back to article What do you mean you gave the boss THAT version of the report? Oh, ****ing ****balls

Ever written that angry email and accidentally hit send instead of delete? Take a trip back to the 1990s equivalent with a slightly NSFW Who, Me? Our story, from "Matt", flings us back the best part of 30 years to an era when mobile telephones were the preserve of the young, upwardly mobile professionals and fixed lines ruled …

  1. Joe W Silver badge

    Well written....

    1. The report was way shorter than anything anybody received that year.

    2. making it easy to read

    3. and easy to understand

    The goal of a written report was achieved: people read it and probably even understood the order of events / organisational causes.

    I can see no fault with it.

    Yeah, the language. So what? Not every boss had an humourectomy / is overly sensitive to swearing.

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Well written....

      This will be deliberately vague for reasons that will hopefully become clear.

      I worked at a firm where there was no love lost between different parts of the firm. So to try and address this we had a directive from the CEO that the hate between different divisions and brands was to cease. Divisional heads and brand managers were given the task of dealing with this. Passing the office door of one senior manager/division head after hours he or she asked me to come in for a chat and was all sweetness and light when doing so. Then came the real reason for seeing me.

      They had come back from holiday to see the CEO's email and sent out a response email to what they thought was the managers in just their brand. It was meant as a joke but it described other brands in less than complementary terms and was even worse about colleagues at their level of seniority. The one comment I remember reading was describing somebody as an alcoholic who really shouldn't smoke lest they actually turned into the fire breathing dragon they were known as.

      It had actually gone to all the staff above a certain pay grade and therefore all the people named in the email. Oops! They had no idea about our email system beyond sending and receiving the damned things. I was therefore asked to please delete the message as fast as possible from all the recipients. Fortunately we were using Novell for mail and for internal emails you could delete not just recall (as with Outlook) emails. You could also see who had read it and who hadn't without read receipts. I checked and almost nobody* had read it so far, I deleted it with ease and said they owed me a large favour. Also suggested sending out another email with the same subject agreeing with the CEO directive, just in case

      *The one person who had read it was their PA as evidenced by the copious amounts of laughter from the next room. I don't know what bought her silence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The office concerned even supplied us with suitable material

        I was working in the UK office of a large US-based company, and we were sent some promotional posters including one showing a well-laden golf bag, with the legend "Work with a full set of tools" (presumably aimed at the type of CxO that makes decisions while playing golf; we weren't a sports company).

        We happily put the poster up in our office, as we thought of our US colleagues as a full set of tools.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: The office concerned even supplied us with suitable material

          The system manager's office in the engineering department where I studied had a large advertising poster prominently displayed over the window through which one of DEC's finest products could be seen.

          "Nothing Sucks like a Vax"

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Well written....

        Ah, GroupWise, the best mail system I have ever used as both a user and techie. Even with Outlook as the client it was still better than Exchange.

      3. Zarno

        Re: Well written....

        "I don't know what bought her silence."

        Likely a platinum or black card, with a mysterious auto-approval.

        Mine's the one with the Dine-O-Charge in the pocket.


    Honesty is (almost!) always the best policy... (even sweary honesty!)

    1. oiseau

      Honesty is (almost!) always the best policy..

      Depends who for or where you work.

      In another life, I worked for a well known multinational telco.

      I was tasked to file a report involving the purchase of a property from a list of ~15 possible locations.

      I filed the report with the best option at #1 and from there down to the worst option at #15, thoroughly documenting the reasons of my evaluation of each one.

      A week later I got called up by a higher up and told in no uncertain terms that I had to re-write the report with #15 at the top, to which I refused as my professionalism and credibility would be put at stake.

      Someone else did it and had no issues signing it.

      TL;DR, a year later I was without a job due to resizing/shuffling but the top brass involved made sure I had a really very hard time finding another one.

      Sometimes honesty and integrity bear a high cost.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        A friend of mine was an accountant at the head offices of an international bank well known for money laundering. He foolishly objected to some "dubious" practices, was similarly left without a job after company reorganization... and has not been able to find employment as an accountant since (and we're talking over a decade).

        Anon, coz reasons.

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          Re: Integrity?

