As a bit of variety for our readers, I’ve decided to throw together a periodic humor piece inspired by Simon Travaglia BOFH. It’s not exactly an angry rant… but it is Friday — you deserve a few laughs. For those new to the HoS series, the first episode is here.

WordPress divider

It’s about 10am on Friday when I finally wander into the office. The Greek grad student union had one hell of a bender last night where the ouzo was flowing like water. Those Greeks (as in Athens and Sparta, not as in Lambda Lambda Lambda) evidently like to start the weekend early! anyway, in addition to 16 v1agra emails, 3 “natural male enhancement” emails and 2 “h0t st0ck t1ps”, i finally get down to the only email that actually matters, the one from the department office. “Effective immediately,” it reads. “In light of security concerns, all external building doors will be keycard access only.” The note was signed by Professor Chain Smoker, head of the Facilities Committee for the Department. Now I’m for security as much as the next guy, but these ham-fisted policies often create more inconvenience than they do security. Like the inconvenience of having to walk all the way down to the doorway to let in the pizza guy when we’re having a LAN party in the office. Now under other circumstances, this
email would probably trigger a “Well that sucks” and I’d move on with my life. Unfortunately for Professor Chain Smoker, however, I have a massive hangover and I’m in a completely foul mood because of it. And lets be honest, does Hell’s own Scientist really need a reason to wreak his revenge?

I’m thinking not.

My more altruistic readers might feel it inappropriate for me to retaliate against a poorly thought-out policy which only accidentally inconveniences my non-department-sanctioned video game hobbies. To them I respond that I’m not “seeking revenge,” but rather helping certain key individuals, specifically Professor Chain Smoker, to learn to empathize with the pain of others, specifically my pain.

Feel my pain, big boy.

I grab Javier for a quick lunch (and hangover fix) at The Golden Calf, my favorite sports-bar-cum-burger-joint and we start to plan.

“What we need is a way to blackmail Professor Chain Smoker into revoking the policy,” I say, biting into a bacon cheeseburger with genuine aged Wisconsin cheddar.

“By ‘we,’ you mean, ‘you,'” Javier notes. “After all, I’m not a fan of computer games. I prefer consoles.”

He’s playing hardball. The only reason Javier does that is because he has something I want.

“Another imperial stout?” I offer.

“Make it two.”


Coming back with the beverages, I sit down to hear what sort of wisdom Javier has to offer. And for two beverages of the quality to which we’ve become accustomed, it better be good.

“Blackmail is dangerous,” Javier notes in his sage-like fashion. “It can have legal implications and can be easily traced back to the source if the blackmailer engages in liquor-induced bragging. It is far better to convince the gentleman that revising the policy is his own idea.”

“Go on.”

“What would convince him of that?”

“If he himself were inconvenienced by the policy.”


“But he doesn’t order pizza and if he did, he’d get one of his grad students to go down and pick it up.”

“But what if the professor is at the door?”

“He calls his wife or his secretary or his students and gets them to let him in. I bought two stouts for this?” I was getting tired of this Socrates shite out of Javier very quickly.

“Patience, grasshopper. What if he can’t make the call?”

“What, you mean we jam his cell phone? He can walk out of the range of the jammer, or just wait until someone comes by to let him in?”

“But what if he can’t?”

“That’s not…” Light bulb turn on! “That’s absolutely brilliant! Barkeep, get this man another stout!”

I drop some cash at the bar and leave Javier to deal with the effects of a four stout lunch while I rush back to the office to grab the cell phone repeater we use because the reception is terrible in the office. A few warranty-voiding modifications later and I have a working (and highly illegal) cell phone jammer. Another hour of electrical engineering later and I have a working battery-powered electromagnet capable of scrambling the first year’s student ID from about two feet (Hey, I need to test things somehow, and he carelessly left his wallet in his back pocket, how foolish of him!). After a few hours of actual work (the horror) it’s almost quitting time… and almost time for Professor Chain Smoker’s last smoke break of the day.

You see, the department policy applies to all doors external to the building, no matter where they are positioned. This, of course, includes the doors to the second and third floor balconies that have no other exits. Well, unless you were a ninja or had a grappling hook on your person when you got locked on the balcony. As the webcam shows my new favorite professor heading out on the balcony for a smoke break, I rush to the common area near the balcony and plug the jammer into one of the wall outlets (leaving the actual device in a nearby potted plant). With a piece of old pipe, I prop the balcony door ever so slightly ajar, so Professor Chain Smoker won’t notice it stays open after I come out) and walk out to get a nip of fresh air.

“Hi, Professor.”

“Uh, hello.”

He has no idea who I am. Excellent.

“Ooh, what brand do you smoke? I’m a Marlboro man myself,” I lie.

As he starts to show of his fru-fru cigs and tell me about his favorite smoke shop, I wander over just close enough to…. ZZZZZZ.

“What was that?”

“Probably just Jimmy starting the vacuum cleaner,” I reply innocently. “Anyway, I need to head out. I’ll be sure to check out that smoke shop.”

As I walk out (and un-prop the door), I wonder how long it will be until Jimmy finds the jammer and unplugs it. Well, I suppose I can watch the live, streaming video on the department “look at our new building” webcam to find out.