"What's this about?" the PFY asks, tapping his screen curiously.
"What?" I ask, looking up from the internals of my desktop machine mid-harddrive installation.
"The review of IT services."
"What review of IT services?"
"There's a review of IT services across the company," the PFY says. "What does it mean?"
"Ahhhh..", I say. "It could mean a number of things."
"The company wants to try to improve the quality of the IT experienc..."
"The company wants to save money and IT is the 'low hanging fruit' of expenditure..."
"They want to get rid of someone. Or two."
"So it's about us?"
"Could be. How's the memo worded?"
"What d'you mean?"
"Well, if it says something huggy feely like looking for innovative answers and future directions, then it's about improving IT."
"Didn't think so - that never happens. Ok, if it says something about centralisation, recognising efficiencies, or anything at all about total cost of ownership, it's about saving money."
"Ok, in that case I'm betting it says something about 'right-tasking', 'examining organisational structure' and identifying roles and the people best suited to them."
"Yeah, sort of."
"Then yes, they want to get rid of someone."
"They're saying they want to ensure key business areas receive tailored support - which they suggest may involve rationalisations."
"Oooh, that means they're REALLY want to get rid of someone. Does it mention any specific areas?"
"uhmm...they mention their aim is to improve the reporting and tracking of service problems."
"Reporting and tracking - So it's someone from the helpdesk. Oooh!!! It'll be the new guy who spent all that time installing ADSL at the CEO's place!"
"Because he took so long?"
"And the other part."
"He had to make several visits - usually at short notice when the CEO was involved in some high level meetings. Surely you listen to the rumour mill?"
"So he had problems getting into the CEO's house?"
"It wasn't the CEO's house that he was apparently getting into."
"Let me spell it out for you. It took him three hours a time, seven times in two weeks. Returning to work slightly dishevelled with lipstick garnish..."
"You mean that he's hitting the CEO's Mrs?"
"If by Mrs you mean the silicon enhanced chunk of trophyware 20 years his junior who used to be his executive assistant and by hit you mean consensual extramarital sexual activity, then yes."
"You're suggesting she's... promiscuous?"
"Promiscuous - such a quaint term. But to use your vernacular, I believe she's probably been hit more times than [Return]. But let's get an expert opinion..."
I make a quick call to the head of IT and fabricate a story of Union disquiet at the review...within minutes the head of IT and the review consultant, Geoff, are in Mission Control...
"I can assure you that this review will be conducted in full consultation with the staff," the head of IT burbles along sagely.
"Yes, I'll be going through the terms of reference to ensure that all relevant areas are discussed and covered," Geoff adds.
"The most relevant area concerned being which staff member we want to axe."
"Look" the Head of IT snaps. "Just keep your head down and it'll all be ok. It's not you they're after."
"So it IS the helpdesk guy!" the PFY says.
"Who told you that?!" the Head asks.
"I did," I respond.
"How did you find out?" he gasps.
"What? Half the building knows! But let me get this straight - the plan is to review the place and find - through due process - that ONE helpdesk person is for the high jump?
"Yes," Geoff interjects. "He'll never work in the IT industry again!"
"Oh, so we're taking him on as a consultant!" the PFY chips.
"It'll never work - he'll get a lawyer in and you'll be forced to pay out for an unfair dismissal."
"The CEO.. doesn't care," the head of IT says, nodding at Geoff. "He wants him gone."
"But paying him an unfair dismissal penalty plus redundancy - it all seems so wrong," I say. "Why don't you just pay us to find one of the three Ps?"
"The three Ps?" Geoff and the head ask.
"Yeah, porn, piracy or phishing - on his desktop machine - then he can be down the road by the end of the day!"
"You can do that?" Geoff asks.
"Please, the PFY will have C$ mounted, one of more of the Ps installed and appropriate timestamps forged in no time. And just think of the money you'll save on Geoff's fees!"
"I think you'll find I have a fixed one month contract," Geoff replies smugly.
"Not with >clickety< a harddrive full of Ps you don't!" the PFY says.
"Look what I found on Geoff's machine!!!" I gasp - pointing at the PFY's hastily prepared handiwork.
One day later it's official, the helldesk is one man down, Geoff has disappeared, and the PFY and I have a couple of hundred quid of the CEO's dosh to spend at the pub this afternoon...
"So..." I say to the PFY. "Fancy 20 or 30 large ones?"
"I...'d like to," the PFY says.
"I have a little job to do - won't take more than a couple of hours. Today anyway."
"What, working during drinking time?!?!?!"
"Well, the CEO's ADSL isn't going to fix itself..."