The Bastard Operator From Hell
The PFY scores top marks in the all important 'how to be a Bastard Operator From Hell' test ...

"I don't think you realise who I am."

The PFY pauses for a minute. "Hmm...Carter, accounts. Room 402, extension 6473, date of birth June 22, 1963. Married, one child - not yours. A cider drinker. Drive a red Volvo with a faulty rear light and collect beer coasters. Your password is...ahhhhmmm."

"Something to do with fish," I hint.

"Driftnet," the PFY cries.

"Excellent," I respond, turning to our latest visitor. "Can I have a sports question please?"


"No, sports," I reply firmly.

While our user wanders off, I fill out the practical section of the PFY's final exam sheet.

"Let's see. Yes, you achieved the correct amount of disorientation and demoralisation. You also get a couple of bonus points by planting the seeds of doubt with the 'not yours' comment. Now, onto the theoretical section. The hard disk on your personal machine fails out of warranty period. What would you do?"

"Swap it with the boss's so he gets it replaced immediately, then, when the new disk arrives, format the boss's old one and reinstall it in his machine."

"Yeeesss. But remember that you're being marked for proactivity too..."

"Oh of course!" the PFY blurts guiltily. "Then swap it into one of the consultants' machines so that you always have a standby disk for the future."

"Excellent. Now, you're helping users out in your spare time, when..."

The PFY laughs out loud.

"Correct. Next question: the boss has bought a piece of kit that is so old that even the engineers understand how it works. How would you get rid of it?"

"Drop it down several flights of stairs?"

"Too suspicious."

"Flick the mains switch to 115 volts for a little while?"

"He'll replace the power supply."

"Umm... I know, direct a heat gun into its cooling vents."

"Correct. Complete this statement: all power corrupts, absolute power..."

" even more fun!"

"Correct. Your boss and a client are plummeting towards the footpath after cornering you for two hours with their thoughts on the future of computing. Who would hit the ground first?"

"Who cares?"

"Correct. Judging solely by his attitude, how does the boss believe our network is managed?"

"By FM management."

"Be more specific."

"F***ing magic."

"Correct. How long would it take an engineer to change a flat?"

"It depends on how many replacement flats he brought with him."

"Correct. Still on that topic, an engineer happens to mention the words 'that's interesting'. What has happened?"

"Uh, he's either broken your computer, lost his screwdriver inside it somewhere, put it back together with lots of parts left over or encountered some error that he's never seen before."


"Oh, he just says it to pass the time because he's not allowed to say 'bollocks' in the presence of a customer."

"Precisely. One of your users brings his home computer for you to fix. You..."

"Solder the circuit breaker shut, crank the voltage adjustments to full power, swap out any good memory chips for crap and install a virus on their hard disk."


"Whoopsy - charge them mates' rates of 20 quid for your time."

"Yep. Complete this: the meek shall inherit..."

"...what they're bloody well given. And be thankful for it."

"Correct. You have scored a total of 10 out of 10 in the theoretical section, passing on none. As your final task you must generate, then deal with, 50 user complaints in two minutes. Your time starts now!"

An hour later we're observing the smoking remains of the beancounters' comms cupboard.

"Freak wiring mishap?" the PFY asks the fire investigating officer.

"Looks that way," he replies, much to the annoyance of the head beancounter, who is not as stupid as he looks. "It seems that someone had replaced the five amp plug fuse on a portable lamp with a piece of nail resulting in a small fire when the cord insulation became pierced when it got trapped in the door. Just an accident waiting to happen."

"Yes, and how particularly tragic that accounts were storing all the historic purchasing records for the IT department in this very cupboard, even though we warned them of the fire risk," I add.

"Very tragic," the PFY concurs.

Later at a pub in the heart of Soho I congratulate the PFY on his promotion to the position of 'master bastard' by buying him a lager for a change.

"So that's it then?" the PFY comments.

"IT?" I cry. "This is just the beginning. Starting tomorrow it's time for graduate studies." Even at this level, the poor guy still has so much to learn. Like how easy it is to slip a laxative into a lager for a start.

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