They’re Watching

Security Camera

College is a strange place for a thousand different reasons. One of the biggest reasons is that at any given time, roughly 75 percent of the people on campus are procrastinating. And when you procrastinate, you are willing to devote a shocking amount of time and energy toward any activity that is not school-related. Super Smash Brothers, for example. Also elaborate stunts featuring every mattress on the hall. And then there are the pranks.

At no other time in your life do you have the patience, opportunity and animosity toward others that is necessary to pull off Jim Halpert-level pranks.

In a college dorm – especially an all-male college dorm – every day is April 1st.

My favorite college prank started one Saturday afternoon when my brother Jesse and I were procrastinating by looking at every single thing in Wal-Mart.

“WHOA!” Jesse said as he picked up a box.

“What?”

“This security camera is $8.98!”

“That’s because it’s not real.”

Jesse looked again. “What do you mean it’s not real? Who would buy a security camera that’s not real?”

“Well, like if you want to make people think you have an expensive home security system or if you’re a cheap business owner…”

Jesse held the camera. “Orrrr…” He grinned, wiggled his eyebrows and walked to the next aisle. Jesse had just found a new way to procrastinate.

On Monday afternoon, Jesse’s roommate Jon walked into the room. Jon was an annoying freshman, an annoying roommate and – perhaps worst of all – an annoying chewer. All of these traits made him a great prank target, but one specific trait made him perfect for this particular prank. Jon was the most paranoid person.

I went to a college that had more than its fair share of rules. If you’ve ever stayed or worked at a place with a lot of rules, you know that sooner or later you’re going to come across Paranoid Guy. Paranoid Guy is the one who spreads every rumor, no matter how outlandish, as long as it confirms his suspicion that someone is watching him every second of the day.

“The phones are tapped,” Jon matter-of-factly told Jesse a week into the semester.

“What?”

“The phones are tapped.”

“OK.”

“They are! I heard them listening to me!”

“I don’t think anybody wants to listen to you cry to your mom.”

“No I was talking to my girlfriend, and when I said something about my speech teacher, I heard a CLICK!”

“OK.”

“And then my sister’s boyfriend who used to work on security said…”

Anyways, you can imagine Jon’s surprise when he walked into the room and saw a security camera pointed directly at him.

“Duuuuuuuuude!” he said to Jesse. “I can’t believe they would do this!”

Jesse looked at the camera, then looked at the room’s bulletin board. “Huh. That makes sense – I was wondering what this memo was about.”

“What?” Jon looked where Jesse was looking. There on the bulletin board was a memo written on the college’s official letterhead. It was three paragraphs long, but the important part was bolded.

Tampering with security equipment is vandalism and will be treated as such.

Jon spent the rest of the evening freaking out.

“Do you think they’re going to watch us undress?”

“I dunno. Maybe they turn the camera away.”

Jon took off his shirt and danced in front of the camera. “HOW DO YOU LIKE THIS?!” he said as he rubbed his belly.

He picked up the phone. “Mom, you’re not going to believe this. They put a security camera in our room, and they’re watching us all the time. I KNOW, I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!!!”

He called all of his rumor-spreading friends. “You don’t have a camera yet? Oh, you’re lucky! Watch out, you’re going to be next!”

The camera was mounted perfectly. All of the other roommates were in on the joke. The prank could have lasted for weeks, but its perfection turned out to be its downfall.

After Jesse put the camera into his cart that Saturday, he also bought Velcro, white acrylic paint and a giant glob of sticky tack. Jesse had a BIG project due, therefore he had a lot of procrastination to get done.

It wouldn’t do to simply duct tape the camera to the ceiling. No, Jesse would put a giant strip of Velcro on the ceiling and, for reasons that remain unclear, attach the camera to the Velcro with a huge wad of sticky tack. Then, to make extra sure his craftsmanship went undetected and his project went undone, he meticulously painted the Velcro and sticky tack with the acrylic paint to blend it into the ceiling.

Unfortunately, the Velcro/sticky tack sandwich didn’t last that long, and the camera crashed to the ground in the middle of the night. Jon didn’t wake up, and Jesse hid it under his bed.

The next morning, Jon looked at the ceiling. “It’s gone!”

“Huh?” Jesse said.

“The camera’s gone!”

“What camera?”

“The security camera!”

Everyone in the room stared blankly at Jon. Jon looked at the bulletin board. No memo.

“Don’t tell me you guys don’t remember!”

“What are you talking about?”

“OH COME ON!”

For the next three months, the camera was never mentioned.

That would have been a good enough prank, but Jesse decided to bring out the camera for an encore two years later. When his roommates Reymart, Wii and Edward were gone, he installed it and left for class.

Later that afternoon when he came back, he showed his handiwork to Reymart.

“Wait,” Reymart said, “That camera’s fake?!”

“Isn’t that funny?” Jesse said.

“Ohhhhh, don’t tell Wii or Edward. They both saw it earlier, got really scared and erased everything on their hard drives.”

College is the best.

LIFE LESSON #95

Sometimes, it pays to procrastinate.

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