My greatest Prank … that went a little too far

At work I try my best to be professional. Or at least to make others think that I am.

Yet, I was once given the opportunity to pull a masterpiece of a prank on one of my colleagues. Needless to say that I took it.

The Setup

It was a normal day at work. I was inspecting the task manager on one of our servers and to
my surprise I noticed that I was actually an administrator on said server.

Actually it was not too surprising. It was the development server. I am a developer. Getting total freedom to test things is kinda useful and only makes sense. But let us continue

Curiosity took over and I started exploring this new world of possibilities. First, I noticed
that I was able to disconnect coworkers from the server. This is definitely the basis for some good prankery. But I was ultimately drawn towards a function that was a bit more subtle.

It was possible to send a message to any user logged in to the server.

I assume this can be used to inform users on a server directly about maintenance work
you have to perform. Totally serious stuff.

But even the most upright tool can be turned into something devilish in the hands of
a fiendish mind.

The functionality also played right into my hands. Not only was I able to freely choose
the message I send. Also the header of the message could be modified. Perfect for erasing
traces.

The Prank

The target was quickly acquired. A new colleague with a great interest in Bitcoin. He was talking about that 90% of the time.

It might sound like bullying to you. Picking on the new colleague. But rest assured that I really liked him personally. So it was more like a prank between friends.

My message was custom tailored to him with a pinch of ludicrousness known from infamous
email scams and topped off with a touch of impending danger.

But enough talk. Lay your eyes on the masterpiece I created.

The message was prepared. All that was left to do was to send it. Which I did. Expecting
a good laugh between colleagues.

Little did I know that it would have a far bigger impact.

The Fallout

I might be a genius trickster but my timing was abysmal. Because I sent my message immediately before went out for lunch. That way I was not able to stop the avalanche that was about to start moving.

My colleague, understandably bewildered, send an email to all developers. ‘All’ meaning me and another one.
Unfortunately he also took our boss into the loop. Our boss who has a slight tendency for overreaction.

Fearing the infection of chinese-russian malware he informed the server admins. A complete rollback of the server was in discussion.

Meanwhile, I was still on lunch break. Chuckling at the thought that I was playing a small prank.

Luckily my boss got a hold of me before the server rollback plans were turned into reality. He asked me if I have any idea what was going on here. It was easy to play clueless since the conversation took place over teams.

Unaware of the extend of the consequences of my actions I broke into laughter at some point.

Needless to say, my boss did not find it funny.

I got away with a lecture. The admins, exasperated, could be appeased. But I think they still
hold it against us.

Next time I checked, we developers were no longer admins on the server. Even though
that could be due to totally unrelated reasons. That’s at least what I would like to believe.

What about my colleague? After he stomached the shock, we were able to laugh about it. We
even now do that from time to time when the memory comes up again.

Final Thoughts

Would I play a similar prank again if another chance arises?

Probably not, I have “grown” since then and try to be more of a senior at work.

Do I regret my actions?

Not a bit because it was an excellent prank and is the source for some good laughs.

What about you? Have you done something similar to a coworker? Feel free to share your
story in the comments.

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