I Was Punk’d

purell_sanitizer_lgIt happened at work. The weird thing is that I would have never believed that in my totally bland workplace that people would have the sly creativity and cleverness to pull it off. At least a couple of people do. Good for them!

Here’s what happened.


I woke up with a bad cold over the weekend. Bad enough that on Monday I stayed home–I follow my President’s instructions. I show up very early Tuesday morning to find 16 bottles of hand sanitizer on my desk with the following note:

Date:       May 12, 2009 

To:  All Managers and the Leadership Group

From:       V. C.
Senior Vice President,
Global Business Services

As was announced on the recent Leadership call, we are distributing Purell to all U.S. associates as part of our response to the recent H1N1 flu outbreak. If you are a manager who was recently sick, we are providing you with additional supplies of Purell and request that you apply the lotion frequently (preferably every 5 minutes) until the supply has been exhausted. If you need additional Purell, please use the Sanitary Alert form in the Forms database.

In addition, we ask that you distribute a bottle to each of the associates you manage. We also suggest that this is an opportune time to share with your associates the upcoming reductions in health care coverage and the role that Purell plays in our new health care plan (see the April 31  posting: Greater Flexibility in New Health Care Coverage).

We appreciate your efforts in ensuring the health and safety of your fellow associates.


I read the note, it registers in my brain that parts are a little weird, drop bottles of hand sanitizer on the desks of the 3 people who report to me, check our intranet to look for the note on our cut in health benefits (which I cannot find but that happens all the time), I curse the cut in benefits and start doing my work forgetting about the memo. Oh yeah, I move the remaining bottles off my desk and on to a shelf.

A few hours later, since I had obviously not gotten the joke, a co-worker comes in to explain that on Monday morning everyone had a bottle on their desks. When I did not come in he and the guy in the office next to mine started gathering up bottles from 15 other offices and composed the note.

Once I knew it was a joke I reread the memo and cracked up. The thing is..we have gotten memos like this from our leaders with other callous, somewhat hairbrained ideas. This fake memo could have been real.

The people in my office know me well enough to know that I NEVER waste time listening to any of the Leadership calls and read less than half the memos. Last minute cuts in benefits have become common and it would not surprised me if someone in HR thought that a bottle of hand sanitizer would partially make up for it. Should the reference to the recently ill managers washing their hands every 5 minutes tipped me off? Probably.

But that is the sheer beauty of this prank. It was off the wall but only by a hair. Close enough for me to think it was all real. 16 bottles and all.

I tip my hat to the pranksters. I have a new found respect for them and gleefully await their next effort…as I plan mine.

About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

3 Responses to I Was Punk’d

  1. Frank says:

    That is a brilliant punk-ing. Fabulous. I am laughing about it…and I would have fallen for it too.

  2. Sarah Chambers says:

    This is so funny. I actually laughed out loud.

  3. 48facets says:


    I live to entertain. The timing was so amazing given our exchange on the KnowHr blog. I am not sure I have seen you laugh out loud. Is there video?

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