Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bluz, You Have a Mitch Cumstein on Line 1...

As you may have seen in posts from earlier last year, I love practical jokes and there are few lengths to which I will not go in order to pull off a good one.  I can be inhumanly patient for the payoff too.  In fact, I set one up in 2005 and I’m still waiting for it to pay off.

Parallel to that, I’m sure you can tell that I love puns and word play.  Fake names are some of my favorite things.  My family and I used to always call each other up at work and give unusual names to whoever answered.  I remember I’d be all busy managing my record store and one of my clerks would come up to me kind of puzzled, and say, “You have ‘Mitch Cumstein’ on line one?

I’d laugh because I knew that was my brother, using one of the joke names from ‘Caddyshack.’  My poor clerk didn’t know if she was being put on or what…

We weren’t always that clever on the phone.  When I’d call my dad at work, he’d answer the phone with his name… “Jim Dude…”

I’d always say, “Big fuckin’ deal.”

It’s his own fault; he’s the one that told me that was what he always said when he called his friend, The Lob, at work.

OK now let me see if I can tie all this together.

I mentioned in Comments to an earlier post that we have a thing at work called a Desk Audit.  This was where once per quarter, someone would come in early in the morning and check everyone’s desk to make sure we were adhering to the company’s Clean Desk Policy.  That basically covered keeping your drawers locked with no keys in sight and making sure there was no personal or proprietary information left on your desk for someone to steal or make mischief with.
I gave a copy of this cartoon to the girl doing our Desk Audits.  It killed.

Now, let me be straight here: I’m all for Desk Audits.  In that department, we handled a lot of customer paperwork with names, socials, etc.  We needed to be sure they were secure.  So I had no problem with the Desk Audits at all…

That is, until I started failing them.  The first one or two, OK, they had a point… I had something minor that was wrong.  Then I failed an audit because my file drawer wasn’t locked… in my file cabinet that HAD NOTHING IN IT.  I didn’t even have a key to it.  It’s enough to drive you to drink.

Then I failed one because I had a department phone list posted on my wall, because we often needed to get a hold of our folks on the road.  These lists had been up in people’s cubes for years.  So NOW it’s an issue?  My beef was that I’d have been happy to comply, if only someone had mentioned that they were changing the freakin’ rules.

So I redacted all the personal information out of my contact list.  And I failed again, because now they didn’t want people’s desktop extensions listed in sight either.  I lost my shit with this one; I was so pissed.  I accused the Compliance people of trying to make people fail.  (I wasn’t the only one pinched on that.)  Any of us would have complied with all of these stupid rules, if they’d only told us what they were!!  Suddenly I’m living in Dilbert world.

I decided to start messing with my tormentors.  I started by placing “decoy” keys around my cube.  We were supposed to keep all desk keys on us, but I (and many others) hate carrying keys around.  So we usually hide them somewhere handy.  That’s a no-no.  But since I had the most brilliant Key Hiding Place ever (which I will never disclose), I decided to taunt my tormentor by attaching a paper clip to one of those wire key circles.  I stuffed the paper clip down the inside rim of my potted plant and left the key ring visible.  I had some hanging down in other places as well.

I also took down my department phone list and put up a new one, populated entirely with fake names.  But I couldn’t just leave it at regular fake names; I had to use funny ones.

Way back in the 70s, when the National Lampoon magazine was still relevant, they used to do these incredible parodies.  They did a complete Sunday newspaper, every word of which was a joke.  (The Classifieds were priceless.)  They also did a High School Yearbook parody, again, painstakingly detailed.  I remembered that they had the freshman class pictures all on one page, cut down to thumbtack sized, with a huge list of names underneath.  Every name was a joke. 

Fortunately for me, I was able to find the list online and steal a bunch of them for my list.  OK, I they’re not all literal copies… I made some alterations to a number of them, to make them less obvious and more, well, “name-like.”  A couple more, I made up out of whole cloth, and then threw in a few more that I’d heard somewhere along the line.

So now, there I was, just daring someone to bust me now.

Never worked out.  Shortly after that, the girl that was doing the checks left the company.  Before she left, though, I had her come in and see if she could find my key hiding spot.  She couldn’t, although she thought she had me with the decoy.  Revenge is mine!

I’m in a different department now but I still have the list up on my cube wall and we still do Desk Audits.  My new Desk Auditors have never mentioned the phone list.  I have a feeling that the phone list prohibition was unique to my old department.  It’s been 7 years and I’m still waiting for someone to notice.

