Hypochondria in the office is all the rage. In fact, rage is all the rage. But when a psychiatrist is called in it's only a means to an end...

Year 1998 - Episode 33


So I'm destined by fate to have a run-in with the boss. I know it, he knows it, and everything else is just window dressing.

It's his fault. He recently took on a secretary who suffers from XXXX disease, i.e. the inability to do anything she doesn't want to on medical grounds. If it isn't RSI it's some version of the 'flu hitherto unknown to medical science.

Finally I've had a gutful, so I corner the boss to see what he's going to do about it. The assistant head of personnel is there, purely coincidentally of course.

"Well, I'd like to do something about it," he responds, "but the company has fairly strict guidelines on dismissing employees due to medical conditions..."

"So she's here to stay?"

"Unless there's some disciplinary issue that you'd like to raise?" personnel replies.

"Other than she's crap?"

"She is not crap. She has simply discovered some medical conditions that are exacerbated by her work here. So we're going to lighten her workload accordingly to allow her a chance to recover."

"Lighten her workload?! She doesn't do anything!"

"She's made a good job of organising my meetings," the boss chimes.

"That's because her hands hurt too much to take down the details! You haven't met anyone since she's been here."

"I'm meeting you aren't I?" the boss counters smugly.

Then it becomes clear to me. It's the boss's sneaky plan to insulate himself from the workers by having an obstructive secretary...

Sure enough, as I leave the office I notice a similar self-contented expression on the part of the employee in question.

"Two can play at that game!"

I blurt as I re-enter the office, gesture the PFY aside and force a reboot of every switch and router in the building.

The boss storms in seconds later, with his personnel partner-in-grime in tow.

"What's going on?"

"Routers have all gone down. I typed 'all reboot' instead of 'all status'. I must be typing dyslexic!"

"Well get them up!" the boss blurts, concentrating his attention on the lynching that will occur at the next systems liaison meeting...

"Well I'd like to, but I'm also suffering from attention defici... Oh! Look, a green cellphone! Is that new?"

The boss goes straight to the PFY and demands that he restart the equipment.

As the great unwashed beat a path to the door of mission control and the networking equipment finishes its booting, the PFY accedes to the boss's demands at full speed, with a cry of "Bastards!" and queues a 60- minute UPS disconnect test for five minutes from now - 60 being 23 more minutes than the rated capacity of our system.

"Oh no!" I cry. "Keyboard rage!"

"What are you talking about?!" the boss shouts.

"Keyboard rage! It's like road rage, only worse! It's not his fault, it's a psychological condition he's been getting counselling for! He was diagnosed by the same doctor who diagnosed my attent...Wow! This gas operated chair's really got a smooth descent! Look at this!"

"I want that UPS test stopped!" the boss shouts.

"Please don't shout," I sniffle. "My dyslexia gets worse under pressure. Bugger, I've just set the fire alarm test off by accident!"

The PFY, meantime, is beating his keyboard senseless in a very convincing manner while our two visitors make for the door.

"Be careful!" I cry, "I can't remember whether I locked out the lift system or not, and if I did - Ooooh, is that an Armani suit?!"

The next day the PFY and I meet with the head of personnel, the boss, and the head of dept.

A calm knock on the door announces the arrival of our personal psychiatric advisor.

"I don't believe you've met our psychiatric advisor, Doctor Brian Analpeeper - Phd in Abnormal Psychology from the Bognor Regis Polytechnic."

"Good morning gentlemen," Brian starts. "I have here the diagnoses of my patients' conditions which, I must say, appear to have been aggravated by the inability of their superegos to express their thoughts about current management decisions..."

Brian goes on to explain that yesterday's unfortunate power and systems outage etc. is all a result of our inability to get to the boss because of the new secretary.

"They're just a couple of freeloading layabouts who are milking the company dry," the boss snaps angrily.

"I feel at this juncture I must ask for some time alone with my clients to discern any mental harm that your comments have caused them."

"What the hell?!"

"My clients are sensitive people. Who knows what your comments may have done to their delicate psyches. This meeting may accelerate a whole new set of problems, uncovering repressed memories of employee abuse."

"What?!" the boss cries, dangerously close to blowing a major blood vessel.

"Wait," the head of personnel interjects, recognising an escalating situation when he's in one. "We'll transfer her."

"To stamp-licking in the mail room?" I ask evilly.

"We have a franking machine," the boss comments dryly.

"Not for much longer," the PFY comments. "I think I feel a bout of frank rage coming on."

"Interesting manifestation of trauma," Brian comments. "Well, I see no need for my remaining here."

"You bastard!" the boss snarls before yelping as Brian's briefcase crushes his hand.

"Sorry," Brian explains. "I'm a recovering briefcase rage sufferer."

Amazing what a psychiatrist can find out, if you pay him enough...