floor, and I’d happened to notice a label maker. I borrowed it (with permission) and labelled EVERYTHING – I put a label reading ‘desk’ on her desk. ‘Chair’ on her chair. ‘Mug’ on her mug. ‘Umbrella’ on her umbrella. ‘Screen’ on her…well, you get the idea. (I also put googly eyes on her screen).

    She came back to her desk and creased up laughing – she loved it. She kept some of the labels on some of the things until COVID sent us all home. I enjoyed both the very low stakes prank and her joyful reaction to it. She has since left the company and indeed the country and I miss her.

    1. Storm in a teacup*

      In my old job one of team had gotten carried away with the labeller and decided to label everything. I ended up with a labelled chair and pen – the pen was a fancy ish 4 colour one and the only one of mine never to have been ‘accidentally’ permanently borrowed by a pesky doctor. 5 years later in my new job I was using said pen in a meeting and getting very weird looks from my senior boss when I realised it was because of this labelled pen!

    2. Nina*

      One of my coworkers once realized I was having issues with people stealing my gas bottle regulators (I used a very specific range and dial size that worked perfectly for my applications and other regulators Would Not Do). He brought very pretty label-maker labels, from the fancy label-maker, with roses, and NINA’S REGULATOR DO NOT EAT.

  31. Jennifer Strange*

    Not sure if this constitutes a prank: We have a pretty robust apprentice program at my organization, with apprentices working there for a full year. A few years back the guy who was in charge of running the program had a muted but distinct style of dress (flannel shirt, jeans, converse sneakers, sometimes a baseball cap) so the apprentices all decided for Halloween they would “go” as him that day and all dressed in those same clothes. Harmlessly amusing.

    1. IT Heathen*

      I had a friend in high school I will call “Rasheeda” who had a very very specific style. She wore a denim mini skirt, a tshirt, matching Keds, and a matching headband every day. So one year for Halloween, our entire friend group (even the guys) dressed as Rasheeda. Joke was on us, that was the year Rasheeda decided to dress as Catwoman.

    2. Sad Desk Salad*

      We did this once–our Ops guy always wore jeans, a blue button-down, sneakers, and was always carrying a laptop and a water bottle. Our entire team dressed as him for Halloween and came in second in the costume contest.

    3. Sel*

      When I was in undergrad all the grad students in the division dressed up as one of the department’s professors for halloween. He had a very distinct look–wild, curly silvery-gray hair (not unlike Einstein, haha) and liked to wear this huge oversized bright yellow hoodie. All the grad students wore wigs and huge yellow hoodies and it was both surreal and hilarious.

    4. not a hippo*

      Someone dressed up as one of the C-Suite for Halloween because he also has a pretty standard uniform: backwards baseball cap, tshirt, cargo shorts, pair of Chucks. She won the costume contest and even got mistaken for the C-Suite guy a couple of times that day!

  32. anon for now*

    A friend in a different division would put oragel on the tip of the straw on her coworker’s drinks. It was slow enough that people wouldn’t realize until much later that something was wrong and that they couldn’t feel their lips.

    1. DoodleBug*

      Oof. “Tampering with food or drink” or “sneakily substituting one food for another” is a hot button for me, especially because I have family members with severe food allergies.

      1. Ellen Ripley*

        Even without allergies it’s gross to have someone handling your consumables. Who knows when the last time was that they washed their hands!

      2. Pink Candyfloss*

        Same; I would not find this amusing and would be in HR’s office in a hot second. You could seriously harm another person this way.

      3. allathian*

        Yeah, this. Don’t tamper with people’s food or drink.

        At a former job they kept sugar in one of those glass jars with a steel spout on top that gives a spoonful of sugar at a time. One April 1, someone had replaced the sugar with salt, and people weren’t happy. Nobody was hurt, the first mouthful just tasted awful, but after that the office manager decided to buy portion packets of sugar instead.

        I also hate the needless waste of food as a general principle, so food-related pranks never land well with me.

        The Oragel stuff would make me think I was about to get a migraine. I tend to have sensory auras before an attack, and sometimes my whole face falls asleep, and my lips are always the first spot to lose the sense of touch. Thankfully I haven’t had more than a handful of migraine attacks in the last 15 years, but they’re unpleasant when they happen.

    2. Lizzy*

      Oooh, this one would really freak me out. I’m on blood thinners and they interact with a ton of apparently safe over-the-counter medications.

    3. Carolina cardinalis*

      I think this might be on the list of worst pranks. I would panic so hard if I realized I couldn’t feel my lips for some reason.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Yeah, that’s definitely not a good one , all sorts of major problems . (I have a LOT of contact sensitivities and one life-threatening allergy – one of the things that happened when I went into anaphylactic shock was that I lost sensational my lips (and then eyelids, fingers, toes,…)
      I’m not sure I would go so far as to administer my epipen and call an ambulance unless I also had other symptoms, but I would definitely be extremely stressed (and I suspect it might trigger an anxiety attack, which would then create new symptoms)

      I would be livid if anyone did this to me.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      That’s a “who has a benadryl?” moment, followed by trying to remember what I ate. Even if the answer was “nothing recently” I would be worrying until your friend confessed, and then I don’t know if I’d be loudly angry, or quietly furious.

      That’s not even funny once, even if someone quickly reassures victim number 8 that they don’t have a new allergy, they have an obnoxious coworker, maybe this time her boss will take it seriously.

  33. MollyMcIntire*

    At my first job, my coworkers and I had a weird thing about Nicolas Cage. Somehow we started hiding pictures of Nicolas Cage all over the office for people to find. They’d be in the refrigerator, on the copier, on the inside of people’s doors, etc. It was always fun when you heard someone find one because they’d laugh. The only Cage that ended up being mildly disruptive (that I remember) was when one was taped on the bottom of someone’s mouse so the mouse stopped working. My office was across the hall from his and I heard him go “oh sh*t, my mouse is broken” as he wiggled it around. He finally flipped it over and busted out laughing as he saw a tiny Nicolas Cage staring up at him.

    1. CreepyPaper*

      We did that but with pictures of Chris Evans – the UK radio personality, not Captain America – and when I left that job five years after the prank, they still hadn’t found all the faces… I wonder if they ever found the one I hid behind a ceiling tile.

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      We did something similar at my office once.

      One of my coworkers really does not like Matthew McConaughey, for no particular reason he’s ever been able to explain. So when he was out on vacation, we printed out dozens of pictures of Matthew McConaughey and wallpapered his cubicle with them.

      (Another coworker who really likes Matthew McConaughey took a bunch of the pictures back to her cube when the pranked coworker took them down.)

    3. thatlibrarylady*

      I work at a high school – a student did something similar but with the teacher’s yearbook photo. It’s been five years and I still find them stuffed in books.

      1. DataSci*

        Back in graduate school, long enough ago that people printed out physical copies of papers to read (lots easier to make notes on them that way, at least in the early 00s), one prof was notorious for his pile-based filing system. You’d go ask him about X and he’d go about four inches from the bottom of an apparently random pile and pull out a relevant paper to consult.

        One of my fellow students who had him for an advisor went to the local fossil show and bought a few thin trilobite fossils, which she later slid into random locations in the piles. If he ever found them while I was there (a few more years) he never said anything. For all I know they’re still there.

    4. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      My old job did that with George Clooney! We hid him EVERYWHERE anytime someone went out on vacation. There were two traveling cardboard standees and about a million tiny cutouts.

    5. I edit everything*

      Why does this Nic Cage thing sound so familiar to me? I don’t think it happened at any place I worked, but I feel like I’ve heard about it before.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      Coworkers did this to one of our administrator’s offices while he was on vacation, only with pictures of Oprah. I never did understand WHY Oprah, but he was finding pictures for months.

    7. Maria*

      Hah! We did this at my office, too! Covering up the bottom of the mouse was a favorite, but we also liked to put them on random calendar days, so that the gift kept giving over the course of the year.

    8. allhailtheboi*

      At school the leavers would always do a prank and one year they stuck Nicolas Cage’s head on all the fire exit men. There were a few so high up that they stayed there for years.

  34. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

    On Halloween at my last job, the VP had a habit of wearing a scary wolf mask and coming up behind people and scaring them. It happened to me my first year – I was talking to my officemate (and future partner) and facing away from the door, and didn’t notice him coming behind me until he made a loud noise. Probably wouldn’t have gone well with some folks, but we mostly just laughed it off.

    1. not a hippo*

      My first instinct when someone creeps up behind me is to punch them (not ideal, I know. Working on it) so that would not be a fun day for anyone.

  35. PurpleNotebook*

    I had a virtual internship at a company where we were technical teapot designers and we had to work with the teapot owner to create his goals. This teapot owner was funny and strange and extremely good at his job. He also joined Zoom meetings from his VERY distinct and well-designed office.

    One day, us interns came up with a sneaky plan. I asked the teapot owner to show us something that was off screen, and when he went to grab it another intern took a screenshot of his work background. The next time we all joined a call together, we set our backgrounds as *his* distinct office on Zoom. It looked like all of us were sitting in his seat. He was confused, telling us there must have been a Zoom error that was transmitting his background onto our screens and we acted clueless, like we had no idea what was happening.

    Eventually, he realized it was a prank and burst out into gut-wrenching laughter. He thought it was the funniest thing he had ever seen. He forced us to show EVERY person on all the tangential teams our backgrounds and told them that story every time. It remains the only work prank that I have pulled, and it was hilarious.

    1. OtterB*

      My office did this in the early days of wfh. We were enjoying people’s home offices and just learning how to do zoom backgrounds, and we pranked our boss by taking a screenshot of someone’s particularly cozy looking home office, sharing it around, and all showing up at the next staff meeting working from Coworker’s office.

      1. La Triviata*

        Remember the lawyer who got stuck with a filter of a cat as his screen for a hearing? He kept saying he wasn’t a cat, but the judge postponed the hearing until he no longer looked like a cat. Well, soon after that, a remote first year law class all turned up in class as that cat. The professor found it amusing, if I recall correctly.

    2. casdrax*

      one of my colleagues did this to an exboss of ours. exboss has since left the company and his background is still a favorite for members of our team.

    3. NotBatman*

      That is amazing! That whole subgenre of excellent Zoom-background pranks that sprung up in 2020 was great: putting a “clone” of yourself in the background of the call, setting your background to look like you were in the Oval Office, adding Tom Cruise to your otherwise normal-looking kitchen, etc.

      1. Ivana Tinkle*

        A colleague & I do this – during particularly boring meetings we change our Teams backgrounds every few minutes. It’s quite fun watching the faces to see who notices & is then trying not to snigger while the boss is talking!

  36. SarahKay*

    I worked on a team where, for a while, one of the team found it funny to swap the keys over on people’s keyboards.
    For ‘hunt and peck’ people this was quite effective – then she did it to me. I touch-type and since she’d only mixed up keys within their rows I didn’t even notice until I saw her staring at me, flabbergasted, as I merrily typed away as normal.
    The next person she did it to also touch-typed, at which point she lost interest in the whole thing.

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Yep, this was the retaliation towards me (after a computer based prank I listed above) foiled by the fact that I don’t hunt and peck. Shrug.

    2. nekosan*

      Oh, yeah, I’ve had this happen to me a few times! I don’t think of myself as a touch typist, but I’m enough of one that I’ve not noticed keys being swapped.

      1. DataSci*

        I hadn’t realized touch typing was uncommon enough that people hadn’t even heard of it! interesting.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, very. I don’t type with the proper fingering positions, but close enough that I very rarely have to look at the keyboard. Very handy, because I can look at the screen most of the time while I type. I only hunt and peck for the Ctrl and Alt keys. I also taught myself, which is why it’s so unsystematic. But the main thing is that I have the Finnish version of the QWERTY keyboard (including the letters Å, Ä, and Ö) in my muscle memory.

        1. GirlBob*

          Slooooooowly.

          (Actually, this isn’t even necessarily true — one of my good friends had, for YEARS, this amazing two-fingered typing style with her two index fingers which was basically ten-fingered touch typing and nearly as fast, but with only two fingers. I don’t know how she did it, I’m an extremely good touch-typist but I would be hitting wrong keys all over the place. And then one day she just… didn’t any more, she switched over to ten-fingered typing just like that. I was gobsmacked.)

    3. Turquoisecow*

      I remember a few of my coworkers complaining that they were having trouble typing because the letters were starting to wear off on their keyboards after many years of typing. I looked at my keyboard and realized a few letters on mine were also no longer visible. I hadn’t noticed.

      1. Katherine Boag*

        Had the same keyboard at home for 15 years, WASD and M (map) have completely worn off

    4. Quinalla*

      This is a great prank and I would have the same reaction, probably not notice as yeah I touch type as well – not perfectly (I cross the home row, don’t know the proper fingers for the number keys, etc.) but I would not notice if the keys were the same shape/size. What you should do to a touch typist is swap their keyboard for one with slightly different locations/size of the delete key, etc.

  37. Beboots*

    I was not involved in this one but it was notorious that year… I used to work at a historic site, where there were dozens of us in historical costumes, staffing buildings and interpreting the past for visitors. There was one building on site that the public strongly believed was haunted because of a poorly made ghost hunting “documentary” in the 1990s (full of insulting facts, like the idea that the father of the household deliberately killed a disabled son that never actually existed – and we knew it was wrong, because his elderly daughter was still alive and was always upset when she heard people say her father murdered a brother that never existed). Anyway, the staff were always very firm on the idea that even if ghosts existed, this building was never haunted.

    One of the duties that staff were supposed to do when they started their shift was do a walk through of the whole building and open up the curtains, make sure that the back door was unlocked, etc., and to inspect the rooms to make sure nothing was missing or out of place. But some staff were notorious for arriving at the last minute and not doing the full walk through of the upstairs rooms before settling in for the day.

    Some staff from another team got some of the Halloween decorations out of storage and in the morning, before the park opened, snuck upstairs in that building and brought a whole fake coffin upstairs and put it in the room made up to look like a child’s bedroom. The staff member who was in the building that day apparently didn’t notice until mid-afternoon, when a visitor absently asked them who had died.

    I’m told that this staff member was much more diligent about the start of day walk throughs after that.

  38. NTA*

    Here’s one for the worst:
    I just saw this one on Am I the Assh*le – a veterinarian assistant pranked a new coworker by telling them to get really close to a dog’s behind when expressing anal glands. The new coworker got a full face of dog… stinky juice and most people voted “YTA”

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Former veterinary assistant: Definitely the AH. Big time.

      Honestly, I think this would get someone fired at the places I worked.

      1. A Becky*

        It very nearly did. They were given an Extremely Stern Warning and put on two weeks of skunk duty.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I assume skunk duty is the expressing of dogs and not actual walking/feeding of skunks.

          And serve them right.

          1. Nannerdoodle*

            It’s a vet office/wildlife sanctuary. It’s 2 weeks of actual skunk duty per the post.

      2. Nannerdoodle*

        The person who did it was suspended without pay for a week. They didn’t seem to grasp how bad it was, so I’m sure they don’t realize how close they are to being fired.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Someone made a comment there I really agree with, that now the new employee will have to second guess and hesitate anytime anyone there gives her instructions. Which is going to be annoying for existing workers, and potentially dangerous since animals do react unpredictably and quickly. That trust isn’t easily repaired. I would fire the one who told her to do so.

    3. not a hippo*

      I’d fire that assistant/tech on the spot but having worked in vet clinics, my guess is the hospital manager didn’t want to because “it’s so hard to find good staff”

  39. Peanut Hamper*

    Also at my last job–

    It was just after Valentine’s Day and kids’ valentines were on clearance so low they were practically free. I found a couple of boxes of Hello Kitty valentines that included Hello Kitty eraser. They were cheap, cute, and small enough to hide one in your hand.

    I spent the next few months just randomly dropping them on people’s desks when they weren’t looking. Nobody could figure out where they were coming from. It was delicious.

    1. Meeeeeeeeee*

      I did something similar at my last job. One of my direct reports loved Pepsi, so I bought a 6-pack and would leave one at her desk at random times when she wasn’t around. Eventually I recruited other people to drop them off when I was out of the office. She accused me of being her “Pepsi fairy”, but was never 100% sure.

      1. ferrina*

        The Pepsi fairy! There’s two of us! I also had a colleague who loved Pepsi and drank 1 or 2 cans per day. When she took a (very well-earned) vacation, I put 60 or 70 cans of Pepsi around her cubicle. Under her keyboard, under her pen jar, in all of the upper filing cabinets she had, pretty much anywhere I could. She was delighted when she got back and had a month’s supply of Pepsi already waiting for her.

  40. legal rugby*

    This was in the Army National Guard – I was on the full time professional staff that over saw the brigade operations. So national guard, which means we drew strongly from our local area, but also military, with a lot of heirarchy. Our Brigade SGM – senior leader on the enlisted side, so think head of logistics and HR for 1200 soldiers – was a HUUUUUGE fan of the main rival to our local football team. Like, framed tickets on the wall, signed helmets on his shelf, he tried to get the logo on the unit coin before word got out and all the local fans rioted.

    Local team hadn’t won against rival in 5-6 year at this point; SGM takes a Monday off because he is travelling to rival city to watch local team lose. Local team pulls off an upset and beats them on their home turf, without local teams starting QB.

    SGM was smart enough to lock his office before he left. However, right after PT monday, one of the captains came in with a couple packs of local team colors balloons, and removed the ceiling drop tile, reached over and removed the other. Everyone took 15 mins or so that day to fill up a couple dozen balloons. End of the day, we removed the ladder and replaced the tiles. By the time the SGM came in Tuesday morning, his locked office had been filled by about 600 black and purple balloons.

    None of us were brave enough to be standing there when he opened it thought.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      I love that one!!

      When I was in the Reserves (Canadian equivalent to Army National Guard), I was on a major exercise with Regular Forces. I was a very green medic assigned to an experienced combat hospital team. They were amazing guys, and it was a great experience. At one point, I realized that all of their coffee cups were stained brown – it was a “thing” that they only rinsed them to let the brown stains build up. Each person had their own melamine mug as part of their personal kit, and it usually lived on your combat harness.

