"I... I... I'm not sure I'm up to work today," the PFY sighs sadly, staring vacantly in restrained grief.
"Oh for Pete's sake, pull yourself together, man!" the Boss snaps. "We can get past this!"
"I don't think we can..."
"Course we can. It'll be difficult for a while, but you'll get back into the swing of things. Think of the doors that are now open for you to explore new things!"
"I don't want to explore new things!" the PFY sniffs. "Why couldn't you have been more careful?"
"It was an accident," the Boss confesses, "a tragic accident. The sooner we put it behind us and move on, things will stand a chance of getting back to normal!"
"It won't be the same," the PFY sniffles. "It'll never be the same. It's all ruined now. You don't just replace the love and respect of a long working relationship!"
"Get a grip!" the Boss snaps. "It's not like you lost a family member!"
"May as well have..."
"Don't be ridiculous! Family bonds are much stronger than those in a workplace - everyone knows that!"
"You just don't understand..." the PFY sobs.
"You're right, I don't understand," the Boss blurts callously. "It's just a f*ing coffee machine!"
"What's 'just a f*ing coffee machine'?" I ask, entering the break room.
"That is," the PFY responds, pointing at the smoking mess that was a cafe-quality high volume three group espresso machine. "Well, was..."
"What happened?!?" I gasp.
"He broke it!" the PFY sniffles.
"I don't know, it just stopped working!" the Boss snaps irritably.
"It's a cafe-issue machine - they don't just stop working!"
"That one did."
"Right, I'd better call the bloke!" the PFY says.
"Tell him it's urgent!" I add.
. . . Three hours later . . .
"TWO THOUSAND QUID!" the Boss gasps. "That's ridiculous. You could buy a new machine for that!"
"Not a high volume one like this," the coffee bloke replies. "That's a work of art. Apart from the stuffed pump, dodgy pressure switch and half blocked lines that is."
"I haven't got budget for that!" the Boss blurts.
"Sure you do. It's a small price to pay for a happy energetic workers," I chip in.
"You can switch to instant like the rest of them!"
Even the coffee bloke is stunned by the blasphemy.
"I'm NOT paying 2000 quid to get a coffee machine fixed!" the Boss repeats.
"He's right in a way," the coffee bloke adds unhelpfully. "Most big machines like this are treated well and last forever - well, outside of accidents. But I could line you up with a single group one for about 500."
"A home model?" I snap "That's not even plumbed in! I'd rather use a plunger! What's a new one of these worth?"
"These babies?" the coffee bloke replies, as the car salesman in him takes over. "Anything from four to ten kay, depending on the features you want with them. You can get them with computers in now."
"Really?" the PFY asks, interested.
"Yeah, for those cafes where the waiters use portable computers to take your order. They tap the info in by the time they get to the counter the coffee's ground, poured and ready!"
"I'm not buying one!" the Boss says firmly.
"Could we buy a base model and upgrade?" the PFY asks.
"The computer-controlled model is built on the mid-level three group unit," the coffee bloke chirps, "which is around six kay. The extras are relay controlled valves, conveyor and interface computer."
"So if we built our own interface and just got the valves and conveyor off you..."
"It'd cost around seven and a half."
"With trade in?" I ask.
"Well... it's a bit of a dinosaur, isn't it?"
"Dinosaur? You just said it was a work of art!"
"Yeah, and like most works of art it's old. Seven kay, and I'm doing you a favour!"
"Done!" I blurt.
"I'm not paying seven grand for a coffee machine!" the Boss snaps.
"No, I will. And I'll give the company a grand for the old one!"
"Done!" the Boss chortles.
"But it's only worth 500 as a trade-in!" the PFY snaps.
"Yeah, but I'll buy it under my private company, depreciate it at 30 per cent, then claim it's stuffed, claim tax back on it as a loss, buy the new one, claim THAT as a business expense, get you to whack the computer control on it, build a web front end and charge the hordes a quid a time for coffee which they can order from their desktop and collect from the machine."
I scratch out a cheque and hand it over to the Boss, who takes but a moment to scratch out a receipt before dashing off to get the cheque banked before I can cancel it.
"You're going to do all that?"
"The web coffee thing? Yeah!"
"And the depreciation thing?"
"Nah, it's too much hassle," I say, nabbing the coffee bloke's screwdriver. "How long would it take to source the base model?" >tweak< >tweak< >tweak<
"Couple of days," the coffee bloke responds as we exit and I lock the break room door, snapping the key off in the process.
"Best get that ordered now then!"
"Running all the way," he responds, doing just that.
"What's going on?" the PFY asks, watching me wheel a large trolley in front of the door.
"Oh nothing. Fancy a couple of pints?"
. . .
Four days and one explosion later.
"So it all worked out in the end," the PFY burbles.
"Yes, the insurance company accepted the claim - apparently the coffee bloke found that the safety release valve didn't operate and the temperature sensor wasn't working, resulting in--"
"The creation of this very convenient servery hole in the wall," the PFY guestures, "and the replacement of your company's computer-controlled espresso machine."
"Indeed. Righto then" >click< >click< "One cappucino, charged" >clickety< "to the Boss' credit card, as Adult Entertainment Expenses?"
"Don't mind if I do!"
Grind< >Grind< >Whirrrrrrrrrr< >CCCCCCsssssssssss< >Rumble<<p>