update: I think our intern prank-called us

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer who thought their intern prank-called the office? Here’s the update.

So first, thank you for answering my question! Unfortunately, it was posted on what turned out to be a very busy day of an even busier week, so I wasn’t able to interact with the comments, though I did read all of them. I’ll start with the update and then address a few other things:

I wasn’t there when my boss and the person who oversees interns met with our intern to discuss the incident, but I was told he seemed very surprised and said he didn’t have anything to do with the prank call. We decided to take him at his word. Like I said, he didn’t really seem the type, and I know technology has advanced so far these days that I don’t want to jump to the worst conclusion at the cost of hurting someone who actually is innocent. Did he secretly pull a fast one on all of us? Maybe, but his internship went by without further incident so at worst he was guilty but learned his lesson (or at least learned about caller ID). He did also apologize to me for the incident, and he seemed sincere. At the end of his internship he also thanked me for taking time out of my schedule to teach him and find projects for him, so I’m really glad either way that he was able to see his internship through!

Just a few notes:

First, while in my original letter I expressed some annoyance from an employer perspective, from a personal perspective I thought it was hilarious. My department was laughing so much at the voicemail that a couple of other folks came over to see what was going on and also found it amusing. I’ve saved the message for future laughs.

Second, I will say once I got home and played the voicemail for my husband on my cell phone (as opposed to my work phone) it was much more obvious to me that the “woman” was clearly a young man trying to put on an old lady voice. He wasn’t doing too bad either (though he did waver a bit between a New York/New Jersey accent and a southern drawl at one point, so he needs to work on his dialects).

Third, there was some discussion about what name the pranker wanted to name our theater. Sorry to disappoint, but this wasn’t a Seymour Butz or Amanda Huginkiss situation. The name was just a regular name. In fact, we found out it was the real name of a couple who is apparently very philanthropic in a larger nearby city. This is one thing that made the prank less funny since it lent some credibility to the situation. Obviously we would never move forward assuming this was a real pledge without necessary paperwork, but it still could have had a negative impact on us or the couple in question.

Fourth, someone in the comments pointed out that I had made an error in calling $7 million a six-figure gift rather than a seven-figure gift. That was a mistake on my part (what can I say, I was a bit tipsy that afternoon…)

Finally, if anyone is interested, here is a full transcript of the prank phone call (including a bit at the end where the caller “forgot” to hang up). The names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty):

“[starting off with a NY/NJ type accent] Hi (my name), yeah, hi, this is Prudence. I was told this was the right number to call. My husband and I are hoping to donate 7 million dollars to The Theater, um, and are interested in name recognition. Could you give this number a call back to discuss the possibility of donating many millions of dollars? Uh, I’m … I’d love it to be named the Prudence Snooter … Prudence and Wakeen Snooter Theater. And if that’s more like 12 or 15 million, [dipping into a southern drawl] my husband and I would be interested. Could you just give this number a call back? Thank you.

[back into the NY/NJ accent, in the distance] Wakeen, I just called The Theater … I called ‘em … Wakeen get off the toilet, I called The Theater. How much money are you willing to give them? 15? 14 million? That’s what I told the lady on the phone … she didn’t answer … oh gawd, it’s still recording … oh gawd.”

{ 206 comments… read them below }

    1. mli25*

      Hilarious. I mean, haven’t we all had that one call we *thought* we had hung up (or muted) but really didn’t?

      1. Spring*

        This reminded me that I heard someone at our local public radio station – after a sudden unexpected few moments of silence – whisper “shit, shit, shit” to themselves as they searched for the right button, and then the program came on again. At least with phone calls, usually only one person hears the “forgot to mute” error!

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      oh gawd — I’m dying from how funny this is :-D Honey, get off the toilet — don’t you remember that we’re trying to donate millions of dollars here?!!

    1. Antilles*

      I like the creativity in faking the “forgot to hang up”, as though he wanted to add some extra credibility with that touch.

    2. ferrina*

      The prankster really went for a full script!