      As a joke, I replaced the sergeant’s badly stained mug with my brand new one, without him noticing until he went to have a cup of coffee. His eyes bugged out when he saw the mug was clean, and he was about to clobber me before I produced his own mug. The rest of the team had a good laugh and the sergeant told me I was braver than I knew. Turned out the guys were also rather superstitious about their mugs – one did NOT scrub the mugs – it was considered bad luck.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      We once had the brilliant idea at Old Job to fill a vacationing coworker’s office with balloons but after doing about a dozen we realized it would take a LOT of time so we just stuffed them under his desk so he’d see them when he went to sit down.

      We also had a cardboard cutout of baseball player Mike Trout, and he was folded into the chair. We got a a lot of use out of the Mike Trout cardboard cutout.

  41. Former Retail Lifer*

    I work in property management, and this prank was going around the industry for a while, complete with videos: someone in the office made an urgent call to maintenance saying there was water all over the floor. Maintenance would rush down, thinking there was a huge leak, but someone had just…placed bottles of water all over the floor.

  42. Punkzilla*

    At one of my jobs, my co-worker and I bought a life-sized plastic skeleton and left it in my manager’s desk when he was gone for a week. The skeleton has come with me to my new job, and frequently get put in people’s desks, or set in the “lobby” at Halloween time.

    Same job, I built a little shrine to him at his desk when he was out on vacation for a week. Print off and framed pictures of him and had those faux tea candles all over his desk.

    Same job, again, and my coworker hung a wrestling poster on the back of our other manager’s door, so she’d see it the next time she closed her office door (which she didn’t do often). For some reason this really pissed her off.

    1. Anna Badger*

      I also worked in a place with 2 skeletons! and also live sized cutouts of Nicholas Cage and The Rock. I once walked into the office and my boss was at the end of my desk with a very unconvincing “everything is completely normal” expression on his face. we had a new hire starting and I thought something had gone wrong with her, but actually someone had just got one of the skeletons settled at my desk, typing on my keyboard with terrible wrist technique.

      for some reason the skeletons continued to live with my team through several desk moves, which meant I once found myself ducking out of shot balancing a disembodied skeleton hand on a board so that the social media team could do a post about one skeleton proposing to the other on February 29th.

  43. I Wish I Had a Fancy User Name*

    We have a colleague whose birthday is on April 1. One year, a couple of staff pranked him bu individually wrapped everything on his desk — desktop computer, monitor, laptop, phone, tape dispenser, stapler, pen/pencil caddy, sticky notes, coffee mug, etc. — in birthday paper for a prank. He thought it was hilarious. The perpetrators were very hush-hush; no one knew it was them until about five years later, when one of them revealed the prank in his retirement speech, and gave us all the opportunity to laugh about it a second time, especially since it was someone we’d never suspected.

    1. Willow Pillow*

      I did that for Christmas last year – I even found Trolls wrapping paper someone was giving away on Facebook!

  44. Bitsy*

    A friend had a coworker who was dating a high powered oil executive who somehow got the two of them invited to the Oscars. The coworker came back to the office describing how she’d met some French actress? She didn’t know who she was? But she seemed famous? Eventually my friend figured out that the coworker had met Catherine Deneuve.

    On April 1st I called their office and my friend answered the phone. I put on a French accent and asked for the coworker. When my friend asked who she should say is calling I replied, in my bad French accent, “Catherine. Catherine Deneuve.”

    My friend was shocked into silence.

    Moments later I burst into laughter and the jig was up.

  45. Dust Bunny*

    I used to work for a veterinarian. One of my bosses owned several Chinese crested dogs.

    One day we had to shave a chow chow for a major surgery, so we stuffed an envelope full of chow fur and mailed it to Boss under the care of the “Chinese Crested Dog Charitable Hair Fund”.

    (He thought it was hilarious.)

      1. Dust Bunny*

        To each their own, I guess? I can think of a lot of very popular dog breeds that I, personally, would not want to live with.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        Well, they’re affectionate, playful, smart and don’t shed, so. I think they’re adorable, like little ponies.

        1. Artemesia*

          there is an annual ugly dog competition; often a Chinese crested — it is a short step from cute little pony to demon dog.

  46. ADidgeridooForYou*

    While I was working at one of my old jobs, there was a viral picture going around of a (healthy and adorable) puppy with a birth defect that made a tiny, curly little tail grow out of its forehead. I joked that it was absolutely horrifying and I never wanted to see it again. When I went out to grab coffee, she proceeded to print out dozens of tiny pictures of the puppy and put it in every conceivable hidden nook and cranny of my workspace. I was finding those things for weeks. I’d be on the phone with a customer, reach into my pencil holder to grab a pen, and bam – surprise puppy. The prank made everyone laugh and the pictures were tiny so they didn’t even waste much paper. Win-win!

    1. M_Lynn*

      Wait I did this too…. If you are my coworker you didn’t find this as funny as I did and I felt very bad about it!

        1. ADidgeridooForYou*

          Hahaha, as the coworker, I found it hilarious! I’m just bad at expressing emotions it seems!

  47. Cupcake*

    My former workplace had a light NFL rivalry. 49ers vs. Raiders. One day Niner fan’s optical mouse won’t work. he taps it, moves it fast, clicks the buttons. nothing works. He flipped it over and discovers a Raiders sticker covering the red light. he groans and laughter erupts from the Raider fan’s cubicle.

  48. ChatGPT*

    Our small coffee area served as a space to put out for consumption any edible goodies that vendors brought in, which would happen about once a week on average. The vendor would of course leave a business card so that people would know who their benefactor was. Employees would also put out leftovers and offcasts of all sorts – cake left over from a weekend birthday party, off brand tea that Aunt Gladys gave them three years ago, expired breakfast bars, home baked goods with no flavor etc. You get the idea. No matter what was put out, it would always be hoovered up within hours, and certainly by the end of the day.
    So I wondered if there was anything that wouldn’t get hoovered up and decided to place a Napa cabbage, sliced and ready for serving, along with a fake business card. The card was from a “Bob Loblaw” (say it out loud…) at the vague sounding firm of “Loblaw Consulting” and the address and phone number were for a guy who had recently left us – just in case anyone decided to dial him up. Fans of Arrested Development will certainly recall the running gag about Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog but very few coworkers picked up on that. It was the delight of my career to overhear our CFO say rather loudly “Bob Loblaw? Who’s Bob Loblaw?”
    To the best of my knowledge, nobody partook of the cabbage. But I wouldn’t rule it out.

    1. Random Dice*

      I’m giggling over here.

      Once my coworkers put out a bowl of those cheesy puff chips, the kind that are shaped like a C that’s been partway straightened.

      An hour later, over the empty bowl, they informed us that they had been those dissolving packing peanuts. We had noted that they were surprisingly non-cheesy, but it didn’t stop us!

      1. Francie Foxglove*

        Uh, seriously? Last I heard, those things are toxic. Maybe not the ones you guys ate, though.

        1. allathian*

          There are some that are made from corn starch, basically the same stuff that’s in cheese puffs. Some eco-friendly companies use them because they’re compostable and dissolve in water. They don’t have any nutritional value and aren’t manufactured in a food-safe environment, so I wouldn’t eat them in any quantity myself.

    2. Robert Loblow*

      I’m from the UK and the name joke just wasn’t making sense until I tried saying it with an American accent.

      1. ChatGPT*

        Check out “Bob Loblaw” clips on YouTube, or better yet check out the series.
        American shows usually sand off the rough edges and dumb it down (which is why I prefer British comedy series), but Arrested Development was sharp and funny with many recurrent ridiculous puns and characters.

      2. Vio*

        I actually had to google it before it made sense to me. Had never noticed that Americans pronounce it as “blaw” instead of “blar”, guess it’s not one that comes up much.

  49. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    April Fool’s prank: I worked for a Pentagon contractor that was just branching out into commercial work in the 90s. We were proposing a communications/automation thing to a national newspaper (this was before newspapers were really on the Internet to any large degree, and they mostly used these highly specialized word processing minicomputer systems). We were just down to the final back-and-forth with them.

    I left a voicemail message over lunch with the project accounting person who was doing the pricing calculations – markups on hardware & software, schedule of payments, etc. “Hey, Wakeena, I got a call from the paper. They are trying to do some different cash flow management techniques, and so they are wondering if we can give them the option of paying in Japanese Yen instead of dollars. So if you could just project the dollar-yen exchange rate out for the net 18 months and provide a separate payments table I’d really appreciate it.”

    She called me after lunch and said in a very uneasy voice “So, uhhhh, I got your voicemail, and, uhhhhh, I have some questions?” I replied, “Yeah, that should be pretty straightforward, right? They’re really interested in that.” I let her hang for another few seconds before I told her it was a prank – she took it well and burst out laughing.

  50. QuilterGirl*

    My coworker had two computers, a Mac and a PC, next to each other on his desk. I unplugged and switched his keyboards. He was so used to seeing both that he didn’t notice the switch, couldn’t figure out what was wrong with his computers. Even our boss was like, gosh that’s weird, they both broke at the same time? He escalated to a tech support call and when the tech came we all had a good laugh and went to lunch together.

  51. miss.el*

    I was working at a small company with a very flat structure. Our only VP was away for a week at a conference, and we made a giant, human sized effigy of him out of those big water cooler bottles stacked on top of each other, taped on yardsticks for arms, and a printed out picture of him for the face. We set this up in front of his desk as if it was working and we treated it like a valued coworker and friend. I think the VP was honored by our tribute when he got back but wasn’t too pleased about having to put back the very heavy water bottles on his own.

  52. Not an April fool*

    When my coworker turned 40 we put a sign on her desk chair saying “Please reserve this seating for the elderly”.

      1. 1-800-BrownCow*

        I’m 46 and laughed pretty hard at this. I could see my 55 year old and 60 year old coworkers that I share an office with doing this to me.

      2. londonedit*

        I’m 41 and I would have chuckled if someone had done that for my birthday. Know your audience, I guess?

    1. DataSci*

      And appropriately enough, 40+ is where age becomes a protected class for the HR discrimination complaint I sincerely hope you received. This sort of thing can be funny among family and friends – I know a volunteer firefighter who filled out an official burn permit for his wife’s 40th birthday party candles – but is not appropriate at the office.

      1. ICodeForFood*

        I think you have to know the prank-ee to know if it’s OK or not. I’m older than all of my coworkers, and in many cases we’ve established that I am slightly older than their parents! But we all respect each other, and if they did this to me, I would laugh hysterically! But that’s because I know they respect my knowledge and abilities…

        1. Despachito*

          This is definitely a read-the-room case.

          I’d definitely find it much more funny if YOU (as the older one) did it to THEM though.

  53. sara*

    I used to work somewhere where about 8 people shared 2 computers (we only needed them occasionally). There was a standing prank/reminder that if you left yourself logged in, an email would be sent on your behalf to the team with something hilarious. It was meant to be a super obviously fake email that was a spoof on the person who’d stayed logged in.

    I didn’t usually fall for it (nor was that the point), but one time I (thankfully quietly) got super excited by an email and totally fell for it. “Hugh” sent an email saying that he was quitting to go work overseas in an adjacent-but-extreme version of our field. I both really hated working with him and also wanted his job, so fell for it and was quietly planning how to apply for his job. I only believed it for a few hours but they were a joyful few hours…

    This practice ended up not lasting very long – basically we moved to a bigger office area and also a bunch of paper things got digitized so we would need way more computer time.

  54. Barb*

    Small medical office, we played a prank on the head doctor.
    Most of the female staff (other doc, NPs, secretary) individually told him in confidence that they were pregnant and all with similar due dates, asking him to please not tell anyone yet.
    So he worked all day thinking he was going to have almost no staff in a few months. We told him at the end of the day it was just a prank and he was very relieved.
    But the real joke was on the secretary who found out shortly afterward that she really was (happily) pregnant!

    1. Barb*

      And a few years later the other doc and one of the NPs really did have babies within a few weeks of each other.

    2. Might Be Spam*

      I started a new job and my new boss wanted to prank her boss by telling him I was pregnant already and left pregnancy pamphlets on my desk. She didn’t know I actually was pregnant. She was Not Pleased when I announced my actual pregnancy a few months later.

  55. Marxamod*

    My company’s internal white pages are set up such that you can click someone’s number on the website and your desk phone will dial theirs. One year for April 1st the internal dev team made the little pop up for say the CEOs name no matter who you clicked. Apparently it was a record number of hang ups.

  56. Charlotte*

    I worked for a Catholic organization that somehow got its hands on a life-size cardboard cutout of Pope Francis. We left it in shadowy corners and hallways for months on end, waiting for people to find themselves suddenly face-to-face with it. The most successful was just leaving it in the microwave nook of the lunchroom, where people would go to heat up their food and be surprised to find it leering over them. So many people terrorized by the Pope!

    1. Charlotte*

      (To be clear – this was widely seen as fun and funny! There’s a brief moment of surprise when you think someone is standing in a strange spot and then lots of laughter all round when you realize it’s the Pope.)

    2. Silver Robin*

      I would absolutely be down for Weekend-at-Bernies-ing that cut out. Set him up at a desk doing work. In the break room having lunch. Leading a meeting. And then a little slideshow or video of his “day at the office”.

  57. Just Another Zebra*

    My coworker went on vacation for a week, and myself and another coworker would usually decorate his desk with bizarre decorations from the dollar store or found around the office. This time, though, I wanted to do something more subtle. I took screenshots of his desktop, then set those screenshots as his background. I took all his icons off the desktop and dropped them into a folder. It looked like his normal desktop, but none of the “icons” worked (because they were just part of the picture in the background. Then, I put a little piece of tape over his mouse sensor.

    When he came back, he was VERY confused why his computer wasn’t working. I kept quiet until he grumbled about having to call our notoriously bad IT guy, and then showed him what I did. He thought it was a clever prank and asked how I did it. He’ll still bring it up, and it’s a fun joke between us.

  58. Artemesia*

    When I was a teacher in the late 60s one of my colleagues who was a world traveler was asked to give a talk about Russia to a class of 5th graders. Apparently they misbehaved and were rude and the teacher made them write letters of apology. The letters arrived at our shared office space (8 or us in the department were in that one office). WE opened and read the letters.

    And then we got out lined paper of various sorts and printed joke apology letters — from Johnny who is sorry he was making out with Susie in the back of the class. etc etc. We did 4 mildly hilarious letters and interleaved them in the stack of apology notes and slid them back in the envelope.

    Our colleague thought they were hilarious and started to share them with others and it got out of control; we had to come clean before they got published in the local teacher newsletter.

  59. Definitely not linking a name to this one*

    I used to work at an amusement park, on a boat ride where you save guests from a very famous shark. This was many years ago, I was young and (in retrospect) kind of dumb. I saw that a local party story was selling mini rubber ducks, and I thought it would be absolutely hilarious to buy a bunch and chuck them in the water of the ride. I bought a ton, and loaded my very deep pockets with probably 30 or so ducks. When I was on boat, every time we got to a dark part of the ride with a camera blindspot and some action that meant the guests weren’t looking at me, I’d grab a couple of handfuls and chuck them in.It took a few hours for them to cycle through the ride, and I was very excited for my fellow employees to notice- I thought it was a hilarious and light hearted way to give my friends a laugh.

    Well, people noticed and it got called into the tech team, who were absolutely furious. There were effects that happened in the ride, include great jets of water shooting into the air towards the boats at high speed to simulate gun shots. There was (completely valid) concerns that the plastic ducks would get launched at guests and employees at high speeds, so they ended up shutting down the ride for several hours while the technicians had to go fish all of them out.

    Leadership were livid, and tried to figure out who perpetrated the duck fiasco, but I had been really careful to cover my tracks- there was no footage of me, I had told no one, there was literally nothing linking it to me. They brought people in for individual interviews, including me, but I played super dumb and was never suspected by anyone except for one random employee who, day of the prank, walked up to me, looked me dead in the eyes, and said “I know it was you”. No idea how he figured it out, but I didn’t admit to it to him, and he never shared with anyone his suspicions.

    In hindsight, what a stupid thing to pull. It was genuinely with good intentions, but I really didn’t think it through, and now that I’m a full fledged adult, I would never do something like this if the opportunity arose haha

      1. Definitely not linking a name to this one*

        Haha! That never occurred to me, but that’s very plausible. He was SO convincing, but you *did* have to audition to work on this ride, so maybe his acting skills were just on point hahaha

  60. Serious Silly Putty*

    Our ED was leaving (on good terms) and a colleague was going to be interim ED (which we all supported). On her last day, she made a joke about him making changes to her office, to which he replied, “oh that’s already happened.”

    We all go to her office to see the door had his name and credentials mounted on it. (he had used the laser cutter to make it himself.)

    He took it down the next day when he actually started, as power trips like that aren’t his thing. But it made a great photo opp!

  61. Cheesesticks*

    I worked in the electronics industry and we all had to wear the bright blue smocks. My manager had a full grey beard and looked like Papa Smurf so that was his nickname.

    I was leaving the job to move out of state. One day while he was gone I printed out about 100, 2 inch pictures of Papa Smurf and cut them out.

    I placed them everywhere in his desk, in his files, under his coffee mug. That is my best prank I pulled.

  62. Good Enough For Government Work*

    I and a group of friends post-it-noted a colleague’s chair, desk, screen, etc. We had an absolute ball, and our victim cracked up too.

    My favourite thing was about a week later, when the victim finally opened the top drawer in his desk (which he’d left unlocked), and burst out laughing when he found we’d post-itted INSIDE THE DRAWER too…

    1. The post-its are coming from inside the notebook*

      My office-mate post-it-ed my desk, monitor, chair, etc. while I was on vacation. Reportedly, he was told to stop wasting time by our great-grand-boss, but he finished the prank anyways. I found the last (or was it?) post-it in a notebook YEARS later, after we had moved offices and my coworker had left the company. He also put some inside the drawer, and on the December page of my wall calendar!

  63. Kat*

    A bunch of my coworkers and I went to a conference for a week. While we were gone, the remaining people in the department wrapped our desks in Christmas wrapping paper. One of my friends got really into it and wrapped everything for a guy on his team, including the mouse, mouse pad, and each individual pen in his pen cup!

