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Episode 28: Private and Confidential

The first thing I notice about the message from the boss is the subject line: 'Private and Confidential'. The next thing I notice is that it's addressed to the entire company. Like everyone else in the organisation I open it immediately and read:

I feel that now is the time for me to address the rumours that have been flying around the company since I recently joined. Yes, it is true that I am unhappy in a man's body. At heart I am a woman, always have been and always will. I am currently waiting for the surgeon to agree a date for my gender reassignment operation. I'm counting down the days to my sex change.

I appreciate that some will be surprised to hear this. Particularly my wife. But I can no longer live a lie. This man's body will soon be gone and my true, female self will emerge. All woman. And hot too.

I attach some recent photographs of myself in feminine attire so that you can see how much I am a woman.

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. I trust it will not affect our working relationships and that a close, physical relationship based on trust will result from this move.

The attachments show our new boss is various poses - mostly half-naked wearing women's underwear. I can hear the sniggering breaking out all over the building.

There's a second email in my inbox by the time I've looked at the pics of my rugby playing boss wearing women's knickers and bra. It's also from the boss, and this time the subject is 'Important!!'

It reads:

The previous email, marked as private and confidential, is a fake. It's a slander that has been issued by an employee who has been let go today. In taking this action he has opened himself up for prosecution, which I will initiate asap.

I repeat, it is a fake and contains not an ounce of truth. The pictures are also forgeries that were produced using software.

Who's been let go? Alison wanders over and tells me that Stinky Pete has been given his marching orders as part of the new boss's drive to improve productivity and efficiency.

Poor Pete. His problem was that he never worked on any of the big projects. In fact he didn't really do projects at all. What he did was solve problems for all the people that did work on them. Need to get data from one format to another? Get Pete to knock up some quick and dirty hack. Need to process some raw data and extract the info you need while ditching the crap? Forget writing code to do it, Pete's already got libraries of code for doing all kinds of data processing.

Stinky Pete hated front ends, GUIs, web clients and the rest. Pretty pictures are for pansies, as he once told me. The command-line was where he did everything. Got a corrupted database file - get Pete to rip out the data and spool it into a CSV file. Locked out of an important spreadsheet, Pete will unlock it and deliver the contents in no time.

His Perl code was so terse, so cryptic that even other Perl programmers marvelled at it. He could speak regular expressions like a native. And when he caught his boss looking at Perl book reviews on TechBookReport he decided it was time to switch to J, so that he could write stuff even more powerful but obscure. Getting rid of him is a stupid move. There's no way that he can be replaced by a few downloads from CPAN. It'll eat into project times in all sorts of ways the boss has never even considered.

There's another email. Again it says it's from the boss, and this time the subject line is 'The truth' - and again it's sent to the entire company.

OK, I admit I messed up today. I did indeed sack Peter X, but I couldn't cope with being so close to the man I secretly love. When my sex change is complete, when my breasts are bountiful, then I am sure Peter will not reject my advances as he has done to date.

I love him. I will do anything to make him mine. Yes, I had to let him go, but only because I could not bear to be so close and not to have him make love to me.

Peter, I know you're still accessing mail, even though the best brains in the company have tried to lock you out, so please, please, tell me that you love me.

More sniggering all round. The mail server guys are running around frantically trying to do something. Thing is, Stinky Pete's had been here ages and still knows every nook and cranny in the systems he helped build.

Another email. This time it's signed Pete.

Dear ex-colleagues, as you can see I am the innocent victim of sexual harassment. I fully intend to go to the newspapers about this. I have the photos and a number of documents that I manage to save when my account was disabled this morning.

I also have a movie file showing a certain member of the management team enjoying the company of a group of Thai lady-boys. Only a large ex-gratia payment for damages will induce me to drop the court action I intend to start today.

The next email is again marked as being from the boss. No subject heading.

LIES!! This is all lies!!! That bastard has hacked into our machines is making more trouble for himself than he can handle. Please delete all these messages at once. The mail server will be taken off line as soon as this message has been delivered.

I repeat, there is no truth in any of these messages.

The mail server will be down shortly.

Of course the printers are now rattling as everyone wants copies before the messages are wiped from the server.

It takes a couple of hours before the server is back up and running. There are crisis meetings upstairs, and the boss is being called in to talk to the CEO.

Things are just getting back to normal when a message arrives in my inbox. It's marked 'Private and Confidential', addressed to the entire organisation and it's from the boss.

Pete, darling, I've spoken to the surgeon, he says he can move the date forward if I want to …

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