Friday, February 10, 2012

Dr. Pepper "Win a Pickup Truck"

One truism that I have learned during my life is that guys are always ready to join in on a joke.  I tested this with my own kids.  Within seconds my sons, Parks and Mark, would be on board with a joke I was perpetrating.  On the other hand, I was forced to pull Lindsey aside and explain to her that I was about to pull a joke on someone and needed her help.  Otherwise, she would spill the beans and give away the joke.
I cannot describe all the jokes I have perpetrated but there are some noteworthy ones that I think you will enjoy.  Keep in mind that practical jokes are not all them much fun to the target of the jokes.  In my defense however, a joke done properly leaves no room for the target to suspect it is anything but what it appears to be.   My advice is to simply appreciate the effort that one would go to in perpetrating an elaborate joke and laugh it off.  And also, get them back "in kind" at some point in the future.

I was working at Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia alongside my good friends, Keith and David.  David and I both liked Diet Dr. Pepper which was not sold in the hospital vending machines.  Because of this we would both alternate bring in a carton and sharing them.  During this time Dr. Pepper was having a contest to win a pickup truck and this was proclaimed in bold letters along the top of each can. 
"Win a Pickup Truck"

As it happened, I was working on some overhead transparent slides in the days before laptops and PowerPoint presentations.  For those of you unfamiliar with transparent overhead slides, it is simply a printout on clear plastic that can be projected onto a screen or wall.  I got the bright idea of printing up something that I could cut out and insert into David's empty Dr. Pepper can to make him think that he had won.   I walked across the hall to ask my buddy Rick about what was available in a software product called Harvard Graphics.  I specifically wanted a small pickup truck.  I told him what I was up to and he was immediately on board, surprise, surprise.  Like most jokes, I had not really planned anything and was acting totally from "guy" instinct. 

Rick and I conjured up an image in a circle the same size as the can of a pickup truck with a serial number in the middle of it.  Following the curve of the circle we put the word "WINNER" and placed a toll free "800" telephone number below the truck.  For the "800" number I called a friend who had one and explained my plan.  Of course he was on board as well. 

Once the graphics were printed, cut and inserted into the can it appeared to be printed on aluminum bottom of the can.  It was very professional.  David was not in the office at the time and we played with showing the can around.  We did not let anyone know it was fake.  I called David and told him that I thought he may have won the pickup truck.  I had bought this particular batch of drinks this time and he was so impressed with my honesty.  He knew that I could easily have claimed the can for myself.  Only, I knew it was a fake!
When David arrived the next day, I was ready.  I had already contacted my friend Billy who had the "800" number.  After peering into the can, David gave me an affectionate slap on the back and offered to let me have the truck.  I declined because it would not have been all that funny for me to win.  But I did think this was awfully nice of him. I had set it up with Billy so we could really get David.

In order to understand this you have to know David.  He was from Pittsburgh, PA and was a huge Pirates fan.  He followed their season and constantly threw out player stats.  In fact they were in the playoffs with the Atlanta Braves that year and the winner would go to the World Series.   With this in mind, I had instructed Billy to pose a question that only I would have the correct answer.

When David placed the call, Billy did great.  He answered the phone with "Dr. Pepper Prize Line".  After getting David's contact information, he asked him to provide the serial number in the bottom of the can.  Billy then confirmed that David had indeed won the pickup truck.  He then asked David if he could tell him the newest Dr. Pepper slogan.  There were at least four or five folks in the room and I figgured correctly that David would throw it out to the group for help.  Everyone engaged their brains immediately and while they were thinking I stepped forward and told him that I had just heard the new one.  It was "Dr Pepper makes you stand on your head".  David shook his head and gave me a sour expression.  Someone finally shouted out, "Be a Pepper and Drink Dr. Pepper".  David brighten up.  I interceded and repeated my answer to him once more, "Dr Pepper makes you stand on your head".  I got another shake of the head.  David quickly repeated to Billy,, "Be a Pepper and Drink Dr. Pepper".  To which, Billy replied "No, it is Dr Pepper makes you stand on your head".  With that, David looked at me with sad eyes and proclaimed that his friend had told him that twice.  I shrugged my shoulders and said, "you never listen to me".  Then Billy provided the coup de gras and announced that he would have won a complete package to the World Series for all seven games including airfare and accommodations for four, meals at the finest restaurants and money for incidentals.  With this, David went to his knees and said he would rather have that than the pickup truck.

Setting a joke in motion usually includes not a thought as to how to end the joke and let the object of the joke off the hook.  That was somewhat true this time.  I had built in one more punch that required me to be standing in the doorway in order to let David know it was a joke before things went horribly bad.  The can had been sitting on his desk overnight.  I suggested that David rinse out the can and while he was gone I wrote the "800" number on the white board.  When David returned I told him that the Dr. Pepper folks had called back and wanted him to call them.  The plan was for Billy to explain that his serial number had already been claimed by Andre, someone David knew in the office.  I was at the doorway to prevent him from attacking Andre.  Unfortunately, Billy did not answer the "800" number this time and David recognized the company name.  I knew I was in trouble as soon as he glanced my way.  I will put it this way, David is not a person you want mad at you.  He is a tough Italian who could probably cause a lot of damage if he wanted to do so.

We are still friends now but he is wary of me.  He and I along with Keith started a healthcare software company in 1994 which I retired from in 2011. The company is still going strong. David gave my son, Parks, his old Pontiac Grand Am not long after I pulled this joke on him.  Parks has a lot of fond memories in that car.

One side note that I would like to throw out.  This joke would have been perfect if I could have used an ink during the printing that would have dissolved away when David rinsed out the can.  I would loved to have seen that!

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