          On the plus side, his integrity (and cessation of employment) also mean he never became the guy that got thrown under the bus when they needed someone to pin the blame on, you know, like that hapless Boeing bloke that basically made it so so very easy...

          1. oiseau

            Re: Integrity?

            ... his integrity (and cessation of employment) also mean he never became the guy that got thrown under the bus ...

            Which I'm sure would have been the case as absolutely all my observations/reasons for #15 being #15 became reality less than four years after the fact.

            But believe me, there's no plus side (at 40) to being a full five years without a job.


            Nobody knows you when you're down and out ...

            Jimmy Cox - 1923



        2. Cuddles

          Re: Integrity?

          "an international bank well known for money laundering"

          But you repeat yourself.

      2. Mine's a Large One

        Don't know who reads this so will need to be sketchy, but myself and a colleague wrote a report which - despite the scoring criteria, evidence and comments within it supporting the conclusion we came to - was certainly not what had been expected that we would write.

        Another group were asked to do it, resulting (eventually) in a pretty half arsed report that fully supported doing what management wanted because it was going to be simple.

        Over a year later and the simple things hadn't been so simple after all, and much of our original comments had borne true, but we were still tarred by that original report.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I can't see that Matt had any problem other than the faulty switch. There was nothing wrong with the report he left in the correct place, the boss's in-tray.

    The manager, however... Well, he's the one who handed the boss some random, sweary bit of paper.

    And the boss is in no position to escalate it as he's the one who couldn't find a report in his own in-tray.

    ("Couldn't find a report in his own in-tray" Is that a euphemism?)

    1. Coastal cutie

      Don't think it was intended as such but I shall be nicking it forthwith

    2. Mark 85

      ("Couldn't find a report in his own in-tray" Is that a euphemism?)

      Maybe modify a bit: "Couldn't find a report in his own in-tray with both hands and a flashlight." ?

      1. ITMA Silver badge

        Depends WHERE aforementioned flashlight is....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Errant SMS but in the same vein

    Once had the pleasure of 80 box to desk jobs on a weekend allowing Finance to move into a shiny new floor.

    Boss at the time was unavailable (probably a good thing, motorbike/ashtray etc) so I dutifully installed, asset tagged, imaged and tested the wee beasties.

    Chuffed but a tad tired I retired to the hostelry of choice for my liquid reward(s.)

    Boss decided to check in early evening and was surprised that the task was complete and I'd left.

    SMS arrived thanking me for my efforts which I duly forwarded with a suitably sarcastic comment to a Colleague. Pop phone on bar, order a hop squash then had the "oh fsck" moment. Checked messages and yes, I had tapped reply not forward. Phone went into pint and I continued until last orders.

    Following morning my praises were being sung to the newly desked colleagues bay said Boss with not a mention of the message.

    Lucky that as I became a permee and had a mostly happy further decade there.

  5. Chairman of the Bored

    The time I was asked for career advice...

    I was asked for some career advice, "Should I take a deputy director role in division X?"

    My snarky replay was along the lines of, "Why the hell would you do that? It's run by a fucked up, half-witted bootlick with a nose for blow!"

    I didn't know that they guy was the stepson of the company president. Blowback was surprisingly light, because I think the president's wife was pressuring him to "find a job for little Timmy" and Timmy ended up getting promoted into harms way, in accordance with the Peter principle.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I did this ...

    ... sort of.

    At school we had to do a project on a thoroughly tedious book, aka "Picnic at Hanging Rock", in which nothing that I found even slightly interesting happened. I know that some like that sort of thing, and good luck to them, but - oh god, the boredom - it was mind-numbingly dull, and not at all something that I wanted to read, let alone *study*.

    Nevertheless, like a dutiful schoolkid I write up the project, plot summaries, character analyses, or whatever it was that needed to take up four to six pages of lined refill.

    To relieve the tedium and resentment I make a number of marginal notes in light, easily erased pencil, along the lines of "which no-one gives a stuff about" , or "tedious nonsense", "boring", which naturally planned to erase before submission.

    I think you can guess by now what I forgot to do before handing the thing in. Fortunately there was no proper swearing, but then I wasn't a very sweary person back then.

