The Great Glass Catnapping of Cubicle 2

An online friend had shared a survey recently. You know, one of those ones where you fill out the questions and it's supposed to tell you something deeply insightful about your personality. In this case it was which Transformer you'd be, if you were one.

Naturally with such a serious, life-enhancing topic ahead of me, I gave it my full attention.

One of the questions it asked was about whether you like to play practical jokes on others. And I had to admit, I had a fairly big one in my history.

You see, I'd organized the Great Glass Catnapping of Cubicle 2.

In my former life in Cubeland, the second cubicle from the front door was that of our receptionist, who kept a rather significant collection of small glass cats. We'll call her Penny. (The receptionist, not the cats. I'm unaware if any of them had names, though I imagine they probably did.)

Well, anyway, Penny kept these cats right by the phone of her cubicle. And because she was the receptionist, her phone was one of the only phones in the office that rang when calls came in.

My job at the time was as Marketing Manager. But you'd be surprised how elastic that title can be. Especially when you're a responsible person who's grown with the company (read: stupid goody-two-shoes), you tend to pick up tasks no one else wants to do, and the tasks never QUITE get taken off your plate again.

So as Marketing Manager, I was as likely to have to write ads, schedule PR tours, and oversee tradeshows, as I was move boxes and ship them, or answer the main line-- depending on who else happened to be around at the time.

Sometimes I would take calls for myself and see if I was in.

Now, Penny, while a nice enough girl, was not terribly excited about answering phones, and was prone to disappearing. So when that main line would ring and she was AWOL, someone would have to grab it, and that someone might just be me.

More times than not, those little glass cats would get in the way as I was making a mad dash for the phone, and they'd go flying and waste another one of their nine lives.

Well, it was about the twentieth time they toppled over and scattered-- expending more lives than they had-- that I decided I couldn't take it anymore. And since Penny was once again nowhere to be seen, something in my brain just sort of snapped.

I popped the little glass cats in my pocket one-by-one, and took them back to my office.

The first kidnapping note used a number of different fonts in Microsoft Word, misspelled some things, and explained to Penny that she had been the victim of cat burglary.

It also said, she should wait for further communication from the catnappers. This was great, because it kept her at her desk for a while and she actually had to answer the phone a little. Plus, Penny made a fuss about the missing cats that I could hear a whole room away.

I waited a day. I had things to do after all, and this was an enjoyable reprieve. Also, I needed to work out my gameplan. Then, and only then, did I leave her the second note.

I'd decided that, since never returning the cats would just be cruel, I'd be happy enough making Penny work a bit for getting them back. So this note gave clues as to where the first cat could be found. I would release a few each day.

Ah, that week was a glorious one, with the usual stresses of the day soothed by Penny's shocked and amused exclamations about each new set of instructions.

Penny found cats in potted plants.

Penny found cats at the printer.

Penny found cats in the refrigerator.

Penny found cats shrink-wrapped in the mail room.

All the while, Penny was on a mission to find out which of us was the catnapper. Why, she marched around like a blond Perry Mason, grilling everyone, accusing us each in turn with a mix of good humor and hatred.

Eventually, she made it around to me. But I had planned for this, too. I just laughed and told her, "Oh, yes, it's me." Which she promptly didn't believe, turned on her heel and stalked off.

About three days into the catnapping plot, Penny's and my mutual supervisor came to my office and said, "It's you, isn't it?"

I told him it was, largely because he was already grinning, and said if it was a problem, I'd quit and come clean.

Truth was, this was the most levity our tense little office had seen in a long time. And it turned out that other folks were sick to death of those darned glass cats, too, every time they needed to get something from Penny's cube. SO "on-board" with the scheme were they, in fact, that someone in customer service gave a full confession for the crime. And suspects in IT were not bothering to deny their involvement.

Penny wasn't sure WHO to believe anymore.

So, with the plot now cleared at the upper management level, I decided to give it a big finish. I confided in just one more person, and asked him for a favor. I was a little surprised at his enthusiasm.

Ah, the next morning, I heard Penny exclaim, "The MEN'S ROOM! I am NOT going in the men's room! If they think I'm going in the Men's Room, they're crazy!"

She went in the Men's Room.

Penny never did find out for sure it was me, by the way. In spite of the fact that by the end, everyone else had been let in on the joke. Maybe she'll read about it on a humor blog someday, and maybe not. But the Great Glass Catnapping went down in corporate history as the most elaborate office prank our business had ever seen.

I'd like to say in the end the cats found a more suitable home than in the way of the phone, but really, how rare is it in life that lessons are actually learned? What did change , however, was the fact I smiled now as I'd knock them over grabbing the phone. And sometimes that's enough.

PS-- that survey my online friend shared? The Transformers one?

I'm 68% Optimus Prime.

Did you know two of those glass cats might still be hiding over at Humor-blogs?


Greg said...

You're just writin' this stuff in your sleep, aren't you? I'm laughing so hard...I love a good practical joke...and been both the target and the's always good fun...except for that ceiling fan.

Had a good weekend? : )

Alice said...

Awesome! I love a good kidnapping. I kidnapped a Po (think Teletubbies) doll from work....hmmm...feel a good blog topic coming upon me....

Glass cats...blech...deserved it...

Unknown said...

Clearly, Alice and Greg, you are both people I could turn to, to act appropriately in a tchotcke theft situation... Good to know! :)

And yes, Alice, the glass cats pretty much were asking for it. I look forward to reading about your Teletubby kidnapping plot.

Angela Williams Duea said...

That's hilarious! I sure wish I'd worked with you - my Cubeland was dead.

Michele said...

What a great idea and story. Our office isn't so exciting when it comes to pranks. But there was this one time, where someone replaced a See's Candy with a chewy dog treat, and one of the doctors ate it. He-he.

Anonymous said...


That is a terrific practical joke. A true Catburglar. Just love it.

You may just have earned a link from my blog to this

Kelly said...

Now that was a real nice prank. Good work. Yeah, that would drive me up the wall, too, if I had to be extremely careful around those damned cats every I had to answer a phone.

Anonymous said...

I did something similar once to a supervisor. Corporate gave out customized nerf footballs, and his disappeared one day. I took it all over the office (inside and out) and took it's picture. photos appeared every day, it was a blue ball and with photo programs I turned it brown explaining that we had a problem, then the next picture it was in the freezer and back to blue. I even did a puzzle one day! eventually I gave him directions to find it. His supervisor was even in on the fun. I still have some of the pix.

Unknown said...

Anonymous- That is a great little prank you pulled there! Did your supervisor get a good laugh out of it at least? Did he ever find out who perpetrated the crime? (I'm assuming not, since you're incognito now.... HAHA). Thank you for sharing.

KAT said...

I am so glad you reposted this.
I haven't gone far enough back in your archives to find this one yet, but I'm glad I read it today, it made me laugh.
And you "fessing up" to the crime took all the suspicion away from you....priceless!
I would have loved to work with you, it sounds like a fun time!

Unknown said...

KAT- It was just one of those things that HAD to be done. Everyone has their "Let's taunt Dwight Schrute moment," I suppose. :) Thanks for stopping!

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

This is awesomely hilarious. I could not stop reading and wishing I could be this cool and do this to some of my co-workers. the one lady who used to work at my job had a collection of Happy Meal toys. Oh if only I could have been so brave.....

Unknown said...

Jonny's Mommy- It takes a certain amount of frustration to drive a person to this. I tried a prank on one of my current coworkers and couldn't pull it off-- she's too nice, I wasn't getting rid of any irritations by the joke and I ended up caving.

You need to find your Dwight Schrute, really. That's the key.