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February 24, 2002 :: "Control Freaks [And how to fuck with them]"

Control Freaks. We all have to work with at least one. You’re reading a blog by one right now. I’m working on easing off. I know I’m hard-headed and domineering, and as a Control Freak, I can think I can shed some light on the subject. Not because I wish to help other control freaks recover; that would go against my Libertarian views of to each his own. No, I want to shed light on them so you too can have some fun with them [for having to put up with them].

To do this we must identify the ten major areas that Control Freaks cannot tolerate being messed with. You know, go for the weak spot.

Desk space:

Computer Desktop:Cellphone:
Every time you need to speak with them, even if they are 5' away, call their cellphone. Refuse to hang up, using up their precious cell minutes.

Speech Patterns:
This one always works on me. Find out what words and phrases they hate and use them liberally as often as possible. My family did this to me for 30 years.

Clothing Stains:
Pretend to see a large stain on their clothing. Have everyone do this. When they say they can’t see it, pretend it’s “only when you stand in the light a certain way, then it’s really noticeable.”

Volume of Voice during Meetings/Arguments:
Everytime this person raises their voice, pretend you hear B2 bombers overhead. Hit the dirt and cross your hands over your head. Never let them finish a sentence without the “air-raid.”

Keeping Pace:
Inevitably, you will be in a situation where the Control Freak will wish to walk at pace that would tire an Ostrich in full sprint. You will be expected to keep up of course. Don’t. Have all the members in your group pretend to be precariously traversing a tightrope.

Driving Habits:
Does your office Control Freak participate in Parking Lot NASCAR? Of course s/he does. Here’s what you do. During one of their suckup meetings with the boss, go to the lot and lower the tire pressure in two of their tires by 7-10 lbs. Not enough to see readily but more than enough to kill any pick-up their candy-apple red Corvette had.

Most Control Freaks are obsessive about their hair. Touch it and risk losing a finger. Or at the very least, getting the finger. You needn’t touch it at all to have fun. TV Remote Control:
All Control Freaks [except me oddly] are obsessed with the TV Remote. You have a few simple options:Have any categories to add? Any pranks suggestions to share? Please do so.

He said. She said. Thereís 44 Comments

Some of the things my roommates do to me:

1) Turn off the volume on their computer. Especially effective on me, since I have about 700 mp3s on there. Or if they don't have the volume up loud, crank it up.

2) Talk when the TV is on and the person is trying to watch it. Make sure that your comments are completely unrelated to the program. If you have a very young nephew, pull out the pictures and wave them in front of the control freak's face.

3) Reorganize everything for them. If you're nice, mention it after they've spent five minutes searching for their stuff. My roommates actually did this to me with all of my dishes.

4) Have everything organized a certain way but don't tell the control freak. Again, my roommates did this to me. "No, Lisa, don't put your milk there. Your stuff goes in the middle of the fridge. That's why we keep moving your stuff, if you haven't noticed." Gee, thanks. You've had it like that for how long without telling me?

5) Interrupt them with an almost completely unrelated comment about how your nephew spit up.

And a comment to my roommates, if you read this (you know who you are). This is why we are having problems in the apartment.
Lisa :: 24 February, 2002 09:21 PM

I broke out in hives just from reading this.

Excuse me, I need to go re-organize my canned goods into alphabetical order.
michele :: 24 February, 2002 09:41 PM

Cool- now I can't wait for Monday... heheh.

BTW, dave- I was just scanning your page source to steal some code and... you do need counseling, man. Yikes... it's- fastidious.
chris :: 24 February, 2002 09:50 PM

Problems? What are you trying to say?
Lisa's Roommates :: 24 February, 2002 09:52 PM

ahhhh control freaks!! bah to them. =P
Andrew :: 24 February, 2002 11:14 PM

miss match the colored socks this is a sure way to get to a control freak.
Larfus :: 24 February, 2002 11:51 PM

Download a cursor from here, figure out how to install them here.

I recommend the rebel union jack -- it's very non-pc in most places above the mason-dixon -- like, er, detroit. Try to time right when the subject is due to demo something for the boss.

If you have the tools I also recommend setting the hot-spot to -10,-10.
Victor :: 25 February, 2002 12:10 AM

Thereís a really good freeware Mac prank that is excellent to play on anal-retentive art directors. Itís an extension that shrinks your monitor by only 1 pixel each day. Takes forever to figure it out.

