Stop yer messin!

While it isn’t exactly the Irish nature to be mean-spirited, they are known to carry on a joke a bit too far. This is why I live in fear. Now before you judge me as paranoid, allow me to share a few gags – all carried out by people I know personally – and then you can tell me if you’d feel safe in this group of jokers. Me? I prefer to sleep with one eye open.

Sometimes, one can just be at the wrong place at the wrong time. As my friend sat in her car, stuck in traffic on West Street (the main thoroughfare in Drogheda), she saw another friend walking on the sidewalk. Foolishly, she called out to him to say hello. He walked over, said hello, reached into her car and promptly removed the keys from her ignition before walking away – with keys in hand. Now most people would get a good laugh, turn around and hand the keys back. Not this fella! He kept walking and my friend had to leave her car parked there, amidst the blaring horns and vocal abuse from annoyed fellow drivers, and run after him to get her keys back.

Is it a ghost or a very evil friend?

In other cases, there was a good deal of planning involved. When Ross was asked to housesit for his brother, he readily agreed. Oh, Ross – how could you be so naïve?? Whenever Ross would leave the house to go to work or run errands, a friend of his brother, who happened to have spare keys, snuck in. Every time he was in the house, he’d do little things like turn on a light that wasn’t on before, move some laundry from the bed to the floor, put on the television, etc. Of course Ross started to think there was a ghost in the house (or that he was going mad!) and before the two weeks was over, he was refusing to go back to his brother’s house.

Or how about the poor Dunnes employee, who was told to put pallets of bananas on the roof of the building as there was going to be an emergency helicopter pick-up for charity? I’ll admit, he must have been quite gullible but it’s hard to question anything for charity. He quit shortly afterward. Of course there are perfectly harmful pranks, like when my friend called two taxi companies from two different cell phones then put the phones together, face-to-face. “You called a taxi?” one driver would say. “Wait, YOU called a taxi, right?” replied the other. This went on for a good bit before they realized the joke.

Signs like these just give people ideas

But as I found out recently, the universe has a way of paying back practical jokers – tenfold. The guy who removed my friend’s keys was also the prankster who drove Ross insane. Well, the same guy was doing something nice for his girlfriend and decided to book a surprise trip to Lourdes, France. All she was told was to pack her bags and be ready to go. When they landed, they hopped into a taxi and my friend told the driver where to go. The driver didn’t speak any English and my friend doesn’t speak French, so there was a lot of confusion. Finally the driver – unfamiliar with the particular hotel my friend was naming – drove them to another hotel and waved them in. “I’ll be right back,” my friend told his girlfriend, and instructed her to stay in the taxi. A few minutes later, my friend came back to the taxi. “Get out of the car,” he told his girlfriend. When she asked what was wrong, he told her. “We’re in POLAND!”

Apparently the airport codes for Lourdes, France and Lodz, Poland, are very similar. I’ll give him that. But the fact that he didn’t pick up on the difference between Polish and French or notice any of the numerous signs that would have made even a trained monkey realize they were not, in fact, in France, is hard to understand. His girlfriend noticed a few things along the way that seemed odd, but he kept assuring her everything was fine. “The oddest thing was that it was snowing, and I thought it was supposed to be nice weather in France,” said the girlfriend. I suppose it was appropriate. As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold!