Episode 1 "Oh I generally take the road less travelled..." I say to the Boss in response to the mindless drivel that's just escaped the low pressure system of his skull.
"Me too," the PFY says. "Much less likely that someone will come along and ask you why you're digging such a big hole and what that roll of carpet is for."
"Because then you'll have to dig a hole twice as deep," I add.
"What's any of that got to do with desk space consolidation?" the Boss asks.
"Oh, you were talking about desk space consolidation. I thought you were talking about wallpapering."
"Wallpapering? Why would I be talking about wallpapering? I don't know the first thing about wallpapering!"
"That doesn't stop you talking about IT though does it?" the PFY chips back.
The Boss chooses to ignore him.
"We getting to a point where there's not enough room for the staff we have."
"Surely, with the number of 'digital natives' in the company there'd be less need for support?" I ask.
"Yes, but we're doing different work now than we used to. In the past IT was all about the hardware and the development but now we're more closely involved in the business process and the needs-use analysis."
"Oh, you mean stuff that means nothing," the PFY says.
"Couldn't you just cull the deadwood?" I ask.
"Meaning?" the Boss says defensively.
"The three consultants nearest us for a start – they hardly work at all. The bloke in the corner office spends all his time talking about his weight programme and BMI, the woman in the middle office bangs on about her daughter's latest diet fad and the bloke in the end office wanders all over the building telling people what disease he thinks he has."
"I don't really thin-"
"If you give Charles Atlas, Gluten Gabber and Marco Polio the bum's rush you could knock out some walls and have a nice big open space that you could cram people into like sardines."
But of course that's not going to happen – because when it comes to real estate the first place they head for is the server and comms rooms.
Because there's only two people left to defend them...
. . .
So the Boss isn't happy. It turns out the PFY's attempts to encourage the changes we'd proposed have not been met with the good humour we'd expected.
"I only asked if she'd had a baby," the PFY says, when responding to a chance complaint about the aforementioned woman's daughter.
"FOR BREAKFAST!" the Boss snaps back angrily. "You'd asked if she'd had a baby for breakfast."
"Did I?" the PFY counters.
"Then you called Jim an arsehole."
I didn't call him an arsehole," the PFY says defensively. "I said he was more like a semicolon."
"AND THEN YOU TOLD BRIAN THAT HIS OFFICE WAS BEING TAKEN TO PIECES BECAUSE OF THE ASBESTOS PROBLEM!"
"Who can be certain what has asbestos in it any more?" the PFY replies.
"WE CAN! We only built those offices six years ago!"
"But can you be SURE? Asbestos could be anywhere."
"So you're sure that if we got a guy in to do testing he wouldn't find worryingly high levels of blue asbestos in the building?"
"Of course he wouldn't!"
"Are you sure?"
"I'm not so sure. In fact I'm fairly certain that a bloke on minimum wage in a dull and monotonous job would find dangerously high levels of asbestos scant moments after finding a brown envelope stuffed with cash – a lot less cash than we might spend renovating a server room space."
"Are you proposing that we fake an asbestos panic just to get a couple of people to quit the company?"
"Listen," I say, "are you familiar with the idea of a Tripping Point?"
"You mean The Tipping Point – a book by Malcolm Gladwell," the Boss nods knowingly, "where he talks about things reaching a point at which a sudden large change occurs. And by that I assume you're suggesting that the office will get more and more crowded until such time that it's massively overcrowded and we'll actually fix the situation?"
"No, I'm talking about the Tripping point, written by us, where I talk about how a middle manager will become increasingly annoying until he has a tragic staircase accident."
"We could name a chapter of the book after you if you like," the PFY says. "Posthumously."
. . .
"I can't believe it!" I cry. "And we've been breathing this in for months!"
"Years even," the PFY responds.
"Someone should do something," the Boss adds.
"I think I'm having trouble breathing."
"Oh look, I think Marco's fainted."