back to article BOFH: We send a user to visit Kelvin – Keeper of the Batteries

BOFH logo telephone with devil's horns "It's just not working," our user says. "If I unplug it, it'll ask me to re-enter the time when I plug it back in again. Every time." "I see," I say, looking at him whilst practising my reflective listening. "So does it lose its settings when you unplug it from your machine – or from a …

  1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    The plot thickens

    Kelvin is bound to want revenge and probably has his own collection of keys: are you sure that coffee hasn't been spiked, Simon?

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: The plot thickens

      Coffee is gonna be replaced by ink and the ink in the printer, THAT MUST BE INK AND NOT LASER FOR LEGAL REASONS will be coffee.

      Then, because Printer companies make the devil proud, the printers will not work due to the lack of OFFICIAL OVERPRICED INK.

  2. steelpillow Silver badge

    Don't cross... who was that again?

    When the irresistible force meets the immovable object, the BOFH wins every time. Love it!

    I had kind of hoped that he would send the user down to ask Kelvin for a long stand*, but you can't have everything.


    * to set the device on while recharging, natch.

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    A user who shares a fire escape with the BOFH. Either brave or ignorant.

    1. MrDamage Silver badge

      A user who got an eye witness view of what the BOFH and PFY are capable of doing to one of the most difficult, and tenured staff members. The tales he will tell as warning to others are worth the cost of allowing him to live.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Live long enough to tell those tales anyway...

  4. b0llchit Silver badge

    I'm wondering whether they'll make a quadruple next... Kelvin against Fahrenheit against Celsius against Rankine.

    1. Bebu Silver badge

      Keep the Frogs happy.

      "I'm wondering whether they'll make a quadruple next... Kelvin against Fahrenheit against Celsius against Rankine."

      In the interest of the entente cordiale can add Reaumur for a quintuple (one at each point of a pentagram:)

      0K ~ -218.5 Re (a less useful fact would be hard to imagine.)

      Kelvin and Rankine are just Celsius and Fahrenheit, respectively, starting with a handicap.

      1. b0llchit Silver badge

        Re: Keep the Frogs happy.

        ... (one at each point of a pentagram:)

        You are suggesting to enter the exact science of witchcraft and let it determine heated discussions?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keep the Frogs happy.

        A few years ago a relative was translating 1800s letters to Germany that expressed Texas temperatures in R (aka Reaumur). I'm sure the recipients were sure they were sent from hell.

      3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        Re: Keep the Frogs happy.

        I actually have a sugar thermometer which only uses the Reaumur scale. Freezing point of water = 0 °R, boiling point 80 °R. Get that wrong and that is one load of burnt fudge

      4. FeRDNYC

        Re: Keep the Frogs happy.

        (a less useful fact would be hard to imagine.)

        Here's one for you, and it's even temperature-related: -40 is the point where the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales cross, so -40°F == -40°C.

        Great for trivia purposes, sure. If you want to make a date suffer and reconsider their recent life choices, can't go wrong with that factoid.

        But beyond those social-warfare applications, what practical use will that nugget of information ever be, really?

        1. Richard 126

          Re: Keep the Frogs happy.

          That factoid was the basis for an Issac Asimov short story.

  5. GlenP Silver badge

    Keepers of...

    I've known a few "keepers of" in my time. The clue is in the title, they keep things and almost never give them out.

    30+ years ago stationery was invariably jealously guarded, even getting a new pen meant taking the old, empty, one back and proving it would no longer write. Notepads had to be filled, on both sides of every single page, before they'd issue a new one, so the chances of prising a battery out of them were slim in the extreme. Solar calculators (yes, it was that long ago) meant that at least one battery-hungry device was removed from the equipment list.

    They'd also jealously guard the purchasing budgets. I once placed a requisition for ordering 10 RJ-45 plugs, only to be asked, "Do you really need 10, won't 5 be sufficient?" I did point out the pack size and MOQ were both 10!

    The worst I knew insisted on reusing paper in the fax machine and on making sure all labels on a sheet were used. The first lasted until someone tippexed out some text on the front of a page so she could put it back in the machine - I did manage to clean the Tippex off the drum for that one. One of the reused label sheets ended up with a few labels nicely wrapped around the printer drum which ultimately had to be binned and a new one installed with the result that a small saving was completely wiped out.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

      Re: Keepers of...

      I've never understood why so many places and people can't understand that reuse of label sheets just wrecks the printer too frequently to be worth it!

      3p of saving causing £300 of damage, with a 1% chance.

      1. Filippo Silver badge

        Re: Keepers of...

        The human mind is extremely bad at estimating what small chances mean. Like, horribly, despairingly bad.

        Unless you're specifically trained in this sort of things, anything below a certain threshold goes in the same mental bin, so 1% is the same as 0.01% or 0.0001%. Even if you are specifically trained in this sort of things, the training may not save you if the problem you're dealing with is outside your usual domain.

