Episode 27 BOFH 2000: Episode 27
So I'm at Tottenham Court Road peering at some overpriced kit when I notice that one of my former users is in the house.
Well, when I say "user", I mean a: "This machine must be broken"; "I can do it faster by hand" stick-in-the-mud Luddite who still uses a black and white toaster.
And Roger me silly with an extended keyboard if he doesn't have a heavily bookmarked computer buyer's magazine in his grip. Opportunities like this don't come along too often, so I leap into the void like a trooper.
"CAN I help you sir?" I ask, smiling ingratiatingly and assuming the fawning subservience he no doubt expects from the computer working class
"Yes you ca - Why, it's Simon isn't it? I heard you'd left - WORKING for a living now are you?" he chuckles.
"Well you know, have to make ends meet", I mumble deferentially, head bowed like a true sales professional.
"So you work HERE do you?" he asks, scanning the place with a critical eye, unable to resist the urge to gloat.
"Well, I do what I can." I mumble.
"CAN I help you sir?" a Salesdroid asks my man, seeing the mag and smelling blood in the water..
"No thanks.. uh.. Ahim," I say, scanning the name badge and treating him to an overdose of familiarity "I'm looking after these people."
"Well just let me know if there's anything I can do," he murmurs, wandering off.
"Shall do" I cry happily, then turn back to my victim. I mean, "customer". What was I thinking?
"Cut-throat business, sales," I tell my man - George - info supplied courtesy of the subscription sticker on the back of his mag. "Now, what can I help you with. You looking for computer then?"
"Well not exactly," George says evasively - not wanting to commit his soul - whilst nodding in the direction of a similarly aged woman, "Alice here would like to learn a bit about them and so we decided to buy one and I'll teach her what I know."
It's borderline, but I think Alice might JUST be up to the exciting two minutes of typing terror as they switch on.
"Excellent. Well, I see you've been reading up on the subject. You definitely don't want to rush into a purchase like this."
"No, no, I've been getting this book for a couple of years now, just biding my time..." George admits sagely.
"A good idea," I respond. "Now, what did you think you wanted to look at?"
"A Pentium III 733 with 128 Megs of RAM, 18 gigabyte hard disk, Windows 2000, Microsoft Office, a 56K modem, a Colour Inkjet printed and an internal ZIP drive" he blurts out, reading from his copious handwritten notes."
"A Pentium III. Really? Well, I SUPPOSE you know what you're doing."
"What do you mean?"
"Well you've read the Pentium IV is out."
"Well the price in Pentium IIIs is bound to plummet when the Pentium IV is released - Specially," I look around furtively, "... when the public find out that it's actually Two Pentium IIs on top of each other."
"Of course - that's what all those extra pins are!!"
"But they're not releasing Pentium IVs yet!"
"No, but you COULD set yourself up for an upgrade."
Again I look around furtively before responding "Well, You buy an upgradable Pentium II, and then, when the Pentium IV is released, just solder another Pentium II on top of the other processor. But it has to be an upgradable one.."
"Why don't I just buy one and upgrade it now then?"
"It's not supported by the operating system yet!"
"Oh, of course!"
"Now the only other thing that concerns me is that you're not buying any floppies for backup."
"Well no, I'm getting a Zip disk!"
"They're good, of course - but often stolen with the machine. That's why we recommend buying floppies."
"But to backup an 18 gigabyte disk I'd need..."
"About 180 boxes of floppies, yes. Or 18 Zip disks. Now which would be easier to steal?"
"The Zip disks!" George cries.
"Whereas the boxes of floppies would just slow the villains down."
"I never thought of that."
"Most people never do. In fact," I add, again looking around. "A lot of salespeople try and talk you out of buying floppies.."
"Well, I'm not pointing the finger" I respond "But on the 'GUARANTEE FORM' they get your Name and ADDRESS."
"You mean they ste.."
"I never said that!" I cry. "But I NEVER put my real name or address on one of those things."
"I see. Point Taken. But the rest of what I want is spot-on then."
"Well, the 56K modem's a bit... well..."
"Oh it probably won't matter to you of course, but, well, SOME modems have porn detection circuits in them which ring Freephone numbers at night to tell government agencies if you're a pervert."
"I wish I was. It's been in place in modems ever since the 38K ones were released."
Round about now I'm starting to feel like a real bastard, but then I remember his jibes.
"Did I say 38K?" I cry, "I meant 19K! But it never pays to take chances - 9600 to be certain. The beauty of it all is that all this stuff is dirt cheap now - PIIs, floppies, 9K modems.."
"Well I'm certainly glad I spoke to you," George cries. "Now, how about you sell me it?!"
"Actually, I'm a consultant and don't do sales, but I'll line someone up for you," I cry helpfully.
I break like the wind and get to Ahim.
"Hi, my friend here's a collector of older equipment and would really like to pick up some equipment for a working model of the computing of the late 90s. Could you help him out?"
Ahim has gone before I've finished the sentence and is already thinking of the accolades he's going to be getting from his boss for offloading all the crap that tourists don't even buy.
As for me, my job here is done - I wait till the trolley load of legacy kit is out the door before heading down to the Rising Sun for a celebratory lager.
Life is sweet, but revenge - more so. ®
Turn to BOFH: Kit and Caboodle for more adventures of the Bastard Operator.