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Sometimes there's no sanctuary. I seek refuge in the kitchen so that I can escape the religious war that's just flared up again in the office. People are almost coming to blows over whether it's better to indent code using spaces or hard tabs. Alison hates tabs and has just reformatted code that Kevin has spent a week getting to look nice in his editor. It's his code, only he works on it, nobody else even gets to see it. Except that Alison looked over his shoulder and decided to change it so that it matches the style that she likes. I'm tempted to call the ambulance now because we don't have a first-aider in the office anymore (not since we had to sack Big Mike for trying to give mouth-to-mouth to the head of HR when she cut her finger).
Anyway, I'm seeking refuge when Oliver 'Old' MacDonald walks into the kitchen. He's one of the upstairs types, so I figure he's either forgotten that this is the plebs kitchen or he's lost again.
'Joe,' he says jauntily, 'how are things at the coal face?'
'Fine,' I mutter. Then turn back to stare hard at the coffee dribbling through the filter.
He coughs, in case I've forgotten he's there. No response from me. He coughs again. And again.
I snap. 'That's a bad cold you've got there,' I say finally.
He can't work out whether that's a gag or not, so he launches into a speech he's previously prepared. 'Joe,' he says, 'about this off-shoring busines …'
'You mean your plan to sack my development team and farm out their jobs to some poor sods coding for two quid a week in the Sudan?'
'That's not what I was suggesting …'
'So in your proposal document where you said 'we could find the same skill-set for a tenth of the cost in the Sudan', what were you suggesting?'
He swallows hard. 'That was a personal memo to the CEO,' he remembers. 'How did …'
I brush the question aside. 'And where you said 'we will never have to pay compensation to pub owners again,' who were you referring to?'
'But that brawl cost us a fortune to cover-up, especially after the photos were published on that web site …'
'Only because you wouldn't let my team hack into the site to wipe the evidence,' I point out reasonably.
'But Joe that's illegal … Anyway,' he says, realising that I'm still a bit sensitive about the issue, 'the proposal was dropped.'
'Only because we've got a boss who sees sense.'
'Yes, I'd forgotten that his nephew is on your team.'
'So what I can I do for you?' I ask, regretting my decision to even enter into conversation.
'It's been a few months since the last re-organisation,' he begins. 'Things are changing upstairs. Integration projects aren't as sexy as they used to be. Heaven knows I've done my best with web services and XML, but really things are changing fast …'
I see. He's looking for allies now. 'And?'
'There's a rumour that the new organisation chart doesn't have a box on it for the Integration Officer.'
I see. His job isn't on the map anymore. It means he's going to be moved sideways, demoted or is about to be made redundant. 'Mmm. How many projects did you actually kick off last year?'
He thinks long and hard about his answer. 'It depends on what you mean by kicked-off,' he replies eventually.
He nods. 'I did some cracking presentations though. The board loved my Web Services Everywhere presentation. I had to fly out to the States twice to deliver it …'
'But isn't that because you left your laptop on the bus the first time?'
'How did you …'
I cut him off there and then. 'So let me get this right,' I say. 'You've done bugger all work again this year. You lost a company laptop and went way over-budget on foreign travel. You recommended getting rid of my team completely. Now you want my support for something.'
He grits his teeth and nods. 'Don't make me grovel,' he whimpers.
I raise my eyebrows a fraction of an inch. It's enough. 'Please Joe,' he implores me. 'This year I'll have some real projects to kick off, and I'll make sure that your people get first pick of the most interesting ones. You get to choose. Name the technology and you can have it. Name the tools and they're yours.'
'I'll pay out of my own pocket if I have to. Come on, Joe, you know that without me in place your people will be condemned to do life support on systems that are older than they are.'
It's sounding better. 'What specific proposals do you have in mind?'
'I'm thinking that the best form of attack is … er … defence. No, scratch that. I think I need to expand my role not get rid of it. I was thinking that I should put in a proposal that I be promoted to Software/Hardware Integration Technologies Evangelist.'
'You want to appear on the org chart as Oliver MacDonald, SHITE?'
'Shite? Bollocks. Hadn't seen that one. I've just suggested that to Barry on the business development side. Wondered why he sniggered.'
'What about Infrastructure Engineering Integration Officer?'
He shakes his head. 'Doesn't sound corporate enough.'
'OK, let's bung in the word Enterprise as well.'
He shrugs. 'Good enough. Joe, do you think you could make this suggestion to anybody with influence?'
'Leave it with me,' I promise. 'This'll get to the CEO by lunch-time.'
'Thanks, Joe. I won't forget this.'
I grin. 'No, I won't let you,' I say.
It takes two days for the new organisation chart to be published. It's a joy to behold. Old MacDonald has been crowned 'Enterprise Infrastructure Engineering Integration Officer'. And there on the chart, in big bold letters it says 'O MacDonald EIEIO'. To celebrate the team launches into a rousing rendition of the 'Old MacDonald had a farm …'