April Fools' Day on the Job: Good, Bad and Ugly Pranks

"He had bought a brand new car, and because we were such good friends, he gave me a set of keys as a backup. At 1 a.m. [a mutual friend and I] drove A.'s car out of his driveway and parked it at the downtown mall. Then we called the police and reported the car repossessed. When A. woke up to find his car gone, he called the police and they told him it had been repossessed. He called his bank all pissed off because he wasn't late with his car payment. When they told him, 'We didn't repossess your car,' he put two and two together and figured out it was me. He left me three or four voicemail messages, calling me names, screaming.

"To me, it was funny. To him, it was not funny at all. He literally did not talk to me for a month. If he had to interact with me at work, he was very short, very distant. In any other situation, if the boss would have done that they would have been sued or reported to the EOE."

The Ill-Timed Bad News

April 1 is not the day to deliver bad news to employees.

Ronald Katz of Penguin HR Consulting, a management training company in New Rochelle, N.Y., knows this from firsthand experience. During the last recession, Katz worked at a financial firm that was planning to trim staff late in the first quarter of the year. Here's his tale of woe:

"Things kept delaying the process and the exits were finally planned for March 31. Then, one more problem arose and we needed to move the releases to -- you guessed it -- April 1. I begged the senior managers to push it to April 2, but they would not relent.

"I wound up doing an exit interview on April 1 with a good friend, someone I ate lunch with two or three times a week. He was convinced it was a joke even after I took his keys and employee ID. As he left my office he kept stopping, looking back, waiting for me to say 'April Fools!' But I never did. I can still see his face as he stood in the doorway to my office. It was one of the most difficult exit interviews I ever had to conduct."

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This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance journalist and former cubicle dweller. She is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire," and, "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube." For more information, see Anti9to5Guide.com. Follow her at @anti9to5guide.

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