BOFH: Monitor mount moans end in Beancounter beatdown
Now that's how you spend the (newly created) entertainment budget
Episode 21 It's a peaceful morning in Mission Control when the discussion between the Boss, PFY and myself is interrupted by one of the minor Beancounters, well out of his comfort zone.
"Hello?" he mumbles.
"Hello, how can we help?" the Boss asks.
"I'm just following up on budget item 4857."
Budget item 4857 rings less bells than an unemployed hunchback. However, I play along.
"Yes, it looks like you completed the project in June, but you associated some other costs against the same project last month."
"Yes, we bought some larger monitor mounts."
"But the project was for two large screen monitors for a couple of the meeting rooms."
"Mounts aren't monitors."
"But they're connected to the monitors," I point out.
"Yes, monitors are a computer expense, but the mounts come from the office furniture cost center."
"These aren't for an office."
"It's the same thing."
"Like your desk monitor and its base, you mean?"
"No, that's not the same. The base comes with the monitor."
"So, if your monitor came without a cable, would a replacement cable be an electrical expense?" the PFY asks.
"If it's supposed to come with a cable then it would be a computer expense."
"So you're thinking that a monitor isn't supposed to have a mount? Would you like us to lean it on the wall?"
"It needs to come out of office expenses."
"OK, but what if we took the monitors off the boardroom wall and put those mounts on these screens. You could tell the Board that they'd have to get new mounts from their furniture budget."
"Though they'd more likely pay for it out of the Beancounter salary budget, what with that position that just became free," the PFY points out.
"You can't threaten me."
"I think we just did," the PFY says. "Next thing you'll want to return the drone."
"Yes, that was the next thing. You paid for a drone out of your entertainment cost center."
"Well, sure, we use it to clean the camera lenses on the outside of the building – but some of the other stuff we see is pretty entertaining."
"YOU DON'T HAVE AN ENTERTAINMENT COST CENTER!"
"Oh right, so … office furniture?"
"IT'S NOT OFFICE FURNITURE!"
"It sits on my desk."
"Not office furniture."
"What about if I put my monitor on it?"
The next morning there's a delegation from Beancounter Central. Apparently they want their dual monitor arms back.
"Look, I would LOVE to help you," I lie, "but it turns out that over the years we've been buying these with the IT budget instead of the office furniture budget. So we took them all back. However, the good news is that we think we can just journal them over from your furniture budget to our IT budget. I'm guessing one of you can transfer all that money over?"
"How about we have the arms back meantime?" a Beancounter asks.
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"Oh, again, we'd love to do that, but we just have to check that they're still safe – you know, metal fatigue and all that. My assistant is just testing one now."
"Oh dear," the PFY says, pulling a crowbar out of the broken innards of a monitor arm. "That's the third one so far."
"How many have you … tested?" one of the Beancounters asks.
"Three. Still plenty left to test, though. Unless …"
"I guess you could sign a form saying that you accept that your monitor arms may have deteriorated since they were first installed."
"OK, we'll do that."
"OK, I'll just print some forms – but wait – our printer has run out of toner cartridges. Are they an IT expense or an office furniture one? I mean, the printer does COME with toner cartridges, but they have a fraction of the toner of a new cartridge. Technically, installing a new cartridge would be an upgrade, and we've spent all our computer upgrade budget – and that has a hard budget limit, so we can't even ask you to extend it. However …"
"We don't have an entertainment budget. But you could create one for us, and just put some toner cartridge money into it – say, enough money to buy two large screen monitor mounts?"
"I … OK."
"But wait, technically we'd have to spend that money on entertainment."
"No. I've got it!" the PFY blurts. "You could entertain Simon and me and then we'd feel so entertained that we'd buy the monitor mounts ourselves out of our own money. The entertainment money would be spent on entertainment, and the monitor mounts would be purchased, and it's possible that we'd find some toner cartridges somewhere so you could get your monitor arms back."
"I … guess that would work out OK."
"So we just need you to do that entertainment."
"What are you suggesting?" one of the Beancounters asks warily.
"You guys ever seen Fight Club?"
Half an hour of senseless Beancounter brutality later they've returned to their offices with their monitor arms.
"We still have to pay for those arms out of our own money," I point out to the PFY.
"Oh, I shouldn't worry about that."
"Well, I'm guessing they'll have a whip round once I tell them I had to order new mounting screws because of metal fatigue …"
"Ooh – and while you're doing that I'll whip up and pinch all their toner cartridges. Looks like we're going to be well under our budget this year!"