        This effect bites all kinds of people all the time, even highly trained experts. It's why people play the lottery. It's why if ten persons in the whole world report a nasty side effect from a drug then everyone suddenly wants to stop using it (even if the primary effect is highly beneficial). It's why people buy insurance they don't need. It's why people don't buy insurance they do need. It's why companies think that running on zero-stock JIT supply is a stroke of genius, and then suddenly implode when the chance they were told was very low (but not zero) actually happens and they have no plan at all for it.

        It's, generally speaking, a major bug in how the mind works, and a source of endless problems.

        1. Andy A

          Re: Keepers of...

          People have very poor recognition of probabilities in general, so do stupid things - "it will never happen to me".

          Things like the number of people you need in a group to be pretty certain that two of them share a birthday come as a great surprise to most.

          My favourite is the probability of rain in a weather forecast, "40%" chance of rain works fine on the ground. However In aviation it is, with good reason, treated as "pretty certain". If you are going along at over 100mph, there is bound to be one of those little rain clouds somewhere in your path.

          1. Tim 11

            Re: Keepers of...

            Normally I would consider myself a very rational and mathematically-minded person but I must admit that if the weather forecast says 5% chance of rain and I get rained on, boy am I pissed, even if it only happens one time in 20

        2. stiine Silver badge

          Re: Keepers of...

          Wow, you've just described The Metric System, imagine that.

          1. Filippo Silver badge

            Re: Keepers of...

            I, er, I have no idea what this comment means. Is it something to do with the person in the article being named Kelvin?

      2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Keepers of...

        I refuse to deal with Kelvins. Either give me what I need or I will buy it myself (which is frequently faster and less painful). I’m here to get work done not to bow to petty tyrants.

        1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: Keepers of...

          Not me. I'll gladly fritter away the company's time not getting work done if someone is refusing to let me have what I need to work. I refuse to subsidize the workplace. If The Boss has a problem with it, I will gladly point him at the problem.

          Don't read this as I'll do nothing until The Boss asks though. When I hit a Kelvinesque roadblock I'll forward the asset refusal email to The Boss with a short outline on why I can't complete my work, then let The Boss sort it out. This usually winds up getting sorted out at director level or above, then the asset I need shows up, hand delivered by a red faced, sweat dripping Kelvin. Then I get on with my job. What Kelvin does once the asset arrives is irrelevant, but I rarely have problems with the same person twice.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Keepers of...

            Same here. I once had a finance director get in the way of a project that would hand the company a monopoly on connectivity with statements such as "We cannot possibly expose the company to such risk" (translated: I don't understand this newfangled stuff, you may affect my pension, I am important and I'll show you you're a minion).

            His problem was that I (a) had already delivered a couple of projects that did exactly what they said on the tin, (b) I had a fairly intelligent manager who by now had worked out that I could stand up for myself and (c) the company's CEO was not stupid either. So she arranged for me to meet the CEO and explain what we were up to.

            After explaining what we were doing and the implications, I got a two line answer from the CEO: "I'm about to retire and frankly, I don't mind going out with a bang. Forward that email to me, with your manager in cc."

            Rule one of company politics: if your objections get responded to by God (i.e. the CEO) who tells you that you should get with the program (in, I must say, wording which very politiely questioned his intelligence), word spreads.

            I had zero issues after that - and we delivered.

            This last project did so well that the company was bought out a few years later explicitly to get hold of this one..

            1. david 12 Silver badge

              God (i.e. the CEO)

              I'm waiting for the BOFH to have a run-in with the CEO's secretary. The BOFH is good, but I wouldn't like to bet on that one. Maybe they'll come to an agreement?

              1. Coastal cutie

                Re: God (i.e. the CEO)

                Perhaps they already have - the BOFH is very knowledgeable about staff movements.....

        2. Dimmer Bronze badge

          Re: Keepers of...

          Had a customer ask how we justified the cost for the level of redundancy we have to the bean counters.

          Told him , Easy, we use the money we would have paid the salary of the bean counter with.

      3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: Keepers of...

        The 3p savings comes from THEIR budget, the £300 from someone else's budget.

        1. ITMA Silver badge

          Re: Keepers of...


          The 3p is directly off the department stationery budget.

          The £300+ is directly off the IT maintenance budget.

          1. J. Cook Silver badge

            Re: Keepers of...

            That's fine with me, just stop kvetching about why the IT maintenance budget keeps going up because some group of stooges in finance insist on such penny-wise pound foolish behavior.

            (at [RedactedCo], for the longest time they kept denying me extra storage for the company's file servers, until there was a watershed moment in which we ran completely out of space and had to spend 5 digits worth of un-budgeted money to.... add storage I had been wanting for the last three budget cycles.

