The day the office got a new microwave.

I’d heard about the broken microwave in our office kitchen since my very first day at the agency.

“We used to have two microwaves, but that one broke, so now we only have one.”

“Remember when we didn’t have to stand in line to use the microwave at lunch?”

“Life was so much better when we had two microwaves.”

I guess I must come from an impoverished background or something, because every office I’ve ever worked in has only had one microwave. Shoot, my house only has one microwave! I used to think this was normal, but witnessing the excruciating disappointment and perpetual longing of my coworkers in the kitchen each day, I’m not so sure what I believe anymore.

“All I have to say is that we’d better get a second microwave before Thanksgiving rolls around or we’re going to have a REAL PROBLEM on our hands.”

I’ll never forget the moment that agency-wide email appeared in our inboxes. It was titled “Microwave #2,” and it announced that the broken machine had finally been replaced with a shiny new one. Oh reader, if you could have heard the sounds of joy that echoed through the halls of this building! I’m pretty sure I saw someone crying.

“Microwave #2 has finally been replaced,” the email started. “Hopefully, this one will last longer than 3 months.”

Hopefully, this one will last longer than 3 months.

3 months.


Suddenly, a thought popped into my head, straight from the devil on my shoulder himself. “Now, Jillian, is the perfect time for an office prank.”

“You’re right, shoulder devil,” I said aloud.

“What?” said my coworker.


Sneakily, I opened up a Word doc on my computer and typed three simple words. I clicked Print and quickly rushed from my seat to the printer in a whirlwind of blonde hair. No one could see. No one could know. 

Casually, I retrieved the paper from the printer, snapped a piece of tape from the dispenser and sauntered into the kitchen. A quick glance – to the right – to the left – and within seconds, I had taped the sign to the new microwave.

Out of Order.


A hilarious prank! No one will suspect it was me! People have been so emotional over this machine. This will be monumental. I could hear the rip roar of laughter that surely awaited. I imagined how the sign would be discovered, how the tale of the sign would travel from person to person, how I would react when the story came around to me.

“Someone did what?!” I’d feign. “What a hilarious joke! Such a clever prankster! He or she is truly a natural-born comic.”

I returned to my desk and sat gingerly, smoothing my skirt over my knees, waiting. Within a matter of minutes, I heard the first rumblings. A coworker approached me. “Did you put an Out of Order sign on the microwave?”

“Someone put an Out of Order sign on the microwave?” I gasped, hand over heart. “What do you mean? What a hilarious –”

“Yeah, but someone already crumpled it up and threw it away.”

[Sound of glass shattering] “WHAT!? I mean… what? Why? How many people saw it and laughed before it got thrown away?”

“Um, like two people? Not many.”

“Two people? Not many?”

“Nope, I don’t even know if anyone got the joke. Oh well. People are weird.”

“Oh, haha. Yeah. OH WELL. WHATEVER, ha, totally.”


You win again, microwave. This time.

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