I wasn't going to write this story because I think it was a super crappy thing for me to do and I'm not particularly proud of it. Then I told the story to a friend the other day and cracked up so much that I realized I had to write it.
Many years ago, when I was still in college, I was perhaps even more prone to prankery than I am now. I sat at a friends house, bored, playing with the stupid utilities that came with all Macintosh computers. One of them was the text to speech application. After the obligatory profanities, I got down to business. I called Pizza Hut and tried to type fast enough to carry on a conversation. It wasn't quite doable. The clerk on the other end got frustrated and eventually, with an air of resignation, said, "Ma'am (it was a woman's voice on the program), do you just want a pizza for free?".
I cackled with glee (not synthesized) and gave a phony address. My friends and I laughed and rejoiced until we realized that our trophy was sent to someone else's house. Then we felt cheated.
Several days later I was at another friend's house. I was hungry. My friends and I concocted some handy phrases that we thought we might need in notepad, ready to be copy and pasted. We dialed pizza hut.
"Hello, this is Pizza Hut."
They hung up. Perfect. Redial.
"Hello, this is Pizza Hut."
"You hung up on me," our mechanical voice droned, "please do not discriminate against me."
"Umm. I'm sorry. Can I help you?"
"Due to years of unhealthful smoking of marijuana and nicotine cigarettes my voicebox has failed like a retarded child."
I'm not making this up.
"Oh, ok. I'm sorry."
"I would like to order a pizza"
"Ok, what would you like?"
"A cheese pizza. For free."
"Oh, I'm sorry. We can't do that."
"You hung up on me. My people have suffered long enough"
"I'm sorry about that. I didn't hear you."
"My voicebox has failed... "
"Ok, I'm sorry."
"I will speak with your manager."
Muffled whispers could be heard in the background, trying to discuss the situation.
"Hi. I'm the manager. What can I help you with?"
"Your employee insulted me and hung up on me. It was rude. I demand free pizza."
"Well, I can't really do that..."
"My life is filled with despair and lonliness. Please do not add to my troubles."
"Ok, I'm sorry. I'd be happy to send you a free pizza"
We gave him our address, and then panic set in. This prank was about to move from behind the anonymous cloak of a telephone to a face to face confrontation. We did what any reasonable person would do - we got Orac to answer the door.
I think most groups of friends, especially in college, have that one guy who will do anything. Maybe it's for attention, maybe it's due to insanity, or maybe it's a combination. Orac once bit a chunk out of a stick of deoderant, and on another occasion he drank an entire bottle of balsamic vinegar.
We hid behind couches when the doorbell rang. Orac answered confidently, handed the delivery guy a tip, and took the pizza. No issues. No suspicion.
So we got cocky.
A week later we called Pluckers, a local chicken wing shack. Again, we began our routine.
"My voicebox has failed like a..."
Moving beyond the minor leagues of one pizza, I ordered 100 wings. Stories of our prank had spread and we had an audience to feed. I told them that "years of solitude and a sedentary lifestyle have caused massive weight gain. I must feed."
Feeling rather brassy, I volunteered to answer the door. We waited half an hour and no one showed up. Forty five minutes passed. After an hour we assumed that they were onto us. It's not like we were subtle.
People scurried to their hiding places and I opened the door with a big smile.
My smile vanished when I saw that behind the delivery boy was an older man in a button down shirt. He was the manager.
"What's up with the voice, kid?"
I was scared.
"The robot voice? You think that's funny?"
"OH! I'm so sorry. That's Maria! I'm her caretaker... she lost her voice box after years of smoking, so I get to live here for free to help her with errands and stuff."
There was a long pause. They didn't fully buy it, but then again they didn't know that I was lying.
"I'm sorry about her," I added. "She's a little bit bitter and she can be rude. She should have waited until I got home and had me call."
They were puzzled. Should they confront me or just give me the giant box of wings they held? They submitted.
"It's no problem. We only had 50 wings left. I hope that's ok."
"Of course. I'm sorry again if she was rude."
I handed them a tip and took the bounty inside. We each feasted upon 7 wings.