            If anything, that also taught me that when I do ask for something, I automatically add ~20% additional capacity to what I ask for...

            1. ITMA Silver badge

              Re: Keepers of...

              Only ~20% ???

              Sounds like you are underestimating....

              1. FeRDNYC

                Re: Keepers of...

                Certainly, under-Scottying. You always double all of the numbers in your estimates, how else can you look like a miracle worker when you make things work with only half of the required resources?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keepers of...

        Oh my, you've brought back suppressed memories of my boss in the 90s who would save up all the used printed or photocopied paper from the recycle bin and reload it in the printer paper tray so it would print on the unused backside. Sometimes you'd get quite the treat in what you would discover on the B-side of your document printout. Used to be so much easier to get blackmail fodder in the office....

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keepers of...

        I like those odds....

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Keepers of...

      " Unless you just want "Green" in which case there's only "Red".

      Oh yes. The wilfully obstructive Cerberus of the supplies cupboard The terror of many a school.

      "You've already had a box of chalk this term" ( I started teaching in the 80s)

      "You can only use the Banda duplicating machine on a Wednesday" - unless it's a Wednesday in which case the day was magically Tuesday. And you had to bring your own pack of paper too. From your allocation.

      In later years this became whiteboard pens and the photocopier- but you still had to bring your own packet of paper.

      And to be fair, more recently, working in a place where people sent stuff to the printer by the ream, and half the time didn't use or even bother to collect it- maybe the Cerberus was right.

      1. 43300 Silver badge

        Re: Keepers of...

        "And to be fair, more recently, working in a place where people sent stuff to the printer by the ream, and half the time didn't use or even bother to collect it- maybe the Cerberus was right."

        Easy to deal with the non-collection problem! Configure all the printers to use private print, and set the queue to delete any jobs which haven't been released for printing within 3 days.

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          Re: Keepers of...

          But then the users complain about having to stand around waiting for their print, instead of wasting their time going through the hordes of prints that are now out of order because someone else went through the pile recklessly just before them.

          So we just disabled swipe to print, transferred the printer costs from IT/Ops to the various departments that had them, and let them learn how expensive printing, and fucking up with the printer, actually cost.

          1. 43300 Silver badge

            Re: Keepers of...

            "But then the users complain about having to stand around waiting for their print, instead of wasting their time going through the hordes of prints that are now out of order because someone else went through the pile recklessly just before them."

            They'll soon get used to it, and if anyone queries it you can always use the 'data protection' justification (which is actually valid) that some of this printing may contain personal details and it's therefore not acceptable to leave it lying around next to the printer.

          2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

            Re: Keepers of...

            "instead of wasting their time going through the hordes of prints that are now out of order because someone else went through the pile recklessly just before them."

            I was always evil about this. When I printed anything, rare as it was, anything that wasn't mine went into the industrial shredder. BRRRRRP!

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Keepers of...

          That came later. When we had a proper set up and some time for basic training to do that stuff, for our teams.Getting the beancounters to understand the need for this, in terms of cost effectiveness, was...difficult.

        3. ColinPa

          Re: Keepers of...

          Our printer just printed what was sent to it.

          There was a sign saying "Please file any output in the relevant slot. Eg Output for Jones goes in 'J' ".

          What happened was all output was filed under "A".

          Some wag put up another sign "For those of you that do not know your alphabet there will be a class next week - but I doubt if you are able to read this"

    3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: Keepers of...

      Ah (not so) fond memories!

      In my case it was the storeman in an electronics factory. I was in the test department, and surprisingly sometimes equipment fails and parts break... only take back half a broken resistor and there will be a demand for the other half. If you manage to do that, it's the middle bit he wanted - you know the bit that's now a film of residue on the chassis. If you managed to extract the resistor burned but whole it would be "How do I know that was really a 100k one?".

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: Keepers of...

        I was there when Rueben in the Calibration Department at Racal, was arguing with a beancounter over the reason why he couldn't order a 50p transistor for a assembly jig repair (Which meant a whole production line of wiring & assembly operators & Technicians were stood idle) from RS, while the beancounter was waiting (Days, weeks, months) for a fractional .002p price drop before ordering 1,000s.

        Rueben, slammed the phone down in frustration & then in a state of needing more stress release slammed his foot into the filing cabinent, which broke*, giving him something else to curse about & occupy his mind.

        *His foot or if not actually broken certainly fractured a good number of toes.

      2. swm

        Re: Keepers of...

        At Xerox the computer center ordered 100 magnetic tapes. Purchasing, without telling any one, ordered a different brand to save $1 a reel. These tapes could not be rewound once without clogging the magnetic tape reader to such an extent that the tape actually stopped in the tape reader. It took several demonstrations to prove that the tapes were worthless.

