The boss that wasn't...

Year 1999 - Episode 19


It's a lovely day for computing, having -- as we do -- no boss, and the PFY and I are milking it for all it's worth.

Well, when I say no boss, I really mean no physical boss. The logical boss device has been installed and configured for use -- /dev/roger for short -- and /dev/rroger for when he tells dirty jokes).

He spent his entire first day "meeting the clients", then called in sick on his second day. I've bought about a week's delay before questions start being asked in earnest -- for example, if anyone's actually seen him about. Meantime, he "telecommutes" regularly with the PFY and me.

"Just got an email from him," I tell the PFY. "Looks like he's OK-ed my junket to the States to investigate some...I dunno. I'll make it up when I get back. Has he sent you any email yet?"

"I'm just working on it," the PFY responds. "Looks like I'll be spending a lot of time checking RJ45 sockets on floor-points around the DP pool. In the interests of connectivity."

"You sick perverted bastard!" I murmur enviously.

Our plans are interrupted by the chief accountant.

"Ah, have you seen Roger?" he asks, looking about.

"He's off sick," the PFY replies.

"On his second day?"

"Yeah, apparently he's caught one of those 48-hour viruses. But he's left his home number in case you need to contact him," I say, passing over a bit of paper with an outer London number scrawled on it.

He takes the paper, mentally weighing up the option of dropping the new boss a line, then wanders off.

"He's bound to ring," the PFY murmurs.

"Don't worry about it. "I'm sure he'll have hours of meaningless conversation with the geek manager persona I've loaded into my PC's voice recog and response program."

"Your what?"

"Voice recog and response -- it's a program to listen and respond sort of like a human. Like a sophisticated version of those old Lisa and Psychiatrist packages."

"He'll smell a rat..."

"Not necessarily. The program's configured to confess that it's been taking a large amount of prescription pills to ward off its illness -- some of which might have an adverse effect on its thought processes"

"So it would be like talking to..."

"...Someone with little or no recall of events; a drunk, a druggie, a software vendor who gave you a cast-iron warranty."

"Hmmmm..." the PFY murmurs, unconvinced.

I make a couple of quick calls to ensure my travel and accommodation is booked, confirmed and non-refundable in case the worst happens. And Roger's just suggested I upgrade to business class so that I'm rested and able to take in all the information presented to me when I get there.

But it was doomed to end. And this time it's at the hands of the head of IT, with only a small amount of notice for us to prepare for it. He didn't take too kindly to the boss's idea of users getting support only when they beat the PFY or me in a Quake II Deathmatch. Well, that and the deluge of purchases from the technical bookstore which previous bosses wouldn't buy just because they cost an arm and a leg.

"RIGHT!" the head of IT cries as he bursts in with an IT budget's-worth of literature invoices, "THIS IS THE END!"

"Yes," I sigh, slipping on a black armband. "It's terrible!"

"Cut down in his prime!" the PFY sniffs sympathetically.

"Why do the good ones always die young?" I wail.

"What the hell are you talking about?" the head snaps.

"Roger...!" I gasp, choking back the tears "...Gone!"

"Cut down in his prime!" the PFY repeats.

"What do you mean?" he asks, looking concerned.

I push over our special edition tabloid front page.

"'Computing Manager hit by Software Delivery Van'.

Oh dear...But this isn't the same paper I got this morning."

Bugger it!

"Ah...this is the new late-commuter edition," I respond, thinking faster than a clock-chipped heatsunk PIII, "with last-minute updates."

He peruses the article looking for some indication that it's not the case, while I make a mental note to throw in a couple of death notices into tomorrow's paper to make it look legit.

"Aren't you supposed to be in a taxi now?" the PFY asks, right on schedule.

"Oh, you're RIGHT! MY COURSE!"

"Your course?" the head of IT asks.

"Yes, yes, I'll be late for the plane -- the PFY will fill you in -- it's what Roger would have wanted!" I gasp.

"No, I think he would have wanted the van to miss him," the PFY mumbles in the distance.

The gentler arts have not escaped him.

I'm sure he'll do well in the next round of interviews.