"You bloody nobbled him, didn't you?" the boss snaps at me and the PFY in a fashion that betrays his pent-up frustration at losing yet another 'client services liaison manager' candidate. Four in one week - at this rate we'll never get to improve customer relations, sadly.
"I beg your pardon?" the PFY responds, pausing only briefly to display an innocent expression.
"He's not going to show is he?" the boss asks.
"Au contraire," I reply. "I saw him just this morning. In fact the PFY was with me. He was looking a little seedy however - apparently he went late-night drinking with a couple of his soon-to-be workmates."
"You took him out drinking?"
"Well, I might have had a couple of lagers last night, purely in the interests of better understanding," I admit grudgingly.
"So where is he now?"
"Well, that's the funny thing. The last I saw of him was when he was in the lift with me and the PFY when we were trying out those tasty new one quid cigars they sell at that stand down the street. He really did look ill. Next thing I knew he was rushing out of the lift and away." "Why?"
"No idea. I think it was just after the PFY offered him those bacon fat sandwiches."
"Ah no," the PFY counters. "I think it was after you showed him that jar of pickled livers."
"Really? Oh well, I'll take your word for it."
"I suspected this might happen," the boss replies smugly whilst fingering the intercom to reception. "Send in the next applicant will you please?"
Sure enough, the new applicant ("Call me Dave") takes his place at the desk and the boss gives him the standard glossy-brochure, entirely fictional account of what we do here, then asks what Dave's relevant experience is...
"Well," he blurts. "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."
My hand involuntarily tightens on the seat armrest as I consider the horror of working with somebody this geeky.
"When can you start?" the boss asks, anxious to fill the position before the head of IT has another downsizing-binge.
"Well, right away - I like to think I'm dynamically configurable."
The PFY's armrest creaks dangerously in tune with mine - great minds think alike.
Later that morning our new 'representative' is ensconced in the comms room to 'get a feel of our operation'. The PFY and I enhance the tactile experience by lowering the temperature and starting up all the noisy kit that we save for special occasions.
By lunchtime he's starting to get the blue-lipped, sleepy demeanour that only exposure can give, so we slip an empty vodka bottle into the comms room rubbish bin and mention the 'sly-grogging' to the boss.
He breaks the habit of a lifetime by not being fooled. The next day our co-worker has recovered and is back on the job, getting a rough introduction to the network hardware area when the cabling tray he was crawling along had some form of unexplained earthing problem resulting in a 'potential difference anomaly' between his torso and feet. Shocking!
I'm disturbed in my work a short time later when the boss comes wandering by.
"Have you seen Dave?" he asks.
"Not for a bit," I reply. "Why?"
"Oh, someone tripped after one of the removable floor tiles was left unsecured."
"Yes," the PFY mentions. "He left one open in the comms room too - could've been a nasty accident - still, all screwed down securely now."
The boss smiles uneasily at the proof of our safety point while trying to slip a piece of paper onto the desktop unnoticed.
"Oh," I cry, snatching it up. "An official safety memo designed to alleviate employers' responsibility for workplace accidents - in the area of... oh, securing floor tiles left open? Dated yesterday? I don't remember receiving this yesterday - do you?"
"Nope," the PFY says. "Not part of the official safety policy as of this morning."
The boss puts on his 'we're all playing on the same side' face and appeals to our better nature to prevent his looking bad at the next occupational safety review.
"That'll be 20 quid each," I reply, cutting him off. A deal is struck and the boss goes off with the knowledge that the buck is not stopping with him.
"Notice," the PFY mentions. "That nowhere on this memo does it say that you should check that there is no-one underneath the said floor at the time that you secure it."
"You didn't," I cry.
"Well you didn't think that banging was the air conditioning playing up again did you?"
"But that's terrible, I can't believe you'd do such a thing!"
You can never be too careful when it comes to networking.