back to article BOFH: Oh dear. Did someone get lost on the Audit Trail?

So I'm walking down the corridor from Mission Control with about a ream of financial paperwork when I notice the Boss coming the other way with the IT Director in tow - never a good sign. I quickly slip down a side corridor towards the lifts but not so quickly that the Boss doesn't see me going. I get to the lifts just as the …

  1. Dave K


    ""Apparently there's some colour issue on one of the printers," I say, an excuse which is guaranteed to appeal to any pedant within hearing range."

    Brilliant line, and disturbingly true as well...

  2. adam payne

    "So, maybe things haven't gone the way you planned today?" the Boss says smugly, patting his plastic bag.

    "Yes. I'm the decoy," I say, as the sound of a heavily loaded shredder start echoing through the building.

    Outmanoeuvred the boss again.

    I would say poor boss but that would be a lie.

    I'm surprised the boss didn't have an accident with the shredder.

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      "I'm surprised the boss didn't have an accident with the shredder."

      Give it time.

      1. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

        The BOFH didn't need to get his hands dirty this time.

        Why breaking the Boss' skull when you can break his spirit? I can imagine his face when he heard the shredded revving up: a carefully planned day lost, the feeling of having for once bested the BOFH gone down the drain in a second. There's nothing for him but the feeling of failure, and no doubt the sh*t-eating grin of both the BOFH and the PFY making him feel even more miserable the rest of the day.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I'm surprised the boss didn't have an accident with the shredder.

      Blood plays havoc with the internals and is a forensic's team wet dream. Why do you think it was in storage for so long? Of course, if a corpse has been carefully freeze dried after a halon incident due to a naked flame in the data centre, then resulting chips make fantastic fertiliser!

    3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      When he does

      have the accident with the shredder, just make the e.stop button is well hidden....

      <<mutters darkly about a manager who got his tie caught in the cardboard shredder at a previous job....

    4. chivo243 Silver badge

      "Yes. I'm the decoy," I say, as the sound of a heavily loaded shredder...

      Sounds like Simon has been to Texas:

      From the State of Texas, where drinking and driving is considered a

      sport, comes a true story about drinking wisely.

      Recently a routine police patrol was parked outside a local

      neighborhood bar. Late in the evening the officer noticed a man

      leaving the bar so

      intoxicated that he could barely walk. The man stumbled around the

      parking lot for a few minutes with the officer quietly observing.

      After what seemed an

      eternity and trying his keys on five different vehicles, the man

      managed to find his own car, which he fell into. He was there for a

      few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off.

      Finally he started the car, switched the wipers on and off (it was a

      dry night), flicked the hazard flasher on and off, tooted the horn and


      switched on the lights. He moved the vehicle forward a few inches,

      reversed a little and then remained stationary for a few more minutes

      as more

      patrons left in their vehicles. At last he pulled out of the parking

      lot and started to drive slowly down the street. The police officer,

      having patiently waited all this time, now started up his patrol car,

      put on the flashing lights, promptly pulled the man over and carried

      out a Breathalyzer test. To his amazement the Breathalyzer indicated

      no evidence of the man having consumed alcohol at all! Dumbfounded,

      the officer said "I'll have to ask you to accompany me

      to the Police station. This Breathalyzer equipment must be broken."

      "I doubt it," said the man, "Tonight I'm the designated decoy."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Yes. I'm the decoy," I say, as the sound of a heavily loaded shredder...

        "Tonight I'm the designated decoy."

        While you might get away with that line when trapped in an elevator with the boss, saying it to a law enforcement officer may very well not be extremely wise. To put it lightly.

        Even in the BOFH case, a non-incriminating line about decoys in general followed by an awkward silence to let it sink in (a process helped by the *kathump* *kathump* from the shredder) might have been more appropriate. And somewhat funnier.

        Even something like "Nah, company's fine. Say, are you familiar with the concept of decoys?" *kathump* *kathump* *kathump*

        But what do I know, I'm not familiar with the concept of destroying evidence in secret. Usually taking painstaking steps to ensure that the right names are on the right papers is usually enough to ensure that evidence will at the very least be overlooked. Or destroyed by somebody else.

        When you can summon written evidence of approval from high up in the foodchain, Bob's your bitch.

      2. Scott 26

        Re: "Yes. I'm the decoy," I say, as the sound of a heavily loaded shredder...

        A more Kiwi version:

      3. Mark 85

        Re: "Yes. I'm the decoy," I say, as the sound of a heavily loaded shredder...

        That's a good one. I'm reminded of the old story about LBJ and his first election. While the cops were breaking down the door to the place where the votes were tallied, the ballots were being fed to the shredder. Not sure how true it was but it was in Texas....

      4. Lord_Beavis

        Re: "Yes. I'm the decoy," I say, as the sound of a heavily loaded shredder...

        “Sounds like Simon has been to Texas:”

        I’ve heard the same story but with kids at a party...

  3. Rob Moir

    Ahhh a return to form for the BOFH...

    1. Gordon 10

      Like they have *ever* been off form.