I wish I could remember the name of it. Anyone?
Davezilla :: 25 February, 2002 12:17 AM

1. Change the order in which their fridge magnets have been so carefully arranged. A true blue control freak *will* rearrange them in the original order. Next day, repeat process.

2. Remove the salt from the salt cruet. Fill it with castor (powdered) sugar.

3. While talking to a control freak, finish all your sentences with "in accordance with the prophecy."

4. Dont use any punctuation marks
[Note: If you want to annoy yours truly, this is a surefire trick.]

5. Put mosquito netting around their work area. Play a tape of jungle sounds.

6. If they order a pizza, & you know they don't like mushrooms, call right back to the pizza place & specify that you'd like finely chopped mushrooms as a topping on your order.


I know I'll be able to think of more when my brain comes out of slumber mode.
Minnie :: 25 February, 2002 01:25 AM

7. If you know they're reading a suspense/thriller book, or watching a suspense movie; reveal the end.
Minnie :: 25 February, 2002 01:56 AM

Heh I don't even have to leave home to mess with an OCD. I've got to run now and move some shit out of place.
Charles :: 25 February, 2002 02:36 AM

8. Change the settings on their toaster. A Control Freak who likes his/her bread lightly warmed will be positively livid when it pops out well-toasted.

9. Take away their Post-it notes. Replace with another of a totally different colour.


I *know* there are more brewing in my evil mind, but for now these should do. ;-)
Minnie :: 25 February, 2002 08:45 AM

Hmm. Messing with me is easy.

1-I *will* change the toilet paper roll back to its PROPER underhand position *every* time I go to the washroom. I've played this game with roomates for months. Grrr.

2-I *will* get up and go close the shower curtain every time I see "someone" left it open. I can be in the middle of dinner, it doesn't matter, I HAVE to have it closed.

3-At work, I regularly hunt down the person who keeps "borrowing" the shared stapler: if that stapler is missing, people take the one on my desk. MINE!!! ARGH!

4-Take my post-it notes and die.
vieux bandit :: 25 February, 2002 09:05 AM

Toilet paper is *Always* overhand.
Whatever is the matter with you, VB?

And you people are all evil. Now I see where Satan's minions gather on their off hours!
jenn :: 25 February, 2002 10:03 AM

Overhand? pfff. Have you never had kittens? Having the TP overhand is like begging them to unroll it all over the place! it's just W-R-O-N-G!!
vieux bandit :: 25 February, 2002 11:13 AM

what vieux bandit said.
Dan :: 25 February, 2002 11:26 AM

1) Change the order of the cdís in the cd changer
2) Randomly rename MP3ís
3) Change the default Media player.
4) Whenever you are driving to a frequented place, go a different and seemingly wandering route. Especially if theyíre in a hurry.
Control Freaks do actually come in handy, though. I had a roommate that noticed our apartment had been broken into because the milk had been moved. Nothing had been taken except a loaf of bread and some ham.
Debra :: 25 February, 2002 11:35 AM

None of my three cats ever cared what direction the toilet paper was rolled. They know better.

A true Control Freak such as myself has his cats trained to sit, heel and line up at the door when he comes home.
Davezilla :: 25 February, 2002 12:09 PM

Better than removing one battery in the remote is to replace both batteries backwards. Much harder to detect.

Even better (worse) is to break the little clip on the battery door, so the slightest jostle will make the door fall off and the batteries fall out. Have you ever tried to replace one of these? This is only for the truly evil.

Oh god, and don't even get me started on things you can do if they own a TiVo (delete programs after 12 hours, record Barney and Barnaby Jones reruns, change their channel lineups, the fun is endless).
Kevin Fox :: 25 February, 2002 12:11 PM

1) Follow every statement of fact spoken by Control Freak with a skeptical "Are you certain?"

2) When walking with a Control Freak, maintain a 4 ft distance from them at all times. In elevators, try to surreptitiously plug up your nose.

3) Every time you see them glance at their shoes before speaking.

4) Anytime travel is mentioned at work, softly request to have separate car/hotel etc.

5) Anytime you have to touch them, instantly wipe your hands on your pants. Convince coworkers to do the same.

6) Set the speaker volume on their windows running PC to very high so that the opening and closing music is defining

7) Change their auto signature

8) On Microsoft Outlook, set the Inbox Assistant to automatically put any incoming mail in the deleted folder.

