by Jake Block
Show me a person with no sense of humor, and I will show you someone I can do better without. Laughter is life enhancing and there are even some in medicine that claim that hearty laughter can aid in recovery from illness and even boost one’s immunity. Whether or not that is true, I don’t know; but a good laugh seldom hurts. It can be inappropriate, and that’s a fact. But most times people enjoy jokes and playing them on others… and even when they are the butt of the joke sometimes themselves.
Practical jokes are defined by Webster as:
a trick played on someone in order to make them look foolish and to amuse others.”
There are many kinds of jokes from simple to elaborate, and clean to dirty. You probably know several good ones yourself. But this essay and thread will invite you to share your favorite joke, not from a list, but one that you have played personally on someone else. Friends, neighbors, kin… no one is immune to being the subject of a joke that a friend, co-worker or even family member. Now everyone KNOWS that Jake is a sober and deep thinking individual. But once in a while, I get that proverbial “wild hair,” and when that happens…
I once participated in a joke against a grumpy lieutenant, when I was stationed at Wheelus AB, Libya. Now, Lt. Green had a ’65 Volkswagon bug that he drove around base. The temperature in Libya could reach 125°, but he would never offer a ride to anyone. If he saw you walking across the two mile ramp from plane to plane, he would simply honk and wave as he drove past. So, one day, while we knew Lt. Green was going to be in a meeting about the base closure, four of us picked up his VW bug and put it on a 463L pallet. We then put a shipping slip on it from Libya, across the Mediterranean Sea to Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicily. We almost got away with it, but Lt. Green saw his precious VW strapped to the pallet on a 25K Loader (flatbed aircraft loading vehicle), on its way to the aircraft. He was less than amused, but everyone else on the flight line had a good laugh watching him run down the K Loader in the 125° heat, screaming, “My car! Stop, damn it, that’s my car!”
Another time, at Travis AFB, CA, I was assigned to Command Staff as NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer In Charge) of Quality Control. It was a serious job with lots of reports to do and lots of things to inspect. My assistant, Reggie Franklin, told me he could handle things for a while, so I put on my hat, picked up a clipboard with a paper lined and squared on it. At the top, I wrote, “QC Checklist.” I decided I would just walk around, into offices, into work centers, and just make checks on my checklist until somebody asked me what I was doing. My theory was that if someone in a recognized job had an official looking checklist and his hat, nobody would bat an eye.
Three days into the joke, I had investigated most of the offices of the squadron. From Fleet Service to the Munitions Ready Ramp, to Traffic Control and beyond, I walked, looked around offices, made checks… looked at regulations, made checks. Occasionally, someone would say, “Finding what you need, Sarge?” I’d smile and nod… say thanks and move on. Being that people knew I was in Quality Control, sometimes they would come up to me with suggestions or complaints, and I would dutifully jot them down and move on. To be honest with you, the joke was getting more tiring than actually working.
On the fourth day, I decided to get brave and inspect the Commander’s Offices. I walked in and got a nod from the colonel’s secretary. She watched as I made checks while looking at regulations… while I looked in the closets. She began to get a little peeved when I counted the paper clips in her center drawer, so I knew it was time to make my move. Colonel Heal’s door was open and he was at his desk. So, I walked to the door, knocked twice, and announced, “SIR, Sgt. Block requests permission to enter, SIR!” He looked up from a paper he was reading and nodded.
I looked at his regulations. Check. I looked at his vehicle sign off log. Check. I looked a the tiles on his ceiling. Check.
Then, after 4 days, it finally happened. He asked, “Sgt. Block what are you doing?” Now, I would NEVER lie to my Commander. He knew it. So I told him, “Sir, I’m walking around with a clipboard, making checks, and waiting to see how long it takes for someone to ask me what I’m doing.” He almost spit out his coffee and then roared with laughter. He asked how long I had been doing it. I told him that this was the fourth day. He laughed and told me, “Carry on, Sarge. You let me know how long it takes before someone else asks.” Then he laughed again and said, “Good joke.”
Luckily, someone asked me early on the morning of the fifth day, so I wrote up my report and left it on the colonel’s desk. To be honest, I was ready to get back to work and do something productive. i went back to my office, and there was a mop and a bucket and cleaning supplies next to my desk. In the middle of my desk was a note from Colonel Heal. “Now, the joke’s on you, funny man! I’m at Headquarters MAC for two days… I’ll expect my office to be spotless when I return!”
So… what kind of practical jokes have you played that worked or… like mine, backfired?