Who was downloading smut in the office while eating ice cream?

A reader catches a colleague going at it with a cold spoon

On-call +NSFW Welcome back to On-call, our planned-to-be-fortnightly look at the things readers have been asked to do in the course of their employment, often at odd hours.

This week, reader Guy* wrote to tell us about a gig he scored in the mid-nineties, where “my first task was to find out where all our bandwidth was going when the office was empty”.

Downloads scheduled to take place outside business hours weren't happening at the appropriate rate, so it needed sorting out.

“A quick bit of extra tracking revealed that someone was returning to the office and gulping down USENET porn at a surprising rate. Since the office didn't have anything as flash as security (this WAS the nineties, after all), just locks and keys, I couldn't tell who was doing the deed,” Guy explains.

He therefore turned detective and “sat in the coffee shop across the road that evening and waited for activity”. After a while, “a lady from the sales team turned up with her shopping but that was it”.

“There was no further activity,” Guy relates, “so I went into the office, went upstairs, looked through the door into the open-plan office and observed her sitting at a desk, wearing headphones and watching the fruits of her labours with the hem of her skirt rather higher than designed, eating ice cream and touching herself with the spoon”.

Guy decided a confrontation just wasn't a good idea, so started thinking about how he could identify the culprit without making an embarrassing scene.

No plan, the saying goes, survives first contact with the enemy.

So Guy's gallant idea failed when “I fell over the fire extinguisher while backing out, alerting her to my presence”.

“She unwisely spun in her chair, confirming her activity to me and in the process tangling herself up in her headphone cable.”

“I didn't feel able to stay and help her,” Guy adds.

The woman never showed up to work again. Guy did, and to make sure such incidents didn't become regular, “repurposed an old machine as a router, keeping logs of IP requests and publishing daily download data to everyone. That had a remarkable effect on our productivity”.

Can anyone top Guy's tale of On-call shenanigans? If so, drop me a line. ®

* We're keeping schtum about surnames to save possible blushes, natch.

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