BOFH 2000: Episode 15
So it's 3:17am and I'm safely asleep in my bed, dreaming of a world where "dumbness" is grounds for justifiable user homicide, when the phone rings.
"Hello, I know it's late..." the voice starts.
"It's not late, it's early..."
"Yeah well, I had to call because it's an emergency!"
"Uh-huh. And how did you get my number?"
"It was in the After Hours Contact List, under 'Pakistani Embassy' - your Boss told me where to find it."
Of course the question has to be asked as to HOW the Boss found out that it was my home number as, to my knowledge, the only person with that Information is the person who's going to be vacuuming the subfloor of the computer room with a keyboard vacuum cleaner for the next few weeks...
"Anyway, I was calling because the laser printer in room 440 is running low on one of its toners and it's probably going to run out before we finish printing the interim customer survey results for tomorrow's, well -TODAY'S - strategic alliance direction meeting with the US company."
"Why not just print them on a different printer?" I sigh, trying to be helpful.
I must still be half awake...
"We CAN'T, there's special paper loaded into this one!"
"Special in what way?"
"It's got the word DRAFT printed in red in the background!"
"Of course - and you couldn't move the paper to another printer, nor use one of those expensive colour printers scattered around the building which could just print DRAFT on a page as a red background layer..."
"Ah... Yes, point taken."
I'm barely back to sleep when the phone rings again.
"Hi, it's me again!" my least favourite user chirps happily - and the thing that gets on my tits is that we're now like old friends because we've shared a printer moment in the pas...
"Of course - The Paper goes in face up."
"You know, like it was when you took it out of the other printer..."
"Oh. Of course. It's just that I don't want to stuff this up.."
"This" being the operative term of course. If by "This" means "The report" then he's probably on fairly solid ground. However if by "This" he means "My Career", "My chances of an Xmas Bonus" or "My prospects of getting out of the department toilet cubicle without a freak electrical spike causing a sewerage backflush", it's far too late already.
That's fate for you.
Fate intrudes again at 4:16am when he calls to ask what the printer name is for the printer in the plot room on the 4th floor is.
"I don't know, what does the white label on the side say?"
"As in A4 Postscript Level 4, Room 33, Printer 1?" I ask testily.
"Is A4PS04331 the printer name then?"
"No it's just some numbers and letters we slap on the side of printers to make them more interesting," I snap.
"Oh. Well what's the printer name then?"
4:47am sees me plotting manslaughter after being asked how to change a toner cartridge...
"It's not printing, BLANK PAPER IS COMING OUT!!!!" he gasps.
"Did you pull the toner separator out like it says on the instructions before you put it in the printer?"
"OF COURSE I DID!"
"And what did it look like?"
"A piece of black plastic!"
"No strip of transparent plastic attached to it then?"
"Then the separator strip is still in there."
"What do I do?"
I count slowly to 10.
"Well as you can't get the strip out because you've broken the tab off it, you're going to have to dissolve it. Do you have some aromatic contact adhesive solvent?"
"What about in your stationary cupboard?"
"I don't think so!"
"Well check. If there's none there you're going to have to get some from a service centre. No, wait, they won't be open now. Tell you what, just grab some petrol. Half a gallon should be enough..."
Later that morning...
"And the printer just BURST into flames!!!" my user gasps to some new blood from security as I sneak past the remnants of room 443.
"And you say he told you to just pour petrol into it?!" The security guy asks.
"Yes to melt the glue! It's just lucky I switched it off beforehand or I might have been standing right beside it when it went up!!!"
"Yes, very lucky indeed" security nods gravely. "Well, if you'll come down to the office we'll fill out an incident report and notify the authorities."
"I'll call the lift," the user smirks.
"Are you sure you want to use the lifts?" security asks, looking around carefully, "there's been... rumours about how they run a bit strange..."
"Good point - we'll take the stairs!"
. . .
"And he unfortunately slipped and fell down the stairs," security recounts later to the boss
"Fell down a flight of stairs!" the boss gasps, echoing sympathy.
"Two flights of stairs actually - breaking his left leg and his right wrist!" security murmurs to the boss.
"Obviously we checked the stairwell carefully, but nothing seemed to be amiss. Naturally, we'll follow up on the initial complaint when he recovers, but for now we're not pursuing the matter..."
Strange. Stranger still when I ask the PFY and he denies all knowledge.
Not so strange later on in the day when a familiar blue-suited figure joins the PFY and I at the table with a cassette which looks all too much like a 24-channel voice recorder tape.
"Hey!" the PFY starts "aren't you..."
"Your new silent partner?" security asks. "In the flesh, on a stool, and waiting for a pint!" ®