The BOFH is in trouble for not turning up to his training course...

Year 1997 - Episode 8


Things are bad. The forces of evil (i.e. the huggy-feely brigade) are causing problems. The PFY and I have been targeted as 'politically unsound' for not turning up to some meeting on "harassment in the workplace".

The boss has apparently dipped his oar into troubled waters for a quick stir by indicating that we NEVER attend these compulsory meetings; I put his attitude down to some recent electrical first aid.

Sure enough, a meeting is organised with the Head of Personnel and Head of Staff Counselling (i.e. the Huggy-Feely Dept).

"Ah, yes," the Head of Personnel begins, "apparently you saw fit not to attend your course on harassment in the workplace."

"Yes", I reply, "the truth of the matter is that in our position we are simply too busy to (a) harass people; or (b) attend a course on how not to do it."

"Well, you might think that, but I can assure you that attendance at this course is mandatory for staff and contractors alike. I don't think I need remind you that your contract requires you to attend all relevant training courses", she replies, the steel in her voice reaching the thickness of armour plating.

"I don't think so."

"I beg your pardon?!"

"I'm sure you do", I respond, "but let us suppose, merely for the sake of conjecture of course, that the PFY or I did in fact wish to harass someone. Say someone like yourself for instance. Would I, as a networking and communications engineer, go all the way to your office to make some lewd and obnoxious remark to or about you, insinuating some theme or activity you (and quite possibly I) would find distasteful, OR, would I instead find and publish some image of you in an indefensible position - say in the office of a superior, in less clothing than is normally workplace practice?"

A chill fills the room. The Head of Personnel has taken on the look of someone who would rather be elsewhere and has completely forgotten the axe he has to grind.

"I don't know what you're insinuating, bu...", Ms. Huggy begins.

"Oh nothing, I assure you! I'm sure it was just an air conditioning problem that was recorded on the securi.."

"AH! I don't really think there's any need to pursue this matter", the Head of Personnel stutters, "at least not if the original proof of this could be ..."

In other words he wants the tapes.

"Well, as I said, it was an example", I reply, "and not based in fact. Speaking of fact, is it one that there's a contract rate-round coming up soon?"

He recognises the prompt. "Ah, there has been talk of a ..."

"Excellent. The PFY and I were hoping this was the case."

Negotiations complete, the PFY and I retire to our offices to plan the extra spend. Two days later the written confirmation of the rate-rise is in our hands and we're happy workers once more. The boss, on the other hand, isn't so pleased. Thwarted again, he's embarked on a one-man rampage through the department in search of the lowest morale possible.

The phone rings. It's the helpdesk.

"Hello?" I answer.

"Is that networks?"

"You know it is"

"We have a ... problem we'd like solved."

"Hardware or Software?"

"Errrmmmm ... Bossware"

"Could be expensive ..."

"A night of free drinks and dinner for four at the Dorchester?"

"Deal. Do you require a call number?"

"Oh! Ok."

"One."

I love service calls. I fill the PFY in on the deal. Later that afternoon the boss storms in looking for the person who took down the mail server.

"That would be me", I point out. "You told us to move it into the Computer Room. But the electricians haven't checked the power-points yet".

"RIGHT!", he shouts. "I'll be back to deal with YOU when I'VE fired it up".

How apt. The PFY and I watch as the server's power-supply emits a burst of smoke as the power point delivers the 400 volts of badly wired 3-phase power instead of the expected 240. It's a credit to our safety systems that the doors lock immediately to prevent anyone accidentally walking into the Halon-filling room whilst the boss grabs for the oxygen mask.

"Well, he must have just cracked! He ran in laughing like a madman and destroying equipment!", I inform security later.

The boss is still appears to be crying (he obviously finds something funny) as they cart him out ...