When a group of friends from work goes out for drinks in the evening, of course something weird will happen (an odd couple forms, heart-to-heart’s happen, and the like). Honestly, the get together itself is an anomaly, especially when you and said friends work[ed] in a retail store. In my experience, oddity breeds more oddity.
During one of these shindigs, we drank some beer and talked about the interesting customers of the day, which turned into talking about who was still trapped at the store. One of those souls was Andy…that’s what we’ll call him, at least. Andy was the tablet whisperer, if you will, and anyone who called with a problem relating to a tablet was automatically sent to him.
So someone (I can’t remember who) hatched an incredibly mature plan to call the store and mess with Andy. The conversation had lulled a bit, I guess. A combination of peer pressure and alcohol landed me as the lucky caller. I dialed the number and hesitated before hitting the call button. All the things that could go wrong sped through my head—Andy getting seriously pissed, me getting written up, my joke falling flat, etc. Then I saw the unified, conspiratorial looks on my coworkers’ faces. Screw it, I thought and pressed the call button.
Who answered? Not Andy, but a manager. I thought it might be a sign that maybe I shouldn’t go through with it, but once again the alcohol/friends/joke overtook me.
“Yes, hi,” I said in the best British accent I could muster while trying to control my and the group’s laughter with a spastic hand gesture. “I bought a tablet from your store, say, three weeks ago, and I’m having some problems.”
The manager sent me along, and we giggled at the fact that I had tricked the manager and we were well on our way to tricking Andy too. Luckily, we remembered the fine point of not laughing during a prank phone call and were able to pull ourselves together before Andy answered.
“This is Andy,” he said.
I repeated my spiel in a shaky, but convincing enough British accent.
“Alright, what problem were you having?”
We had not planned what the problem would be, and I had to think of something quickly enough and ridiculous enough so the game could go on. Thank you, improv classes, for making this prank possible.
“Yes, I was told that I could use my tablet as a phone, but it is not working.” I ostensibly thought that using “yes” at the beginning of a sentence made me sound properly British.
“OK…” I could hear his mind ticking. “Who told you that?”
Not wanting to get anyone in trouble, I said that I couldn’t remember.
“Ma’am,” he said. “Our tablets do not have 4G, so you would not be able to use it as a phone. I’m sorry that someone gave you the wrong information.”
I didn’t want to back down, because where is the fun in that? This was going to be a good prank, dang it!
“I’m simply trying to sync my phone with my tablet. Surely someone can help me do that.”
“We can set up your email or create a Skype account,” he offered.
“I would like my text messages on there at the very least.”
“Alright, ma’am. Let me go to my desk to see what I can do. I’m going to need to put you on hold.”
Then came some on-hold music came on over the phone that we had to endure for somewhere between three-to-five minutes, a time that would make most customers impatient, possibly irate. This time we tried to stay quiet because our little game was going so well. We knew Andy was both dumbfounded and possibly a bit frustrated, which in hindsight was the goal.
When he finally took us off hold, he had a short monologue prepared about incompatible operating systems, designed to kill the dreams of anyone who is requesting something that just simply can’t be done. This speech was perfectly cordial and informative, and knowing about (and often implementing) this tactic made it all the funnier. The fact that I knew he was trying to get me off the line without calling me a moron-idiot-dumbass is probably what made me lose it. Maybe it was just the alcohol.
I choked on a laugh that was only strengthened by my drunk peanut gallery’s laughter.
“I can’t do this anymore. This is Leslie,” I confessed.
“Are you serious?” he asked.
“Yes…” There was a long silence on the other end. The peanut gallery went silent too. Oh crap, I thought.
“Dude, I seriously thought you were a customer.”
“Really?! How was my accent?!” I asked, excited that he wasn’t mad and that the prank call was successful.
The next day I worked, the manager who had answered the phone told me that she too had no idea it was me on the phone. Later in the day, one of the head cashiers came up to me and revealed why we were put on hold for so long: “Andy walked up to the register and said that a lady wants to use her tablet as a phone, and I was just like….” He opened his eyes wide, raised his eyebrows, and gasped. “We pretty much laughed and made fun of her for five minutes until Andy had to get back on the phone. I’m glad it was you and that she wasn’t, like, a real person.”
Unfortunately, there is probably someone out there with my made up problem. Just know, poor soul hoping to reach interchangeability between his or her phone and tablet, it’s currently a losing battle. Go buy a Samsung Note. It’s about the same size as a tablet.
Leslie Michaels is currently a Level 3 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She spends her spare time riding her bicycle, playing Ultimate Frisbee, or hanging out with her boyfriend, Netflix. She still questions whether she’s a dog person or a cat person.
(Image: Ann Wuyts/Creative Commons)