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BOFH: Wearing the graphite polymer wobbly shoe

The morning after the night before

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Episode 18 BOFH 2004

"Where the HELL have you been?" the Boss blurts unhappily as I enter Mission Control very queasily after a night on some paint thinner disguised as fruit punch.

"Recovering from a product launch party last night," I respond slowly.

"Well there's a bit of a flap on!" he responds, talking rapidly in an effort to make me walk faster.

"Mmmm?"

"The.. authentication server is down?" he suggests, replaying the contents of his recent memory. "Anyway, no one can log in."

"Right. And what's the PFY done?"

"Your assistant? Nothing - he's not in yet."

I troll through the remnants of last night's revelries and do vaguely remember seeing the PFY ‘with the wobbly shoe on’ passing through the crowd with a half empty bottle of Ouzo.

"That's right, he's not well," I respond, covering for him. “He had a touch of the flu yesterday I think.”

"Who's not well?" the PFY asks slowly, entering Mission Control grasping a bagful of sundries from the chemist down the road.

"uhhh... You?" the Boss asks, fooled momentarily by the bloodshot eyes, facial grazes and general bruising that indicates a fantastic night at a supplier’s expense.

"Don't be ridiculous I'm... fit as a fiddle!" the PFY slurs, pausing momentarily to suppress a gag reflex which would have seen the Boss covered ouzo soaked kebab portions…

I decide to cut the interchange short as the PFY's blood alcohol level is probably very near the medical definition of a fatal overdose, which isn’t conducive to conversations with one’s superiors…

"Right, well, we'd best be looking into this authentication problem then!" I say, leading the PFY into Mission Control.

. . .

Half an hour later the Boss taps on the door, interrupting three things: the PFY's aspirin sandwich, the lager from our emergency stash that he's washing the sandwich down with, and an amusing recollection of what transpired when he mistook the elevator at last night’s venue for a Gentleman’s convenience…

"So how's it going?" the Boss asks.

"Hard at it," I lie. "Just recovering some of the… uh.. firmware settings from… tape while we do some… probes of the… redundant network interfaces."

As far as excuses go it’s not my best work, but with the amount I drank last night I’d qualify for the special Olympics just for being vertical.

. . .

. . .

. . .

"Right so... ... ... I.. I'll leave you to it"

The combined power buzzwords and lengthy silences is too much for the Boss, and he leaves us to get back to the PFY’s story…

. . .

Half an hour later, he’s back, finding me in a not very pleasant mood – probably because I was woken from a therapeutic nap…

“Were… you asleep?!” he gasps, obviously contemplating some form of disciplinary action.

“ASLEEP!” I shout loudly enough that the PFY can hear me from under his desk. “Of course not! I was resting my eyes.”

“Resting your eyes!” he says dubiously

“Yes, it’s these cheap bloody monitors” I snap, buying the PFY some more wake-up time. “They’re ok to use for maybe and hour or two, but when you’ve been using them for a whole morning the..”

“But you’ve only been at work for an hour!”

“I’m probably hypersensitive because of the poor lighting over my desk – it’s given me a monster headache!”

“Didn’t you ARRIVE with a headache?!”

“Yes, you’re right, it must be the cumulative effects of the years of poor working conditions. I must speak to my Union delegate.”

“You’re a contractor, not IN the Union.”

“HERE IT IS!” the PFY interjects emerging from under his desk with a suitable technical excuse for his location “It must have been interfering with the network connectivity.”

“It’s a shoe!” the boss blurts disbelievingly.

I have to be honest here – I was expecting the PFY to deliver something a bit better than that. The UTP cable from his desktop at least. Still it’s not the excuse, but how you market it that counts…

“That’s not a… graphite polymer sole is it?”

“It might be” the PFY replies, injecting a bit of guilt in at the end of his reply in case that’s required.

(Honestly, it’s like writing a collaborative novel)

“But I’ve already told you, the graphite is a mild conductor and the polymer…..”

..and just then my overworked brain cuts out..

. . .

“..Causes the graphite to adhere to spring-metal contacts,” the PFY finishes, saving the day. “But I thought it would be ok out here in the control room, away from the uh…”

“Authentication servers?” I finish, my mind back from its short vacation “No – any reduction in signal voltage at any point in the network will be reflected in core router supply – potentially causing overheating.”

“You mean this whole thing’s been caused by a set of shoes?!” The boss gasps.

“Polymer Graphite shoes, yes.”

“So if I hear you correctly, anyone in the Company could bring the systems down just by wearing the wrong shoes?!”

Caught out in a lie!! It’s fairly easy to predict that the Boss will now check all shoes on premises, issue an edict about appropriate footwear sole material, find out (eventually) that it was all a fabrication, become a laughing stock, and eventually have his revenge upon us. I really it’s best to tell the truth and just fess up that we haven’t got around to looking at the servers yet.

“Yes,” the PFY responds, before I can get a word in.

What the hell, it’ll keep him busy for a day, which’ll be more than enough time to start that nasty rumour about him having a foot fetish.

. . .

Well, it’s a laugh isn’t it, which helps to pass the time between naps. ®

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