"...Which leads to the next item - the office Christmas function," the Boss says to the assembled masses of the IT department.
"The office function or the building function?" one of the helldesk geeks asks.
"Just the office," the Boss says. "The director and I have been talking and he's keen that we all do something together as a team building and morale boosting exercise."
"PAINTBALL!" the PFY cries excitedly.
"Uh, no, I think I'd like to do something else," another of the helldesk geeks sniffs, knowing all too well the harsh sting of the PFY's paintballs, stored - as they tend to be - in the PFY's freezer overnight.
"Yeah, no, I think we want something that's aimed to unite us rather than divide us," the Boss concurs. "Something which we can look back on in a few years and smile at"
"Yes, PAINTBALL!" I shout.
Were one blessed with the power of ESP at this point I'm fairly sure the PFY's thoughts would be something like a cross between an Arnie movie and Platoon - complete with Rolling Stones soundtrack - judging by the dreamy expression on his face.
"I think we'll skip the paintball idea," the Director interjects. "How about we do something that everyone would find fun?"
"But everyone loves paintball," the PFY says, apparently oblivious to the fact that half the IT staff have regressed into a semi-vegetative state at memories of past paintball encounters with him.
"Like I say, something everyone will find fun" the Director snaps.
"What about abseiling?" the Boss suggests.
"Uh, well, we're really looking for an activity we can do in the building - so everyone can be involved but we're still close at hand in case there's any systems upsets."
"We could abseil off the building," the PFY suggests.
Judging by their expressions alone the thought of the PFY standing above them - possibly holding a 19" CRT monitor - as they clamber down five stories hasn't struck a chord with the assembled IT staff.
"No, too dangerous," the Director says. "And not something that everyone can get involved in all at once."
"What about..." the Boss' PA starts.
"Well some friends of mine did a 'great race' thing at their work. They all got into teams of four and had to complete various challenges to find the treasures hidden in the building."
"Hmm, interesting - show of hands?" the Boss says.
. . . One all-but-unanimous vote later . . .
"So it's decided then, we'll set up a 'race' on Friday afternoon for various treasures hidden around the building, ending up back here at 4pm for nibbles and drinks!" the Boss burbles.
. . . Friday, 7am, in a mostly darkened building . . .
"Treasure number one, back of the fire hose reel, northern stairwell, second floor" the PFY says to me, not looking up from his view of the Boss and Director on the CCTV monitor.
"Got it," I say, scratching away furiously on a piece of paper.
"Treasure two, inside the pot plant, second floor foyer.”
. . .
"Treasure 22, inside the CD storage bin on the Boss' PA's desk," the PFY says finally.
"Don't you feel a little... bad, cheating like this?" I ask him.
"What, you mean after none of the staff wanted be on a team with us?" the PFY asks.
"No, me neither," I chuckle.
. . . That afternoon, one early treasure-gathering mission later . . .
"Righto, off you go!" the Boss cries, handing out the clue envelopes to us all.
. . . Five minutes later, in Mission Control . . .
"How's it going?" I ask the PFY, leaning back to check out his monitor.
"One team's just found treasure one gone," he replies.
. . . Two hours later . . .
"Treasure 19, found to be gone."
. . . Ten minutes later . . .
"And that's treasure 22 not found," the PFY says. "Show time!"
. . . Five minutes later . . .
"Well," the PFY blusters from his pile of treasure, in response to the incredulous questions from the staff. "It was pretty simple really - the clues led us straight to everything."
"But there were four separate treasure paths!" the Boss gasps.
"And there were two key problem-solving people on our team," the PFY says. "We were bound to think outside the box and discover the other paths."
"Well, er, congratulations," the Director mumbles, not wanting to be a bad sport about it and ruin the Christmas morale.
"But to show we're fair and that Christmas parties should be fun for everyone," the PFY adds. "We've decided that everyone should choose a present from the pile."
"I... well, that's very generous of you!" the Boss says, as people make grabs at the treasure pile.
"Not at all!" the PFY replies. "Christmas should be fun for everyone. And with that in mind..."
The PFY's sentence is interrupted by the sound of the doors locking and the lighting controller clicking to 'off.'
"Paintball," the PFY continues, handing what feels like a holster and some night vision goggles to me in the dark...
pop< ... >pop<>pop<>pop< ... >pop<>pop<
Now THIS is a Christmas party!