BOFH: You brought nothing to the party but a six-pack of regret

A tale of Simon, the PFY and the consultant

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 1 "... And so we're thinking that some way of getting a morale boost would be good," the Boss burbles.

"And cash was ruled out because?" I ask.

"Money is a temporary thing..."

"Much like morale in that respect," the PFY notes.

"The Director wants something longer term. Something less transient, less impersonal, less..."

"Expensive?" I suggest.

"Cost isn't an issue," the Boss snaps.

"No, it's just a coincidence that suggested improvements centre around the staff 'making their own fun'."

"The Directors come to the party!" the Boss chirps.

"Doing a survey to find morale is at 18 per cent then printing posters with platitudes is not something I've seen at any party I've been to," I counter.

"It's not platitudes - it's the overarching idea," Philip says.

Philip is a consultant

He's also (a) a close relative of the IT director, (b) a toff, and (c) the product of so many generations of relentless inbreeding he probably has an ear growing out of one of his three armpits. The 10 years it took him to get a bachelors in Psychology - majoring in social cognition - has given him all the prerequisites for a career in the motor industry - as a speed bump - but otherwise he's virtually unemployable.

Which is where nepotism tends to help out.

"Which idea is that?" I ask.

"The idea that whilst we're all individuals we're also connected by a common thread which makes us all part of the same humanity."

"I'm sorry," I say. "I'll need a glass of water to wash the sick down. Meantime, how were you proposing that we'd identify this common thread?"

"We just need to share more of ourselves."

"One of the advertising guys tried that a couple of years back," the PFY says: "I think he's got about 18 months left to serve on his sentence."

"I'm talking about sharing your personal stories," Philip responds, ignoring the PFY. "What you do outside of work, what your interests and passions are. Learning more about each other helps us work better together. For instance, I was talking to your Manager just this morning and he shared with me his pastime of magnet fishing. And you know what he's got from that?"

"Priority calling at Samaritans?" I ask.

"No, he's made many new friends!"

"Friends at Samaritans," the PFY points out.

"He's also a musician!" Philip blurts before the Boss can stop him. "He's released a country music album."

"What was it called: 'You brought nothing to the party but a six pack of regret?'" the PFY asks.

"I... think we should probably avoid that particular rabbit hole," I say, smelling quite a lot of blood in the water.

"We were talking about rabbit holes at Book Club last night" the Boss burbles, forgetting our wolf-like tendencies when a slow animal is separated from the herd. "We're reading Alice in Wonderland!"

"And what's the first rule of book club?" I ask.

"Don't talk about book club!" the PFY proffers.

"Or any of your clubs," I add. "If I want to feel sad I'll just ask you about your bucket list again."

"What's wrong with it?" the Boss protests. "There's plenty of interesting things on it - like learning to fly."

"The PFY could sort you out for that this afternoon," I say. "A remarkably short lesson that will help you make your mark on the world. Or more accurately, the footpath."

"Philip suggested a progressive lunch," the Boss says, changing the subject before we can delve further into his private plummet licence.

"A what now?"

"A progressive lunch: each department provides snacks and the rest of the company has a quick visit to see what they do – so we all understand each others' roles."

"After the laxative cake of 2012 no one's going to take snacks from us," the PFY points out. "Still, if we kept visitor groups small..."

"Yes! Exactly," Philip nods.

. . . Three days later . . .

"Okay, so, in retrospect, I think we have some learnings from this," I say to the Boss. "ONE: We should probably vet the images we pull from users' web caches. TWO: showing people the CCTV footage of their co-workers picking their noses in the lift does nothing for the perceived level of company hygiene."

"Nor – apparently – does showing them what happens on the reception desk on the occasional late Friday night after happy hour," the PFY adds.

"THREE," I continue, "our staff are apparently unaware of the amount of low-level stalking that goes on in the building and do not necessarily welcome a GPS tracking replay showing them this."

"Regardless, the morale of the department seems to have improved to 39 per cent," the Boss says.

"Yes, there was a noticeable spike in morale after Philip slipped on the footpath and was hit by one of the company vans," I say.

"And you wouldn't know anything about that?" the Boss asks.

"No, but honestly, the odds of it happening were astronomical - like 1 to 1,000."

"You mean 1,000 to 1."

"No, 1 to 1,000. Walking anywhere this afternoon, are you? Only I thought I might try for 56 per cent."

...

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