Back to the Helldesk?!?

Year 1999 - Episode 4


However, there is little philanthropy in this act, but more opportunity for a little hell-raising. I'm so bloody nice, I deserve a medal! Out of the kindness of my heart, I have volunteered to look after the helldesk in their time of need. It appears that thanks to winter chills and staff holidays, the helldesk is chronically understaffed.

The PFY, bless him, is cut from the same selfless cloth as myself and has offered to keep watch for - I mean, assist me in looking after - the users.

Nothing much has changed since we were here last. Well, it is daytime now, and I'm not carrying a sack and a crowbar, but apart from that it's pretty much the same.

"This," I say to the PFY, "is a telephone. You've seen people talking at them before, and now it's your turn to give it a go."

I ignore the PFY's hand gesture which, under normal circumstances, would denote something to the effect that "you have a sexually fulfilling relationship with your right hand" (which, incidentally, I have interpreted as, "I am in desperate need of a damn good kicking - perhaps you could see your way clear to organising me one in the near future?") and get back to the job at hand.

"You take lines 1, 3 and 5. I'll take 2, 4, and 6," I snap.

"What? I thought we were just going to divert all the calls to the Religious Thought-for-the-day message line and rifle through their desktop machines for anything useful or incriminating!" the PFY whines petulantly.

"A complete waste of time," I respond, "since I swapped all the good hardware with the shite stuff in the comms-closet PCs to allow us to have a multi-user Quake II challenge from any floor in the building."

"You mean we can't even play Quake on these things?"

"Afraid not. These machines would be lucky to load ANSI graphics, let alone SVGA stuff."

"But..." the PFY pouts.

"No buts, we're going to use our time profitably by getting to know our users once more. We've been far too isolated from them this year - it's time for us to renew our ties!"

All this altruism is making me feel a little queasy, but I gulp down the nausea and continue.

"RIGHT!" I shout. "Synchronise excuse calendars, page 47, Hypotropic Osmotic Leeching."

The PFY's eyes glaze over momentarily as his attention-span safety cut-out trips, but he's back with me in record time.

"I'll just call it H.O.L," he murmurs, blinking rapidly as full consciousness returns.

"Alrighty! Let the games commence!" I cry.

"Games? What games?" the PFY asks.

"You'll find out..."

"I still don't know why the boss didn't veto this," the PFY cries. "I didn't think he'd be stupid enough to go for it."

"He wasn't," I answer cheerily, "but he's been transferred to the Leeds office after a little incident earlier in the week."

"Oh yes?" the PFY asks, curiosity piqued.

"It was tragic."

"REALLY?" the PFY asks, interested.

"It appears that he may have disgraced himself at that Harassment Procedures meeting that the US people made all management types go to."

"The one they imported all those Huggy Feelies from head office for?"

"He didn't say he thought it was a How-To course?"

"No - apparently he had something with him at the meeting that didn't go down well. In fact, that's perhaps the best way to describe it."

"You mean he had a..."

Apparently so. He made some wild claim that someone must've chucked Viagra in his coffee, but I ask you..."

"Weird," the PFY concurs. "Speaking of which, coffee?"

"Yeah, but stay away from the 'instant decaf' till I've had time to dispose of it."

"You complete..."

Our conversation is interrupted by the first call of the day. "Hello, how can I help?" I ask in tones that can only bode goodwill to all comers.

"Hi, my machine keeps losing the time, and my workmate says that it's probably the battery inside the machine!"

"How old is the machine?" I ask.

"Three months."

"Normally batteries don't fail that soon," I respond.

"I think the problem may be that when your machine boots, it sets its time from our network time server, only it's setting the wrong time because your time zone setting isn't GMT."

"Well... >clickety< >clickety< YES! It's set to Winnipeg! Where on earth is Winnipeg?"

"I believe it's in Canada," I respond knowingly.

"Thanks very much!"

"You're welcome!" I respond, then hang up.

The PFY meantime, is gobsmacked.

"What was that?" he cries in disbelief.

"Oh, didn't I tell you? That's the game. Winner takes all - first one to crack has to shout the beers on Friday."

"It's not much of a game. Doesn't sound like much fun!"

"What, and MONOPOLY IS?!"

"Well, no, but it's not that sort of game!"

"I think you're CHICKEN!" I taunt.

"No way!" the PFY shouts. "You're used to it."

"All right, I'll take line 1 as well, giving me twice as many potential callers. Happy now?"

The PFY nods, then grins as Line 1 lights up.

Perhaps I've bitten off a little more than I can chew...