The boss is late and everyone's noticed.
And when I say everyone's noticed I really mean no one's noticed, but it has been two days and when someone's been on a weekend junket then doesn't show within a day or so word gets around...
It's day three before the boss finally wanders into work with the unpressed clothes and vacant expression that can only mean one thing...
"Lost weekend syndrome!" I murmur to the PFY while the Boss works out which office is his.
"Lost weekend syndrome?"
"Yeah. It's such a beginner's mistake!" I comment, shaking my head sadly.
"Going on a junket at a vendor's expense is a mistake?" the PFY asks, surprised.
"In some cases, yes. Rule one of going on a Vendor Bender is always play on your home ground so you know how to get home - or at least where home is. At the VERY least you should be in a place where you can ask a local where your hotel is. Rule two, three and four are Never, EVER go to Amsterdam with a Vendor!"
"I don't see how it would..."
"Ok, so you're out with vendors. What are they going to do?"
"Buy you drinks!"
"Yes. And it's overseas, so they're going to buy you..."
"...A LOT of drinks."
"Right. And it's a weekend, so they're going to buy you..."
"...An OBSCENE amount of drinks."
"And when you've had a lot of drinks, what are you going to want to do?"
"Chat up women?"
"Go to the toilet?"
"Excellent, one more bodily function to go..."
"Have a curry!"
"Precisely. So you're at a curry house - what will you need?"
"More drinks, right. And somewhere along the way, you're going to pay up and go back to your hotel. Only you won't remember where it was."
"Or what its name was."
"And you're in Amsterdam, so you'll run into some kindly person who will mention the coffee shop just down the street, and you will think...?"
"'I could go for a coffee!'"
"Indeed. Three days later when your money runs out you'll leave the coffee shop and lie to the person at the airport about the family emergency that caused you to miss your flight and you'll get to Heathrow."
"With no money."
"Indeed. And you'll bludge a phone to call to the Mrs to pick you up and on the way home she'll ask how it went, you'll make up some pathetically unbelievable story because you can't remember, which will inevitably lead to..."
"Yes, and she'll make up some equally unbelievable story about hearing some funny engine noise and pull over. You'll get out to check the engine and she'll drive off, leaving you on the M25 with tons of time to make up your mind about where you're going to walk to - work or home.
"And work is nearer, and everyone there doesn't hate you at the moment for whatever it was you did in Amsterdam that you felt it necessary to lie about," the PFY finishes.
"And you can tell all this from his appearance Holmes?" the PFY asks.
"Nah, he rang in to say he'd be late and it all came out. Still, it's a familiar story. Which is why I keep this on hand," I say, pulling a sports bag out of my cupboard.
"A towel, shaving kit, hotel toiletries, aspirin, a bottle of IRNBRU, 100 quid and the key to the sick room. Enough to clean yourself up, buy a cheap shirt and trousers, and get yourself into work state," I say, to the Boss, as I hand it over.
...three hours later...
"That was a bit good of you. I have to admit I had you pegged as a kick-a-man-when-he's-down sort of person," the Boss admits.
"Don't get me wrong," I respond. "If you're going to be kicking a man, then when he's down is probably one of the better times..."
"Because I've been there. I too went on an overseas junket which turned to custard, if I'm not mixing my desserts."
"Yes, a Berlin 'Wall shout'. Started going pear shaped when the Absinthe came out just before lunch," I say, recounting all I know.
"So we're okay?"
"Indeed, welcome to the Brotherhood."
"The Brotherhood of the lost weekend. It's your duty to refill the bag and hand it to the next person who needs it."
"The next person?"
"Yeah," I say, dropping my voice to a whisper. "I've booked the PFY onto a tour of a PC assembly company in Luton tomorrow which has a large number of shares in an Absinthe company in France."
"Oooh," the Boss says. "So I'd better get a move on!"
"Nah, five days should just about do it..."