The Bastard finds a new use for an electric wheelchair...

Year 1995 - Episode 14


It's a strange Tuesday morning. Despite his unfortunate fall from the window, my Beancounter ex-boss apparently wangled (with menaces no doubt) a job back at Beancounter Central on the sixth floor.

Yesterday, electric-wheelchair-dependent, he initiated an asset audit of the entire department, down to the last router cable. An asset audit of the big stuff alone takes four people about a week to complete, so this is just bloody-mindedness after his tragic misadventure with the roadside two weeks back. Some people just never learn ...

The asset audit is a potential problem. I'm not sure I want anyone finding out about my unique and quite lucrative asset-disposal policy ...

His previous position in our department has been temporarily assumed by one of the technical managers who's done this before. In fact, so many times before that he has two sets of business cards.

Temp-Boss rolls in at about 10am.

"Simon?"

I look up from my Ethernet monitor. "Yup?"

"Have you seen Gerry this morning?"

"Gerry?"

"Your last boss? You know, the one with half his body in plaster, strapped into a wheelchair?"

"Oh Gerry! No, not this morning."

"Strange. We called him about this audit thing and Accounts hasn't seen him."

"Really?"

"No. And apparently they called his home and he'd left at 7am."

"Mmm. Well, I've got no idea. Speaking of missing things, have you seen that SNMP-managed antenna servo set and the Cell-Phone-based SNMP link box?"

He frowns for a bit. "... No."

He thinks for a bit "..What was it for?"

"Well, together we were going to use them to control the direction and altitude of our satlink antenna."

He thinks for another minute. "You haven't!"

"Haven't what?" I ask innocently, secretly surprised at this guy's technical competence and sheer vision.

"Lost them!?"

Once more my faith in the system is restored. Had he said, "SNMP-managed Gerry's wheelchair," I would've had a serious ethical crisis on my hands.

"No no," I say. "I'm sure they're around here. I was just configuring them yesterday."

"Oh."

Topic ended, he looks around for something to fill in the day.

"New game?" he asks, pointing at my laptop complete with spanking new modem ...

"New game? OH! Yes, new game. Very new. A day old. Only started playing this morning."

"What do you do?"

"Well, the object is to manoeuvre the, er, robot through the streets of what looks like Cornwall."

"That's it?"

"Uh huh."

"Not much of a game, is it?"

"I don't know about that. I get a measure of satisfaction out of it. I've been playing since 7am this morning. Especially satisfying when I put it through one of those automatic car washes three times ..."

"Oh yeah! OK, mind if I have a go?"

"Be my guest!"

Five seconds later ...

"Woopsy."

"What happened?"

"Ah, I wasn't used to the controls, I drove it down that manhole thingy and it's disappeared. How do you get a new man?"

"Appoint another accountant as boss?" I suggest, removing the cotton wool from his clouded brain.

His eyes widen slightly as my copious stack of clues adds up in his grey matter.

"You didn't!"

"No. You did. I just watched. 'Witness for the prosecution', you could say."

"But I thought ... You bastard!"

"Don't worry" I say. "They're fairly good about grievous bodily harm these days. You'll be eligible for parole in two or three years as a first offence, assuming it's your first offence. Oh - and only if he lives, of course."

He wastes several lungfulls of perfectly good air burbling on about department loyalty, and so on. I mentally switch off for a bit till the droning stops. He finally notices.

"OK, what do you want?"

"Two new routers, a back-up FDDI hub, and full ISDN to my home, for testing purposes."

"I see ... OK."

"Excellent. Sign here."

"But it's a blank order form!"

"That manhole did look rather deep didn't it ..."

He signs, I smile benignly, he leaves.

Networking is a funny old world ...