BOFH and the cyberchair

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Episode 3

BOFH 2004: Episode 3

So I'm relaxing in the office when the Boss has a loneliness attack and decides to come visiting. I know it's loneliness because he hasn't brought the wadge of paper he generally carries with him to remind him of what he came for.

"Just... ah... checking to see how things are going at... er... Mission Control. As it were..." he says, gesturing expansively about the room.

"Fine," I respond, "business as usual."

"And your assistant?" he asks as he sits in the PFY's vacant chair.

"Oh, he's out and about getti--"

"My, these are nice chairs!" he sighs, getting comfortable, just as the PFY arrives.

"Yes, they're the new Ergo 3000s," the PFY comments. "Full lumbar, thoracic and cervical support, built-in infrared linked multimedia speakers in the headpiece, servo-assisted adjustment, and full recline. This model even has the servo interface to your desktop to allow it tilt, roll and rise in response to computer control. They market it as the ulimate in gaming chairs, but we needed them because... uhhhhhm... BECAUSE they could proactively put you into micropause position!" he adlibs. "Do you mind?"

"No, not at all, don't want to interrupt your work! So where did they come from?" he asks. "Might grab myself one!"

"Dunno who the vendor is, but the secretary's got the catalogue in her admin folder," I respond, to the boss' departing back.

. . . Two minutes later . . .

"THEY'RE BLOODY 2500 QUID EACH!" the boss gasps "They're REAL LEATHER! You used the WHOLE of last year's furniture and fittings budget on a couple of chairs!"

"Well technically, we used the whole of last year's and the whole of this years as well," the PFY corrects. "For the chairs we use at home."

"YOU BOUGHT CHAIRS FOR HOME!?!"

"Of course! Wouldn't want to put my back in jeopardy by working remotely on a substandard item - that could cost you a stack in health penalties. It makes financial sense, because if we had to come in to work to use a proper chair to reboot a server - with a three-hour minimum call-out, overtime, plus travel expenses - it'd only take about five call-outs and the chairs would be paid for."

"But you've used the entire furniture and fittings budget. What happens if someone else's chair breaks?"

"Get it fixed under the maintenance budget?" the PFY suggests.

"I'd use the training budget myself," I suggest. "And justify it by buying an ergonomic chair and saying that you're 'training' their posture."

"No, say it's a Health and Safety item!" the PFY cries. "That's centrally funded and there's always a stack of Health and Saftey money for that sort of thing."

"There's no Health and Safety budget left this year, I checked - Sharon says that the money all went into building electrical safety after some incidents last year."

"Oh right - before your time," I concur. "Nasty business. Had to buy a huge box of warning labels to put on most of the building's powerpoints to indicate electricity is harmful and that it's dangerous to put foreign objects into them."

"What, people put all those things into power sockets?"

"Hard to believe, isn't it? Some even said that we'd TOLD them to do it!"

"Did you?"

"Of course not. They were just in shock - jumbles the mind, you know."

"So anyway, there's not enough budget for another chair," the Boss says, getting back to his favourite topic, himself.

"Yes, we know," I add. "We wanted one for the Computer Room Console desk, but the cupboard was bare. Still, can't you use the Management Innovation Budget?"

"Hmm?"

"The MIB - it's the slush fund for Company Managers to invest in 'Innovative' technology."

"I hardly think a chair counts as innovative."

"Neither's a GIS unit for your private car, but the Head of IT got one last week!" the PFY notes.

"Why?"

"Because it's a slush fund - they're always tapped out within weeks of the New Year by people wanting new gadgets!"

"What was the model number again?" the Boss burbles quickly, penny dropping.

I write the model number down, adding an "X 2" to the bottom of the page.

"Times TWO?!?" the Boss asks.

"You don't want to put yourself at risk when working from home now, do you?"

"I don't work from home. I haven't got a machine there."

"And you've never taken a work-related phone call?"

"Well, a couple of times..."

"And you sit down sometimes when you're on the phone?"

"Wellll, it's possible..."

"There you go then!"

Two days later, I notice the TWO chairs arrive in their spanky new plastic wrapping, and wait at my desk for the inevitable phone call.

> Ring, Ring <</p>

Told you so.

"How do you hook these things up again?" the Boss asks.

"Plug the chair into the charger for four hours..." I sigh. "The interface is infrared, so no wires needed after that."

"And what do I do with the coiled wire?

"The coiled wire?"

"A long green curly wire connected to the arm rests. It says it's an... uh... 'antistatic safety earthing flylead'."

I cast a quick glance at my chair and notice the lead in question still in it's plastic bag, taped under the armrest. Woopsy.

"Just plug it into the earth pin of any power point."

"And which one's the earth pin?"

"Uh..." I say, thinking of how a good console chair would be good. And two, even better...

. . .

"Any of those warning labels left?" I ask the PFY minutes later, as a high pitched scream punctuates the building... ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2004, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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