    I lost a few marks for "inappropriate language", but on the whole well worth it, in hindsight :-)

    1. fredds
      Thumb Down

      Re: I did this ...

      Ah, picnic at hanging rock, one of the great Australian movies..not. Three times I have believed the hype when advertised on TV, and on each occasion, quit after 20 minutes of utter boredom. Have learnt my lesson now. You have my deepest sympathies for having to study the wretched thing.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've done this a couple of times, but by choice as opposed to a mistake (including telling a director to feck off and leave me alone to deal with a problem and I'd update him once I'd fixed it).

    The fact I never got fired for being brutally honest means I must have been right. But one day I am sure I will be wrong....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The trick is knowing who you can be brutally honest to. My boss knows that I am, to put it mildly, a grumpy old* man that can use language that might make a sailor blush. He also knows that <issue> will get fixed after my rants.

      His boss : I tread lightly… Once (after that bozo called me at 10 pm, while I was the worse for wear in a pub, for an issue he inflicted upon himself) I might have been a bit too “honest”… repercussions were limited to a stern talk with *his* boss, but I tried to avoid these nowadays.

      * : old means mid-forties. Or about 82 if level of cynicism counts after 23 years as a sysadmin.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      I was well known for being brutally honest, so I had to have my line manager as a translator.

      Me: I can either fix the *****ING problem, or I can waste everyone's e *****Ing time, telling ****s who dont have a *****Ing clue what I do for a job, some information that's serves no ******Ing purpose.

      Line Manager: He's working on the issue as we speak and I'll keep you updated on progress.

      1. Martin
        Thumb Up

        Sounds like a line manager worth keeping!

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        My senior developer just went up massively in my opinion.

        We are having a state visit from $important politician. He was asked to give a talk on the very technical problem he works on

        "Why, is $politico an expert on X?"

        Well no, but ...

        "So can you explain why I should waste my time ?"

        Well no, but ...

        "Right so I'm not bothering then"

  8. Frank Zuiderduin

    NSFW? That? Seriously?

    You don't get out much, do you?

  9. waldo kitty

    well done!

    this article got an honest full on belly laugh! excellent job and perfect report!

    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: well done!

      Funniest damn thing I've heard in a month. Felt like I was reading Terry Pratchett again.

      I needed a good 5 minute laugh today.

  10. Wim Ton

    A colleague inadvertently demonstrated a debug build to a customer. On a little used menu option, a message window popped up: "Malloc first, you d*khead!"

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Yeah, some of my software has error traps like that inserted during development.

      I tend to take a quick read through the executable in a text editor just to make sure I've caught them all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        wording of asserts

        One product I worked on had some strongly-worded assert messages, and either one was seen by a customer, or someone realized that it might... so a task was entered into the tracking system "Knock the shit out of <product>".

      2. Flightmode

        Whenever I code anything, I usually have a bunch of conditionals to test whether a database is available, check to see whether an API key is present and valid, verify/sanitize input, etc; and it almost always ends in something like

        else {

        die("Fethövve."); [0]


        Very rarely do I remember to clean that up before I Deploy to Production[1]. I've only ever received two questions about it; both from my father, several years apart.

        [0] A colloquial mock-dialect way of spelling "Fethuvud" - "Fat head" in Swedish. No, it's not a common insult in Swedish.

        [1] El Risitas, may he rest in peace.

      3. G.Y.

        C != 0

        An old program of mine (integer linear programming) had an error message "fuckup -- C is not zero".

        Boss: "if they see this, they will come running at you!"

        Me: "that's exactly what I want them to do!"

    2. Insert sadsack pun here

      Our system (c 1992) gave a print job delay error message of "eat shit and hold your horses" for much the same reasons.

  11. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    One day, one of our users came up to me asking why he'd been told "Get Back!" and been called "Thickyhead" by one of our webpages. This phrase was an injoke within our team at the time (I forget why). I explained to the user it was an injoke, and we weren't actually calling him "Thickyhead". I also apologised on behalf of the team, and said I would get the problem fixed. The user went away, apparently happy.

    I went to the script's author. He explained that he'd included several in jokes partly in hopes that we would spot them while testing the script, and laugh. Partly, it was to make debugging the script a little more fun for him. He'd replaced most of the errors with more sensible messages that did actually explain what was wrong, but had missed this one. He was also surprised that anyone had encounter it, because 5 seperate things on multiple other systems would need to have failed to create the conditions required to display the error.

