Episode 40 So I get back from a couple of weeks worth of holiday in foreign climes to find Mission Control... ..in much the same state as I left it. Checking the staff register, I note no-one's left the Company employ by accident and the gossip networks are uncannily calm.
I run some checks on systems and find them.. ..all up and running with the logs scrupulously clean of all but the lowest level of dramatic activity.
I feel a slight tinge of obsolescence...
"Morning!" the Boss cries, bursting into Mission Control happily with the sort of spring in step and smile on face that's usually accompanied by the von Trapp family.
"Isn't it a great day! You know, how about we have a sit down - just you, me and your assistant and have a little chat this morning - what do you say?"
"Why not!?" I respond.
"Excellent. Say 10 minutes?"
"Yuh-huh," I scoff. "How about an hour and 10 minutes - when the PFY gets in?"
"Oh he's in!" the Boss gasps. "He just had to pop upstairs to fix a printer problem."
"A PRINTER problem?!" I ask, "The only way you fix a printer problem is with a dustbin!"
"No no, he's got some doohickey which cleans the inkjets or something, makes them good as new! He's also started refilling ink and toner cartridges to save on money. Do you realise we used to spend about 1000 quid a week on them?"
"Is that all?!" I blurt.
"Savings are savings!" the Boss burbles, all but breaking into skip as he heads to the door. "So see you in my office - say seven more minutes?"
I take a moment's silence to mourn the loss of my ink and toner cartridge dealership then have a more in depth look at Mission Control. I note that it's cleaner and has 'While you were out' note pads on the desks. (!) Popping them into the bin, I notice a newly installed call queuing display system identifying the number of waiting callers and how long they've been waiting - and wonder if it's there for business or pleasure..
While I'm wondering this the phone rings, and before I can press the call-disconnect button, an answerphone cuts in…
"Hi, this is IT Technical support. We're onsite but attending to other calls now - please leave your name, number, a brief description of your problem and it's urgency and we'll get back to you with half an hour. Calls are automatically be forwarded to the nearest technician's pager to speed up resolution time."
Hmmm. It seems that during my absence the PFY has been abducted by aliens and replaced with a some soulless automaton. I decide to pop down to the Boss' office a little ahead of time...
"Simon!" the Boss bubbles cheerfully. "Have a seat. You already know your assistant, and this is his.... uh.. assistant... Debbie."
"Yes, we took on a temp while you were away to help with the.. day-to-day running of the operation."
"Right," I say graciously, "and now that I'm back?"
Far off in the back of my mind I hear the sound of an outdated currency falling...
"...uh.. We thought... you might.."
"I think I can help," The PFY says calmly, interrupting the Boss in order to get to the point. "They want her to stay and you to go."
"Et tu, PFY-us?" I gasp.
"Afraid so," the PFY responds, nonchalantly. "Well, it was Debbie's idea really - things are running better when you're not around!"
"We think it's better this way," Debbie says, placing her hand meaningfully on the PFY's shoulder.
Some more pennies fall...
"Ah. So a quick fling in the supply cupboard with Lady MacBeth here and your loyalty foes out the window?"
"I..... would hardly call it the Dark Side," the PFY responds, ignoring my accusation.
"But you have forgotten your professional duty to the hardware…" I ask.
"They're just bloody machines!" Debbie says.
"No," the PFY says to Debbie kindly. "A vacuum cleaner is a machine. A computer is an entity."
Farbeit from me to be a harbinger of doom, but I do sense a small amount of trouble in the PFY's domestic paradise. As his superior and with a vested interest in his wellbeing, it's incumbent upon me to pour oil on these troubled waters…
"He's right you know. Birds don't often understand the complexities of computing."
Fuel oil, as it transpires, followed shortly thereafter by a match.
"Are you just going to let him talk to me like that?!"
"Just ignore him," the PFY says quietly. "He's just trying to word things as tactlessly as possible."
"You mean he's talking crap?!"
And it's all downhill from there. Whilst the correct answer in circumstances like his is an unhesitating "Yes!", the PFY chooses the road less travelled by suggesting statistics might indicate that... uh...
At the five minute mark the PFY tries for a rally with a one-sided discussion of how shameful it is that women are so underrepresented in computing, at which stage the Boss and I slip out unnoticed.
"So, things back to normal by tomorrow?" I ask, as the thud of a coffee mug can be heard hitting the wall.
"Think quickly, the PFY may be in hospital..."
"Ok," he sighs.
So it all ends happily.
Well, except for Brutus of course. ®