"He seemed..." the PFY says, gazing out the window sadly. "...So normal."
"I know," I respond. "But you never can tell what's going on in someone's head."
"But he was such a good bloke!"
"I know," I say again. "You think you know someone, then something like this happens..."
"Something like what?" the Boss asks, entering both the conversation and the room without permission.
"One of our... colleagues... I suppose you could say," I reply. "Seems to have turned out to be a complete basket case."
"Had a breakdown?" the Boss asks.
"Worse than that."
"Is he dead?" the Boss gasps.
"No, but he probably wishes he was."
"You mean he hurt others?!"
"He was such a quiet bloke too," the PFY says shaking his head.
"Kept to himself a lot?" the Boss prompts.
"Yeah, but he was an IT person, so that hardly counts," I reply.
"So he was... a serial killer?"
"What?! No, no. He was... uh... late... for a Linux users group last week... and so the geeks started to get a bit worried about him..."
"And so they went round his place fearing he might have had an accident, you know, open chassis, high voltage, cup of coffee that sort of thing..."
"So they broke in when there was no answer to the door..."
"And when they got to his front room they found..."
"YES?!?!" the Boss gags.
"Macs. Stacks of them!"
"Apple Mac 'computers'."
"He was a MAC USER!" the PFY said. "For years he'd been living a lie!"
"I don't see..."
"He was a MAC USER!" I say. "I mean it's bad enough being an Apple user, but Macs as well! He'd been at it for years, too. When they broke into his basement they found Power Macs, Quadras... They even found... a Lisa."
"No!" the PFY gasps.
"It's true!" I say. "And it was still warm!"
"So he wasn't just experimenting!" the PFY says in hushed tones.
"Oh he inhaled alright! I talked to his family and friends, but none of them had any idea."
"They're always the last to know," the PFY says, shaking his head.
"So let me get this straight," the Boss says. "You're concerned because your friend..."
"Colleague," the PFY says, but even that makes him twinge.
"...Uses Apple computers."
"I think you mean Apple 'computers'," the PFY says, inserting the missing quote marks.
"And that's a problem?"
"Look, for years he seemed like a normal person!" the PFY says. "He ate with us, drank with us - we thought he WAS one of us. But all along he was hiding a nasty secret!"
"What's wrong with Apples?"
"They're just not real computers," the PFY says. "They're the piano accordion of the computing world, entertaining, but not made for professionals."
"Our Graphics people..."
"Yeah, but they're not professionals. They'd be just as happy with crayons and finger paints!"
"I... So what happened to your friend?"
"Who knows?" I say. "He might have run away to join the circus or he might have handed himself in for deprogramming."
"Yeah," the PFY says. "They strap you into a wheely chair and play In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida at 11 through headphones to you while administering electric shocks - until you renounce your faith."
"And they actually have places that do this sort of thing?"
"Yeah, they're everywhere. All you need is a place where no-one will notice a geek twitching, screaming and occasionally wetting themselves in front of a computer."
"In other words the gaming area of an internet cafe," I say.
"...And this works?"
"Who cares?" the PFY says. "They're filthy Mac users!"
. . .
"You'll have to forgive him," I say to the Boss once the PFY leaves to get himself a coffee (and hopefully some form of sedative). "But he has a pathological hatred of Mac users, always has..."
"So you're not so concerned about them?"
"No, no, I think they should burn in hell like the dirty heathens they are, but the PFY has an even deeper dislike of them. It's personal - almost as if he has some axe to grind."
"I see," the Boss says, realising that this conversation will never get any better. "In any case what I ACTUALLY came to ask about was why my machine is dead."
"Lets take a look then," I say, following him to his office."
. . . moments later . . .
"It's dead because your PowerPoint is dead - see your desk phone and speakers are off too."
"We'll just go and reset the breaker and you'll be fine."
. . . a few moments after that . . .
"What's the matter?"
"The breaker is tripping when reset - something's using a lot of power. Hmm, the breaker info says it's just your office and the one next door."
"That office is empty," the Boss says. "It was used by the auditors and hasn't been used since."
"In that case I'm guessing they probably left their desktop machine on and its power supply has just shorted out," I say, making for the office concerned. "I'll just unplug the machine and bin it an we'll..."
On opening the office door I can't help but let out a gasp of horror... the PFY hunched over the power supply of some ancient hardware... the smell of old, warm plastic... the owl logo on the keyboard... And suddenly the PFY's pathological hatred makes sense!
"An Archimedes user!" I gasp.
"This isn't what it looks like," the PFY gasps.
"So you're not an Archimedes user?"
"Well... I... It was ahead of it's time - with RISC, advanced gr.. >KZEERRRRT<"
"Tell it to Iron Butterfly," I say, dragging the PFY's unconscious body over to a wheely chair...