I’d just been promoted by the aforementioned evil corporation. I now had half as much work and was getting paid twice as much. How does that make any sense? Although, I had the impression that this was a fairly typical occurrence.
Needless to say I was bored, especially since my classes had ended at Pitt for the semester. This was deep into my regrettable cough medicine addiction, so I spent the evenings staring at clouds out the 26th floor windows of my apartment building downtown and hallucinating. Either that or watching Quentin Tarantino movies and hearing him speak DIRECTLY to me. So my nights were pretty full, but my days left something to be desired.
It was my habit at the time to walk the five blocks back to my apartment at lunch to eat and let the dogs out so they didn’t ruin anymore of the gorgeous wood floors. The Alcoa Building always had a combination security/doorman sitting at the front desk. I liked when they ignored me because it was always my intention to do the same. I’m coming home, I don’t want to have yet another mindless conversation with a stranger. I have to do enough of that at work. But there was one energetic black guy in particular who ALWAYS wanted to sincerely know how my day was going. It made me sick….and suspicious. I honestly can’t even bring his name to mind. I just know that I called him Carlton (like from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) in my head because that’s who he reminded me of, down to the ridiculous sweater vests.
So one day I’m bored as usual, walking to the elevators past the welcome desk at lunch, trying to avoid eye contact with Carlton. My attempt at silence is futile, and he traps me in another one of his conversations where nothing is actually said. As he prattles on, I start to think “ok, this is obviously never going to stop, how can I use this situation to my advantage?”. When he finally shuts his trap I ask him “Do you want to help me fuck with Denny?”. Denny is current boyfriend, who had somehow managed to trick me into signing a lease with him before I realized he was boring and stupid (a fact he did once prove wrong when he used my Google account to track me with my phone, clever Denny). A look of complete seriousness creeps across Carlton’s face and he tells me “yes, but how Nick?”. I don’t have a fully formed plan yet, but a decent way to get the ball rolling springs to mind. “Tell him that an older white lady stopped by this morning looking for him, but that she didn’t leave a name”. I had to get him nice and paranoid if I was going to really mess with his head.
As planned, Carlton confronts Denny with the message when he comes home from work a couple of hours after me. He’s practically hyperventilating when he walks through the door. I feel a twinge of guilt at his obvious discomfort, but am too entertained listening to his theories on who it could have been to reveal my part in the message. When Denny goes to bed that night I stay up for my usual three hours, enjoying time away from him, watching Netflix, and planning my next move.
I’m contemplating ways to get him to break our lease and move out without me when an email comes through on my phone. It’s an itinerary reminder for our flight to Tampa next week, a vacation provided mostly at the expense of my mother. (Shout out to my beautiful successful mother, hopefully you aren’t reading all of these!). It lists the flight number as 7845. It’s perfect. I grab an old Time magazine off the granite counter and flip through until I find an advertisement that fits my vision. It’s a Maybelline ad with a giant pair of mascaraed eyes that reads “they are always watching you”. I rip it out and find a thin black sharpie. I disguise my handwriting and write in all caps DON’T GET ON FLIGHT 7845. I then seal the ad in an envelope and write his name on the front, again using all caps. Satisfied, I crawl into the bed I paid for and pull Pugsley and Gwenie close.
I wait three long days to let Denny’s paranoia build. Hopefully he doesn’t have a mental breakdown before part two and ruin my fun by going to the psych ward. On a Friday morning, I slip the envelope to Carlton when I leave at 7:30 and sit impatiently at my desk, waiting for the fun to begin. Denny comes in at 9:00 looking wild eyed and terrified. I should have mentioned that we both worked for the same evil corporation (just another poor decision in my lifelong experiment). I can see him sit down through the open kitchen and text him “everything ok? You look scared”. Immediately he texts back “what is our flight number for Tampa?”. “Hold on I have to look it up”. I wait ten minutes and text back “it’s 7845, why do you need it?”. I see him get up from his desk and head towards the bathroom, so I follow him. Inside the empty bathroom I act concerned “what is going on man?”. “Who besides you knows our flight number?” He looks like he’s going to cry. “Well I would assume my mom does…but other than her no one”. “Look, someone knows what flight we are on and is threatening me!” he practically screams. “Well that sounds insane. I’m sure there is a perfectly rational explanation”. That’s when he throws the envelope I left him this morning on the sink. I open it and pretend to be horrified. “Maybe we need to get an attorney…I mean we certainly can’t go now…who did you piss off?” I settle him down a bit and we leave the bathroom.
Thankfully, I now work in a different department but I can hear him whisper yelling to his Supervisor that he is being threatened and he needs a couple hours off to go to the police.
Fuck, leave it to Denny to find a way to ruin my harmless prank. I pull my phone out and text him “chill dude, it was me, no one’s threatening you”. I can see him from across the office as he pulls his phone out and then glares in my direction.
I’d like to think that this wasn’t what ruined our vacation in Clearwater that year, although I am sure it played a part. Sometimes I just can’t help myself.