The BOFH goes on a trade show outing...

Year 1997 - Episode 25


"There's that smell again!" I cry to the PFY, happily recognising that all-too-familiar scent in the air ..

"What, onion bhajis?" he asks, his senses dulled by years of soft music and educational films.

"No! THE smell".

"Fear?"

"No!"

"Burning Equipment?"

"NO! Can't you feel it, in your bones?"

"Rheumatism" he replies sarcastically.

"No," I respond, "But there could be a fracture in the wind if you don't tune in your senses ..."

"Well I don't feel anyt... oh yes!" he cries, suddenly enlightened.

"TRADE SHOW!" we cry simultaneously.

"Now we're going to need a convincing excuse to go as the boss is a bit against trade shows for some reason".

"Could it be because of the last time you went to one?" the PFY asks.

"Which time was that?" I ask. "I don't remember anything out of the ordinary?"

"You mean the time you spent a couple of weeks prior to the event at the tanning clinic, then turned up at the trade show calling yourself Sheik El Al Hand Kebab and claiming to want to network up every home in your Emirate State, no expense spared?"

"I can't recall such an inci..."

"When you drank two suppliers into receivership, disappeared for three days along with the boss's car, secretary, Visa card and nude holiday snaps - only one of which ever turned up again - you - claiming you'd been in a skiing accident on the M25?"

"Well now you come to mention it, the skiing accident rings a bell. Yes, I remember now, it was on work time and so technically they were responsible for my rehabilitation..."

"At the Betty Ford Clinic?"

"Only the best for the company's contractors, I'll say that for them. Anyway, there was no proof I was linked to the car, Visa, secretary or holiday snaps"

"The ones in your second to top drawer, in the envelope marked MFM Disk Formatting Instructions?"

Hmm. I appear to be slightly outflanked by the PFY's skills at determining the truth no matter how low he has to stoop. Taught him everything he knows, you know ...

"Well, anyway, that's all water under the bridge," I cry, attempting to change the subject.

"Along with the boss's car if rumours are to be believed," the PFY interrupts. "Still, at least you obviously didn't pull a complete Ted Kennedy, as you're still getting those postcards from Spain ..."

Things aren't working out quite the way I planned. The PFY seems to be holding the upper hand in the conversation - something I'm not altogether used to, or comfortable with.

"ENOUGH!" I cry. "I admit, mistakes were made, not least of which was getting lagered the week after and possibly divulging more of that which transpired to you than you needed to know. "

"I'll say!" the PFY cries. "You could have left the bit about you, the boss's secretary and the train in the Underground Museum right out of the conversation, as far as I'm concerned".

Sadly, I'm all out of verbal conversation modifiers. The use of unnecessary force is mentally approved and I give him a taste of the negative ion generator, dangerously modified to put out a few more amps than is safe in an office situation. And sure enough, the PFY does seem to be a lot calmer afterwards.

"BACK ON TOPIC!" I cry. "We have a trade show to go to, and I don't want any more interruptions!"

The PFY nods obediently.

"Now, we need some foolproof plan to enable us to go".

"I could ring my uncle".

"Yes, yes, but cashing in favours with the CEO isn't the plan. A far better plan is to give the boss absolutely NO power of veto for technical reasons".

"After last time nothing short of an earthquake is going to shift the boss's views ..." the PFY chips.

"OF COURSE! AN EARTHQUAKE! GENIUS!"

"You're going to cause an earthquake??!?!"

"No, no, of course not! Well, not if I don't have to anyway. No, the reason of reasons!

The excuse of excuses!"

"What would that be then?" The PFY asks, unenlightened.

"DISASTER RECOVERY! It's been YEARS since anyone tested our DR kit, and a large percentage of it would probably catch fire if we powered it up anyway! BRILLIANT!"

The PFY calls uncle and starts the ball rolling.

"Ah!" the boss clucks as he enters the office some minutes later. "You know, I was thinking it was about time we tested our disaster recovery systems!"

"Do we have any disaster recovery systems?" I add, paving the way, "as there's an exhibition on that very topic in two weeks that the PFY and I are keen to go to".

"UNLIKELY!" the boss replies harshly. "We already have two DR rooms upstairs, ready to be fired up. I think we would do that now".

No sooner said than done. About two hours later, as the fire brigade is leaving, I'm taken aside by the CEO to answer the boss's outrageous claims of sabotage.

"Ridiculous!" I cry. "The fire was caused by dust accumulating in the equipment over a period of three years. We were lucky the whole place didn't go up. It's information like this that you find out at DR Trade Shows like the one coming up in tw..."

Two weeks later the PFY and I enter the trade show for a 3 day tour of duty. It's a harsh job, but someone's got to do it. We're greeted immediately by a charming young woman working for a popular supplier.

"Good Morning and Welcome to our Show, Mr, um ..."

"Sheik Ali Mohammed, " I reply "And my son, Ahmed Mohammed. We're here to get some computing for our palace. Only the best will do, naturally ..."