On-call Welcome again to On-Call, our Friday fun in which readers send in their stories of being asked to do odd things around the office.
This week, reader “Logan” who once worked for an outsourcer shared the story of a colleague tasked with checking a client's smut filter was in proper working order.
“The job was to upgrade the filter for the customer and then verify its effectiveness,” Logan told us.
Understandably, Logan's colleague wanted to make sure he could not get into trouble during the testing phase. So he made it plain that the only way to test a smut filter is to attempt to watch smut, and that said material would hit the customer's firewall, traverse its LAN and perhaps even make it on-screen. In the office. Near people. Who might be offended.
The fellow's boss said he understood and said urged discretion. But Logan's mate wasn't satisfied, so asked for everything in writing.
As was sensible, Logan's mate started the work in their own office. Which was when a manager from another team walked by, saw what was on screen and just about shouted the office down with his urgent protestations about just how inappropriate it is to watch smut in the office.
“But I was ordered to,” whimpered Logan's colleague.
By now, the combination of shouting and mention of smut meant a crowd gathered to see what was going on.
At which point the written instructions were recalled, produced, read and acknowledged.
“I'm apparently an idiot for yelling at this poor man for doing a job he have been ordered to do,” the manager said. “I will hereby leave and beg for his forgiveness.”
The matter didn't end there: Logan's colleague was suddenly deluged with offers of assistance in case he needed help checking the smut filter.
That little jape produced a second round of managerial shouting as Logan's boss appeared, told everyone to get back to work and dispensed a lesson in the importance of getting everything in writing.
Logan's takeaway from the incident is that yes, you can surf smut in the office, on company time, company computers, while billing a customer.
Just make sure you get it all in writing.
What have you had to get in writing? Write to me with your stories of being asked to do odd things and you might appear in a future On-Call. ®