How To Mess With People: Step-By-Step

I don’t know about you, but I just love to mess people. Since our humor pieces tend to get more hits than our serious articles, I decided to put together a step-by-step guide for how to mess with people in general, as well as specific targets you’ll get the most fun out of. We’ve tweeted most of these before, and given the responses I think most will enjoy these.

There are a good number of them here, so just because one sounds stupid doesn’t mean the next one won’t make you laugh.

The Rules

The whole point of this guide is to simply gouge a funny reaction from the targeted person or group. Getting them to laugh, wonder, or somewhat disturbed is the goal, but ANYTHING beyond that (e.g. they’re about to call 911) is a sign to knock it off and come clean with them.

These are simply subtle and ambiguous gestures to prompt a funny response from the other party, and aren’t meant to harm anybody, cause damage or make somebody start spreading gossip that might make it back to your boss.

But, that said and out of the way, let’s get down to the actual details…


Walk up to anybody whom doesn’t work at a particular store, such as a fellow customer in Lowe’s or Wal-Mart, and start asking them where an item can be found, etc.

Act very surprised when they say “I don’t work here”, and optionally take it further from there, asking for their supervisor and such. Be careful doing this – I’ve gotten kicked out of stores before with police threats for “disturbing the customers”.

The Foreigner

This is a classic: go into McDonald’s or Burger King, and start speaking in a made-up language as convincing as you can. When they bring a manager from the back to possibly translate or turn you away, just say “But all I wanted was a number one with a cup of coffee” in very plain English.

This also works very well in drive-thrus.

The Blind Guy

Wear black sunglasses, grab a cane, and go knocking it around as you walk into a fast food place until someone whom works there escorts you to the front to make an order. Make the order, keeping up the blind act, then once the food comes tuck the cane under your arm and act like you can see.

Go directly for the food tray, look them dead in the eyes (through the sunglasses) and thank them, then walk out of the place directly towards the door with food in hand. Ignore profuse cursing from behind you.

The Needy Customer

You know those little “push for help” buttons in Lowe’s or Home Depot? Yeah, push them repeatedly in one particular aisle, and constantly hit the button behind to “deactivate” the call for help so you can do it faster. When the person comes to help you, look at them blankly, then look up at the aisle name, then say “oh, this isn’t the right aisle” and walk off.

The Manager

Put on a suit and tie, then go to an upscale restaurant. After your food comes, get about halfway through eating it.

At some point, when nobody is looking, get up and circle around the place to a remote table and start working your way back to your own table with this. Just go up to a random table, and with a smile on your face and your hands tucked behind you, act like a manager and ask the party if everything was to satisfaction and to call you if they need anything.

Once you’ve made your way back to your own table without getting caught by the staff, simply sit down and finish eating as you should have been doing all along. Hopefully, the other guests will notice, realize the hoax, and totally not report you to the staff before you can pay and get out.

A classic, indeed.

The Screamer

Go to any drive-thru, and yell your order as loud as you can into the little speaker thing. Get something cheap, because they more than likely will hawk a loogie or three into it before its delivered, and you don’t want to eat it.

When you pull up to get your order, thank them in a normal tone and drive off slowly. They will be baffled.

The Profane Customer

Same as the above, only using as much profanity as possible. Also applicable indoors, just be ready to make a quick getaway in case they pick up the phone.

The Angry Customer

Go into a store of sorts (I’ve done it in a drug store) and start yelling at the first unoccupied behind-the-counter worker you spot for some incident they supposedly were the cause of earlier. Ignore all claims of “I think you have the wrong person” or “But I wasn’t working here earlier”.

After getting it all out of your system, act like you’ve realized your mistake and walk off with a quaint apology. Only do this in a store you don’t mind not visiting for a while, preferrably out of state, etc.

The Mobster

Get a friend for this one: both of you are going to dress up in overcoats, sunglasses and matching hats. You will carry a briefcase, and walk up to some random person asking them “The sun is green today, no?” in a thick Russian accent. When they react, try the question again once more before apologizing to them and walking to your earshot-distanced matching friend.

Ask them the same question, have them give a response like “But only in New Jersey”, then discreetly give them the
briefcase (hopefully while the other person is watching) and walking off in opposite directions, leaving the other person in amazement.