9) Turn on out of office assistant. Change message to "So Long Suckers"

10) Change voicemail answering option to automated voice.
Peanut Gallery :: 25 February, 2002 01:07 PM

P.S: Don't do all of these to every coworker. After doing any of ther more unusual ones, ask the office gossip if they have noticed anything weird about the Control Freak.
Peanut Gallery :: 25 February, 2002 01:08 PM

Victor :: 25 February, 2002 01:13 PM

Okay, this one worked a treat on a colleague at a place I no longer work:

Step One: When the coworker is away, take a screenshot of his desktop (which just happens to be liberally sprinkled with shortcuts), with the mouse cursor hidden.

Step Two: Save as a jpeg.

Step Three: Remove all icons and shortcuts on the desktop (this is even better in IE4+ as you can remove ALL the icons if you configure it correctly)

Step Four: Set the jpeg as the background image.

Step Five: Watch as coworker attempts to double click on non-existent, yet clearly visible, short cuts.

IF you want to be particularly evil, also inform the IT department so that when he inevitably contacts them, they're in on the joke and can very cruelly get him to uninstall his "Winnie The Pooh" screensaver.

I did this on my last day before returning to university; six months later on my return I was told that he had stayed at work until 7 that night to figure out the problem, and was still unaware of the prank.

If I didn't have a conscience I would have repeated the exercise....
Christopher Walker :: 25 February, 2002 02:49 PM

Regarding the TP problem and cats: the reason I have cats, Dave, is to learn what it feels like to live with control freaks. It makes me understand the poor people around me better when I think of how I feel, being manipulated by three furballs. Of course, I always have a choice: to feed them or not. People around me don't have that choice, so I can treat them with all my evil controllness. Hence my new motto: Feeding yourself is power.
vieux bandit :: 25 February, 2002 03:34 PM

With all these great suggestions, Dave, I guess you can now create a Control Freak Watchers Textbook.
leslier :: 25 February, 2002 04:33 PM

Guaranteed way to get a control freak in a tizzy -- correct him or her incorrectly.

For instance, when s/he innocently refers to a "celtic" design, insist that it's not celtic, it's art nouveau. Guaranteed to wind him/her up.

Ask me why I know. (KNOTS! Celtic designs are KNOTS! Not interwoven lines! It is CELTIC!)
Suzanne :: 25 February, 2002 05:54 PM

Christopher, I did a similar prank to Tamity after she got her LASIK surgery done. I took a screen shot, and, as she has two 22" monitors, moved all her icons to the bottom right of the secondary monitor. I applied a Gaussian Blur (very slight; 1 pixel) to the JPG so it was barely out of focus and made it her desktop.
Davezilla :: 25 February, 2002 06:11 PM

I would go insane without a black pen!
pete :: 25 February, 2002 06:38 PM

How to mess wiht control freaks..

ONce they have left their office for lunch..

Get coworkers and turn every itme upside down..not just the desk and chair but alos the book cases..

If any thing is hanging from ceiling make sure to have 'hang' from the floor..

The just drive them bonkers put a new employee memo on the office door..

adds that special a hello control freak you are f*cked effect..

Warning I am not responsible for the mental health bills this tactic migh incurr..:)
Fred Grott :: 25 February, 2002 07:21 PM

I once had a neighbor who spent her retirement years in experimentation, combining all of the above suggestions *and compounding the effect* by exercising them on unsuspecting strangers.
She'd get you, first, with speech patterns that made you want to hit her, then wonder if she'd suffered some head trauma that made her think it was ok to punctuate each clause (and, oh, there were so many clauses) with "in other words." She "cleaned" our front yard, making off with plants, barrels, a cast iron cat sculpture (don't ask), and would randomly insert wads of her junk mail into our doorway. She gossiped in detail about everyone on the cul de sac, including families that had moved away decades before.
But the thing that really got to me was her looking me dead in the eye while blathering on about nothing and intone "in other words" 100 times in 5 minutes of monologue consisting of really pretty much the same fucking words, over and over and on and on and on. Such that I wouldn't confront her on her other freaky behaviors, and risk a conversation.