        1. Caver_Dave Silver badge

          Re: Keepers of...

          Flew direct from UK to Ukraine, really early start, but got a full day in the Lviv office.

          On the way back I had to endure a split flight with an 11 hour layover in Krakov airport. Cost: 2 air side meals, one day of not working.

          Complained to our in house travel people. As they kept not answering I just added an extra level of manager to each subsequent request email.

          The European VP eventually asked me to stop and informed me that the correct re-education had been applied.

          All that hassle to save $5 on the return flights!

        2. PRR Bronze badge

          Purchasing... to save $1

          > Purchasing, without telling any one, ordered a different brand to save $1 a reel.

          Same all over. Any size purchase.

          A school wood-shop I knew requisitioned a dust extractor (giant vacuum), plus a foundation and ducting.

          Purchasing let-through the pad and pipes cuz <$5k, but put the $15k sucker out for bids and approved a different make/model at $14k.

          Which did not fit either the pad or the pipes already installed. Tim had figured ALL the details to an inch and a penny.

          Re-doing those cost a LOT more than the grand saved. Also logistical headache b/c the wrong sucker had to be stored until the concrete and duct guys measured for a re-do, bid it, waited for Purchasing to approve the "Change Order"....... IIFC, the shop lived in OSHA's sin-bin for a whole year. Probably wasted >$1k of Tim's time.... but that comes out of a different account than equipment.

      3. ITMA Silver badge

        Re: Keepers of...

        Now a TRUE storeman would keep a hidden stock of broken, burnt out components under the counter.

        Then when some clever cloggs turns up, emptying a handful of burn components on the counter and asking:

        "Have you got some of these?", he would reply:

        "Certainly, here you are" and pull of some identical looking burnt components from his secret "clever cloggs" stash.


    4. Mark 85

      Re: Keepers of...

      30+ years ago stationery was invariably jealously guarded, even getting a new pen meant taking the old, empty, one back and proving it would no longer write. Notepads had to be filled, on both sides of every single page, before they'd issue a new one, so the chances of prising a battery out of them were slim in the extreme. Solar calculators (yes, it was that long ago) meant that at least one battery-hungry device was removed from the equipment list.

      Ah yes.... had to return the empty pad and then pencils. Supply had a llittle wooden box that the pencil had to fit it. If it wasn't short enough, you didn't get a new one until it did. Every fall when schools started up again, the supplies were even more harshly guarded by cutting the hours the supply room was open. At it's peek, they would be open one day a week for a half day. Bean counters... meh.

    5. swm

      Re: Keepers of...

      There was someone in the computer room back in the '60s who would pick up any IBM card from the floor and put it with the new cards. He also insisted that the printer software be changed to not slew a page after printing the user account number. Multiple errors resulted from his (non blank) IBM cards and all of the users learned to slew a page before printing.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Keepers of...

        Wow....our solution was to make the banner page be two identical pages. If the first page ended up face-down, we'd remove it, if it stayed, the user got two banner pages.

    6. Persona Silver badge

      Re: Keepers of...

      We had a stationary store at collage with the obligatory store keeper. As students we were entitled to only a very limited annual allocation. If you needed more of anything "exotic" like log/log graph paper of overhead projector slide frames (yes this was a long time ago) you needed the stationary request signed off by a department head. Difficult.

      The more useful alternative was that one of the students was quite happy to sign requests for anyone. The fact that he had no authority to do so seemed to have no bearing. You presented the request bearing his scrawl to the keeper and you got your free stationary!

      He signed so many requests over the three years I wonder that the keeper believed he was a department head or was the ASRA (Allocated Stationary Request Authorizer), or perhaps he didn't care and what he really wanted was the pile of signed requests.

    7. ITMA Silver badge

      Re: Keepers of...

      "Notepads had to be filled, on both sides of every single page..."

      And so had the toilet paper...

      1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

        Re: Keepers of...

        I'm surprised the Finnish army doesn't do that... They had a well deserved reputation for reissuing worn out equipment until it has literally fallen apart and cannot be repaired by any means whatsoever. They were still reissuing kit from the 1940s and 1950s until at least the early 1990s.

        I wonder if that changed when they aligned their equipment with NATO standards (which happened a while ago to make I easier to cooperate with other European armies, but is going to make transition to NATO membership unexpectedly easier).

    8. SteveK

      Re: Keepers of...

      I've known a few "keepers of" in my time.

      Here, someone had the additional job title 'Keeper of the Scientific Books' which I think is a good one. She's retired now, not sure who has taken on that title (it is an official title rather than a 'known as').

      They'd also jealously guard the purchasing budgets. I once placed a requisition for ordering 10 RJ-45 plugs, only to be asked, "Do you really need 10, won't 5 be sufficient?" I did point out the pack size and MOQ were both 10!

