Midweek. I’ve got today and tomorrow to get done with my work commitments before I take wing to Asia, I hear Vegas put the lines at 2:1, work over me. Work can’t fade me though, y’all. I’m simply too effective to be caught unaware. I’ll take work, hogtie it, push its face in the dirt, and kick it in the ribs. I make work work for me… and lemme just say that my paycheck better always be on time – or work’s gonna have hell to pay. I can hear work quaking in the corner now, trying to hold its breath. You’re right to be afraid, work, I’m a loose canon.
Since evening engagements kept me from riding my bike to work last week, I was anxious to return to my as-yet-fully-established schedule this week. However, it had been a bit overcast Sunday night, and we’d even run into some showers while out and about. So, I woke up with enough time to check wunderground for the daily forecast before making my decision. I typed in my zipcode and was pleased to see only a 5% chance of precipitation. So, despite grey skies above, I strapped on my helmet and peddled off. Around lunch, I had the chance to peek out the window and noticed it was pouring. Then, lamenting to Ben and Anthony about wunderground’s sucky forecast leaving me looking forward to a wet ride home, Ben mentioned that he had heard on the Sunday news that it was supposed to rain all week. Feeling cheated, I settled for throwing my dripping bike in the back of Ben’s truck for a drier trip home. Once at home, I sat down to the PC – only to find the wunderground forecast I’d called up some 8hrs prior. Turns out, I was one digit off on the zipcode… and was looking at a forecast for a party cloudy day in Benson, Arizona. I find my only solace in hoping some sucker in Benson miskeyed his zipcode this morning and didn’t get to enjoy a dry ride to work because there was a 74% of precipitation.
I am now going to tell a story, one that I’ve held off on telling because I was observing a self-imposed moratorium. I felt this silence was necessary because this particular story is about a practical joke that went a little too far, resulting in some embarrassment on the part of the victim. The story involves Pat, myself, and our mark, Ben. It all started innocently enough, and ended with that sinking feeling you get when you know you’ve done wrong. Let’s begin.
Of late, Ben has been looking to become a homeowner. This means going through the emotional rollercoaster that all prospective homeowners go through. The financial assessment, the learning curve, defining and redefining your standards, the ups and downs of bidding and losing, etc. I know, because I went through it. I bit the nails waiting for an offer to be accepted, did the balance-sheets to see what I could afford, etc. The day our story takes place, Ben has just put an offer on a house that he really likes. It’s the first offer he’s ever made. Pat and I decide the day’s lunch will consist of trying out the new Indian buffet. During lunch, we trade jabs at Ben about his nervousness. We say things like, “Dude, did your phone just ring?” just to watch him jump from the ready-position and grab for his phone. This activity is highly entertaining to us, being that we’ve both been through it before and know how on-edge the whole business can make a body.
Ben endured an hour of good-spirited ribbing, at which point Pat and I dropped him off at a post-lunch meeting in a different building. Even without Ben, Pat and I continued to joke about the whole house-buying process as we drove to our building and parked. As we walked up the stairs, I made a crack about how funny it would be to fabricate a phony fax from Ben’s agent – and leave it on his desk. More of a fleeting suggestion on my part, Pat immediately bit on the idea – urging me by chanting, “Dude, we have to do it. We have to. Come on, it will be so easy. We have to do it.” Eventually, talk turned to just how easy the prank would be to pull off: Word comes with fax templates; I knew the street the property was on; we could look up the rest of the details online; we could print the Word document and then fax it from one machine in the building to another, giving it the official header and footer data of a real fax. Before we knew it, we were holding the faux-fax in our hands, still warm off the machine…
The gist of the prank involved a faux-fax purportedly coming from the selling agent, telling Ben that the seller had accepted his offer but had a few minor additional conditions before the deal would be final. We made sure these details were trivial, but we also made sure that the faux-fax included a deadline – a deadline chosen purposely for its un-meetability. If Ben didn’t call the selling agent before a certain time (a time we knew he’d still be tied up in the meeting we’d just dropped him off at), the seller would accept the next-highest offer. We left the fax on his chair (not an uncommon thing for someone at work to do when they see a fax for someone they know). Pat and I went our separate ways, pleased with ourselves for our creativity. The deadline came and went, and I got absorbed with work… all but forgetting about the prank. Until…
Ben showed up at my desk in a huff, our faux-fax clutched in his right hand. “Did you leave this for me?,” he asked. “Did I leave it for you?,” I said, rhetorically. “Yeah, I left it for you,” I said, answering my own question while holding up the yellow transmittal report that proved I in fact sent the fax in question. I think I noticed the confusion first, then the realization, then the fear. “Is this fake?,” he asked. “Uh-ha, yeah,” I chuckled nervously. “Dude, I called my agent. She’s calling the selling agent now. Is this fake?” “Shut up,” I say, worried. “I’m serious. Dave, do I need to go call my agent right now?” I hang my head, “Go call your agent.” As the horror I saw on his face begins to settle over me, I watch him rush off to try and remedy the situation. My heart immediately sinks, and I turn to my co-conspirator. What follows is the log of our chat as the situation unfolds, saved for this very purpose (long, but good):
Eventually, I made my way over to Ben’s cube to express my apologies. Expectedly, he was not in the best of moods. I honestly thought we may have lost the deal for him, and wanted nothing more than to run away and hide. So, that’s what I did. Sent out a “Dave feeling ill, going home” e-mail around 3pm and headed for the hills. I didn’t talk to Ben at all the next day… wanted to give him some cooling-off time. In the end, everything worked out OK. Ben lost the house for legitimate reasons, and Pat and I soon regained his friendship. Now, if this retelling would just reopen old wounds, it would all be worth it.
Dang, a long, complicated entry; full of deprecated tags and dreaded inline styles. If I’m the king of anything, it’s non-compliant HTML/CSS coding. I don’t care what I have to use as long as it looks right in the end. And, this is the end. Before I go, check out Anthony’s new tattoo:
After all the work I put in on this thing, reading it back makes me feel self-absorbed or something. I guess that’s what happens sometimes when you write about stuff you do instead of stuff you feel. Owell, it’s done now and there’s no way I’m trashing it and writing another entry to take its place. Goodnight.