Years ago I worked at a large law firm in the City of Philadelphia. As with all such organizations there was personnel turnover – some of it voluntary and others not so. In one of the latter situations an associate, soon to be former associate, was advised his last paid day was to be March 31st. Except for a few close friends and the powers that were, few of us had any inkling of the impending departure, myself included.
The 31st fell on a Sunday. Not usually a day of work for me, I was in that day, unfortunately, and resulting in some unusual wrinkles. I passed no colleagues on the way in (or out for that matter), no one else was in on my floor and I did not see any other persons. I did my work and left just after noon. A little digression is necessary. At the time, confidential communications from the firm were delivered to employees in sealed pink envelopes labeled “Confidential.”
On Monday, April 1st, I arrived in my office before 8 am to find a pink envelope on my desk. Opening it, I found a memo from the Executive Committee, appropriately initialed, advising us, the associates, that as a result of a banner year the bonuses were larger than expected and for those eligible the “check was enclosed.” No check in my envelope. Oh well I was only a second year and ineligible in any event.
A colleague, a senior associate, from down the hall stepped into my office and asked if I had received one of the memos and a check. I showed him my copy and commented – I am not eligible so am a bit confused why I had received it. Anything else about it strike you as odd? he asked. I suggested it seemed an inappropriate way of passing out bonuses. His comment – Exactly. The firm never paid them in this fashion. We concluded it to be an April Fool’s joke. An astounding bit of deductive reasoning you might say from two of the brightest bulbs in the bunch.
I thought little more of it and went about my business. To the prankster’s delight, I am sure, many of my colleagues failed to conclude as we two had and were irate that no check had been included. These brainiacs compounded the prank calling Finance to inquire about their “missing” checks. Now comes the fun part.
The Firm initiated an investigation. First stop, search the entry card database to determine all those who had come into the offices over the weekend. I was called into the office of one of the senior administrators and literally grilled over my time in the office on Sunday. What had I seen, who had I seen, was the envelope on my desk on Sunday, what was my personal copying code to check on how much copying I had done recently, had I ordered any pink envelopes from printing, etc. Of course having encountered no one that Sunday I had no exculpating witness. At the conclusion of the “interview” I was told the investigation was on-going and they would get back to me.
Somewhere removed from the offices, a former associate was having the last laugh – the Firm in an uproar, associates and the like with egg on their faces, a “witch” hunt in progress. The investigation was unable to reach a conclusion as to the culprit though the strong smell of suspicion fell on the departed associate. It was never determined how the memos were copied, placed in so many pink envelopes and distributed throughout the Firm over a dozen floors. Those persons in the office on Sunday, it turns out only 5 in number, were forever tainted by association and we remained suspected accomplices though none had been friends or class members with the departed associate.
Moral – be a Chick-Fil-A – don’t work on Sundays.