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Episode 22

"The Boss is looking a bit pale," The PFY comments as The Boss rolls into work at a very sedate pace.

"Yep," I respond, knowing the full details. "Funeral yesterday. Another one of his PDP-11 mates has gone to the great archive in the sky."

"Heart Attack?" The PFY asks, naming the number one killer of IT managers.

"Yep, Apparently the old ticker gave out when he overexerted himself."

"Refilling the paper tray on the printer?" The PFY asks, trying to find an explanation for our Boss's inability to perform such a simple task (outside of the obvious - he's a lazy bastard).

"No, even more exertion than that!" I respond.

"Internet Porn Marathon?!"

"More still..."

"Not..."

"Yes!"

"He used the stairwell!!!"

"Indeed. They found him between the Management and Lunchroom floors after about a week of looking. If there hadn't been a fire drill he may not have been found for months!"

"That's terrible!"

"Indeed it is! The Boss is going to be a right pain!"

"What?"

"He's got the phobia. He's going to be annoying!"

"MORE annoying, I think you mean. But what phobia?

"Well he's realised he's in the danger zone - again. He'll get worried, concerned, then set his mind to the task and try and get healthier in any way possible."

"Taking vitamins?"

"Yes. But not just that. He'll start walking at lunchtimes, eating vegetables and low fat foods, etc."

"It doesn't really sound so bad," The PFY interrupts.

"That bit isn't. But then he'll stop coming to the pub on Friday evenings.."

"No more shouts?!!!"

"That is but the tip of the iceberg. Think instead - no subliminal messaging.."

"Wha?"

"The hypnosis tracks we recorded 6 minutes into his Wet!Wet!Wet! Cassette for his tube ride home."

"?"

"The ones about him being attracted to blondes with big bazookies..."

"?!"

"When you wanted to get some Internet porn but didn't want to waste the time browsing for it yourself and thought you'd get them off his web cache."

"OH YES, I remember now. But it's not like NEED more piccies!"

"Again, Iceberg tip stuff. If he's healthier, he'll start coming in earlier. He might even go on tours of the building as exercise, claiming he needs to 'keep in touch'. Before we know what's happening, he'll start visiting clients - and you know that'll just lead to trouble."

"How do you think so many moves ahead?"

"Seen it before. It's always the same. A mate pops his clogs and the next thing you know it's change-your-life New-Year's-resolution-mid-year time."

"Yuhuh.." The PFY scoffs, doubtfully.

"Just check out this early morning brew for me will you?" I ask - directing The PFY to the coffee machine.

"I can't believe it!" The PFY snorts. "He put artificial sweetener in his tea instead of his normal three lumps of sugar."

"Artificial Sweetener?" I Conan Doyle, "Told you so. But now for a real test."

The real test is a sneaky one. I leave a couple of unattended chocolate eclairs on a desk outside his room, but as bad luck would have it, his Health Resolution has cut in early and he ignores them in favour of getting to know some people downstairs under the auspices of client liaison..

"This is serious!" The PFY blurts, looking at the To-do list The Boss dragged back up the stairs with him. "He wants us to go out and 'hold the client's hands' while they check their backup software is working. For 'client confidence'...

"Just wait till morning tea."

Morning tea rolls around, and some selfish bastard has eaten the two eclairs, which, I might add, were very tasty. The PFY and try and tempt The Boss with choccy biccies, but he's got immunity from them with couple of slices of unadulterated wholemeal bread as his afternoon repast. The sick bastard.

"Someone's got to do something!!!" The PFY gasps, on the verge of panic "He's talking about chairing a client liaison MEETING, Today at 4pm."

"IN PUB TIME!" I shout. "OVER MY DEAD BODY!"

THAT LUNCHTIME

"Just the steamed vegetables for me I think," The Boss sighs quietly

"Not having any of the Onion Bhajis then?" The PFY blurts, ladling a pile of them onto his plate, according to plan.

"No, not today."

"And a good idea too", I add, slapping a dozen or so onto my plate, "Not the best thing to be eating - full of cholesterol! I just wish I had your willpower, but no. I just see them there, think of the juicy spice of them and can't help myself. That lovely flavour! I wish I could - but I can't. Oh, and look, Butter Chicken on the menu too - I really respect you for that!"

I ladle myself out a more than generous portion of the aforementioned dish, letting the sauce ooze all over the Bhajis...

The Boss's mask of indifference weakens slightly, but he doesn't crack, bless him. Mentally, however, I'm recalling that scene in Das Boot where the submarine is waaaaaaaay out of its depth and the hull's starting to crack..

..just 10 more metres...

Leading himself not into temptation, The Boss makes a break for the healthy beancounter (and beaneater) section of the lunchroom, leaving us to our just (and cream filled) desserts. I trot on over with The PFY in tow and pop down beside him.

The meals of the guys around us are disgusting - all greens, no carbos, no fats. All that's taken care of in the diet supplement they get at the Gym. Even The Boss's meal looks like decadence.

"How's it going lads?" I blurt, chumming up to the muscle boys of numbers. "I say, is that a WHOLE lettuce leaf??!!! Those hormone tablets must be playing up if you're eating for TWO!!"

The silence is deafening, although in the background I can hear the tiniest of high-pitched whines from what I assume is a cattle prod under The PFY's lunchtray... And then...

"Did you want something?" one of them asks.

"No, no, just some advice. You blokes certainly know how to look after yourselves?"

"Compared to some," another legumecounter sneers, looking down at my curryfest.

"Yes, yes. But anyway is it true what I hear about all those artificial sweeteners being linked with the big C?"

The Boss' expression changes slightly, and I wonder if I've lost a small piece of my humanity for being so cruel.

"Coreldraw?" The PFY asks.

"No, Cancer" I explain politely.

"Oh yes," one of them cries, jumping on what must be his personal hobby horse (there's always one) and taking it for a gallop. "You may as well eat WEEDKILLER as artificial sweeteners! It's so carcinogenic that a recent... OHMIGOODNESS, HE'S FAINTED!"

All eyes turn to The Boss, who's face down in my meal, splashing butter chicken sauce all over my new Adminspotting t-shirt.

"Fainting people don't chew," The PFY notes.

The Boss takes a break from my meal to come up for air.

"You're a mess!" I observe, "And in no fit state for that client liaison meeting this afternoon. Should I reschedule the meeting for tomorrow morning?"

"F--- em!" The Boss murmurs.

"Welcome back sir," The PFY says, extending his hand.

And they all lived happily ever after. ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2001, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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