    We all had a good laugh about it, and the only person that wasn’t happy about it was one of the managers, but I’m pretty sure it’s because that dude was allergic to fun.

  64. Take a Gander*

    A bird. My old supervisor had always talked about how he wanted a bird because he thought they were cool. One day a bunch of the crew thought it would be hilarious to buy the boss a bird. They did not take into account that the bird was an actual living creature in need of care. They all pitched in and bought a little cockatoo bird named Cooper and left it in his office on top of a shelf. It took him a solid 5 minutes to find out where the chirping was coming from and he was flabbergasted. After getting over his initial shock, he thought it was hilarious until he discovered that nobody planned on keeping the bird. Thankfully, one of the other supervisors in our office raised birds but it took a solid two weeks to convince his wife to take Cooper.

    Let me tell you, that bird was a MENACE. A menace who was rather adept at escaping his cage. He bit everyone, yelled all the time, dive bombed innocent passersby and he pooped on EVERYTHING. It was a long couple of weeks working in fear of that little devil.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Yeah, they live long and have high needs. Would have been better off to buy a plastic bird and play some bird sounds…

    1. zinzarin*

      Cockatiels are smart. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cooper realized quickly that he wasn’t wanted and was simply acting out in response.

    2. 3DogNight*

      This reminds me, what ever happened to the turtles that were given to an office to take care of in September of 2021?

  65. DarthVelma*

    My mom worked doing transcription for a local doctor who was best friends with a local dentist. They did all sorts of stuff to each other. I remember driving up to the office with my mom one weekend to pick up some work. When she came back to the car she was laughing so hard she was almost crying. When she went to open her boss’ office door to go grab a tape, it was filled floor to ceiling with balloons. She made sure none escaped before closing the door.

    I heard from the dentist later that the doctor retaliated by affixing Oreo cookies all over his office desk with double-sided tape.

  66. PNut Gallery*

    Good pranks:
    I used to put googly eyes in random places. On a fake plant in the women’s bathroom, on a calculator, etc. I loved that people seemed to enjoy finding them because no one took them down.

    Someone signed up another co-worker to receive random samples from companies. He’d get all sorts of things – adult diapers, anti-snoring nose strips, baby stuff, toothpaste. He never complained, as far as I know, and no one knows who did it.

    Bad prank:
    We all worked in an open cubicle farm and were supposed to lock our computers if we left our desk at all. Often when people forgot to someone else would send a cute email to the team from their PC or change the wallpaper – all harmless. But one person took it too far and posted a fake update on a guy’s Facebook that had his family and friends worried and calling him. After that it was written into the rules that messing with someone else’s PC could mean termination.

    1. Ace in the Hole*

      Everything is better with googly eyes. I got a good deal on a huge pack of jumbo sized ones and stuck them on everything one morning – including our loaders and excavators. They looked like silly mechanical dinosaurs, it was a hoot. This was at the height of the pandemic when we all desperately needed a laugh.

  67. ChatGPT*

    Our state went on a roundabout building binge in the 20-teens and boy was this traffic device controversial! Most people love them now, but every time a new one was announced it caused a lot of negative talk and anxiety from people who I guess were weirdly attached to traffic lights. Realizing that fear and anxiety often leads to people short circuiting their critical reasoning skills, I decided to dummy up a very official looking public meeting announcement about a roundabout just off our parking lot. Like a really ridiculous spot for a roundabout. I copied the format of a recent notice of public meeting from another project and replaced relevant details, map sections etc. I also set the public meeting for April 31 just to head off anyone actually showing up.
    Just before our official starting time I left a copy on most of the major printers on two floors and waited. Within 15 minutes the productivity dive was palpable as the predictable rabble-rousers made copies of it and passed it around. Certain people were losing it, holding court amongst their cube-mates and denouncing the roundabout. I’d estimate that for at least 45 minutes we lost 50% of our staff productivity.
    At some point someone noticed that April 31 didn’t exist and so they called someone they knew at the town hall to let them know there was a mistake on the meeting notice; they were passed along to someone else who actually WAS working on a roundabout plan for that intersection!! At that point I had to intervene and “end the simulation” as it was getting out of hand. But it still took another 15 minutes to stamp out the flames, so to speak.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      … I don’t think I have ever met anybody who likes roundabouts, haha.

      1. Rasberry*

        Hah! My city has had them long enough that everyone LOVES them and we are now in a two year war where the city is having to put in a traffic light in an area that can’t fit a traffic circle and people are acting like it would be Armageddon.

      2. Little Bobby Tables*

        I have found roundabouts to be an amusing way to get rid of tailgaters if their car is less maneuverable than mine.

        1. AlwhoisThatAl*

          A trick pulled off so often in my classic ’70s Mini. Yes, I can go around a roundabout at the same speed I entered it, that why they won so many rallies.

      3. zinzarin*

        Glad I could change that for you today; I love roundabouts!

        What’s not to like? They’re both safer and faster than stops or lights.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Not when people don’t know how to drive in them and are routinely slamming on their brakes halfway (or farther) into the circle, heh.

        2. Sorrischian*

          I love actual roundabouts, but there’s a bunch of residential neighborhoods in my city with “roundabouts” that are actually two-way stop sign intersections with an island in the middle making you do an awkward little swerve. Those, I hate.

      4. Wait, what?*

        A few years ago, my hometown made a proposal to revamp a street that goes through the Old Money part of town. They proposed to cut down dozens of mature trees, remove the boulevard, move the sidewalks, add extra lanes for cars, bike lanes, and a roundabout. It would have been the only roundabout in town. People on that street flipped the entire way out. After a lot of push back, the municipality changed their proposal to only cut down 2 trees that needed cutting down anyway, put in a stoplight instead of roundabout, no extra lanes for cars, but still add a bike lane. This proposal was accepted.

        I am *certain* the municipality only ever wanted to add a bike lane. The roundabout was just a threat.

      5. Wingwing*

        People who don’t know how to drive or who drive like jerks sure seem to hate them, is more my experience!

      6. Dragonfly7*

        I love them as long as they follow the normal rule of yielding to the folks who are already in it.
        There is a major, multi-lane one near me where the folks already in the circle have to yield to the cars entering the circle, but only at one of the five entrances. I have nearly caused accidents or nearly been hit by others enough times that I go out of my way to avoid that one.

      7. Samwise*

        I love them! There are quite a few of them around our campus. Traffic flows, even when it’s quite busy. (Traffic jams used to happen daily between 4:30 and 6.) It’s bad at the start of every school year, but once all the noobs figure it out, all’s well again.

    2. DataSci*

      I live in the DC area, and I find circles (as we call them here) very stressful. You wait so long for an opening! And then hope someone from the inner ring doesn’t change lanes into the outer at the last second. With lights at least there are clear “your turn now” times.

      1. ferrina*

        Truth! I love small town roundabouts (even small city’s), but the D.C. roundabouts are horrid.

      2. Moby Duck*

        roundabouts and trafffic circles are different beasts. Traffic circles are much more dangerous (and stressful!) than roundabouts because the give way rules are opposite for each. There is a fascinating Tom Scott video about it

    3. Random Dice*

      That’s hilarious that you chose the most ridiculous place for a fake roundabout… and the city was actually planning it! That’s just perfect.

  68. Lex Talionis*

    I am in Pharma / biotech and I worked in a satellite office. I came back from a trip to corporate to find my cubicle FILLED with packing peanuts. My colleagues were laying in wait to take a picture of my reaction. I fulfilled their visual expectations. When we were bought a few years later the picture showed up in the retrospective company history.

  69. Lynn*

    I did a few pre-pandemic…

    1) Plugged the usb receiver for my bluetooth mouse into a coworker’s computer when he was out. My coworker and I ferociously messaged each other as we watched him try to work on a ppt, and then I would periodically move the mouse. Eventually he declared that windows hated him and it was time to go home. He left early and we retrieved the usb.

    2) Wrapped a different coworker’s desk in tinfoil over a quiet holiday time. Also threw in a (clean, new, wrapped) tampon, which he did not realize until he had un-plasticked it and looked at it for a solid minute wondering what it was and if it was his. Finally it dawned on him, and he screamed and threw it across the room.

    3) Our workspace was immediately next to the main hall with the elevators, but the entrance was at one far end of the hall farthest from the elevators. We convinced a coworker that there was a cut-through via our supply room. They spent ten minutes trying to find it before they realized they had been had. (We did consider making our own cut-through because this design was very annoying)

    1. o_gal*

      Your 1 and 2 are the definition of a bad prank. Especially the second one. Sanitary products, even unused, do not belong out in the open, unwrapped, in an office setting. The first caused loss of productivity and he may have had to use PTO to go home early.

      1. Dubious*

        What’s wrong with an clean unused tampon? It doesn’t seem like it would be any different than an unused diaper, toilet paper, etc., and I don’t see how those would be inappropriate.

      2. Moryera*

        I get where you’re coming from, but I think you may have misread #2 slightly. It was a wrapped tampon, not an unwrapped one. It sounds to me like Lynn’s broworker saw a sealed plastic overwrap that said Super Absorbency, then freaked all the way out over the mere idea that it contained a (once again, completely unused) tampon. I’m having a hard time being too sympathetic there.

      3. Random Dice*

        Uh menstruation isn’t actually demon possession. This guy was beyond ridiculous.

      4. Emmy Noether*

        Nah, the bad thing about #2 is the waste of perfectly good tinfoil (and the perfectly good tampon). There’s nothing about what is essentially a sterile, very compacted cotton ball that means it has to be hidden at all times. It’s no different than clean tissue paper or an unused bandaid. The coworker was ridiculous.

  70. Tired post grad*

    I work with disabled kids currently. I generally love to like my job. The kids try and prank me a lot. They are not great at it but it always makes me smile. Pranks mostly include “hiding” and me wondering aloud where they could have gone (love these kids but they are all terrible at hiding). The prank that drives me nuts is when they pretend to eat *unsafe thing* and watch me freak out

    1. ferrina*

      This is kind of sweet (minus the safety concerns). I love when kid hide and are terrible at it. It’s just so endearing.

      1. Vio*

        My three year old nephew loves hide and seek, but he hasn’t yet figured out that he shouldn’t tell us where he’s going to hide or tell us where we have to hide. It is incredibly cute and hilarious.

  71. UKLu*

    At a previous job, it was my co-worker’s 40th birthday. We waited until she left on the day before, then myself and the rest of the team gift wrapped everything on and around her desk – from her keyboard, screen and chair down to every individual pen, pencil and stapler. She found it hilarious!

  72. The Dude Abides*

    Not so much a single prank, but a series of pranks.

    The long-time admin in our building retired at the end of last year, and she decided to go out with a bang.

    She decided that she was going to perform a series of escalating pranks on the building’s big boss, and boy did she ever.

    Most of the pranks revolved around a certain sports rivalry, and included:

    – putting a license plate holder on the boss’s rear plate
    – hanging paper cutouts of the rival mascot onto suction cups and putting them on the window outside the boss’s window on the second floor; some of which are still hanging to this day
    – photoshopping a picture of boss’s head onto someone wearing the “wrong” jersey, and hiding dozens of pictures around boss’s office
    – strategically hiding several electronic “meowing” devices around the main office area (boss hates cats)
    – putting a large cardboard cutout of the rival mascot on the inside part of the boss’s window
    – piling dozens of filled bankers’ boxes in front of big boss’s door such that he had to move them before entering

    I know I’m missing a few, but weekly it became a matter of “what’s going to happen next?”

    1. Serious Silly Putty*

      How did the boss handle all this?
      Can you tell if it was ALL in good fun, or if there was some aggression the admin was working out?

      And speaking of cutouts: one time my mom moved offices and had a bathroom that she shared with the office next to her. So one time she put her Richard Petty life size cutout in the bathroom, facing the other office’s door for when they came in.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        The only thing that really toed the line was the meowing devices, since it took boss and I almost an hour to track them all down.

        No aggression, boss is generally easygoing and played into it – he did the bankers’ boxes prank first. He’s only worked in the unit for almost two years, but for almost a decade worked for a contracting agency that supports us, so he knew all the old hands before coming in.

    2. zinzarin*

      As far as I’m concerned, sports rivalries change the rules. If you’re going to do the sports fandom thing, you have to accept that you’re now in the game.

      1. 1LFTW*

        Totally. Pranks like this are a long-standing part of sports rivalry and fandom culture, and if you can’t take jokes like the ones OP described, you’re probably going to exempt yourself from fandom pretty quickly.

  73. Dirigibles*

    In the mid-90s, I worked at this start-up. All of our Unix workstations were networked and we had the ability to run programs on other people’s workstations. Also, as many offices were in the day, our building’s power capacity was not up to the task of supplying power to a bunch of high-power workstations. Therefore, each of us had a battery backup that, once the battery alarm would go off, would give us enough time to save our work and close out before we lost power.

    The guy in our sound department was a friend of mine, and when we had a few minutes of downtime, I had him create a sound file for me… the exact beeping that the battery alarm made when power was lost. I did it from memory and was pretty proud of myself that I got the frequency and timing pretty close to being on the nose.

    Then I went back to my desk and played the sound file on everyone’s computer in the office at once so that everyone panicked. Other than encouraging people to save their work, it didn’t have any negative effects. But I was proud of that one.

  74. Serious Silly Putty*

    At an old job where we did science outreach, we’d recently started making weekly videos for youtube. We’d noticed our balloon rocket video had done better than others, and were excited about interest in aerospace… until analytics showed us that most of our leads came from videos of sexily women blowing up balloons. (YUCK!)

    So, the next time I was up to do a video, I did another balloon video, and made one version with all the suggestively I could get away with while playing straight (dramatic blowing up balloons, holding two balloons at chest height, etc.) Boss was gone that week so I sent her that version to let her know we’d done the experiment for the week.

    She was very relieved to find out the actually posted one involved no blowing up of balloons or innuendos.

    1. Dr. Rivka*

      My dad loved candy, and was also well-known to have very precise habits with his candy: sorting it into colors, eating in a particular sequence, etc. One year, at the holiday party, the nurses in his office gave him a huge jar of Starbursts. He was thrilled! He sorted them carefully into piles on his desk. He unwrapped one with a lemon wrapper – and it was strawberry. So he unwrapped another one with a cherry wrapper – lemon. Orange wrapper – strawberry again. The nurses had painstakingly unwrapped every single Starburst and wrapped them again with the wrong-color wrappers, so carefully that you couldn’t tell they had been opened.

      My dad got a huge kick out of that prank, and the way it showed how well the nurses knew him.

  75. Name (Required)*

    Back in the day when computer mouses? mice? had little rubberized balls in them that rolled around to make the mouse work, we used to take little pieces of tape and put them on the top of the little compartment that the ball went into so the ball was still there but wouldn’t roll. This went back and forth among several of us for a few weeks. One day I went to sabotage my coworker’s mouse and when I turned the mouse over, there was a little label that said “Don’t mess with mouse balls”. I still remember how hard I laughed at that.

  76. Akcipitrokulo*

    Back when you could edit the buttons on Microsoft office products…

    I put the print icon on the print preview button, and vice versa, then seitched their positions.

    Then I got IT support to look at my pc because the print button didn’t work :D

    Did it when they weren’t busy, and they seemed to take it well!

  77. Princess Leia*

    We have a standing prank at my work. We’re engineers and for safety reasons we’re supposed to lock our computers every time we step away from it. But it’s easy to forget and whenever someone does, we go on their computer and in the group chat put a message that they are bringing donuts the next day (then lock their computer after). Everyone on the team knows that someone got caught not locking their computer when the donut message comes up! We’re always clear that the person does NOT have to bring in donuts, but they usually do. ;-) And most people only get caught once!

  78. NinjaMonkey*

    My boss used to prank people from time to time, two of which are good ones for this (we work in software development for context):

    1) He wrote an error message that was linked to a single tester’s PC. When she followed the steps in the issue she was testing, a message popped up saying something like “[Tester’s name] is a dink!” She came to my desk and asked me to follow the same steps; nothing happened. She went back to her desk and it happened again, so she brought me to her desk to see. A quick look at the program and I could see he had code in there to poke her.

    2) Because we had different office locations, I used to work in my boss’ office building once a week for face time. He had an windowed office and I would sit at a low-walled cube outside it. One day, every once in a while, my cursor would move unexpectedly as I was mousing to things and working. I eventually asked the woman sitting in the cube with me to watch in case she had thoughts on why it was happening, but as I turned back to the PC, I saw my boss chuckling to himself at his desk. I had a wired mouse at the time and he had plugged a bluetooth receiver into the back of my desktop, so he could occasionally move the cursor on me with his wireless mouse. Harmless and still hilarious…

  79. V2*

    I pried off and swapped the M and N keys on a coworker’s keyboard. She was older and not a person comfortable with computers, so she just accepted that they were where they’ve always been, except that every time she pushed one of them it would type the other letter. I did know that she had a good sense of humor and would find it funny, which she did; she thought it was hilarious and still brings it up sometimes.

  80. Beth*

    A few of my Star Trek-loving co-workers and I have this running joke where we’ll occasionally stick tiny pictures of Gowron, the Klingon with the very intense stare, on random things at each others’ desk. (For example, I placed one on the power button of one friend’s monitor, and another peeking over the top of a webcam.)

    Well, I took a week off in June of 2021 (Gowron-appreciating co-worker and I were the only ones regularly in the office), and came back to find my desk liberally covered with pictures of Gowron -many of them with googly-eyes stuck on them. On my monitor, stuck to the side of my desktop, on my computer mouse… she even covered my tissue box with pictures of Gowron, and stuck one to the back of my lamp that took me about a year to find. It made me laugh so hard when I got back to work, and I still have the googly-eyed-Gowron-covered tissue box.

    1. Ella Kate (UK)*

      Surprise Gowron? Excellent.

      Surprise Gowron WITH GOOGLY EYES? Oh god that was a full body chuckle at the image.

  81. BookWyrm*

    All employees were required to have ID badges at our company, and our GM was constantly leaving his badge places. One day, he left it in my boss’s office which everyone was constantly in and out of. One of my coworkers saw it and concocted the prank – they took a picture of his picture, used a SnapChat filter to make the top of his head look huge (little green alien-style), and then emailed me the photo since I printed the ID badges. I printed him a badge identical to his last one, except for the photo. We replaced it on his lanyard, then put his lanyard back in my boss’s office, where he later found it. I think it took him about two weeks to notice the replaced photo, and we all had a good laugh before I gave him back his original badge.

