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BOFH: Getting to the brown, nutty heart of the water cooler matter

All that glistens is not gold... something else

Episode 6

"..and so we just mix all the ingredients together like this, tip it out onto a surface like so, and roll it into a roughly cylindrical shape. Now we just push in the extras and then pop it into the freezer for a few hours till it's nice and hard and easy to handle. And we're done," the PFY says with a flourish.

I can't believe I've just spent quarter of an hour of the company dollar watching the PFY create a fake turd out of a packet of crushed gingernuts, some coconut oil, a few chopped peanuts and three corn kernels.

Part of me feels a little guilty – but that feeling soon passes.

I'm not sure what the PFY has planned for this but I make a mental note to be in early tomorrow morning so as not to miss out.

... The next day...


"WHERE IS HE?!" the Boss shouts, stampeding into Mission Control in a veritable fury.

"Where's who?"


"Uh, the PFY? Why?"


"Why do you need him," I stall.

"So he didn't tell you?"

"Tell me what?"

This “answering a question with a question” thing is a lot more fun if you look at it as a personal challenge and try to beat your previous high score.


"What did he do yesterday," I ask, writing the new high score on the whiteboard after crossing out the old one.

The Boss goes on to recount the PFY's latest boredom-inspired practical joke which occurred once I'd left the building yesterday.

Apparently, once the aforementioned biscuit-based sculpture was nice and firm, the PFY deposited it on the floor beside the office coffee machine. Half an hour later when it had thawed a little and a sufficiently large group of appalled onlookers had gathered he'd stepped up, dipped his finger in it, stuck his finger in his mouth and remarked about how nutty it was – causing at least one of his co-workers to upload their lunch.

I don't mention how lucky the Boss is that the PFY couldn't find any quick-dry lacquer or they'd have needed to buy a new water chiller...

Boredom is not a good thing at Mission Control. Although, like everyone, we hate crises, the total absence of them (due to the PFY and my forward thinking – and our policy of shielding management from making technical decisions) can make work a little bit non-challenging at times – which in itself is challenging.

"He said something about having to reboot the internet NTU," I reply. "It has some sort of memory leak apparently. If the reboot doesn't work he'll slap in the service spare."

I have just told three lies in the space of 20 seconds. He's not rebooting the NTU, it doesn't have a memory problem, and we don't have a service spare. Four lies if you count the fact we don't have an NTU.

That's what boredom does to you – you just make up lies for the practice. And to beat your own consecutive-lies high score.

"Nice tie," I add. That's five.

"So what's this NTU doing?"

"It's what it's not doing," I reply. "You know how each packet is supposed to have a responding acknowledge packet which is source routed back to the originating hardware address using the Bourne Protocol? Well ours has apparently been flipping between Ghost protocol and the Fourth Protocol because of a memory issue." Six.

"I see," the Boss says, getting in on the whole lying game. One for him.

"Yeah, it's one of the Cyberdyne T-800 model 101s," I burble. "Good but they don't tolerate changes of pressure very well."

Seven. I'm on a roll.

"We had planned on using a T-1000 but apparently they have problems with extremes of temperature, which only leaves the T-X and apparently they can suffer catastrophic failures when interoperating with older models. So we're sticking with the T-800 for now."

I've lost count. Let's call it 10.

"So when will he be back?"

"Well apparently he sensed a little bit of ill-will towards him this morning and thought he'd spend a bit of time out of the office. I realise now that it must have had something to do with yesterday's joke." 11.

"It's hardly a joke," sniffs the Boss.

"C'mon," I say, "It's just a bit of fun. Sure, they're a bit annoyed now, but in a year or so they'll be laughing about it as hard as we did." 12.

"I thought you didn't know about this?"

"I didn't!" *HIGHSCORE* "But it's all meant in fun."

"So you just keep this stuff on hand for your own personal fun, do you," the Boss snaps, dragging the PFY's drawer open to find another thawing item.

"And THIS – will this be nutty too?" he asks, sticking his finger in it and shoving it in his gob.

"Uhhhhhhhmmmmmm, not really. What was on the lunch menu yesterday?"

I'll give the PFY one thing – popping it in the freezer made it a hell of a lot easier to transport...

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