Here’s how I think it goes down:
- “Hello? … How can I help you, Larry? … Oh my God! Is carbon monoxide dangerous?! OH MY GOD!! WHAT DO I DO?”
- “Right, so I’ll get the gas out by breaking a nearby window? With the heaviest object I can find? OKAY!”
- *grunt of exertion* “C’mon, Ollie. You’re saving my life, buddy. Don’t be so selfish.”
- “LARRY?! OH MY GOD, LARRY!! HE’S GOT MY EYEBALL!! LARRY?! WHAT DO I DO, LARRY?!”
Now that I’ve set the context, imagine this actually happening, minus the cat, but plus the breaking of the window.
Or someone calls you at the fast food joint you’re working at, tells you that you need to activate the chemical sprinkler system immediately, and then strip down and wait outside because the chemicals spraying you are highly toxic.
I know, right? My first inclination would be to do exactly as they say.
Seriously, if Tariq Malik is the guy behind PrankNET, he’s someone I’m going to be watching very closely. He (from Windsor), his Toronto accomplice, and few other members have been prank calling people in the US and getting them to perform what I’ve describe above. And more. Many of the pranks result in damages, some of them quite severe.
I must say, the pranksters did sound awfully convincing, sometimes teaming up to sound even more official. But there was always a point where, if I were in the same situation, I’d have to say, “Woaw now. Hold on just a second.” Being told to break a labeled safety seal on a hotel sprinkler system would be one. Another would be trying to bash a hole in my hotel window as per telephone instruction, after sealing the door against the poisonous gas in the hallway, then having someone in the hallway tell me to stop hitting the window (or maybe they were standing outside the hotel and I opened the window to talk to them), then coming back and repeating all this three or four more times.
Sometimes people complied and successfully destroyed property on the first try. Sometimes they really had to work for it.
Just a word of advice from personal experience; if you’re ever in a similar situation you may be tempted to just wreck the whole place, but hold on! You have an alternative: “What? You want me to break out the window with a chair? Sure, let me just call you right back. *click* *dial* Hello, front desk? Did you just ask me to break out my window with a chair? No? Can you call the police please? Thanks ever so much.”
It’s obvious Tariq and William Marquis (the Torontonian), are at least guilty of impersonation (of police/fire officials), but it makes me wonder if they’ll be held responsible for all the damage that people did simply because some stranger on the end of a phone told them to. How far does personal responsibility extend? What is the measure of “better” in “they should’ve known better”?
(Don’t worry, Ollie’s just fine. My eyeball will heal too.)