  82. MoniJoRN*

    I worked as a medication aide/nurse intern at a nursing home the summer between my junior and senior years of nursing school. On my last day one of the CNAs came and told me someone fell in the tub room and they needed help to get the resident up. When I rushed in there another 2 or 3 CNAs were waiting and tossed me in the full tub! Apparently the do this to a lot of people on their last days and they even brought dry scrubs for me to put on since this was about mid-shift :) I thought it was funny and I know they wouldn’t do it to someone they disliked who had a poor sense of humor so I see no issue with it. (Of course this was before everyone would have had an expensive cell phone in their pockets to ruin!)

  83. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    Because you spend more waking hours with them than any other people on the planet including your family? Why not have a little fun while you are at it?

    Work friendships make the day fly by, make the harder times better and make getting up and going to work easier. Some work friends are work friends only, some have migrated to “actual friend” status over the years.

    I work with the best group of people right now. We laugh a lot.

  84. Miss Chanandler Bong*

    One of my coworkers had to call out for a doctor’s appointment. He dropped a wooden board on his foot.
    One of our teammates went to Home Depot and got a small wooden cutout of wood board. Everyone signed it sarcastically, then we put a bow on it and left it on his desk.
    Coworker just had a bad bruise, but he kept the signed board in his office.

  85. Question Mark*

    Prank Fail: A co-worker thought it would be hilarious to take a picture of my car and list it on a local selling wall for a ridiculously low price, WITH my work number and personal cell number. I knew nothing about it until I started receiving dozens and dozens calls and messages, and some were quite nasty because they wanted my car so badly and I wasn’t returning their calls. At first the co-worker acted innocent until I started all-out bawling because I had no idea who listed my car and I also had a huge presentation due and kept being interrupted non-stop by the calls and messages. He eventually fessed up and took down the post but the calls continued for a few days from people who saved the ad.

  86. Puncle*

    I worked a summer job in grad school where we had a good balance of work and fun. I became quickly known for my puns, and after a few weeks put up a flyer of “tearable” puns (at the bottom of the flyer were a series of puns, printed vertically, so you could easily tear off one strip which contained a pun) on my door.

    At the end of the summer, others kept working in the office but I moved on to a different role. On my last night, after most folks had left, I printed tons of the tearable puns on the little strips of paper and hid them throughout the office. But the key was, I left many in obvious spots and a handful in less-obvious spots… so when my colleagues thought they’d found all the strips of paper, lo and behold, a few weeks later, another would turn up. When I worked for the office the following summer, it was reported to me that they were still finding previously-undiscovered tearable puns.

  87. KareninHR*

    At my college job, a “prank war” lead to me getting a raise! I worked at a medical facility with a kind older man (George) who acted as a greeter and helped point people in the right direction. He and I would light-heartedly rib each other over our opposing football team fandom. One day this turned into an all-out prank war. I started it by taping a sign on his back with the logo of my football team. A few minutes later, I saw him limping around the corner with the assistance of one of the lab techs (an accomplice). He said he had slipped and fallen on the sign and twisted his knee (he was joking). I don’t recall all of the back and forth, but my manager witnessed this and joined in on the prank war. She said they had to file an incident report because George had been injured and told me to come to her office. I thought to retaliate by turning in my resignation. I hastily copied a letter I found online and brought it with me. This was all VERY lighthearted and she knew I was joking, but she said she could take the letter to our CEO to see about getting me a raise because they didn’t want to lose me. And it worked!! She called me back into her office at the end of the day to let me know the raise had been approved – no prank this time!

  88. N*

    My office used to do a lot of pranks, here are a couple of my favorites:
    1) We had a person in our office who was very gullible, so in the middle of a very hot summer we took an old “there’s a big snowstorm in the forecast so be careful” all-staff email from the winter before, changed the date on it, and forwarded it to the gullible coworker. He believed it and called his wife to make sure they had enough food and bottled water at home for the upcoming blizzard.

    2) one of our coworkers who liked to prank everyone else accidentally left his work-issued photo ID next to the printer and we made an enlarged copy before giving it back to him. Then an artistic coworker sketched on the photo to make him look like an elf with pointy ears and long hair and we turned it into an old-fashioned “wanted” poster and taped them around the office. Also, one day he accidentally left his work uniform on the back of his chair instead of in his locker, so we dressed an empty water cooler bottle up in his uniform and taped the wanted poster on top like a head and left it in his desk chair

  89. Quack*

    We had a long haul prank going where we bought 100 small rubber duckies and each took turns placing them in the boss’s office until he noticed. Whoever’s duck was found was the loser and had to buy the office lunch. We had very specific rules like the ducks had to be reasonably visible with normal activity in the office and one was added each day. We ended up putting about 70 of the ducks in the office before getting caught. This was 6 years ago and he found more ducks when he recently cleaned out his office when the company moved to another building.

  90. Shiba Dad*

    Many years ago, my coworker “James” went to talk to another coworker, “David”. David was responsible for ordering parts for the llama grooming systems that we installed. James asked David to check on something. David left his office and James saw that David had been playing games on Yahoo. this wasn’t the first time that James had seen this. James made a mental note of David’s screen name.

    We were a small company that had been recently acquired by a somewhat larger one. Later that day, James and another coworker, Michael, made a Yahoo account using the parent company’s name. They IM’d David with a message that said something to the effect of “we have detected that you are using you computer for non-work related activities”.

    David runs to the office area (a separate room) where James and Michael are located and he is yelling “Shut it down! Shut it down! It’s too late for me! Shut it down!”.

    I had been out of the office and got back to see David sitting on the floor with his back against the wall, red-faced and hyperventilating a bit. James and Michael were dying laughing.

  91. Web Crawler*

    This was pre-pandemic, and most of my team was remote or hybrid. One day I got a Very Urgent meeting invite from Frank for “Logistics of code components”. Frank stressed that local folks should try to make it in person. He also invited the designers, project managers, and other folks who never touch the code, and told them that their input was absolutely needed.

    Anyway, I showed up to the meeting where way too many people were packed into a conference room. (This was pre-pandemic though so we didn’t worry about it.) I sat on the floor. Frank got up and started talking about code. He’s a project manager- I don’t think he’s even seen our code.

    It was all nonsense, and one of the senior developers opened her mouth to tell him so, when Frank started laughing and left the room. He came back in with a cake and ice cream and said “Happy Birthday to our project! It turned 5 years old this week.” So we never ended up talking about whatever the frick “Logistics of code components” was supposed to mean.

    The other funny part to me is that this was a hybrid meeting, like all of our meetings were. There was no video and the mic didn’t pick up Frank’s “happy birthday” over the sound of 20 people packed into an 8 person room. So the remote folks kept trying to talk about Frank’s code nonsense. They figured it out eventually, but there was a lot of “WHAT WAS THAT?” and “THERE’S NO MEETING, WE’RE CELEBRATING AN ANNIVERSARY” and “…WHAT?” and “but we can’t update the teapot component until we update the…” and “NO, THERE’S NO CODE CHANGES NEEDED” and more “…WHAT?”

  92. ticktick*

    We used to do stuff to celebrate people’s birthdays – it started out with some modest decoration of cubicles, and then escalated to quite large scale productions.

    One co-worker’s name was Doug, and for his birthday, we came in late at night and decorated his office like a disco – complete with mirror ball, flashing coloured lights, and shag rugs (okay, not part of a disco, but very ’70s). I’d discovered a very small gap between the interior dividing wall and the window, allowing me to run speaker wire from my adjacent office, to connect his speakers to my computer, and then put “Disco Duck” on repeat – and then I locked my office door. He normally got in at 6:30, while I got in at 8:30, so I envisioned him having to listen to it for 2 hours – but after his initial WTF reaction, he was savvy enough to disconnect his speakers.

    The other epic birthday prank was on a co-worker (also close friend) who loved food, and was a grazer – if there was food in front of him, his hand would go on auto-pilot, and he’d eat. So a group of us arranged for him to be fed something new and large every hour on the hour – starting with a full English breakfast at 9 am, moving to sausage rolls, fresh bread, a cold cut plate, burgers, and so on, and gradually culminating in a huge birthday cake at 5 pm. He did have to admit defeat at around 3 pm, when he took a nap – preparatory to more food. And then we all went out for dinner.

  93. irene adler*

    I work in a lab in a start-up company.

    We had too many lab techs and not enough chairs to sit in. I personally had to rest on my knees to run experiments during the busy times of the workday.

    We requested more chairs. Nothing extravagant; just a couple of task chairs.

    As the budget was very tight, the CFO decided to size up the situation by walking through the lab herself to determine the need.

    Result: no additional chairs for us.

    Her solution: share chairs. When one is finished with an experiment, hand over the chair to another lab tech.

    Never mind that the chairs had to be adjusted for each user (a pain!), or that some lab techs did not have an office to go to for non-lab work. Where would they sit when not doing experiments?

    We appealed but management didn’t budge (C’mon, I’m working on my knees!!!). So I went out and purchased two more chairs. Problem solved.

    It hadn’t escaped my attention that all of management sits in their offices in very nice executive chairs. Chairs with myriad adjustments for their comfort. As I looked closer, I noticed that the CFO and the head of R&D both had identical chairs-right down to the color. And these two individuals, being wildly different in height and size, had chairs that were no doubt painstakingly adjusted to accommodate their bodies.

    One day, as everyone was out at lunch, I switched the two chairs. Just rolled them down the hall from one office to the other. No witnesses.

    That afternoon, every time I passed the CFO’s office, I saw her repeatedly jump up from her chair to turn the various adjustment knobs. “Who touched my chair? Who changed all the adjustments? Who did this???,” she shrieked. I could barely contain my laughter.

    I stopped by to find the head of R&D sitting in his chair completely oblivious that his feet were unable to touch the ground.

    Share chairs? I don’t think so.

    1. Cyndi*

      This sounds beautifully satisfying, and I hope you someday fulfill your dream of getting to sit in a chair.

  94. PaisleyClover*

    When Tom Carvel, the founder of Carvel ice cream, died, someone in my department wrote up a company wide memo saying the company would be closing early in his honor and pinned it on the bulletin board in the hall. It was made to be obviously fake, he had the memo come from Fudgy the Whale, but some people were actually wondering if it was real.

  95. corner piece*

    I worked for a very small magazine and was good friends with the editor. She had written an essay for one issue that was meant to be anonymous, with a title like “Concerns about [politically sensitive topic in our area].” For our proofreading session I made a version of the magazine with her name and photo prominently displayed on her essay and a headline that read something like “[Editor’s Name] totally hates this [politically sensitive thing]!” She freaked out when she saw it, exclaiming “nooooo, this has to be anonymous!!” and then I pulled out the actual layout that was how she had expected it.

  96. Fern*

    I had a coworker who came in half an hour before me, and our cubes were next to each other. We’d do light pranks, like leaving silly things on our keyboards or taping funny pictures from the internet on our monitors. One day I came in to he had replaced my phone with a banana. He took the cord and inserted it into a banana, and then placed it in the receiver as if it was a normal phone. Then when he heard me start laughing at this, he started blasting the Raffi song “Banana Phone” on the other side of the cubicle. I haven’t worked there in over 15 years, and he now lives in a different state, but every time I hear that song I think of him and my custom banana phone.

  97. NeutralJanet*

    One day in December, I came to work dressed as the Grinch (including green face paint) and stole all the holiday decorations from the break room. Later that day, my team finally implemented an update we had been working towards for a while, so I sent out an email announcing that my heart had grown several sizes and put everything back.

  98. Meghan*

    Something that I *thought* was a prank. Exactly 10 years ago I was working as an admin for a family owned property management company (aunt’s brother and his wife, so no real relation to me, but still family) so I collected rent, deposited it, all that good stuff. My direct boss was the wife and she was going to be out of the office all week for minor surgery or something, can’t remember. Anyway, I go through my day, deposit like $40K worth of rent into the bank and go home. Around 7PM my friend who worked there texted me and said “did you know your job is posted on FB?” Um, no. Tried to check my e-mail, locked out. Tried to check another account, also locked out. I am freaking out, crying, wondering if I somehow didn’t deposit all the money or what happened? Calling the husband, he isn’t answering. At this point I’m hysterical but also like “is this a weird April Fool’s prank?”

    Finally, husband texts back telling me to not come into the office for the rest of the week and to ask my cousin if he had any work for me. I showed up to work on time the next day, sending the office manager into a tizzy and when the husband got into the office he confirmed that they were letting me go because my cousin (his direct nephew) took a job at a competing property management company and he thought that I would steal all the information of their owners and give it to my cousin.

    So that’s the story of how I got fired on April Fool’s day, for doing absolutely nothing wrong and why I now absolutely HATE April Fool’s Day.

    1. Beth*

      Wow, you worked for some absolute a-holes there! “Ask my cousin if he had any work for me” — sheesh!!

    2. Snell*

      I notice that most of these prank stories so far are lighthearted, which is a nice change of pace for this site. Your aunt’s brother’s paranoia stands out as impressive for the way it tells on himself.

      1. Meghan*

        As it turns out, he was so paranoid because he had done that exact thing to my uncle. Which I hadn’t even known about and even if I had…. I still wouldn’t have given the information to my cousin? It was upsetting for a few days and I still get freaked out around April Fool’s Day, but it’s just become the legend of why no one is allowed to fire me on April 1. It will have to wait until April 2nd.

        And at least I was able to receive unemployment so I had about 3 months off just chilling and readjusting and then I got my first job in my current field of Hospitality, so it worked out in a sense.

    3. urguncle*

      This is so bizarre. Like, what proprietary landlord secrets are out there? Oh no, is someone going to find out the secret reason for painting over light switches?

  99. Poker Face*

    At my old job if you left your desk without locking your screen you were likely to find your screen saver changed to a picture of a bizarre looking baby. I have no idea how that started but the main two people that did it could complete the task in seconds.

    1. Ann Onymous*

      There’s a major rivalry between 2 of the public universities in my state, and there’s a lot of alums of both schools among our employees, so the usual desktop background prank in my office is the logo of the rival school.

  100. Ace in the Hole*

    I got a great deal on a bulk package of giant stick-on googly eyes (ranging from 4″ to the size of dinner plates). Me and a coworker teamed up to stick google eyes on everything before the rest of the crew showed up. Computers, hand sanitizer dispensers, dumpster bins, trucks, forklifts… but my favorite was the heavy equipment. The biggest stickers went to the loaders and excavators. Giant silly eyeballs on an excavator bucket make it look like a ridiculous dinosaur chomping bites out of stuff.

    It all fell off on its own in a few days so there wasn’t any hassle cleaning up. Most people thought it was a hoot, although one of the supervisors got a bit worked up about it looking unprofessional.

    1. irene adler*

      Well yeah! Everybody knows it’s fake nose and eyeglasses for the excavator buckets- never googly eyes.

    2. Nea*

      I hope you’ve seen the video of an excavator with huge googly eyes. It’s less than a minute, set to the Jurassic Park theme, and the excavator picks up a bolder, adds it to a ring around a toy excavator, and lovingly nuzzles the googly-eyed toy.

  101. Jules*

    One of my coworkers used to switch the desktop background to a photo of them making a silly face when someone left their computer unlocked. After COVID hit and Zoom happy hours became a thing, that picture was used as everyone else’s virtual background, much to the delight of the original prankster. We actually won an award for most creative virtual background from a company contest!

  102. Tara*

    My well-liked senior manager was retiring, so a group of folks filled his cubicle with balloons from top to bottom. There were balloons floating through the area for days.

  103. Ann Stephens*

    In the days before voicemail when messages were taken on little pieces of paper (torn out of a book with carbon paper – anyone else as old as I am?), I left a message for the partner I worked for that Mr. Lyons called for him and included the phone number for the local zoo.

  104. Changes2020*

    This prank was for me in my last office and was funny for everyone involved. My husband was getting ready for a major surgery, and I was taking some time off (WFH was not really a thing at the time). My co-workers decorated my cubicle with lots of handheld urinals and vomit/poop basins and depends undergarments and a badge with Nurse Ratchet on it. All in good fun since I am the complete opposite of a caregiver and they knew I would have a hard time playing nurse for an extended period.

    The landlord sent an extremely concerned email to my boss inquiring if there was going to be incontinence at my desk and if it would be hazardous to the daily cleaning staff. I had left the ‘party’ favors at my desk when the cleaners came in at night.

  105. CampFirewood*

    I used to be a summer camp professional, and while I know many people think its just campfires and color wars, its a very intensive job that involves a full year of work.
    Now with that said I was once subject to one of the worst pranks. I had a seasonal senior staff member that I didnt get along well with, but we worked in different spaces, so it wasn’t a big deal, mostly personal and not professional. This person, Jane, insisted as a condition of their return that the Exec Dir be complicity in a prank on me. ED agreed, and sent me an email saying “due to a housing shortage this summer, we are asking you to share this cabin with Jane”. I emailed back that basically said “hell the F no, I sure hope this is some sick joke, and I am taking today off to think about this.” I got a quick reply that yes, it was a joke, and that it was not meant in a mean spirit. I went to the closest we had to HR (CFO) about it, and basically threatened to walk, 5 days before staff week.

  106. T*

    Not really a work prank, but one time I was housesitting for a friend and I decided to by a pack of 200 googly eyes….

    You have to be careful to not stick them to anything where it might damage it something. But, he still has some googly things in his house to this day and it’s been 7 years.

  107. Ann Onymous*

    My manager said no to our team using morale budget for live goldfish (which was probably a good decision). A few weeks later while he was away on work travel, we sent him a message that someone had left some goldfish in his office, but not to worry, we’d take care of them until he got back. Of course there were no live goldfish, but we did put a package of goldfish crackers on his desk. Everybody enjoyed the prank – especially his kids who got to eat the goldfish crackers!

