By Matthew Stoffel
Two weeks ago I encountered a turning point every young person will have to deal with at some point in their professional life.
I got the chance to prank my boss.
I spent most of the day at the Valley Springs Information Center, greeting visitors as they passed from Minnesota to South Dakota. When I got back just after 3:00, I saw the banner for Outdoor University was finally hung up.
I say finally because we had hoped to have it up much sooner. First, Thea (the boss in question) couldn’t find the sign for the longest time. Finally she found it in the shower room, a room with a shower head that is plum full of storage items. It was buried in such a way that only a frustrated woman defying claims she must have “tossed it” could produce it from hiding.
The sign then needed to be fitted with new numbers. It still had last year’s date, “AUG 4,” and needed to say “AUG 3.” It took longer than we expected, most likely because it was forgotten under our hefty orders for new signs. When we finally got the call that it was done, we went to retrieve it. Thea pulled back the outer flap of the long, rolled sign to see the “3”, and we brought it to be hung.
Unfortunately, this merits a finally as well; the gentleman who cleans our windows must have been busy. As you can imagine, cleaning the front windows of The Outdoor Campus building is a daunting task and requires elevating equipment that doubles in purpose for the banner.
On this fateful day when he finally got it in the air, Thea was in Rapid City for The Outdoor Campus – West’s Outdoor University. She had left the day before, and I checked with everyone who had been here. Nobody had told her it was up.
I rolled up my sleeves and leaned into Photoshop. Now, I’m by no means great with the program; I only started using it when I began here at TOC. But I’m fairly proud of what I produced here.
I even blurred the reflected letters in the window so they couldn’t give me away. My boss has poor eyesight, but her teenage daughter doesn’t and I didn’t know how close at hand she’d have someone to foil my ploy.
After I had everything ready, I sent her this:
Thanks to the good old Black Hills reception, the message didn’t get to her until about two hours later. My phone rang and I got an exasperated “Are you kidding me?!” My blurring of the reflection was unnecessary; Thea was at the top of a mountain when she saw it, and her family backed away as a means of self-preservation when they saw her reaction.
It took a minute or two to convince Thea that it wasn’t real, only an office prank. But when the dust settled, I still had my job.
At least, for now anyways.