This article is more than 1 year old
BOFH: The paperless cafeteria
A movement builds
"How's that paperless office coming along then?" the Boss asks enthusiastically as he enters Mission Control on his daily constitutional.
"Paperless office?" the PFY asks.
"Yes, you were saying the other day that we should go to paperless."
"No I was saying how our printing and copying contract was extortionate," the PFY responds. "And anyway, that's all sorted out now."
"Ah! Well. I kind of mentioned the paperless office idea to a couple of people and they're quite keen."
"Are they?" I ask.
"Well if we're talking paperless, check this out," the PFY says, pointing to a web page on his screen.
"What am I looking at?" The Boss asks.
"It's the website that the caterers use for our meals."
"Really? So they use real ingredients and not just tramp vomit?" I ask.
"Yeah," the PFY says. "They subscribe to this site, which tells you what meals to prepare for what tier of punter. You choose a week of meals and it orders all the ingredients to be delivered for the food you selected."
"Tiers?" I ask.
"Yeah. You have the Platinum range, which is CEO material - escargot and all that, Gold, which is the sort of stuff you'd see at a posh catered event, Silver class, which is nice catered food, down through the various other tiers, to us."
"What's our tier?" I ask.
"Uh... it doesn't actually have a name."
"If we're talking Platinum, Gold and Silver then we're probably around Lead?" I ask.
"As in poisoning," the PFY adds.
"Indeed," I say. "But that's probably because 'Transuranic heavy metals may not be used where there is life'"
"Nothing, just a quote from the past."
"Sapphire's not an element!" the PFY cries a few minutes later, poking a rather nasty hole in TV history.
"It hardly matters," The boss interjects. "So this is just a food ordering website saving the hassle of filling out a couple of forms. Surely there's not much paper saving in that?"
"It's more than that," the PFY says. "Each day the caterers go to the website and see the recipe along with pictures and a little video showing how to make it."
"And?" the Boss asks.
"And they don't print any of it. Though it does look like the web server is particularly poorly protected," the PFY hints.
"Someone could go into the website, make some fairly minor modifications to the recipe and end up with rather nice meat balls instead of the Hungarian glue-lash that they manage to make out of most things."
"But then you'd need to make a video and have pictures," I counter.
"Yes, that's where it comes unstuck - you'd only really get away with some minor quantity changes. However, that said, you could just change options on the webpage..."
"You mean like.. change the tier of meals we're getting?" the Boss asks furtively.
"Exactly!" the PFY responds. "You could change the tier you want for this week's meals - and they might put it down to a keyboard error if the finance people complained about the end of month bill."
"So we could get..." the Boss says.
"Chicken korma, Peshawari naan and all the poppadoms you could eat? Yes," the PFY responds.
"But surely it's password protected?"
"Two minutes with a keypress recorder." the PFY says, holding up a sheet of paper with "CH3F" written on it.
"But surely the cafeteria people would know?"
"That's the great thing! The whole site's put together by some publicity seeking pot basher who's promoting new era meals - so the cafeteria staff never know what they'll be cooking from one day to the next.'
"I... Let's try it with tomorrow's meals," the Boss mumbles. "Just to see."
"Okay, I'll just pick something in the silver range," the PFY says. "And the best thing about this >clickety< >tap< Is it's completely >click< paperless, meaning..."
"No audit trail!" I blurt.
. . . Lunch time the next day . . .
"This is amazing!" the Boss says, shoveling down a prawn malibari.
"True," I respond. "People are racing back for seconds instead of to the toilets!"
"We won't get away with it of course," he replies, the voice of reason intruding. "Finance is bound to find out any day."
"Yep. But maybe for a couple more days..."
"So perhaps you should... uh... pull out all the stops?" he hints.
"You mean... Platinum, all the mods?"
"Go for it!"
. . . The next day . . .
"You're not having any?" the Boss blurts, halfway through his second Fisherman's basket.
"No," the PFY says. "I had assumed that Platinum would be somewhat better than deep fried seafood and chips."
"Smothered in tartare sauce," the Boss responds. "It's bloody lovely - so light. A bit salty, but lovely. The staff are loving it."
. . .
"So," I ask the PFY moments later. "When are you going to tell him about your recipe update to deep fry them in castor oil?"
"A couple of minutes after I've visited all the toilets in the building."
"Ah," I say. "So you're committed to the paperless office thing then?"