  108. Violet*

    One of my previous employers worked with secured data. We needed a keycard to get on to our floor. But we were also supposed to lock our computers every day we stepped away from them. If a screen was found unlocked and unattended, David Hasselhoff would be put at the desktop background and the screen then locked for them. It was called getting “Hoffed”.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yes! My husband works at a tech company and they still do this. Management is incredibly supportive of this ongoing “prank” because it enforces good behavior (locking your computer) in a funny way.

  109. Lizzie Bennet*

    I used to teach in a public high school, and was the only female teacher on my team. One April 1st, during my prep period, a co-teacher (we will call him Wickham) came bursting into my office with a female student who was in distress, and said, “Ms Bennet, there is a fight in the girl’s bathroom! I can’t go in there… you have to go help!”

    Since school violence is REAL in the US, and we’re trained to literally take a bullet to keep students safe, I jumped out of my chair and literally ran down the hall into the bathroom, only to find it completely empty. When I came out, system flooded with adrenaline, there were Wickham and the student, laughing uproariously. They couldn’t imagine a more amusing thing that they could have done.

    A year later, I left education after — wait for it — being assaulted by two students while intervening during a fight. At that point, Wickham apologized. How big of him.

    1. Rebecca*

      it’s deeply unfunny to scare someone with something that is truly scary to them. What a terrible “prank”

  110. Poker Face*

    One of my co-workers was a huge Matallica fan. A fan of any heavy meatal really. I told him I did not care for their music. He took the time to print and cut out what seemed to be hundreds of 1×1 pictures of the band and place them everywhere in my work area. For months to come I would open a folder or notebook and have one of those pictures fall out.

  111. Shannonigan*

    Many years ago I worked in higher ed, and I had a boss who was very nervous about leaving the office in my hands for a two week vacation. While he was gone, the remaining team took staged photos of us doing everything wrong big and small (leaving file cabinet drawers open, sneaking the event office’s beer and passing it out to student workers, pouring coffee into the office plants, inviting students behind the counters, online shopping at work, etc.) and made them into a Power Point. We were honestly afraid of getting reprimanded for this nonsense, so we asked boss’s boss to send it to him to give it an air of official approval. It worked! It was received in the intended tone. As an unintended byproduct, grandboss thought it was hilarious, and she shared it much more widely than we expected.

    1. ferrina*

      This is impressive! I would love something like this for training purposes…..”If you could be in this PowerPoint, you’ve done something wrong.”

  112. K*

    At one job, if you forgot to lock your computer before walking away from your desk, someone would turn your desktop picture to one of David Hasselhoff. I remember walking into one department one day to find at least a half dozen computers with various Hasselhoff backgrounds, so either many people were very lax with security, really enjoyed the Hoff, or both.

  113. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    My first job out of college was at a small daily paper. I got to work on my last day and my lead editor said, “X and Y have called in sick, so I’ll need you to lay out Obits.” Fine. (This was back when you did page layout with a pencil and a ruler.)

    A few minutes later, the newsroom phone rang. Lead editor hung up and said, “Z was in a car accident, she’s fine, but I’ll need you to lay out Nation and World.” Whoa, OK.

    A few more incidents later and it looked for one brief horrible moment as if I was going to be laying out the entire paper on my own! Then my missing co-workers walked in with a cake and a bottle of wine. I forgave them immediately and all was well.

    Now, in that same job, once upon a time, there had occurred a DANGER WARNING DO NOT DO THIS kind of prank. It was only possible because the computers of that era were super garbage insecure.

    One editor, we’ll call him Silas, handed in his resignation because he had just gotten a cushy PR job at a local technology company, call it Initech. On his last night, an urgent news flash came in on the wires:

    INITECH IN TROUBLE more tk (to come)

    15 minutes later, the headline came through again, this time with a paragraph about how the company was folding.

    15 minutes after that, the story was two or three paragraphs long, with an explanation of how all the employees were going to be laid off.

    Silas, of course, is freaking right the freak out and turning 14 shades of yellow. Finally someone had to clue him in that it was a prank. In the version of the story I heard, he shouted “____ you!” at his erstwhile colleagues and huffed off into the night.

  114. madhatter360*

    I work in a high school and one story comes to mind.
    We were going through storage and found an old, out of date history textbook. One of the math teachers gave it to a history teacher. Said history teacher put it in the math teacher’s classroom. They went on like this, passing the textbook back and forth in increasingly creative ways the rest of the year. Some standouts include the math teacher leaving it under the passenger seat of the history teacher’s (unlocked) car and when the year was over one of them (I forget who) mailed it to the other’s home!

  115. Acadramia*

    This was a double prank situation.

    I was working with residential students on a college campus and my colleague got his sister’s hamster to leave in a box on our boss’s desk. We wrote a note pretending to be a student, telling our boss “my dad who is a lawyer said you legally have to care for my hamster if I leave it with you.” Our students were jerks, so this felt entirely possible that one would say that. Eventually after she continued freaking out we told her April Fool’s.

    Then, MONTHS later, my boss was ready for revenge. We’d had some drama on campus with other departments getting some favoritism with resources. My boss looped me in to help move all our newish office chairs into storage and leave folding chairs at everyone’s desk. When my colleague arrived to work, she told him that a different department wanted our nice chairs and the president made us give them. I played along, went and ripped my personal diplomas off my wall and stomped out, saying this was the last straw and I quit. We had my colleague going for about 20 minutes before telling him the truth, moments before he was going to quit himself.

  116. JP*

    One of my coworkers bought another coworker a fake lottery ticket that said he’d won a $5,000 cash prize. He was so excited for a few minutes, they finally told him it was fake when he was getting ready to call his wife to tell her that they could get a new washer and dryer. I don’t think there’s really any situation where a joke like that isn’t cruel.

  117. JSPA*

    Not precisely a prank (?) but we had a longstanding “earworm” battle.

    Hum a couple of bars while passing in the hall. Put a bit of lyric at the end of an email. Drop off a file and murmur the title of the song while they were stuck in earnest conversation with a superior. Straight out say, “hey, I woke up with this in my head, listen!” (as people scattered).

    Those who were good at thinking up earworms also tended to be susceptible themselves, and people who didn’t see the point were pretty oblivious to the whole thing, so it was somewhat self-regulating and relatively harmless.

  118. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    My best April Fools’ joke was the job where my two weeks’ notice ended on April 1st. I told everyone my joke was that I wasn’t coming back the next day.

    1. Serin*

      I got fired on April Fools’ Day once. My boss obviously didn’t expect me to find that funny, but it wouldn’t surprise me if SHE did.

  119. Edward Cullen is My Supervisor*

    I worked at an Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center and you have to toe the line at places like that, rules exist for a reason. One of our senior clinicians loved playing pranks and hated job security, none of these are April Fool’s, just dumb stuff she did whenever she felt like it. She swapped out our medical keys for fakes so our nurses couldn’t open the med cabinets. She’d been planning it for weeks and thought it was hilarious and it deeply was not because we had EpiPens and emergency meds in there and we’re lucky nobody needed them right then. She took unflattering pictures of our painfully shy coworker, made a fake dating profile, and showed it to him, pretending she was upset he tried to match with her. He was so freaked out that he almost quit. Her magnum opus was when she used an online filter (during the Twilight craze) to superimpose our boss over Robert Pattinson’s face and papered his entire office floor to ceiling with almost a complete shot-for-shot of the first movie. I have no idea when she ever did any actual work. Our boss didn’t see it because he was out the next day, but Monday morning he walks in with three state inspectors, trying to tell them we need more staff. Obviously not, if our current staff had time to do that. I have no idea how she still works there but I left years ago.

  120. ChaoticNeutral*

    Some of the analysts in our office printed out pictures of all of the PMs’ headshots and taped them over the heads of the PMs’ family members in their office photos. So a PM would come into their office in the morning and all of their like kids’ photos were replaced by photos of their colleagues. It was honestly really funny and clever because some of the PMs didn’t realize it at first so it was a week later and they’d be like is that…?? (The taped photos were taped over the picture frame glass, came off easily, and didn’t damage the original photo!)

    1. Princess Leia*

      See, that’s a great prank! Harmless, causes no harm (to people or things since nothing was damaged) and is hilarious!

  121. KT*

    My first job out of college was at a small, creative company. Before I started, one of the graphic designers had brought in tons of tiny plastic dinosaurs and hid them all around the office, but never owned up to it. Every so often the dinosaurs would migrate and would appear in new spots, though we were all complicit with that. It wasn’t uncommon to stick a dinosaur on a coworker’s desk after one appeared on your own. Years later, when the designer was leaving the company, the owner had gathered up as many dinosaurs as they could find and organized them on the designer’s desk, all facing the same direction as a larger T-Rex looked back over the crowd, so it looked like a dinosaur cult. Many of the dinosaurs were passed back out to various coworkers and continued their migration.

    Same office, but a different coworker had printed and cut out tiny Danny DeVito heads (literally about the size of a quarter) and taped them randomly all over the place. Like the dinos, many of the Danny DeVito heads stayed up. It was fun explaining those to new hires because we generally waited until they noticed and asked.

    The holidays before COVID, we were doing a company holiday photo, and I missed being in it. So the solution was to take a separate one of just me and photo shop me in. They did a very nice job doing so, but then made a couple fun ones, including a tiny me poking out of a bowl in the shot (I do not remember why there was a bowl in the photo). There were some framed inspirational quotes in the design wing, so someone printed out a giant version of the photo and stuck it in the frame to see how long it would take management to notice and take it down. Nobody ever acknowledged outright, though they must have noticed it sicnr they walked past it every day (it was right by our conference room). I believed it stayed up until that office closed permanently due to COVID. I miss that office.

  122. Murphy*

    I once worked at a McDonald’s so not an office environment but my coworker switched sugar into the salt shaker and managed to replace the McDonald’s bags with Wendy’s bags on his last day. left us with absolute chaos and so many customer complaints.

    1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Wendy’s bags is hilarious! I got told off for singing the Burger King jingle (at the time, “Change your burger to a Burger King burger/ You got it”) on a slow late-night shift at Macdonald’s with a coworker in the 1990s.

  123. LifeBeforeCorona*

    I used to bring a banana to work every day for my morning snack. I loved just turned yellow banans with no brown spots. One day I went to get my banana and in it’s place was a black, soft stinking tiny banana. As I stared at it I heard laughter from the next office, my boss had made the swtich, he had saved the bad banana for weeks anticipating April Fools Day. My good banana was safe and unharmed.

    1. Willow Pillow*

      Oof, I too love yellow bananas with no spots but overripe ones make me nauseous. This would not be a fun prank for me.

  124. Queen Ruby*

    One of my coworkers took the mouse dongle from the guy who sat next to her and plugged it into her computer while he was away from his desk. When he came back and tried to use his mouse, she started moving her mouse, so the cursor on his screen in no way matched what he was trying to do, and it was driving him insane. It was hilarious! I don’t know how we all kept straight faces as long as we did!

  125. TheGOAT*

    A fantastic colleague of mine hired a GOAT to attend one of our Zoom meetings.
    We had had a series of meetings that went no where fast to redesign, let’s say our Teapot Painting Manual. So many meetings over so many months.
    So for this one meeting, he paid some goat rescue farm to pop into our zoom, and there was a goat, eating on screen. Then, as the kicker, the farmer handed the goat a piece of paper that said “Teapot Painting Manual” on it, and the goat ATE THE PAPER.
    It was hilarious.

  126. alpaca*

    One April Fools day, our lab techs put in a maintenance request saying “there r b’s in the elevator! come quick”

    The unfortunate maintenance guy got all suited up and opened the elevator only to find it full of sticky notes each with a single letter B on them.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      When my son was in eighth grade, he got endless fun out of taking a tiny toy pot to school and worriedly telling a teacher “I found a little pot.” After the teacher got properly concerned, he would pull out the pot and show it to them. I think he did that to each of his teachers one at a time.

  127. Craig*

    Years ago, I worked for a small/mid company where the CTO pulled a prank on everybody for April Fools Day. Since the company didn’t want people surfing Facebook all day, he setup the network so that anybody who went to facebook.com was redirected to a fake page. That page had the look and feel of Facebook and had a notice that now Facebook was charging for a subscription and to “click here” to enter your bank info. When people clicked on it, they got an “April Fools” message. The funniest part about that prank was the first person he “caught” with it was his wife, the HR director.

  128. Dcl girl*

    A coworker who knew my fear of mice and all rodents took the sound portion of a dog’s squeak toy snd attached it to one of my desk drawers. I would hear a squeak snd freak out and look all over for a mouse. He finally told me after I had almost carpeted my office in mouse traps!

  129. KatEnigma*

    A coworker had pulled some silly harmless prank I don’t remember on another coworker while he was away on his honeymoon- along the lines of rearranging the sci-fi action figures on his desk into silly (not even lewd) poses. So the next time the first coworker went on vacation, the honeymooning coworker and a 3rd party coworker filled his office from floor to ceiling with balloons. You couldn’t walk in without balloons spilling out. Again- harmless right?

    The department Karen called building security and reported that they had “broken into the office” None of the office doors had locks, and yes, she knew they were all friends who joked around like that. So security was mad they had to leave their office for no reason ,and the grandboss was mad that she went right to security with an obvious exaggeration (she didn’t tell the manager, because he knew it was going on and didn’t stop it) and he was forced by HR to write them up for it, and of course the rest of the department was mad because it was so ridiculous. Unfortunately, that wasn’t even the most egregious form of tattling she did, but after that one, she stuck to the anonymous ethics line. (And no, no one ratted her out, but the complaints were all along those same lines of “other people might be having fun” and the department was small..)

  130. Omskivar*

    I did temp work several years ago for a greenhouse that employed a lot of Mexican migrants. For April Fools Day, the manager decided it would be super funny to tell the most senior Mexican employee that ICE was at the door and he was being deported. The poor guy looked like he was about to have a heart attack. He laughed along when the manager revealed it was a joke, but he still seemed shaken up about it. When I spoke up and said that wasn’t cool, I was mocked for “not having the holiday spirit” for the rest of the day.

    1. irene adler*

      Yeah, that really wasn’t funny. It was very unkind too.

      I’ve witnessed this kind of “humor” at work. Only, we were threatened with being written up for insubordination if we (1) told the victim that it was a prank and (2) didn’t find the prank funny.

    2. Silver Robin*

      That is horrific. “Haha your life is about to be ruined”… how incredibly cruel.

      Just a note, if anyone is thinking “well if he is documented*, he has nothing to worry about, right?” – ICE does not care. ICE does not even follow its own rules half the time. People get caught up in the system even if they have no reason to be* and ICE absolutely will use info about you to see if they can find relatives to scoop up instead/as well.

      *Personal view is that the un/documented dichotomy is the result of a whole lot of bs that nobody should be expected to navigate and ICE has no good reason to exist in the first place, but that is a separate conversation.

      1. 1LFTW*

        ALL of this, 100%.

        This wasn’t a “prank”, it vicious, racist abuse. ICE is terrifying.

  131. Becky*

    A co-worker of mine Jenn had a jokey relationship with another co-worker Jake. Now, for some reason, a bunch of clients called Jake “John” instead. It was a running thing that Jake was just rather puzzled and amused by. One day Jenn switched out the name placard for Jake’s cubicle with “John” as a joke.

    Now the problem was, Jake never really looked at his own name placard and no one else noticed either because everyone who worked with him already knew who he was and where he sat. So finally Jenn looped in another co-worker George who didn’t really work directly with Jake and could plausibly get confused to ask Jake a question. George was totally up for it – he wandered around that cubicle area studiously looking at each placard and asking where “Jake” sat. Which finally prompted Jake to realize his name placard had been switched. Jake found it hilarous.

  132. The Baconing*

    I used to work as an admin for a staffing firm, and one of the recruiters complained loudly very often about not having a private office. All the recruiters were in a cube farm, but, since there were only 3-4 of them (it was a tiny firm), they were well spread out in the office. Finally, he complained enough that I finally grew tired of it, snuck into the office one weekend just before April 1, and used a bunch of cardboard I’d been hoarding in a stockroom to build his cube into a quaint little house complete with a working door, a window with a planter box, and even a tastefully steepled room.

    The joke was well received, but it was clear her was a little embarrassed. However, he did keep it up for about a week, which I feel is a testament to my amateur architecture skills.

  133. BreaCheese*

    I moved into my current house on April 1, 2020. I was stressed and preoccupied with the whole moving-to-a-new-town-and-house-at-the-beginning-of-COVID thing, but my movers were great and the guy who owned the company was great. I did think he seemed a little distracted that day, especially based on our previous conversations, but he was still exceeding my expectations. About an hour after the movers left my new house, he called me to profusely apologize that he had been so distracted all morning. Apparently his long time, live in girlfriend thought it would be funny to break up with him that morning, in the middle of a job, as an April Fool’s Joke! I never did understand why someone would think this would be funny to do to someone they loved :/

  134. AprilLudDwy*

    My coworker and I were big fans of Parks & Rec. I printed out hundreds of pictures of Jerry and hid them all over the office. Hid them very well. While he found most of them pretty quickly, a few continued to be discovered for years to come. Then he left and his successor found one. Luckily she was a fan as well and wasn’t disturbed by the random photo taped to the bottom of an office drawer!

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      This is incredible and, seeing as I work in a Parks & Rec department, I lowkey want to replicate it.

  135. Alma*

    Small prank: my workplace has many facilities issues–old historic building. I’m the director, and you never know what will go wrong on any given day–bats, no heat, no air conditioning, pieces of stone falling off the building randomly (one is on display in my office), strange smells, dead mice, etc. Our boiler room is right by my office and always making weird sounds. One of my employees went into the room and then came running out–“Director, it is flooding!!!” I freaked out and went running to look at the deluge, and of course it was April Fool’s Day. But totally plausible. I loved it. But the best part was earlier that week I had told the staff member to try and fool me. And he totally got me!

  136. Peter G*

    My favorite prank involved a candy dish filled with plain M&Ms.
    After acclimating the nearby officeworkers to the presence of the candy dish (and keeping it well stocked for several weeks), early morning on April 1st I switched out half of the plain M&Ms for Skittles and stirred them up good.

    The humorously titled “S&Ms” can then be ‘enjoyed’ by anyone interested. Short of an unexpected and strange food allergy, no real harm can be done, and once someone falls for it, they then get to be in on the joke for the next person

      1. Random Dice*

        It’s their own candy dish. They just mixed two kinds of candy. Chill – this was harmless.

