It was once mentioned on TopGear that the show was the only job James May ever had from which he hadn’t been sacked. And once in a while, it’s worth a look back to see how that wonderful trend got started.

In 1992, James worked as the Features Editor at Autocar, one of the world’s oldest and most influential automotive publications. At the end of each year, the magazine published the Road Test Yearbook, a retrospective of car reviews throughout the last 12 months that rounded up the year’s new vehicles in one place. May’s job was simple: compile it.

According to May, it “was extremely boring and took several months.” In order to keep from killing himself due to boredom, May decided to play a little game.

Each article began with a large red initial, and some of the spreads spelled things like “YEAR” and “BOOK.” May cleverly began each article with letters that spelled out the following:

“SO YOU THINK IT’S REALLY GOOD, YEAH? YOU SHOULD TRY MAKING THE BLOODY THING UP. IT’S A REAL PAIN IN THE ARSE.”

James May – Autocar
Explore this photo album by Sarah on Flickr!

The joke ended up going a little too far, as readers, thinking the acrostic was some sort of puzzle or challenge that they had discovered, began calling in to Autocar, assuming that they had won a competition or that there might be a prize. May’s editors didn’t think it was funny, and promptly let him go; but as far as ways to get fired, this had to have been one of the most satisfying.