When the boss tries to out-bastard the Bastard it's time to bring on Plan A, sit back, and enjoy the fireworks...

Year 1997 - Episode 29


I'm concerned about the boss. I just can't explain his attitude - at least not since he slipped on that section of thickwire whilst carrying a laboriously prepared OHP presentation last week.

Sadly, his slides on 'contractor versus permanent staff - ways to increase value for money', lost a little in the presentation after being delivered in a random order...

It also didn't slip my attention that he failed to appreciate my comments about the prudence of numbering OHP slides, nor the PFY's suggestion of using presentation software that does it all automatically - and cheaper.

One would almost think that he'd prepared it all off-line and on permanent media to ensure that no-one was aware of the topic of his talk in advance.

In which case using the transparency printer - dormant for 98 per cent of its life - wasn't a good way of diverting attention from yourself.

Strangely enough, one of his disjointed points did lodge in some moth-eaten corner of the head of IT's brain, and since then our lives have been a misery.

In an effort to suck up to the beancounters while justifying yet another yearly bonus, he's agreed to the proposal of the PFY and myself doing chargeable work for outside organisations...

Sure, after the first few network outages and the odd security breach, demand for our services tapered off slightly - to nil. But credit is due to the boss for not letting a minor setback like that deter him from trying to make us pay. We'd barely got back into the office when three large boxes were deposited at our feet.

My eye for hideously expensive equipment twitched slightly as my gaze alighted on the vendor name and product code emblazoned on the side of one of the boxes. Nor was the PFY slow in detecting the presence of equipment that was the networking equivalent of the Holy Grail.

The boss sauntered in casually and addressed us in our stunned silence.

"Yes," he said smugly. "It's what you think it is. Top of the line switching and routing gear from Teranet, fully propagated with a card for everything in use today, from RS232 to ATM to Gigabit Ethernet. You name it, it's on it. And you two are lucky enough to get to test it!"

"Test it?" I ask, looking at enough power to run a small telecomms provider.

"Hell yes. You don't think I'd buy it do you? You're being paid to run it and produce an independent report for a networking rag. Then we'll send it back to the supplier - once they've checked it against the shipping docket of course..."

The bastard.

"The bastard," the PFY whispers as the boss leaves.

The boss, dare I admit it, has done the unthinkable - he's delivered a blow for the managing class. He knows full well that going back to our equipment after using this treasure trove will be like trading a Rolls Royce in on a Robin Reliant. A mental kick in the goolies from anyone's point of view.

A day later, unable to resist the temptation, the PFY and I play with the kit in question. Sadly, it's not as good as it claims to be - it's better.

The boss just eats it all up - filing our review and our recommendations for purchase in the same shredder tray before wandering off, chuckling, to lunch.

"It can't be like this," the PFY wails, eyeing the vendor's packing crew who've come to decommission the tested kit.

"It's all right, I'm sure we'll get some kit like that some day."

"When it's so bloody obsolete it'll be a cooling system load."

"OK," I mutter. "Tell you what, how about a couple of lagers at lunch. You like lagers at lunchtime remember?"

"I can't," he blurts. "I told Sharon I'd meet her for lunch and she's only got half an hour."

One pull of a piece of string later, all is revealed to the PFY as hundreds of confetti-like pieces of paper are released into the underfloor cooling system. The underfloor smoke

sensors do their magic and back up Plan A roars into action.

After securing comms central, the PFY, Sharon, and I file out along with the rest of the sheep, while on the other side of the building the freight elevator, true to it's fire alarm configuration, returns to ground floor.

The three boxes inside it marked 'Christmas decorations' are sure to be filed away in the appropriate place by stores as soon as the alert's over.

I shouldn't think we'll see them again until long after the boss has accepted responsibility (and organised payment) for some recently lost very expensive on-loan equipment.

"Right," I cry as we step out into daylight. "To the pub. I believe there's a sales rep from Teranet who has several pints with our names on them."