It's a spring thing
Working for BT Internet

If ever (Ed) there was a love/hate job that was it. What's to love? Only the best team of people (Chris) I have ever worked with, that's what. I'll not (Pete) name names as I am bound to leave someone out and (Alan) that wouldn't be nice (Rosie) even though unintentional. Louise, Andrew, Andy, Colin, Steven, Vanessa and everyone else! Hey Steven I still have your Abe's Odyssey! Oh and someone else's MegaRace.

What's to hate? Hmmm, how can you say it without sounding twisted and bitter? OK I can't so I'll stick with what was great about it. At one point my job was answering customer posts in the BT Internet newsgroups. Often very fulfilling and occasionally very funny. What follows is a series of posts from "Dominic Hyde," a customer with a great sense of humour who broke the trend of standard "why's it broke" posts with some witty story lines incorporating the newsgroup staff; along with my replies. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent because it's funny and if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? Hope you enjoy. Dominic's posts are in blue my replies in black. Dom's posts often lifted what was turning out to be "one of those days" into something great.

Dominic and George

Ah yes, Mr Hyde, do come in and take a seat. Thank you very much for agreeing to help is with our enquiries.
Yes, well I didn’t have a lot of choice when George and Andrew bundled me into the back of that van. Do you know how long the journey to Scotland was? Twelve flaming hours I was stuck in that....
Yes yes Mr Hyde, very uncomfortable I’m sure but could we just get on? Now, we have asked you to come here because it seems from our information that you have been causing trouble in the support newsgroup. Seems you’ve been upsetting the natives with foul and abusive language.
Er.....can I have a cup of tea?
Button it. This is going to be the long dark evening of your guilt.
Look mate...
MATE? MATE? I am not your mate Mr Hyde, I am your worst nightmare. If you carry on stirring up trouble in ‘support’ I’m gonna haul your rear outa there and kick it out into cyberspace, you get me?
Well, I didn’t start it. It was that.....
Save it for someone who cares Mr Hyde. I’m not interested in who started it, I’m only interested in maintaining a certain standard in our newsgroups and I’m not having some jumped up little newbie coming along stirring up trouble.
So you’ve had complaints then, about my offensive and abusive language?
Well no, not yet, BUT WE MIGHT and ...
So nobody’s complained about me then.
Er....no.
Had any complaints about the other feller?
A few but...
But you can’t do anything about it right?
LOOK Mr Hyde, I’m asking the questions here.
Look er ....sorry, I didn’t catch your name?
My friends call me Gazza but you can call me SIR.
Okay Sir, let’s cut to the chase. I’m sure you’re very busy doing, well, whatever the hell it is you do here. So I get a little miffed about someone’s post which I consider to be horrid and nasty and just because I call the guy a p.....
Watch it MR HYDE, I’ve got George outside and he’s really not over his flu bug yet. He may look like a pussy cat but those antibiotics have really got to him....
Okay, I’ll rephrase it then. Just because I objected, I get a yard of grief from Andrew about how I’m breaking all these charters and terms and conditions and stuff.
Yep, that’s it. Just because you pay a tenner a month and the other bloke pays zip, does not give you the right to say rude words and upset the regulars.
Oh come on Gazza, are your really gonna ban me from ‘support’ and take away me mouse? I did say sorry you know.
Yes, well sorry might not be enough to keep that lot happy. Only takes one nutter to take offence and before you know it, they’ve downloaded the Fisons seed catalogue to your hard drive. Don’t say I haven’t warned you Mr Hyde.
"WE’LL BE WATCHING YOU.
"Yes, well, this has all been very pleasant but I really must be going now. Do I really have to wear the blindfold on the way home?
‘Fraid so Mr Hyde, it’s security see. Wouldn’t want anyone getting a look at the turbo charged hamsters we’re developing."
"Oh alright then, but could you ask George not to sit in the back with me this time. Think he’s been at the canteen beans again and it’s not very nice. Be disastrous if someone lit a match. Three quarters of your support team would be fried to a crisp."
"Yeah yeah, I know, stop whinging and just put the piggin’ blindfold on.....

"Do you deny these charges George?"
"Yes your honour, it's a frame-up, how did they know I like beans?!"
"You honestly expect me to believe that you, a known newsgroup support person have been set-up?"
"Yes your honour I wasn't even on the server at the time!"
"George, George, George, in all my years as a newsgroup judge I haven't heard anything so pitiful, just accept your fate man and stop crying"
"I'm not crying,....... there....there's something in my eye, yeah that's it something in my eye, a fly flew straight in there."
"I believe you George, I understand, you're a victim of circumstances, simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, isn't that right?"
"Yes yes, that could be it."
"LIAR! you are going down George, there's more evidence against you than fluff in a sumo wrestlers belly button!"
"But it wasn't me I tell you, I am innocent, check the evidence, I'm not going down for this, you can't do this to me, do you know who I am? "I'll have your wig for this"
"Take him away"
"Mummy mummy help me mummy, yes mummy you were right all along I should
have stayed at home, I'm sorry mummy."