      Back in the days when online ordering was not quite so common, and procedure meant that ordering stuff for the stationery cupboard rather than for my own department had to be sent to a PA who would ask accounts to raise an order, I had requested N boxes of high density floppy disks.

      The accountant proudly gloated after it had gone through that he'd saved us more than £20 by changing the order to standard density floppy disks and that I really should be more observant when looking through the catalogue. A week later I repeated the order and made it clear who was responsible for having bought a stock of floppy disks that were half the capacity and of virtually no use to anyone.

      1. Dafyd Colquhoun

        Re: Keepers of...

        Sounds like your accountant went to the same school a manager of mine did.

        I was asked to specify a UPS for a substation control computer (oopsie, somehow was left out of the build spec), so I did what was asked. This was a big 132/33 kV substation feeding a large industrial plant, so not small change if things didn't work. Came up with an economical APC solution (SmartUPS) that would fit nicely and be supportable for years. Idiot boss went and bought a BackUPS instead because it had the same VA rating and was under half the price. Also well under half the battery capacity, and it didn't keep the server up long enough to safely shut down.

      2. FeRDNYC

        Re: Keepers of...

        Hey, wait, is that < blockquote > ?!!? Did that FINALLY get fixed to work in the comment system here?!

        I had to re-edit SO MANY posts over the years because I tried to use blockquote and had it fail, so eventually I managed up break myself of the habit... Guess it kind of tracks that, NOW it'd finally be working!

    9. Potty Professor

      Re: Keepers of...

      I worked as a Development Engineer at a large electrical manufacturer. The Workshop Manager jealously guarded his stock of raw materials, and if you went to ask for (say) some Molybdenum bars to turn up some electrical contacts, he would refuse to give you any, because "If I give you all that, there will be none left". He did not accept the premise that the stock was there to be used in deveopment projects, so we had to go behind his back a nick the stuff off the racks when he was not in his lair.

      1. Diogenes

        Re: Keepers of...

        He was obviously trained by our RQMS !

  6. chivo243 Silver badge

    The force is strong with this new one

    But alas, there can only ever be two Sith? er?

    Love the Moody Blues reference Red is Green... unless you want red...

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Re: The force is strong with this new one

      I think you'll find the actual lines are:

      Red is grey and yellow white, but we decide which is right.

      And which is, an illusion.

      A quite clever comparison between judging colours under an inadequate light source, and basing decisions on incomplete information.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The force is strong with this new one

        Vague memories as a child when we got "new" orange sodium street lights. A couple of neighbours had the same make/model of car but in different colours. At night, under the sodium lights, the colours seemed to switch between the cars. Very weird!

      2. Persona Silver badge

        Re: The force is strong with this new one

        Snooker was not a popular sport on TV in the days of black and white. All to often you weren't sure which was the "grey" red ball he needed to pot before a "grey" coloured ball. Fortunately "black" was black and identifying the yellow ball was easy because it was the "white" ball he wasn't hitting with the cue.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: The force is strong with this new one

          "and for those of you who are watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green.” - Ted Lowe

        2. FeRDNYC

          Re: The force is strong with this new one

          I like how you write that as if snooker suddenly became a popular TV sport after the introduction of colo[u]r.

  7. Locky


    Autocorrect should meet an old colleague of mine, SMTP Relay. He was known to have a love of just forwarding emails.

    I think they'd get on

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Nicknames

      We had one called Leathers, short for Leatherman - a complete tool that's carried by everyone in the team.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nicknames

        I found the screwdriver part of a leatherman not very useful, tbh. I prefer to have a toolbox with various tools that are designed for the function rather than designed to fit in one package, but then I have an office in which this remains untouched (after some regrettable yet extremely educational accidents). It is handy to have one on you in case you need to remove any safety measures, sure, but dedicated tools work better.

        And a toolkit can hold a hammer..

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Nicknames

          "And a toolkit can hold a hammer"

          Just one? Surely you need a graduated set so as to select one matched with the target job.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Nicknames

            Don't be silly. All you need is one very big one.

            1. TheWeetabix

              Re: Nicknames

              Found an engineer!

    2. swm

      Re: Nicknames

      In the early days of the ARPANET routing all different kinds of packets was difficult. Someone came up with the routing protocol of "send to BRL" and let the guys at bell research deal with the packet.

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    down the quality scale to the "Pripyat" "twice-roasted" brand that comes in a lead sachet.

    Its a good gag , I know Simon has better ones , but it did raise a titter , and I was drinking coffee at the time and literally choked on it . For real !

    hence icon.

    Coffee based gag too!

    1. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward

      Do the "Pripyat" "twice-roasted" brand include some choice Chernobyl corium?

