I'm in the workshop when the boss comes in with a perplexed look on his face. Discarding the thought that he might have found a higher meaning to life than taking the world record for impersonating a paper-weight, I decide to see what's on his mind.
"Is there a problem?" I ask, appearing concerned with his welfare.
"Well ... no. No problem. Just having some trouble with my car as it happens".
"The royal blue monster in the basement? Not starting then?" I prompt.
"No, no, starts well, runs well. Too well in fact. That's the problem". Knowing what's coming, I prompt yet again. "Too Well?"
"I got another speeding ticket this morning".
"Really? How many's that in total then?"
"Three. But the strange thing is, the car was on Cruise Control and well under the speed limit. Yet when I looked at the speedo later on, I was way over the limit".
"Yes. But the really strange thing is that the radar detector noticed nothing".
"Well, the police do switch bands from time to time to defeat the detectors", I say, trying to ease his curiosity.
"But I've only had it a week! If I didn't know better, I'd swear the car picks the worst time to accelerate. As if cruise control and the radar detector are working in cahoots!"
"Out of the mouths of babes ..." I mutter.
"I said, the police must be hiding out of the way".
He wanders off contemplating life without a licence while I pop down to the basement and swap my recently created radar peripheral into the pimply-faced-youth's car. He's been getting complacent recently, so it'll do him good to get a small reminder of what life on the edge means. With that little trick nicely transferred to the next recipient, I head back to the lift. I am suddenly assailed by twin-tone air horns at close proximity. Behind me, a sporty red convertible and owner are impatiently awaiting my progress. The name on the car park plaque is transferred to long-term memory in an instant.
Back in the office, I realise I've been neglecting the education of the PFY and decide to rectify this forthwith. I recount to the PFY the events in the basement concerning the rather too impatient sales manager in the sporty convertible.
"Shall we disconnect his line?" The PFY asks, keenly interested.
"No, no", I reply. "This is a special case calling for a special measure.
Grab that book over there".
"The one with the metal covers?"
"That's the one".
He grabs the book, lifts it and falls to the floor. Seconds later he regains consciousness.
"What happened?" he asks in a daze.
"The oldest trick in the book. 'Which book?' you ask ... the Bastard Operator Guide. The Tome of Hell".
"But what happened?"
"When you picked the book up, the microswitch in the basement activated the chunky inverter which supplies a healthy dose of voltage to the covers. You can't be too careful with the Book".
He's not happy, but good education has never been cheap.
"OK", I say. "Grab some rubber gloves and turn to page 43, bottom paragraph".
"This it? About Internet news?" he asks.
"The very one. Now, perhaps you can help me compose the message that our friend will be sending to a large number of sex-based newsgroups. What sort of perversion will he be interested about in hearing from people?"
Five minutes later we have a virtual masterpiece, guaranteed to appeal to a large number of the strangest people on the net.
"Shall I post it now?" the PFY asks.
"Not quite yet. You realise that this is going to generate an enormous amount of e-mail that will flood the server, causing the system administrator, a man with all the discretion of a loud hailer, to investigate?"
"You mean he'll tell?"
"We can't rely on that. Make the return address the head telephonist. It'll be round the building before someone has the guts to tell him!"
"You really are a complete bastard!"
"In the flesh, on the keyboard, and wading through people's personal lives!" I reply, with a measure of pride.
Later that day, I pop down to the basement to watch a figure emerge from the lift and slink to the little red convertible.
From the look on his face, the propositions haven't only come from external sources ...
As he rockets off for a long memory-obscuring holiday, I head back to my office to finish the day's labour, pausing but momentarily to drop his sump plug into the rubbish bin ...