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.


It’s late on a Friday afternoon and I’m stuck in the lab helping Javier try to find the leak the cooling system for his most recent experimental apparatus. He’s got a conference presentation in two weeks and desperately needs results. Unfortunately, the first year who’s supposed to be helping with this is AWOL, hence I’ve been roped into saving Javier’s bacon. We’ve just about managed to narrow the leak down to one particular subsystem when the first year wanders into the lab… six hours late. He has a look on his face like he’s just seen his life’s work been eviscerated by a small army of ninjas. Either that, or he just had a meeting with The Advisor. I’m not sure which.

“Look everyone, Eeyore just walked in! And about six hours too late,” I complain.

“Very funny,” says the first year, or TFY for short, sounding about as deflated as he looks.

“Why are you late long-faced one?” Javier asks.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” whines TFY as he sinks into a chair at the table right next to the apparatus.

Javier gives me a hand gesture indicating that I should get the hell away from the device, which I do with haste, covering my nose since I know what’s coming. You see, one of the best ways to leak test a cooling system is to flush it with ammonia, because you can smell the stuff at fairly low levels (even below 25ppm). Granted, that doesn’t work on copper pipes (since ammonia will corrode them), but the stuff Javier’s using is steel anyway. Anyway, any pressurized system has a pressure release valve, which in this case, is about 24 inches from TFY’s face.

Javier decides to release the pressure.

After a minute-and-a-half long coughing fest TFY has recovered enough to yell, “What the hell was that for?”

“To give you something to whine about,” responds Javier. “Don’t come in here and ruin my afternoon with this ‘woe is me’ attitude. Especially since you were supposed to be here hours ago to help me with this thing.”

This appears to be a little much for TFY who breaks down into tears. Javier engages Manly Defense Protocol #16, locking the lab door and turning on the loudest bit of experimental apparatus we have.

As annoying as TFY is, there’s an unwritten rule of manly solidarity here — men don’t let people see (or hear) other men cry.

After a few minutes of crying, we manage to get the story out of him. It appears that he was planning to go to the one really posh dance his old fraternity holds each year with his girlfriend tonight. He had an elegant dinner planned, flowers and all. The one problem is that she just broke up with him to go with another guy.

“That sucks,” Javier and I say in unison.

“No f@!#ing kidding,” TFY says. “The worst part is that this dude is a total scumbag and won’t treat her right like I do.”

“So you actually want her back?” I say, incredulously.

“With all my heart,” he mournfully responds.

Javier pulls me aside for a quick consultation. “Listen man,” he whispers, “Women who don’t respect men don’t get no respect, you know what I’m saying?”

“Yeah,” I agree, though I’m pretty sure that rule applies much more generally.

“We need to help this boy out.”

“Why? He fell for some heart-breaking floozy and now pays the price. It’s an expensive but important lesson to learn.”

Javier responds, “Under normal circumstances, maybe, but I’m gonna need TFY’s help to get my results for the conference. He’s useless to me in this state.”

No matter how much TFY really needs to learn this lesson, I know it’s more important to help Javier out. Especially since I’ll be helping Javier out if TFY stays in his funk.

“Is getting her back worth say, 200 bucks?” I ask TFY.

“What?”

“If I can make it clear to her that she’s made a terrible, terrible mistake, is that worth 200 bucks?” I respond.

“Yeah,” he says, half-crying.

“Then pay up,” I say.

“Why? How?” he asks.

“Don’t ask. You don’t want to know,” I retort, speaking nothing but the truth.

“Fine,” he says, pulling the cash out of his wallet (damn!).

“Javier, head home and get dressed up frat-boy style. Meet me at The Supine Bovine in an hour.”

“Si, Señor,” Javier says.

“I’ll call you when it’s done,” I say to TFY. “And don’t pitch the flowers, you’re going to need them after all.”

I’m halfway home before the plan completely crystalizes in my head, but if this guy is half the sleezebag that TFY says he is, then the TFY’s ex-girlfriend will be giving him a swift kick to the nuts by the evening’s end.

I’m actually beginning to look forward to this.

(To be continued…)

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