      Still not a fan of the prank, but at least some effort went into it?

  1. Lorna*

    Poor Wakeen having to deal with this whilst on the throne
    This seriously made me snort giggle.

    1. "It was hell," says former child.*

      You know, if I were Wakeen, I’d probably offer The Theater an extra million just to ensure that the whole toilet debacle was kept strictly private. And if Wakeen (or his wife) is reading, make sure you’ve got it in writing. OK, Wakeen? Now get awwf the toilet, Mama’s gotta make a tinkle.

  2. amoeba*

    This is amazing! Happy it worked out well for the intern, although I have to admit I’d be really, really curious what happened if it wasn’t him – did his friends get hold of his phone? Did he know and was mortified? Did he not know and was, well, still mortified when he found out?

    Intern, if you ever happen to read AAM and would feel like an update in a few years……

    1. Myrin*

      Yeah, I’m seeing all manner of possibilities here and I can’t say that I find one extremely more likely than the other. But god, imagine, AAM a few years from now with this former intern writing in, that would be THE throwback (and also extremely satisfying)!

    2. ferrina*

      I’m betting sibling or cousin. This reads more like family members messing with the “serious one”, then the serious one chewing them out and the family being mortified.

      1. Prefer Pets*

        That’s what I thought too. Seems to be soooo common for the responsible kid to be resented & pranked!

      2. 1LFTW*

        A sibling or cousin would have a pretty easy time getting their hands on the intern’s phone. I’m so glad my siblings and I grew up before cell phones… this kind of thing could have been a weekly occurrence in my life.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Do identical twins have identical fingerprints? ie could one twin open the other’s protected phone?

    3. T.N.H*

      Anyone can spoof a phone number with apps these days. I suspect it was a friend/sibling trying to mess with him.

      1. Miette*

        Came here to suggest just that. And given the content, it’s was absolutely a silly prank. I salute Wakeen and Prudence, long may their toilet run…

  3. Czech Mate*

    Can’t wait to see the mad rush in the commentariat as everyone fights for the usernames Prudence and Wakeen Snooter.

        1. Prudence Snooter*

          You are now my sworn enemy.

          Seriously though, your username reminds me of when my niece Eva was about 3 years old, and met an older child named Eva. Her mom said, “Isn’t that great? You’re named Eva and she’s named Eva too! You have the same name!” And a moment later she heard Eva grumble to herself, “I’m the REAL Eva.”

          1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

            I have a super distinctive last name and combined with my first name, there are exactly TWO of us in the world with that first and last name. I like to joke that she’s my name twin, but I was born into the family but she married in, so I have more of a claim to it. ;)

            1. RC*

              omg, I’d say “wait, are you me?” but clearly not! Down to the only other person lives on the other side of the world and married into it so mine counts more :)

              1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

                Well, we live in the same metro area but have never met. Occasionally I get her mail (she’s a teacher; I’m very much not a teacher, so when I get mail for “Take your class on a cruise!” I know it’s not for me). One time, we both donated to the same charity and the charity called to clarify since my donation had the “wrong” address on it. I cheerfully explained it was the Other Resident Catholicville, U.S.A. and the person on the phone blurted out, “THERE ARE TWO OF YOU?!”

            2. Prudence Snooter*

              I’m sort of the same except that I’m the only one with my name in the world!

              1. Lizy*

                I’m pretty sure I’m the only one with my name. Super common first name but last name? There’s only a handful. Name got changed a couple of times, and at some point and both mine and the “other” one became the only ones left.

                Anywho – there’s just one me lol

            3. Throwaway Account*

              I have a very distinctive 2 letter last name that is not common in the US (but is on another continent) and a 3 letter first name that is ranked over 400th in popularity in the US. But combined, they are very rare.

              There is someone with my First name and Last name in a nearby town who has lots of financial problems. I know because I had to swear I was not that person when I bought my home.

