The practical joke that was more of a pain in the *** than colon cancer.
October 29, 2001 4:26 PM   Subscribe

The practical joke that was more of a pain in the *** than colon cancer. I have to admit, this woman has a legitimate gripe. What's the worse practical joke by coworkers you've seen?
posted by kcmoryan (38 comments total)
Or worst, if you insist on using standard grammar. My first thread, and I botched it. Darn, darn, darn.
posted by kcmoryan at 4:28 PM on October 29, 2001

$6 million for that? I've definitely seen people do worse in the dorms around here..
posted by zempf at 4:35 PM on October 29, 2001

Kinda reminds me of the "Toy Yoda" Hooters suit, which has been discussed here already.
posted by msacheson at 4:38 PM on October 29, 2001

Granted that's embarrassing, I doubt the distress is worse than finding out you have cancer.
posted by tomorama at 4:38 PM on October 29, 2001

"It's a bit like date rape as far as I'm concerned."

I'm sorry, but that's going a little too far. I think she needs to get over it.
posted by awcole72 at 4:44 PM on October 29, 2001

Oh really?

If that had been just any patient ,their(you should pardon the expression) butts would be sued off-and more than one would be job hunting...
posted by bunnyfire at 4:47 PM on October 29, 2001

Things like this go on all the time between hospital workers. If this woman has worked at hospitals for 30 years, she knows what goes on when a surgery crew gets you under sedation. Sounds like she is wanting a nice retirement nest egg to me.
posted by bjgeiger at 4:57 PM on October 29, 2001

The $6,000,000 figure is meaningless. You used to be able to seek any amount you dream up - it didn't mean a jury would award it. It was just a way lawyers could seek publicity - a suit for $6,000,000 makes unsophisticated journalists pay more attention than one for $600,000, even though the only difference is a zero.

The rules were amended to eliminate dollar amounts in personal injury claims. That's why the later filings did not specify an amount.
posted by kcmoryan at 5:00 PM on October 29, 2001

"It's a bit like date rape as far as I'm concerned."

I'm sorry, but that's going a little too far. I think she needs to get over it.

Ummm, it's exactly like date rape. Slip someone a knockout drug and do something horrible to them that they'd never assent to while conscious. And suggesting that she "get over it" is exactly what an insensitive person might say to a girl who's been date-raped, too.
posted by MegoSteve at 5:05 PM on October 29, 2001

stepping gently away from debate over validity of lawsuit....

one department in a former workplace used to do elaborate cubicle redecorations for birthdays - I participated in one, which involved making it look like granny's cottage (home sweet home embroidery, fussy tea set, frilly yellow curtains, etc.), covering the top with saran wrap & filling it with balloons. this was for a young englishman of caustic humor & spartan decorating tastes.

the whole office did something rather similar to the 'computer guy' when he complained about not getting recognized on admin support (ie secretaries) day. months later he was still finding confetti in corners of his desk.

it seemed to me a clear sign of the decay of that department (and later the office) as the hijinks became more forced & less fun.
posted by epersonae at 5:10 PM on October 29, 2001

The meanest practical joke I can remember is one from my college days. A guy I knew -- just your average fella, neither hated nor loved -- got a new car over the Christmas break and proudly drove it back to campus. He offered rides to lots of people who were afoot, which was nice considering how cold it was outside (Laramie, WY gets pretty damned brisk in the winter).

One night, as a "joke", some jocks filled his car up with shaving cream. And it was that boogery kind of shaving cream that sticks to everything in creation -- it totally ruined the interior of the car and also crudded up the wiring pretty good. It ended up costing the guy about $1000 to fix, none of which the jocks would contribute because it was, after all, just a "joke".

The University never could pin the incident on anyone in particular, but we all knew who it was. I always thought that was a completely suck-ass thing to do to a guy who had been nothing but helpful.

Just goes to show that "practical jokes" are just exercises in cruelty when you get right down to it.
posted by mrmanley at 5:14 PM on October 29, 2001

She's just trying to get rich in my opinion. All she's demanding is money. Personally, I think they should throw out the lawsuit and fine her for wasting the court's time.
posted by Witold at 5:35 PM on October 29, 2001

mrmanley (love that name), one can also deep freeze cans of pressurized shaving cream, cut them open ever so carefully, and successfully pressurize a car if you get enough in there... It ends up the same, but it's much more interesting when they find it, and click open the door.

Just so everyone knows...
posted by j.edwards at 5:37 PM on October 29, 2001

I feel very sorry for her, and I don't feel that she is being too serious, and I do think she had a right to feel like she had almost suffered date rape. This would make me very uncomfortable. Imagine, you're drugged and unconscious, and you find out later that people have been doing things with your body. I'd be very paranoid that the drawing was ALL they had done to me. If they felt that it was ok to draw on me, did they feel ok about groping me, or something else?
posted by stoneegg21 at 5:38 PM on October 29, 2001

I just noticed how she's grabbing that dog in the photo. Lawsuit!
posted by Real9 at 5:43 PM on October 29, 2001

Some practical jokes take advantage of situations created by the victim. E.g, J. Shmoe passes out on the couch in the common room, and his buddies reposition his limbs appropriately and take pictures. Some people think this funnier than others, but in any case J. at least in some ways brings this onto himself, by creating the situation in the first place.

