First, important back story: other than me, the other three ladies in the office are in their fifties or early sixties, our Director of Graduate Studies is taking over as Chair on July 1, and our fearless office administrator "L" played a role in him accepting the offer of chair, since she is crucial to running this place.
I should add that our outgoing chair, when he heard the idea, practically insisted we had to follow through.
So Tuesday morning, while the incoming chair was lecturing, L prepared an email stating that even though she originally wasn't planning on retiring for a few more years, her son was suddenly moving to Panama, and as soon as she could sell her house, she would be joining him and his family. She apologized for the suddenness of this, but she vowed to do all she could during the transition. [While this seems unbelievable to most of you, they go annually to Mexico on mission trips, and he recently spent a couple weeks in Panama, so this isn't outrageous.]
Then the other two ladies wrote retirement emails, also effective July 1. K was in search of warmer climes in the Southwest, and D said even though the incoming chair would have been great to work for, it was time for her to depart.
Since I was too young to retire, I stuck with the initial idea and wrote the following:
I realize you haven't yet officially taken over as chair, but I feel it is appropriate to let you know that I am pregnant and around September I will need to go on maternity leave. Eric and I have always felt strongly about me staying home when we have children, so I regret to say that my time here will come to a close with the arrival of the baby.
We impatiently waited until he was done teaching, sure he'd read his email soon after. He read D's retirement one first, and even responded, citing her great service to the department and how he would be sorry to have her go, but thanked her for the notice and wished her luck. Then he read L's and was having trouble breathing. But once he read the remaining two, he realized he'd been had. He promptly called our office, hysterical about falling for the prank but warning us that our resignation letters were now on file.
His lab warns us to be careful for the retaliation that is soon to follow, though. I doubt he'll wait until next year to strike, but we're all pleased at how well it had worked and can't wait to see him try to best us.