Archive for September 11th, 2011

I’m not much of a practical joker. Truth is I really don’t like them at all but every now and again when the mood is just right I just can’t seem to help myself as is evident in a previous blog about a co-worker and a fish.

The local magic shop, when there was one, was located directly behind the bank where I used to work. Can you believe it? I’ve spent most of my life in the magic business. I left the West Coast, changed countries and in the process stepped out of the world of magic, (for the most part) and I end up working directly across the street from a magic shop. Talk about fate.

Beside the magic shop was a little boutique that sold handmade soap. The soap boutique had an automatic soap bubble maker/blower mounted on the wall between the two stores. On nice days the bubbles would blow onto the sidewalk.

I was sitting in the banks lunchroom, the large windows faced the magic shop. John, the owner of the magic shop was sitting on the stoop directly outside his door. I was eating my lunch watching the world, watching John, watching the old lady slowly meandering down the street, watching the pretty bubbles. Suddenly the old lady stops and turns toward John and starts pointing at him. I couldn’t hear anything and the windows didn’t open. One thing was clear the Lady was not happy. John kept pointing at the bubble maker and the soap boutique. I watched in fascination, clearly the lady was upset and yelling. A few people crossed the street to keep out of the situation. John kept shrugging and pointing at the store next to his, but the old woman was having none of John’s explanations. The only thing that made sense to me was that a bubble landed on the old woman and she thought it was John’s bubble maker and was telling him what she thought. After about five minutes or so the lady stormed off leaving John standing in front of his store scratching his head.

I finished my lunch and went back to work. But I could not shake the scene from my head. While serving a customer a plan began to form. I didn’t think it would work but I had to try. I spent the next few hours cementing the plan in my head. Finally my afternoon break came and I bolted for the lunch room and grabbed the phone and called the magic shop. I did not disguise my voice, either it would work or it wouldn’t.

The phone rings

John: “Hello, Abracadabra Magic”

Me: “Hello, may I please speak to the owner?”

John: “I am the owner, how may I help you?”

Me: “Mr. Oglivy?” (not John’s real last name)

John: “Yes?”

“My name is Officer Dale from the State College borough police, we have received a complaint about the bubble machine you have outside your store.”

“Officer you want the store next to mine, I tried to explain to the lady who yelled at me for 10 minutes that it is not my machine. It belongs to the people who own the store next to mine.”

“Mr. Oglivy I did go ahead and check the regulations about any such devices. I found that they have to be at least 15 feet back from the sidewalk or a permit is required. I checked the maps and on your street there is simply not enough clearance from the front of the building to the sidewalk to operate such a machine without a proper permit.”

John sounding frustrated: “Officer, as I explained to the lady, it is not my bubble…”

“You do have a permit to operate that bubble machine, don’t you Mr. Oglivy?”

“Officer I already expl…”

“Mr. Oglivy does your landlord know about the bubble…”

“Officer I…”

Me starting to sound agitated: “Mr. Oglivy please do not interrupt me again. I am going to come down with a city inspector to inspect the bubble machine and take some measurements and check your permits.”

“Officer, I tried explaining to the lady, and I’m trying to tell you, it is not my bubble machine it belongs to the store next door, clearly there has been a mistake.”

“Mr. Oglivy let me explain it this way. You are the owner of Abracadabra Magic and a complaint has been made against you and I have to follow up on this complaint. I explained the city ordinance and I will be out there later today to complete my report. If you don’t meet the requirements to operate such a device you will be given a citation at which point you can explain it all to a judge.”

“Officer, the bubble machine is not…Brian is that you?”


“You son of a bitch, are you at the bank?”

“Yup, saw the whole thing but could not hear a word”

“Bastard you really had me going. That lady was so mad and I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t mine but she just kept on yelling.”

Me laughing: “So I really had you going?”

“She was so mad, her calling the police wouldn’t surprise me, and you had all the details so yes you bastard you had me going the whole time.”

It is odd that the only two practical jokes I remember being involved in happened while I was at the bank. I guess that place just brought out the worst in me.

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