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                I once googled my name and found there’s another, exact first name and also exact last name down to the weird spelling everyone gets wrong. Her social media profile showed that she was part of a society that hated the US president of the time (so in about 2012). Suddenly I understood why I kept getting added by people with American flags in there profile pic. I quickly added some Gandhi quotes to my profile so people would realise they were not on the right profile.

            4. Ally McBeal*

              One of my cousins married a woman 5 years ago with the exact same (spelling and all) legal name as mine, so we’re both “Annabelle Smith.” I’ve gone exclusively by “Annie” for the last 25+ years, except that my family got so used to calling me Annabelle for the first 12 years of my life that they called me Annabelle basically until my cousin’s wedding, when they realized all of a sudden that they were gonna have to do something to distinguish between the two of us. (Eyeroll. If they’d called me by my preferred name all this time it wouldn’t have been an issue.)

      1. Wakeen Snooter*

        …This isn’t quite what I meant when I asked if you wanted to do anything special for our anniversary

          1. Prudeen Wadence-Snooter*

            Dahling, do we need to discuss again that it’s disrespectful when you don’t use the full surname?

        1. The Gnome*

          I got a work call right as I saw that and I nearly umuted in the midst of a godawful inhuman laugh. I love this website.

  4. Dino Cake*

    “Wakeen, get off the toilet” takes this from hilarious to iconic. thanks for the update & transcript!

      1. buddleia*

        Lol they made it one minute after you posted your comment, you can find it above this thread.

  5. Urban Fervor*

    Ok, I stand by my initial feeling that the name of the theatre was the punchline. Apologies to the real person, but I could see kids finding the name Prudence Snooter hilarious.

    Thanks so much for the update and additional context!

        1. Wakeen’s Wife Prudence*

          The name “Wakeen” is an inside joke on AAM, going back to a letter from 2018 at the very latest. IIRC, the OP had a co-worker named Joaquim, pronounced Wakeem. Because she communicated with Joaquim via both emails and in person, she thought that Joaquim and Wakeem were two different people.

          1. Techno Support*

            Because the name Joaquim (well, Joakim) is pronounced differently in Swedish (as Yo-ah-keem), I actually use Wakeem as the way to explain how it’s pronounced in English. Also Wakeem is an inherently funny fake name.

            1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

              Please someone write a song to the tune of “Jolene”, only called “Wakeem”.

              1. Prudeen Wadence-Snooter, usually Pterodactyls are under-cites in the psychological literature*

                Wakeen, Wakeen, Wakeen, Wakeen
                I’m begging’ of you please,
                Don’t take my job
                Wakeen, Wakeen, Wakeen, Wakeen
                Please don’t take it just
                Because you can

                Your cv is beyond compare
                Peer-reviewed work from here to there
                With references the best I’ve ever seen
                Your smile is like a breath of spring
                (Such dental work and good hygiene!)
                And I cannot compete with you, Wakeen

                Boss talks about you when we meet
                And I have to sit on my two feet
                To keep from kickin’ him real good, Wakeen


                You could have your choice of jobs,
                But leads? I don’t have gobs and gobs,
                Not in this economy, Wakeen!
                I had to have this talk with you
                My salary depends on you
                And whatever you decide to do, Wakeen.


                1. Prudeen Wadence-Snooter, usually Pterodactyls are under-cited in the psychological literature*

                  Whoops, skipped half a verse. After the line about kicking the boss should be,

                  And I can easily understand
                  How you could easily bring more grants,
                  But you don’t know what it means to me, Wakeen.

                  Also I appear to have not caught Autocorrupt doing its thing on my name, let’s see if I get it all right this time…

                2. Prudence and Wakeen Snooter Theatre for the Performing Oats*

                  I’d like to book you for a show!

                3. It's Susie now*

                  Chef kiss to the song parody, and I’ll admit until I saw your clarification below I wondered about pterodactyls being under cities.

                4. Annie*

                  Your smile is like a breath of spring
                  (Such dental work and good hygiene!)

                  haha, perfect!!

