Pranks for the memories


‘Stuff you miss when working from home’

So I read in the New York Times today that there are some twenty-and thirty-somethings out there who are resisting going back to the office. “Is this mandatory?” was one Young Whippersnapper’s querulous query.

Some are even quitting their jobs when told to pull up their socks (make that put on some socks) and report to work in person.

Just because you can work remotely doesn’t mean it’s easy to work remotely

Now, I have heard the arguments for working remotely: no commuting time (or expense), the opportunity to prepare a healthy lunch, fewer dry cleaning bills. (That last one is a no-brainer, especially if you’re talking about pants).

Not everyone in the universe likes Zoom. Though it seems everyone skips the pants

And I’ve also heard the other side. As a pro-office guy in the Times piece said, “As a manager, it’s really hard to get cohesion and collegiality without being together on a regular basis, and it’s difficult to mentor without being in the same place.”

Hmmm. “Cohesion?” “Collegiality?” Using “mentor” as a verb? Sorry, fella. I think I’d stay home too.

Collegiality, Millenial-style

But, aside from my dread of Manager Jargon (which can be spouted on Zoom, too, to be fair), I’m squarely in the Back-to-the-Office Camp.

Cramming a bunch of crazy, funny, quick-witted people together in an office creates a truly combustible — and richly productive –situation. Or at least it did so for me.

Me, indulging in a little “mentoring” back in my Office Days

Yes, there was Cohesion (“Team-Building Sessions” — not so much fun) and Collegiality (“Officers’ Outings” — sometimes too much fun) But also plenty of Spontaneity (A coffee ring on a napkin led to a Maxwell House campaign. True.) And Collaboration — in, among other places, The “War Room,” where you’d sweat over new business ideas while polishing off bad pizza. (“No fighting in the War Room,” I Sharpied on a Post-It).

Working remotely might be more convenient, but I can’t imagine it could be more fun. You can’t sit on top of a desk and smoke a cigarette with your toes while Zooming. Well, maybe you can, but you’d better be wearing pants, preferably just-dry-cleaned ones.

Maybe she didn’t smoke on top of her desk, but it looks like there were Hijinks aplenty at The Child’s last office job

And what about pranks? Now, it might be possible to “prank” your remotely-working cohabitor by, say, tying her hoodie shut (as seen in the photo at the top of this post), but, after awhile the element of surprise could pall if it’s just the two of you. Much more fun to have a pool of prankees, in my opinion.

I’ve written about some of my favorite office pranks before. Like the time the writer and the art director switched the account guy’s hat every day and slowly drove him crazy. (“My Head Feels Funny.”) Or the time this guy ordered a special treat for our boss at a group dinner. (“Harvey and the Grilled Half Goat Head.”)

Harvey, of Grilled Half Goat Head fame

There was also the time somebody sealed up another hapless account guy’s office door with foam core while he was on vacation. So when he got back, his office had “disappeared.”

And, another time, at another agency where everyone seemed to be named “Mike,” some wag went around one night and changed everyone’s name plate to “Mike.” I should have kept mine; “Mike Whitmore” has a nice, sort of Daily News ring to it.

I suppose it is possible to prank around on Zoom. That is, if you are a Henry

Oh. One more thing. All you Millennial fans of remote working who are also fans of The Office: Would you have binged a show called The Zoom?

I rest my case.

Amagansett, New York. July 2021

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4 thoughts on “Pranks for the memories

  1. Deborah

    I don’t know, but it seems like office pranks died off in the later years of my career. We had a hoot in the 80s and 90s but moving into the 2000s and until I retired in 2012, it stopped being fun. Maybe it was just me?

    • Oh noooo! So sorry to hear that. I’m sure it wasn’t you. You read my stuff, so how could it be?!? Seriously, though. (And speaking of “serious”), I did notice a sort of deadly seriousness creeping into the Ad World during my freelancing years. I didn’t stick around long enough to get to the bottom of it. Though if I had, I would have been tempted to give that bottom a slap and a tickle (!)

  2. Veronica Nash

    Wonderfully funny piece, Alice. I agree with you. I am visiting Nancy Boyd in Virginia Beach and we loved seeing the young Harvey Gabor.
    Thanks, Veronica

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