OK, it’s “next time.” I love this topic.
After Diane left the company, (see previous post to catch up) we entered a kind of dead period in our department. Nothing much ever went on. I had another friend in the department, that I’ll call Redneck Man. Redneck Man was actually an idea we had for a comic book, based on my buddy’s core principles of hunting, fishing and tormenting the politically correct.
Anyway, we were always trying to scare up some after-work activities, namely Happy Hours. But there were never any bites.
That all changed in 2001 and 02, when we had an influx of new younger employees join our department. Two, in particular, Jenn and Kristy, completely breathed new life into the area. Both were about 22 and just adorable. Soon after, we had a regular Happy Hour set up, which we called the Tuesday Night Beer and Wing Club, which regularly drew between 6 to 12 people. We had some great times.
As it turned out, Jenn was a most fertile field in which to plant practical jokes. She was orderly, bordering on OCD. Everything in her cube (and life) had to be arranged just so. Pictures and documents had to be hung up perfectly square… even her push-pins that were stuck into her cube wall were lined up in perfect little rows… arranged by color!
Redneck Man had a cube across the aisle from her, and I admit; he was the main instrument in torturing poor Jenn. He’d often stay late, and after she’d leave he’d go into her cube and tilt the pictures juuuuuuust a smidge. He’d change the angle of the lines of her push-pins and maybe mingle the colors. It drove her nuts.
Jenn never knew who did it. In fact, she’d often complain to Redneck Man about it, wondering who was messing around in her cube.
One day, Redneck Man let me in on the next trick he was pulling. Jenn had five 3-ring binders full of documents. The docs were in alphabetical order and each one was in a clear vinyl sleeve. All 5 binders were red and were lined up in order on a shelf.
Redneck Man came in one night, took the 4th binder, removed all the vinyl sleeves and placed them in a beat up black binder, then put it back. The beauty of taking the 4th binder was that there was no symmetry among the binders. I loved this idea.
Jenn had no idea why someone would do this. She wondered to Redneck Man if it was someone that was just messing with her, or someone that needed a binder and was just being rude about it. Redneck Man sympathized accordingly.
Here’s the part where I come in. Over beers one night, Redneck Man and I discussed the notebooks. I suggested that he remove another one and do the same thing, but it would have to be the 1st one, so maintain the non-symmetry.
“This time”, I said, “put the vinyl sleeves the black binder upside down.”
He was already hiding the contraband red binder, and we didn’t have any more red binders in our supply area. I knew that Jenn would take steps to rectify her binder situation, so I suggested we get to the department Admin, who was the gatekeeper for supply orders.
We told her what we were doing with the binders and that if Jenn were to come to her to order new binders, she should tell her there’s a moratorium on new supply orders, due to cost cutting measures. The Admin agreed.
Jenn was losing her mind.
“Now I KNOW someone’s screwing with me,” she told Redneck Man.
And she did indeed seek to order new binders. The Admin shot it down, just like we asked. It was brilliant.
I wanted Redneck Man to continue replacing the binders, one by one, but he was getting bored with it. He said it took too freakin’ long to get all the vinyl sleeves in and out. So eventually, he switched the red binders back in over another couple weeks, and all was forgotten. Jenn never found out who had done it. Until I let the cat out of the bag, that is.
A year or two later, it was time for Redneck Man to move on. He’d gotten his law degree and passed the Bar, so he was leaving to do a little lawyering.
In our department, we were good at throwing goodbye parties. This was something Kristy brought to the table. She’d always prepare a scrapbook for the person leaving. She’d solicit everyone to do a page of whatever they wanted… pictures, memories, whatever… and she would compile it.
I’d usually do some kind of Top Ten list tailored to the escapee. In Redneck Man’s case, I compiled a list called, “The (Limited) Virtues of Redneck Man.”
Compassion: Redneck Man often suppressed his laughter at the misfortune of others, at least until they were out of earshot.
Man of Science: Redneck Man considered many factors, such as mass, velocity, airspeed, arc and angle, in developing a scientific experiment that would determine how many layers of Bubble Wrap it would take to protect former co-worker Diane, if she were dropped out the 5th floor window. (Same Diane from prior post. He and I would always have this conversation whenever Diane could hear us. She’d get so freaked out!)
Courage: When the Department was dismissed from work early due to life threatening weather conditions, Redneck man addressed the situation by walking fearlessly to the closest bar and drinking heavily. (With his Wing Man, bluz, of course.)
I’d forgotten that Jenn had never learned the terrible truth about her binders, so I also included the following:
Concern for the Mental Health of Others: He took great pains to break the pattern of obsessive/compulsive behavior in co-worker Jenn, by altering the angle of her wall hangings and randomly changing the color of her binders.
One of the things about the scrapbook is that it gets passed around so everyone could see it. So there was Jenn, reading the scrapbook, when…
“Oh my God, that was YOU???”
Man, we were lucky we were all in the office. Jenn could string together some top-notch profanity that would make a sailor blush. But not at work.
We got off light, Redneck Man especially. He was leaving, after all.
Me? I was eventually able to talk to Jenn alone and explain, with heartfelt sympathy, how it was all Redneck Man’s fault.
What the hell? It wasn’t like he didn’t mess with me either. He knew how superstitious I was about Steelers games. This was another item from my scrapbook page:
Efficiency: Redneck Man planted the seed in his friend bluz’s head, that on the day before a Big Game, it might be bad luck to go through subway turnstile #13, thus making it possible to torment him for the rest of his subway riding days, without even having to actually be there.
From that day on, I avoided that turnstile, right up until they put in new ones that didn’t have numbers. You know how I am about game-day mojo… Jersey, pants, socks… everything needs to be just so. Like I needed to worry about one more thing.
Good thing I don’t keep any binders.