We all know the drill.
You’re working from home, there’s a lull in the action and your mind starts to wander. What can I find to make for dinner? Can I quickly get in a load of laundry before the next call? Is there time to peek at the latest social media posts about Husker football?
Joe Leggett’s mind starts to go in a little more creative direction than, shall we say, most of us.
Leggett likes to pull pranks. Not malicious ones — the kind that make you laugh.
“If you can find the humor in something,” he said, “that lightens up your day.”
The Nextdoor app for his Papillion neighborhood, he said, is the last frontier for his kind of jokes. So far, it hasn’t been taken over by bad news about COVID-19 or the latest political maneuverings like the rest of social media, he said.
There is a lot of griping, though. People complaining about fireworks, Christmas lights staying up too long and dogs barking.
“I try to utilize it to poke fun, but not directly at people,” Leggett said. “Just to show everybody needs to take a step back and not take themselves so seriously.”
There are also a lot of items about lost animals. And while Leggett takes those very seriously, he’s also twisted the idea around for a few prank posts.
The first one concerned the lost cat that appeared on his front porch. Only, he posted a picture of an opossum. He couldn’t believe how many people responded to tell him that it wasn’t a cat and that he needed to call animal control.
A few people even got upset about the situation, so his neighbors finally pointed out that it was a joke.
“Occasionally, I’ll just post stuff like that just to be silly,” he said. “It’s a way to break up the monotony of my day.”
His latest prank is about Dustin’ Bieber: The lost Roomba.
Yes, Leggett wrote, one of his four kids left the garage door open and the robot vacuum escaped. Here’s the rest of the post:
“He’s probably still mad about that Cheeto I got to before him. He’s very temperamental. But he doesn’t bite. His name is Dustin’ Bieber. His bin is probably 97% full (per usge) and his battery is probably at 3% (also per usge). I followed his trail to the neighbor’s pool and he wasn’t there (thank GOD, because he can’t swim). If you see him, just pick him up. And if you have a strong gag reflex, feel free to trim his brushes.”
Right after, his phone started pinging.
“It had tons of comments,” Leggett said. “Many were asking for an update.”
Leggett, 48, was surprised by the requests but happy to oblige. Along with a few photos.
“First of all, I’d like to thank you all for your concern regarding Dustin’ (Bieber). He has been found. And while I’m happy to have him back, to say that I’m disappointed with him would be an understatement. I came home from the store this morning to find him passed out in my sitting room. He smelled heavily of bourbon (which would explain my half empty bottle of Maker’s) and cigarettes. When I went to clean out his bin, there was an olive on a cocktail spear, a wine cork, a couple of $5s, some other ‘unmentionables’, and a lot of glitter. He has a lot of explaining to do when he gets recharged but at least he’s safe. Thanks again for all of your concern. Kids. … PS — If anyone happens to know a ‘Cinnamon’ or ‘Brandi’, Dustin’ has some of their personal items he’d like to return.”
That led to even more responses. Even from one of his neighbors named Brandi, who jokingly said she took offense at the use of her name.
Leggett said to blame his posts on his love for reading and how much he enjoyed his creative writing classes at Thomas Jefferson High School in Council Bluffs. Or the occasional down moments in his job while selling school buses, firetrucks and ambulances. His co-workers have been the butt of a prank or two on the endless Zoom calls during the pandemic.
When he makes people laugh with his posts, Leggett is actually doing them a favor, said Dr. Alёna A. Balasanova, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
“It genuinely is the best medicine, in part because it’s free. Health care is expensive,” she said. “And also what laughter does is it decreases your stress hormones in the blood and affects brain chemistry.”
We should be laughing all the time, she said, and looking for ways to bring joy back into our lives during these challenging times. So read a comic book, watch a comedy or share a laugh with friends.
Or just watch for Leggett’s next post.