The stage was set for a practical joke on my work colleague Helen. The envelope was sitting on her desk just waiting for her to come back from lunch.
Helen had a habit of turning up late for work so I’d written a rather official looking letter (on company headed paper no less) saying that, due to her repeated tardiness, she was being let go. I know – but it seemed really funny at the time and I’d made it obvious that it was a joke by adding that “as Matt is such a punctual person you must give him your chair” and signed it with some obviously fake name like Anne Dontcomeback.
In walks Helen, immediately sees the prominently placed envelope and opens it. As she starts to read the letter she looks a bit shocked but then reads the rest of it, laughs, looks over to me and calls me a cheeky so-and-so. Well, that was what I was expecting to happen but in reality she reads only the first paragraph about being sacked before bursting into tears…proper sobbing tears. Oh shit!
Not only was I shocked I had made her cry but I’m now seriously concerned that I’m going to be in big trouble if her manager finds out I’ve been jokingly sacking her staff. I had to quell these tears before anyone else notices and fast! Charging over to her desk I was not sure exactly how to make this right so rather lamely said, “erm…it’s a joke, just read the rest of the letter”.
She picks up the letter, wipes the tears from her eyes and reads the full letter with the witty ending I’d been so proud of only a few minutes earlier. She finishes reading, puts down the letter, looks at me and simply says, “why would you do that?” Why indeed.