The shades looked pretty good with the Armani suit but still a little OTT for a wet Friday in Thurso, especially when someone left the hamster cage in the doorway..... It’s hard to look cool when you’re wearing hamster poo and sawdust, but if anyone could pull it off, Iain could.

‘Right guys.....’ Louise shot him a steely glance.
‘Er...right guys AND pretty little female type persons, listen up. I want us all to have a brainstorming session about how we can encourage subscribers to stay with us. Er, George? GEORGE!! If you wouldn’t mind at least pretending to be awake, there’s a good chap’
‘Sorry Iain, it’s these antibiotics see. I’m still not very well you know, after that flu bug. Do you think perhaps I need some vitamin....’
‘No George, I really don’t want to hear about your piggin’ virus anymore. I only want to hear from you when you’ve got a bright, snappy idea, OKAY?’
‘Yes Iain, sorry Iain.’
‘Now, as I was saying, we need to get some ideas together - and pronto. The Boss is coming in tomorrow and he is NOT happy. Says he spent a horrible few hours with a punter called Hyde, Dominic Hyde. It seems that this oik and someone called Ceejay have been making unreasonable demands for some sort of customer satisfaction survey....’
‘Hahahahehehehe...’
‘Sorry Andrew? Has one of the rodents crawled up your trouser leg or have you just told yourself a joke you don’t know?’
‘Sorry Iain, it’s just the idea of a survey. I mean, what do we want one of those for? It’s not as if we don’t already know what they think of BTI is it? I mean George has to have 3 Prozac before he’ll even go into Whinge...
‘Yes, well we all know that a survey is out of the question but we’ve got to think of something...’
‘Er, how about another competition like we did at Christmas’
‘Oh yeah George, stunning idea - NOT! Don’t you remember all the whinging from the punters when someone trashed the results? No George, go back to sleep and we’ll wake you up in 2003.’
‘Actually Iain, I think the survey is an extremely good idea....’

As always, Louise had caught Iain off guard. Sliding between the desks, she stood in front of him, hands planted firmly on her hips. He tried to look somewhere other than at the midnight blue silk shirt than draped over the curves and to ignore the heady scent of Dior and Tipex, but it was useless. Knowing she had his full and undivided attention she continued.
‘There have been over eighty requests for the survey in just two weeks. We might not like the results, but at least we will have a basis for developing the service based on what customers want.’ By now she was close to him. Very close indeed. Andrew started to giggle as Louise placed a hand on Iain’s shoulder and moved her face close to his. ‘Let’s just give them what they want shall we? I mean, we all enjoy getting what we want, don’t you think?’
It was a full minute before Iain had regained the power of speech.
‘Ummm, yes well, I think it’s a brilliant idea Louise. Thank you for sharing that with us.’ Moving swiftly towards the exit (well, as swiftly as was possible given his condition) he reached the door. Louise followed and stopped him to whisper in his ear.
‘Oh and Iain, if you call me a pretty little female person again, I’m gonna take your naff shades and stick ‘em in a place where you wont be able to lose them. Got it?’
‘Yes. Right. CARRY ON EVERYONE......’

George contemplated what to do. The meeting had been a disaster for him. The excuse about the flu was wearing thin. Surely it wouldn't be long before his antibiotic addiction got out? Let's face it he hadn't coughed in weeks. His hands began to tremble, beads of sweat forming on his forehead, the penicillin only seeming to mock him as it lay there on the desk.
"What to do, what to do" he muttered.
Suddenly it hit him... a small rolled up piece of A4 that had been flung across the desk.
"Wake up George!" Ed shouted, "you're miles away!"
"What, what, where am I?" he said, confusion filling his mind.
The realisation sunk in. Slowly he focused on the empty tins of Sprite; surely he hadn't drank that much? Then something moved to his right, startled he jumped round but it was only his Spiderplant blowing restlessly in the breeze coming from the open window. He studied it intently wondering if it was a threat but dismissed the notion quickly, a decision that would come back to haunt him...

Iain sat motionless. He had never seen Louise act like that; so purposeful, masterful, so in control. He liked it. It only added to his feelings for her. He knew it was useless though, she could never know how he felt. The things he knew, it was just too risky, too dangerous to let anyone get close. Lesser men would have crumbled but not him, not with shoulders like that to support the weight he bore; the dark secret that haunted his every waking thought...

It had been a hard meeting Andrew knew that. It hadn't been that bad since the time...no he couldn't even contemplate it, it was just too painful. He buried the thought in the deepest recesses of his mind. Not as deep as some, but deep nonetheless. He wondered where it was leading. He remembered what Iain had said at the meeting, "Rodent indeed" he thought to himself "I'll show him." Iain and Andrew had never seen eye to eye, mainly because Andrew was slightly taller. It was more eye to chin but it didn't matter, they didn't get on. The blood pumped in Andrews’s veins as his anger increased. "I'll get you back for that Iain!" he said aloud. The other bus passengers looked at him strangely then continued reading their papers.