      The fact that it was delivered in lead sachets indicates that it is a high possibility.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You should know better than read BOFH anywhere near coffee.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        The BOFH makes me happy

        I don't read BOFH near coffee ... but icon

  9. Bebu Silver badge

    Not if Kekvin dishes out the straws

    "pee out of – and turn pages with – a straw. Not the same straw obviously."


    1. Hot Diggity

      Re: Not if Kekvin dishes out the straws

      Yes obviously.

      Otherwise the pages of the book get wet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not if Kekvin dishes out the straws

        Histoire d'eau ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not if Kekvin dishes out the straws

          That would by Pauline Rage then ..


      2. TheWeetabix

        Re: Not if Kekvin dishes out the straws

        I’ve just woken my household nearly choking with laughter. I hope you’re proud of yourself!

    2. Zarno

      Re: Not if Kekvin dishes out the straws

      I doubt you will find a prehensile page flipper.

      1. TheWeetabix

        Re: Not if Kekvin dishes out the straws

        Is there a dolphin icon? No?

        Ill show myself out.

  10. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    "I think I'd rather have laparoscopic dentistry,"

    Just brilliant. As is "Kelvin - Keeper of the Batteries"

  11. bpfh

    Ahh, the Orifice Manager

    I had one like that. Was actually a lovely person once you knew the rules, brought her coffee and bagels, and helped her stick it to the coloured pencil department who kept ordering expensive pens only to leave them in every meeting room, or try to snaffle all the office supplies in September when the kids went back to school and some people declared open-day on the supply room where some people in the past had wandered off with 2 boxes of 2500 sheets of paper, all the note books and 200 quids worth of the aforementioned expensive pens...

    Not a person to cross or your expenses would get lost for 2 months , which then earned people an ass reaming from the boss to the employee in question for not submitting the sheet before end of month...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Ahh, the Orifice Manager

      "ordering expensive pens only to leave them in every meeting room"

      Go round the meeting rooms to recover them, then re-issue them, charging the department's budget for a new pen every time.

      1. spuck

        Re: Ahh, the Orifice Manager

        The coloured pencil office has its uses. For example, they were department "075" while research and development where I was was department "076".

        Long-distance phone calls and releasing jobs from the printer/copier required entering a department number. As no one ever questioned the marketing department's expenses, the key to reducing my department's costs was just one anonymous and plausibly-deniable slip of the finger away...

  12. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

    we had

    A keeper of things.

    This one was in charge of overseeing the staff reward and recognition scheme account.

    Complete with bi monthly hurry up and spend it (at the overpriced outlets on offer), then monthly, then bi weekly emails.

    He slipped up and let slip that it doesn't come from the account until they were redeemed, oh dear, what a shame, never mind... well I had the let them fester in the spreadsheet all year and into the next financial didn't I, stands to reason my thumb sticking out of his 'charts' and nothing he could do about it...

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: we had

      spend it at the overpriced outlets on offer

      Ours is like that too. Anyone with any sense "buys" vouchers from there and then spends them in "normal" shops

  13. MarcoV

    Love the description of Kelvin

    We had a facilities guy just like that. Now I finally guessed what was in that awful freshly ground coffee.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Love the description of Kelvin

      Now I finally guessed what was in that awful freshly grounds coffee.


      What's your pleasure? Floor sweepings? Ash tray contents (cold filtered)?…

  14. Il Midga di Macaroni


    Killing off users is so passe. Using users as a foil to kill off other annoyances? That's pro level bastardry.

  15. Sam not the Viking

    Stationery....or not.....

    Our small office also housed our manager's secretary who was a well-known bitter battleaxe. She had many good reasons for being bitter and we did not make fun of her unfortunate romantic history.

    Office procedures involved quite a lot of internal mail, with envelopes re-used but sealed with staples. Being relatively new to the office, I asked the secretary to obtain a staple-remover to improve the status of my finger-nails.

    About a week later, still without the requested device, I noticed the secretary using a very new staple-remover. On querying this anomaly she replied "The Stationery Department only had two, so I got one for Eric (the boss) and I've kept the other." End of conversation.

    A few days later, I 'borrowed' the boss's staple-remover and altered its appearance to avoid detection. He never noticed. Nor did 'Rita'.

    Trivial but these successes add up ------>

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: Stationery....or not.....

      In the army we had the hunt for biros (ball point pens). I kept losing them somehow - until I made a point of leaving any office with more biros than I entered with...

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Stationery....or not.....

        The US Goveenment has a two pronged solution to that problem:

        1. Pens are marked "US GOVERNMENT PROPERTY - SKILCRAFT", to deter theft (which it doesn't)

        2. Pens will not write. (which does deter theft)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Stationery....or not.....

      Just open with a pair of scissors: cut out the bit of envelope with the staple in it.

