The chief bean counter has a half-baked plan to oust the Bastard and his sidekick. What a very foolish thing to attempt...

Year 1997 - Episode 3


It's not often that we're 'honoured' by a visit from the chief bean counter.

In fact, the last time he disturbed the peace of the BOFH sanctuary was when he discovered that the 'satellite-based data reception technology' seemed to be pointed at the local bookie's and was carrying mainly racing results.

I can sense that this time he's got something to tell me. He's looking decidedly pleased with himself. His well-fed face bears an uncanny resemblance to a wolf spying a solitary sheep. Pulling himself up to his full five-foot-four, he speaks firmly but with a noticeable hint of nervousness.

"In view of the fact that your idea of technical support is idiosyncratic to say the least, we've decided to install our own server and employ our own network manager."

He pauses as the implication of what he's saying slowly sinks in.

"Can I take it that you're not happy with the support that my assistant and I offer you?" I reply, gesturing at the PFY.

"Him?" gurgled the bean counter. "He's nothing but a psychopath."

The PFY beams at the compliment. The suit from upstairs continues.

"We're going to employ a proper networking person so we don't have to let you two maniacs anywhere near our network again. ANYONE we find is bound to be an improvement on you two."

Foolish words, but hey, I was bored anyway.

A week or so later, the memo is delivered from on-high by the Bean Counter Central office-boy (obviously our previous confrontation used up all his boss's courage). As of 9am today, Operations is no longer responsible for technical support in the financial division.

I pass the note to the PFY, and I detect menace in his eyes. "Since we're not supporting them any more, I guess that means they have their own routers," I point out, pulling a few plugs. Interestingly, the remote probe I built into their coffee machine tells me that they're still getting packets off the Internet ... hmmm ... not daft, this lot.

I bash out a quick message and drop it on the 'pager' icon. Some seconds later my really-terribly-private cellphone blasts into action. The PFY is impressed and worried; only important, powerful people know the number to that phone, and the fact that it's ringing usually means that we're in serious trouble and are calling in some big favours. He has never heard it ring before, and looks decidedly worried.

"Hello? Yes, that's right ... yes, I thought so ... no, we're not allowed to touch anything, it's entirely down to the new network manager up there. Oh, you are, are you? That's nice ... yes, okay, the Victoria in fifteen minutes."

The PFY looks puzzled, and is startled to hear the fire alarm. I point out that the fire alarm might be something to do with the smoke emanating from Bean Counter Central, and he rushes outside to see. The penny drops and he dashes back in and demands to know how I knew that something was amiss upstairs, given that you can't see the smoke or the alarm panel from where I'm sitting.

"Well, okay. You remember Martin?"

"What, that guy you introduced me to once?"

"I've introduced you to so many people..."

"Okay, the one with the pony tail and the alcohol fixation whose temperament and attitude to users makes both of us look like St Francis of Assisi?"

"Yes, that's him."

"The one who you told me last week was out of a job?"

"Hmmm ... more like the one whose name by some chance found its way to the top of the Bean Counter recruitment list," I point out.

It suddenly dawns on him. Now he knows why I spent so much time on the personnel database last week - and why I was so keen in calling in a few favours to that friendly recruitment consultant.

A thought struck me. "Heh, heh ... wait until you see the router they've got upstairs. It's one of these cobbled-together things that you don't see very often. I predict they're going to have a lot of trouble with that in the future.

"In fact there are only two people in the world with the code, and they're the guys who wrote it. And you're looking at one of them."

"And the other?"

"... knows the number of my private cellphone and is now on his way round the corner to the pub. Come on, my expense account has some beer to buy."