Wednesday, January 21, 2009


From da pranks-at-work files...

Even new to a job, I just couldn't resist applying a good-natured "tweak" when I saw the opportunity.

In 1987, I was promoted from the facilities Security Department at a Fortune 500 company, into the Corporate Security (field investigative unit) Department. It was quite a departure from what I had been used to, but I was determined to measure up to the level of confidence the department manager had shown in promoting me (in the top right photo, the boss, center; the person on his left was my prank co-conspirator, on his right, yos' truly..back then).

A promotion that came even though he knew I had an ornery streak. One he figured to control.

Among the senior investigators already there, it was common knowledge that the boss -- Nick -- had a habit when he got exasperated: he'd whip off his glasses, and with the palms of his hands, practically rub both eyebrows out of his forehead, before verbally laying into them about some transgression or other. It was a habit that the guys delighted in triggering. For example, use of the words "telephonically" and "predicated" in an investigative report would get a pretty fair eyebrow rub going. New to the department, I was clued into this trait early on.

And it wasn't long before I earned my first "browser".

Nick was a funny guy: serious as he appeared to be (he fit the text book appearance of a Sicilian Mafioso or a hulking Russian commissar), he was basically an easygoing, big-hearted pushover. But on some things, he was adamant in his dislike of. And one thing on which he was adamant: he absolutely loathed the caution lightbar that rested atop the facility Security vehicle.

His staff knew it, as did I, from my prior days as a facilities Security shift supervisor.

One day, shortly after I'd been promoted, he ordered the manager of the facilities Security Department to remove that gaudy eyesore from atop the Security SUV (a full-size Suburban). Grudgingly it was done, and stowed in a spare equipment room.

I and my co-conspirator knew early on that something had to be done with the lightbar. Especially after the first time that I saw Nick's personal vehicle -- a Dodge pickup truck with a camper shell.


I knew what I had to do: mount the lightbar on Nick's truck. And you thought my death wish came from chasing tornadoes (I wasn't even doing that at this time; that screw-loose practice came later).

On the appointed day, I arrived early and placed the lightbar in an electrical room adjacent to the central elevator parking access on the roof (Nick always parked on the roof). A creature of habit, Nick would arrive two hours later, saunter in to see what was up, grab a cup of coffee, and head back to the roof for a cigarette.

It would be a tight time window.

At about 8:30am, Nick arrived and parked in his usual spot. As he was entering the building via the southern elevator core, I was entering the electrical room on the central core. The lightbar was retrieved, and placed strategically upon the roof of his truck. Then I snuck back toward my office.

Having noticed my absence on arrival, Nick inquired of my co-conspirator as to my whereabouts; he covered my tracks by saying something about "picking up something from the Audit Department" for him. A satisfied *grunt*, and Nick sauntered off to the coffee station.

Slipping into my office, I buried my nose in a training manual and pondered where I might want to be in about 20 or so minutes, which is what we figured would be about the time the "browser" would erupt. Nick settled that for us: he invited me, my co-conspirator and a third investigator to join him on the roof.

The third investigator -- aware of the set up -- had the presence of mind to sneak along a camera.

It was a very pleasant spring day. We exited the central core, and stood around on the roof, taking in the view while Nick sipped his coffee and indulged his nicotine habit. My now two co-conspirators were chatting about this and that, and I was biting my lip, trying not to burst out laughing at the sight about 100 feet to our right.

At about that moment, Nick cast a glance in that direction. And stopped. Stared. Did a double-take. Then the stammering imitation of Capt. Wallace Binghamton (McHale's Navy) began: "Wha..wha...WHAT IS THAT?"

He began walking toward his truck, staring intently; my bit lip was threatening to burst. The other two were staying back wearing irrepressible grins. Nick walked to within 10 feet of his truck, his stare ever more intense. Then he turned, glancing back at us and sputtering, and then centered that ponderous glare...on me.

"YOU! HERE, NOW!", pointing at the asphalt in front of him.

With the greatest of difficulty, I kept a straight face as I approached the now red-faced Nick.

*Gesturing toward the truck* "WHAT IS THAT, YOUNG MAN?"
" looks like a lightbar, sir".
"Sitting on that truck".
"Well boss, I reckon you'd have to ask the owner about that.."
"Really? That's YOUR truck, Nick? I didn't know you had a lightbar on your truck. I thought you hated those things.."
"Uh...letting people know you're official?"

*off came the glasses and thus commenced my first triggered browser, whilst my two co-conspirators were convulsing a few feet away*


I and one co-conspirator did, but not before the other one snapped a photo of it, along with a photo of Nick pondering what he was going to do with me and whom he considered my #1 co-conspirator (see above).

After the color returned to his face, Nick just stood there, sipping his coffee and smoking his second cigarette -- I think he inhaled the first one whole, when he saw the lightbar -- and pondering how he could make our collective lives miserable that day.

"Guess I need to find something extra for you to do, to keep you out of trouble, eh?" he growled in mock-menacing way as he stubbed out his cigarette.

"Uh, not really, boss. It was no trouble putting it there, really". That triggered a second browser, to the delight of my co-conspirators.

True to his word, Nick did find something for me to do that day; along with my co-conspirator who Nick accused of "having a bad influence on the lad".

Regretfully, I don't have the picture of the lightbar atop Nick's truck: the only extant copy of it -- shot with a Polaroid -- was presented to Nick when he retired in December, 1988.

By then, I think I was approaching Eddie Rickenbacker's score as an "ace" in the *browser* department.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Between you and Karen, I'm not sure I want to expose Trevor to your pranks. Maybe I'll just rent a car.


15 January, 2007 07:05  
Blogger Raggedy said...

That was great!
What fun it must have been.
Pranks are so much fun!
^5 that was a good one.

Have a wonderful day!
(=':'=) hugs
(")_ (")Š from
the Cool Raggedy one

15 January, 2007 14:37  
Blogger Karen said...

That is hilarious!!! I bow to you, oh Great Prankster! Your answers to Nick were the best part. I applaud you on keeping the straight face.

I don't why Monica is worried about Trevor being attacked while she's in Denver, do you? ;-)

Perhaps you and I better compare notes to ease her mind, what do you think?

16 January, 2007 15:08  
Blogger header5 said...

Fantastic story!

17 January, 2007 21:30  
Blogger Leilani said...

this was a hilarious story...

24 January, 2007 10:27  
Blogger Debbie said...

New definition for the word "browser", heh.

You are a mischievous one aren't you.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

21 January, 2009 22:14  
Blogger Zip n Tizzy said...

Mischief... Thanks for letting me know what's in store from my two little pranksters.

Too funny. I love the photo. So classic.

22 January, 2009 11:56  
Blogger jenniferw said...

Oh, a prankster, eh? I shoulda known.

... he knew I had an ornery streak. One he figured to control.

Yeah ... I've had a few try to control mine too! To no avail. Good for you, SF.

22 January, 2009 19:21  
Anonymous Leeuna said...

Hahahah! Baaaad skunky!

26 January, 2009 11:31  
Blogger Herb said...

Move over IE7 and FF3! Oops. Wrong browser. that's a good one.

30 January, 2009 17:09  

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