So I'm at a Telecoms conference while The PFY minds the fort back at Mission Control.
And roger me senseless with a vampire connector if I'm not sitting next to a bloke who's just dying to sell me something.
He's so easy to spot they should slap photos of him on the sides of Chinese Aircraft as a USAF navigation aid. The silver suit was a dead giveaway, as was the keenness to sit next to someone he'd spotted arriving alone...
"Amazing stuff this technology isn't it?" he whispers furtively, going for the back-entrance approach of pretending to be a fellow professional.
"Technology?" I ask vacantly, playing along.
"Yes, V-O-I-P," he mouths, using one of the crappest acronymns available on the market to date.
"VOIP?" I ask vacantly. "You mean those planes that can take off like a helicopter?"
"No, that's VTOL. I mean Voice Over I.P!"
"Yes, IP!" he replies, drawing an acronymic blank and deciding to bluff.
Well, two can play at the idiot game!
"Oh. That sounds a bit technical to me. I only came here because they said they were going to talk about how to reduce our phone bills."
"THAT'S PRECISELY WHAT V-O.." the salesbloke begins excitedly.
"..And there was lunch," I interrupt. "I remember they said there was a lunch thrown in! I never miss out on a good lunch - the chance to mingle, network, and maybe get some pointers from the real techno boffins!"
He can smell blood in the water, but just wants to check the type before making his pitch.
"And what do you do?"
"Oh, I'm an IT Director."
"The Dnebonk Group. A.. Danish company. It's very small here at the moment, but we're looking at expanding our operation into the UK, branches all over the place, that sort of thing. Anyway, they say we're going to be wanting to look at some leased thingies, a VPM or something, and some rooting things."
"Really?" he drools, thinking of his potential commission and end-of-year bonus cheque
"Yes, and I want to make sure I get the right stuff - I'm a bit of a duffer at this actually - as I have to get everything right before I put the setup budget plan in..."
"Really? How many people will be situated in the off..."
"Oh just five or so of us for now - But 30-40 about the place by year end."
"I see. And who does your installation?"
"Well I did," I admit, with a liberal coat of pride. "We have a dialup network. Obviously I'd get a network firm in when we get bigger, but for now we just use the local hardware suppliers."
"And you have a maintenance contract?"
"With Dixons? No, not yet. Do you think I should get one?"
"You buy your stuff retail?" he gasps.
"Well yes, for now - it's just easier. The company doesn't mind too much at the moment because they're still getting all the accounts set up, so it's pointless waiting till all that's done to buy stuff. So they just send me Bank Drafts till we're up and running. And it's small potatoes in the scheme of things - the company's loaded."
Before I know it I've been dragged out of the conference like a shot and into an environment more suited to decision-making. The snug bar of the nearest drinking establishment.
"For as little as, er, 50 quid per machine, we could get you some state-of-the-art.. thinwire cards and some multiport repeaters to hook them all up."
"50 quid, is that cheap?" I ask naively whilst trying to get another pint in before he gets to his next item of computer scrap.
"Well you won't see many for that price these days," he responds.
. . two hours and seven pints later ...
"Right, and what about that bundle price on that Operating System stuff. We buy 50 OS2s for 100 quid apiece, and you'll give me 20 quid trade in on my old Operating Systems. That saves me ?"
"1000 quid!" he burbles. "AND, I'll throw the manuals in for free!!"
I suppress the urge to say "into the bin" and instead nod my head appreciatively. The only concern I have is that I'm starting to like the idea, which can only mean one thing - I've had too much to drink and I need backup.
"Right, well, I think I'd better get my technical bloke in to give it the once over," I mumble.
"Technical bloke?" my salesguy cries unhappily. "I thought YOU were the technical bloke!"
"Yeah, but we've got this young bloke in who installs all the stuff." I slur, "Crash hot at the screwdriver work, he is. Only he's probably going to need some pointers on where all the pieces go. But once he knows what he's doing, he's bloody aces!"
I get The PFY on the cellphone and quicker than Richard Stallman can say "Free Beer" he's on the premises with a pint in his hand.
"This is my technical assistant who they sent over from Norway just last week. Doesn't speak a word of English!"
I don't know why I threw that in - and regret it immediately - but once it's out there what do you do?
"Norway?!" the Salesbot asks - "I thought you said the company was from Denmark."
"Yes, the COMPANY is," I respond, recovering from the oversight as soon as possible, "But the support guys are from Norway. Isn't that right Sven?"
The PFY makes some dubious grunting noises and nods his head mindlessly for a bit until our Salesperson is assured that he's unlikely to constitute a threat to the sale.
"I did a bit of freelance work in Norway years ago," The Salesbloke blurts, really starting to annoy me now, "and I've still got a bit of the lingo under my belt! Hey, ..."
He proceeds to try and establish a protocol for exchange with The PFY, but that Comms circuit is just NEVER going to be established, so I have to think fast.
"He only speaks Croatoinuit and a little bit of Portuguese-Danish. "
"Inuit? That's Eskimo isn't it?"
"Something like that. Which is why you need to SHOW him how to install things. But once he's got the hang of it there's no stopping him."
"Well how do you talk to him?"
"Well he's trying to learn English - but he's only mastered a few of the more common phrases."
"That's terrible. You'd think they'd train him a bit better. Another Lager?"
"Go on then," The PFY burbles, slapping his empty pint on the table.
"That's one of the more common phrases?!"
"It is in our company!"
... Three hours, 8 pints, a curry, a cigar and a strip club later...
"Well it certainly has been a great day!" the Salesbloke says, pulling out an order form and writing some hasty line items on it. Leaving room for an extra zero or two in the qauntity column, I note. "How about we sign this stuff off and I'll process it tonight before I go home for you?"
"Sounds great!" I slur, leaning on The PFY for support. "I'll give the signing guy a call."
"Signing guy? "But I thought YOU could sign orders?"
"Nah, he can only approve them." The PFY responds, having 'learnt' English at an astounding rate over the course of the night. "But the accounting bloke has to sign orders for him. Hang on, I'll give him a call - where are we?"
I point out the street name and The PFY dials The Boss's home number and proceeds to do Swedish chef impressions down the line.
"Buludddy nice bloke," The PFY mumbles to us. "But doesn't speak a word of PortugeseThingy. With you in a mo."
. . . Three more hours, uncountable beers, curries, cigars etc later . . .
It's hell being a computing professional. ®