Episode 30 "WHERE THE **F#@K** HAVE YOU BEEN?" the Boss screams at me the moment I try my key in the door to mission control.
"Uh... On holiday?" I respond, noting two things - (a) my key doesn't fit and (b) the door's new. "You should know, you signed the leave form! Or you could have asked the PFY."
"Oh I was on holiday too," the PFY says, bringing up the rear. "But he signed my leave form as well."
"That's uncommonly generous of you, letting us both off at the same time!" I say, turning to the Boss. "Now how do we get into our office?"
"It's not your office any more - we took on new Systems people when you abandoned the workplace."
"Abandoned the workplace? We were on leave - and you apparently signed both forms which means you must have known it!"
"I.. don't recall any such thing! In any case, it's just bloody irresponsible for you both to go on holiday at the same time without being contactable."
"I had my mobile with me," I counter.
"I tried it and got no response!"
"Well, coverage in the third world is always a bit dodgy..."
"Really?" the PFY responds. "Where did you go, Luton?"
"Luton, Hull and Glasgow. A package hole-iday"
"You didn't drink the water did you?"
"Hell no, my interpreter warned me about that!"
"LOOK!" the Boss interrupts. "We were talking about you two not being needed any longer. We've replaced you!"
"Oh, right!" the PFY says. "Okay then, if you'll just organise the cheques we'll be on our way."
"The contract severance cheques - in our contract...?"
"Our contract with the company," I explain helpfully. "Premature termination of the rolling contract outside of a negotiation period incurs a penalty payment equivalent to the remaining period plus one full period of the rolled-on contract."
"You'd have to pay us a full year plus the six or so weeks left in this contract."
"Unless I wait six weeks for the 'negotiation period' then decide not to renew your contract..."
"You could do that, yes, but who'd run the systems?"
"The two new guys. They're permanent staff - much cheaper than contractors!"
"And you seriously think they'll still be here in six weeks?"
"I wouldn't even put money on six minutes!" the PFY says helpfully.
"Well we can't get rid of them!" as the two geeks in question roll up.
. . . Two minutes and a very quick recce later . . .
"I can't say I like what you've done with the place" I say to one of the geeks. "Where's the tape safe door?"
"We had to cut it off to get to the backup tapes because no one could find the keys - like we had to break down the door to this room because it didn't use the building keying system."
"Just ensuring data protection on site with enhanced physical security," I comment.
"If it's that protected why weren't there any tapes in the safe?"
"That's the first place a corporate spy would look."
"So where ARE the backup tapes?"
"In boxes in the storeroom marked 'Asbestos ceiling tiles'."
"WE GOT AN ENVIROMENTAL PROTECTION GROUP TO DUMP THEM!" the second geek gasps.
"I see. And the financials archive media?"
"What archive media?"
"About a hundred DVDs which used to be in a bin in the corner marked 'Used Needles, dispose of with care'."
"Why the hell would you put backups in there!?!"
"Again, Data security. I mean, who in their right mind would go fossicking around in there? And where's the Dilbert doll from my monitor?"
"We probably threw it out when we cleaned up."
"Not thinking as you did so that it was rather heavy for a doll - to the tune of a set of tape safe keys?"
"You should have been more careful with them," the first geek snaps.
"So you cut the door off a ten grand fireproof tape safe, dumped about five grand worth of backup tapes, then destroyed the company's financial archives and you're giving me suggestions about due care?"
"YOU SHOULD HAVE USED THE TAPE SAFES!!" the geek shouts.
"And what would the tapes have looked like after someone had thermal lanced the door off the safe?"
"But more importantly, how long have you worked for our opposition?"
"What?!?" the geeks, Boss and PFY say in unison.
"Well look at the facts, they've destroyed our backups, archives and tape safe and have probably not taken any backups since..."
"WE HAD TO BUY NEW TAPES!" the first geek cries.
"And, if I'm not mistaken, have isolated the fire suppression system in preparation for the tragic workplace fire...."
"IT'S HALON, YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO USE IT ANY MORE!"
The PFY and I raise our eyebrows at the Boss wordlessly.
"GET ME SECURITY!"
Ah, it's great to be back in the saddle again. ®