  137. The Eye of Argon*

    As the C0VID lockdowns were ending in my area, my (municipal government) office had to open to the public a week before the rest of the building because lucky me got to sell the permits for a special junk pickup program. My annoying coworker “George” put up yellow CAUTION tape in an attempt to keep people from wandering into other areas of the building (which didn’t work; the people they wanted to talk to were clearly present and working and they’d just step over the tape and go where they wanted). George kept stringing up more and more tape to keep people out of his office because he didn’t want to deal with anyone.

    He also put tape all around his desk and work area because he didn’t want to deal with anyone and made a big deal of calling out any of us who came into his space.

    After that week finally ended, I was the last one out on Friday (the rule is, one person stays until 4:30 on Friday and the others can go home at 3:30.) Since all the offices were reopening the following Monday, I took down all the caution tape, including the stuff around George’s desk.

    George likes to prank people by putting rubber bugs on their stuff, hiding around corners to scare the bejeebers out of you, and other annoying stuff like that, so I decided it was time for revenge. I used the tape to tie his entire desk together, threading it through every handle on every drawer, around his chair, his phone handset, computer keyboard, and used my knot-tying skills to the utmost. I basically made a net covering his desk.

    Monday morning, I got in early and waited, and soon I heard him burst out laughing. He came into my office and thanked me for the lovely present. I said “you’re welcome”.

  138. A lawyer*

    I was an intern at a nonprofit one summer, there were maybe 10 of us crammed together in the “intern room” so we all got to become friends very quickly. One intern took a few days off for his birthday, and we thought it was such a shame that we didn’t get to celebrate with him, so we decorated his desk with balloons, streamers, photo collages of kittens (I don’t exactly remember why it was kittens but it had been some kind of running joke), etc. He and our bosses were actually delighted when they saw the decorations, the bosses took a lot of pictures to put in the newsletter.

  139. Mags*

    Two simple pranks:

    1. Got a donut box from Dunkin and put a veggie tray in it. The look of disappointment was hilarious.

    2. We got a new microwave and we put a list of approved users on it. Everyone else “had” to use the old one. The only problem was that the prankster didn’t tell the office admin; everyone thought the admin had gone mad with power and was “assigning” people which microwave to use. (it eventually got sorted out though, and everyone thought it was funny)

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Aw, that first one is in the classic vein of “butter cookie tin filled with sewing supplies.”

  140. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    We had a prop toilet used for photo shoots. A lady went on vacation and when she came back her cubicle was redecorated to look like a restroom stall, using the toilet (with fancy toilet seat no less) as her office chair. It looked pretty hilarious.

  141. Shiba Dad*

    Years ago one coworker had a new hire order “steam grease” from one of our vendors. The vendor was in on it and asked the new guy questions that he had to get answers to. Questions such as “with or without Teflon” and “high or low temperature”.

  142. Not a chicken farmer*

    I was working in my first full-time job, and an intern started about a month in. He happened to be a bit older than me, and a few of us on the young side got along well and hung out throughout the summer. We very much enjoyed teasing/bothering each other in a good-natured manner.
    Months after his internship ended and he returned to college, I returned to my desk after being on a very important assignment to find my voicemail full of people asking about chickens I was supposedly giving away. It took some digging, but I eventually realized he had placed a classified ad for free chickens and listed by direct line. He definitely was some of the callers (using silly voices) but not all of them. I never knew before how many people wanted free chickens — or how hard it would be to convince people that I’d never, ever owned a live chicken.
    It was annoying at the time when I was fielding dozens of calls daily for a week about chickens … but it is utterly hilarious in retrospect.

  143. Warrior Princess Xena*

    Our office has a summer internship that’s designed to give college juniors/seniors a few months in a real office, with some light client work & a few developement projects thrown in. This last summer we had a decently big group of interns – I think 8 – 10 or so. I came into the office one morning and there were little plastic ducks everywhere. Each desk had at least one sitting on top of the webcam, and there were several dozen extras sprinkled around. Even better – they were all different ones. Some of them had ‘professions’ – doctor, train conductor, etc. Some were neon. Some were glow in the dark. Some had glitter. People would secretly swap the ones on their desk for one they liked better. The duck in the little doctor coat was particularly popular.

    10/10, would do again.

    1. Echo*

      Mine is similar! I always had a few novelty rubber ducks on my desk as decoration, and one day I came back from a Big Important Stressful Project Meeting to find about 30 more small rubber ducks arranged all throughout my workspace. One was in my desk plant, one sitting atop my computer, a whole row of them next to my keyboard, one poking out of my coat pocket and so on. It was absolutely delightful, totally washed away the stress of the big meeting, and I eventually returned the ducks in a similar fashion to the coworker responsible.

  144. Hook'em Horns*

    Red River Rivalry —
    We had a Fixed Ops Director who was a huge (and I mean HUGE), OU fan. Well, we happen to be in Austin, home of the Longhorns. They have a huge rivalry game every year and he was bragging up a storm. Several of us got magnetic UT stuff and put it all over his car on the back and passenger side. I also went in and set his computer to play the University of Texas fight song every time he opened his internet browser. He drove around for almost a whole week before he realized those magnets were on there. The fight song only lasted a couple of days because he couldn’t take it anymore, but we all had a great laugh!

    1. Shiba Dad*

      I’ve got a couple in that vein:

      1) in the mid 90s, I had a boss who was/is a huge fan of a certain Big 10 school. My alma mater beat them BADLY that year. I worked third shift at the time. We had very large tablets of unlined paper for some reason. I wrote out the box score of the game and taped it to his office door.

      2) twenty-ish years ago, I had coworker who was a fan of a current ACC school. They lost to a school known for having orange uniforms. Another coworker put a few orange highlighters on this guy’s desk. I gathered a total of 11 and put them in I formation.

      1. OtterB*

        Not office, but could be. Many years ago, my father (a University of Texas alum) and his brother (a Texas A&M alum) had a good-natured rivalry. One year U Texas won the annual football game between the two, and Dad bought his brother a condolence card with a black border and the message: Sorry for your loss. Dad “signed” it with the score to the game and mailed it to his brother.

  145. Mia*

    I work in a high school, and a few years ago one of the teachers was out for a few days. He taught a graphic design type of class, so his students got his picture from the yearbook, shrunk it down to thumbnail size, and printed out literal hundreds of them. They cut them out and taped them all over the (3 room) classroom….file cabinet drawers, inside storage cupboards, underneath keyboards, the leaves of the fake ficus plant…you name a space, they put a picture there. This was at least 5 years ago, and one was found this past fall inside of a reference book. It was amazing.

  146. Sara*

    an elaborate prank around Christmas. I had won Employee of the Year at job (think grocery store). I worked Christmas Eve and came home to a very large box on my front steps wrapped in “don’t open until December 25” paper. it had an envelope with my companies logo on it.

    I was so excited! When Christmas morning came, my mom (I was 18 at the time) took pictures of me opening it. it was an old, used meat slicer from the 80s. I was so confused so I read the letter (from my regional director) that congratulated me on my award and that I was being given this slicer to “continue to make a difference” in the community.

    my mom started laughing as it was an elaborate prank that my entire management team was on. my mom found the slicer and my managers have her the company letter head and envelope to do a dupe letter. the pictures were posted in our work place break room the next day.

    super embarrassing, super funny, and of course legendary!

    1. Little Bobby Tables*

      There have been times where I’ve wished I had a supermarket grade meat slicer in my kitchen. I could make all sorts of awesome sandwiches that way with things you never seem to see in a deli. Sauerbraten, for instance.

  147. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

    We had an especially obnoxious intern. Condescended to everyone, went to people’s managers to explain why he was so much better and people’s jobs than they were, took credit for work he didn’t do, constantly attempted to take over projects he was only tangentially involved in. He was a nightmare of clueless ambition. We all breathed a sigh of relief after he left, particularly one manager I was friendly with. She had asked him to help with a conference she was organizing, which led to him declaring himself “director” of the project and telling all vendors, presenters, donors, etc that he was the new lead and all communications and final decisions were to go through him. (Longtime, or even casual, readers of this blog know the answer to the question of “why wasn’t this guy fired” is because dysfunction.)

    After he left I had a friend call my coworker posing as an HR manager for another company to check his references. “I understand Intern McCrazy was your manager. Can you give me some insights into his leadership style? He mentioned he had to mentor you quite a bit to get you up to speed on projects. Would you say employee coaching is a particular strength of his?”

    I may have actually gone too far. I saw her running down the hall, purse in hand. She told the “HR manager” she needed to take the call from her car so she could give candid feedback, which apparently included a lot of cursing.

    My friend eventually let her off the hook, and she thought it was hilarious and cathartic. When my car got TP’d later, I wasn’t even mad.

  148. ChrisH*

    My boss was a big fan of a particular celebrity. I changed her lock screen wallpaper to a picture of him smoldering. This came up in a meeting and caused her to laugh out loud. She wasn’t annoyed with me, and I think she kept the picture.

  149. Rebpar*

    One year, a colleague – Elspeth – told my direct report that she had resigned. We set up a planning meeting (one hour!) that day to quickly respond to this news and come up with contingencies for the projects Elspeth was leading. That said, we were all secretly happy b/c Elspeth was a PITA generally. I think you can guess where this was going – April Fool’s! Elspeth was just kidding, isn’t that a hoot.

  150. AmberFox*

    I don’t know if this was an April Fool’s prank or just a regular prank, but when I started at my first proper adult job, there was an individual who was several years younger than the rest of the team. The whole rest of the team had gone the extra mile to take his copy of the (fairly disposable) product manual for our team and turn it into a “Baby’s First Product Book.” Complete with colored-in pages and coloring pages. It was… something. lol And he showed it off as needed with fairly resigned, good-natured amusement.

    I never, ever let on that I was only about 3 months older than he was, though.

  151. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

    Quite a few happened at one of my old workplaces, a child care center within religion based community center.

    We filled the supervisor’s office with balloons and then gave her a small wrapped box. She was convinced there was a bug inside and was kicking it down the hallway and screaming.

    She got us back years later. We moved to a new building, and there were some new rules in place, such as the front desk people had to wear a uniform (work t shirt and black pants). She had us absolutely convinced we had to wear blue shirts and white pants everyday, and it was non-negotiable. White pants in child care just…don’t stay white long. She got the office manager on board who was close to crying (for pretend over it), and even the CEO! Finally it came out it was joke when she said our underwear also had to match. People were close to rioting.

    1. And I'm the alchemist of the hinterlands*

      Forgot to add the box in the first prank contained a pin to pop the balloons!

    2. Cyndi*

      But why a bug? I keep rereading this and I can’t figure out why on Earth she would have jumped to assuming there was a bug.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Visualizing her kicking the box down the hall and screaming —- laughing my head off here!

  152. Brian*

    I sent out an email to the school where I work on April 1st saying that next year all photocopiers would be removed from the building and all copying would be done at a central location. I said it would ultimately save the district hundreds of dollars. All the teachers would have to do would request any copies two weeks in advance and fill out a form detailing why the copy needed to be done and how it aligned with the district curriculum and mission.

    The funny thing was the principals just assumed I had inside information and this was going to be the new policy. I quickly came clean.

  153. new year, new name*

    One time, when a coworker was on a work trip, our group of work friends completely filled his cubicle with empty cardboard boxes that we had collected from around the office. I don’t remember why, but I remember it being funny. We were all in our early 20s and constantly moving between apartments, so I think he actually ended up using the boxes!

    1. new year, new name*

      Oh, also, someone had found a weird little lava lamp/hourglass-type object somewhere and we had this unspoken game where you would sneak it onto someone else’s desk and see how long it took them to notice.

      Another time, a coworker was feeding the office fish when their primary owner was away, and she printed out a picture of a shark and taped it to the back of the tank so it looked like the fish were swimming around in front of an open-mouthed shark.

  154. Nannerdoodle*

    I’ve got several from my first job out of college. We mostly worked in a laboratory space, so we weren’t actually at our desks much, which is why this worked.
    1. A coworker I was friends with took the week around his birthday off work. Several coworkers and I wrapped his entire desk, chair, and everything on and in his desk in birthday wrapping paper. Everyone (including him) thought it was hilarious, and he left the paper that wrapped his actual desk on it until it got dirty. He continued to take vacations around holidays, and we continued to wrap his desk in a themed way. For Christmas, we took out the sound bit from one of those musical cards and attached it so that it would play when he opened a drawer.
    2. A coworker REALLY liked mints, and this brand also worked with their name. So I filled their overhead desk credenza with about 400 of them. It rained mints when he opened the door. My coworker cackled with glee. He then passed out mints to everyone in the department.
    3. My boss went on vacation for 2 weeks. Over the course of time that she was gone, her entire team (including myself – I may have organized it), the other supervisers, her boss, and people in other departments helped to fill her entire office with balloons. Floor to ceiling. She just pushed them all out into our office space when she came back so that we could pop them all.

  155. Meagan*

    At my current company, my team hosts a monthly update meeting for the entire sales org on the first weekday of every month. Luckily for us, the last two years April 1st landed on a weekday!

    I follow similar rules to Allison and only add that we can’t joke about things that would impact people’s lives. Eg. no jokes about HQ moving cities.

    We’re a POS company, so the first year we had our CMO end the call presenting a new product that allowed customers to order food for delivery via thought (you placed the order by blinking hard). It was so well received and I few people didn’t catch on until the end when the exec said, “April Fools!”

    Our second year was a bit simpler, but we told everyone that the company was changing its brand colors and picked the worst green with a name like “seaweed green”. We updated the full slide deck to this new theme and presented the whole deck like this. We came clean at the end, but I still have people tell me that they wish it were true

  156. Jim A.*

    On a Thursday afternoon my cube neighbor and coworker left her laptop unlocked when she walked away, so I took a quick screenshot of her desktop and all of the icons, and then went into display properties, set that screenshot as her wallpaper, and then selected “Hide Desktop Icons”. Whenever she would click on the icon on the wallpaper, nothing would happen. Unfortunately for me, I did this just before she went home for the day, so I never got to see her react and then un-do it. Then she worked remotely on Friday and had to spend hours on the phone with IT trying to figure out why her icons weren’t working. Very nearly a career-limiting practical joke on my part, but in hindsight my manager thought it was hilarious.

  157. DancinProf*

    My dad’s retirement job was as a shipping clerk for a mail-order company. He lobbied for and got a new computer at his workstation just before some scheduled vacation time. Dad was beloved by co-workers and bosses, but he was meticulous and anxious and would have melted down if, e.g., someone had done the desktop-screenshot thing. The bosses therefore told everyone they were not allowed to touch Dad’s computer while he was gone. Accordingly, his co-workers covered his entire workstation–desk, chair, computer, and all–with empty shipping boxes so that he came back to work post-vacay to the sight of a big pile of cartons where his desk used to be. Underneath the boxes, the computer was, as required, untouched. He thought it was hilarious and so do I!

  158. Emygal*

    I had a coworker who would leave his computer unlocked when he left for the day. Wouldn’t shut down or anything – his desk would look like he just went to the restroom or something. One night, he left it that way so I flipped the orientation on his monitors one was upside down, one was in portrait mode, and I reversed the order of his displays. I had planned on getting to work the next day so that I could see his reaction and fix it for him. Unfortunately I was in traffic, I was on the phone with my sister when his text came through just saying “really?”. I started cracking up. He wasn’t mad but he also never left his computer unlocked like that again.

  159. Jim A.*

    I also used to work for a government agency in charge of storing old toll road tickets and paperwork, stored in a warehouse in giant boxes on pallets. Forklift driving was part of the daily job. On a Friday, my manager took off early, so I drove the forklift into his office in the warehouse, lifted his desk (complete with an opened bottle of soda on it), and placed it on the 3rd tier of the warehouse before going home for the weekend. He found his desk on Monday, but never found out how it got there.

  160. Poison I.V. drip*

    It was my first week at a new job where I shared an office with someone who was scheduled to move on after that week. A couple of his (our) coworkers decided it would be hilarious to light a firecracker and place it on the exterior windowsill above his desk. I’m a pretty reserved person, especially during my first week at a new job, so I guess they figured I was no fun and didn’t bother telling me what was in the offing. So the firecracker went off, it was loud as hell and startled me of course, and these two idiots had a good laugh. But much worse than the scare was just being excluded (not that I would’ve participated, but it would’ve been nice to know what was about to happen), and also that setting off a firecracker beside a plate glass window seems incredibly risky, not to mention unprofessional. But they saw no consequences and I left that firm as soon as I could.

  161. rayray*

    This one is kinda lame, but at my workplace we’re advised to not leave our computers open if you walk away. My coworker would forget to lock her screen, so one time I went over and sent a message to a large group chat in our department saying “I am treating everyone to pizza for lunch tomorrow because I don’t lock my computer screen.” I then got on my own computer to thank her for her generosity. I wanted it to be obvious it was a joke so people wouldn’t actually be expecting lunch the next day.

  162. Edna Krabappel*

    I’ve got one (but it’s outside of April Fools Day). Six years ago my supervisor was promoted in the Naval Reserves. As a result of this promotion, he was gone for a week doing Navy stuff. So, during that week our entire team of 15 people bought band blew up balloons to fill his office floor-to-ceiling with balloons. It was excellent! We made a video of the balloon blowing and of him finding them.

  163. Nelalvai*

    This one was recent–a couple coworkers were doing maintenance on a utility vault and were startled by a family of raccoons living in the utility vault. One coworker apparently had a cartoonishly dramatic reaction (I wasn’t there, but it sounded impressive). A couple days later that coworker found little print-out pictures of raccoons hidden all over his office, and a photoshopped pic of himself wearing a coonskin cap.

    A few years ago there was office reshuffling and for awhile no one could find my boss. I left a few post-it notes on boss’s old office directing people to ridiculous locations. They were obviously fake (“boss’s office is in the ceiling tiles”) so no one lost time searching for them, and I was right next door to give them real directions.