                5. "It was hell," says former child.*

                  I usually hate it when I discover poems in advice columns, because they’re usually saccharine AND awful as poems. (Dear Abby, you give good advice…but stop wasting prime real estate on badly written poems.) But this is excellent. In fact, if we could’ve gone back 32 years, the mention of “leads” tells me that this would have been a great theme song for the Jack Lemmon character in Glengarry Glen Ross. (If one David Mamet would’ve let us!)

      1. Polly Plantar*

        Roy G. Biv, how can you not know the famous Snitzer-Snooters? (…I’ll see myself out.)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I wonder if the intern has roommates. Sometimes these things are a prank on the person you think is pranking!

      1. BW*

        Very true. I had a co-irker who went to a party, and someone had laid their phone down and walked away. Everyone called the ICE number (the person’s dad) and left very inappropriate messages.

        1. H3llifIknow*

          Yes! My kids told me a long time ago, I am NOT in their phones as “Mom” because that’s just too tempting of an invitation to mess with them through me if they get hold of their phones. I’m just listed simply by my first name.

            1. Prudence's Cousin*

              Facial recognition will open my phone for my sister, my daughter, and one of my cousins. And my son once figured out my code because I hadn’t cleaned my screen recently. So locking isn’t foolproof.

    2. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      Yeah, I was pretty good at lying when I got busted as a teen. Very good at the “innocent little me? No!” thing.

      1. ferrina*

        This is my money as well! I could see my idiot teenage self doing this to one of my siblings or close cousins

        I really hope that someday the intern finds AAM and sends in an update confirming or denying!

      2. 1LFTW*

        Same. My younger siblings absolutely would have conspired to pull something like this. I feel lucky that we only had a landline, and caller ID wasn’t widespread, so most of the people they pranked were my brothers’ friends (just, not at their professional internships; we didn/t have anything like that at my school).

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      If it was — 1) Points for a really good funny call. 2) he did well through the rest of his internship so he clearly does now how to be professional when necessary.

    4. H3llifIknow*

      Really?? I’ve never thought the intern was in on it! I’ve always assumed it was a friend or sibling who thought “Oh THIS will be comedy GOLD when they call back and (intern) answers and is so confused and embarrassed.” I could also see the intern being there while they say “We’re going to do this thing” and thinking “no way are they really doing this; that’s a fake call” and being SHOCKED to find out “Oh crap they really did it,” but I don’t get a vibe that he was the one doing or “masterminding” it.

    5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Sort of agree. I think the intern was in on it, because it’s not really easy to break into someone’s cell phone these days, and I’m honestly not sure how easy it is to spoof a phone number — I know scammers can do it but maybe it takes extra special knowledge or equipment? But I bet it wasn’t his voice on the phone because they thought THAT would give it away.

      1. Observer*

        I think the intern was in on it, because it’s not really easy to break into someone’s cell phone these days,

        Sure, it’s hard if you lock it properly. Lots of people don’t though.

        It’s also incredibly easy to spoof someone’s phone number, as well.

        I recently heard of a case where an elementary school student did this to a class mate – and it wasn’t just a “funny prank”. That’s why the school had to look into it. This was a text message, but it was extremely inappropriate and nearly got the victim of the prank into serious trouble with the school.

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        So many people don’t lock their phones, even when they know it’s a good idea. (I might or might not be one of those people, and I really do know better. Off to lock it right now.)

      3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        As a parent who has to change their lock code about every five months because my kids figure out and unlock my phone to call their grandparents……..

        It’s amazing how much more tech savvy the younger generations can be in some ways (there are always exceptions to every generalization).

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Why do they have to do that to call their grandparents? I mean if my kid asked to call grandma or grandad I would totally let them!
          I mean there are plenty of other places you wouldn’t want them to call surely…

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      I do too. Partly because I can’t imagine a whole separate teenager, who didn’t work in the fundraising world, even thinking of doing this. And partly because like you, Alison, I was a pretty good prankster back in the day and I was *very* good at looking totally innocent when caught.