    He did replace the error with a more polite message.

    1. AlexG_UK

      Ahhh .. that reminds me of a customer I once had.

      There was one particular user, let's call her, Brenda, who was peculiarly adept at stumbling across the most arcane bugs in the code. The dev team put in a hard coded error message that read "Brenda, if you see this call tech support and tell them the error that should never happen has just happened." (A not unpleasant contrast to the endless pages of Java Stack Traces you see these days)

      Of course a couple of weeks after go live, tech support get a call from Brenda who relayed the message, with an query as to how they knew she was the user (bearing in mind the login id was something like EA27C1.4403). They told her they were trying our some code to personalise error messages.

      1. John Sturdy

        An error from code that tempted people to try its boundaries

        I didn't manage to find it with a quick look around the source, but there's rumoured to be an error message from one of the more arcane parts of TeX (or something else in that suite) that says "If you get this error, you know exactly what you are doing, and you entirely deserve it."

        1. Julian Bradfield

          Re: An error from code that tempted people to try its boundaries

          the message error is "Interwoven alignment preambles are not allowed." and D. Knuth comment is "If you have been so devious as to get this message, you will understand it, and you will deserve no sympathy." (TeXbook, page 299) - from Google.

          I have never managed to provoke it, but then I've never tried to interweave alignments.

          Apparently \halign{\valign#\cr\cr suffices.

      2. jmch Silver badge
        Thumb Up


        Every company seems to have a Brenda. Always good to be in good relations with them.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >asking why he'd been told "Get Back!" and been called "Thickyhead"

      There is an argument for having daft memorable error messages.

      A user is much more likely to correctly report an "Out of cheese" or "Aadvark broken" error than Error code #2C-FD-A1-C0-70-47

      Also a lot easier to search for in the code.

      1. Paul Kinsler

        A user is much more likely to correctly report an "Out of cheese"

        So, then what we need is "what three words" error codes (probably as a complement to the technobabble 2C-FD-A1-C0-70-47).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A user is much more likely to correctly report an "Out of cheese"

          or four king words ones :-)

  12. Roger Kynaston

    my only claim to fame

    I sent a rather fruity email about someone making unreasonable demands of me. something about installing a beta test only perl mod on the production server. The trouble was I had hit reply all and the subject got the email as well. I sent a grovelling email in follow up but no other repercussions followed as my department disliked him enormously as he was an attempt at shadow IT.

  13. AlexG_UK

    Not quite the same, but similar

    I forwarded an email from my new boss where he was describing his vision for the team etc. Using the typical 'responses in line below' approach I critiqued him and his vision in fairly unvarnished language. Of course I didn't actually forward the email to my friend, no, I replied didn't I!

    I got a one line response back from the Boss saying "I don't think this was meant for me." We did though, have an excellent working relationship thereafter.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

      Re: Not quite the same, but similar

      lucky fish!

    2. RockBurner

      Re: Not quite the same, but similar

      I spent several years working for a small company where you weren't genuinely part of the company ethos until you'd called the MD a 'See you next Tuesday' to his face*. It was amazing how some of the younger employees struggled with this.

      * The first time was a freebie - repeats needed to be due to entirely deserved provocation - I think by the time I left I didn't refer to him by anything else. But he was a genuinely good bloke (and good boss) who simply like to be push the envelope of what the company could achieve and preferred to be reined in in a very blatant manner.

      (his 2nd in charge though was a genuine SYNT who created a genuinely toxic atmosphere and was the cause of multiple resignations, including mine).

      1. Potty Professor

        Re: Not quite the same, but similar

        I was once hauled over the coals because of an email to a customer. I was arranging a site visit, and ended the email with "See you next Tuesday", in confirmation of the appointment. Manglement weren't impressed, and I had to go and explain that I genuinely _was_ intending to go to site on that particular day of the next week.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: Not quite the same, but similar

          I had a friend with a IT company, I told him I wanted it in my contract that I could call him a c**t or similar pub language (Icon - That's where we met) to his face with just cause or in our usual banter & not be terminated, if I ever worked for him.

