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BOFH: You can't outbastard the bastard

Career-limiting strategy

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Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Episode 15 Life as the Acting Head of IT, Acting Manager of Systems and Networks as well as my normal role as Systems Administrator has its ups and downs, and as such I'm starting to appreciate the complexity of the roles which I've disparaged so greatly in the past.

At one time I may have heaped scorn on my seniors, but now that I'm in an “acting” capacity for both roles I'm forced to admit that I now appreciate the intricacies involved in the day to day running of the department and the important decisions that are required of one...

"..Just ONE!" I snap, in answer to the first important question of the day, "and I don't care what my predecessor thought was appropriate. One sugar in my coffee is more than enough!"

"Be back in a jiffy," Michael replies, bless him.

Having ones own PA does have its benefits and I'd be remiss in not commending Michael for his devotion to the tasks at hand. Whether it's filing important yet damning reports in the shredder, block booking meeting rooms so that the only possible venue is the pub across the road or simply stopping a bullet for me when a vendor calls, Michael has proved himself invaluable. It's almost a shame to destroy him.

Still, he does know too much - and trying to outbastard a bastard can be rather career limiting.

My suspicions were aroused when I noticed that his handling of the 100+ page report into “questionable” content on fileservers (commissioned secretly by one of my predecessors) didn't seem to result in a change in the level of shredded paper in the rubbish bag as I'd expected. A later test document printed on colour paper didn't result in the appearance of coloured paper in the bag either, so I'm treating the issue as low-grade mutiny. A quick rifle through his desk while he was out reveals that he's logging my arrival and departure times with the obvious intention of presenting it as evidence in a review of my performance.

Sigh.

That said I may as well drink deeply of the cup set in front of me before the inevitable workplace accident, so I set about giving him the tasks that any manager gives any staff member who shows signs of having initiative.

"What sort of tasks are you talking about?" the PFY asks, when I fill him on the treachery.

"Overseeing the recording - in quarter hour intervals - of the time spent by each employee on their various projects," I reply.

"Ooh, I hate that!" he responds. "It just ends up being a greater work of fiction than the timesheets. What else?"

"I'm getting him to implement pointless security initiatives."

"Long passwords and password complexity?"

"Partly that, yes, but also the typical inane suggestions that managers want people to implement because they read about it somewhere."

"Not..."

"Yes! Paper recording of root/administrator access, one time password pads stored in a special safe. No suggestion is considered too stupid!"

"Nasty," the PFY says, shaking his head. "But won't that just affect us?"

"No. And yes! I plan on putting Michael in charge of the safe combo, then changing it when he's not looking - which should be exciting."

"Smooth," the PFY concurs. "Is that it?"

"Well to pass the time I am doing the all-time hated occupation of new managers..."

"Incompetently commissioning reports on topics that no one gives a rat's arse about!" the PFY replies.

"Yes, but also...?"

"Repeatedly widening the scope when they're almost complete?! You bastard!"

"Yes. My plan is to drive him nuts before he can gather enough evidence to have me fired or imprisoned. And if that doesn't wo..."

>tap tap<

"Sorry to interrupt," Michael chirps. "Here's that report you wanted on people who use their middle names as passwords."

"Their middle names, or their wife's middle names?" the PFY asks helpfully.

"Good point!" I say "Best do their wives as well."

"I'm sure no-one would us..."

"Never Assume," I say sagely. "That just makes an ASS out of U."

"And ME," Michael adds.

"I thought we just mentioned you?"

"I..."

"Thought so. ACTUALLY, here's a thought, why not make it first names as well as middle names!

"Shouldn't that be a separate report?" the PFY asks.

"No I was thinking that INITIALS would be a separate report, because it's not names as such. And Phone numbers."

"How about we just combine all the reports into one?" Michael suggests.

"It's a good idea in theory, but there are so many variables, you know - like floor wax."

"Floor wax?"

"Yes, I was reading in a magazine where floor wax can reduce the build-up of static electricity - or was it increase? - and I was thinking perhaps you could wax the tiles in the computer room with various waxes and produce a report on which is least likely to cause static electricity - but that doesn't really fit into the passwords report."

"Isn't static caused by a combination of man-made fibres and movement?"

"They'd like you to think that, but secretly it's probably just floor wax."

"Although that idea about man made fibres would make interesting reading," the PFY prompts.

. . .

"...and he came at me with a stapler!" the PFY blurts later to security. "But luckily I happened to have one of those tazer guns which I was.... uh.. repairing for a friend.. uh.. in the security business.. and I can see why it needed repair - I think it scrambled his brains a little."

"Perfectly justifiable force in the light of the situation though," our security bloke concurs. "I'll have him and his stuff chucked out onto the pavement."

"Unfortunately he may have some confidential information in with his personal items," I say, as Michael comes around.

"So we should check it?" Security asks.

"Nah, just take it all up onto the roof and torch it."

"!" Michael sobs.

What a pity. Now I'm going to have to get my own coffee - unless...

"Do us a favour will you?"

"Get stuffed," the PFY says.

Well, it was worth a crack. ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2005, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.

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