The Bastard gives advice...

Year 1995 - Episode 3


I'm preparing for a six-week US junket on the company with the boss to look at new comms gear. This means I'm going to have to take on someone to do my job while I'm away.

The ex-office brown-nose applied for the position, but unfortunately he was late for his interview when the lift in which he was a passenger mysteriously blew a control breaker. A pity they didn't discover him till after the weekend, by which time he was a drooling vegetable. It all adds fuel to my argument that I require a larger 'miscellaneous' budget to employ part-time staff to check things like lift emergency telephones and alarm switches.

As far as the job went, within a couple of days I have a 'green and keen' contractor occupying the spare desk. Now to teach him the ropes...

"OK quick outline, we look after every communications entity in the building. And they all belong to me. Not the user. Me. Remember that, it's important!"

"They belong to you." he repeats

"No, never say that. Always say, they belong to 'ME'. You don't want to give the users the idea that comms is something they should get involved in."

"They belong to me. So we look after phones as well?"

"Phones, fire and intruder alarms, intercoms, networks, microwave link, miscellaneous control systems; hell, if they bought semaphore flags we'd probably be looking after them," I say, pointing out the respective chapters in my site management bible.

"How do you get away with it?" he asks.

"Simple. I apply the basic rule of standardisation. Everything gets done in a standard way, and no-one but me knows anything about it."

"It's all in your head?..."

"No, no. It's all copiously documented in that safe over there," I reply, indicating a large armageddon-proof box in the corner.

"Who has access to it?"

"Me."

"And your boss..?"

"He has a key that he likes to think will open it. In actual fact, it's a duplicate of the key to the CEO's wine safe in the basement."

"Does the boss know?"

"How could he. He's not allowed in either area."

"He's not allowed in here?"

"Of course not. He's management and this is a sensitive area. Standardisation, remember. Just mention to the CEO that we have phone-tap equipment and you get a fat security budget to play with."

"Aren't you worried the boss will find out about the key?" my employee asks.

"Not as worried as he'd be when I mention informing the CEO about it. There's been a surprising amount of pilfering going on. It wouldn't look good on his permanent record when he went looking for his next job..."

"What a tragedy. Okay, I've got all that, what do I do?"

"Nothing, I've done it all. Familiarise yourself with the site management bible. It'll tell you all the major problems that could befall us, what to do and who to contact. See that phone on your desk - don't ever answer it, it'll just be some user who's moved his machine and expects the data-sockets to be live."

"That's it?"

"Like I said, it's mostly in the site bible. Oh, remember to put the voice recorder tapes into the fireproof back-up safe!"

"That's in case we have a verbal contract disagreement?"

"No, that's so I can listen to the boss's personal phone calls. Honestly, it's better than 'Days of Our Lives'. Also, never mention the name 'Pooky' or he'll know I'm onto him."

"OK, what if the helpdesk corners me?"

"Hmmm. Well, as I haven't introduced you to them, you've got a week's grace. After that, use the excuse that you can't accept helpdesk calls until you have a username to receive the email so that the process can be tracked by me when I return. That'll buy you another couple of days. Add two more days for documentation on paper and then you might squeeze yet another week or two out if you use the old routine 'log a fault call' - preferably on some ancient noticeboard using the tried and trusted postcard method. Remember to make some number up and write it on the incident board as 'proof'. When you can't delay any more, use the network monitor to drop the CEO's data ports. He has priority and you can kill at least a day 'isolating the failure'."

"What happens if the CEO corners me?"

"Play it safe and brown-nose. Get him a coffee and take him on a tour of the central comms room. When he's mesmerised by the flashing lights, nudge his arm when you open a cabinet door so that the coffee spills through the floor tiles. The master breaker will pop so fast he won't even have time to say 'woopsy'. After that, no-one's going to complain about anything. Got all that?"

"Sorted!"

"Right, get to work."