The boss cooks his goose with a dodgy microwave dish ... so the Bastard simply out-manoeuvres him yet again...

Year 1997 - Episode 5


The boss is on the warpath! Never one to take a good moral kicking lying down, he's decided to retaliate for the demise of his corporate telephone plan by making our lives a general misery.

He's enforcing every single safety standard known to humankind. As well as this, he's checking our arrival and departure times and even pulling us up on the creative book keeping that produces most of our timesheets.

It's not good.

Still, you know what they say, the best defence is a good offence.

Sure enough, it's not long before the PFY and I are called into the boss's office for failing to put up warning signs after opening the cabling duct in the basement. My suspicions are confirmed when I notice the head of personnel sitting in on the meeting. He's never been a big fan of mine or the PFY's - well, not since he got a crossed line with the DP pool while talking to his doctor about a personal and very private problem. He probably would've believed it if we hadn't thanked him for not doing anything 'rash' ...

The boss winds up for the delivery. "Much as I deplore these things, I'm afraid I'm going to have to give you both a final written warning after the exposure of general staff to that dangerous drop," he says.

"The dangerous drop of three or four inches to the cable duct floor."

"A dangerous drop nonetheless," he replies, egged on by the head of personnel.

"Could I just have a word with you in private?" I ask, a picture of piety.

"I don't think that would be necessary," the boss replies.

"Uh, I wasn't actually meaning you, I meant the representative from personnel. Just as we're talking safety issues I thought the PFY and I could have a word about that cheap microwave dish."

As if by magic, the tone of conversation changes. Could it be that the boss has remembered WHO recommended and ordered (against the advice of the networking technicians) the said dish?

"Perhaps I can spare you a minute," said the tight-lipped boss.

"Well, it's mainly a safety concern you understand," I say, once we're in private. "As this is my final warning I can expect my contract not to be renewed for another year, and I'd just like to organise someone to pop up onto the roof every two or three weeks to tighten up the bolts on the cheap microwave dish you recommended we buy last year.

"Apparently it slowly tilts over till it's pointing directly at the roof. We wouldn't have found out except that one of the auditors in the office underneath rang to complain about the coffee in his mug boiling every time transmissions passed 20 per cent bandwidth..."

The boss is, as we in the trade say, up the creek without a paddle user's guide. He tries unsuccessfully to disguise his utter horror at the possible legal action that could result from this. And even more importantly, who would be taking the precipitous fall for it...

"Who was that auditor again?" he said, feigning mild interest.

"Oh you know!" I reply. "Wilson, Wilkins - something like that. You know, the guy who's always off sick with headaches and stuff."

He's now out of the stream and heading out to sea - he KNOWS we'll have kept an autographed copy of the memo (complete with our response) safely stashed in some fireproof location that he'll get access to shortly after Satan starts ordering antifreeze and winter woollens.

52 seconds later we're back in his office...

"Well I see no point in taking this any further," the boss says, to the personnel head's disgust. "It appears the signs WERE there after all, in fact I saw them myself! Now, hadn't you better pop up and do that maintenance ..."

"Running all the way," I agree. "OH! And look, there's those timesheets that you were querying before. Ah! I see why you were querying it! The PFY and I didn't put in those 10 hours work - we did, uh ... network tuning on two Sunday nights. I'll just fill that in now so you can sign it."

The head of personnel leaves with a burst of language I'm sure isn't approved by company policy while the boss signs away an amount of overtime probably equal to the GNP of a small communist state.

Victory and overtime ours, I foster goodwill in the boss by sending a back-up tape from our off-site storage contractors.

"What was that about?" the PFY asks.

"Oh just returning the boss's memo about that microwave dish he recommended."

"Are you sure that was such a good idea? He'll just destroy it."

"It's probably for the best," I respond. "After all, it's the only remaining documentation about it. And without documentation..."

"I'll get the scrap dealer on the line."