"It's happened again!" the Boss blurts, tripping into Mission Control in a flurry.
"Yes, well, if you frequent those kind of websites you really should expect that," says the PFY evenly.
"I... What kind of websites? Expect what?"
"Oh, so we're not talking about your goat fetish?"
"What bloody goat fetish!?" The Boss snaps.
"Oh, my mistake," The PFY continues. "I just assumed we were continuing our last conversation."
"We weren't talking about my goat fetish!"
"So you admit you have one?"
"WHAT!? I don't have a goat fetish!"
"You do seem fixated on the topic.."
"I never even mentioned goat fetishes - you're the one who brought it up!"
"Yes, that may be - but you're the one who's used it four times in as many sentences."
"I'm here about my email!"
"Oh, You're MAILING people about your goa..."
"I'M NOT MAILING PEOPLE ABOUT MY GOAT FETISH."
"Five times," the PFY says quietly, at which time I feel it's time to step in - before things get out of hand.
"He's not banging on about his goat fetish again is he?" I ask the PFY. "I think that may actually constitute some form of harassment."
"LOOK!" the Boss snaps, "I DON'T HAVE A GOAT FETISH. I've never had a goat fetish. I never mentioned goat fetishes and I don't even know what a goat fetish is!"
"Nine times," says the PFY.
"Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot," I say. "Although thinking about it now I apologise for using the words 'got off' when talking about your goat fetish. That was inappropriate."
"But what did you come to see us about - if NOT some form of abhorrent deviancy?" I ask.
"You're not emailing people ab..."
"So what's the problem then?"
"My mail messages keep getting deleted."
"Don't put 'Goat Pictures' in the subject line and maybe people will read them!" the PFY suggests helpfully.
"Messages in MY INBOX!" the Boss counters, becoming slightly heated.
"When is this happening?" I ask.
"All the time."
"So if I sent you an email it would appear and then be deleted?"
"It might be. Or it might be there."
"So actually it's SOME of the time - not ALL of the time."
"Well yes. But it's been happening for weeks."
"So it's been happening for a LONG time, but only OCCASIONALLY?" I ask
"Right-o, that's a good start. So what are the messages that are being deleted about?"
"I don't know."
"You mean you don't know because it's all different things or you don't know because you can't remember?"
"No, I mean I don't know because I don't remember seeing them. But then they might have been in my inbox, I can't remember."
"So if you don't see them, how do you know they're delivered?"
"Because people tell me they've sent me mail messages, but I don't get them."
"So it could be something simple like someone getting your email address wrong because it says '[email protected]' on your business card and not first initial, dot, last name, @?"
"It doesn't say that!" the Boss says, flipping his wallet out to check, just in case the PFY's been to a printing firm recently.
"True - but it could just be a mistaken email address."
"No, because they've sent them to me before."
"Right, so to get this straight: Email coming to you from members of the goat fetish mailing list isn't getting through. Occasionally."
"From anyone - internal or external?"
"Uuuhhhhhmmmm - I think both."
"Just now?" the Boss says.
"Just now SENT or Just now they rung you about it?"
"What difference does it make?"
"It means the difference of how many thousands of lines of mail log I have to search through."
"Surely you'd just search for my email address?"
"And then filter the thousands of messages to you to find the ones that aren't getting there?"
"I don't get thousands of email messages!"
"HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU'RE NOT GETTING THEM ALL?!" The PFY asks.
"Well, I don't. But I don't expect I'd get that many."
"Fair enough. Okay, so we can check the logs." >clickety< >tappity< >click< >tappity< >tap< >tap< >click<.
"OK, so this past hour you received 17 email messages. One from your home email address with a subject line of 'Reminder', eight which have a subject line of 'Purchase orders' between you and the beancounters, six from the helpdesk - subject 'email', and two from a yahoo address with the subject line of 'Goat Worrying'."
"I mean 'Travel Information'. So easy to mix those two up. So which one didn't you get?"
"The one from home and the Travel Information ones."
"Okay, it looks like they were received, so the problem is probably with your mail client. Do you have any rules configured into Outlook?"
"Have you checked?"
"No, but I didn't put any in."
"Doesn't mean there aren't any rules. What about antivirus? Have you got something aggressive instead of the company standard?"
"Home machine - are you reading your email from home?"
"Phone - are you synchronising with that?"
"OK, so we're at the point of 'Whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth'."
"What do you mean?"
"Well the only thing that's changed is that we added 'Goat Fetish' to the client filters."
"WILL YOU STOP WITH THE GOAT FETISH CRAP!?"
"No, what I'm saying is that's the ONLY thing that WE have changed with the mail system in the past month-and-a-half. So I suspect that somehow you're triggering this. "
"I don't know. But I suggest a trial. How about you subscribe to the Goat Fetish mailing list..." I start.
"I'M NOT..." blusters the Boss.
"LET ME FINISH! Subscribe to the list, then 10 minutes later, unsubscribe - to see if it clears that from your profile."
"HOW THE BLOODY HELL WOULD IT BE ON MY PROFILE IN THE FIRST PLACE?"
"Who knows, but it's worth a crack."
"I don't see how it will help!"
"You won't know till you try."
A quarter hour later and the Boss is attempting to explain to the Director why he signed up to the Goat Fetish mailing list (in response to an anonymous complaint) and the PFY is deleting some more of the Boss's messages with the second phone synchronised to his mailbox.
It passes the time between coffees...