Emails From the Command-Line: Business Development Assurance Blah Blah-Whatever

By Ethan Net on at

I’m always wary of emails sent with the ‘Important’ flag; especially at 6pm. This one's from HR Susan, and has a subject labelled ‘Urgent’. OK, message received loud and clear...what fresh hell am I about to face this time?

“We need a computer brought up for our new starter ASAP, please. Can you call me for details?”

Not a problem little lady; new staff is a good sign we're doing well as a business...perhaps we've won a new client or something? Phoning HR Susan as requested, I put on my most helpful of voices:

“Oh, thanks for calling so late Ethan; we need a computer for Peter.”

“Do you need a Mac or a PC; desktop or laptop?” I ask, trying to work out if we have anything in the comms room I can throw together to pass for a computer. And who the hell is this Peter, anyway?

“I'm really not sure...maybe you can choose?" came the reply. OK, let me put my gloves on. “Where will Peter be sitting, Susan?” I gently needle, knowing we are very tight on space.

“Well, to be totally honest, we haven't actually got a desk for him yet; we’re working on that,” came the sheepish reply.

“OK, do you know when Peter will be starting with us?” I ask, trying to extract as many details as possible. I should've become a dentist, like my dad always wanted.

“Oh, yes, he started last week,” came Susan's reply.

You can see where this is going, can’t you. Believe it or not, this is actually a regular occurrence here, and no matter how many times you ask, nobody seems to communicate anything to anybody, despite all staff seemingly caught in a cycle of endless meetings. Probably just talking about other meetings.

“Just an off-chance,” I ask, “but does anybody know what Peter is doing; his job title or anything?” Clutching at straws here, my friends.

“Oh yes, he’s the new Business Development Assurance and Internal Regulation and Expenditure Manager...Can you sort it all out tonight please Ethan, you’re a star.” Click.

There's no way that job title will fit on a business card, will it? And I'd need a dictionary to work out exactly what he does. Not to mention what he’s been doing for the past week with no computer, no desk and no access account! Perhaps this sort of thing is only seen at smaller companies and start-ups, but our company is a fairly decent size. It's truly mind-boggling that he could slip through the net like this.

Setting up his email account, I email the details to Susan. Within 10 minutes, a mail comes back to all staff from Peter, and at the bottom it reads “Sent from my iPhone.” It seems that Peter’s role is to oversee and control (read: ‘stop’) all spending within the company...To cut his three page email down to one sentence, it appears he's cancelling all company credit cards; limiting expenses to £30 per month for all staff, and issuing a request form for any spend that will take a day to fill out and will be authorised or declined within two weeks.

It seems we are not doing quite as well as I first imagined...

Sitting back in my chair, I run a list through my head: I still have an email server to upgrade; Windows 7 to roll out; Mac upgrades; Sophia’s new top-of-the-range MacBook Air (because she asked me, and because she was looking particularly hot that day), not to mention an iPad for me. For research, obviously.

The only way out of this is to play the game, I reckon. It takes most of the evening, but I fill out the request forms correctly, submit them, and wait. And wait. For weeks – until the main server runs out of space; the Anti-Virus subscription lapses, and our ISP cuts the line due to non-payment.

That was a great meeting with the bossman. He started shouting, going red in the face and actually shaking, pleading with me: “How can I run a company when I have no internet, no email and nowhere to keep the work? We’ve got a pitch tomorrow for a major client, I have to email them from Starbucks!” Usually I have to try and blame Colin for any IT glitches, but all I had to do here was explain that I was still waiting for authorisation from our new Business Development Assurance-whatever person, and suddenly he went very quiet.

By the time I got back to my desk, HR Susan had emailed me:

“Hi Ethan. Don’t worry about the computer for Peter; he's managed to do all his emailing on his iPhone...speaking of, can you please shut his email address down now?”

I love it when a plan comes together.

Now, iPad time. Do I get a black one or a white one?


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.

Image Credit: Server Room from Shutterstock