  164. Meeeeeeeeee*

    I once worked in an HR department that was made up of all women (5 or 6 of us), except our boss/VP, who was a man. We all got along great and our boss had a good sense of humor. He was balding, wore glasses, and wore a standard uniform every day of khaki pants, a blue dress shirt, and a tie. He was kind of arrogant and bragged (semi-jokingly) about how great he was all the time, which was the running joke in the department. So we all conspired behind his back and the whole team dressed like him on Halloween – because *of course* we all wanted to be just like him, he was SO great! We wore his standard uniform, slicked back our hair and donned glasses, and even had our admin make a bunch of copies of his ID badge for us to wear. His reaction was the best – he was truly touched, considered it a huge compliment, and called us all “sweet”. Haha!

  165. Linz*

    One time when a co-worker was on vacation, some other colleagues turned his office into a jungle. They took every plant from around the building and filled his office with them, and then posed stuffed animals all around to stage a jungle scene. He thought it was hilarious.

    1. Anon for this one*

      When I was in grad school, a fellow student had a six-week stint at the South Pole. (Yes, the real one). We filled his cube with fake Christmas snow on all surfaces, snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, etc, and a giant inflatable penguin in his desk chair. The part that went too far was messing with his monitor settings so it displayed black-and-white “snow” (like old-fashioned TV static) – it took him a while to fix that.

  166. OM*

    This is one my boss did to me that I found hilarious!

    I have an addiction to pretzels. I always have them in my desk drawer, and at a certain point I got myself a plastic jar that I would just refill with pretzels. I usually needed to refill once a week.

    Well. My boss knew about this, and he started filling the jar any time it was half empty, so it just seemed like I had unlimited magically refilling pretzels. I didn’t realize this was happening for WEEKS. I only noticed when I came in one day and the jar lid was loose, and the only person who was around was my boss.

    I went to him like, “hey I’m not mad, but have you been eating my pretzels? I don’t mind it’s just the jar lid was loose and I’m not sure why.” He then informed me of his weeks-long commitment of creating this magical refilling jar, and enjoyment over how I never noticed.

    We then laughed until we couldn’t breathe/were in tears. Best prank ever pulled on me to this day.

    1. The OG Sleepless*

      That is SO CUTE and the kind of thing people do when they like each other, and know each other well.

  167. Bri*

    My husband has a coworker that is the master of good pranks. They work at an upscale store. This coworker made a fake memo that due to Paul McCartney coming to town for a concert the store piano player can only play Beatles or Paul McCartney music until after the concert. (It was a few weeks away) The memo said sheet music was available and to call the manager of the other store location who had received the same fake memo. They all had a good laugh. Another year he made a memo on a fake pet insurance not to cover pets, but to offer customers to cover high end shoes in case their dog ate them. Last year my work came up with a fake employee pet dating website. The sheet music one is still my favorite.

  168. The OG Sleepless*

    My last name lends itself to visual puns, and twice over the years I’ve discovered early in the morning that my Facebook profile picture had been changed to a cartoon image of such. Both times, it was coworkers working the overnight who found my Facebook open and changed it for me. One time, I liked it so much I kept it for a month or two.

  169. London Calling*

    Managing director (UK branch of foreign bank) sent a message on the intranet that at 11am om 1 April there would be a very important message that we had to (repeat HAD TO) listen to. Some very panicked staff (senior sales) couldn’t get through to the number and were freaking out.

  170. great googly moogly*

    My boss is a big fan of decorating people’s cubicles with posters or other silly things if he thinks they need a pick me up, so we waited until he had a day off and decorated the entire office with googly eyes.

  171. Ein the Corg-o*

    When I first started in my last job there was one particular person who everyone went to with questions. Let’s call her Ducky. It became a running joke that we would ask ourselves what would Ducky do if she wasn’t around. Soon that got abbreviated to WWDD (in the spirit of those What Would Jesus Do/WWJD bracelets from the 90’s). One day I was feeling extra cheeky and ordered a bunch of bracelets that said What Would Ducky Do? on them. When they came in, I distributed them to everyone in the office except her and then we waited to see how long it was until she picked up on what we were wearing. It took a good part of the day but she figured it out eventually and was beside herself that we actually got the bracelets made and were wearing them. To this day most of us have the bracelet as a souvenir in our offices and enjoy telling new coworkers the story. There was also a surprise toothbrush scavenger hunt just for Ducky, but that’s a story for another day…

  172. RPOhno*

    Back at a previous job, in preparation for a hazmat emergency drill, I put together a ‘victim’ dummy out of a jumpsuit, old boots, and a styrofoam head. Articulated cardboard skeleton and everything, so it could sit in a chair reasonably well.
    When I was done, my boss and I decided that the most appropriate storage location for our brand new, faceless, uncanny valley demon mannequin was in my coworker’s chair. I wasn’t in when my coworker arrived the next day, but I have heard it was the most spectacularly successful jump scare in anyone’s work memory and that no one, including the pranked coworker once she recovered her composure, could stop laughing for hours afterward.
    Putting the dummy in the chair of whomever was on vacation became something of a short lived tradition for a while and I had my own experience doing a double take on my own desk when someone did it to me. All in good fun, but eventually we overdid it on frequency, people got desensitized to the dummy and it lost its humor.

  173. Excel geek*

    Back in the day of desktop computers with CD drives, I was on a team of analysts who used an excel pricing template every day. You would copy the main template file over and customize it for a pricing (multiple people, multiple times per day). One year on April Fool’s Day, one analyst added some macro code into the main template that would randomize opening the CD drive (the physical slot on the desktop tower). Sometimes when you opened your excel template, the CD drive would open, and sometimes it wouldn’t, which meant it was hard to pinpoint at first why it was happening, causing IT to be called. It was hilarious once we figured out what was going on and the best part was that for many months to come, anytime you opened up an old pricing you may need to do more work on from that day, sometimes your CD drive would randomly open.

  174. Claritza*

    Our middle school had a mouse problem and we were required to report sightings. A co-worker wrote up an Office Referral form for a “Stuart Little” for “Running in the hall. Failure to follow teacher’s directions.” Assistant Principal returned it with a note – “Can’t find a class schedule for Stuart.”

  175. Donkey Hotey*

    The O-N-L-Y prank that I have ever seen go well was this: the department head had a reputation of microwaving a bag of popcorn every afternoon. He’d then walk through the entire office, wafting that delicious smell everywhere. His birthday, amazingly, was right around this time of year, so his direct reports pulled a two-fer once for a significant round birthday. They filled his office with unpopped popcorn. As in, every available flat surface was covered. Artificial flowers had the artsy glass stones replaced with kernels. They lifted the glass on his desk and put a layer there. Also in the glass of his photos on the desk. He had one of those artsy wall mount clicks that were just hands… they glued twelve single kernels at what would be the hour marks. It was a work of art.

  176. BadIntern*

    File this as one of the bad ones – I had an internship at a very small company (<15 people) one summer, and one of the other interns was easy to get a reaction from. I'm sure there were some other smaller pranks leading up that I can't remember, but one day a group of us went to the parking lot, physically picked up her small car and turned it 90 degrees so it was boxed in. There were cars parked on her nose and tail so it was physically impossible for the car to have been driven into that position, or out of it. Her car was easily freed, but needless to say she was pretty angry. It was especially a bad look since she was the one of the only female employees and the pranksters were all men, but everyone involved just got a mild scolding from the CEO.

  177. Higher Ed Drama*

    I once decorated my coworkers desk area like an aquarium while she was away on vacation – streamers to make “seaweed” various sea creatures etc. She loved it and would have left it up, but it bothered her office mate so we had to take it down.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      This is a sweet and popular genre! I once returned from vacation to find an inflatable rhinoceros at my desk wearing glasses and a tie, its hand propped up on the mouse like it was working.

      We named her Cheryl and she stayed with us until the cleaning service accidentally did her in.

  178. Jo-El (Kryptonian Name)*

    At our company if your name was called on the intercom after 2 on a Friday it was most likely for a layoff. Thing was our manufacturing facility was so large you could also ask the switchboard operator to page someone and ask them to come to a certain department.

    My co-worker Anthony has been unbearable that week so I went and got an empty paper box and walked over and put it by his desk at exactly 2:15. When he asked why I did that my reply was simply “i ummm…..don’t know man……….I just wanted to be helpful and all because of the…….ya know…………” timing it just right for my buddy Mark to have Anthony paged to “please meet at the front of the building” while I was still talking.

    All that was waiting for Anthony after the agonizing 5 minute walk up from was Mark waiting to say hello. I wish I could have seen Anthony’s face when he realized what happened. The only thing I got was the death glare as he comes storming back, packed his bag, screamed “f*ck all of you, i’m going home” and went home for the rest of the day.

    1. Starscourge Savvy*

      Making someone fear for their livelihood isn’t exactly funny. I’d have gone home too.

  179. the cat ears*

    The offices and conference rooms at my old workplace had glass walls. One time a team’s manager went on vacation and she came back to her office turned into a “cat cafe,” where the team had printed out pictures of cats and covered the entire walls with them.

  180. fine tipped pen aficionado*

    We were once doing some refreshing of our office space and there was a lot of contention around what to do with a specific appliance (think soda stream or keurig or something like that). It was very low stakes but people cared a lot about it.

    Our management team approved a few different solutions and asked me to set up a poll for people to rank their preferred options. It was April 1 and I knew this was something people would actually do, so I set it up that when people clicked “Submit My Vote”, the submission confirmation page had the video of Never Gonna Give You Up embedded to autoplay on load. I did put a disclaimer that the poll was serious and your vote counted; the video was just a bit of fun.

    I don’t care how old I get, I will always love a rickroll.

  181. Emily*

    We had a senior leader/coworker who was well known for how many different newsletters he subscribed to and how frequently he would forward the emails to people he specifically thought would be interested in the content. One year when he was having a milestone work anniversary, we all coordinated ahead of time to find an email newsletter we’d recently received that would be the kind of content he liked, and arranged for our whole two-dozen-or-so-person department to forward the email we’d chosen to him at exactly the same time, so he suddenly got a flood of recommended reading from us all!

  182. Lab Boss*

    Oh man, it almost feels like cheating that I worked at a summer camp. Here’s some extremely memorable ones. I’d argue they all were “good” in the sense they were eventually funny for the target, even if they weren’t at the time.

    – Filled someone’s tent with standing bowling pins while he slept so he couldn’t get out of bed without cascading them everywhere.

    – Put a container of milk under someone’s tent, causing him to spend a week trying to figure out where the smell was coming from.

    – Ran various things up the flagpole including a backpack, underwear, and a bicycle.

    – Took someone’s staff shirts and lay them in flat pans in the meat locker, then misted them with water until they were frozen into flat ice sheets. Also, put someone’s extra shoes into a bucket of water and froze them into a giant ice cube.

    – Packed up someone’s stuff into boxes and put them into storage, took down their tent and put it away, and moved their tent platform and frame, so they found a flat patch of dead grass where it used to be. Pretended there had never been a tent there and they had no idea who the person was.

    – The phantom pooper. We never did figure out who it was or how they did it, but one summer we found so many bowel movements left on tables, chairs, roofs, stairways, all over camp. This one I would call “bad” because it was gross and not appropriate- but looking back at it, it was just so weird that we all laugh.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      Classic camp pranks. I worked at a girl scout camp one summer that had a serious copperhead issue, and the only “prank” I remember is when we opened the freezer in the staff cabin to find it spattered with blood and a snake (which was obviously not alive; trying to word this in the least gory way possible) was in there.

      It was not funny, but the counselor who did it was the camp director’s daughter so there were no consequences.

    2. time_ebbs*

      The camp I went to (and was then a counselor-in-training (CIT) at as a teenager) had an entire structure around pranks and making sure they didn’t get out of hand with a lot of monitoring by counselors. It essentially boiled down to an entire cabin was allowed to be targeted for a prank but no individual was allowed to be. CITs had to monitor the pranks by the younger years (think 8-12) but also organized good natured pranks on these cabins. I still have a cherished memory of being in that age group and waking up to the entire cabin being full of balloons with multiple layers of balloons to get to the floor. Replicating the prank as a CIT years later and arranging a bunch of girls to blow up balloons was less fun…

      There were also a lot of pranks that targeted the bathrooms (think clingfilm under the toilet seat, whip cream on basically anything you could touch, etc) which never ended up being very pleasant but stuck to the letter of the law in not targeting any single person.

      The “put googly eyes on all computer mouses” story above seems amusing because it’s not like one person’s workspace was covered in googly eyes or otherwise singularly vandalized. I’m not okay when pranks start to be focused on just one or two people. I think my tolerance of pranks comes down to that camp rule about targets and even then, I don’t want them to be super disruptive or gross as an adult.

      1. shedubba*

        Ooo, I hate the bathroom ones. My college roommates once pulled that one in our 6 person apartment, intending to get one of the other roommates, but caught me instead. They had cling film on the toilet, Vaseline on the door handle, shaving cream on the toilet and sink handles, etc., the works, and I generally don’t turn on the light in the middle of the night when I just need to pee. I was so mad. Luckily I realized the toilet was booby trapped before I made a mess of that, but I had Vaseline all over my hands and someone had to let me out of the bathroom, and then I had to go find a different bathroom to use so I didn’t pee my pants. Now, my relationship with these roommates was already strained at this point, which is part of why it went so badly, but also, this was the bathroom in our home, not a shared dorm bathroom that could reasonably be used by tens or hundreds of people, and didn’t have a lot of easy alternatives. If you’re going to booby trap the toilet, there had better be nearby un-booby trapped toilets you can use without waking your neighbors.

  183. Here for the updates.*

    Not at work, but in a local moms Facebook group I’m in a woman posted her husband’s number and asked us to text him and ask about the llamas he listed on Craigslist. She didn’t actually make the Craigslist post, and the group is small, private, and made up of people who actually know each other and have a community, so this wasn’t like publicly posting his number. He got about 30-40 texts with varying levels of inquiry about his llamas, all from numbers he didn’t know (people who’s number he would have didn’t participate). It was hilarious and the wife shares the screenshots back in the group every year around this time.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      If I were him, I’d rent a llama for a day, take it to the front door, and say “guess what, honey!”

  184. Bunny Girl*

    I will never know if this was a prank or just some wild miscommunication. But I started a new job in October a few years ago and they told me they really go “all out” for Halloween. I showed up with a full zombie nurse costume, full make-up up (I’m a trained Sfx artist). No one else was dressed up. One person had ears. I was banned from going to the front desk that day.

    1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      That rules and I would have forbade anyone EXCEPT you from going to the front desk.

  185. ThursdaysGeek*

    I don’t recall if it was April Fools or not, but we had a co-worker who really hated Tommy from The Rugrats. Someone brought in a large Tommy puzzle that had been glued into a single flat poster, and it was put in the light fixture above his cube, looking down on him. Later it was affixed to the back of his car. We enjoyed that more than he did.

    At that same job, I had a co-worker who liked old computers, and I’d acquired an old desk computer (an actual desk, with a built in keyboard and mirrored monitor, printer on the side, and an 8″ floppy disk, with floppies). It was a behemoth! I had offered it to him, and he wanted it. He went away on vacation, and I brought it in. We removed his computer and desk, and put this in their place. When he returned, his goal was to boot it up, rather than get his desk and computer back to get back to work. He enjoyed that even more than we did.

  186. spiriferida*

    At my old job there was a collection of people who’d worked together for years, and so they’d set up pranks on each other every once in a while. One that they tried on everyone in the office was coming in after lunch to tell someone, very concerned, “hey, x, I think someone slashed your tires.” They would then head out to the parking lot with the person… where they’d taped a picture of the musician on all four tires.

    They also tried to set up creepy motion-activated dolls in the office every halloween. Since we had one guy who got in at like 4am, he usually got the brunt of that prank.

  187. Goddess47*

    I hadn’t thought of this in years.

    Back in the old MS-DOS days, I installed a program on the secretary’s computer called ‘drip’ that ran in the background. If the screen sat idle for too long, the letters on the screen would start dropping to the bottom of the screen. If left long enough, all the text on the screen would pile up on the bottom. Simply moving the mouse cleared it and reset the timer.

    But we were the IT department. So when she reported it to us, we’d stand there and watch it happen (trying not to giggle) and go, ‘wow, I’ve never seen that before!’ and then jiggle the mouse and it would — ta-da! — go away. We let it run for a couple of days before we admitted to what we had done and showed her how to turn it off.

    Since nothing was lost, she was more frustrated than upset and was amused in the end. She also learned to lock her computer when she was away from it.

  188. Art of the Spiel*

    Every week, I prepared a list of all the aged items in our work list, pulled the files for the ones 30+ days old, and placed them on my boss’ desk; a copy went to our grandboss.

    As soon as I realized the report was due on April 1, I got my grandboss in on the prank – and printed the “real” list but added a long, LONG list of fake items below it. Added a giant stack of files. Put them on his desk and watched him walk in, see the report, glance through it and start to slump. At that moment our grandboss came charging out of his office, “RRRRIIIIICCCKKK! What the hell?”

    He stammered for a moment — and then we all burst out laughing. I have never seen someone epitomize “relief washed over me” quite so dramatically.

  189. Little Bobby Tables*

    Some of us at the office ordered a duplicate of a co-worker’s keyboard. We filled the duplicate with potting soil and seeds. When the seeds sprouted, we put the now overgrown keyboard on his desk and hid the real one.

    1. Random Dice*

      Omigosh that’s incredible. The dedication and just gentle weirdness of that is remarkable.

  190. Lisanthus*

    Long ago and far away, I was the only woman in my cube row. The guys were great, but they thought I had no knowledge of sports because I tuned out the sports talk between cubes.

    Then came baseball playoff season. One of them was a Very Very Big Fan of the local team, playing locally, and kept bragging constantly — uncharacteristically for him — that the local team was going to sweep, it was destined, they needed to wrap it up against their bitter rivals who were behind 0-3 in the series because he was studying for exams on off-hours and he needed his sleep…etc.

    Well now. The bitter rivals did indeed pull off a come-from-behind series of victories to whomp the local team and go on to the World Series. I got up extremely early, went to a newsstand on my way to work, bought all the local and non-local papers with all the headlines about how the local team had choked, and arrived with a plan.

