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Where's the boss? Ah right, thorough deep-dive audit. On the boardroom table. Gotcha

Ooh, watch out for splinters

On Call It's Carry On Call time this week as a Register reader finds himself dealing with a potentially career-limiting callout.

"I worked for a small regional bank back at the beginning of my career in IT," said our reader, Regomised as Derek. "I shared an on-call rota to handle out-of-hours issues with the cranky IT systems, these being a mix of ROCC Mini Computers, a PDP 11/44 and an IBM System 88 (actually a Stratus XA600 rebadged by Olivetti)."

An eclectic mix, even for the era.

Derek had drawn the short straw and was on the weekend on-call shift, which helpfully started at 10pm on Friday. He was tired – it had been a busy week; the bank had been audited, which had brought with it the stresses that can only be unleashed by a team of grey suited execs and an auditor.

Inevitably, the pager (remember them?) went off a few short hours into the on-call shift, meaning Derek's presence at the seven-storey city-centre office was required. He trudged to the designated meeting spot where a security guard Regomised as Clive was waiting for him.

Derek needed to get to the third floor to deal with whatever IT issue had befallen the systems, but the guard was more excited about some lights that were visible from the seventh floor, where the executives were housed. Nobody should have been there at that time of night, so why the illumination?

Derek had seen enough thriller/zombie/horror films to know the fate that awaited an intrepid investigator, but Clive was determined to check things out and so dragged Derek with him to the seventh floor.

As they exited the elevator, the lights that should not have been on cast alarming shadows on the walls of the deserted corridors. There was also a strange noise coming from somewhere on the deserted office floor.

"I was not keen to investigate this further," recalled Derek, "being this is a bank and banks tend to have a reputation of having things that the criminal type may find attractive."

Clive, on the other hand, had no such qualms and locked the elevator to the floor. "Follow me!" he whispered to Derek.

"So suddenly I am not on a callout," said Derek, "but part of a newly minted crime-stopping team investigating suspicious activities at a bank!"

Hopes of a Scooby-Doo ending to the story were dashed as the duo moved deeper into the office floor and the noise got louder and louder. It became more distinct as they reached the executive boardroom, where the lights were on.

Derek had seen more than zombie films and realised what was happening, but not in time to stop Clive from flinging open the boardroom door and shouting the words: "What's going on in here?"

"These were unnecessary," recalled Derek, still traumatised all these decades on. "It was pretty clear what was going on."

The lead auditor and the managing director of the bank were conducting what could be described as a "thorough deep-dive audit" on the boardroom table.

Derek made a hasty retreat to the elevator, dragging Clive behind him. He attended to the third floor IT woes, which is all he'd ever wanted to do, and then returned home to try and bleach his brain.

And what happened next?

Clive, who worked for a contract security company, was swiftly and mysteriously assigned elsewhere. A long, long way elsewhere. As for Derek, he had "multiple chats with the managing director about how forgetful I could be."

His forgetfulness was assisted by the arrival of a company car "for use when on call."

Sadly, however, it became clear that the boss's fear of Derek blabbing to the troops was not going to go away, and our hero jumped before he was pushed – eventually accepting a role at a computer manufacturer.

"My career change," he said, "was initiated by a saucy audit."

Words unlikely to trouble the average LinkedIn profile.

Ever been called out and seen something you wish you hadn't? Or does the phrase "taking one for the team" trigger an uncomfortable flashback? The Regomiser is waiting for your email to On Call. ®

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