When you play the game of Big Spendy Thrones, nobody wins – your crap chair just goes missing

Zoinks! There's a crime to be solved

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Who, Me? Like the unwanted early morning return of last night's spiced food, Monday is here once again. Take your mind off it with an unsolved mystery courtesy of The Register's weekly Who, Me? column.

Today's tale comes from a Reg reader who, to protect the self-proclaimed innocent, we'll call Will.

Will's story begins in the early '80s so pull on your Jessica Fletcher shoes, wax your moustache and park up that Peugeot 403 convertible. There's crime-solving to be done.

Bright light

Hell hath no fury like a radar engineer scorned


After dropping out of college, Will had found his first "real" job as a computer operator on an IBM mainframe (a 3033 for those keeping track). The job was chock-full of glamour. "This was back in the days of card punches, line printers, reel-to-reel mag tapes, and disk drives the size of top-loading washing machines."

The computer and its support equipment took up much of one floor. The remainder of the space was taken by offices for the programmers, DBAs and "our own big cheese – the operations manager".

Will went on: "The whole floor was secured behind a manlock with badge access and 24/7 video surveillance."

The ops manager attracted the ire of the team, or certainly Will at least, who said he "rather fancied himself as the monarch of all he surveyed".

We have all worked for one of those at some point.

Said boss was keen that the minions be reminded of his status, and to that end ordered himself a very special, large and expensive office chair. Just in case anyone was in any doubt of his position.

"The Throne," explained Will, "was his pride and joy, and became the subject of considerable mockery behind his back... until the night it disappeared."

The buttocks of the ops manager had left the chair at the end of the working day, but in the morning those same cheeks found thin air where once there was extravagant office furniture.

And lo, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. "The operators on afternoon and night shifts that week (myself included)," said Will, "were all called in and given the third degree, but nobody knew anything or had seen anything unusual."

Every possible hiding place was searched. Access logs were scoured. So desperate was the ops manager that he "sat down and scanned the entire 16 hours of video footage from his departure to his return," according to Will, who we suspect did not exude much in the way of sympathy.

"Nothing. It had just up and disappeared."

Since there had been two shifts present and neither claimed to know anything, the ops manager was forced to go cap in hand to the beancounters to request a replacement.

A somewhat smug Will told us: "Purchasing refused to grant him another big spendy throne", so he was forced to settle for something closer to his actual, rather than imagined, status.

Time passed, and the mystery of the missing chair faded from memory (aside from the ops manager who, we suspect, woke every night wailing "Why? Why?") up until the company outgrew its location and had to move on.

The computer team were luxuriating in their shiny new digs when the facilities team, tasked with stripping the old location, made the inevitable discovery.

"The Throne was discovered, disassembled, tucked into a corner under the raised floor of the old computer room – a little dusty but none the worse for its ordeal."

Alas, the ops manager had moved on by then, so his posterior would never be reunited with the soft, soft cushions of his "big spendy throne".

And as for whodunnit? Will would only tell us: "Even after numerous boozy reunions, the identity of the Chair Snatcher remains a mystery, God bless him!"

A mystery indeed. Unless the culprit would care to use the comments to confess? Or do you have a similar misdemeanour weighing probably-not-very-heavy on your conscience? Share it with The Register readership and Who, Me?

Discretion is assured. ®


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