I work in a department with 30 other people and am in trouble because of a practical joke I played on April 1st. I sent an email to all of my co-workers. I said our boss had called an emergency meeting and was waiting for us at the Starbucks across the street from our office building. (I knew that the boss was gone for the morning because he had a dentist appointment.) I timed it so almost everyone was missing when the boss arrived at work. It was hysterical, but he did not see the humor. My boss says that he is talking to human resources to determine my level of discipline. Thank goodness he told me he has ruled out termination. Still, since when does management discipline people for April Fool’s jokes? I did not hurt anyone. It was just a joke! Help me fast so I can change his mind. What can I say to him?
Help you? I want to slap you.
You let your inner child take over. That is almost never a good idea when you are at work. From now on, put your inner child in day care and only let your inner adult show up at the office.
I don’t know how long your co-workers were sitting at Starbucks or walking to and fro, but it is obvious that you caused a lot of wasted work time. Client calls went to voice mail. People with deadlines got further behind. Folks on diets were tempted by scones and café mochas. Your supervisor is doing the right thing by addressing your poor impulse control. (By that, I mean it was a fantastic prank! It worked like a charm. Of course you were tempted. I might have had trouble resisting the impulse myself, but I think I would have. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
In the future, remember this: There are lots of things that are perfectly fine to say or do on your own time that you should never even think of saying or doing at work. Just because you think a witty thought does not mean you should share it. Just because you think of something “funny” does not mean that you should do it. I used to think about putting a tack on my boss’s chair, but I hardly ever actually did it. Being able to filter your words and govern your own behavior is a sign of emotional maturity.
Talk to your supervisor. Tell him that you have thought about what happened and realize in hindsight it was a really dumb idea. You are not being terminated, so accept the discipline like a grown up and do better in the future. If it makes you feel better, your practical joke pales in comparison to the office worker who told her boyfriend there was a gunman in her office building at City Hall. He called 9-1-1 to report the emergency and after the dust settled, she was arrested. Now, don’t you feel better?
— Evil Skippy