April Fools’ Day: The Lost Art of Pranking

This used to be one of my favorite holidays. I am not sure it technically is a holiday. Hallmark probably does not make cards for it. Nonetheless, it has become an American tradition. Well, I am not sure if it is only an American thing. I would be hesitant to test that internationally, as some countries would likely frown on some pranks and the U.S. embassy may have a hard time explaining the spirit of the day to the local authorities.

Actually, it is the spirit of this day that prompts this writing. I grew up in the generation where crank calls, tee-peeing or short sheeting were funny and the go-to pranks. For those rebels willing to push the legal limits, a good lawn job was the ticket. Worst case, a few hours and some grass seed fixed the problem. Today, the ante has been raised. Nowadays, pranks are no longer pranks. They seem to be potentially catastrophic, permanently humiliated, life changing events. I am not sure what is funny about that.

This new social norm of “poking fun” has profound impact on businesses.  As owners and leaders, we now have to institute employee regulations, social media and internet restrictions, navigate political correctness and so forth. The days of toeing the line are over, as an apology for crossing it is no longer is enough. As the consequences for a breach in social protocol are steeper, it is now company policy to stay much further from the line to begin with.

Working in a family business, it is hard to conform to the corporate standards of conventional HR recommendations. Families do not function on regulations, but on ethical guidelines that are enforced through its members, traditions, rituals and genuine love for one another. That is the world I prefer to live in. That is the company I prefer to work for. Those are the pranks that I prefer to be part of.  So I say bring back the whoopee cushions, the pies in the face, etc.

We have an expression we always share with our customers: “everything is fixable.” This brings comfort to them when we work on their homes. I feel pranks and friendly antics should be the same way.

For your amusement, we have included a video clip of a prank we pulled on one of our techs. This is what happens when creative wiring brings together a truck’s horn and it’s brakes. In the true spirit of April Fools’ Day, it only takes a few minutes to do (and then undo). Enjoy!

Jason Shupp
President – 3rd Generation
Ferguson Roofing

WARNING: This video does contain one non-derogatory F-bomb. We are roofers… you have been warned.