Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/12/bofh_episode_27/
The Bastard and the Mouse
BOFH's guide to procurement
"... and so I'd like to get one of those new five button mice," The Boss finishes, after what seems like an eternity of blather.
"Sorry, I think I slipped into a coma - why did you want one again?" I ask.
"Because they can do so much!"
"Yeah, that's where I'm a bit in the grey. I mean a one button mouse - I can see the shortcomings; and a two button mouse might be a little limited. I can even understand a scroll wheel mouse, but why would you need a five button mouse?"
"I can do more!"
"I could program it with all the functions I most commonly do!"
"Yes but Sleep, Eat, and Crap aren't computer functions," The PFY chips in.
"ANYway," The Boss says, ignoring the unsolicited input. "I got to thinking that we should replace all the rolly mouses in the company with those optical ones which don't get all gunked up, and THEN I thought if we're going to change people's mice, why not let them choose which mouse they would like?"
"You're suggesting you give users a choice in their hardware?!" The PFY asks, shocked. "You realise what that would do to our 'small items' budget?"
"It's just a mouse and we're going to replace them anyway, so why not let people choose the mouse that they want? It can't be that bad!"
"Wouldn't it be more efficient just to burn a large portion of our 'small items' money?" I ask.
"We'll just go to the bank, withdraw a pile of cash, and burn it. Burn it in the cafeteria, even - so that everyone can see. And we'll tell them it was the Mouse Replacement Project."
"I really do think that people should be able to choose their own mouse," The Boss says.
"But it'll cost a fortune!"
"I'm not so sure. I've been reading a magazine article about some new research that if people feel they can exercise even small amounts of control over their workplace they're happier for it. And when people are happier, they're more productive. They also say that if you treat people with respect they'll respect you for it!"
"So we should tip money down the toilet to make people happy?"
"I don't really think it's that much of a waste."
"Of course it is! Someone's bound to order the most expensive mouse they can find - the project will either run out of money or the online small item purchasing form will reject the purchase of the really expensive mice - which will actually damage morale!"
"I think you'll find you're wrong but I'll make a note to get a change to the form in this case."
"But you'll strip our budget!" I cry unhappily. "We won't even be able to buy backup media!"
"Even if one or two people do go over the top I doubt you'll lose all your money - and then we'll find that people are happier working here - and that's a small price to pay."
"No it's not, it's a high price."
"Well we're doing it!" The Boss snaps.
. . . Two days later . . .
"So, how are things on the front line of mouse replacement?" The Boss asks, happily entering Mission Control.
"FANTASTIC," the PFY says. "I thought the idea was a bunch of huggy feely crap, but I bought myself a new mouse and you know what - I feel really good!"
"What did I tell you!? It's the small things that make people feel appreciated. Now what did you get - a five button wirele.... IS THAT GOLD?!?!?"
"It is!" the PFY says. "I got it on eBay! A bargain at four thousand, five hundred quid."
"FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS."
"Yeah, it was a bit of a bidding war!"
"You bought a solid gold mouse!?!"
"It looked so nice."
"I.... Is the gold.. .. ..wearing off onto your mouse pad?!"
"I'm not sure - I was playing some games for a few hours last night and noticed a tinge of yellow on the pad."
"You... you're wearing out your mouse?!?!"
"Oh I shouldn't worry - at the rate the gold price is going up the mouse is actually holding it's value quite nicely," The PFY says.
"You'll have to sell it, we can't afford that!"
"But what about my freedom to choose, my exercising of control - my morale."
"STUFF THAT, just sell the mouse and put the money back!!"
"DO IT - and quickly, before someone finds out!"
. . . The next day . . .
"I thought I told you to sell that!" The Boss gasps as he comes in to find me using the PFY's mouse.
"I did!" the PFY sniffs.
"And it was a BARGAIN!," I blurt. "Picked it up on eBay for a quid!"
"YOU SOLD IT TO HIM FOR ONE POUND!" The Boss screeches.
"Well yeah," the PFY replies. "You wanted it sold in a hurry so I put it on a one day auction."
"And as luck would have it, I spotted it," I add. "Of course the five thousand quid delivery and handling fee probably put most people off, but I got it cheap because I could pick it up"
"Oh look at that" The PFY says "he's fainted. Probably heatstroke!"
. . . ten minutes later . . .
"Well, YOU can sell it - and this time, get more money for it!"
"Ah, but I bought the mouse with my own money," I said, "because our small items budget had run out - like I told you."
"I shouldn't worry, though," I say to The Boss. "It's not as bad as it seems - it's just a plastic mouse painted gold with some lead weights in it."
"You paid 4500 quid for a plastic mouse?" the Boss gasps to The PFY.
"Yeah, well, it looked like it was solid gold"
"Caveat Emptor," I blurt. "I mean if you can't be bothered verifying the things you're buying from me before you make a bid..."
"It was your mouse in the first place?!?" The Boss asks me.
"And you sold it for £4,500 and bought it back for one."
"Yeah, I missed it. And I'd agree with The PFY, I feel a lot happier too!!"
"Best open a window - I need to tell him about my new keyboard in a minute..." the PFY sighs. ®