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The BOFH is BACK: And it's cloudy with a 90% chance of beatings

So you deleted my advice? By accident? THREE times?

The essential guide to IT transformation

Episode 3

"I just need you to go through it for me once," the user whines down the line at me.

"You mean once more?" I reply.

"Once more?" he snivels.

"Yes, as I already went through this with you a few weeks ago. You said you understood, you even wrote something down."

"Really - are you sure that was me?"

"Positive."

"How can you be sure?"

"I just know."

I could say that I know because I'd recognise the whiney self-righteous voice anywhere. I could say that after 3 visits so far this year alone to explain how to set a card-required door into "bypass" mode I get a premonition every time their number comes up on caller ID.

But I don't. Instead I just work through it with the user, because that's the excellence-oriented support professional that I am. Well, that I should be. Well, that I read about somewhere. Okay, that I would cross to the other side of conference venue drinking area to avoid.

"I ..."

"Do you still have the documentation I emailed you?"

"Documentation?"

"Yes, that I emailed you on... >clickety< the first of March. And before that on >scroll< the 15th of February and before that on >scrolly scroll< the 11th of January."

"I don't think I got the ..."

"Yes you did, because I have read-receipt switched on and you don't have ignore read-receipt set. I checked."

"I must have deleted it, I guess."

"Three times?"

"I was probably trying to save space - I know you guys are always on about conserving email space."

"You deleted a 35k message which included a 20k bitmap image to save space?"

"Yes."

"Instead of any of the ... >clickety< twelve hundred and ... forty one messages in the Recipes subfolder of your Personal folder - each of which is at least 2 Meg in size - including pictures - none of which have any remote connection to your work."

"Oh, I keep meaning to sort through those, but you know I never really have the time."

"OR," I bark, "You could just get the mailing list sent to your home email address."

"Well yes I could, but I prefer to get them at work."

"Why's that?"

"Oh, just because -"

"Can I just interrupt you there?" I interject. "Just a word of warning. If you say - or even hint - that it's because you might want to print them on the very expensive 'True-Colour' auto laminating printer that you had us install just outside your office door there's a very real chance that my assistant will pop upstairs and PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE."

"Are you threatening me?" he gasps.

"No, not at all. This is a friendly warning. Like a storm warning in a weather forecast. Think of me as a meteorological expert as far as IT support beatings go. I look at high and low pressure regions and predict - to the best of my abilities - what might come as a result of them. And my long range forecast is a beating on the horizon."

"I ..."

"It's the sort of beating they get you to batten your windows for - although obviously it would be foolish to leave a batten laying around your office. Or any other large swingable item. Actually, anything that doesn't have a lot of padding is probably best hidden away ... OR ..."

"Or?"

"Or you can take out a pen and paper and write down what I'm about to tell you."

"Uh, OK."

"One. Press the A button at the top of the door reader keypad."

"Uh-huh ..."

"A picture of a keyboard appears on the display. Two. Type in your four digit code and press the HASH or POUND button."

"Uh-huh ..."

"And that's it, the door is free until 5pm."

"That doesn't seem too hard."

"No, it doesn't does it? Perhaps the fourth time - this year - is the charm. Although this morning you got your code wrong three times in a row - which set off the alarm, and finally armed the alarm in the office when it was full of people - which set off the alarm once more, resulting in my call."

"Right, but just to confirm. I press the A key, enter my code, press the hash key."

"Yep."

"And that's all?"

"That's all."

"It hardly seems possible that I'd forget that."

"No. And certainly not 3 times in the space of 5 months."

"Okay, thanks."

(Not much time passes)

Goldfish memory cuts in and there's an alarm as the user trips the duress alarm again.

Sigh.

"What's going on?" asks the PFY.

"Nothing. One of our users has forgotten how to set their door into bypass mode again."

"Which one?"

"Dave."

"Dave who?" he asks, a vein beginning to pulse in his temple.

"Dunno - the bloke on the 3rd floor. The one who's always printing recipes on that laminating printer we put in a couple of we-"

>Chair overturns, door slams< >Running footsteps receding< >Confused screams, sound as of a heavy laminating printer top being repeatedly opened and slammed shut on a man's head<

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