    I taped the headlines all over his cube walls, monitor, and back of his chair. I also painted my nails the team color of the bitter rival. With sparkles. (Normally I didn’t wear nail polish.) And disposed of the rest of the papers in a distant recycling bin.

    The other early-arriver laughed hysterically when he saw me setting this up and offered to take the blame for me. Since he was a total non-sports fan (and had said so to opt out of the conversations) I knew that wouldn’t fly but it was sweet of him.

    I sat demurely in my cube and did my work, waiting for the downcast fan to arrive. The other cube row inhabitants arrived first, saw his cube, and also began laughing hysterically before settling down to work like the innocents they were.

    He slumped in and then let out a scream of “WHO? WHO? WHO DID THIS!” A crowd quickly gathered to bust his chops. All the men in the cube row and surrounding cube rows loudly proclaimed their innocence. I watched quietly.

    Finally he looked over at me. “What…no…YOU couldn’t have, you don’t KNOW anything about sports–”

    I wiggled my sparkly-painted nails at him. Several people twigged to the color and went “Ooooooooo” in unison.

    I said, as he realized what color nails were being waved at him, “Ooooh, look at Mr. ‘They’re Gonna Sweep’ NOW. Ooooh, look at Mr. ‘Assumed Women Don’t Follow Sports’ NOW. So, how’s it feel to be a LOSER? Here, look at THAT headline–”

    By this time he was slumped in his decorated chair laughing so hard I thought he was going to choke. The audience applauded with comments of “Damn, she GOT you GOOD.”

    He bought me lunch in tribute, so there were no hard feelings.

  191. haunted doll watch*

    My boss’ former workplace had a Chucky doll they would take turns hiding as a long running prank. I’m sure my boss assumed he was safe when he moved states – but we ran in to his former coworkers at a conference and they smuggled the Chucky doll to some of my coworkers. I wasn’t there for the grand reveal, but rumor is they rigged it on some rope so it dropped from the ceiling when he moved his chair…

    (Definitely a case of “know your audience.” Last I heard boss was plotting the best way to return the doll.)

  192. The Coolest Clown Around*

    The best prank I ever saw was while I was a student worker in a university IT department. A few coworkers cut out approximately 400 dime-to-quarter-sized pictures of Nicholas Cage’s face and hid them around our boss’s very cluttered cubicle. They were EVERYWHERE – under every mug, behind every device, inside every book, just everywhere. When I graduated several years later he was still occasionally finding them.

  193. A Simple Narwhal*

    At an old job I had two coworkers who looked very similar to one other. So for April Fool’s Day one year they dressed similarly and switched desks. It was funny to watch people walk up and start talking to one of them and then inevitably go “…hey wait a second!”.

  194. Donkey Hotey*

    The flip side is: I survived for years in two remote Navy outposts. You want to see bad pranks?
    – They piped cigarette smoke into the air cooling and almost started a fire drill.
    – They had a casualty drill. The person tapped to be the casualty was about to get out of the service. They duct taped him to the stretcher and propped the stretcher outside to greet the CO when she arrived.
    – Speaking of the CO (her first name was Mary), on her last day at the command, she was walking through with her replacement. As she entered the work space, we immediately turn off the sound system but it just so happened that the song playing just as she walked into the room was INXS screaming “Mary, Mary, your on my mind.”
    – And my personal favorite from the early 90s: On night shifts, my team would often do a food run. A Korean place had just opened up offering “free kimchee with every entree order.” When the food arrived, someone asked, “What’s kimchee?” I said with a straight face, “Korean sauerkraut.” Dude took a gigantic spoon full and shovelled it in without stopping to smell it taste a little bit first.

  195. Eater of Cupcakes*

    Worst prank: One day there was a printed piece of paper at the faucet in the office kitchen, saying “THE FAUCET IS BEING REPAIRED. PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS FAUCET UNTIL THIS IS FINISHED, WHICH WILL BE SOMETIME BY LUNCH.” At lunch, the prankster had added the hand-written text “April fools!”

    Best prank: Another year, at the office printer, there was a piece of paper saying “STOP! We’re having problems with the printer, and if you want to make copies then you need to follow these instructions:

    1. Place your card at the screen to log in.

    2. Take a step backwards.

    3. Take a step forwards.

    4. Spin around and clap your hands.

    5. Put five different herbs under your pillow at the dawn of Midsummer.

    6. Call your aunt and ask how she’s doing. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

    7. Yodel in Danish.

    8. Contemplate the mysteries of the human condition.

    9. Locate the name of your document on the screen, and touch it with your finger.

    10. Done!”

    Another one I should mention was when there were two bowls of chips, and a note saying that one of these contained super-spicy habanero chips and the other one didn’t, and we had to hope we were lucky enough to pick the right bowl because it didn’t say which one. Turns out, each of the two bowls had a different kind of spicy chips. I liked the chips, but as a prank it was meh. “There’s a bowl of spicy chips, and there’s another one next to it” isn’t much of a prank. Best one for the victims–free chips!–but not great humor value.

  196. Miette*

    We had a “Duck of Shame” at one place I worked. It was this awful blue resin duck decoy-looking thing that at one point in its life had held a votive candle? Anyway, if you did something boneheaded like break the copier or lost a sale, you’d come in to find the DoS on your computer monitor, where it would sit until someone else earned it. Anyone could assign the DoS for any reason, and some days it would change hands 2 or 3 times. The only rule was that it had to show up mysteriously, when no one was around to see (or tell if they did) who did it. It was good fun.

  197. M*

    I used to be on a close-knit project where the guy leading it had a wicked sense of humor. He knew I hated zombies — THEY’RE SCARY, OK — so when I was out for 8 or 10 weeks upon the birth of my first baby, when I returned to my desk I found it had been **festooned** with zombie paraphernalia. Little bobbleheads, a banner, even a figurine that roared if you got too close. I laughed so hard. I kept the cutest bobblehead as a trophy. It was a good prank, Jim!!

  198. Serenity by Jan*

    Bad / stomach turning prank: First job out of college was at a small, family-run software firm. The owners were sadistic greedy jerks. The owners liked to pick on all of the peons, particularly the office manager who was at one point an Au Pair for one of the owners. Another owner had a high-end watch collection. He bought a new watch on vacation in Alaska, then decided he didn’t like it. He made the admin call the watch shop and they did not want to honor the return, but the owner kept giving her a hard time to keep harassing the watch shop. Eventually the watch shop relented and they agreed to the return.

    The admin packaged the watch and shipped it back to the shop. Several days later, she received a call from the watch shop explaining that they received an empty box. She panicked – it was end of the day and none of the owners were around or reachable. I felt so bad for her and knew she was going to have a sleepless night. The next day, the company owners surrounded her desk and the watch owner said that he received a call from the watch shop. Admin nervously said she also received a call and had no idea why the box was received empty. Then another company owner rolled up his sleeve and said “this watch?” then the owners started laughing. Turns out another owner decided he wanted the watch, so they took the watch out of the box when she was in the supply closet preparing the package and thought the prank was sooo funny. The admin stormed out in tears. My colleague and I who witnessed it were sick to our stomachs. I left that job a few months later (that “prank” certainly sped up my job search) as did the admin.

  199. poutinerie*

    I worked in internal communication and managed the internal Intranet site for a very large organization. We changed the font for April Fool’s Day to Comic Sans. I would say there was a small minority that genuinely raged that day, but most enjoyed the prank.

  200. Darth V*

    A few years ago during December, a coworker was away at training for a few weeks. During that time, my coworkers and I methodically wrapped every item within his desk/cubicle in Christmas wrapping paper. His phone, monitors, pens, chair, food items; even paper that was pinned to the cubicle wall was wrapped in wrapping paper. Most people were out on leave for the holidays when he returned, so most of us missed his reaction when he walked in to his lovely surprise (which he said took hours to remove). He thought it was funny; luckily our supervisor did as well and made no attempt to stop us.

  201. BlueSwimmer*

    I teach high school. A fun low-key prank in my department one year involved a scarecrow on a stick. It was one of those decor type things you get at craft store to stick into the ground next to your pumpkins in the fall. Someone brought it in as part of the decorations for a pot luck but didn’t want to take it home. Our department started hiding it in one another’s rooms between classes- in their closet, “sitting” at a desk, outside their window peeking in, etc. It gave us a lot of fun for a few months and the students got into it too and thought it was great that the teachers would prank one another.

    1. Starscourge Savvy*

      Our science teachers in high school did this with both a skeleton model and a Slim Goodbody-type model. Hilarious!

  202. Rage*

    My Division Director’s 50th birthday was coming up, and our mutual boss (the CEO; I was his EA) charged me with getting the best prank birthday gift ever for her. She’s definitely the type of person who loves a good joke/prank so I knew this would be good. We arranged to take her and the entire executive team out for her “birthday lunch”. The prank came after.

    I consulted with our marketing department. Earlier that year they had done new headshots for the executive team, and had had some fun with hers and so they had this strip of really comical headshots. We selected one and they photoshopped a unicorn horn and mane onto her face, which we then screenprinted on a sweatshirt. I wrapped it up all professional-like.

    Then I ordered rainbow cupcakes and we topped them with unicorn head toppers. (Unicorns was a bit of a running joke.) We had them in a spare conference room, which we decked out in all sorts of streamers and confetti and balloons.

    THEN – we are a residential school for children with severe disabilities – so I got the art teacher to have the students collaborate on a huge painting of rainbow unicorn. It was gorgeous, they all did a great job. We put that in the conference room as well, covered with a sheet.

    So…off to lunch we go, to a somewhat upscale steakhouse. We gave her the sweatshirt at the end of the lunch, and she LOVED IT. She put it on over her shirt immediately.

    Then we went back and had cupcakes and did the painting reveal.

    It was great.

    Later, of course, the CFO came up to me and said that she was surprised we did all that, and that she hoped I would never do such a thing for her, as it was not her style at all. I said, of course, I knew that, I would never go in for such a thing with you. You have to know your audience. The unicorn-face-sweatshirt-birthday prank was probably the best one I ever pulled off.

    1. Rage*

      A follow up to that was, after she had been out on medical leave following knee surgery, a few days before her anticipated return we purchased a giant inflatable unicorn, took it into her office, and blew it up. We made sure to close the blinds so she wouldn’t see it when she returned.

      That got a huge laugh. In a brilliant move, the inflatable also doubled as a water-sprinkler so we sent it over to our pediatric services side and they had a blast running through it in the courtyard on hot summer days. Bonus: our executive area windows looked right out into the courtyard so we got to watch all of the fun.

  203. AnonymousTurtle*

    Not sure if this counts since it was never actually executed, but my boss confessed at our holiday party that in our old office, he had a dream of coordinating with all the people in the first staff meeting after a new hire started. We’d all be sitting around a conference table, and when he entered the room we would all wordlessly and in unison adjust the height of our chairs so we all sank. We’d go on with the meeting without mentioning the chairs. Post-pandemic we’re hybrid and don’t have big meetings in person anymore so it will probably never come to fruition, but I think that fits the criteria of harmless but baffling!

  204. Nausicaa*

    The best prank that was played on me was when I called my bosses boss’s assistant/secretary to try to set up a meeting (this was back in the 90’s). So, I hear her answer and I start speaking to her – she says she can’t hear me, can I speak up? So, I speak a little louder and she replies again – sorry still can’t hear you. I speak a little louder and again she says – nope still can’t hear you. Now I am almost yelling into the phone when she interrupts again and says – Oh, I know why I can’t hear you – this is my voicemail. Leave a message and I will call you back. Clearly, I was dealing with a professional pranker – never got her back.

  205. You ain't seen the last of me*

    At a previous job, our admin assistant was known to be a jokester, but was also pretty unhappy in her position and stirred up a lot of contention between our problematic leadership team and staff (some very justified). It was my first time managing someone and I had no idea how to handle the situation. She eventually turned in her notice. During her last week when many of us were out of the office, she used the office printer to print dozens of close-up photos of her face in various sizes and then hid them around the office. Most were small and put in places like under a mug or in a cabinet, but a few were massive. A coworker that she got along with got a giant picture of her face placed under the clear under the desk mat in said coworker’s office. Some people found the joke quite funny. The executive director (who frequently clashed with the admin) was very unamused by her use of nonprofit time and resources. I did get a little satisfaction from seeing the ED haunted by this thorn-in-the-side former employee each time she found a picture in a drawer or tucked beyond condiments in the fridge.

  206. Cookie Lady*

    I work for the Girl Scouts, specifically running the cookie program in my area. A few years back, my office phone rings and it’s a guy who says he has a complaint. He launches into a whole monologue about how much he loves cookies, ever since he was a little boy and his mom would bake him cookies, etc and this is the point where I start thinking, like, is this a radio show or something, and then he tells me how he was so disappointed with his Girl Scout cookies and I offered to get replacement packages for him and he says that probably won’t help because, you know, you buy chocolate chip cookies, they have chocolate chips in them, you get oatmeal cookies, they have oatmeal cookies but he was very upset to discover that his Girl Scout cookies had no Girl Scouts in them! And if he got replacements would they be made from real Girl Scouts? And I was so dumbstruck and caught between the thoughts of ‘this has to be a joke’ and ‘but what if he’s serious, then he’s a crazy person’ that I found myself saying, “I’m sorry sir, we can’t bake the children into the cookies!”
    And that’s when he confessed that he was a friend of my co-worker across the hall, who was over there dying laughing at my end of the conversation, because she had put him up to it. So that was a prank I didn’t mind, but I’m definitely a don’t mess with personal property person.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      I used to work at a sandwich shop and we got a call from a customer complaining that they got a hot dog in their sandwich. All we sold was cold cuts so we were running around like crazy trying to figure out how that happened! Our manager got on the line and it was one of our coworkers telling him she was running late.

  207. Toots La'Rue*

    Generally not a prank person, but the one I can remember not minding was back when I was working the register at a major national pharmacy chain. One of my coworkers zip tied the cord of my register’s phone up high near and then slyly called me from another register. When I tried to pick it up I yanked the phone off the wall holder and it fell in a big startling mess, but they were nearby and cracking up by that point so I wasn’t like concerned that it was a customer waiting or something. Quick and easy!

  208. Don't kneel in front of me*

    I had a group of friends at my first job and we would regularly pull pranks.

    Once I went on a week vacation and they wrapped my computer, chair, work shoes, etc. in wrapping paper. It was a good laugh.

    Then, to get a guy back during his vacation: I came in over the weekend and I built a small wall–wood framed and drywall–at the entrance to his cubicle (I have a picture!). He’s still one of my best friends.

  209. handfulofbees*

    At my grad department, one of the faculty left a Dunkin Donuts box out on the workbench. When you opened it, you found an empty box and written on the bottom: “HAA jokes on you”

    I laughed. I laughed so hard that I took a photo as a memento.

  210. Lucy P*

    I had a coworker who doubled as the office cleaning person on weekends (only a small portion of the staff was actually aware of who did the cleaning). Coworker used to complain about how the men would “miss” the toilets and urinals when performing various personal bathroom functions.

    Late one Friday, after coworker had gone for the day, another employee and I printed out poop emojis and taped them to the walls in the men’s room.

    Then I waited all weekend for coworker to respond to me. I’m not normally a prankster, so I was wondering if coworker was really miffed at me. Turns out they thought it was hilarious, but were also dealing with a family emergency that weekend and couldn’t respond. Still, I never wanted to play a prank after that for the concern that I had made someone angry.

  211. BigCass*

    I worked in tourism in New York State and we put out a bunch of ads for snow bathing (the new sun bathing). Went over really well.

  212. Cyndi*

    In grade school and middle school, I used to walk a few blocks to my dad’s office after school and do my homework there until his workday ended. This was in the heyday of Windows 95, when it was really easy to customize your display/sound scheme in all kinds of goofy ways, and he set one of his work computer’s sound cues–I forget what–to sing MY BALONEY HAS A FIRST NAME, IT’S H-O-M-E-R, MY BALONEY HAS A SECOND NAME, IT’S H-O-M-E-R, purely because it drove me up the wall. (He was good buddies with the only coworker who sat near him, who somehow minded this a lot less than me, despite having to hear it all day.)

    A few years later, when I was allowed to have a PC in my bedroom, I did much the same thing to myself by customizing the Windows Maze screensaver to replace the brick walls with a repeating photo of Sadako climbing out of the well in The Ring. I do not recommend this.

  213. GeekCyclist*

    The CIO at my previous employer was a HUGE fan of the local state university. The CFO was a HUGE fan of the large private religious university about 60 miles away. There was always a friendly rivalry and minor pranks around the dates of any football or basketball games.

    At one point the 6 floor office building we worked in was undergoing exterior renovations, and our offices were on the top floor. As the big game approached CIO arranged for the construction crew to escort him up the exterior equipment very early in the morning to hang a state university banner on the outside of the window of the CFO’s office. CFO arrived saw the banner, made the appropriate exclamations of righteous indignation about the “stupid banner in his office” and then was astounded to find that he couldn’t rip it down because it was outside.

    I’m not sure which team won the game that year, but I know this prank has become part of the legendary lore at that employer.

  214. TimeTravelR*

    The classic prank we pulled at a very white collard law firm that included a former Judge and a former Senator among its partners:
    I recruited the person in charge of the mail department to send around a memo saying that the phone company (back in the days of land lines) was going to be cleaning the lines. They should refrain from using their phone. For best practice, when not in use, store them in the trash can or a trash bag. If you must use it, put it in a small trash bag to keep debris from flying all over the office.
    We had very educated attorneys freaking out because they had calls to make and couldn’t just put their phone in the trash. The former judge called down to the mail room asking for an extra trash bag. By the time the Mail Person got up to his office, it had dawned on him that it was a prank and he was laughing quite heartily.
    A couple attorneys got salty about it, but most of them thought it hysterical.
    It helped that a local radio station was telling people the same thing that morning.

    1. Cyndi*

      What year was this? It reminds me of James Thurber’s story about a Victorian great-aunt who was convinced electricity “leaked” dangerously out of unused sockets, like gas.

  215. TooWhit*

    At some point my son was gifted an obnoxious baby rattle that either played a little tune or barked like a dog. It was very sensitive and would go off if I walked by too close to it – no need