BOFH: Downsizing the human deadwood
Ethical relocation policy
Episode 19 BOFH 2004
"Oh yeah, he's been with us a couple of years now and I have to say that he's got a fantastic grasp of IT!" I burble down the phone. "Second to none!"
. . .
"S.A.P?" I continue. "Yeah, Phil practically installed and configured it singlehandedly - in under three months!!!!!"
. . .
"Team Player - hell yes! Though the funny thing is, I've found that he works just as well on solo unsupervised projects."
. . .
"Who're you talking about?" the PFY mouths silently, as I'm chatting away.
"Phil," I respond, covering the mouthpiece.
"Phil Shepherd?" he asks, looking to the Boss to see if he knows anything.
The Boss shakes his head blankly.
"The tall guy with the tash on the Helldesk."
"Crap Phil?" the PFY asks. "The guy you said couldn't count to 21 without unzipping his fly?"
"Oohhhh!" the PFY says, nodding.
"What is going on?" the Boss asks, drawn into the conversation by a feeling of being left out of something important.
"Huh?" the Boss asks.
"You know, falsifying a glowing reference for a chunk of human deadwood so they get a better job and leave the company."
"Are you sure that's... uh... entirely... ethical?" the Boss asks.
"Yeah, course it is," I say, hanging up.
"If a prospective employer is stupid enough to believe the current employer when they're poaching staff they deserve everything they get."
"But don't you have some form of.. well.. duty.. to...."
"Help them steal staff? Piss off!"
"But won't they rumble your game? You know, wait for the opportunity to offload someone onto you when the time comes?"
"I think that's how we got Phil in the first place."
"Oooooh, grudge match at the OK Computer Room!" the PFY chirps. "Surely they won't take him back if they know he's crap?" the boss asks.
"Ordinarily no, but it seems that half their organisation has left in the intervening period, and no-one seems to remember him. That happens a lot in large organisations. Besides, I put it in his CV that he's done a stack of training and really turned over a new leaf."
"YOU put in his CV?"
"Yeah - When I applied for the job on his behalf."
"You mean you applied for the job without his knowing?"
"Of course! I do it all the time with the crap people!"
"But what happens if he gets the job?"
"Ah, I'll just say it was a fortuitous error - something about his CV getting accidentally sent to an employment agency by a virus on the HR server."
"And you'd expect him to believe you and take the job?"
"Fairly sure. I'll be leaking hints of downsizing in the IT department at lunchtime, saying that I heard that the helldesk will be the first lot to go."
"But won't that rumour affect morale?"
"Helpdesk Morale? Have you actually been to the helpdesk?!"
"I... well... anyway, I still don't think any company would believe your recommendation."
"Of course they will. I'm telling them what they want to hear!"
"What do you mean?"
"Look, you've been in the business a while, you know which way the wind blows and you've got a handle on things, right?"
"No you don't, I was just telling you what you wanted to hear! Which is what I was doing for Phil's prospective new employers. They're stuck with an unfillable technical position with next to no job scope, and I'm creating a fictitious character with next to no personality - to not fill it. It's a quadruple negative, they cancel out, and everyone will be happy."
The Boss stops scratching his genitals, which is a sure sign he's putting his entire body into background processing while he tries to comprehend the logic.
"I..." he says, as he crosses the cpu limit of his attention span.
"And if we go back to the issue of ethics, don't you think it's more ethical of us to find a place of employment to which he is more suited?"
"With people who will respect his newfound experience?"
"People who won't be waiting outside the building in the dark to give him a good hiding with a sock with a hard drive in it...."
"Ah..." the Boss says uncomfortably.
"Or who won't be orchestrating a strange workplace accident involving his tie and the rollers of the photocopier feed mechanism - while he's still wearing the aforementioned tie..."
"Uhhhh," the Boss says, wondering if this means he's an accomplice before the act.... "I suppose if it's... going to save him.... some trouble it can't be too b..."
"Hello?" I respond.
. . .
"He's uh ... out of the office at the moment, can I take a message for you?"
. . .
"Really?" . . .
"Uh huh. Well thank you very much, I'm sure he'll be very pleased to hear it!"
"He got the job???!" the Boss asks happily.
"I don't know, it's too soon. But good news, there was a virus on our HR server and your CV accidentally got sent to a placement agency..."
"You don't expect me to fall for that, do you?" the Boss asks.
"True," I say. "Hey, has anyone seen that heavy woollen sock of mine?"
"Isn't it underneath that large pile of photocopying that needs to be done later on this evening when no-one's around to hear a choking sound?" the PFY asks.
The things I do to help people! ®