The boss is, as they say, rabid. I haven't seen him this mad since the PFY and I convinced the beancounters that Windows 95 was two years obsolete and that they needed to upgrade to this year's version - OS/2.
"What the hell's happened at public relations?" he snaps. "I've had their head of department yelling at me. He says you told one of his secretaries to erase the install media and virally infect their machines!"
"You're kidding," I reply, oozing disbelief. "Hang on, I haven't spoken to anyone. Did they ring me?"
"No, they rang the helpdesk, but you picked up the call."
"I don't think so - I was working on the network all day," I reply, bearing in mind our automated network attendant makes a convenient alibi.
"What about THIS then?" he cries, brandishing my virus disk.
"It's a disk with a copy of a virus on it," I say.
"Then why did you label it 'VIRUS SCAN'?"
"It was a note to myself to check it. I found it was indeed infected, then put it in the bin, but someone has obviously and foolishly tried to recycle the disk."
"Well their whole server is infected now and they need to stop users from accessing it and reinfecting their machines until it's been sorted out."
"Of course," I say. "The PFY and I will get right onto it."
The PFY is surprised at my eagerness to aid the PR plebs, but it's just the chance I need to get into their machines and make those little changes to the end-of-year report. Very few people noticed the fangs and horns on the Head of IT in the management photo last year, so it would appear that I'll have to have a less subtle printing overlay for the final version this time.
Security has, however, been tightened after some nit-picker noticed the company figures didn't quite add up - not the sort of thing you want the shareholders to see. On the other hand, the bonus from the printing company for the extra batch of reports did put the bastard operator's benevolent fund back in the black.
"Good," the boss chirps, interrupting my reverie. "I'll oversee the operation myself - good for internal morale and all that."
Sadly, the boss is unlikely to top the morale boost he gave the department a few days ago when he slipped on a grease spot in the cafeteria and face-planted the vegetarian lasagne, however this thought is only second in my mind. My creative juices are unlikely to flow with the boss peering over my shoulder the whole time.
Some diversion strategy is called for...
"Good Lord!" I shout, kicking the power plug from the PFY's machine. "Those earth spikes are getting ridiculous."
"What earth spikes?" the boss blurts.
"You know, the spikes from the earthing strip at the side of the building. We've been waiting six weeks for a contractor to go out and look at the connector just up from the window."
"But we've got several earthing conductors," the boss replies, having no idea of the resale value of copper at the moment (or, to be more precise, six weeks ago when the PFY and I were short of cash).
"No, just one - economic downsizing by your predecessor," I ad-lib glibly.
"Oh? Well, let's have a look then."
I lead him to the window and point up at the earthing strip.
"Why do you need a contractor? You could shin up there and fix it in no time."
"I'm only responsible for the INSIDE of the..." I say.
"Oh for Pete's sake - open the bloody window!" the boss cries, obviously switched into idiot mode.
Five minutes later he's at the offending junction giving it the old once-over.
"I've never noticed how high up we were..." the PFY mentions, dreamily.
"Yeah. If you fell from this height they'd need a shovel to get you into the ambulance," I reply.
True to form the boss looks down. The gleaming whiteness of his knuckles indicates he is now locked into place and going nowhere.
After two hours in the PR department, 'fixing' the virus, the company reports look perfect. That is if you like to see a PR chief with a set of Lennon glasses and buck teeth and two of the more right-wing directors holding hands.
Of course, the company accounts don't quite add up either - for the second year running.
I pause briefly to watch the boss being led out of the building in his new and rather attractive strap-round jacket. Security must have found 'his' note about stress and so forth on the window ledge.
Looks like a morale peak on the horizon... not to mention a nice little bonus from the printers.