Hooray for pay day. Or maybe not...

Year 1999 - Episode 2


Thursday. Pay Day. I love Pay Days. In fact, work is always better on a pay day. People are nicer, complaints are rarer, bank managers are friendlier - a guy could get used to this.

A bastard, however, could lose the touch - that finely honed reflex that enables him (or her) to sort the wheat from the chaff (user-wise). Complacency is the enemy.

Still, the brown envelope containing a cheque is a useful reminder of what we do this for. Smiling happily, I fumble with the self-adhesive seal on the envelope (the glue must be the same stuff they use to hold tiles onto the space shuttle), before losing my patience and ripping the envelope open from the other end.

Ahhh!, The smell of a freshly printed cheque...the feel of it as it slips out of the protective environment of brown paper. The temporary but overpowering feeling of goodwill for all things beancountery as I note the aesthetically pleasing sight of my company's name laserprinted on the top line, right above the amount of...WHAT THE HELL!?

THE THIEVING BEANCOUNTER BASTARDS HAVE UNDERPAID ME!

I have another look, just to make sure I've got it right. "The beancounters have underpaid me!"

"You're joking!?"

"I'm not! Look, they've rounded down the amount!"

"By how much?"

"27p!"

"Hang on, you're going to maim someone - possibly permanently - over 27p?"

"It's not that it's 27p, it's the principle of the thing. STEALING from me! It's unheard of! It's the thin end of the wedge - before you know it, they'll be riding the lifts again. They'll be questioning your expense claims, talking to you about business plans at lunchtime, and..."

About 10 minutes later I come to, with a rather nasty bruise on my head and a pain in my side.

"Sorry about that," the PFY calls from behind the door of the computer room, waving one of our low-output (aka 'warning') cattle prods.

He must have zapped me while I was under the influence of theft-crisis. "That's OK," I respond, "perfectly acceptable under the circumstances."

I go to let myself into the computer room to assure him there are no hard feelings, only to find my access card's been given 'lock-out' status.

"Sorry about that, too, but you know what you get like," the PFY calls through the safety glass.

"Of course!" I cry "No harm done," as I sneakily reach for my special reserve access card, noted in the database as a 'Fire and Civil Emergency' access card, which no one but me knows exi...

"Got that one, too..." the PFY murmurs apologetically.

You've got to give him credit, he's a chip off the old block.

I move away from the door to see if he's going to come out when he thinks it's safe, but he's not that stupid, either.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I set my rubbish bin on fire, then reverse the direction of the office ('remodelled') air-conditioner so that it's blowing air into the computer room instead of stealing air from it.

The halon 10-second warning goes off and the PFY rushes to the hold-off switch - the real one (disguised as an intercom pager button) - and not the decoy we use to frighten contractors.

I have him right where I want him. While the smoke detectors still sense smoke the halon system is still activated. While he holds the button down, the halon countdown is paused. Currently at seven seconds...

I hold the rubbish bin up to the viewing window and throw in some more paper and a back-up tape (to keep it nice and smoky) so the PFY can see I'm serious.

Out of earshot, he scribbles a quick note on the wall. "You could be right, 27p is an insult!"

Smiling, I pour coffee into the bin to extinguish the flames, then sit down at my desk. The PFY emerges from the computer room once the halon clear has been signalled.

"So, what are we going to do?" he asks.

"Well, I thought some form of example has to be made. Firm - but not, of course, brutal."

"You mean chilli sauce in the eye-rinse bottle, laxative in the water fountain or glue on the bog seats?"

"Well..."

"All three?"

"Warmer..."

"'Route their traffic via the 3-Phase mains 'network'?"

"Almost there..."

"Put indelible dye in the rooftop water reservoir and trigger the sprinkler system on their floor?"

"Yes...to all of the above."

And so it was that half-an-hour later, the PFY's up a ladder, pouring a crimson cement dye concentrate into the reservoir, when...BDZZZT!!

To his credit, the PFY makes no sound as the cattle prod takes effect. Apart from the splash of course.

After I've fished him out, I disable his card, the halon system and the card known to the database as 'Installation Card (Disabled)'.

What goes around comes around.