While I’m sure people have some pretty interesting April Fool’s Day jokes that they’ve played on someone or that someone has played on them, my most interesting AFD story is all too real.
April 1, 1999. I was working at Disney Home Video in Burbank. If you know the LA area, it’s the tall black and gray building on Alameda in downtown Burbank, right next to the Disney Channel Building. At the time I was living in Hollywood, right near the 101 Freeway and got in my car for my morning commute. I was wearing sunglasses and a black trenchcoat that I’d had for years. This was three weeks before the little fuckers at Columbine made such attire taboo for awhile.
My commute to work up the 101 wasn’t anything interesting, although there was some guy who seemed to be tailgating me for quite awhile. When I pulled up to the building to use my garage key, some car pulled up behind me ridiculously fast and honked his horn at me. Turns out it was the same guy that had followed me for a few blocks. I thought it was probably a case of road rage, and I didn’t pay it much attention.
Within an hour of having started work, we got word that the cops had shut down the entire building for some reason. My coworkers and I looked down at the street, and indeed there were at least half a dozen cop cars in front of the building. I went back to my desk and was working. Not too long afterwards, we heard that the police had chased someone into the building. Not long after that, two police detectives were escorted up to my desk.
It seems they wanted to talk to me.
As it turns out, the police shut down the building because of me. The asshole that drove up behind me and honked his horn was an unmarked police cruiser. The police detectives walked up to my desk and informed me that they had followed me from my apartment all the way to work because they thought I was an attempted murder suspect. They thought I had made them and driven into my work building to escape them, which prompted the shutting down of the entire skyscraper.
The suspect they thought was me was named Jethro Lopez. Jethro. That right there would have made that the greatest April Fool’s prank ever. But it was absolutely true. The police thought I had tried to kill someone and they thought my name was Jethro. And they shut down an entire building…for me.
Upon hearing this news, what was my reaction? “That’s totally cool!” I was stunned and probably should have thought of something better, but at the time, it was all that popped into my head.