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BOFH: The PFY's comeuppance

He got a bit zap-happy

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The essential guide to IT transformation

Episode 18

Some things you just don't want to waste half a day doing. Like talking to the company's shrink about whether the PFY should be referred to the authorities or not...

"Okay, so my name is Catherine, I'm just gathering some background on what occurred a couple of days ago and would like to ask you some questions about Stephen's behaviour leading up to the... incident."

"Sure," I say, taking a seat.

"Would you say that your assistant is liable to... uhhhm... flights of fantasy?"

"Only in certain situations," I say.

"Such as?"

"The Swedish volleyball team are visiting a jelly factory just as a fire breaks out, and the sprinklers come on and one of the jelly crystal tanks bursts, just as one of the team members makes an unkind remark about one of the other members hair styles," I reply. "But apart from that..."

"No paranoia, delusions?" she asks, scribbling something down on a separate sheet of paper and writing my name at the top...

"Paranoia, delusions? No, not really," I say, suppressing more evidence than Lord Hutton, knowing it probably wouldn't help to mention the PFY's conspiracy theories about moon landings, vapour trails, petrol prices, UFOs, train spotters, global warming, ECHELON, mind control and scoutmasters (to name but a few) - even if most of them are true.

"Can you give me some background on the new Director of IT then?"

"What would you like to know?"

"As I understand it the former Director resigned after the company was forced to pay a large amount of compensation over an unexpected delay in relocating to a new building?"

"Yes, we found asbestos in one of our rooms - and I'm sure that the stress of realising that you'd been exposed to potentially lethal airborne material for such a long time possibly had something to do with my assistant's actions."

"The asbestos later found to be mislabelled plasterboard?" she asks.

"Yes, but the PFY wasn't to know that at the time."

"I see. So can you tell me what your assistant has against... short people?" she asks.

Bugger, I was hoping that wouldn't come up.

"Yes, it seems he was attacked by a garden gnome when he was little," I lie.

"I think we both know that's not true."

Double bugger.

"OK, my assistant has a pathological mistrust of short people, believing them to be pint-sized dictatorial, publicity seeking types."

"And the same can be said for beards?"

"Yes, one of those attacked him too."

"Let's just stick to the facts, shall we?"

"OK, he doesn't like beardies either, he thinks they're the mark of the idiot. So when - like last week - he's got a bearded Davros telling him we'll use wireless in the new building after he's just spent four days doing duct surveys and drawing up cable runs... well, it was bound to happen."

"He said you tried to kill him."

"He didn't!"

"He did. So if you don't mind me asking, what speed were you doing when your assistant pushed him out of the back of the van?"

"He fell!" I gasp. "The back door wasn't closed properly. And anyway, we were still in the basement!"

"And you backed up?"

"An accident, I thought I'd put it in park - I'm not used to driving an auto. In any case, I thought this was supposed to be about the PFY?!"

"Yes, OK, back to your assistant. Do you recognise this?” >clunk<

"Oh yes, that's his... insulation tester."

"Insulation tester, or cattleprod?"

"Insulation tester - for checking the insulation rating of network cables."

"It's a cattleprod - I know, I had someone look at it."

"Really?"

"Yes - they said it'd been modified." she responds, turning a couple of pages. "The uh... duty cycle of the inverter had been increased along with the... supply current and the handle had been hollowed out to take an extra battery."

"You can't be too careful checking insulation," I say.

"So which setting do you use for insulation checking?" she asks, pointing to the PFY's hastily applied labels. "Stun or stir-fry?"

"Stir-fry - stun is a self-test setting."

"In that the 'stun' setting is hardwired to the metallic handle and with the increased amperage the holder would be unlikely to be able to let the thing go until the battery ran out??"

"I don't know - I've never tested it."

"But your assistant used it - on the director?"

"It would seem so."

"Because he claims the director 'fondled his arm'."

"Fondled his RAM!" I say, "He'd removed some RAM from his machine when the director picked it up - and as you know the static voltages present in the body are more than enough to destroy the intricate nature of RAM. In an effort to counter the dangerous electricity in the Director's body he attempted to apply an equal and opposite harmful voltage."

"To the testicles."

"That was just..."

"An accident?"

"I was going to say 'a bonus' - but accident will do," I respond.

"And the names?"

"We all have joke names for each other - I call my assistant 'the PFY' he calls me 'Sir'..."

"And you call your director, uh... R2D2, Yoda, and 'the Bollard'."

"Harmless fun!"

"So you're saying that the van incident was an accident, as was the attempt to back up over him; the cattleprod thing was a spur of the moment solution to a technical problem and the names are just workplace fun."

"Yes!"

"OK, all that aside then, how do you explain this?" she asks, handing over a photo of the PFY and the Boss that I was hoping wouldn't surface.

. . .

"So how did it go?" the PFY asks, when I get back to Mission Control.

"She bought the stuff about the van, the names and the cattleprod, but I'm not too sure about the other one. I attacked the poor quality of the image, the accuracy of time on the CCTV systems and suggested that there were many ways to interpret it in non-violent connotations, but I'm not sure how well it went down. She suggested that she might call the director and you might... apologise?"

"TO A DWARF!?" the PFY cries, just as the director swaggers in with a victorious expression on his face.

Uh-oh.

"So," he says, as he approaches the PFY's desk. "Anything you'd like to say to me?"

"I..." he starts.

"I think what my assistant might be trying to say is..."

"I'd like him to say it," the Director says - in the manner of one who'd fly a copper kite from a church steeple in a lightning storm.

"And he will," I say. "Only we discussed it and felt that the embarrassment you'd suffered could not be removed by simple words. And to that point the PFY would like to keep his job and is wished to compensate you for your pain by..."

"And how would he do that?"

"By permitting you to stun him with his own insulation tester..."

"Really?" he says, savouring the moment.

"Oh yes. He'd really prefer that to being fired. And might I say - so would I."

>KKKKKKKKKZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

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