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Old 06-14-2019, 04:43 PM
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Prankster Doesn't See What Was Wrong with His Prank


I was idly reading some back columns of Dear Annie today and came across this gem. My hackles rose at the word "prank" because I've always thought pranks were rather mean-spirited, but holy crows, does this guy take the cake.

Briefly, the letter writer pulled a "prank" on a co-worker that I think should have gotten him arrested and perhaps beaten to a pulp. While the co-worker was on vacation, the prankster "put" his house up for sale, including an ad in the paper, yard signs, and banners and gave out his co-worker's cellphone number so interested buyers could call while he and his family were on their trip. The poor guy got hundreds of calls, and the prankster doesn't understand why 1) Everyone is mad at him 2) Co-worker got two good offers on his house, so what's the big deal and 3) Co-worker shouldn't have spend his hard-earned money on a vacation anyway.

Talk about clueless. I think even Dear Annie was gobsmacked.

Last edited by ivylass; 06-14-2019 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:12 PM
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This wasn't a prank, but a crime. The jerk belongs in jail.
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:19 PM
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Something about that Dear Annie column raises my suspicions that the letter is fake. It's just too over the top.
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:08 PM
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That could be too. But there are clueless people in the world. I feel sorry for his wife.
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Old 06-14-2019, 07:10 PM
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In a world in which people's houses have been sold without their knowing about it, finding a for sale sign on your front lawn is not in any way funny
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:42 PM
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The first show of the third season of "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" involved the kids selling their house (while the parents were away) to a couple. The wife was played by Patty Hearst.

But the co-worker should be pounded into a photon. And then fired.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:05 PM
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Something about that Dear Annie column raises my suspicions that the letter is fake. It's just too over the top.
I agree.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:50 PM
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In Episode 1 Season 1 of Joe Pera Talks With You, Joe Pera attempts to show you Iron, but he's interrupted by a family wanting to view his house for sale. Turns out the neighborhood kids put someone else's For Sale sign in his yard, as a prank. But it worked out because the actual house for sale looks just like Joe's and the family bought it and now they're some of Joe's best friends.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:09 PM
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The first show of the third season of "The Adventures of Pete & Pete" involved the kids selling their house (while the parents were away) to a couple. The wife was played by Patty Hearst.

But the co-worker should be pounded into a photon. And then fired.
Into the sun.
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Old 06-14-2019, 11:01 PM
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You're being a Stiffly Stifferson.
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Old 06-15-2019, 12:19 AM
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I love pranking Stiffly Stiffersons with my tire iron.
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Old 06-16-2019, 07:45 PM
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Something about that Dear Annie column raises my suspicions that the letter is fake. It's just too over the top.
I think so too. The clincher is the pranker claiming that the prankee "got two good offers". How would he know? Seems unlikely that the homeowner would tell this clown what people were offering, and even if he did, what is a "good offer" on a house that is not for sale at any price?
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Old 06-16-2019, 09:39 PM
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I think so too. The clincher is the pranker claiming that the prankee "got two good offers". How would he know? Seems unlikely that the homeowner would tell this clown what people were offering, and even if he did, what is a "good offer" on a house that is not for sale at any price?
Not to mention: Who makes an offer on a house they haven't seen the inside of?
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Old 06-16-2019, 10:37 PM
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When we put up our family home for sale, we got two offers before we set up a viewing by appointment only.
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Old 06-16-2019, 10:39 PM
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When we put up our family home for sale, we got two offers through the realtor before we set up a viewing by appointment only.
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Old 06-17-2019, 07:04 AM
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So, that's four offers in total?
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Old 06-17-2019, 08:34 AM
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Reminds me of Kathy Rowe.

I worked in 26 years in real estate and yes, this is an illegal act and should be prosecuted,
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Old 06-17-2019, 09:31 AM
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Not to mention: Who makes an offer on a house they haven't seen the inside of?
I've seen that happen when what someone wanted was the land.
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Old 06-17-2019, 09:58 AM
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We live in a neighborhood that everyone seems to want to live in: small 1920s-but-updated homes, next to a park on a lake, within a short walk to good schools, tons of shops and a college.

Our neighbors bought their house by driving down our street every night. One evening they caught a glimpse of a piece of scrap paper thumbtacked to a door: "Willing to sell, call Ralph (555) 555-5555" They pulled over, called and told him they'd take the house.

