BOFH, the HellDesk and the Novel

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Episode 24

Despite our best efforts, The PFY and I occasionally get asked back for a quick stand-in on the Helldesk. Today, it's because they're all taking the day off to tell each other how good they are at their jobs and have a group fondle under the guise of "trust exercises".

Normally I would have put up a bit of a protest at the reshuffle; however it's nearing contract renegotiation time and should a major outage occur, the crucial nature of our work would be reinforced. Still, that's a couple of hours away yet, if that cheap mechanical timer can be trusted...

Meantime the helpdesk crew all traipse out to some non-confrontational, spirilina-peddling, huggy-feely place in town..

Luckily, The PFY and I have a stable working relationship based on mutual trust and respect, backed up by the fear of high voltage...T

Looking back, the Good-Helldesk-Person/Bad-Helldesk-Person routine several weeks ago went well, with The PFY winning out of sheer staying-power by reducing the changeover period to a matter of seconds until I resembled a manic depressive. But that's all over now, with The Boss emphasising the concept of Professionalism. I ask if it's the same type of Professional that Jean Reno played, but he misses that bus completely...

"Hello," I say, picking up the first call for the morning and noting that the number brings up the "Difficult Customer" icon on the Digital Console - which The PFY and I only assign to particularly annoying types (and which the Helldesk was told means priority call - pffft!)

"Hi, I was wondering if you have some way of locking my computer?"

"I'm sorry, but the OS2 install media was taken off me several weeks ago. Why not try Netscape 6.0 - I've heard very good things about that."

"So it'll secure my machine?"

"SECURE? Oh. My mistake! Why not just 'Lock Computer' from the CTRL-ALT-DEL options?"

"Because then an administrator can just override it and login to my machine and access my personal files!"

"As opposed to powercycling the machine and logging in that way?"

"The machine won't start without the password!"

"So they'd have to reset the NVRAM, then powercycle it."

"You can't, the cover's locked by a password too," he responds smugly.


"Well it seems that you've thought of everything," I concur, sneaking into his administrative C$ share with a custom admin tool of my own design, which pops up a list of the non-standard contents of his machine. "Private, as in protecting... >click-click<.. 'The Summer Romance - by Sharon Thwaite'. "

The stifled gasp down the end of the line can only mean one thing, paydirt!

"You're hiding soft porn for housewives?!?"

"MY NOVEL!" he says defensively.


"Well TECHNICALLY it's the Company's Novel," I correct. "As is all data on corporate machines. It's part of your employment contract. But I'll sell it to you for 10 quid!"

"And a packet of crisps," The PFY cries hungrily. "Salt and Vinegar!"

A quick clickety-scrabble is enough to convince him that the file in question is no longer where he left it.

"You've deleted it?"

"Have you got a backup?" I ask.

"I don't trust Backups. The Operators just read through your stuff. They've done it before!"

"Indeed they have," The PFY responds, conferencing himself in on the call. "They do all sorts of things. Remember that time you tried to get off that parking ticket by sending email to the council parking authority? Only the message mysteriously got changed to a picture of two baboons having sex with the message 'Parking Police are inbreds' on it."

"They followed me for weeks after that," he sniffles. "They painted yellow lines on the road under my car after it was parked then towed it away - three times.'"

"Those operators really are BASTARDS aren't they?" The PFY murmurs, suppressing a giggle and digging a nice, big hole.

"Yes they are!"

"Was that before or after you complained about their reluctance to clean the dust out of your machine because you'd read it was a fire hazard."


"Or was that just after the time you reported them for piracy for running a game on two machines?"

"It WAS pirated! And they were playing it in work time! And they wouldn't help me with my problem."

"That was the problem about glare on your screen when you moved you monitor, wasn't it?"

"Yes, but how did you kno... oh..."

"Yes", The PFY says in response to the unspoken revelation.

"And now you've deleted a year's worth of my work!" he sniffles.

"No, no, we're just keeping it safe. Like we do with all Company data. We're professionals! So we'll look after it till the company has no need for it any more, then..."

"You mustn't touch it! - It's the final revision!!! I'm mailing it to the publishers this afternoon!" he gasps.

"If you're mailing it, why on earth would you need to secure it?" The PFY asks.

"Because I have to go to the mail centre and get some stamps!"

"Not in company time surely?!" I ask, feigning company loyalty like a trooper.

"Of course not," he pinnochios. "I was going to wait till lunchtime"

"We can but hope the company needs your data till then, but..." The PFY adds.

"I'll just get the crisps!!!" our user cries as the receiver clatters home.

. . .

"It's not much cop" The PFY says, scrolling through the text. "It needs something..."

"An extra chapter perhaps?"

"With furry woodland creatures?" The PFY asks evilly.

"Why not! And I'll concentrate on extending the overall vocab to include words like 'knob', 'love-truncheon', 'blue-veined junket pumper,' and the like!"

"By the time we're finished it'll be top of the best-seller list at the Amsterdam Fetish Festival!!!" The PFY chortles.

"Good point - must give Piet a quick call!!!"

It's true what they say - You have to MAKE your dreams come true... ®

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

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