Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/26/bofh_2010_episode_18/

BOFH: Pain fear games

It's an austere year ahead - let's get festive

By Simon Travaglia

Posted in BOFH, 26th November 2010 12:00 GMT

Episode 18

“I don’t understand” the PFY says “We’re not invited to any parties?”

“Apparently not. The rest of the department are, but this is one Christmas you’ll not be visiting any of the other departments!”

“But we always go to departmental Christmas functions!” the PFY protests “We get things going and keep the momentum up. We get the party happening!!!”

“Yes, that’s the problem. Apparently some of the party games you’ve instigated in the past have been poorly received.”

“Poorly received?!! THEY LOVE THEM!”

“They love some of them. And generally not everyone loves them.”

“WHO DOESN’T LOVE THEM?!”

“Usually the victim.”

“The Victim?”

“Yes, the target of the game ‘Pin the cattle prod on the Board Member’ for instance.”

“It was dark, the contestant got confused and picked up a cattle prod instead of a self-adhesive tail!” I cry.

“It’s an easy mistake to make” the PFY concurs “Many’s the time I’ve picked up a cattle prod thinking it was a lint remover as I’ve helped groom one of your predecessors before an important board meeting about slashing the IT budget.”

“In any case” I add “That was just one game – and only the Beancounters department!”

“Yes, I heard about the subsequent game of ‘Pin the blame on the Accountant’? He said he thought he was playing a variant of laser strike!”

“I think he’d been drinking” the PFY says sadly “And all too often people just don’t know when to say ‘when’.”

“You mean like after the Piñata fiasco in HR a couple of years back?”

“Look” the PFY says, “it was just two games which met with tragic consequences. The winner of the blindfold wheelie chair race rolled into the piñata circle just after we’d handed out the cricket bats. It could have happened to anyone!”

“Only he claims he wasn’t playing any game but was duct taped into the chair!”

“That’s just the concussion talking!”

“So it was just an accident?”

“Yes”

“Like the toaster in the punch bowl?”

“A warning to us all about placing an electrical appliance too close to a large bowl of liquid during holiday season!”

“P.R. said you bought the toaster with you,” the Boss counters

“Of course we did! Some of those hors d'oeuvres are shabbily prepared and woefully undercooked – and when you take into account the Pate and fish fillings it’s only sensible to make sure they’re cooked through! I mean no one expected the toaster to fall off the Lazy Susan!”

“No one except the Deputy Director of HR who just happened to be wearing rubber gloves and standing on a rubber mat when the Director dipped the ladle in the bowl?”

“They were his presents from the Secret Santa!” the PFY blurts

“The Secret Santa in this case being?”

“I... think it was me!” I say “And I got them for him because I recalled a conversation I’d had with him about how much he enjoys... dishwashing... and... uh.. car mats!”

“A suspicious person might look at the pre-Christmas financial activity of the company and suspect that there was some form of service being offered to departments with unpopular people?” the Boss hints

“How do you mean?”

“Well I see notice that in each of these ‘incidents’ a large order has come from the department concerned yet no IT items appear to have been delivered to them.”

“That’s the problem with lead times and a 31-December financial close off date,” I say

And yet the money ends up being spent anyway

“They transfer the money to us but unfortunately we don’t have enough time to process the transaction, place and order with a vendor and have it delivered and receipted in that financial year. So we’d end up with an item having to be paid for out of next year’s budget...”

“And yet the money ends up being spent anyway,” the Boss says

“Some of it does,” The PFY agrees “On incidentals – just rats-and-mice end-of-year expenses.”

“Rats-and-mice end-of-year expenses like 4 cases of wine?”

“Departments are permitted – nay encouraged - to give a small gifts to other departments to foster end-of-year goodwill.”

“Three new laptops.”

“Off-the-shelf items that are used for remote access by some users. With no lead time for delivery they’re easy to purchase with any end-of-year surplus.”

“A 54 inch Plasma TV and a case of whisky.”

“For Security. Long work, often in very lonely surroundings, we feel it’s important to recognise them with something special.”

“Well it’s not going to happen this year! The departmental managers have agreed that they’d rather not risk any untoward incidents this year and have elected instead to give Christmas bonuses in lieu of the costs of an official function.”

“Well everyone likes a cash bonus I guess,” the PFY nods

“Well it’s not exactly cash. To foster keeping money in-house we’ve decided to issue meal vouchers as the bonus.”

“Meal vouchers? But the meals are free!”

“Not as of next year... For anyone below level 4.7 pay grade leastways.”

“So there’s no more Christmas wine?”

“No.”

“No more freebie laptops?”

“No.”

“No more TVs and whisky”

“No.”

. . .

In retrospect the paintball game was the best Christmas activity the PFY and I have ever organised. Three elevators' worth of management types, all frantically groping around in a darkened basement for their car keys while an assortment of 4.6 and under pay grade staff armed with night vision goggles and high powered fully automatic paintball guns bombarded them with ½ frozen pellets.

And security apparently saw nothing.

Must have been a power glitch...