    7. Sloanicota*

      I at least suspect the intern knows more than he’s saying, but I think OP handled it correctly in giving him the benefit of the doubt and moving on since there’s reasonable doubt. And since nothing else in the same vein happened that seems to have been the right call.

    8. Smithy*

      As someone in fundraising….I guess I’m more leaning in this direction?

      As goofy as it is, I do think there’s enough content in there to imply this person knows SOMETHING about fundraising. And as someone who’s explained my job over many a family event over the years, that’s not so common and not really something I’d expect from a teen or young people with no connections to the field.

      Second – at one job, I was working for a very large organization that had celebrity ambassadors. One of my coworkers, as a social media joke with her friends, she tagged one of the celeb ambassadors on a post. Nothing NSFW or remotely provocative, but the situation that caused at the office about the celeb potentially getting offended and the potential impact on the larger team. Etc etc. But moreso, that this person’s social media was also tied to their professional social media persona – and so even if the issue never would have come within 5000 miles of the celebrity – it came to the attention of the nonprofit celeb ambassador team and they really cared about their professional reputation, etc. The situation ultimately wasn’t a fireable offense, but one of those “reprimands with lecture on professional norms”.

      All to say, people finding parts of their jobs funny or ridiculous and then joking around with friends later, in ways that step over the line of not being seen as funny at work…..I’ve seen it before!

      1. H3llifIknow*

        “I do think there’s enough content in there to imply this person knows SOMETHING about fundraising. …that’s not so common and not really something I’d expect from a teen or young people with no connections to the field.”

        I disagree. I don’t think one has to be in field of fundraising to say, “I’d like to donate $7M to your theater but I want it named after me.” Hospitals, stadiums, several engineering and business buildings at our local college are all named after large benefactors. One doesn’t have to be a fundraiser to know how it works when you see it all around you.

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          I would even argue that someone who says they want to give “many millions” is not someone who feels like they know what they are talking about lol.

    9. Pink Geek*

      “Give this number a call back” is where I stop wondering if it’s the intern and start being sure it’s someone trying to prank them too.

      1. H3llifIknow*

        Same. I think a friend or sibling thought it’d be HILARIOUS when the foundation called back and the intern stammeringly tried to explain he had no idea what donation they were talking about.

      2. Hyaline*

        This! The calling back bit makes it a brilliant two-for-one gag if it came off–that the workplace AND your unsuspecting friend/brother/cousin get pranked in one fell swoop. (And who would prank someone with their own number and then ask for a call back?)

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, between that and the fact that the intern seemed generally responsible and the fact that they sounded genuinely shocked (which I know people can put on but…in my experience that’s more likely with kids who are always pulling pranks and have practice and appearing innocent whereas the ones who are generally responsible but got dragged into doing something stupid with their mates tend to be pretty embarrassed and guilty when caught out), my guess would be on somebody playing a joke on him.

        It also sounds sort of like something a younger sibling might do, not realising they could really mess things up for him.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          OK, both italics fail and it should be “practice at appearing innocent” not “and appearing innocent.”

    10. Some Words*

      I do too, especially since they apologized for something they hadn’t supposedly done.

      1. Parakeet*

        It could go either way. But I could see that as a suspect coming immediately to his mind, and his apologizing for the fact that his little brother or his roommate or whoever did this, as he wishes he could turn invisible from embarrassment.

    11. The Formatting Queen*

      I was also thinking friends, but then on re-reading the original posted I realized that the LW actually *did* call back and talked to “Prudence” for a bit – which brings me back around to the intern. Someone answered that phone and attempted to continue the bit, and if it was friends who made the original call trying to prank the intern, they would have let him answer the phone to watch the confusion/explanations. So now I agree with Alison.

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Yes, but that depends on how soon the callback came. They (the hypothetical other person) might have meant the intern to have to field it, later out of the blue – but if the callback came while they still had the intern’s phone, they could’ve then improvised the husband.

    12. Annie*

      I agree, I think it was the intern. He’s probably laughing to himself all the time about how they believed him!!