  14. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Face it, criticizing the BOFh will result in an ominous hummmmm, followed by a brief >KZERRRT< and a whiff of ozone.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social media is HOME to my temper tantrums over the years, as are barely-getting-past-the-censors CBC posts before I threw the ultimate tantrum and got booted permanently, hiding and disabling my account (which is what I *really* wanted with that missive to the admins/monitors - its the only way I know of to "delete" your content at the CBC website. *LOL*)

    I live alone. There is no one to have a good argument with when I'm stressed, so I do so online. People need to vent the frustrations of the day, especially if they make the mistake of reading about the "cockwombles" in government around the world...

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      "People need to vent the frustrations of the day"

      Not really.

      When I'm pissed off and fed up, I go home at the end of the day, stroke the cat, and enjoy an extra large tea with a chocolate bar (or two, or three, depending on my anger level).

      The best way to manage anger and frustration it to understand the difference between what you fuck up and what other people fuck up. If it was you, try to fix it, do better, etc. If it was other people, then let it go. As long as the paper trial misses you (else you've fucked up too), it's their shitshow, let them own it. Cat, tea, chocolate. Works every time.

      1. Martin

        A short story...

        One day, a young man in a bad mood went home. He put on the kettle to make tea, and felt a bit better. He stroked the cat, and felt even better. He then went to the cupboard where he kept the chocolate. There was no chocolate....

        The name of that young man was Ernst Blofeld...

      2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        "the difference between what you fuck up and what other people fuck up"

        It's called time.

    2. RockBurner

      I've found that a very involving commute is the best therapy - namely by motorcycle.

      So involving is it, that work stress is forgotten about by the time you reach home. The trick is to balance the distance/time of the commute with your level of stress.

      1. Stephen Wilkinson

        Finding various interesting routes home even if it took longer to avoid motorways and really busy A roads.

        Riding a motorcycle works for me :)

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      I find that just writing out the angry missive is enough to calm me down. I then hit delete/cancel and go about my day.

    4. Precordial thump Silver badge

      Donald? We haven't heard from you in a while.

  16. ColinPa

    Clarity focuses the mind

    I was asked to go to "review the systems" at a customer after a significant outage.

    Two of us went, asked all the right questions and found that the techies had said - "we recommend plan A, if you do plan B you are likely to have a major outage"

    Plan B was implemented and they had a major outage.

    After the review, we found some areas for improvement, but nothing major.

    We presented to the techies for their feedback, then to their management and up the line.

    We presented to the managers manager.

    Bullet one on the first feedback chart was "Management do not listen to the techies"... He gave us a hard time - exploring our evidence. He asked us to come come back the next day and finish the presentation.

    Next day, he said "Thank you for being so clear. I've fixed the first problem - would you mind removing the first bullet"- so we did.

    I bumped into one of the techies a few months later, who said "heads had rolled", and there was now a team of senior technical people who could help "executives with vision" understand the implications and costs of their vision.

  17. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    The ones I like best are the extremely polite ones.

    I can't remember the exact wording but my favourite was something like:

    "I have examined the code you've asked me to update. However I find it far beyond my capabilities. Clearly the original developer has a unique understanding of the language and I suggest you ask them to perform the task"

  18. Rufus McDufus


    If this refers to a certain telecoms provider in a Yorkshire town - back in the mid-to-late 90s I was second line support for a database provider and was asked to fix a problem on your development or staging database. I had some problems remotely connecting to the server (a Pyramid I think?) and when I finally did succeed in dialling in I was greeted by the console messages of a server rebooting, which was a little disturbing. It also turns out I'd connected to your live database server rather than the development one. If anyone from the company is reading this, sorry I might have rebooted it by mistake.

  19. lotus123

    I had a customer once who was abusing our help resources to the point of harassment, all without any shred of any issues on our end. So I wrote a nasty email with all the expletives one can imagine meaning it would go to our CEO and let him deal with the beast. Guess where it went instead. Lucky for me as I am a major shareholder I did not really risk anything. Still I've felt so embarrassed.

  20. CountCadaver Silver badge

    Forking Shirtballs!

