IT service desk employees aren’t the easiest people to prank.
You might get away with telling the new hire in another department with a slow internet connection to check the “internet fluid” levels in his PC, but on your side of the help desk it just won’t fly. That’s OK, however, because there are an infinite number of harmless pranks you can play on your service desk peers. Just be prepared for retaliation, because it’s as inevitable as death and taxes. Here are five pranks to try when the service desk needs an injection of humor.
1. Make their Background Picture Mess With Their Mind
With some versions of Windows, you can have the desktop background rotate through a number of predefined images. Take the prank-ee’s desktop background and make several copies. Alter them so that as the background images change as “animation” takes place. Make a chicken walk across the screen, or a make stick figure enter the screen briefly before backing out. Alternatively, you could make it so that every nth wallpaper has something unusual (like a rage face) show up on the normal background. Set up the wallpaper to change every few seconds so that the animation or surprise addition shows up regularly. In Windows XP, you can edit backgrounds as animated gifs to carry out this prank.
2. Evil Secret Santa
If your IT department does a Secret Santa gift exchange, volunteer to head it up one year. If you’re not familiar with the holiday ritual, the Secret Santa lead is responsible for collecting the names of participants and giving everyone the name of the person they’re supposed to buy a (usually cheap or funny) holiday gift for. Get a trusted colleague (preferably a quiet, unassuming person with a mean streak) as your accomplice. Then, make sure everyone “draws” the name of your accomplice. On gift exchange day, everyone will realize they got a gift for the same person. In the end, of course, you redistribute the gifts to everyone.
3. Safety Man (or Woman)
Print out several copies of a photo of the prank-ee. You may need to print them out in different sizes. If possible, choose a photo where he or she has a funny facial expression. Cut out the heads and paste them on public service posters, safety posters, and other informational documents people post on bulletin boards around the workplace. See how long it takes him / her to realize his or her starring role in company safety and regulation posters.
4. For the Coffee-Drinking Sports Fan
For this one, you need a prank-ee who a) drinks a lot of coffee from a favorite mug, and b) is a major, vocal fan of a particular sports team. This prank works best in an open-plan office, or one where people interact a lot (preferably while drinking coffee). If you don’t already know, find out who his team’s biggest rival is. On the bottom of his mug, use a Sharpie to write something like “Go [rival team].” Better yet, get one of your more artistically-inclined co-workers to draw the rival team’s mascot on the bottom of his mug. For example, the rabid Red Sox fan gets a Yankees logo on the bottom of his mug. Every time he takes a drink of his coffee, others will see him inadvertently “root” for his rival team.
5. The Microsoft Keyboard Update
This one takes some effort, but it’s worth it, and works best with more naïve co-workers. On his or her day off, take the keys off his or her keyboard and put them back on in random — or even alphabetical — order. Use a keyboard re-mapper like MapKeyboard to remap the keys to their new positions. When the prank-ee returns, tell her that Microsoft announced a Keyboard Update in her absence, and while everyone is required to eventually switch to the new keyboards, she was chosen for the pilot program.
Office pranks have been around since the first old-timer ordered the first newbie to obtain the first stack of double-sided transparencies. Keep it clean and safe and you can have a lot of fun punking the people you’re forced to spend one-third of your time with. And be sure to let us know in the comments if you have any great office prank ideas for IT workers.