What do you do when the president of your company says the department that pulls the best prank will win $100 each? Cover an entire office in aluminum foil. That’s right. All the walls, all the furniture, all his office equipment, every paper clip and even the sticky notes on his desk. We aim to never be outdone, and this was no exception.
I currently work at 10x Media. The president of the company, Wendy Hudman, is quite the prankster.
A few days before the birthday of the company’s Vice President, she sent him off on an errand and held a company meeting. The challenge? Each of the departments should pull a prank on him sometime on his birthday, with each member of the winning team receiving $100. Contests like this happen all the time, and my team (the programming department) wins these kinds of things frequently, but nothing with a purse this large. Because of our small size, we teamed up with the IT department.
Van, one of the developers, found a site showing pictures of a cubicle coated in aluminum foil. Those guys covered a 5’x5′ cubicle; we were dealing with a 15’x12′ office. Their time: 3 days. We had to do ours in a single evening. Mission: Impossible, you say? We decided to give it a shot.
Right after work we went to get the supplies we needed at the nearest club shopping store.
We walked out with 1750 square-feet of aluminum foil. One roll of 1-foot wide, and another of 18-inch wide foil. Some for the big items and some for the smaller ones.
We began foiling about 7:30 pm, when everyone was out of the office. There was a lot to do, as everything in his office had to be wrapped. Our technique improved as we went along, but it took us longer than we anticipated. Early in the project we also thought we were going to run out of foil, but in the end we had more than enough. Every visible item in his office got covered. We also made a special effort to ensure that as many items as possible still worked. The foiled stapler stapled, the foiled filing cabinets opened properly and the foiled white out could be opened and used. We also paid close attention to details. We covered rubber bands, business cards, a business license, paper clips, even the post-it notes on his desk. Everything in the office reflected when we finally left at 4:00 am.
Even though we didn’t get to bed until very late, a few of us decided that we wanted to be there when he discovered it, and he frequently arrives at work early, so we showed up to work early enough to watch his reaction. He came in a little later than usual, but when he finally arrived he was quite impressed.
Most of the company arrived before he did. As they came in, most of them stopped by to take a look. To notify any who may have missed it, in the middle of the day we forged an email from him to the entire company announcing the prank and inviting them to make a visit and see the photos that had been taken.
Because of the scope of our handiwork, most of the other pranks fizzled and/or seemed weak in comparison. He recieved some ramen as a gift, pictures of him were posted throughout the office, and one team got him to drink something that attempted (unsuccessfully) to change the color of his urine. The accounting team managed to get him locked in his office for an hour or two while he should have been gone. They locked him in after having given him a box of things which weren’t quite things to do.
The next day, during a company-wide meeting, while he was at the front of the group he was told to choose which of the pranks was best. The foiling and being locked in the office were the only real contenders, he said, so he asked the group which one they thought was better. Overwhelmingly, everyone thought the foil was better. While I think that ours was a bit better, I think the real reason that everyone agreed was because of the publicity of our handiwork. We all came out $100 richer and I came out with some really cool looking photos, as well as a story that I hope rivals any other foil story you’ll hear for some time.
Click on any of the pictures for a larger version.
|Total time||About 11 hours|
|Amount of foil used||Approximately 1500 square feet|
|Word of the day on his calendar||Artifice|
|Total prize amount||$500|