The LAGERS invoice should have gone through smoothly - but a turncoat beancounter and a computing audit get in the way...

Year 1998 - Episode 19


So, wouldn't you know it - I'm filling one of our 44-inch sheet plotters with toner for about the 10th time this month and it's really GETTING ON MY TITS! And it's always the red toner that needs refilling, which can only mean one thing - someone's lining their bedsit with spank-pic wallpaper.

The culprit isn't hard to find, considering that I keep logs of the size of the colour raster files to determine which plotters will need filling with what toner (and definitely not because pink usage is a good indicator of a potential blackmail candidate.

Except for that sneaky bastard in design who was printing all those midget-fetish pictures, of course, but I tracked him down with the print-time statistics - anyone who uses a full-colour printer after 10:30pm and NEVER during the day is bound to be up to no good.

So the Mission Control Lager Fund, A.K.A RG9030-NSEXOP-002 ("Running Grant, Cost Centre 9030, Non-Standard Expenditure, Operations, Account 2" in beancounter lingo) is looking extra-specially healthy this week.

It's much easier to extort money through a cost-centre transfer - the victim doesn't put up quite the same kind of fight when it's their department's money they're spending and not their own.

In fact, the lager fund is looking so healthy that it's time to "purchase some equipment" for this coming Friday night in case the balance attracts unwanted beancounter attention...

An invoice arrives and I take it to the boss for a signature as the PFY's out on a job.

"What's this for, then?"

"Ah, that's for the purchase of a new...Licensing Attribute Geopositional Accounting Receipt System - LAGERS, for short."

click "A new system. I see. Oh well, best get that, then! But hang on...are you sure this is correct? Only 270?"

A hundred-plus pints is a good shout for the Bastard Operator Club at the best of times, but to allay suspicion, I feel it necessary to ease the boss's mental pain.

"TWO hundred and seventy pounds!?!" I squeal. "My mistake - it was supposed to be FIVE hundred and seventy pounds."

I make a mental note to order myself a taxi home before I go to the pub as I'm unlikely to be able to find my mobile phone, let alone use the bloody thing by the time I've drunk my share of the "software".

I send the invoice to the beancounters and call up my fellow bastards.

They say the best laid plans of mice and men do something or the other, I'm not really sure as my attention span doesn't run that far, but I'm sure it means something relevant to someone. As far as bastards go, the best laid plans shouldn't be put through bloody beancounters.

It appears there's been a query on the invoice as some bright young beancounter has decided that the Blue Posts is not one of our approved software vendors. That in itself is a piece of the proverbial to cover up as years ago I got a lot of our legit software routed via the local boozer as a back-up plan. The real problem is that a mole inside Beancounter Central, who owes me a few favours (for losing the voice-tape evidence in a harrassment complaint), has indicated that the Lager Fund is going to be audited.

The disturbing news is that they've contracted in a consultant to do the computing audit...

I ring the PFY on his mobile and bring him up to speed. He ducks out to lunch and gets a mate to ring in a non-specific threatening phone call. While he's at it, he orders us a take-out pizza to relieve the boredom at afternoon tea.

Security, bored mindless through months of inactivity, rise to the threat. Doors that were wedged open for months are closed, security passes checked, and building searches activated. Nothing appears out of the ordinary.

I watch with interest as a suited geek-type bloke is met by the head beancounter. They take no chances and use the stairs to get to Beancounter Central...

Now it's a waiting game. The data storage facility van pulls up outside the building right on time, no doubt with a box of back-up tapes recalled by our computing professional to deal with the unfortunate head-crash on the finance database machine. What a coincidence that three disks in a RAID array all failed at the same time! The odds on that must be phenomenal - not that the local bookie's stupid enough to take that bet, of course.

The data tapes, written by some untrusting person in Beancounter Central (which was lucky, as ours appear to have been lost by our data storage facility), are passed through security and rushed up the stairwell.

Our pizza delivery causes a stir in security, but it scans clean so we ask for it to be delivered to Beancounter Central where we'll pay for it.

"Something's wrong," the turncoat geek is saying to the head beancounter as we roll up. "The tape seems to be stuck in the drive!"

"Try the other drive!" the head man cries, noticing us.

"I did - it's stuck, too!"

Vexed by the apparently temporary delay, his annoyance is directed at us.

"What're you doing here?"

"Just picking up a delivery," I respond, as our pizza turns up.

"BLOODY HELL!" the PFY cries convincingly, "It's scorching hot!!"

"Oh no!" I sigh. "Don't tell me the X-ray parcel scanner is on the blink again. Last time this happened we lost a whole box of...OH NO! DON'T TELL ME YOUR TAPES WENT THROUGH THE SCANNER!"

[Later that same week...]

"UURGGLE MURG HURGRLE," I gasp.

"Sure, that's just off Sloane Square, isn't it?" the cab driver asks, passing me a bucket through the window should I require it.

"Unnnn!" I respond, lapsing into a lager-induced semi-coma.