That was ten years ago. If Ralph hadn't had title to the house, they would've noticed by now...
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Old 06-17-2019, 10:24 AM
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Not to mention: Who makes an offer on a house they haven't seen the inside of?
I made an offer and actually bought my condo before seeing it...my real estate agent checked it out and said it was a great price so I went for it. A lot of people seem shocked that someone would do that, but it all worked out okay (except the [previous owner left a big mess, but that would have happened anyway).
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Old 06-17-2019, 01:30 PM
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Something about that Dear Annie column raises my suspicions that the letter is fake. It's just too over the top.
I think so too. The clincher is the pranker claiming that the prankee "got two good offers". How would he know? Seems unlikely that the homeowner would tell this clown what people were offering, and even if he did, what is a "good offer" on a house that is not for sale at any price?
In particular, when the prankster said, "If you ask me, he shouldn't be spending all that money in the first place" I was sure the story was made up. (Also it was slightly odd that the letter said the house was "for sale by buyer" but that could have been just a typo.)
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Old 06-18-2019, 04:18 PM
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Is it just me, or does anybody else find pranks in general to be unpleasant? I really don't see any merit in them.

They are designed to put the prankee in a humiliating position, and then encouraging others (any observers) to join in the general humiliation. Oh, sure, it's all fun when it's the office boor, and we all join in, but even that person deserves some respect, rather than just bullying. If the prank is designed to 'put them in their place because of xxx', well maybe you should address 'xxx' directly, rather than just being nasty.

Even the pay-off 'Gotcha!' imples the pranker has won some contest, when the victim didn't even know they were playing. The 'Can't you take a joke?' remark also puts the blame for any discomfort on the victim.

Not a fan at all.
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Old 06-18-2019, 04:31 PM
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Is it just me, or does anybody else find pranks in general to be unpleasant? I really don't see any merit in them.

They are designed to put the prankee in a humiliating position, and then encouraging others (any observers) to join in the general humiliation. Oh, sure, it's all fun when it's the office boor, and we all join in, but even that person deserves some respect, rather than just bullying. If the prank is designed to 'put them in their place because of xxx', well maybe you should address 'xxx' directly, rather than just being nasty.

Even the pay-off 'Gotcha!' imples the pranker has won some contest, when the victim didn't even know they were playing. The 'Can't you take a joke?' remark also puts the blame for any discomfort on the victim.

Not a fan at all.
I concur. A prank is when you do something mean or troublesome and try to pass it off as being funny. There are only two ways a prank can come off well - if the prankee takes a "well, you got me!" attitude (which is to say that they think pranking is a contest, which presumably they'll attempt to escalate on in their return prank) or ones where the prank itself is such a technical achievement that the prankee is impressed by the fact it was pulled off at all.
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Old 06-18-2019, 04:42 PM
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You're being a Stiffly Stifferson.
thanks for the reminder of that
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Old 06-18-2019, 06:31 PM
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I like Improv Everywhere-style pranks, where they're really just creating a strange and delightful experience for folks. Pranks that depend on making people look stupid, or terrifying them, or inconveniencing them, are generally better in concept than reality.
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Old 06-18-2019, 08:23 PM
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Is it just me, or does anybody else find pranks in general to be unpleasant? I really don't see any merit in them.
Not just you. I find pranks awful, as a general rule.

Only acceptable when done between people who are okay with mutual pranking. And not when there's peer pressure applied to make them pretend they are okay with it because everyone else in the group is okay with (and even then, who knows how many only pretended to be okay because of peer pressure).
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Old 06-18-2019, 09:02 PM
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Another who hates pranks, Ellen looks utterly sadistic when she takes such glee in scaring people, particularly those just going to the bathroom or something. There is nothing funny about it at all.
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Old 06-18-2019, 09:24 PM
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I'm not comfortable with pranking either. I did prank someone once, but it was by accident. I was walking by her apartment and saw a flyer from the nearby church offering free marital counseling. (This was in Egypt, and the church was predominantly American missionaries who thought it was their duty to convert Muslims to Christianity. So they were a pretty unbearable lot.)

Anyway, I grabbed the flyer and wrote on it, "Dear Anne, I think you and your husband would really get a lot out of these sessions. Hope you'll come! Love, Millie."

I assumed my friend would know that me or one of her other friends had left the personalized flyer on her door as a joke; it's the sort of thing we'd do. But to my surprise she thought it was real and started calling her friends asking if we knew anyone named "Millie," and trying to figure out why Millie had left this note. When she called me, I let her expostulate for a minute or two, but very quickly told her I was the culprit. She thought it was hilarious, and ended up pranking me back very cleverly.

