While the PFY's holding a torch for Carole, someone is putting a torch to the Welsh Office. But nothing compares with the Master Plan...

Year 1998 - Episode 27


It's early morning when the Boss rips into the office in a foul mood.

"All right, which of you bastards told the consultant in the Welsh office that you can't recover a hot database back-up from a cold tape?"

"I beg your pardon?" I ask in all innocence, knowing full well that my conscience is clear. (In other words, it was the Pimply-Faced Youth.)

"Which of you told the Welsh IT consultant he'd have to heat the 8mm tapes up in a toaster before he could recover their billing database from it?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about!" I cry, furthering my claim of innocence without implicating the PFY in any way.

"Don't give me that crap! You almost set the office on fire last night after you told him to put a ream of printer paper on top and tape the toaster lever down!"

"I did no such thing!" I shout, mentally toasting the PFY's ingenuity.

Ten minutes later and the PFY and I are left to our own devices.

"Well done," I tell the PFY, once I'm sure we're not being observed.

"What do you mean? I was just about to congratulate YOU!" the PFY burbles.

"So you're saying it wasn't you?"

"No!" the PFY blurts.

"Then who the hell was it?" I wonder out loud.

"There's no way to tell?"

"Don't be silly. Grab the voice recorder tapes from yesterday while I crank up the phone logs."

"What phone logs? I thought we only recorded the trading lines."

"As far as anyone else is concerned, we don't keep phone logs - it's not possible."

"And as far as we're concerned?"

"Every call, duration, and destination plus its position in the voice recorder tapes. And as for the tapes - liberal use of the muting functions makes it appear that we're only recording the traders."

"And in actual fact?"

"All but one line is potentially recorded..."

"All but one?"

"The one in the comms cupboard labelled "Faxmodem" that we use for our international personal calls."

A mere quarter hour later we've tracked the offending incoming call from Wales. A quick earful of the conversation identifies the offender as the latest recruit to the helpdesk - one who, apparently, had all the hallmarks of a servile practitioner of computing aid at her interview.

I place a call through to the helpdesk operator concerned, introduce myself and play back the recording to her.

A non-committal silence greets my revelations while the PFY scans the access-card database to put a face to the name.

"Ah, I'll take this one if you like," he blurts, tilting the screen away from me so I can't see the results of his look-up.

This would have worked had I not installed PC-Anywhere with a permanent window to his screen. A glance is more than enough to determine the source of the PFY's new-found liaison-based altruism.

"I s'pose I can go and fix Carole's screen while you're doing it,"I respond.

"There's nothing wrong with Carole's screen!" the PFY cries, well aware that my exposure to Carole, his long-term love interest, at this juncture, could prove extremely painful to him. Especially if I were to drop the phrase "debriefing the new helpdesk stunner" in response to her enquiries on his whereabouts...

"No, but better safe than sorry. Off you go, I'll handle it."

"You bastard," he mutters in defeat.

"In the flesh, in your home directory, and rifling through your e-mail!" I cry, starting my victory walk to the helpdesk area.

A quick interview with the woman concerned reveals a kindred spirit - a config geek, who only took the helpdesk role because it paid the bills...

"So you're not too pleased with the users?"

"Just the Welsh ones. They've got no tech support and all their equipment still has luggage labels from the ark."

"Yeah, it's the filter-down approach. All our old stuff goes to the Scotland office, all their old stuff goes to Wales."

"It's a pain in the arse and having a consultant who can't tell one end of a power cable from the other is too."

"But there is a way forward." I respond, outlining a plan that's forming in my head...

Two days later the PFY is browsing the boss's outgoing e-mail when...

"Bloody hell!" he blurts."That helpdesk woman's been transferred to tech support Wales! They must have found out about the phone calls. That's cruel."

"No," I respond. "She wanted to go. She's worked out that once she gets the place shipshape and puts some new kit in, she can telecommute from London..."

Our conversation is interrupted by the entry of the boss.

"Just thought I'd come in and apologise. It seems I was a bit hasty the other day in accusing you of sabotaging the Welsh office."

"Oh yes?" I respond.

"Yes, it appears that the technical consultant in Wales was a pyromaniac - security caught him last night spraying lighter fluid in the back of their apps server. His excuse was that someone from the helpdesk had called and said the CPU heatsink was getting too cold."

"Terrible."

"I know. Anyway, just thought I'd fill you in," he sighs, leaving the room...

"Onward VBGN!" I cry.

"VBGN?!"

"Virtual Bastard Global Network. My Master Plan!"

"Uh-Ohhh..."