The Dog Walker

Get a new dog leash, and just walk around in public places with it in hand, wearing a huge smile all along. Preferably for this to get the desired reaction, try it on a subway or similar crowded area. The key is to get someone to ask you about your “pet”.

As soon as someone inquires about the leash, tell them “My dog died about two years ago, but I still walk his spirit every day”, all the time wearing a huge and ignorant smile. Get angry if they try to tell you otherwise.

An alternative is to look down at the empty collar, scream, and go running back where you came screaming “Fluffy, where are you!” along the way.

The Failure Magician

Dress up in magician attire, and be sure to grab some stereotypical magician accessory (top-hat, rings, baton etc.). There are two ways to do this:

Walk up to someone, convince them to watch your free magic show for a second (e.g. “I’m an art major practicing for my show”), but make it seem like the magic trick didn’t work, before busting out in tears as if really depressed as a result.

The other, is to get a stuffed rabbit, put it in the top hat, then look surprised when it doesn’t “pop out”. Look down at the hat as if confused, then slowly pull the rabbit out before covering your mouth, sobbing, and walking away. The goal is to get the person to think the rabbit died in the hat, to your amazement. Try sprucing it up with “Third one this week!”, etc.

The Baby

Get a real-looking baby doll, put it in a real baby stroller or carrying basket, and as publicly as possible drop it out of the accessory onto the road before getting into your car and driving off, escaping the vigilantes.

This is an old trick the Jackass crew perfected, but still great to do in real life.

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Here, you have a group of people hardened against common rudeness and other strange dealings with the public, and so that combined with their persistent nature make them a great target for laughs.

I don’t hate anybody or any religion, but I do love to mess with people, Jehovah’s Witnesses included.

So next time one or a couple knock at your door or you see them going around the neighborhood ahead of time, go ahead and start putting together a show. Here’s a couple of classics I know of for when you answer them at the door:

  • Take your shirt off, frizzle/wet your hair, smear ketchup or another odd substance on your chest/face, optionally wear war paint, and greet them at the door with a smile or grimace on your face and a pickaxe or hammer in hand
  • Open the door, let them get about half a sentence out, then look at or behind them with an extremely terrified look followed by screaming and running further back into your house as fast as you can
  • Grab a book (preferably of another religion) and preach it to them, as if you want them to join it
  • Ask them for a password after they knock or ring the doorbell
  • Just stare at them blankly, without saying a word or moving a muscle until they either walk off or you get tired. Slowly shut the door without stopping your staring
  • Silently listen to what they have to say, then start slowly pointing a TV remote at them and press different buttons with a look of curiosity on your face

The possibilities are endless, but those are just a few of the best ones I’ve either done myself or thought of on the spot. Seriously, they’re great people, but I for one just can’t pass up the opportunity to mess with them, like others on this list.


Remember, just don’t get thrown in jail or otherwise in serious doo-doo for any of these gimmicks. Not my fault if you do.

It is best to perform these out-of-state or during road trips so you don’t run across anyone you know (or whom knows you) while performing the acts. I can’t tell you how many random people I must have freaked out doing these when I was younger, along with other mean tricks I won’t even list here.

So have fun, and if you enjoy these then feel free to retweet on Twitter or Digg up.


Mark (who wishes to keep his last name private) is currently employed as a system administrator for a company in his hometown. He has extensive experience in both networking and programming, and has designed many scalable and high-availability networks. Mark can easily be described as the go-to guy for building quality networks and data centers. He is now well-known for his very humorous posts here at The Coffee Desk. This bio has been corrected for our reader Nigles. I hope he feels special now.

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  1. you forgot about the elevator trick. you go into an elevator with only one other person. then you tap them on the shoulder and pretend you didnt do it.

  2. Anonymous January 8, 2010

    you forgot the telphone marketers

  3. You misused “whom” in Stores


  4. Mark should find great inspiration at the following website which summarizes over 500 lawsuits filed by Jehovah’s Witnesses against their Employers, incidents involving problem JW Employees, and other secret JW “history” court cases:


  5. I am struck by the similarities, (especially the “gorilla marketing tactics”) of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientology; which, to me, appears to employ tactics that are utilized more in cults than in traditional religions.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses are noted for their chief doctrine that Jesus had his second coming in 1914 and going door to door with Watchtower magazines,google * Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower * for facts on this group.

    The whole door to door thing is risky now-days and less effective in the Internet age,I google everything first.

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