Back home Louise felt good. It was the first time she had really let herself be heard. Yeah she had spoken at team meetings before but only to tell everyone the Vending machine was out of Yorkies. This had been different and she had enjoyed it. The power she had held in her hands, brushing aside the others like that; she wanted more. And yet for a moment she had hesitated but only when she had stared straight into Iain's eyes. There was something there but what? Contact lenses maybe? And suddenly total clarity. In that instance she saw what it was that Iain had been hiding. it seemed so obvious to her now; the presents he constantly sent, the endless dinner invitations, the way he said "I love you," it all made sense to her now. She chomped on her Yorkie wondering what to do next.

At work the next day things seemed awkward, uneasy. Andrew and Iain glared menacingly at each other, George knocked back another penicillin with half a can of Sprite and Louise stole a glance at Iain. The mail arrived. The posty looked impatient as Iain and Andrew signed for the rather ominous looking letters. They ripped them open in unison and staggered back as they read the contents. Iain wept, Andrew laughed maniacally and the posty left. They looked at each other, threw the letters in the bin, muttered "Oh no" and got on with their work. George reached for the bin in a way only an antibiotic addict could. It was a dead give-away he thought but nobody seemed to care, the letters filled everyone’s thoughts: What did they say? George opened the letter and trembled as he read the contents. In disbelief he declared, "Iain and Andrew are twins, separated at birth!" The silence seemed to last for a second or two before Ed piped up from the back of the office, "So that's why they look the same!" Andrew and Iain got up, walked to the canteen and talked about what lay ahead. As they walked out of the office a voice whispered, "So that's probably why they always dressed the same too."

They returned as if different people, an excitement filled their voices, Andrew even laughing at Iain's jokes. Louise was the first to meet them and looking into Iain's eyes he knew she knew and he knew that if she knew what he knew and he knew that she knew what he knew then things could be different, but what about the secret he bore could she accept it or would she drop him like a potato so hot it really burned your hands? "Louise, there's something you should know...I...I don't know how to tell you...I am a closet iMac user!" The words hung in the air like only words can. There were shocked gasps from everyone...everyone that is except Louise. "Oh Iain, I knew you were different from the rest all along, it doesn't matter to me, I use it all the time, that's why my legs are so smooth." He didn't know what to say, should he tell her or leave it at that, consigning himself to a lifetime of body hair remover? Of course he would, Louise was worth it!

Andrew, sensing his newfound twin's shame put his arm around Iain's shoulder. "Don't worry Iain we're here for you, we'll get you back on to PC's if that's what you want." George though was having none of it.
"You are all crazy!" he shouted. He needs locked up I tell you!" "Iain, it can't be, how could you, I thought we would be PC users for life? George's mind was a blur. It was ages since his last penicillin/Sprite cocktail and it was telling. He moved towards the open window his mind torn with images of Iain and his iMac, a life of no invalid page faults or fatal exceptions. The cool air seemed comforting and in a single bound he jumped. He fell for what seemed an eternity but in reality it was about 4 feet, before hitting the ground. The others laughed at his stupidity as he lay there below the
window of the single floor building. Their laughter soon stopped though as they looked on in horror as the Spiderplant that set innocently on the window ledge moved in the breeze rocking slightly back and forth. Everything seemed to be in slow motion. Andrew tried desperately to reach the rogue plant but it was too late. Slowly it tipped over the edge and was gone and they knew what was to come. "OUCH!" They had never heard George use such strong language before so they knew it must have really hurt. George sat eyeing the Spiderplant as it lay there. "What would be its next move" he wondered but it just lay there...waiting.

Epilogue
All in all it had been a usual day at the office. Iain and Andrew had become best friends in a way that country singers sing about. Iain and Louise...well that's another story and George?

Ed fancied a snack. The Canteen seemed empty...empty that is apart from a dark sinister shape in the corner. It set hunched over what appeared to be a large pot from which it seemed to be eating. Strange sounds issued from the figure. "George is that you?" Ed asked. The figure remained quiet but moving closer he could see that it was George and that he was hunched over a huge pot of beans. He discovered what the strange sounds were too and opened a nearby window. "George, George what are you doing?" but there was no answer. "GEORGE SNAP OUT OF IT MAN, YOU'RE LOSING IT." but it was no use. Ed turned to walk away but then he heard a sound. It was very faint but George was definitely saying something. He nervously bent down to listen to what George was saying..."I'll get that Spiderplant."
Ed ran, not even turning to look when he heard the maniacal laughter filling the canteen
...

© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. Contact: Geo
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I've never really found my vocation and so have tried my hand at a few things, everything from servicing central heating boilers, to helping people buy their council house and a variety of stuff in between.

I left school early, avoiding what were then called GCSEs, something I now regret but hey, there's no point crying over spilt milk. It wasn't a major stumbling block when it came to getting a job I have to say but it would be nice to have them under my belt and I may go to college at some point and take today's equivalent.

Back before anyone had ever heard of iPods I was self employed trying to get a .com up and running along with my brother-in- law Ed. It was selling MP3 players and although I know it had great potential, which Apple then spotted, we just didn't have the financial resources to make it work. (cue sad violin music).

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