Here's a helpful tip I learned from her: have an incontinent, unsocialized, yipping little throwing-dog, and invite it to jump upon and lick your control freak. They'll have to wash off the stench before they can enjoy another moment of peace.
Jessica :: 25 February, 2002 07:37 PM

for god's sake man, don't tell people how to further annoy me! i get enough on a daily basis as is...
jason :: 25 February, 2002 08:06 PM

Touch my, I mean, *their* monitor. Touch it often...keep touching it even after being calmly asked not to....
curtis :: 25 February, 2002 11:16 PM

I work in a community computer lab for graphic designers, yea, I seem to be the only one with my own bottle of cleaner for the moniter screen. Of course I have a whole unique set of quirks with placement and cleaning.

And toiletpaper is always overhand. Even hotels know this, the nice ones even fold the end for you.
Christina :: 25 February, 2002 11:29 PM

Each day select one or two pictures in the house. Tilt them just an inch so they hand askew. Control Freak will notice immediately and be forced to straighten pictures. Repeat every other day as needed.

For the really bad cases - just tell them that you're going to do this. Rice-crispies-in-milk noises can be heard coming out of their ears as brain cells burst.
batgrl :: 26 February, 2002 01:07 AM

Um, "hang askew".
I'm actually related to the control freak in the above example but don't think it's rubbed off.
Except that toilet paper has to roll over the top.
batgrl :: 26 February, 2002 01:10 AM

I know about the hotel courtesy fold. It is the only thing that makes me appreciate overhand toilet paper (it's become a routinely performed joke in my household). However, the courtesy fold takes time. Better to leave the toilet paper in its *proper* underhand fashion. And I regret (not) to inform you that I have an expert witness to corroborate my views on this.
vieux bandit :: 26 February, 2002 08:47 AM

sigh. you all think this is funny, don't you? a couple of things.

1. you and your significant other both smoke. YOU have been caught without a lighter too many times so you become religious about placing a "backup" lighter AND matches in the little pocket of your purse for emergencies. HE KNOWS you keep them there. the next time you need a lighter you are so proud of yourself for keeping the backups. you go to the little pocket of your purse and they are gone. much cussing ensues.

2. you are compulsive when you travel, putting together the ultimate travel bag, prepared for anything. significant other asks, "do you happen to have a band-aid in there?" "why yes i do!" "do you happen to have any hand wipes?" "why yes i do!" etc. etc.

ask for the one thing they don't have and couldn't have anticipated. it will drive them nuts that they didn't think of it and they will ALWAYS include it in the future, going through great lengths to get it.

i'm a freak. i know.
denise :: 26 February, 2002 09:30 AM

or you could just point out they still have a 2001 copyright on their weblog...
denise :: 26 February, 2002 09:30 AM

Dave, you're an evil genius. The subtle ones are the best - that's for sure.
Christopher Walker :: 26 February, 2002 09:40 AM

I know a guy who has been pulling a scam on his best friend for the last 10 years.

The best friend owns a busy comic book store and this guy calls him up, twice a week, and pretends to be a retarded, stuttering kid inquiring about that weeks new releases.
(painfully slowly)
"D d ddd o, DDDddo, D, DDd, Do y'y'you ha'h'h'h'h'h'h'ha HA' have the the the the the new Bat'bbbbbatbatBAT' Batman?....."

The comic book store owner put up with it for years, until one day he snapped and yelled at the kid and told him not to call again.

His friend, wisely, got someone to call posing as the retarded, stuttering kids' mother, and proceeded to berate "such an insensitve member of the community".

Now, you guessed it, he has to take the phone calls. He's tried to help finish the kid's sentences, he's tried reading down the list of new releases, he's tried EVERYTHING. I wish I could convey the pain, frustration and agony in his voice everytime he picks up the phone and hears that "Dddd, ddd, do....."
efskydive :: 26 February, 2002 11:59 AM

Sadly, my mother was always once to mess with me. I keep all my shoes in shoe boxes, labeled and photographed. Mom would go in and mismatch all the shoes/boxes. A pain when late in the morning.
Christina :: 26 February, 2002 02:56 PM

Do none of you remember the interview, by Frank deCaro, in Spy Magazine with Mister Whipple? The Charmin spokesperson?
The official industry word is that TOILET PAPER HANGS OVER, NOT UNDER. Hotels are using proper etiquette. Discipline your cat if you have to.
Don't make me get Miss Manners in here.
Jessica :: 26 February, 2002 06:01 PM

Just wipe your ass with the cat!!
UnderOnly :: 26 February, 2002 10:12 PM

Just wipe your ass with the cat!!
UnderOnly :: 26 February, 2002 10:12 PM

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