The boss has been 'encouraged' to relocate to Tonga, but his replacement is a nightmare. It's time to get serious...

Year 1997 - Episode 35


"What'd you do?" The PFY blurts, after arriving to work to find the boss packing his bags...

"Me?" I ask innocently, "Nothing!"

The PFY's waits in silence until I come across with the truth.

"Well, I think I might have worried him slightly..."

"How 'slightly' do you mean?"

I detect a smidgen of annoyance in the PFY's tone which I guess I'll have to deal with later. True, the boss had reached the malleability of fresh putty, however one must always bear in mind that change is good.

"Well, I might have mentioned that living in Tonga would be a better long-term prospect than the UK."

"Come again?"

"Well, it all started when the boss wanted to know the status of our year 2000 project. I think he's suspected the truth - that it's a foolproof plan of locking yourself in your office for five months then coming out at the end with a smile, the words "everything is OK now", and bushels of consultancy fees."

"And?" the PFY asks

"And so I happened to mention that there really wasn't any point in worrying about it anyway."

"Why was that?"

"Because I told him that the world had the Year 2000 virus. That it would all be over in 1999, just like Nostradamus and multitudes of religious groups predicted."

"And he believed you?"

"Well you know how likely he is to believe me straight off..."

"You mean since you suggested he take the toaster into the shower with him to save time on making breakfast in the morning?"

"That and using a magnetic strip as a floppy holder, yes. Anyway, so I directed his attention to the fact that some of the oldest Cold War nuclear defence systems are computer controlled, including the ones that are primed to initiate launch if they lose connection to the Pentagon."

"And?"

"And it would be quite likely that shortly after 11.59pm on 31 December 1999 the time since last successful contact value will go, via date arithmetic, from one minute to thousands of negative minutes..."

"Integer wrap-around, and launch!" the PFY finishes.

"You got it!"

"And he believed you?"

"Well, I happened to notice, after cruising the Web cache logs, that he was a

frequent viewer of certain Web pages."

"You mean the Lycra Lovers home page?"

"Amongst other things, yes, but more importantly he was a frequent visitor to the 'Nostradamus Says' and 'Nuclear Danger Awareness' pages. Armed with this information, it was a simple matter to play upon his fears."

"So now he's moving to Tonga?"

"That, or some other absolutely non-strategic target which is unlikely to receive a circa 1960s warhead around 10 past midnight on 1 January 2000."

"But you don't really think it'll happen do you?"

"It might. But who cares? I'll be drunk as a skunk at a New Years party - besides, my consultancy goodwill will be right down the tubes thanks to my well-financed answer of 'it's all OK now.'"

"So you are working on our millennium project then?"

"Full time since this morning."

"And what have you come up with?"

"I'll let you know in just under five months..."

A week later, things are much worse. The old adage 'the devil you know is better than a kick in the groin on a cold morning' holds true. The boss's replacement is far worse than he ever was, and has canned my year 2000 project out of hand, preferring to go back to our software and hardware suppliers. It's enough to make you weep...

...If you didn't have the root password, control of the telephone exchange and an almost psychopathic hatred of management.

In a matter of days, the new boss seems a little peaky. Apparently some power spike or other set half the dialback numbers on the modem pool to his home phone number and the other half to his cell phone.

If that wasn't bad enough, his phone was already running hot after his paragraph in the weekly IT bulletin Web page about the 'Version Control Server' was misspelled as 'Virgin Control Server' - apparently a lot of the younger beancounters were concerned about what form of control he was talking about...

The PFY and I pass the time by setting the clocks of equipment forward to 31 December 1999 to see what happens. After the trouble we caused with the e-mail server I feel we should be in with a chance for the tender for the resurrected seven month Y2K project...

Change really is good.