"It's just a small change!" the Boss whines.
"It's not a small change, it's a Friday afternoon change," I say. "We don't do those. We do Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon changes if you want, but not Friday. If it's urgent we might do a Friday morning change, but it has to be pretty urgent. Lives must be at stake."
"But it won't affect anything!" the Boss simpers.
"It COULD affect SOMETHING. Anyway, Friday afternoon changes are in our Standard Operations Procedures book as a no-no."
"What Standard Operations Procedure book?" he asks.
"THE Standard Operations Procedure book. For the Company. We had to create one several years ago as part of our auditor requirements and our contracted obligations – 'To ensure that we documented routine operations, procedures and company guidelines to avoid unscheduled outages, interruptions or degradation of services'. It was audited by the company risk assessors!"
"This is the first I've heard of it," the Boss argues.
"Well, you are newish in the role, but we've always had it."
"It's our Bible," the PFY adds. "The way we make sure everything is done by the book."
"Without it we'd be lost," I agree. "It details the steps we take in routine operations, but also outlines considerations that should be made when making changes to things."
"So it's a change control system?" the Boss asks.
"It's more than a change control system, it's a constant companion!" I say.
"So can I see a copy?"
"Of course you can!" I say, rolling open my desk drawer and ferreting around for a bit – to no avail.
I look to the PFY expectantly and he too does an alien probe into the bowels of his drawer to find a copy.
"There's one around here somewhere," I say, moving the crap on my desk around a bit, before working my way over to the bookshelves.
"Got it!" the PFY says, pulling a copy of the aforementioned document from underneath the espresso machine.
"The pages are all stuck together with coffee!" the Boss snaps.
"Yes, well, the machine has a leak."
"And you didn't notice that it was leaking onto your 'constant companion'?" he chips back with a tinge of sarcasm.
"Oh we've got about 10 copies of it floating around the place," the PFY says, which reminds me...
"Here's one!" I say, pulling a copy from inside a ceiling tile.
"What's it doing up there?"
"Oh it's just holding the fresh air inlet fan off the wall, so it doesn't rattle," I say.
"Why's it so thin?"
"This one's probably an early version," I say, while the Boss leafs through the pages.
"And, of course, it's a living document," the PFY adds.
"A living document?"
"Yes, it's a bullshit term that we paid some consultant a Meatloaf-pantload of cash to come up with. It means nothing, it says nothing, but sounds impressive. More impressive than 'we edit it from time to time'," I say.
"You know," the PFY says. "Bullshit terms – like when someone uses the term 'reach out to' instead of 'phone' or 'email'. Like they're in the Mafia or something and they're organising a hit. When in reality they're on the product development committee for the new shade of orange to use on the company web page that'll have some fruity name like Desert Persimmon that no-one – no-one at all – will EVER give a shit about."
"I don't see anything about making changes on a Friday."
"It's there, on the second or third-to-last page. It says something about not making uncontrolled changes cuspid to a dual diurnal period of non-attendance."
"Yeah, bullshit term. It means no changes if we're not to be onsite for 2 days. So no changes before weekends, public holidays, personal holidays or when the PFY's sister sends us a case of Tequila from Mexico."
"So why not just say 2 days?"
"Because then the auditing consultant wouldn't get to charge two grand to make up a bunch of new words."
"So these guidelines..."
"Not guidelines, procedures," I say. "Procedures that must be adhered to for the safety and security of the company data and service."
"These PROCEDURES," he says, correcting himself. "How is it that you don't have them AT HAND – if, as you say, they're your constant companion, your Bible and your whatever and you'd be lost without them?"
"Because we know the procedures. There's no point in consulting a book for something that you do several times a day. We know the procedures so we do them. The value of the book is that if someone else had to come into the workplace and was unfamiliar with the role, they'd be able to read the Standard Operations Procedure for the role and know what to do."
"Like if you were absent for some reason," the PFY says by way of example. "If you had a Standard Operating Procedures book then someone would have detailed instructions on how to pick their nose and eat it."
"How keep their seat warm," I add.
"How to scratch their arse while simultaneously eating a lard sandwich," the PFY continues.
"How to lock yourself into the Operations Control room on a Friday afternoon with no source of food or water apart from the espresso machine – which now you come to look at it, no longer has the insulating layer of paper holding it above what appears to be a live, separately fused phase wire."
"You electrified your coffee machine?" the Boss asks, suddenly getting that hunted look.
"Yes. It prevents theft. It's all in the Standard Operating Procedures book," I say
"Not OUR Standard Operating Procedure book, obviously," the PFY says.
"So no changes on a friday afternoon then?"
"None. Now did you read the bit on page 7 about contributing to the health and welfare of the operational staff by giving them 50 quid for a Friday afternoon lager or two?"
"Or would you prefer a coffee?" I ask.