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BOFH unmasks the Printer Smasher

Workplace disenfranchised user complex

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Episode 3

BOFH 2000 No.3

So I'm into the swing of things at the new workplace and everything seems to be running as bad as expected. The company's computing and networking is so old it qualifies for a pension (and disability too).

The new helldesk people are everything we hoped for and less, as is continually proven by their penchant for handing any call with a computing buzzword onto us.

Some form of re-education is needed. Meantime, there are phones to answer.

"Hello, is that the operators?!" a voice demands.

"Yes it is, how can I help you?" I ask, pleasant as can be.

"The bloody printer in the 3rd floor documents room has gone off again."

"By 'off 'you mean?"

"It's not printing. It's NEVER bloody printing! You guys fix it, then an hour later it breaks again!"

"I see. Which printer is it?"

"The grey one."

"Yes, but which printer is that?"

"The one by the window."

"Ok, pretend I just started here and have NO idea what you're talking about. Do you know what the queue name is, or what the printer is called?"

"A Laserwriter II"

>Rocket Scientist Alert<</p>

"No, I mean what... It doesn't matter. Does it break down all the time?"

"Yeah, it's ALWAYS being fixed."

"Right. In that case, go into the documents room and push it off the table onto the floor."

"Pardon?"

"Push it onto the floor. Actually, it's based on a Canon engine and they're fairly robust. Best thing to do would be to stand on the table and throw it on the floor. Two or three times should be enough. Then say it fell or something."

"You can't be serious!"

"Look, it's probably done 5 squillion pages and got electric arthritis. It won't be replaced till it's completely stuffed, and if I fix the paper jam it's most probably got, it's only going to break again in a week or so, isn't it?"

"I suppose you're..."

"Or course I'm right, I'm the bloody operator. BUT, if you give it a bit of gravity maintenance it'll be ruined beyond fixing, and you'll get a nice new printer - possibly a colour one so you'll get to see Miss Kornikova in all.."

"How did you know a.." he gasps.

(complete newbie)

"..her natural beauty and it'll print so fast you won't have to wait until out-of-work hours to queue them!"

"I..."

"See my point? Of course you do."

"But they'll.."

"Do nothing. Just say you the printer wasn't on the table squarely. Of course, as a cover story you'd want to mention to a couple of workmates beforehand that you have a slight obsessive-compulsive orderly nature - nothing over-the-top, and you're home and hosed!"

"But they'll know I did it on purpose!"

"Puleeeeze! Who'd believe you actually did it on purpose? You'd have to be a loony to do that. The odd person might wonder about it, but like I said, only a loony would do it. But remember to mention the tidying thing or it'll look a bit strange that you wanted to move the printer..."

"You think it'll work?"

"I *KNOW* it'll work!"

"Why don't you do it then?"

"I've already got a colour printer. And it prints glossy pictures too. Why, with that and the laminator on the 4th floor you could have yourself a waterproof piccy that you could take int.."

"I'll do it!"

"Excellent - And remember the orderly thing."

"Yep!"

I ring off and call security - just like old times.

"Hello."

"Hi," I blurt, "Simon, Operations - I think I found the guy who's been smashing up all the printers around the building -- he rang me up bragging about it. I traced the call to the 3rd floor, I think he's planning to do over one of the printers up there!"

"I'll get right onto it!" the guard blurts, slamming the phone and no doubt waddling to the lift at full speed.

I get there in time to witness the grand finale where my caller gets a truncheon in the groin and a quick trip to the Security office.

"He's been very upset with the printer lately," the kindly old wrinkle at reception tells me, "but I never thought it would come to this. He's obsessive-compulsive, you know!"

"Sad isn't it?" I respond, sympathetically flashing my ID Swipe card. "Which was his desk? - I'd better make sure he's logged out."

She points me to a cubicle and I kill a little time dragging his files into the trash. Except the Kornikova snaps of course - they go straight into the OPS share with all the other good stuff. For a couple of further nails into the old coffin, I delete anything he's got access to on his departmental share, then shut the machine down.

. . .

"Sounds to me like the typical 'workplace disenfranchised user complex' - we see it all the time." I say, consoling the boss over the phone, "One day, out of nowhere, they just crack and try to subvert the system from within."

"Terrible," the boss agrees, "But it's an isolated occurrence?"

"Hard to tell" I murmur, slapping some heat-sensitive glue onto the back of another blank sheet of A4 and picking a company printer at random, "Hard to tell.." ®

BOFH belongs to Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his copyright

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