BOFH: An architect and his own entirely avoidable downfall

Office remodellings get lost in time. Like... tears. In rain

By Simon Travaglia

Posted in BOFH, 28th August 2015 12:57 GMT

Episode 12 "Well, you know what they say," the Boss says, faking sadness. "The candle that burns twice as bright..."

"... Should be thrown into the pool of diesel from a safe distance?" the PFY responds.

"No, the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long."

"Is that a thing though?" the PFY asks. "I mean, if you're talking about lumens, wouldn't that mean that a candle that burnt twice as bright would burn the one over the square of the burn speed as long? Because of the candlepower and stuff? And if the wick were made of magnesium, it would burn much brighter, but it'd all be over in a second or five."

"What's your point?" the Boss asks.

"Nothing. I was just pointing out that it's a dumb saying."

There's been an accident. A terrible workplace accident. No-one could have seen it coming: not the Boss, not me, not the poor unfortunate architect who fell two floors down a debris pipe into a skip full of recently removed wall linings.

Not even the PFY, who'd been talking to the architect about the relative merits of reducing the size of Mission Control to make the office open-plan area larger.

A bloody tragedy is what it is. The good news is that apart from the concussion, the only injuries he has appeared to have sustained are fractures to all the fingers on his drawing hand. Which – as I pointed out to the PFY while he was wiping a small bloodstain off that large dent in the open window frame – is kind of ironic.

"That's not ironic," the PFY points out.

"So was that dent not made by iron?" I ask.



"He was such a good planner," the Boss says, shaking his head back in Mission Control later that morning. "But apparently he's quit the job and none of his co-workers want to take it up. He'd really thought outside the box on this one, too. His plan to facilitate cross-organisational interactivity by removing individual offices and have a workflow-based open area space was... inspired."

I can tell by the Boss' tone of voice that had the PFY not been so proactive it might have been the Boss bleaching a bloodstained hammer mark out of a window frame. And we all know why...

No-one likes open-plan.

Sure, the PFY and I are used to it from years of working in an open area, but your average office potato like the Boss just can't cope with the thought of one of the proles listening to him trying to placate the little woman when she's on the warpath about him not loading the dishwasher before leaving for work. And I'm assuming that this feeling is probably shared by the whole sack of potatoes from the Director to the lowest-tier consultant on our floor.

I'm fairly sure the investigation of this particular incident will probably only involve a broom and some loose carpet.



Our plans for global domination are thwarted somewhat by the arrival of the CEO and a couple of suited gentlemen who wish to speak to the PFY and I individually about the accident. Apparently, "cross-organisational interactivity" is being driven by the top floor and anything challenging it is to be investigated with a view to crushing all opposition.

The PFY and I are separated – apparently to prevent collusion – and I'm led to the accident zone by one of the suits. In the intervening period a light rain has been falling and as a result some danger tape's been strung out around the missing full-height window.

"So in your own words, what happened?" the suit asks.

"Well, let's see. I made myself an espresso, but unfortunately the machine had been switched off by the cleaner overnight and hadn't quite warmed up properly so I had to wait and make another."

"I mean about the accident," he snips.

"Yes, that's my knowledge of the accident," I respond. "I was making a coffee at the time."

"I think you might perhaps know a little more than that," he counters. "We have a witness who puts you at this window moments after the accident."

"Well as much as I like the CSI Romford approach, our office is approximately 20 metres from this window – so if I WASN'T here moments after the accident, there'd be something wrong."

"From what I understand, you've been present at quite a number of accidents in the past," he suggests. I start to get the impression there may be some form of legal angle to this investigation.

"I really don't know, I mean who counts these thi..." I start.

"173 workplace accidents," he says, reading something from his notepad. "And the second one from this very window. Not to mention two from the windows in your office."

"Really? 173? That does sound like a lot," I say, stepping over the tape and gazing out of the hole at the bin. "But if you work in IT for long enough, I guess you get to see so many things."

"What things?" he asks, a little too quickly for my liking. In fact, a little too much like an ex-policeman for my tastes.

"Things like a builder not replacing a window. Things like that!" I say pointing at the window.

"What?" he asks, stepping over the tape and looking where I'm pointing.

It's the matter of a moment to notice his hand is on the only recently cleaned piece of the window frame.

"Things you people wouldn't believe," I say.

"Really?" he responds, stepping forward into the rain, which starts slowly soaking us as well as the notepad in his hand. "Things like what?"

"Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion..."


"... I watched C-beams... glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate," I continue.

"What beams?"

"All those moments will be lost in time. Like... tears. In rain..."



"And then he just hit himself on the hand and jumped out of the window!" I say to the Boss, 10 minutes later.

"That's UNCANNY!" the Boss says as the CEO looks on angrily. "Your assistant just had the exact same thing happen on the other side of the building. He raved about some movie and was gone! There must be something going around."

"I know. I think it's just fortunate they both survived," I respond, looking to the CEO. "I mean, imagine if they'd jumped from the 6th floor..."

"Yes," the Boss says, following my gaze. "Imagine."

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