What If The Mystery Knocker On Colin Hay’s Door Was Publishers Clearing House?

men at work who can it be now

In the spring of 1981, members of the Australian rock band Men at Work were holed up in a house recording a song they hoped would become a #1 hit. Even though the band had experienced some success with Keypunch Operator and Down Under, lead singer Colin Hay and his mates had not made it big. To complicate matters, Mr. Hay was being targeted by bill collectors who often called late at night. The band was determined to work, even if it meant going into hiding for a couple of days to get things done.

Colin: Okay, mates! Lock that door and shut the windows. Under no circumstances are we to let anyone in. We’ve got a song to make and we’re gonna make it!

Band Members: Whatever you say, Colin, you’re the boss!

Colin (Blushing): Now there, we all know that Springsteen’s the boss. But I like your style, mate!

Band Members: No problem boss, uh, Colin.

Colin: That’s okay. As long as we’re clear on the whole not letting anyone in thing. Too many bill collectors, mates! Not to mention all the hooligans who think it’s funny to knock on my door and run away before I can answer. Greg, let that saxophone rip. Everyone else, try to keep up.

While this was happening, a small group of people (the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol) was assembling on the front porch outside. There were three men dressed in suits and a woman who was holding a large cardboard check made out to Men at Work. The band had remembered to mail back their sweepstakes!

Man 1: I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces!

Man 2: Do you think anyone’s home?

Man 1: My money says yes. Hear the saxophone?

Man 2: Yes I hear it.

Man 1: And Tammy, I see you have the oversized check?

Tammy: Yes, silly. Will you knock on that door already?

Man 1: Well then, is everyone ready?



Colin: Who can it be knocking at my door?

Man 1: Publishers Clearing House, sir.

Colin: Go away, don’t come ‘round here no more.

Man 1: Are you sure? We have a surprise for you!

Colin: Can’t you see that it’s late at night?

Man 1: Yeah, sorry ‘bout that. Our van broke down. But we’re here now!

Colin: I’m very tired and I’m not feeling right.

Man 1: Maybe the surprise will cheer you up.

Colin: All I wish is to be alone.

Man 1: Just a minute of your time, sir. This won’t take long.

Colin: Stay away, don’t you invade my home.

Man 1: We’re not invading your home, sir. We’re just doing our job, okay?

Colin: Best off if you hang outside.

Man 1: That’s fine. You can come to us.

Colin: Don’t come in, I’ll only run and hide.

Man 1: Hide from us? Does he think this is a game?

Colin: Who can it be now?

Man 1: Publishers Clearing House.

Colin: Who can it be now?

Man 1: You know who it is.

Colin: Who can it be now?

Man 1: This is not funny, sir.

Colin: Who can it be now?

Man 1: For the love of God!

Colin: Who can it be knocking at my door?

Man 1: Sir, I can’t do this anymore. Can I at least use your bathroom?

Colin: Make no sound, tip-toe across the floor.

Man 1: You’ll have to let me in first.

Colin: If he hears, he’ll knock all day.

Man 1: If who hears? Oh, you’re talking to yourself now.

Colin: I’ll be trapped and here I’ll have to stay.

Man 1: I assure you, nobody wants to trap you.

Colin: I’ve done no harm, I keep to myself.

Man 1: No one is accusing you of anything.

Colin: There’s nothing wrong with my state of mental health.

Man 1: Are you sure about that?

Colin: I like it here with my childhood friend.

Man 1: Oh, you have someone with you? Maybe they can come out here on your behalf.

Colin: Here they come, those feelings again

Man 1: Are you on drugs?

Colin: Who can it be now?

Man 1: Oh God, not again!

Colin: Who can it be now?

Man 1: Tammy, do something!

Colin: Who can it be now?

Tammy: It’s Tammy from Publishers Clearing House.

Colin: Who can it be now?

Tammy: Still Tammy.

Colin: Is it the men come to take me away?

Tammy: Not yet.

Colin: Why do they follow me?

Tammy: You’re a mystery wrapped in a nutshell?

Colin: It’s not the future that I can see.

Tammy: It’s a lot of money, but if you don’t want it…

Colin: It’s just my fantasy.

Tammy: What fantasy?

Colin: Yeah!

Tammy: Oh screw it, let’s go! Help me carry this check, Frank.

We hear car doors slamming and the sound of tires peeling out of the drive while Men at Work are still inside, singing away.

Oh, who can it be now?

Who can it be now?

Who can it be now?

Who can it be now?

Music fades.

Colin: I think that’s a wrap. Good job, mates! By the way, did you hear someone knocking?

Band Members: We didn’t hear a thing.

Colin: Must be my imagination.

34 years later. A couple of dudes from Publishers Clearing House are sitting in a break room at corporate. One is reading Rolling Stone.

Man 1: You know we’re coming up on the 34th anniversary of Men at Work’s Who Can It Be Now??

Man 2: Is that so?

Man 1: Wait a minute.

Man 2: What?

Man 1: Did you know they recorded that song in a house down under in 1981?

Man 2: Uh yeah, they’re from Australia.

Man 1: We were in Australia in 1981. Remember?

Man 2: You don’t think —

Man 1: So that guy wasn’t messing with us.

Man 2: We should call them. Maybe we can get together and have a big laugh.

Man 1: Yeah, they’ll be glad that somebody less fortunate got the money.

3 days later. Publishers Clearing House receives a message from Colin Hay:

Hello, Publishers Clearing House? This is Colin Hay. I got your message. You sonofabitch! I could’ve used that money to pay the rent and keep my mates together. Why didn’t you just slide the damn check under the door? You’ll be hearing from my lawyer.







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