Only three days to go until the charity fundraiser the ladies in our copywriting department invited me to. I'm still trying to ignore the fact they're probably only buttering me up so I'll circumnavigate our company's strict IT policies and install Spotify on their computers. Still, the thought spurs me into arriving at work on time, and I didn't scowl at my fellow London Underground commuters once. Honest.
I arrive at the cafeteria bang on 8:30, when the bossman immediately jumps on me from behind a pillar. "Ethan! The very man!" I hear him cry.
“Can you get me a new phone?” he continues.
“What happened to yours?” I politely ask, already guessing the real answer.
“Stolen,” he fibs. Images of a very happy cab-driver fly through my mind.
“I need an iPhone 5 by tomorrow; they’re supposed to be brilliant,” he extols. “Oh and you may as well get one of those ‘pad’ things as well. No, get two. Everybody has got at least one of them down at the club.”
So which task do I tackle first -- explaining that the iPhone 5 hasn’t even been announced yet, let alone released, or go down the path of trying to explain that even if the company has the budget to buy him "an iPad or two," I hardly want to demonstrate how to use an iPad with iTunes; get an Apple account; download apps; use Dropbox, etc… I’ll make my decision after lunch, as either way it’s a ‘big ask’.
The ‘mad-phone’ rings for the first time, and it’s Sophia Ruxley-Scott-Cooperhouse, bless. One of our favourites.
“I’ll come straight up,” I promise, because I know this will be quicker for everybody in the long run. 7th floor… Hmm, should I take the lift or stairs?
As the lift doors open I see Sophia sitting at her computer, confused.
“It’s broken!” she explains, looking at a blank screen. I ask her if it just stopped working overnight, by magic.
“No, I just can’t turn it on, I’ve been trying all morning” she swears at me, her little earnest face tugging at my heartstrings.
You get an instinct for these things, so down I go -- not like that, filthy minds -- and rummage under her desk around old newspapers celebrating England’s World Cup 2010 qualifier, and what looks to be an uneven number of high heels.
“There you go!” I chirp at her, slipping the 3-pin plug back into its wall socket. She turns the computer on and it chimes into life.
“You’re brilliant Ethan, thank you so much.” Big kiss on cheek. Not bad for 30 seconds' work, I grin to myself.
“It was probably just those pesky cleaners again,” I say, although it was no doubt the collection of shoes under there that had wrenched the plug from its socket.
Seizing the moment, I casually ask if she's going to the fundraiser on Friday. It's all in aid of charity; a big party for the whole company; should be fun; would be great to see you there, I throw at her enthusiastically.
“Weeeeeell...I wasn’t going to, but are you going?” she asks me.
Play it cool Ethan, play it cool. “I might do, yeah, it sounds good and I do a lot of charity work.” (Buying The Big Issue from the seller outside my local, as I stumble out after eight pints counts, right?)
“Oh goody, yes, lets' go together!” she suggests, clapping her hands.
Job done. I've got a glamorous party on Friday, and am taking Sophie of all people. I like to describe her as bubbly, but some people can be rather rude: air-head, blonde, dippy...but I think bubbly is more accurate.
My last task of the day is to try and recruit the goateed Colin to come to the party too, to act as back-up in case no-one feels like chatting to their IT guy on a Friday night. It will be at night so that will help convince the ol' night owl, but there will be other people there, and he definitely won’t like that. I knock on his room door and wait, before banging harder on the cheap wood. “Colin, it’s Ethan. You there?”
The creaking door opens to Colin looking more emaciated than ever. “Looking good, Col!” I gasp, as it’s all I could think of, in my shock.
“Right Col, so Friday. What are you up to?”
“Well, er, normally compiling the latest builds and running updates. Why?”
“Not this Friday, mate!” Get your party clothes on – we’re going to the fundraiser.” A look of shock is frozen on his face, so I have to work fast before losing him -- my potential wall-flower-friend! -- altogether.
“It’ll be great, there’s a virtual interactive sound-stage, free Dungeons and Dragons tournaments and all the bandwidth you can use,” I lie to him. He’ll be there, he says after what feels like 10 minutes' of solid thinking. But as long as he doesn't have to talk to anyone, especially not that blond ditz on the 7th floor.
7:00pm. The phone has been switched to silent, the coat put on, and an iPhone 4S in a new black and orange Ted Baker case, out of the box, on the bossman's desk. With a Post-It saying “Here’s your iPhone 5 Sir, hope you like it” slapped on top. He’ll never know. Happy days.
Ethan Net is a pseudonym for an overworked and underpaid IT Manager. It doesn’t matter where he works or who he is — unless he happens to be your IT Manager. Look out for his column every Wednesday afternoon here on Gizmodo UK, and catch up on his previous work over here.