Other jokes, however, take advantage of situations that the victim is essentially helpless to prevent and doesn't create (like the case of mrmanley's "friend", though of course we all know had to have been talking about himself... ;) ). This woman in no way brought this on herself; she was sick and needed treatment, which included being made unconscious. She has every right to feel unfairly victimized.

(Not that she deserves $6 million, but definitely a serious apology.)
posted by mattpfeff at 5:55 PM on October 29, 2001


Actually it wasn't me -- although I was the butt of many "jokes", there was nothing this bad. I drove a crappy Subaru Brat that would probably have been improved by the introduction of some shaving cream; the interior of my ride was awash in fast-food detritus and beat-up copies of Serious Books. (I was an English Lit. major, don'cha know....)

I really felt bad for the guy -- I mean, the car was brand new and these assholes ruined it.
posted by mrmanley at 7:01 PM on October 29, 2001

Ugh. What an awful thing to do to someone. Taking advantage of someone who has put themself into your trust, making a joke of them while they can't even know what you're doing - that's just cruel. It doesn't matter that they were coworkers; she never consented to that.

posted by Mars Saxman at 7:04 PM on October 29, 2001

I don't like the equation with physical harm. Is rude, boorish behaviour actually punishable by a million dollars and job loss?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:08 PM on October 29, 2001

kcmoryan, you didn't botch your thread any worse than the journalist botched the end of the story!

“It’s the worse thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said, “including the cancer.”
posted by Sallyfur at 7:49 PM on October 29, 2001

Is rude, boorish behaviour actually punishable by a million dollars and job loss?

I would say a definite yes to the job loss on the part of the joking co-workers. To call what they did "inappropriate" is an understatement.

There are a few things special about this situation that take it way beyond a light hearted practical joke.

- this happened during a hospital visit. Now, I know the victim was an employee of the hospital, but to do something to someone while at a hospital is incredibly cruel. Let's face it, when you're visiting the doctor or at a hospital, you have no dignity. You're often treated like a child, told to disrobe in front of strangers and put into awkward positions. To take advantage of someone already in a compromised situation is beyond mere practical joke.

- the woman had cancer (for the third time even). I don't know about you, but there are a few things I don't joke about, because they are almost always in bad taste. Making a cancer patient the subject of a practical joke? Not funny.

- the woman was getting a colonoscopy for fuck's sake. In the realm of undignified procedures, this one is absolutely and easily #1 worst procedure. To make light of the worst possible procedure is again, not at all funny.

- they not only photographed it to show the victim (which is as far as it should have gone), they shared it with others. "Oh look at the big cancerous ass that is about to get a camera jammed up it! Isn't that just hilarious?!" This starts to seem like they went beyond cruel, and these co-workers must be really fucked up people.

These nurses were unbelievably cruel. They make an episode of jackass look like a walk through the park. They all deserve to be fired immediately, and whatever financial compensation her lawyers or a jury chose to award is fine by me.

The 6 million dollar figure is outrageous, but so is robbing someone of their dignity and making cruel, cruel fun of them and their situation.
posted by mathowie at 7:55 PM on October 29, 2001

Actually it wasn't me

yeah, I believed you, just had to make the joke, y'know, kindah have a compulsion that way, I guess....

<aside>(I didn't have my own car in school, meself, but had I, 'twould probably have been littered with abstract algebra texts and pynchon. Just for effect, you know (and because I owned some).)</aside>

And in other news: What mathowie said.
posted by mattpfeff at 8:05 PM on October 29, 2001

One time, I sneaked up behind this guy and attached a "kick me" sign! HAHAHAHAHA ahah aa ahahaha phew! Man, that was the greatest.
posted by holloway at 8:12 PM on October 29, 2001

I really felt bad for the guy -- I mean, the car was brand new and these assholes ruined it.

So find the guy and tell him who did it. There's no statute of limitations on grudges.
posted by rcade at 8:28 PM on October 29, 2001

“I § Dr. Shaffer”

Huh? "I section Dr. Shaffer"?
posted by rodii at 8:50 PM on October 29, 2001

Section is hostpital lingo for heart.
posted by fidelity at 9:44 PM on October 29, 2001

Remember that wack doctor who carved his initials in a patient after completing a surgical procedure on her? This is right along those same lines, except in this lady's case, her wounds are more emotionally damaging than physical. And that guy was certainly shitcanned fast. The unbelieveable part is that her friends did this to her. She went to them because she trusted them and trusted the hospital to take care of her through one of the most humiliating and embarrassing procedures someone must endure. Why is this more acceptable to some because she was formerly friends with the perpetrators? Like bunnyfire said earlier, if she'd been a stranger and they'd done the same thing, there would've been no question of immediate termination of all involved. The fact that they were all acquainted is just appallingly cruel to me. Strangers mean they're just sick fucks; acquaintances and friends doing the same thing mean they're deliberately cruel sick fucks.
posted by evixir at 11:10 PM on October 29, 2001

