When a clueless prankster goes way too far
Dear Annie: My office mates and I enjoy a good prank as a way of keeping things light. Recently, a good friend of mine, “Jimmy,” went on an extended vacation with his family. I decided to do a prank I have long wanted to do: put his house up for sale. My wife, “Diana,” told me that I would get arrested and go to jail. I laughed it off, as she often says this to me when I am considering a next-level prank.
I listed his home in a local paper, “for sale by buyer,” and described “myself” as a motivated seller. I instructed readers to call “my” cellphone. I put “for sale” signs in his yard and even went the extra mile of putting up banners. I was surprised that the neighbors never said a word. Well, as you can imagine, my friend’s phone rang hundreds of times while he and his family were vacationing. I thought it was funny, as did my office mates. But my friend did not.
It has been six months since this prank, and I should mention he got two really good offers, and he still won’t speak to me. I am hurt, confused, a bit angry, and wondering why on earth he, his wife and his two adult children are so angry. I took the signs and banners down like they asked, but they are still mad. Even my wife is still fuming because she says I ruined his trip. If you ask me, he shouldn’t be spending all that money in the first place. What really gets my goat is that my office workers have now turned on me, too.
What’s a friend to do? — Hurting in Prank Town
Dear Hurting in Prank Town: You’re lucky your “friend” didn’t have you arrested. You seem to be unaware of boundaries or social norms, and you would be well advised to listen to your wife. It is not up to you to judge how your friend spends his money. He has every right to take his family on a nice vacation without having his phone ring off the hook. A vacation is a time to relax and recharge, and all you did, by drumming up a fake sale of his house, is to create stress — for him, his family and all those potential buyers.
The fact that he received two good offers is none of your business, and it’s beside the point.
If your office workers, your own family and the family that you pulled the prank on all think you need to apologize, perhaps it’s time to take a look in the mirror. If you still don’t see what you did wrong, well, my friend, then you are the clown.
Dear Annie: I was an animal control officer for six years and a pet sitter for 16 years. I just read the two responses to “Missing Out on Friends,” and neither one of them mentioned that 95 percent of shelters require that animals that are adopted from them be returned if, for any reason, the adopter can’t care for them.
Our local shelter took back two 12-year-old cats they had adopted out as kittens when their owner died and there was no one else to take them. One of them had diabetes! I know because I was the woman’s friend and returned them.
So, if “Missing Out on Friends” adopts, then they should make sure the cats could be returned to the shelter if they can’t care for them. And then they should let family or friends know about the situation. “Missing Out on Friends” could also set aside some money for their care, if able. An estate planner can help. I know the shelter would appreciate that! — Lover of Pets and People
Dear Lover of Pets and People: Thank you for this tip, and thank you for taking care of so many stray animals.
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“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.