Omniscience?

Year 1999 - Episode 5


So I'm in a downtown cafe, grabbing a moment's respite (well, a couple of hours, let's be honest) from the maddening crowd - with Mission Control's phone diverted to my unlisted cellphone number, when the phone rings.

"Hello, Networks and Systems," I cry pleasantly, in the manner of one still competing for the 'who can be the nicest to users' competition...

...which I'm certainly not, having won off the PFY by performing a lot of 'space reclamation' on the data servers then leaving sound-byte constructed voicemail messages 'from the PFY' claiming all responsibility and no remorse for doing it. The ill-will towards him at the moment is such that the Boss thought it best he take a little time off.

"Where are you?" the Boss asks, voice muffled by the sounds of traffic from outside my current location.

"In the machine room!" I cry, as indignantly.

"Really? Then what's that noise in the background? I can hear cars!"

"Yes, yes, that's just the Multimedia Demo package that starts every time this new bloody server gets booted," I ad lib. "I'd pull the speakers out but we need them for initial de-bug sounds."

My output bullshitometer is registering three out of 10, so I feel that this excuse will probably suffice for the boss.

"Oh," he responds, confirming my suspicions. "Well I need to get into the computer room as I'm showing some new employees our computing operations. So if you could just pop round and let us in..."

Now call me old-fashioned, but the LAST thing I want is the Holiest of Holies exposed to drooling half-wits with no idea of how or why computers work.

Being a forward-thinking type, I'd planned for the access eventuality by locking out both Mission Control and the Computer Room from all but myself.

"I'm afraid there's some problem with the electronic lock system and I can't seem to get the doors to release," I tell him. "So it seems I'm locked in and you're locked out."

"I see," the Boss murmurs slowly, possibly getting a nasal indication of a rodent in close proximity. "I'll just try the emergency release."

A couple of loud bangs later, the boss picks up the phone, wheezing heavily. "The BLOODY GLASS won't break!" he gasps. "What sort of emergency access is this?"

"I don't know, but it sounds good for security," I mention, knowing that this is bound to get his back up.

"I'm going to call in Building Maintenance to get to the bottom of this - you just hang on in there!" he cries decisively, obviously wanting to make a good impression on all the newbies with his ability to fix difficult situations.

Which means I'm going to have to go back to work after all, as there's only so long that the armoured glass and reverse-threaded access panel screws are going to keep the maintenance guys at bay.

I grab a cab and slip into the building the back way, sneak out the freight elevator and end up behind the Boss and a set of like-minded technical in-breds whose combined IQ wouldn't even make a supermodel's waist measurement.

"Hi!" I blurt, thinking of the PR value of being nice to potential users.

"Where'd you come from?" the Boss asks, gesturing to the buildings bloke that he should keep on drilling now that he's about half an inch into the armoured glass (only another inch to go).

"The computer room!" I cry. "I managed to get the back door open by swiping my card through it repeatedly - probably some read error, or something."

I make a big deal of blowing into the swipe reader, then try my card in the door. It opens, of course, and I surreptitiously reverse the lockout on the doors, then let the crowd into the computer room.

"This is the err..." the Boss starts, noticing that I've come along for the tour, too, and am looking extremely interested in what he's going to say. "Err...tell you what, why don't we let someone from the front line fill you in!"

Suffice to say my presentation was a resounding success - especially after the Boss demonstrated workplace danger by stepping onto one of the floor tiles we leave loosely supported (to stop maintenance contractors from straying) and plunging face first into a machine rack.

On the way out, one of the huggy-feelies from Human Resources meets me and gives me the boss's invite to the 'welcome to the company' drinks that afternoon, seeing how the Boss is probably not going to be able to attend...

And just when you think life can't get any better, the PFY rings to say he knows what happened and that he'll RELUCTANTLY keep his word - a bet's a bet - later that night.

Mental note number two is to swap drinks with him the moment his attention is diverted at the pub - the thought of a laxative overdose doesn't appeal at all.