Sunday, September 07, 2003


I did not know there were other people who did this sort of prank -- making fake signs, pamphlets, and so forth. In my youth, I did many similar pranks.

Our college cafeteria often had little signs on the tables. The signs had a short essay about nutrition, and basically the point was to tell you how the cafeteria food you ate was helping to prevent some dire condition like scurvy or rickets. They usually ended with a list of things you could do to prevent [insert disease here], by eating [insert specific cafeteria foods here].

A new sign would come along every month or so, but they were all pretty boring. I started to wish for a more interesting sign. So I created a convincing imitation of the real signs, with the company logo and everything, but my sign was about the Black Plague. It described the effects of the Plague in gruesome, distinctly unappetizing detail, and gave advice for prevention like "reduce contact with plague-infected rats." I made enough copies to put one on each table in all of the college's cafeterias, and I enlisted a few friends to go in just before mealtime and distribute them.

The only problem was that the signs disappeared immediately. People thought they were so funny that they kept them, instead of leaving them on the tables for the next diners to enjoy. I wish I still had a copy.

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