    2. BebopWeBop

      He has become a little (well very little more subtle)

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Beware the PFY when he's not even mentioned!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A colleague a few jobs ago used to be very generous with the exchange rate when claiming traveling expenses. "We always lose out a bit otherwise".

  5. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge


    Made my day!

    cheers to beers!

  6. Terje

    I'm quite surprised the new auditors didn't have some unfortunate accident with an open window or something equivalent, just getting rid of evidence is a bit to gentle for our beloved bofh.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Maybe the BOFH sees the auditors as "useful idiots"?

      You know when they find irregularities with some boss' expenses, but strangely enough their own have just been accidentally shredded due to some unfortunate mistake when old documents due for secure disposal were piled on top of the original copies requested for audit...

  7. Peter2 Silver badge

    I was breifly wondering what (or who) the shredder was loaded with, but I take it that it was just the PFY running the (now) missing paper records through it rather than running the auditors through the shredder.

    1. Jeroen Braamhaar

      .... THIS TIME .... who knows what will happen to them if them pesky auditors persist ...

    2. BebopWeBop

      Although I think the BOFH has been a little short sited - a cross shredder would have shurely crept into the bosses expenses (the ones that never managed to get through the shredder)

  8. Admiral Grace Hopper


    Go team!

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    A thing of beauty

    See title.

  10. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge


    Superb episode. "I'm the decoy" had me in stitches

  11. ukgnome

    I was expecting a tie in the cutters sort of scenario - didn't guess the decoy bit. Although Simon was being quite accommodating.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The auditors will probably end up stuck in the revolving door over a long weekend, in full view of the street with only their briefcases to relieve themselves into, either that or learning to swim/fly depending on where they have been 'enticed' to in/on/under the building.

  13. Alistair

    emergency stop. Hmmm.

    PFY off with the papers, boss in the lift on emergency stop. Auditors in the building hot on the (confetti) paper trail....

    Why do I see a power outage and some defective elevator hardware in episode 2?

    (And can anyone tell me why Visio is such a hot steaming mess of bugs that I cannot replace? -- Yes, I've done yEd, Dia and others - but .... )

    1. W4YBO

      Re: emergency stop. Hmmm.

      "And can anyone tell me why Visio is such a hot steaming mess of bugs..."

      I think the full name of that product will answer your question. Micro$oft Visio.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: emergency stop. Hmmm.

        That, and some numpty thought that bolting an entire programming API (including all the requisite knobs for data interchange) into what should be a lightweight program for generating pretty pretty pictures of the data center was a grand idea.

        (either that, or it's the other way around- I'm not sure, all I know is that it sucks down processor like nobodies business, and is slow as mud even when dealing with an empty page.)

  14. Sgt_Oddball

    reminds me of an old graffti note

    Double your pleasure, double your fun...

    Xerox your paycheque.

    As for being the decoy Shirley Simon should have looked visibly irritated at some point just to keep the manager biting less he figure out out sooner.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: reminds me of an old graffti note

      "just to keep the manager biting less he figure out sooner

      I'm not sure I'd credit the manager with possessing that many cluons...

  15. Alex C

    There's a lovely, if similar joke, set for no particular reason in a small county in Texas where the local hobby is drink driving.

    A cop pulls up one Friday evening outside a bar notorious for it's drink drivers, and spies someone absolutely plastered stumbling aroung the parking lot. This is the one, thinks he, and lies in wait for the chap to drive onto the public road. Eventually the drunk finds his car and spends a good 5 minutes trying to get his key in the door. A few others start to leave but the cop sticks with his man, now curious as to the level of blood alchol that must be in him. He eventually gets into his car and there's another few minutes trying to get the key into the ignition. Others leave the bar, and the cop is about to go after one or two of them, when the lights come on full beam in the drunks car, the wipers go on full pelt and there's a beeeep as he nods onto the steering wheel. With the lot almost empty the drunk drives very slowly out onto the main road and the cop immediately pulls him over as the last few patrons leave the bar.

    The cop asks for drivers licence and insurance which are forthcoming instantly. The drunk is very pleasant and doesn't seem in the least inebriated. He is asked to perform the ritual tests, which are all done flawlessly, and breathes into a breathalyser. Zero alcohol in him.

    'But!' exclaims the cop, 'The stumbling about, the lights and the beeping, the slow driving! How on earth are you sober?'

    'Ah' responds the driver, 'I'm the designated decoy'.

    1. Vulch

      Similar tale told about a Cattle Market back home. Customs and Excise turn up near the end of the day to dip Land Rover tanks looking for red diesel. First farmer comes out and starts a long argument with the C&E officers about how they don't need to test his tank. In the mean time everyone else hops into their Landie and depart, the parking area being a triangle of open space between a couple of roads with no fences or hedges there's no hope of delaying them. Finally exasperated C&E get an answer to their repeated question of why they don't need to dip the tank, "This one runs on petrol".

      [In the UK fuel for agricultural machinery isn't taxed but mustn't be used in road vehicles, there's a red dye added to trace it]

      1. Marshalltown


        Thanks for that. As a USian, I've run across the term "red diesel" in British literature but never could figure out what it meant.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: Ah!!

