One wager and a lager frenzy later, the BOFH is feeling somewhat worse for wear after messing with the teatime continuum...

Year 1998 - Episode 36


I'm not a well man.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say I'm feeling poorly.

But having used up my sick leave entitlement during the World Cup and considering a bomb threat too drastic, I struggle into work. After all, if you're going to be crook, you may as well do it on company time. It always makes me feel a little better anyway. The source of my illness was plain to see once I'd emerged from the bed to focus on the congealed remains of a half-eaten kebab solidified on the top of the TV set and half a pot of cold coffee sitting on the table.

A vague memory crosses my mind, collides with a patchy recollection and goes down...I seem to remember a lager frenzy starting at the pub just down from the office following the outcome of some wager that ended in my favour. As they do.

A wager that must have undoubtedly involved the boss in some way, shape or form, following his imperial command just a few days ago with regard to morning and afternoon tea. Apparently we're only supposed to take one of each a day, and they're only supposed to be 15 minutes long. And they're to be measured by the company's clocks and not by any personal equipment. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.

Of course no one expected him to enforce the ruling, so it came as a little bit of a surprise when the unauthorised timesheet prunings were brought to light by a less-than-expected payment cheque.

I manage to drag myself to work, although I have to admit to feeling very seedy by the time I get to the relative security of my office. A rest is called for.

I redirect my phone to the voicemail of the networks and systems group of the company, three buildings over, then catch up with some well-deserved sleep.

An hour later I'm woken by the entry of the PFY into the room. Well, more accurately, the sound of the PFY falling through the door to Mission Control.

His condition is no better than my own, but I'm hoping that his memory of events will tide me over.

A hope that fades quickly when he informs me that the last thing he remembers was when we pulled the toner cartridge out of the fax machine and shorted out the 'toner low' and 'cartridge-removed' sensors.

Further questioning is pointless once the PFY reveals that the next thing he remembers is waking up in the telecomms access duct at the rear of the building.

Curiouser and curiouser...

I can only assume that some major form of celebration occurred, the likes of which is not often seen in computing circles (i.e. as rare as a bug-free Microsoft release).

CCTV is no help, revealing only that we left the building at approximately 5:22pm, considerably the worse for wear, in the company of half the secretarial pool, who also looked like they had a bad case of bottle fatigue.

Being a troubleshooting professional of long standing, I apply the first rule of problem solving by asking the question "what has changed?". Observation: there aren't many healthy-looking staff at their desks.

I apply the second rule of problem-solving by tracking the problem backwards - 5:22 is far too late for me to be working, so

I must have been propping up the bar at the company anti-social club.

I put in a call to one of the more human company lawyers, who's rostered on to bar duty this week to see if he remembered us.

I eventually track him down to his cellphone.

"Yes, you called me to open up the bar rather early..."

"When was that then?" I ask.

"About 10:30am."

Missing time and memory accounted for, more important questioning must follow.

"Spend much?" I ask, with a due sense of trepidation.

"As it happened, no," he said. "Not after you pointed out that your boss's memo distinctly states that the company shall provide beverages, at its own expense, for all staff between the hours of 10am and 11am."

"So what happened at 11?" the PFY blurts over my shoulder.

"That's not come around as yet. It's only about 10:49am at the moment. I'm not sure, but the clock appears to be running incredibly slowly. Mine is not to reason why though.."

Yet another penny drops and I vaguely remember tweaking the calibration knob on the pulse-advance unit of the company's timekeeping system to buy us a longer tea-break. Perhaps a hammer wasn't the best tool for the tweak job.

"You mean it's been between 10:30 and 11 for a day?" the PFY gasps.

"Ah...two days I think you'll find."

A quick squint at the unfeasibly small numbers on my wristwatch confirms his story.

"Bloody hell. What's management doing about it then?"

"Well when your boss left here about 16 hou...I mean about six minutes ago, he said he'd be back in five minutes. The whole of legal's here still, because they were on the late morning tea shift, and the DP pool are taking their morning tea in one-minute instalments."

About 43 hours [11 minutes] later, the PFY, myself and some hardcore legal and DP drinkers are helped out of the building.

By the police.

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: "AGG AAARRICC GUBB IN FARLIN GOT!" And you can quote me on that.