When the BOFH signs up for company therapy sessions, he wants to freely associate about problems. But whose? Blackmail's in the air...

Year 1998 - Episode 42


I get in one morning and find posters around the coffee machine to the effect that the US owners of the company, under the expanding umbrella of their Health and Welfare scheme 'for all workers' (which eliminates half the staff for a start), are offering free therapy sessions to anyone who feels they need them.

"It's crazy!" I blurt to the PFY, as soon as he rolls in, holding one of the aforementioned posters.

"Why?" he asks, with the air of someone seriously contemplating taking up the offer.

"Oh, puhleeze. Who would turn down the opportunity of spending an hour of paid time whining to someone about how their mother didn't love them and their deep-seated problems concerning trains and tunnels?"

"Sorry?" the PFY asks, obviously a little short on his Freud appreciation.

"Look, half the staff already whine to each other about how hard they have it. This just legitimises the whole process!"

"You really have a problem with this don't you?" the PFY quips. "Perhaps you should seek some help with your feelings of..."

(One very long high-pitched scream later): "So do you get what I'm trying to impart?" I ask, opening the drawer that contains the PFY's testicles.

"Yes, yes," the PFY gasps, on his way to the ground. "But..."

"But?" I cry, opening the drawer for round two.

"But don't you think that management knows the staff spend lots of time whingeing..."

"And are trying to reduce it by making the whole process 'street-legal' so to speak?" I finish.

"Yeah. If they get real help, instead of a chance to grumble..."

"...they might become more productive?"

"Yes!"

"I see your point, but I don't think that management knows how much the staff like to complain. Still, this warrants keeping an eye on..."

And so it was that, two days later, I was getting first-hand experience of the therapy 'thang'.

"...and so what we use is a therapy called 'RET' - Rational Emotive Therapy, where we ask you to face your problems as problems that you, and you alone, have to deal with, challenging their reason for being there in the first place."

"Ah yes," I interrupt, to avoid lapsing into a boredom coma. "I've done a lot of therapy in the past, mainly 'TPC', but it doesn't seem to work - my problems are back by the next therapy session."

"TPC? I'm not familiar with that."

"TPC? Ten Pints and a Curry. Every Friday, down at the local boozer and then down the local Ruby."

"Yes, very droll," he comments, lounging back in his comfy chair. "Now perhaps we can talk about what brings you here?"

"Of course! I'm actually here to find out all the dirt you've amassed on our staff!"

"I'm sorry?"

"You know, the dirt - who's a bedwetter, who has a predilection for the company of furry rodents, that sort of thing."

"All the information I gather is confiden..."

"Like the boss being impotent?" I ask.

"How did you...?"

"All in your notes," I murmur.

"I don't keep them on computer!"

"But you do keep them on a pad in full view of the elevator CCTV cameras..."

"But they're in modified shorthand!"

"That abbreviated Pitmans?! It took eight minutes of processor time to decode on a machine with a technical vocab, phrase analysis and variance..."

"But..."

"Face it - I'm going to say you told me anyway, so why not cut out the middleman?"

"I can't. I swore an oath."

"The one about not dobbing in nutters?"

"We don't use terms like 'nutter'."

"Or like 'professional misconduct'?"

"What do you really want?"

"Dirt!"

"Oh, all right!" he shouts angrily.

"Your boss has an irrational fear of power staplers."

"That's not irrational. Almost everyone I know does! The PFY has nightmares about them. And drawers now, too, I shouldn't wonder..."

"And one of your telephonists feels she may be a nymphomaniac."

"Which one!?" blurts the PFY, bursting in from behind the door.

Honestly, that boy should eat less red meat...

"Small potatoes," I complain. "I'm after the real stuff no-one should know about..."

"There isn't any!"

"Breach of professional confidentiality means personal damages proceedings now, doesn't it?" I ask the PFY in an off-hand manner.

"Oh yes," he chirps, grinning evilly.

"All right," my personal therapist moans, throwing in the towel...

I really did feel better at the end of the session. So good, in fact, that I booked myself in every week...

"...for about two weeks, until word gets out that secrets aren't so secret," I mention to the PFY, as I start my TPC therapy early Friday afternoon.

"That won't be for a while will it?" the PFY queries.

"I dunno, ask me after six pints when the 'workers' arrive. I feel a 'cathartic' experience coming on in my therapy..."

"Sounds nasty..."

"Bound to be. Your turn to pay for therapy I believe?" I mumble, handing over my medicinal vessel.

That's the thing with therapy - you've got to want to get better.