But now, whenever I need a quick alias, I can consult my list and pick one of the following:
Aaron Buoy
Bert Toast
Penny Lofer
Castor Hoyle
Milton Yermouth
Hammond Ecks
Jacquelyn Hyde
Val Vita
Stu Pendus
Mandy Lifeboats
Daryl Licht
Barbara Blacksheep
Phil Landerer
Vic Trola
Justin Thyme
Nick O’Thyme
Rhoda Horst
Al Fresco
Eva Destruction
Sara Ann Dippity
Patti Melt
Lance Boyle
Al Dente
Michael Hawke (a distant relative of Michael Hunt)


Gia said...

Hahah those are great! And desk audits, eek. Sounds a bit intense for my taste.

bluzdude said...

Yeah... it's the nature of the business. When you deal with a customer's personal information, there has to be safeguards. But the work phone numbers went a bit too far...

Jessica R. said...

I would fail a clean desk audit a million times over. I am so glad we don't have to do anything like that.

Your revenge was perfect though.

Christy said...

First of all, I think my brother may still have all those National Lampoon magazines. Like you said, when they were relevant. Love the names you listed! It's funny how people do not know how to read. Or shall I say they can't read between the lines.

Desk auditors are not fun. I've never understood not wanting your employees to feel more welcome with some of there personal items on their desks.

bluzdude said...

That's my motto... never pass up a chance to screw with people.

bluzdude said...

Nat Lamp used to be brilliant. They had some of the greatest writers and satirists out there. It was a big influence on my writing life.

Now don't get the wrong idea about the desk audits... they had nothing to do with making one's desk impersonal. I couldn't live that way. My cube is chock full of personal touches... I figure if I have to spend 9 hours a day there, it had better be comfortable.

The desk audits are only to make sure that vital data is secure. Every financial institution should take it that seriously.

My only beef was that my department was changing the criteria without telling anyone. On that, I have to call "Shenanigans."

Ashley and Stephanie said...

I can only hope, NAY DREAM to one day reach your level of prank-master. I salute you sir

- Rick R. Mortis / Ash

Unknown said...

I love the fake names. I'm going to be Val Vita from now on. And the office pranks, that's like gorilla warfare for people in suits. You're one funny dude!

Gina said...

I would totally fail any desk audit they threw at me.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

Wow, yeah, my desk is the laughingstock of the company. I wonder if your auditors would have a problem with the bottle of tequila I have prominently displayed. I love what you did to torment them, though. I kind of feel sorry for them, but I also kind of feel like they deserve it.

bluzdude said...

Thanks Ash. And I may have to add Rick to the list.

bluzdude said...

OK, Val. You want to see some real office prankage? Click a couple of those links at the top of the post.

I had an idea for a good one once, but I never did it. I’m in an 18-story office building and they were re-painting the stairwells. Because of that, they had the floor numbers written on notebook paper and taped to the doors.

What I wanted to do was to take each number and move it up one level, so that people would get out on the wrong floor. Most of our floors are laid out the same way, so it might have taken a few moments for them to realize that they weren’t on the floor they expected. Would have been brilliant.

Unfortunately, while I was deciding whether I should do it or not, they finished the stairwells and put up permanent floor numbers.

bluzdude said...

Well then I hope you’re not harboring any Top Secret information…

bluzdude said...

Well, I already display a full (and sealed) can of Iron City Beer on my desk. (Steelers commemorative can.) I don’t think much would come of it, other than getting stolen my someone from the clean-up crew overnight. Like I’ve been saying, the Desk Audits aren’t about personal stuff or even cleanliness… just information security.

I’m picturing your desk right now, as a giant repository for old gourds, Thai carryout cartons, donut crumbs and black and white photographs of questionable substances. And mini vodka bottles.

Cassie said...

Mr. Cumstein. I would fail a house audit. I mean, how reliable ARE those, really?

Oh, pretty reliable, you say?


bluzdude said...

House audits are graded on a curve. If the house contains 3 kids under 5, it’s a completely different scale.

sherry stanfa-stanley said...

If I get the chance to see you this summer, remind me to tell you the story of our girls' trip to the beach one year, when my sister had business cards made that said she was Muffin Hardgrove--Talent Scout for GQ Magazine. I was her assistant (providing our naive photo subjects with photo releases that I'd borrowed from my real day job as a small-town newspaper reporter).

Always love a good prank, even when it's at someone else's expense...

bluzdude said...

Oh, that's great. Love it. Great name, too.

Reminds me of something my brother and his friends did when on vacation in Florida. One of them had one of those fancy handheld video cameras (fancy for 1982) and went around telling everyone that they were music video producers.