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BOFH: Would I lie to you, Boss?

Are they going to search your personal laptop? Maybe. The main thing is not to panic...

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 13 There's a bit of a panic on at Mission Control.

The Boss is almost frantic and the PFY's a little on edge. It seems that the company's insurance auditors are concerned about the amount of money which has been paid out over the past 18 months and want some affidavits from us about the background to certain costly events.

Apparently, the Boss's level of concern increased exponentially when it was revealed that the lawyers concerned would be permitted to bring various items of falsehood detection equipment with them.

"Look, I'm supposed to know what's been going on around here so just talk me through what they'll want to talk about," the Boss says, happy that there are several gaps in his knowledge but also wanting to know which topics to steer clear of.

"Sure," I say. "It depends on what's on their mind. If it's about our high number of workplace accidents then that's just a statistical anomaly which a reasonable person couldn't possibly draw a causal relationship from – you know, like industry and global warming or smoking and lung cancer. Time will show that this is just an aberration and not some form of trend."

"So, if they ask me about what I know about something or the other?"

"You are unable to recall," I advise.

"What if they insist?"

"You fear that any memories you might have would be unreliable due to the effects of the over-the-counter cold medicine that you were taking at the time in question."

"And if they say that it can't be that bad?"

"You suggest that the combination of workplace pressure and poor pharmaceutical advice might have caused a dependency on the medication in question. And, because of your inability to shake the illness, your dependency may have resulted in an accidental over-prescription on several occasions. Because of work pressures."

"What if they say I'm lying?"

"Go for the diversion with the Freudian Slap."

"You mean Freudian Slip?"

"No, a Freudian Slap. It's where you say something that everyone thinks 'by accident'."

"What do you mean?"

"Incompetent? I never called you incompetent!" I blurt.

"What?" the PFY asks.

"Incompetent. I never called you that!"

"I didn't say you did!" the PFY shoots back.

"Oh, my mistake, I must have misheard you. ... And that is a Freudian slap. You can call someone names and totally get away with it just by denying it completely. You can even do it twice if they say 'What?' like the PFY did."

"I'm... not sure I follow?" the Boss says.

"It's just a way of changing the topic. They think they have you on the ropes and you call one of them a sheep worrier. By the time they've bought the meeting back on track you'll have had time to think of a good response to their questioning."

"What if I can't think of a good answer to their question?" the Boss asks, sounding even more worried than when we began the conversation.

"Just ask for a barley sugar because you think your diabetes is playing up. Then close your eyes for several minutes and don't answer any questions."

"Will I have to sign anything?" the Boss asks, fearing a perjury trial looming in the near future.

"What, with the effects of diabetes making your extremities numb?!" the PFY gasps.

"Look," I say. "You've got nothing to worry about. You weren't even here when half of the accidents happened. They're only interviewing you to say that they've done a comprehensive interview of all employees."

"Yeah," the PFY says. "They're looking for the big fish, not the small fry. You have nothing to worry about."

"Well, as long as you've never pirated a movie, viewed dodgy internet porn – even accidentally – or posted anything that might be considered hate speech to any online discussion forum."

"WHAT?!" the Boss gasps.

"Well, these people are representatives of the legal community. If they uncovered a crime they'd be duty-bound to report it."

"What?" he gasps again.

"Look, don't panic. Everyone slips up now and then. It's not like they're going to search your workplace computer or phone your wife or anything."

"Probably," the PFY adds.


"Oh, just to ask her if she's witnessed any criminal activities. They probably don't even care about that."

"I don't think I can go through with this!" the Boss says.

"You'll be FINE!" I say. "And if it starts to look like it's going pear shaped, just hurt yourself a little bit so you have to go out and get some first aid. They can't deny you first aid."

...half an hour later...

"How's he doing?" I ask the PFY, who's watching the interview proceedings over CCTV.

"He asked for a bag of barley sugars and then ran headlong into the wall," the PFY sighs.

"Well, on the plus side he has proved how often workplace accidents can occur..." ®

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