    As per "The Good Place" can't have been that bad as it was only Forking Shirtballs in the headline not Holy Forking Shirtballs

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Forking Shirtballs!

      Upvote for the Good Place reference. One of the best shows on TV in the past decade, at least.

  21. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Some geezer with a boat

    "Customer Services are pissed off because some geezer with a boat called in and tore them a new arsehole"

    That is NO WAY to refer to HRH the Duke of Edinburgh! (God rest his soul.)

    1. RockBurner

      Re: Some geezer with a boat

      He'd probably have found that funny. :D

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Some geezer with a boat

        Sailing in the Cowes regatta (or some other such event off the Isle of Wight), someone is reported to have called into question the 'quality' of his seamanship, to which he allegedly replied:

        "It's my Wife's f*&^%$g water and I'll sail where I f*&^%$g well please!"

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Re: Some geezer with a boat

          Heard that story, only it was on a Loch/Lake.

          Pint to the big fella in the story, for his refreshingly non PC replies.

          1. Evil_Goblin

            Re: Some geezer with a boat

            He was sailing off the Isle of Wight one year during Cowes Week when the skipper of another boat hailed him as ‘Stavros’ in reference to his Greek heritage and asked him to move out of the way.

            ‘It’s not Stavros,’ retorted Philip, ‘and it’s my wife’s f*****g water, so I’ll do what I f*****g well please.’

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some geezer with a boat

      "Mike" here. It was a reference to a shipping operator who were one of our bigger customers on that switch but El Reg dropped that part. Nonetheless I like Eclectic Man's interpretation better so have an up-vote.

  22. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Among my most

    memorable ones... (and there are plenty as I seem to lack a diplomacy gene)

    My mangler(of the time) came up and said

    "Why is'nt the backend done yet.. gotta be a simple job tying it to the interface design"

    My calmness vanished along with the dew in the fields and the mist on the hay.......

    "And what blithering dunderhead(somewhat sanitised version of what I said) designed this abomination(again santised for the delicate) of an interface?"

    "err that would be me" voices up our most esteemed customer who was lurking behind said mangler....

    The silence decended



    I kept my job, the customer liked how forthright the feedback was and said mangler spent the rest of the week chewing on what was left of his toupee.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inspiration for the IT guy in Bruiser?

    1. Ryegrass

      RE: Inspiration for the IT guy in Bruiser?

      Normally I just lurk about, but that was a great video so I had to sign in to upvote.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: RE: Inspiration for the IT guy in Bruiser?

        Do you realise that by signing up you entered Hotel California?

        Look what it's done to the rest of us commentards.

        1. Ryegrass

          Re: Re: RE: Inspiration for the IT guy in Bruiser?

          I actually signed up years ago, but I did have to go through the arduous steps of having my browser fill in my email and password and then... and then of all things press sign in. Can you believe it!?

  24. Luiz Abdala

    I did one of those myself. Verbally. To my boss.

    The best part is, my superior agreed with me, and said he would need that in writing, in a "polished" fashion, (while laughing his ass off) to forward to our suppliers who gave us much grievance, and the reason for the verbal expletives.

    So, he took notes of the main concerns, as I typed a cleaner version of the script he had now at hand.

    He just forwarded the now clean "report" e-mail, almost verbatim to the suppliers, which were most displeased when they found out the wrong version of whatever they were supposed to send our company arrived to us.

    Working without a wall between you and your immediate superior has some perks, after all.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A long time ago, a senior accountant in a company owned by a very large US bank was preparing a budget to move the London office (HQ for all non-US entities of the company). He had just received an MS-DOS spreadsheet program, when such things were very new and had created a calculation of part of the budget in a spreadsheet. What he didn't realise was that, every time he pressed "Recalculate", the spreadsheet would cumulatively add the sum of the items to the previously calculated total. His results were transcribed into a larger report and distributed. Of course, nobody had checked his calculation and by the time anyone realised, the budget request had been forwarded to the company's owners in the USA, requesting $5 million, instead of $4 million. A meeting was then held in which the UK management all decided to keep quiet and decided to fritter away the extra million bucks on nicer desks, fancier PCs, etc. The senior accountant concerned was still their when I joined the company, a few years later.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A now defunct public company I worked for announced a £320,000+ deal by my group in a public notice to the stock market.

