April Fool

Over lunch yesterday, I dreamed up an April Fool’s prank that I figured would freak my boss out. Some background. My boss left on Wednesday afternoon for a long weekend at Hilton Head. Tuesday evening, we had made some network changes (DNS modifications) that could very realistically, because of the nature of DNS changes, have not caused any problems until yesterday. Like me, he had been a little iffy about pulling the trigger on the changes, but sometimes you’ve just got to plunge in.

The gag, then, is to find a way to use the changes to freak him out, ideally interrupting a restful vacation afternoon. I was going to need help. So I emailed a rough plan to one of the owners of my company, who’s the immediate supervisor of my boss. Essentially, the plan was to have him call my boss on his cell phone and act angry because we had clients and prospects unable to get to our various Web services, presumably because of the DNS change. Further, when he had confronted me about it, we locked horns and I wound up storming off (which is hilarious if you actually know me; my demeanor is rather like that of the mild mannered Clark Kent, and such an outburst from me would have been about as dramatic as the change Kent undergoes when he heads for the phone booth — this was the only weak part of the prank, incidentally; I was afraid my boss would catch on right away because my locking horns with anybody would be so wildly out of character).

Sam (the owner) improved upon the plan by suggesting that we play it as if the other owner, who heads the sales team, had been showing a live demo of our services to a (real) potential high-dollar client and that things had started screwing up left and right. So it’s not even a matter of poor service to existing customers, but of cutting off potential revenue. The sales lead owner called in (so the story goes) livid and demanding an immediate resolution. To round things out, we also brought in our systems guy, who’s the only other IT staffer in the office this week and who doesn’t know much about DNS, etc.

So Sam gets my boss on the phone. He’s on the road, and Sam tells him he might want to pull over for a minute. Then he narrates in sufficiently irritated boss-like tones the scenario we had created. Then he puts my boss on speaker phone so he can bring the systems guy in on the conversation to try to describe the problem. My boss was gracious in that he didn’t badmouth my anomalous behavior, but wanted simply to work toward a resolution of the emergency issue. During the call, which was fraught with puzzlement, Sam gestured at me to run into my office and call his cell phone; when I did so, he pretended he was talking to the other owner, and of course my boss could hear it all. Finally, after some further bewilderment and attempts at remote diagnosis of the problem (my boss no doubt saw my job and his hanging in the balance), Sam busted out laughing and fessed up that we were pranking him.

It went off quite well, and I (who as noted above am thought of as the quiet guy) got comments all day long about the stones it took to pull such a prank. I think I surprised a few people. Of course, it couldn’t have gone off nearly as well if Sam hadn’t played his role perfectly. My boss’s reaction upon learning that we were pranking him was good-naturedly offensive, and I can hardly wait to rib him about it on Monday when he’s back in town.

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