BOFH: Lies, damned lies, and standards

What do you mean you've never heard of the toner-cartridge diet?

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 13 "... but that's not the turnaround we promised our users!" the Boss bleats.

"But it is the recognized industry standard turnaround time," I counter.

"Which industry standard is that?" the Boss asks.

"The one set by the Association of Servicepeople for Software and Hardware Over the Lifetime of Equipment."

"What association is that?"

"A set of industry professionals," I respond.

"And this is an accredited body?"

"Absolutely! It's a self-regulating industry group."

"And they produce industry standards?" the Boss asks.

"Of course! Who's more likely to comprehend industry requirements than people actively working in the industry? I mean, if you were to set a benchmark – as you have done – how do you know that's even achievable?"

"I ..."

"No, industry bodies have a long and proud history of setting standards, listening to complaints, finding the guilty party and having absolutely no hesitation in fining them several pounds."

"Several thousand pounds, surely?"

"No, no. The real punishment is a censure from an industry body. The fine is just to cover administration costs."

"And those administration costs vary over time I presume?" the Boss asks drily.

"No, they're linked to a monetary standard."

"The cost of a pint?" the Boss suggests.

"Two pints, I think you'll find," the PFY says, entering Mission Control. "It's much stabler."

"Stabler than what?"

"Two pints and a couple of packets of pork scratchings," I reply. "There was some instability during the swine flu epidemic and, as neither the PFY nor myself actually liked pork scratchings, we acted quickly to stabilize the currency, as it were."

"So the industry body is just you two?"

"Yes. But as a body we've grown 100 percent in the past year."

"So it was originally just you?" the Boss asks me.

"Sure, but at our current rate of growth we'll have doubled our members by the end of the year."

"And what qualifications do you have to be an industry body?"

"Oh, the same rigorous standards as are required to become a nutritionist."

"Yes, but you're not a nutritionist."

"I am! I pioneered the toner-cartridge diet."

"The what?"

"The toner cartridge diet. You eat old toner cartridges. I can guarantee you'll lose weight."

"And help save the planet," the PFY says. "For around three months."

"That's how long the toner cartridge diet lasts, is it?"

"That's one way of looking at it. In any case, I see a lot of people needing nutrition advice in my other role as a personal trainer."

"Another job with no real certification?" the Boss asks.

"But I am certified," I counter.

"By the Association of Personal Trainers Over the Lifetime of the Trainee?" the Boss asks.

"The Association of Personal Trainers and Nutritionists," I reply.

"... over the life of the trainee," the PFY adds.

"A life which is often unnaturally short?" the Boss counters.

"The industry is still reviewing the data to determine any causal relationships," the PFY says. "There are a lot of gray areas."

"But we do expect a result any time in the next three to four years," I add.

"Meantime your clients lose weight from toner cartridge poisoning?"

"Surprisingly no. No, most of my clients usually quit the diet due to injuries sustained in their training regime."

"The 100m traffic sprints appear to have particularly high attrition rates," the PFY admits.

"And you're reviewing that 'for causal relationships' I assume?" the Boss asks.

"Indeed, we are. We have a number of trials on the go at the moment. In fact, we recently ran a couple of double-blind tests," I say proudly.

"Which proved?"

"That two blindfolds do not increase safety in traffic sprints. Though as we discovered – running with the traffic, instead of against it, does."

"The scientific method proves itself once again," the PFY nods. "We're always learning."

"And how did you become a... nutritionist and personal trainer?"

"Oh, it came up in a discussion with my holistic healing guru."

"I take it that means you?" the Boss asks the PFY.

"It does," the PFY says happily.

"And you're a member of the association of... whatever... over the life of the client?"

"I am indeed."

"So what's holistic healing got to do with recommending people career advice?"

"I like to look at my clients as a whole in order to determine the best journey to fulfill their purpose. The holistic experience is one of finding the collective alignment of the person's chakra with the chi."

To be fair, I'd thought the crap the PFY and I had been talking had already taken us to the porkies event horizon, but I think the PFY may have just thrust us over the edge. Too many lies in a confined reality can distort the truth to such a point that it bends the minds of lesser mortals.


"Who's up for some traffic sprints?" I ask 30 seconds later.

The Boss, PFY and myself put our hands up.

"I'll get the blindfolds!" the PFY chuckles crazily.

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