  16. ukgnome

    When I was a PFY I first worked at the stationery store for a well know frozen foods and biscuit manufacturer - if you didn't fill an RF form you went to the back of the queue and then was generally messed about. Good times

  17. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Evil,..... moi?

    I used to work in an engineering college and often used to get students to go to the Stores and ask for a Long Weight, or Hard Punch, or Right-handed Punch, etc.

    In my brief spell as a McDs manager, we got a newbie to count the ice-cubes during a monthly stock take. Yes, we are all a little evil sometimes :-)

    Kelvin sounds like a cold character <LOL>

    1. Hot Diggity

      Re: Evil,..... moi?

      I heard of an apprentice who was asked to go to the hardware store and obtain a replacement bubble for the handyman's level.

      He was gone a good few hours.

    2. Slow Joe Crow

      Re: Evil,..... moi?

      Sometimes that stuff backfires like the legendary USAF tale of a young airman sent to fetch 100 yards of flight line. Our hero stumbled upon some Navy Seabees who seized an opportunity to put one over on the Air Force by lending him a truck full of Marston Mat temporary runway.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        Re: Evil,..... moi?

        Fucking awesome!!!

      2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: Evil,..... moi?

        In telecom you send the newb for a roll of order wire, which is actually a spike on the lower freq slope of a satellite circuit used to communicate with the site of the moment.

    3. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: Evil,..... moi?

      You didn't need a left-handed screwdriver or a tin of tartan paint as well, then?

      1. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

        Re: Evil,..... moi?

        They're still warming up in the bucket of steam.

      2. FeRDNYC

        Re: Evil,..... moi?

        Headlight fluid. You can never have enough headlight fluid.

    4. spuck

      Re: Evil,..... moi?

      A good friend still laughs about his days in a door and window cabinetry shop:

      The first time a new worker would (inevitably) cut a piece of framing too short, they would be sent to the tool crib to checkout the "board stretcher".

      The first time someone messed up a paint job, they would be handed a styrofoam cup and sent to fetch it full of solvent for clean up. Hilarity ensued as the solvent dissolved its way out of the cup on the way back to the line.

  18. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Ahhh Kelvin

    sounds just like an ex-employee of the government department I used to attend... so lets go on a little trip down memory lane.......

    Where my portable hand tool needed a ........ welll a battery(substitute anything you care to can imagine)

    So to the stores...... where the storeman would refuse to issue a new battery on the basis I did'nt have the right piece of paper, which I needed from the stores manager.

    So off to the stores manager for the aforementioned, and getting told that as I'm engineering, I need a request from my engineering manager. in writing.

    Upon finding the engineering manager(he was a pro at hiding), the only way he could request supplies from the stores was with a request from the science group boffin in charge of my project in order he could fill out his budget sheet correctly.

    So drive 15 miles out into the country to the isolated and well hidden site my group boffin liked to be at (mostly because it was quiet... apart from brief moments of loud noise) to find an increasingly annoyed boffin who cant get a hole drilled because of the lack of a battery for my hand tool.

    However... said boffin knew the Lord high Executioner(they were at Oxford together) who moonlighted as deputy head of military research and got sent through Form 17452-B in which war has been declared, and previous rules are all in suspension. thus allowing me to return to my usual haunt and demand a battery from the stores.

    "Have you got form 17452-B?"


    "Let me check radio 4...... Nope war has not be declared, which means you need form 17452-A war is about to be declared"

    "............!!!!!!! "

    Goto plan B.... which involved using a BoFH method of waiting outside the stores until said storeman was going home, dragging him out of sight of the security guards and informing him that if he did'nt issue me a new ****ing battery right ****ing now, him and me would be going on a 15 mile drive out into the country for an experiment on him run by my group boffin............

    And people wonder why it takes government so long to get anything done (except at times of war )

    1. Zarno

      Re: Ahhh Kelvin

      Was the experiment by chance similar to the installation of a dual purpose straw with a power drill?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ahhh Kelvin

        I assume not, as that needs a battery.

  19. bed

    Ah, well, them were the days. We had keeper as well – reportedly one had to bring the stump of the old pencil to get a new one. And the new one would have a hardness approaching that of a diamond. Meanwhile, another member of staff hadn’t quite got the hang of the new-fangled e-mail thingy and would print out emails, write a reply on the back and send that back through the physical internal mail system. The recipient was left with the challenge of matching the reply to the original e-mail.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "print out emails, write a reply on the back and send that back through the physical internal mail system."

      An improvement on top-posting.

  20. ShortLegs

    Keeper of Batteries? Kevins? Beancounters? I see all yours, and raise you...

    - the G1098 storeman

    - the SQMS (Squadron QuarterMaster)

    - the RQMS (Regimental QuarterMaster)

    A Royal Flush of "no".

