Pranks are fun when both parties involved can share a convulsive giggle.
But there is nothing funny about the kinds of shenanigans that adversely affect people for the sake of a cheap laugh.
To be clear, this person did not state she had the coronavirus, but the implication was very apparent.
The roommate, Redditor "Stiltsdajumz" did not take any chances and notified the proper channels about a potential risk, given that she works at a heatlhcare facility populated with the elderly – a demographic particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 infection.
The consequence was significant and the alert called for drastic measures.
When the original poster discovered she had been played, she was furious enough to consider cutting off all ties with her humorless roommate.
The OP asked AITA (Am I the A**hole) in the popular subReddit thread.
"For context, I'm based in Europe and I am currently a temp at the IT-helpdesk in a healthcare center that focuses mainly on old people (think 65+ that are unable to care for themselves). Our department is located in the main building of our company and since it's quite small, we share it with one of the care homes for old folks."
"One of my roommates has been abroad last week to a city where there have been confirmed cases of the Covid-19 or coronavirus."
"On Tuesday she posted a photograph in our group chat with the text 'Oops, maybe I've brought it back home guys.' When I asked her if she was sick, she posted a voice memo in which she explained she'd been sick all night, had a spiked fever and generally didn't feel well."
"I texted her personally what was going on and since I work in a building which houses the highest risk group (old folks) I needed to know immediately what was going on since if she'd been infected, I am a potential risk as well and I could lose my temp job."
"My roommate replied she was on the way to the doctors and would text me back ASAP. I reported this to my supervisor, which triggered a chain reaction."
"I got sent home for the afternoon by HR, the department was partially shut down and this whole affair cost my company a few hundred euros."
"This is all because we, as a old people's home, are legally required to follow the guidelines installed by the government."
"When I returned home I found my roommate laughing in bed, stating that she only has a cold and it was just a prank."
The OP went on to state the reasons why she was so vexed over the grievous hoax.
"I was working overtime on Tuesday but since it was outside of my contract, I most likely won't be compensated for the hours I couldn't spend working in the afternoon (which accumulates to $224.56 in total).
"Said roommate in question also works in a healthcare center which further confuses me. Honestly, you should know better."
"When I confronted my roommate about this she said it's not her fault nor her responsibility that I got sent home and that everyone is overreacting, since it was only a joke."
"I've been mad at her since and am considering breaking all contact.
"AITA in here?"
Redditors were just as furious and said the OP was NTA (not the a**hole).
"NTA. Your roommate is a complete a**hole."
"People are dying from the coronavirus, and the fact she believes making a prank from it shows shes a insensitive and irresponsible a**hole, especially since she also works with vulnerable people!" – Helena2693
There is nothing to joke about when everyone is on edge during this global crisis.
"A prank like this is awful in a normal situation, where spreading the virus is a major concern, it's many magnitudes worse because they work in healthcare with mostly elderly patients, where the issue is no longer about just containing the spread, there is a very real risk of death." – J0hn_Wick_
How could the OP come back from this at work?
"I don't know if it would be best for OP for her to explain everything to her boss. Probably better to just tell the boss that the roommate turned out not to have the virus."
"My reasoning is that the boss might consider living with an irresponsible idiot to show poor judgment on the part of OP." – endlesscartwheels
"That's another thing that makes the roommate such an ass. It's so unfair, but generally you can't explain things like 'my roommate pulled a stupid prank on me' without being judged by association."
"It'll make OP look gullible at best and malicious at worst (like she approves of this kind of unprofessional behaviour). It's not right, but that's unfortunately how the world often works." – boudicas_shield
And even though it was an egregious stunt, it is better not to take any chances by assuming everything is okay.
Redditors expressed concern that the roommate may potentially be afflicted considering where she traveled from.
"The problem here is - you don't know if the roommate doesn't have it. A person I know turned out to have it and he only has a runny nose and a cough."
"If the roommate was in a as Risk-Area classified town it would be best to check it with the authorities what roommate should dk and if there is a test necessary."