          IIRC, they also did that for fuel that was ultimately destined for use in a non-moving engine, like generators and whatnot.

          1. Jess--

            Re: Ah!!

            the non dyed diesel was known as DERV (Diesel Engined Road Vehicle) and gets charged extra tax

            the dyed version is intended for non road vehicle use (agricultural vehicles / plant generators etc)

            an oddity in the law is red diesel is used in boats and it up to the boat owner to declare what percentage of the fuel is to be used for propulsion (taxed) and the proportion used for other purposes like charging batteries or heating (untaxed)

        2. Barry Rueger

          Re: Ah!!

          As a USian, I've run across the term "red diesel" in British literature but never could figure out what it meant.

          Canada used to have "purple gas" for farm use. Don't know if it's still around.

        3. TomG

          Re: Ah!!Ah!!

          Must not be from Texas. We have red diesel for off road use, primarily agriculture.

          1. Marshalltown

            Re: Ah!!Ah!!

            Nope, not from Texas. Grew up on a ranch though. We and our neighbors mostly used either gasoline or horses for herding. Gasoline in ATVs, hay in horses.

        4. tlhonmey

          Re: Ah!!

          We have dyed diesel in the US too. But you'll only see it at the filling station in rural areas with lots of farm equipment.

        5. Curtis

          Re: Ah!!

          Just so that you know, we have the same in the states. It's generally for farm use, and it's both gas and diesel.

      2. Blake St. Claire

        We have dyed diesel in the US too

        It's also used for farm gear and #2 heating oil.

  16. Sir Runcible Spoon

    In the follow up..

    the PFY has staged a coup on the BOFH by only shredding his own expenses. The BOFH's are in evidence bags on HR's desk already.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: In the follow up..

      And after the documents have been reassembled they will be found to be the bosses expense reports.

      1. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

        Re: In the follow up..

        that's what I had been expecting the outcome to be. BOFH outmaneuvered me too! Bravo! :)

  17. dmacleo

    PFY strikes again

    swear to god he needs a raise :)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great, but

    The headline had me hoping someone died of dysentery...

  19. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    I must be losing it

    I couldn't figure out the BOFH's game, kept looking for some sort of "accident"! Loved the real motivations!

    this is gonna be one of the BOFH's Greatest Hits.

  20. John 104


    Best ending in a long while. Love it!

  21. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    In all my years of evilly auditing -and I've encoutered and investigated quite a few fraud cases - and much to my disappointment I've never had to pleasure to meet a BOfH-like opponent. Usually, first they simply deny. Second, they keep denying. Third are the excuses and entering the whiny mode.

    But without exception they didn't cover their trails. Well, the ones who presumably did I never found...

  22. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    The real decoy.

  23. K


    Brilliant, excellent way to start my holiday... Cackling in the departure lounge, now the stewards are gonna think I'm a nutcase and precent me boarding.

  24. heyrick Silver badge

    along with the phone booth it was chained to and the phone pole that serviced it

    Where's the icon for tea -> keyboard interface error?

    Ah, there it is !

  25. NanoMeter

    Shredding some papers?

    While all the data still is stored on computers. 1960s, please meet the 2010s.

    1. Hazmoid

      Re: Shredding some papers?

      Yes but that data was accidentally overwritten with the photos from last Christmas (including the ones of the Boss being caught in the stationery cupboard with his secretary), and the backups have unfortunately aged out , with the tapes being lost in a recent fire. I suppose the shredder isn't capable of securely destroying hard drives as well? ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shredding some papers?

        "I suppose the shredder isn't capable of securely destroying hard drives as well?"

        Yes it is, along with the server the disk came from, and the 19 inch rack the server was installed in...

        1. Slow Joe Crow

          Re: Shredding some papers?

          There's a company in the US right near my old neighborhood that makes just that sort of machine

          They have videos of shredding a torpedo, a car, a boat and a bunch of desktop PCs.

  26. chivo243 Silver badge

    Article placement?

    Where was this story? I read the front page on Friday and yesterday and wondered where the BOFH was this week? Then today, on Sunday the story pops up on the front page?

    Has something changed? Do I need to look deeper that the front page for BOFH now?

  27. -tim


    The base I worked at had a paper shredder model number 007. I've seen a hard drive shredder that started out life tearing apart some sort of military equipment as it started out crushing, then shredding followed up with a few hours of incineration. That thing would cope with a 14 inch disk pack complete with the cake cover.

    1. Toni the terrible Bronze badge

      Re: Shredders?

      Ah the high-tech vampire killer..

  28. jhml2011

    Tea. All. Over. My. Monitor!!!!!

  29. Gnoitall

    I hope Simon is taking proper caution about depending on PFY

    He has been properly treacherous when opportunity arose. Promotion in the IT department is by assassination, like in all proper hierarchies.

    Trusting PFY to tidy up BOFH's audit trail as well as his own can't possibly be the only plan. I really hope there's a devastatingly good Plan B, like past experience has shown. It's critical to my conception of The Man that he's thinking at least three moves ahead of every other player.

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