    Those from a Forces background will be all too familiar with reasons why one cannot have something

    "Stores are for storing, issues are for issueing. That item [you require] is marked 'stores' "

    "FOFAD" (F--- Off Fire At Donnington) heard in the 80s following a series of fires at the MODs main supply depot.

    "Its the last one in stock, someone might need it" - Er yeah! Me!

    But the RQMS was absolute God. He had to account for all stores items on Operational tours for example. Unlike an Exercise,which is just soldiers playing at being at war,. Ops are the real thing. Things can and do get blown up, destroyed, lost due to en action, etc. But that cuts no ice in the eyes of the RQMS. Every item lost to en action, every item lost to fire (friendly or otherwise) he has to account for. And they treat it as though its coming from their own pocket. Why? Its their OBE at risks if they have to write off too much kit.

    Army - Be The Best At. At saying "no".

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Ooh... yes, the Quarter Masters. I did work for one. His job was also to get statements from COs whether it was really "lost" or... well... yeah.

      Most condemning thing I read "the soldier is too dumb to sh*t - must pay"

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      "Its the last one in stock, someone might need it" -

      Oh god yes. Certainly not just the military.

      I always assume it translated as either "Someone more important than you might need it" or even just being able to tell the higher ups they hadn't let the suppy run out, if asked. Because if you have one in stock, that you've refused to allocate, well, you haven't run out, have you.

      1. FeRDNYC

        In a modern inversion of that, I've long since learned not to trust Home Depot's website when it reports a product is in-stock in store, unless it claims there are a minimum of three units in stock. Fewer than three, it's a 50/50 shot there will be even a single one to be found.

    3. Diogenes

      When I was the Assistant Adjutant for the battalion I remember having the CO (LtCol) lament he was only able to write off AUD50. All our more savvy NCOs had secret stashes of bayonets and BFAs that were picked up in exercise areas to replace the items lost by their diggers. That was until a certain PM outlawed guns, the definition of which included bayonets and bfas. The CQMS then became the holder of found kit and kept his secret stash out of the hands of the RQMS somewhere in our depot.

  21. Kernel

    Left-footed boots

    Many years ago, when I worked for a government department that ran the nation's communications network, one of our local store man reputedly had a large supply of pre-loved left foot gumboots available for immediate issue.

    Why? Because most cable jointers wore out the right boot when pushing on their shovel while digging up a cable, leaving the left foot in fairly good condition still, far to good to be thrown out with their right footed counterpart.

    1. spuck

      Re: Left-footed boots

      In an effort to save costs, recruitment should obviously step up their efforts to find more one-legged shovel workers who could put those boots to use!

  22. Chris 15

    odd one

    You would have thought that the BOFH and Kelvin would have a long-standing understanding, or else it would be all out war, possibly involving armed autonomous death robots equipment delivery devices.

    That's assuming the PFY doesn't take matters into his own hands before Simon even considered it...

  23. Nifty Silver badge

    Belgian bureaucracy

    This has probably changed. However, in the past if you moved from one part of a city in Belgium to another you had to re-register your address with the local commune office. Actually this wasn't so much an office as a rather imposing 1900s railway station ticket hall style building. Re-registering your domicile was a well known time consuming affair even for locals, and there was a law in place where your employer had to give you half a day off to queue at the commune office. As a non-Belgian you had to have a correctly completed form, a passport and about 4 other supporting documents. So I turned up armed with the requisite material (I'd been briefed on the process). The clerk slowly and carefully perused the form and documents, then pushed them all back across the counter and said, can't be done. Please come back with additional document <xyz>. A smirk was detected alongside that statement. I must have looked crestfallen then remembered... reached inside my jacket pocket and found that final, rather small slip of paper, document <xyz>. 'Did you by any chance mean this one?'. I left the commune office rubber stamped registration in hand, with that unique warm feeling of having got one over the jobsworths.

  24. Tron Silver badge

    Point of order.

    Button cells cost a quid on ebay. Anyone who cannot buy their own and replace them should not be in employment, but at home, getting regular visits from a carer.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Point of order.

      That is not how being employed works. It is your employer that is supposed to pay for the material that you use.

      Or do you pay your salary to your employer ?

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Point of order.

      If Tory MPs are willing to put absolutely everything they can on expenses, then I see no reason why I shouldn't as well.

  25. Triphase

    Newbie Tricks

    When I worked for a theatre (entertainment venue, not a hospital), we used to send newbies to a local hardware store for some 'sparks for the grinder'. The store had the same sense of humour, so back came the newbie, asking 'blue or green?' We'd say 'blue', off they went, the store sent a message back with 'we only have green' - back and forth went the newbie! Other things: 'Ask for a long weight', "A short stand', 'Skyhooks' , 'Tartan Paint' and a 'bubble for the spirit level' - This is now irrelevant since Stanley now manufacture replacement parts for their levels and Skyhooks are now a brand.

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