"All in all OP is NTA - this isn't something to joke about as there is already more than enough unnecessary panic going around." – peasolace
"If she just returned from a city where the virus has been confirmed (especially if it's a hotspot, somewhere there has been many confirmed cases) and now she has a cold, I would be treating this with an abundance of caution."
"It will present as just a cold in like 80% of people who catch it and they will be able to recover on their own, which is why everyone is nervous about the spread." – Responsible-Score
"Yes, maybe you could've known it was a prank, but then again: last you want is to contaminate a bunch of people that are in healthcare so your response was completely justified and I honestly have respect for how you handled this situation." – MaybeItsMike
Not only was the OP inconvenienced, but so was the healthcare center. There was a point when the roommate could have pulled the plug on her joke.
"The roommate didn't have to say it outright. She was laughing about the panic she was causing. She knew what she was doing."
"Her prank didn't affect just OP, it affected a healthcare center. OP even called to tell her that this was a big deal, and if she really had the virus, a lot of people were now at risk."
"The roommate could have stopped there and said it was a joke, but she kept running with it. That was incredibly irresponsible of her, and there might be grounds for some sort of charges." – CitizenSquidbot
Many believed there should be consequences for the roommate. This was one viable vengeance option.
"Consider reporting your roommate to the authorities: this kind of prank is completely unacceptable in an adult. It likely was criminal." – Joeb667
"Straight up, I would do this. People who possibly have the coronavirus end up getting detained for 2 weeks."
"If she thinks this is such a good prank, let her get detained for 2 weeks and miss work. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes." – Dontrocktheboat1986
"NTA and I'd consider reporting her actions to her place of work. If that is her attitude, I'd be worried that she's not taking the appropriate precautions at work."
"Corona isn't necessarily bubonic plague level at the moment, but people with compromised immune systems are most at risk. Those tend to be the kind of people you get in a healthcare centre." – Pengalin
"You should prank her by sending screenshots and recording of voice memo to her place of employment... then she'll see how funny it was!" – Stiltsdajumz
A successful prank should have the following characteristics.
"NTA, pranks are only funny when EVERYONE can laugh at them at the end of the day."
"Even if you suspected it was a prank, if it hadn't and you'd stayed on you could have caused further damage."
"You did the right thing, the honourable thing (in putting society first instead of your own finances) and your room-mate should have come clean as soon as you texted her, as she knew then that you were relying on her to be honest to not cause your employer and there clients issues (as well as yourself)." – TryToDoGoodTA
"The object of every prank should be either embarrassment or inconvenience. The prankster is held liable for any damages. Do not mess with a persons job."
"I'm not saying I wouldn't trick my friends into thinking that they've contracted the Corona Virus but I would give up the act before they could contact anyone not in on the prank, especially if that place is their work." – FishersAreHookers
"She should be treated the same way as someone who 'jokes' about a bomb in luggage at the airport."
"Sure, maybe you could have guessed it was a joke but sounds like you tried to explain to her why it's important that she tell the truth and she didn't back down and say it was a joke at that point."
"That was her chance to prevent all the sh*t happening, and since she didn't take it, that makes her clearly TA." – HereToCommentOnAITA
Reddit continued scorching the roommate about her appalling joke.
"NTA and honestly is a disturbing and classless move on the roommates part to even think a joke like that is appropriate."
"PEOPLE ARE DYING from this!!! And she's over there making jokes?! She needs to grow TF up."
"The fact that she's in healthcare truly lessens my faith in humanity. How is someone that senseless and self absorbed in healthcare?!" – Olethros842
"What dreadful behaviour by your roommate. Get rid of her, or move out." – curiousbelgian
"In the US there have been several deaths from a nursing or assisted living home. It cannot be ignored and was not a 'joke".' People are dying. Your roommate is an immature and heartless brat." – Dachshundmom5
According to the New York Times, the virus has taken a disproportionate toll on the elderly population in Italy alone, with 3,089 people infected and 107 reported deaths.
With approximately 23% of Italy's population being 65 years or older, Italy's National Health Institute said:
"In the case of the coronavirus we must take into account ... Italy has an elderly population, actually much older than the Chinese, and needs to be protected from the contagious."
Since the OP worked at a healthcare center populated with senior citizens, her dutiful response was commendable.