It had to happen eventually, and to be frank, I'm surprised it's taken this long. Despite all my teachings, my vigorous expressions of displeasure at the merest mention of such a concept, and the countless reminders of the consequences of such actions, the pimply-faced-youth has let me down. He's in love.
One of the sad facts about working with networked computers all the time, especially when you see so much intimate stuff flying up the screen of the packet-watcher, is that your guard can drop. This is what happened with the PFY - he 'found' this woman talking to one of our junior bean-counter types on Internet Relay Chat (well, they were mad to think their Internet activities were unmonitored). He instantly persuaded her that PFYs who discover people in this way are much more fun than bean counters. Not that hard, of course, when you realise that making up UTP patch cables constantly for a fortnight is more fun than talking to a bean counter.
The phone rings.
"Network support, how can I help you?" sings the PFY in that sickly, lovey tone. You know the sort I mean.
"I seem to have accidentally deleted my Christmas card list from the server - could you possibly recover it from tape for me?"
"Hang about." >CLICK< >WHIRRRRRR< >CHUNKACHUNKA< "... there you go."
"Oh, thank you so much!"
I check the said Christmas card list and it seems to be a Christmas card list.
No logic bomb, no Word prank macro, just a Christmas card list. This lad is ill.
I lean over to catch a glance of the SNMP window on the PFY's workstation to see which floor's network has this morning's intermittent drop-out. All I see is green, not an 'accidental' bandwidth saturation in sight. Worrying.
I also happen to notice that the background picture of his workstation seems to have changed to a picture of someone blonde and female.
"Is that ..." I inquire, pointing at the backdrop.
"Yup. Gorgeous, isn't she?"
I must admit, the word 'babe' isn't far from the front of my mind, though the urge to suddenly pull the fibre out of the back of the beancounter server pushes through and saves the day. I suddenly realise that while it's almost acceptable to carry a photo of one's other half in one's wallet, exchanging JPEGs is strictly anorak material.
"Did I tell you we're meeting up for the first time tonight?" sings the PFY's sickly voice. It's like fingernails on a blackboard, honestly.
"No," I reply wearily. I've managed to feign vague enthusiasm for a couple of days in the hope that he would see sense without assistance, but to no avail, so my patience is wearing rather thin.
"Where were you thinking of taking her?"
"Oh, I dunno - I'm quite new to this sort of thing, so I was hoping you would have an idea."
"Hmmmm ... why not try that new seafood place on the High Street? It's pricey but highly regarded, and hey, you can charge it to the Boss's 'secret' expense account anyway."
"Good idea. I'll e-mail her now." Either my 'sincere' face hasn't worn off yet or he really should know better.
A quick filter on the mail hub soon has my afflicted colleague's beloved looking forward to a curry in Highgate.
Now to organise the other half of the plan; I send the PFY off down the road to buy his sweetheart some appropriate romantic shrubbery. This gets him out of the way for half an hour, so I take the opportunity to call in a favour.
The PFY takes the opportunity of a long lunch (thankfully, as all this lovey talk is making me feel rather queasy), and so it's not too bad enduring the last couple of hours of the day before he skips off smiling like the cat who got not only the cream, but half the dairy produce in the Home Counties.
Morning comes, and I rush in especially early at 11am in order to find out how my underling's evening went.
"Bloody awful. She was built like a smallish office block, she had a voice like Arthur Mullard, and she talked about her new Aveling Barford rock-grader all evening."
Funny, that sounds just like Julie, my next-door-neighbour's sister. But no, surely it couldn't be; she's not into computers, and she doesn't get time for dating - what with driving that dumper truck all day and doing her evening roly-poly-gram work.
"But what about the photo?".
"It's a fake. Oh, hell, I've had it with women".
The PFY answers the phone.
"My filestore is full."
"So can I have some more space?"
"Sure, I'll give you some space ..." >CLACKYCLICKYHWOP<
"... there you go."
You've got five megs free now."
I glance at his console. 'rm -rf *'. Now that's more like it.