When Pranks End Badly

I tried to post a picture but my computer won’t let me.

It was just a harmless prank in the minds of the two Australian radio personalities. They probably thought that the Countess was just being pampered because of a little “morning sickness”.

Everyone who heard them would know that she couldn’t possibly be the Queen with the horrible accent, right? The hospital staff would hang up on them anyway. So they call the hospital where the wife of the second in line to the British throne is recuperating from “morning sickness” and pretend to be the Queen. Instead, for some unknown reason the call is put through and they actually talk to the nurse personally in charge of the patient.

The nurse gives out medically private information although nothing that seems too personal (to me). The patient is resting and is being rehydrated. The DJs learn the situation is more serious than the condition millions of women around the world suffer during their pregnancy, as if making fun of any woman with morning sickness is ever funny.

The call ends and the two DJs congratulate each other on the success of their phone call. It was a  harmless prank after all.

Why do people feel it funny to prank?  It is often that they get their thrills out of the public embarrassment or humiliation caused to the victim. They are happy seeing their victims turn red or hearing others around laughing. The problem is the laughter is directed AT the victim and not WITH him. Who was the intended victim of this prank? Was it the hospital, the Countess, or the culpable nurses?

People will not stop playing pranks on others, but they do so with the possibilities of consequences. As was the case with the hospital calls.

The DJs could not have known that the nurse who put the call through to the floor was originally from India. They could not have known that saving the family from disgrace is extremely important. Family honor is first in the lives of thousands of Indian women. She could not forgive herself for her role in this situation. Do I know that for certain? Of course not, although she left suicide notes and I am guessing at the content.

All she did was answer the phone and put the call through. She was not even the one who gave out the information. But that was enough for her. Sadly, she saw no way out of the humiliation, so she hanged herself. The caring and concern of the Prince and Countess was not enough to swage the guilt she felt at her culpability.

The family was deprived of a wife and mother. Knowing this woman died because of a “joke” will haunt them the rest of their lives.

The DJs lost their jobs and probably their entire careers in the radio business. The hospital most likely will review their policies about phone calls making it even harder for caring loved ones to find out about any of the patients, even if it IS the Queen who is doing the calling.

Will pranksters continue to take advantage of others? Probably not. After all, we even have a  day devoted to pranks and practical jokes. April Fool’s Day is the international day celebrated to flush out the April Fools. It’s been around since the 1500s and is not going away any time soon. However, on that day, people at least have a fighting chance of knowing they are being pranked and they live in countries where generally honor is not so deadly serious.

Hopefully, those who prank will think twice about what they do to others in order to get a laugh. Hopefully, the world will learn a lesson, especially if the prank is on a complete stranger. Why “hopefully”? Because you never know the repercussions until it is too late.

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