Tracy K. Lorenz ...


Ever since I got out of college I’ve worked in offices and a lot has changed in the hundred years or so since then. For one thing, EVERYONE used to smoke, smoke nonstop, smoke like it was their job. Pipes, cigarettes, cigars ... the office looked like The Marlboro Man’s poker room. My first job I shared an office with a guy who smoked a pipe, cherry tobacco, eight hours a day. That was pleasan’t.

Also back then HR was a thing but not a big thing like it is today.  HR dealt mostly with insurance and vacations, not feelings and general fragility, thus practical jokes were accepted if not encouraged.

I had this secretary that had a habit of drinking a half cup of coffee and then leaving the styrofoam cup with the other half sitting on her desk. She wouldn’t dump the coffee out and refill, she’d just get a new cup and leave the cold coffee sitting out for days at a time.

Most great discoveries are made by accident, like when I accidentally discovered that Wite-Out melts styrofoam. Shortly after my discovery, I decided to put a drop in one of her old coffee cups when she wasn’t looking. It took a couple of minutes but eventually the Wite-out sunk to the bottom and ate a hole in the cup causing the old coffee to leak out upon her desk. Now we’re onto something.  When I’d notice a collection of half-filled cups pilling up I’d put a couple of drops in one cup at a time about every five minutes so they didn’t all leak at once, they were time released. Eventually I told her they were biodegradable cups and she quit letting them sit around.

Then I was working with this guy who thought he was Steve Jobs. He was Mr. Computer, and he had a way of, when you asked him a computer question, answering as if you were a moron.

So one day I’d had enough and every time he left his cubicle I’d run in there and change his font and background colors. There’d be red letters on a purple background or orange letters on a yellow background and it drove him crazy because he couldn’t figure out what was causing it. He spent hours trying to fix that computer and every time he’d fix it and leave to go to the bathroom I’d run in and change his screen. He’d come back and the whole office would hear him scream “IT DID IT AGAIN” followed by other words.

The jig was up when he called a $200 an hour computer repair person and I had to fess up before the repair guy, and the bill, arrived.

Then I stumbled upon a thing called “Auto Format.” I’m not sure of its practical application but you can set it up so when you type in one word it automatically changes it to another word.  I worked with a guy named Chuck Lane so when he was out of the office I set Auto Format so that when he typed “Chuck Lane” it changed “Chuck Lane” to “Batman.” He’d write a letter and type “Sincerely, Chuck Lane” and BLIP! it would say “Sincerely, Batman” on the page. He must have had ten people in his office showing them this anomaly before I got ratted out. No revenge was ever sought but I was on high alert for a few weeks. He might not have thought it was funny, but to me, and a couple coworkers, it was an absolute ... Home Run.

Printed by permission of the author. Email him at
Get Tracy’s latest book at or, or download it from
Only $3.99, cheap.