PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Friday, April 01, 2005

A Fool & His Parking Space......

First, a happy b'day shout to Becky in Hawaii, and my knittin' bud Carol in St.Louis, even though I don't think she reads my blog. Just in case. What an awesome day to have as a birthday! Also, I installed haloscan for commenting. For now. I still threaten to go to typepad & if I figure out how to transfer all my blogger files, I still may do it. Blasted Blogger. Again, I digress.

I love jokes and pranks, especially the elaborate ones. However, having concocted a number of them myself, I'll admit: it makes you paranoid. For instance, I'm going in to my new place of employment today for a meet-n-greet (they're apparently gonna be drinking beer, so it's not exactly formal), and I have this teensy-weensy-back-of-the-brain fear that the entire job offer is gonna be one big prank. Probably because that whole process happened so fast - I've never sent in a resume, been called to interview immediately, interviewed, and had an offer from start to finish in 10 days. And probably because I'm F-ING PARANOID. My last job did a number on me, with the feeling of having to cover one's ass CONSTANTLY to justify any minor twitch or bump. So not how to live, but it also evolved over time, because I was a "star" when I started, one of the golden children - but I had no clue! I just thought everything was awesome blossom, and I had come from the job with the crazy pantyhose lady. Hell, at that time, Leona Helmsley woulda seemed like a sharp, astute, somewhat demanding, yes, but a great boss, comparatively. But as I would learn, every star has its fall, sadly, and when I fell, another rose, and I couldn't believe it was true, but in time, her star also fell. Sigh. No sense in belaboring that cycle - I'm out!

So, my friends, I will give you one of the greatest pranks I've ever pulled. It was at the former employer, and my god, did it blow up in my face, and everyone else who helped pull it off. But DAMN it was funny. And to his credit, the president/owner of the company thought it was HILA-rious & later said that if people didn't like the joke, then fuck 'em. Direct quote.

The Elaborate Parking Space Prank.
Background: Corporate office building, 16 stories tall. Parking garage (free parking), three stories underground, three stories above ground. Spaces are not universally painted, so some are narrow, some are wide. People tend to park in the same spots, perhaps it's the territorial-nature of human beings, perhaps it's just habit. Multiple businesses in building, our company was the largest single entity.

I was on a committee that worked primarily on public relations/events. We also wanted to liven up things around the joint. One afternoon, we brainstormed & came up with the April Fool's joke, to convince everyone that we were moving to assigned parking spaces, and to make everyone go through some silly ritual to get their space. At first, we were going to hire a guy to come in with a clipboard, and have people park in the space they wanted with their blinkers on, to wait for the clipboard guy to note their license plate. What we finally arrived at, was to have people park in the space they wanted, put their business card under their wiper blade, and it would be collected & noted by 10 a.m.

We went for convincing. Really, it's my specialty. Make it so real, employ others with authority, and all you have to do is sit back and wait for the bite. We had the building manager & our director of operations in on it. A voicemail and email went out to the agency, telling people that the spaces were going to be repainted over the upcoming weekend, and spaces would be numbered. As the largest tenant in the building, we were given first shot at choosing the space we wanted. You had to have your car parked in the spot you wanted by 9:15 the next morning (April 1). This announcement went out around 2 in the afternoon, March 31.

One hour later, the joint was ON FIRE. The creative department had started a petition against this new policy, stating that assigned parking restricted them too much, they wanted their GOD GIVEN FREEDOM to park wherever they wanted given the weather and how they felt. (Let's be honest: that department never got to work on time, and they were pissed about having to get in that early.) People were moving their cars that afternoon, to leave them overnight - getting rides home with other people. People who'd worked there a long time were pissed because they had always wanted reserved spots & now it was a free-for-all and some pipsqueak who hadn't put in their time might end up with a better spot than them. HR and Operations were getting deluged, and thankfully, our operations person had left for the day. It was melee. Over a PARKING SPACE. Shortly before 5 that same day, we pulled the plug - but it was too late for some people, having left early, etc., so they arrived the next day, put their cards on their windshields & came in to discover that it was all a big hoax. One manager made a huge deal about how one of her employees came in early that day, leaving her DYING MOTHER'S BEDSIDE so she could get the parking spot. Some people are STILL mad about it, 3 years later.

I can only say this. If a parking spot takes priority over your dying mother? Then things are seriously wrong. Bewildered by the abject anger and fury that boiled out over this, I was talking to a girlfriend who used to work with me. She pointed out that, in an environment that is run by so much favoritism, we'd given people the opportunity to compete on a level playing field. Everyone had an equal shot at getting the parking space they wanted, and it hit nerves like crazy. I just kept shaking my head & saying, "But - But - it's just a f-ing PARKING space!" She countered, "It doesn't matter. They saw a chance to jockey for position and they had to take it."

Double sigh. I have no pranks planned for the day, partly because I've got a cold & feel dragged down. Partly because I've played so many in my life, and some really got people wound up, beyond my wildest predictions (case in point!) My husband already got me this morning, by installing some sorta "mouse droppings" thing so every time I moved my cursor I got a black rectangle that appeared on my screen. Honestly, I thought I needed to re-boot, that my memory was getting low & the computer was acting up. He called an hour ago and told me how to fix it - it was harmless, I laughed, he laughed - nobody got hurt. The point is to laugh. Laughing is good for you. If you have so much anger and fear inside of you, that you can't laugh? Then I suggest a good therapist or a job change, or something significant to get rid of that negativity. I'd love to know about other people's pranks, too. Give me some ideas for next year...... :)
posted by PlazaJen, 8:30 AM