      Maybe he’ll see this in a few years when you repost and admit to it! :)

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      I agree! It feels too relevant to the actual job. They called the correct person to talk about donating, they referenced real people who might do such a thing… it would be weird for a sibling or friend to be so knowledgeable. I guess maybe if the intern talks a LOT about his job and that’s part of the reason for the prank?

  6. Wakeen, Get Off the Toilet.*

    It could be the Internet but when I was in high school I had a friend whose older brother would ABSOLUTELY do something like this to sabotage him. Unfortunately older brother also was the golden child so my friend had to work really hard to get out of the house and go no contact to get away from it.

  7. Rae*

    The Snooters are going to be so mad you never called them back! I wonder if the real Snooters would have been amused by the message.

  8. Ferret*

    Thanks for the update! Had a look back at the comments and a few people really did go overboard on this one, pranks is another topic that just sets AAM commenters off

    1. H3llifIknow*

      Oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. The number of people grabbing pitchforks and torches and chanting “FIRE HIM” and worrying that this was just a gateway prank that could only lead to the intern becoming the next Bernie Madoff or something was mind boggling. Especially when other than speculation there was NOTHING indicating the intern knew a darn thing about it!

      1. HR Friend*

        “April 29, 2024 at 11:40 am Personally I think you should fire this intern. Pranking isn’t funny; at best, it wastes people’s time. It’s only a matter of time before he graduates to pranks that actively hurt people, and you don’t want that in your office.”

  9. Madeleine Matilda*

    I’m on camera at work listening to a meeting while reading this. I’m having to work so hard not to laugh. The voicemail is hysterical.

  10. Dawn*

    I’ll put my hand up to pointing out the six-figure thing.

    I was not at my best that afternoon either. ;) But I’m glad you were able to take it in the spirit it was intended.

    1. H3llifIknow*

      NGL, when someone says “I earned 6 figures” or “XYZ 7 figures” always have to stop and think, “Do they mean literally 6 figures which could be 100000 or 999999, or do they REALLY mean 1 million aka a 1 and 6 zeroes” etc…So I guess it’s an easy typo/goof to make. I’m sure I’ve made it myself, TBH.

      1. Dawn*

        Yup, for sure! As I recall at the time I only mentioned it because when your job is working with and reporting on financial stuff it’s best practices to get that one right.

  11. Jiminy Cricket*

    I hate everything about prank calls and I don’t find that message funny at all … and I LOVE your response. Good for you. Good for your team. Good for the intern, whether he did it or not. Way to keep everything in perspective.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      As someone who is also not a fan of prank calls …. this one sounds like a breath of funny during a stressful week/push for a finish on a huge project/meetings nonstop day. It’s a break to just let out all the tension with a good laugh.

    1. I Super Believe In You, Tad Cooper*

      Honestly that is my absolute favorite part. Totally sells it.

  12. Miette*

    OP, I am crying

    May “Wakeen, get off the toilet” become part of our culture in the same way Guacamole Bob and cheap-ass rolls have…

    1. The Gnome*

      I missed the whole Guacamole Bob thing…will it come up if I search for “Guacamole Bob” on AAM?

  13. Phony Genius*

    Here’s what struck me about the update. He denied doing it and they took him at his word. But he later apologized for the incident. If he didn’t do it, what was he apologizing for?

    1. OrigCassandra*

      “I’m really sorry that happened” is reasonable enough under the circumstances, even for someone who didn’t actually do it.

      1. Quill*

        I’m sorry that happened covers “I’m sorry my younger sibling / jokester friend got ahold of my phone” as well as “I got triple dog dared and have regrets.”

      2. Orv*

        Yeah, as a Midwesterner I often feel the need to apologize for things that weren’t actually my fault. It’s the culture I grew up in.

          1. Union of Canadian Interns*

            Exactly. I was talking with a group of Canadian friends and the question came up “Have you ever apologized to furniture after bumping into it?” At least three out of four had done this. More than once.

