BOFH: Putting a price on the Boss

70k a year? You must be joking


Episode 27 The Boss is in a particularly cheerful mood and I don't like it. Any moment I fear he's going to want to hug one of us or tell us we're doing a great job or something. It's just not normal! Someone's going to find out what's wrong and as it's the PFY's turn to 'tard himself down I give him a prod and point him at the boss.

"Hm. Is everything all right there?" the PFY says as the Boss sails round the office locked in his own happy world.

"? Oh. Yes, yes, everything's great!"

"Great?" the PFY probes.

"Actually, it's excellent!" the Boss replies. "You know, I sent a letter in to one of those 'What am I worth' columns in a technical magazine and they published a response!"

"Ah well, I shouldn't be too disappointed," the PFY soothes.

"What are you implying?!!"

"Uh, I think my assistant was simply expressing surprise that the salary ranges they talk about went down that low," I proffer.

"Are you suggesting that I'm not worth very much?!"

"I... uh... What did the magazine say?"

"It said that with my knowledge of Systems, Networks, Databases and Project Managament I could get anywhere up to 70 thousand pounds a year."

"I think the knowledge they're talking about is the ability to configure and maintain one of the systems or manage the implementation of the above - not the ability to find the word in a dictionary," the PFY says.

"I did bloody night classes for three years!"

"And we all like the clay model of the blarney stone."

"That's a bust of my wife!"

"Ooooh," the PFY grimaces. "And I bet I know which one sees more action. Still perhaps you should try facing it towards the office?"

"It does face towards the office."

"My mistake - my prescription probably needs updating - it's been six months. So anyway, you say they reckon you're worth 70K?"

"Yes," the boss responds, bad mood averted.

"And you don't think that they might be inflating the figure a touch just to keep the punters happy?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, let's say you're the editor of one of those computing rags and you want to raise your profile a bit for little or no expenditure of the old folding. You come up with a plan for rating people's jobs and just tell them what they want to hear."

"So you're saying that the figures that they quote bear no relation to reality?"

"Oh I'm sure they bear SOME relationship to reality, but probably not a 1:1 relationship. Maybe it's a hash table of some sort."

"I...? So you're saying someone with Networks, Database, Systems and Project Management isn't worth 70 grand?"

"I'm saying that if you found someone with real life in-depth experience of all those things and you found a gap of that size and shape inside an organisation that needed those abilities in a single person, they might be worth the dosh."

"And you're saying that our organisation doesn't have those needs?"

"No, I'm saying that you don't have that experience."

And suddenly the Boss is back to normal again.

"That's preposterous!"

"I know. You only get that sort of experience working at a high level in the front line, day after day, not taking a couple of night classes in between days as a highly paid chair warmer!"

"What?! I was saying that I've got in-depth experience!"

"Really. So your Oracle Database won't mount on startup - where's the first place you look?"

"I..."

"A user has a netmask of 255.255.255.224. How many addresses are available in their 'network'?" the PFY asks.

"I'd need to lo..."

"You're attempting to login to Windows and there's a significant delay between entering your credentials and the desktop appearing. What is your first concern?"

"Your network is down!" the Boss blurts quickly

"No, your first concern is who the hell's overwritten your Linux desktop install!" the PFY says.

"I think that goes to prove our point," I add quietly.

"No it doesn't! You just sprung those questions on me. In the real world I'd have time to look them up on the internet."

"Oh right! So, your internet is down, your netmask is up the pokey, Oracle's down and some cretin's installed Windows on your Linux desktop. What do you do?"

"THIS IS RIDICULOUS, THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN! The skills I have are more than able to cope with these situations should they arise because the key part of knowing what I know is knowing how to find the answers to problems, not knowing them like some rote times tables!"

"So you're saying you still believe you're worth 70K."

"YES, and I don't like the insinuation that I'm overpaid and underqualified!"

"Well I certainly didn't mean to cause any offense!" I backpedal. "I was simply suggesting that it's in magazine's interest to inflate the pay scale and deflate the real-world experience to encourage happy readers."

"Well I think they're spot on!"

"You may be, and I apologise for the implication! To show there's no hard feelings I'll shout you a drink at the pub in 10!"

"I...... Well I guess I won't say no," the boss burbles, good humour restored.

13 minutes later.

>Ring<

"Hello?" I say, answering the cellphone "What? The internet is down, someone's slapped a global netmask of 255.255.255.224 on all the servers, Oracle is down and someone's installed Linux on the Boss's desktop?"

. . .

"It's for you" I say, handing the Boss the cellphone.

So maybe he is worth it after all... ®


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