Back in college, we had a ritual we called ‘room trashing’. It also got carried forward to my work at the Gov’t in a slightly different form as birthday office pranks. Not that I necessarily originated either.
The rule for room trashing was that if you left your door unlocked and your room unoccupied, you room could be trashed. Quick trips to the cafeteria for a glass of juice, the study lounge to retrieve notes or even the washroom were all fair game.
A typical room trashing was a simple affair. You’d return to find your garbage can and chair on top of your bed. With more time, all your books and clothes could be stacked precariously on top of the bed, chair, and garbage can. A teetering pile stretching overhead upon your return.
More mischievously, sometimes your entire mattress would be gone and sometime in the next few hours you’d need to search all the public areas of the dorm to find it again. Make sure to lock your door as you do, or the rest of the room could also go missing.
Sometimes it took a cruel twist – breaking ‘the rules’ so to speak. Pauly went to a concert one night, left his door locked, and returned to find the door bricked up. Sounds funny, but not when there is several hundred pounds of brick between you and your bed at 2 in the morning.
Another occasion, a large garbage bin was partially filled with water and leaned against the door with the occupant, Brent, still inside. Fortunately only most of his study notes were ruined, I think, and not an assignment or a laptop.
The most elaborate trashing was committed against the Dean of Residence, Fr. Steve. He foolishly left his door unlocked while gone to teach a class. With a known amount of time, the pranksters disassembled the entire room, moved it outside in front of the college and put it back together. As a final twist, they slid a couple of Playboys under the mattress so they’d still be visible.
At work, the pranks also went from the simple to the elaborate. Simple actions include unplugging a phone handset or removing the mouse ball. I once waterproofed Dave’s desk drawer, filled it with coffee (half filled – it turned out the drawer held a lot of coffee), and floated a doughnut on top.
Prank posters were photo shopped together. I once had “Happy 40th birthday!” written on a poster of me – on my 30th birthday. It became especially funny when a well meaning co-worker said, “You look great Todd. Not a day over 35!”
Office Fills took a lot of time and planning – we tried popcorn (very messy to clean up) and balloons (these were awesome). It takes a few days to blow up enough balloons to fill an entire office.
Office Wraps were a little simpler, but had an awesome impact. Offices sealed in plastic with a biohazard sticker, office wall surrounded by pop cans – colour coded to spell happy birthday. The neatest was covering the walls entirely with post-it notes.
Of course my two all time favorite pranks we both pulled on me.
At work, they actually pulled the same one on me twice. Every internal surface and object in my office was wrapped in tin foil. The computer, monitor and keyboard. The walls. The desks and hutches. Books and boxes got individually wrapped. And a giant poster of my head morphed onto Yoda’s body on the fishbowl window.
I left as much of it up as I could because it just looked so cool! I was often asked, warily, if the foil kept the alien mind probes away.
When we moved to our new cubicle offices, they replayed the same prank again! But this time it was even neater looking. The modular office panels were removable, so each was individually wrapped. It looked like wallpaper in my office.
At college, I was one of the few people to have my room trashed while I was in it. One movie night, rather worse for wear (read: Drunk) I fell asleep in my room (read: Passed Out) and left the door unlocked. Some dorm mates came by shortly after to see if I was willing to participate in more revels, but I was insensate.
Little did I know that some members of the dorm had been looking for someone to play a prank on all evening. They had spent the early evening going throughout the university and collecting issues of the free university newspaper, The Gateway. And now they were just waiting for an unlocked door.
And so, they stood in my doorway, crumpling up sheets of newsprint and tossing it into the room. At first they took care to miss me, but soon they realized that even being pelted with paper balls wouldn’t wake me.
They stopped when they ran out of paper. It was also just a bit higher than the top of my desk. It wasn’t a perfectly even coating – I was only partially covered.
Morning comes. I roll over. Crinkle, crinkle. It was also jungle hot – the radiator was on and the newspaper proved a good insulator. I can’t see a thing without my glasses. Fortunately they were in a predictable location. Crinkle, crinkle.
The noise wasn’t just some weird hangover. I was ensconced by a wall of paper. It rose as it moved away from my bed towards the door. I swung out of bed and stood. Muttering the alleged perpetrators name.
You could walk through it – easier than deep snow. But it had shifted during the night behind the door so the door wouldn’t open without some digging. This prevented me from bursting into the hallway where I was sure they’d be waiting…
I dug out, still muttering the perpetrators name – Troy. I stumbled into the hallway, underwear clad, hung over and bleary eyed, a small mass of paper spilling out into the hall after me. There was no one there. Little did I know they had also captured their photographs the night before! The movie night had eventually downed the whole dorm. They didn’t have a crinkle to fully awaken them when they shifted positions in the early morn – so only the teetotalers were awake.
I crinkled my way back into my room to fetch a robe so I’d look slightly less ridiculous. By the time I emerged again some few people had gathered. They asked me for an explanation, but that is what I wanted myself.
Troy didn’t likely deserve my ire. But his room was right across the hall and he had known when I had gone up to bed. And I wasn’t actually angry. It was the funniest prank I had ever seen pulled, how could I have slept through it?
Anyway, I’d work myself up to full bellow, “Troy!” by the time I lunged across the hall and pounded on his door. He was awakened already by the commotion outside and happily opened his door to face justice and/or survey the results of his prank.
Of course, rather than protesting innocence, he freely admitted he was one of the culprits. He wouldn’t give up the others. He did say his role was small. But the kicker was that it was deserved, he said. I should have known better than to leave my room onlocked when passing out.
I had to agree. He had a valid point.