So a woman goes to the hospital, gets put under, the staff draws on her ass and shows the pictures around, and STILL the "frivolous lawsuit" crowd pops out of the woodwork. What constitutes a worthy lawsuit, if not anesthetized ass abuse?
posted by Doug at 11:22 PM on October 29, 2001

"Anesthetized ass abuse" is so begging to be a site tagline somewhere.
posted by kindall at 11:54 PM on October 29, 2001

The money being requested, as so often, is an exaggeration and yet another abuse of the judicial system. However, the gripe is justified and I believe the pranksters should be reprimanded in some small but notable manner (no, not the Hammurabi way).
posted by mmarcos at 5:07 AM on October 30, 2001

Sallyfur noticed the following grammatical error:

“It’s the worse thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said, “including the cancer.”

Do you guys think the journalist should edit the quotes of an interviewee for grammatical correctness?

Does it open up a nasty precedent? Why should the journo make them look smarter than they are? Does this warp the truth?

Just curious.
posted by oddity at 5:49 AM on October 30, 2001


He knew who did it -- we all did. It wasn't a secret or anything -- the jocks even bragged about it the day after it happened. But when it became apparent that the "joke" was going to involve a high repair bill, they all clammed up immediately, whereupon it became our word against theirs. And the University of Wyoming is not exactly Harvard; sports is a very large part of that school, and athletes (especially footballers) tend to be treated with extreme deference. At least this was true when I went there a decade ago, and I have no reason to think things have changed.

This guy's father talked about a lawsuit for awhile, but it went nowhere. Myself, I would have taken the jocks to small-claims court -- you might not get much back ($500 limit, I think) but it's something.

Sigh. Funny how stuff like that still makes me angry, a decade later.
posted by mrmanley at 5:54 AM on October 30, 2001

"Do you guys think the journalist should edit the quotes of an interviewee for grammatical correctness?"

Probably not. But I think where the difference is so audibly insignificant as the difference between "worse thing" and "worst thing", the journalist should hesitate to include a perceived grammatical error.

But when someone makes the error in writing, as I did, it should be open season . . .
posted by kcmoryan at 7:39 AM on October 30, 2001

I am a big fan of practical jokes, but I admit that this one went a little too far, with it being an operation and all. My favorite came from Maxim magazine, in which it suggests that you change the person's Auto-correct feature in Microsoft Word. You know, the one that changes the word "teh" in to "the" automatically? You can configure that, and they suggested you have it change the word "teh" to "vulva". Now why a men's magazine would suggest that is absolutely beyond me...

Stealing computer mice balls is always fun. I guess the line is drawn with stuff that ends up costing money and inflicts damage, as with the car. And when you are the operating table. Off-limits.
posted by adampsyche at 7:50 AM on October 30, 2001

Do you guys think the journalist should edit the quotes of an interviewee for grammatical correctness?

Good question, oddity. Although in some instances any editing would clearly rob the quotes of their "essence." There obviously is some sort of double-standard in place here though...
posted by Fofer at 8:04 AM on October 30, 2001

Do you guys think the journalist should edit the quotes of an interviewee for grammatical correctness?

The error in question was obviously made at transcription time. No listener can tell the difference between "worse thing" and "worst thing" unless the speaker is intentionally enunciating the difference, and nobody does that in normal speech. She said "worst thing," and if she didn't, nobody could have told that she hadn't anyway.

Should a transcript of an interview about National Public Radio include the abbreviation "MPR"? That's what everyone actually says -- because your lips have to come together for the initial plosive of "P", the "N" sound mutates into an "M". Try saying both "NPR" and "MPR" and you'll notice there's no audible difference between them unless you stop completely (and unnaturally) after the "N"/"M". Should a transcriber write the obviously incorrect "MPR" even though that's what he/she heard the speaker say? I'd say no.
posted by kindall at 8:09 AM on October 30, 2001

Good call kindall. NPR is difficult to say and I do have to sound quite stilted to get it our correctly.

When I was at journalism school, the tutors rode this high horse of quote integrity. As part of the course, one of our tutors sat a bloke down and interviewed him in front of us. We all took notes religiously, as did she, and we compared them afterwards.

I can't remember the bloody word but the class, all with super speedy accurate just-learned shorthand, took down the quotes verbatim. The tutor had taken them down grammatically. We had educated shorthand, she had educated ears.

Editing quotes is a can o worms but all journos do it. When I talk I let out the occasional grunt and sigh. If I was interviewing me, would I take all that stuff down? No. Probably not.

Generally an ungrammatical quote isn't going to be good enough to slap in a story anyway, unless like Fofer points to, you're trying to illustrate something about the person. If it's hard to understand, then it shouldn't be there.

The dreaded grey area of journalistic judgement. Pandora's Box.
posted by oddity at 10:21 AM on October 30, 2001

Once I pretended to be a teenage girl dying of cancer.
posted by holloway at 11:07 AM on October 30, 2001

« Older Two weeks late, but congratulations, Greg!   |   Ever wonder where barber poles originated? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments