Thursday, April 1, 2010

Are you a fool?

April Fools Day.  Today is one of my favorite days of the year.  I get to be a jerk (this is nothing new) and have some some justification for being that way.  Long ago, when I worked in a office with other people, not in the basement like I do today, we pulled some very elaborate pranks on each other.  Working in a cube farm made these pranks very easy to perpetrate.  Since I work from home and most of my peers or “marks” work from home as well, I had to get a little bit more imaginative.

I was hard pressed for ideas this year and couldn’t come up with anything worthy of trying.  With only a few hours before April 1st, an idea came to me.  My idea was to have one of our business partners email  another one of my peers and tell him that they have decided to go with another product. 

Here is the scenario (the names have been changed to protect the innocent/gullible/guilty):

The Mark: “Pat”

The Conspirators: Me, “PJ” – Pat’s customer, and “Jason” – Pat’s manager

The History:  “Pat” created a brilliant application several years ago, there was nothing like it in the industry and there is still nothing like it today.  This application has always been Pat’s baby and he has vigorously designed and developed it for the past 4 years, even spending 2 weeks of 20 hour days (that’s roughly 320 hours in 16 days to you mere mortals) last year to make upgrades and enhancements to it.  In total, he has probably spent over 6 months of development time, writing code for this application.  I am the “application owner” for this app and get to make all of the final decisions on what gets done to it.  I am constantly telling him what a POS it is and that I don’t want to spend any more time or effort on it, just to give him a hard time (me being a jerk when it is not April 1st).  He typically gets very defensive, threatens my life, various parts of my anatomy and my property, especially my car tires.

The Prank: PJ sent an email to Pat, copying PJ’s boss and peers and me, telling Pat that his business has decided to scrap Pat’s application in 2 months and go with a product produced by an outside vendor.  This alone would be enough to push Pat to the edge, but the kicker was:  This new application the vendor created was an exact replica of Pat’s application with a bunch of new features that Pat has been dying to add, and PJ thinks they got the idea for it after having seen Pat’s application.

How it played out: Pat immediately instant messaged me.  This is a transcript of the conversation.

“Pat” [8:58 AM]: I guess we don’t have to support “THE APP” anymore

Me [8:58 AM]: I just read that. I was going to text you. Did you talk to him?

“Pat” [8:58 AM]: Not yet

Me [8:58 AM]: Did he tell you about this before? Is this new?

“Pat” [8:59 AM]: Nope. Must be

Me [8:59 AM]: This sucks, how many months of development have we spent on this?

“Pat” [8:59 AM]: It does, like 6 months easy

Me [9:00 AM]: I wonder if the other areas will use it too

“Pat” [9:00 AM]: good question

Me [9:01 AM]: I tried emailing PJ but he is out of the office.  let me ask around

“Pat” [9:04 AM]: ok. if it is a major cost then maybe we can talk them out of it LOL.

Me [9:04 AM]: what sucks is it looks like “the vendor” stole our (your) idea and built it themselves

“Pat” [9:04 AM]: yea

Me [9:07 AM]: I talked to a project manager in the business and they said it is a corporate initiative, some deal with “the vendor”

“Pat” [9:07 AM]: then this must be something they had before us

Me [9:08 AM]: she said it will be made available to operations first, and then rolling out to line managers by end of year

“Pat” [9:08 AM]: I wonder how long this has been going on for

Me [9:09 AM]: she said the deal has been out there for a while, but this is something new they just released. she is saying we are the first to get it

“Pat” [9:10 AM]: I bet they saw ”THE APP” and figured it would be a good sale to the company

Me [9:11 AM]: I wonder if they saw the our old version and went from there.  Email PJ and see if he can get some screen prints or something

“Pat” [9:14 AM]: gonna call him

Me [9:14 AM]: Let me know if you get a hold of him. Conference me in.

“Pat” [9:14 AM]: will do. we can grill him together. bitch him out. calling now.

Me [9:16 AM]: trying to get the docs from the PM now. she said she has something on it

“Pat” [9:16 AM]: ok

Me [9:28 AM]: oh wow, this sucks. she just sent them

“Pat” [9:28 AM]: let me see!

Me [9:29 AM]: this looks just like “THE APP” almost exactly

The Reveal:  The email I sent to “Pat” which he thought contained screen prints of the new application was actually all of the conversations I had with the various co-conspirators of the prank.

The Mark’s Reaction:

“Pat” [9:32 AM]: you fuckers

“Pat” [9:33 AM]: I will beat you to death

“Pat” [9:33 AM]: good one

Me [9:33 AM]: thanks, this was a late night idea

“Pat” [9:33 AM]: you got me. I was pissed

Me [9:33 AM]: last minute, I couldn't come up with anything else

“Pat” [9:33 AM]: my heart dropped when I read this email

Happy April Fool’s Day.  I will try to post some of our previous pranks in future posts.  If you have any pranks of your own or any ideas, let me know.

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