            Definitely a Canadian thing. Sorry about that.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      He could be apologizing for his friend’s behavior or that it happened at all. If someone pranked my phone, I’d do the same.

    3. Nynaeve*

      Could have realized after playing decetive with is siblings/(bad)friends that it was accomplished because he left his phone where someone could get it and place the call without his knowledge. He could have been apologizing for leaving his phone unlocked, or having shared his passcode with said siblings or bad friends, and realizing that it was tangentially his “fault” even if it happened without his knowledge. He inadvertantly allowed it to happen.

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      He might not have known what happened at the time of the conversation, and then found out later it was his brother/friend/cousin who called.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      Maybe it was an apology along the lines of “I’m sorry I left my phone unattended/someone in my social circle thought it would be funny to spoof my number and prank call you.”

      It also could have been a more generic “I’m sorry this happened” apology, the same way you might tell someone “I’m sorry your [family member/friend/pet] died.”

    6. HSE Compliance*

      I can absolutely see an intern – remember, they are young adults – being so *incredibly mortified* after finding out that their sibling/cousin/friend pulled this prank using their number that they apologize for the situation later without giving all the details of “yeah, my cousin took my phone at a family dinner and did that and I had no idea”. Think of the apology being “I’m so sorry that was a thing at all” not a “I’m so sorry I did that”.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        That’s kinda what I think happened. Dumbfounded at the meeting, but later figured out who and how and apologized for being the unintentional conduit for the prank call to happen.

        Signed, been there, done that.

    7. Happy meal with extra happy*

      Eh, an apology doesn’t always mean an admission of guilt. (E.g. see XKCD comic 945.)

    8. Irish Teacher.*

      I would definitely apologise to my employer if they got a prank call from my phone, especially since the odds are high he has a pretty good guess who did it. “Oh gosh, I’m sorry my stupid little sister played a prank on you” or “I’m sorry I was such an idiot as to leave my phone with my friends when I went to the bathroom during that party.”

      I think most people would feel responsible if their phone was used to prank their employer.

    9. Employee of the Snooter Theatre*

      I think he meant it more of “I’m sorry that my internship put you on the pranksters radar.”

    10. Hyaline*

      I think “I’m sorry my brother is an idiot and did something stupid” might apply here along with “I’m sorry I left my phone unattended and my idiot brother made a call to you on it.” Basically–“I am not at fault but I was the conduit by which the person at fault got to you, and for that, I am sorry.”

      Plus in some areas of the country we apologize for anything all the time. We apologize anytime there’s a lull in conversation. We apologize to inanimate objects if we bump them. We apologize for the weather.

    11. H3llifIknow*

      If one of my son’s friends pranked me using his phone, and he found out, he’d apologize to me that it happened. Even though he wasn’t in on it/involved. We say sorry for things “we” didn’t do all the time.

    12. Orv*

      If work demands you apologize, and you want to keep the job, you apologize regardless of guilt.

      1. allathian*

        An apology isn’t always an admission of guilt. You can be sorry something went wrong even if you had nothing to do with it.

  14. Ex-prof*

    It makes my own childhood inquiries as to whether the call-recipient’s refrigerator was running seem feeble by comparison.

        1. Juicebox Hero*

          I just hope they let Prince Albert out of the can. Because Wakeen needed to use it.

    1. Annie*

      I worked at KFC when I was much, much younger. Lots of prank calls “do you have any breasts?” and that type, back before caller ID.

  15. Employee of the Snooter Theatre*

    Hi all (and Alison)! This is the LW! I’m glad I was able to share the voicemail and bring joy to others the way it brought joy to me. Regardless of whether he was guilty or not, the intern in question was a sweet guy and I’m glad he had the opportunity to work with us (he also was on our team during a staff trivia day and he’s really smart!) Appreciate the posting and the responses!

    1. Juicebox Hero*

      I think this was one of the most requested updates this season.

      I’d say the intern learned a lesson, even if the lesson is “strong security on your phone”.

    2. @RealPrudenceSnooterActual*

      And we thank you for bringing us this story–the comments are pure gold.

