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Sun 10 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Secret CIO

Secret CIO is ill, and no-one seems to care. Well, apart from that one little thing...

There should be a ban on people coming back from their holidays and circulating germs. Recently-returned vacationers should at least be forced into some compulsory decontamination chamber, complete with antibacterial hot foam sprays, and some light nuclear irradiation for good measure.

As you may have guessed, one of these...delightful people has been responsible for infecting me with a particularly unpleasant bug. Without going into details, it will suffice to say that I haven't been able to move too far from my bathroom for the last few days.

All told now, I've been off work for about a week, and until today, too feeble to do much other than lie in bed. While I was lying in a semi-feverish state, the odd thought about the office occasionally crossed my mind, but by and large I was happy to be out of it and let other people choose to run around like headless chickens.

This morning, though, I awoke feeling not quite as terrible as before - and so decided to make a start on getting back up to speed. I logged on to my Webmail, and as expected, was confronted by several hundred messages (including an irritating quiz thing from the editor of this rag - straight in the trash with that).

I sorted them into reverse date order, and began to tackle them from the start of the week - sure enough, there were random requests from executives, a few serious problems with one of the applications, requests for additional quota. As I read my heart sank - it was going to take forever to clear this lot.

And yet - no. What was this? E-mails that I thought would be ranting on and on about the lack of a response were in fact, polite replies of thanks. Something was clearly going on here.

Curious, I rang my deputy to find out what had been happening during my absence.

"Oh, yes - you did have a few e-mails, but we've dealt with all of them now."

"What, all of them?" I asked, fairly incredulously.

"Yes, pretty much."

"So how's everything else?"

"Oh, fine. Server crashed..."


"...but we brought it back on line."

After a few more minutes of this, I hung up feeling strangely despondent. Of course I was pleased that my staff had dealt with my absence so smoothly - but at the same time, it's always a slightly depressing thing to realise that one is not at the absolute centre of one's little universe.

I was even more miffed to discover that, approximately three days into my absence, my staff had started a data-cleansing initiative that we had talked about - but never planned. So now it seemed they were getting on better without me - how dare they!

I had settled back in my bed in a right old funk - at this rate, I thought, they'd be wondering if it wouldn't be easier to do without a CIO at all - when the phone rang.

"Uh, well, it's like this," explained my deputy in halting sentences. "Did you- you know that- ok, we started this data cleansing thing without you..."


"Uh, well.. I've just got a call... a call from the head of finance..."


"Ahhh, it seems we...we might've...we might have corrupted most of his records..." I could hear the phone cord coiling round his fingers as he spoke.

"Oh. What happened to the finance department backup?"

"Ah, the backup..."

As he started um-ing and ah-ing again, my phone beeped: the head of finance on call waiting.

You know, while it's nice to know I'm still wanted, I think now might be an excellent time for a relapse.

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