So I guess pranks can be okay, but I still don't like them. Telling that story now, I can see how it could have gone wrong; what if she'd thought it was someone's way of hinting that her husband was having an affair, and they'd had a really big fight as a result? That would have been horrible.

ETA: I think the prank story in the OP is fake, for the same reasons that others do. And it just reads like trolling.
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Last edited by CairoCarol; 06-18-2019 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 06-18-2019, 10:14 PM
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"Pranks" and "practical jokes" are just covering language for "being cruel". I join the posters above who dislike that nonsense.
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Old 06-19-2019, 12:22 AM
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Well, that depends. Filling your boss's office with balloons while he's gone? Funny. Arranging a bucket of paint to fall on his head? Not so much.
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Old 06-19-2019, 05:27 AM
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Exactly. You have to be 100% sure that the prankee will find it funny, too, and that it will not overly inconvenience anyone or have unintended consequences. This is quite hard to do and mostly doesn't apply to more creative and elaborate practical jokes.
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Old 06-19-2019, 05:50 AM
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Well, that depends. Filling your boss's office with balloons while he's gone? Funny.
Ya gotta know your audience/victim. I orchestrated a stunt like this when the boss was on travel - we hung a bunch of balloons from the ceiling and ran strings to his chair - kinda like the house in Up - the boss thought it was a hoot.

Another time, we got a coworker to lie across the doorway into his office and we made a "chalk outline" with masking tape. He left the tape there a long time.

But mean, humiliating, damage-inducing "jokes" - nope, not funny. I may think about dumping horse poop in a coworker's back seat on a hot summer day, but any "hilarity" is purely imaginary. When it goes beyond the "What if we..." stage, it's no longer a harmless prank.
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Old 06-19-2019, 07:34 AM
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One of our suppliers in the US was always pranking the VP of International Sales on his birthday, so they asked for our help. It was another department than mine so I was only aware of it.

One time they had all the distributors in the various countries fax in (it was that long ago) various problems. The guy at our company (the company I was working for at the time) faxed a made up lawsuit by a customer against them.

Another time their president had a story going on for s couple of months that they were going to get an award in the UK and he would go to the award ceremony, and meet the Prince of Wales (or Whales).

He got picked up at his home for the flight but then taken to a restaurant where everyone was waiting.

At first, I thought it was all in fun and games since their president was leading the games, but later I realized that it was a subtle reminder that of the top leaders, he was brought in as an outsider.

So, childish. The president eventually sold the company and a professional CEO was brought in.
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Old 06-19-2019, 11:16 AM
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Exactly. You have to be 100% sure that the prankee will find it funny, too, and that it will not overly inconvenience anyone or have unintended consequences.
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Ya gotta know your audience/victim.
Agree with everyone else who said that pranks can be a good thing if the prankee appreciates them and feels that they should have been done.


Actually, that's one of two situations where I approve of pranks. The other is when the prankee is a bad guy who deserves it. And even then, such pranks are good when they occur in fiction, but I'm not so sure about real life.
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Old 06-19-2019, 08:17 PM
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I agree that most pranks are mean-spirited. Harmless pranks, like balloons in an office, can be easily remedied. But getting hundreds of phone calls while you're on vacation because the office clown thought it would be funny to list your house for sale? Not in the least.
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Old 06-19-2019, 09:30 PM
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Not to mention: Who makes an offer on a house they haven't seen the inside of?
I'm handling the sale of my elderly father's apartment in Greenwich Village. He's moved into a residence for people with dementia and/or Alzheimer's, and won't be returning home.

We sold the apartment in about a week after it went on the market.

One of the best offers was from a fairly well-known actor who never set foot in the place. He had a broker look at it for him, but never came himself.

Ultimately, we rejected his offer, because our broker, and our real-estate lawyer, felt that the co-op board might have a problem with this buyer, fearing he might finally walk in right before closing, take a look around, and realize this isn't at all what he expected.
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Old 06-20-2019, 07:16 AM
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Not to mention: Who makes an offer on a house they haven't seen the inside of?
Two relatives of ours recently inherited two houses. (They each decided to take one.) Both houses are not worth the land they are on. The real estate market there is insane. So the smart thing to do is to sell them to builders who will tear them down and put in at least two new homes on the lots. No need to show the house.

This is a very common thing in the area. Even classic craftsman homes and such are being scrapped.

One person is doing the smart thing. The other didn't and has moved in to a junk house on good land. Nope, not a wise decision.

Even the non-tear down places get quick offers immediately after they are listed. You want to be the first to offer. Setting up and doing a tour takes too long. You have to offer now!
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