      It was actually a £20,000 deal but someone's email converted £ to ascii "A3" and they read it as "A320,000" quid deal. AFAIK it was never commented on again.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It doesn't matter... well you provide negative feedback, idiots either get upset about it, ignore it, spin it or bury you under it.

  27. A____B

    Redirected repercussions

    Some years ago we had an "all hands" meeting when the CEO blew in to rally the troops and show just how out of touch the senior team was with the workforce. You know the suff - just like 'Young Mr Grace -- You've all done very well' ** / keep working harder / we're growing the business [so bonuses for me, more effort required from you] .....Of course held over lunch break; our time and no snacks provided.

    Couple of days later, one of my colleagues who had been fortunate to be off-site at the time, asked me what it was like.

    I replied as an off-the-cuff comment "the usual -- 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing' ". We were unaware that a middle manager, famed for credit theft and blame avoidance was nearby at the time.

    He later used the same words in a meeting which included senior managers from both our company and the customer. Unfortunately for him, one of the customer managers took offence - he was familiar with the quotation from Macbeth and knew the preceding line ('a tale told by an idiot')and was a bit upset at the implication.

    Said middle manager moved onto another customer / project -- and there was much rejoicing.

    I'd like to claim it was planned, but it was genuine serendipity.

    ** for those not quite into decrepitude who don't recognise this -- British Sitcom "Are you being served" reference

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: Redirected repercussions

      I've been wondering how far I should regard America Ferrara's "Superstore" as a remake of "Are You Being Served". Apart from the concept, it may be mainly "Coworkers are not friends" and "Dress the one gay character in one ridiculous costume after another", so am I misreading it. Would Dinah's birds fill the role of Mrs Slocombe's cat...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Redirected repercussions

        Having seen both, maybe... though as I actually worked in a blue superstore much like that it wasn't quite as funny.

  28. Diez66

    Wrong Solution, oh!, just do what he wants.

    Large, was Telecom, now all sorts company and was asked to write a report, by manager, "Ali B" to choose the type of cable system we should use, there were only two choices..

    I did just that and submitted it.

    It came back with various cryptic comments, this went of for several drafts until the penny dropped.

    I had chosen the wrong connector.

    I quickly re-wrote it favouring the "right" system. Job Done.

    Nothing changed, got paid. yay!

  29. Man inna barrel

    My work log book was redacted

    While I was at uni studying electronic engineering, I did industrial training at a military contractor. The trainees had to write up their experiences about each department they worked in, in a log book. The worst was test and inspection on an artillery computer. This was a hefty piece of kit in a green drab enclosure, with expensive multi-pin connectors on it. The gubbins inside was loads of boards with discrete logic, i.e. metal can transistors, glass packaged diodes, etc. Not an IC in sight, not even TTL. Fault finding on it was a nightmare. I wrote in my log that I did not consider working on this obsolete kit to be conducive to productive training, considering that I could be working on something more up-to-date, like the new artillery computer, that used an 8080 processor. My remarks were probably a bit intemperate, but I don't think there was any swearing. Anyway, most of my remarks were blacked out.

    I learned considerably more in other departments. One lesson I learned is that big companies do not pay their bills on time. On industrial training, I worked as a progress chaser for sundry (non production) goods. I would get managers calling me up, saying "we have run out of protective gloves", or "there's no bogroll". Then I would phone accounts to gee them up. I did not rant in my logbook about this, having learnt my lesson. The value of this training was when I started a business, and had to deal with late payers. You can put payment in 30 days on your invoice, but some customers will take 90 days, because that is normal in the industry.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: My work log book was redacted

      "You can put payment in 30 days on your invoice, but some customers will take 90 days, because that is normal in the industry."

      You can also increase the price, put payment 90 days, X% discount if paid with in 30 days.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: My work log book was redacted


      "We pay when we feel like it"

      "?i have input your coordinates in this artillery computer, expect to hear from us soon"

  30. Tim_the_Unenchanter

    best error message I ever encountered

    "I don't know how you got here, but if you can recreate the steps I will buy you a beer"

    this at a very large US corporation that may or may not have to do with truck logistics...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like