The boss worked in a fishbowl, so office tricks were a treat

Phones weren't made to fly

Who, Me? Welcome once more to Who, Me? The Register's weekly walk-through of readers being just a little bit bad … but mostly getting away with it!

This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Philip" who once worked in a factory where the boss occupied an office that overlooked the production line and was walled off by plexiglass shields – Bond villain style.

From within that polymer roost the boss could see everything that happened below.

But everyone below, on the mezzanine where Philip worked, could see him too.

And could see that he had the odd habit, when his phone rang, of not bothering to walk around into his transparent eyrie but instead stretching over the plexiglass to pluck up his handset.

For the benefit of younger readers, it's worth noting that this was an era when telephones did not fit in your pocket, but sat in a more or less fixed location on the desk, and you operated them using a handset that was attached with a length of coiled wire a meter or so long. Yes, it's all very primitive.

"Sitting in our mezzanine floor above and to one side, we – and I use the plural to escape full blame – decided to call Ron and, watching to see when he reached over to pick up, immediately hung up," Philip admitted.

After a few of those pranks, the boss was beginning to display clear signs of not appreciating the situation.

Philip and his colleagues decided this was the time to take the prank to another level – by using a cable tie to cut most of the handset's reach out of the loop.

The next time the boss leant over his plastic shielding to take a call, he therefore had about 15cm of slack to play with – not the meter or more he was expecting.

At this point, physics came into play and the entire phone arced into the air and over the plexiglass, in a manner Philip felt was "both poetic and entirely predictable."

Physics is like that, after all.

Philip expressed remorse to the boss. But said it did brighten the day considerably. As did another office jape from the same workplace which involved one of the engineers wedging an electrolytic capacitor (which had been pinched from the production line) between two filing cabinets and wiring it up, in reverse, to a 25-amp power supply. The capacitor usually expired quietly but Philip said the engineer "would occasionally be rewarded with a decent enough bang to cause the other engineers to look around with a deer-in-the-headlights stare, usually reserved for major assembly line cock-ups."

Have you inflicted a phone prank on the boss? Share your story with an email to Who, Me? and you might find your story here on a future Monday. ®

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