      Now, excuse me, I gotta go tell Wakeen to get off the pot.

  16. Perra Fortunata*

    The call is HILARIOUS!

    I believe the intern lied through his teeth to you. Glad you explained things to the little brat!

    1. H3llifIknow*

      “the little brat” is pretty harsh. The intern denied doing it and the OP chose to believe him, but you’ve decided that name calling over a prank that all ended well is appropriate? Remind me to keep my kids off your lawn!

    2. Employee of the Snooter Theatre*

      Hey, please don’t call our intern a brat. Aside from this (which, again, may not have been him) he was nothing but pleasant during his internship.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Since when does a momentary lapse in judgement make one a brat? Especially as the lapse in judgement could have been as mild as leaving his phone temporarily unattended around a prankster friend/sibling/cousin? Especially given this was a college student, I just think brat is too much of a reach when it sounds like a one time incident.

  17. Moose*

    I’m glad this worked out the way it did. I didn’t think it was appropriate to fire him without 100% proof that it was him.

    Very, very, very long story short, I come from a difficult family. I don’t fit in and they’re all about fitting in and being the same as everyone else. And when I was young, before I moved away, they would sabotage things like school projects, jobs, and volunteer opportunities. Their goal was to make sure the world saw me the same way they did. They didn’t respect me because I was Different and Strange and therefore, nobody else could either.

    And yes, there was a time where they pranked me at work and I lost my job over it. I felt totally powerless. I felt like I would never be able to escape them. I understand why my boss fired me but at the same time, whew it was rough. So yeah, the intern kept his job and nothing else happened while he was there.

    1. 1LFTW*

      Thank you for providing this perspective.

      You reminded me that I had a high school frenemy who did things like this, only they were done maliciously, with the intent of getting other frenemies into various kinds of trouble with their parents and managers, because she thought it was funny. The more trouble she caused for other people, the funnier it was.

      Not to get into too many details, but she definitely got one person fired from their job, and others were in constant trouble with their managers. *None* of it was for anything they themselves had done.

  18. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

    I’ve got a friend who is an absolute maestro at getting hold of your phone before it locks and then posting something insane to your social media. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this was a friend using the intern’s phone.

  19. notagirlengineer*

    Ok, do these two comments together surprise anyone else?

    “it was posted on what turned out to be a very busy day of an even busier week” and then, “(what can I say, I was a bit tipsy that afternoon…)”

    My longest running career path job was with a government agency where alcohol was strictly prohibited at any work event, so things like this stick out for me.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      To me (also a gov’t employee) it read as
      “After an incredibly stressful day at work getting that project finish-polished we all went out to the watering hole (local bar) to celebrate the fact we got it finished. And somehow also kept our sanity in the process.”

    2. I'm right on top of that Rose!*

      Well the tipsy comment was in regards to something she wrote in the original letter. Which I just assumed she wrote on a weekend. There is no reason to believe she was tipsy at work.

    3. Marz*

      That was a joking reference to the original prank call!

      It’s only in the original letter so if you didn’t go back you wouldn’t see it, but it says in the original letter:

      “As my team and I were discussing what was, at this point, obviously a prank, my phone rang and the screen showed the name of a high school intern who just started with our team this week. However, when I picked up there was a man on the other end claiming I had been speaking with his wife and apologized for her, saying, “She’s a bit tipsy this afternoon.”

    4. Leenie*

      I think it was a callback to the original letter. But in any event, letters are not posted the day that they’re written. So she would definitely not have been reading comments on the same “tipsy” day that she wrote the letter.

    5. Employee of the Snooter Theatre*

      I’m the LW. The “I was a bit tipsy” part was a joke/reference to my original letter.

  20. silly little public health worker*

    this is my favorite update that i have ever read, god bless

  21. No aurora*

    I think it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to send the original question and this update to the intern in a few years time. It might help them to see that old farts do appreciate humour (and how tge intern can improve their prank game)

Comments are closed.