. . . Late one evening, in a darkened corner of Mission Control . . .
"...and so we agreed that for justice, we'd have to talk to the Operators," a helldesk geek gushes to me.
"Why did you go to the Head of IT? Why didn't you talk to me first?" I whisper, sitting back in my padded leather wheely chair.
"What do you want? Just tell us - anything, but do what we ask, please!" the geek burbles.
"What would you have me do?"
The helldesk geek looks around, spots the PFY, decides that this is best kept between us and whispers his group's request.
"That, I cannot do."
"We'll do anything you ask!" he blurts.
"We've worked in the same place many years, but this is the first time you've ever asked me for help. I can't remember the last time you invited me to your table at the pub for a cold lager. But let's be frank here, you never wanted my friendship, and you're afraid to be in my debt."
"We... didn't want to get into trouble."
"I understand. You thought this was a great job. You did nothing, knew nothing, got paid well, and paid your union fees. You didn't need a friend like me... But now you come to me and say, 'Simon, give me justice.' But you don't ask with respect, you don't offer friendship, you don't even call me 'Sir'. Instead you came to Mission Control on the day I'm falsifying my overtime and ask me to accidentally push someone down a comms riser..."
"We're asking you for justice!"
"That isn't justice - you'll still have a desktop machine!"
"It'll be a thin client! We won't even be able to play music!
"We'll pay!" he adds, after a conspiratorial pause.
"Why do you treat me so disrespectfully? If you came to me in friendship, your department head and the desktop efficiency consultant would be suffering this very afternoon - at the latest. And if by chance an IT 'professional' like yourself lost their desktop machine, then they would in turn have problems with their desktop machines, and they'd think twice about trying to downgrade you."
. . .
"Be my friend... uh... er... Sir."
"Good. Some day, and that day may never come - but it probably will - I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a token of our friendship."
. . . The next day . . .
"Has anyone seen that consultant bloke?" the Head of IT asks.
"The bloke you got in to tell you that thin clients were a good idea, even though the rest of the department, including the Head of IT, thinks they're crap?"
"I was supposed to have a meeting with him half an hour ago. We rang his office, but they say he's been on site since this morning. We found his briefcase at reception and the only thing inside it was some rolled up newspaper with a piece of battered fish in it."
"It's an operational message," the PFY murmurs. "It means he sleeps at the chippy."
"You mean he's... dead?" the Boss gasps, knowing that consultants - particularly ones employed by management to back up their ludicrous schemes - are generally an endangered species.
"No, it means he's gone to the chippy. We had beers over lunch and sent him for food."
"You took him out for drinks?"
"Oh yes. Keep your friends close, but independent consultants closer."
"Well where is he now?"
"No idea. Maybe he's revising his recommendations to suggest that we don't use thin clients as they're a bad long-term investment?"
"He's changed his mind? He said it was a good idea! I'VE JUST ORDERED 200 UNITS! Why the hell did he change his mind?!"
"We made him an offer he couldn't refuse."
"You threatened him?!"
"No, no. I found a dealer who could undercut the thin client price. Dirt cheap."
"Well he can't change his mind now - it's too late!"
"Oh, so he gave you a copy of his report?"
"Ah, not written. So to the casual upper management observer it might look like you'd committed to a purchase which would fly in the face of the recommendations of an independent consultant?"
"And as you're the person who recommended this hardware in the first place, it might look like there was some oversight in the purchase procedure. You've no prior relationship with the vendor in question?"
"Of course not!"
"Never received any gifts?"
"Nothing at all?"
"Well, maybe a pen or two, a couple of outings on the company boat."
"Ooooooh... Conflict of Interest!" the PFY cries.
"I hardly think a bloody pen and some fishing trips would be a conflict of interest!"
"Oh, so you declared it to the Head of IT at the time?"
"Ooooooh... Undisclosed conflict of interest!" the PFY chirps.
"It's only a bloody PEN and a couple of social events!"
"I'm sure it will come as a great consolation to the company that you sold them out for such a small amount..."
"I..." the Boss burbles, before rushing out to cover his tracks and try and cancel an order.
"So ends Operation Fredo?" the PFY asks.
"Uuuuuhhhmmmmm... One last fishing trip I should think..." ®