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Mon 8 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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Secret CIO

Secret CIO finds that the new world order has improved his bartering skills.

"I need your help," he said, quite matter-of-factly.

"For what?" I asked. I was staring at my CEO with no small measure of contempt. He had summoned me to his office on a ‘on a matter of some urgency', which was terribly annoying as I had just been been on the vergy of breaking my record score in Facebook Word Challenge.

"My car has put me in something of a compromising situation."

"...Is it prone to that, or is it feeling particularly vindictive this morning?"

"Don't be an idiot."

"Well, it comes so easily to me," I replied drolly. "What exactly has your car done - is it seeing someone else?"

"Er...um...well, it's like this. My [insert ultra-indulgent German pose-mobile] has taken upon itself to eat my SIM card."

"You mean it still uses SIM cards?

"Doesn't it have Bluetooth?"

"Blue what?" he asked, bemused.

"Is this urgent? I'm sure the dealership can sort it out."

"I don't have time for that - my wife's coming to pick the car up at two."

"And why is that a problem?"

"Because the SIM card isn't mine."

"Dare to ask whose it is?" I said, closing my eyes.

The CEO looked remarkably sheepish. "My secretary needed to go down to the shops and her car was in the shops..."

"Stop right there," I interjected firmly. "While normally I'd go to the ends of the street to help a fellow out, marital drama is a galaxy away from my sphere of influence. Besides, your wife baked a cake for me on my birthday."

"I've got a ticket to the Atlantis afterparty for two."

"Give me ten minutes with a bent paper clip."

Forty five minutes later, I emerged sweaty but triumphant from the bowels of the car, paper clip between my teeth, one gold SIM card in my fist held high.

The CEO beamed most agreeably at me. "Just in time - my wife will be here in ten minutes. Let's have it, then."

"Not so fast. I think we need to discuss a few things first."

He stares, utterly perplexed, his hand still outstretched.

"Er - would you like to come over for dinner sometime as well?"

"One doesn't like to complain, but your wife's cooking is a joy best experienced by prison inmates as a last meal," I say, slipping the chip into my trouser pocket.

"Hey, what are you playing at! I thought we had a deal."

"I'd like to renegotiate a few terms before I hand this over."

He's certainly shaken, if not stirred. "What about the Atlantis afterparty?"

"You're welcome to it. De Niro is past his prime."

"So what do you want then?" he says, stamping his foot furiously.

"I'm thinking my bonus could do with a strong rethink. Plus, a two week holiday in the south of France would do wonders for my asthma."

"Never! You've barely been in the job three months. And you don't even have asthma!" He's looking nervously at his very expensive Swiss watch. It's been at least six minutes.

"All right, fine," he mutters. "How much bonus are we talking here?"

"Well, I've had my eye on a Ferrari 430 in Rossa Corsa for some time now, but that bothersome credit brouhaha has made getting the requisite funds tiresomely difficult. Cash is always better, don't you think? I think so."

The CEO is turning a fine shade of royal purple, the veins in his forehead throbbing furiously away. "You want to buy a Ferrari with company cash when we're bleeding red ink in the middle of a credit crisis!" he bellows.

"Well, we all must make sacrifices," I say soothingly."...and the CEO must sacrifice most of all, shouldn't he? It would make such good PR to you to take a one dollar bonus this year."

That may have torn it. He turns and walks away, fists bunched up, clearly ready for action. I almost flinch when he spins around sharply - but then I see his wife ambling up the road and know that I've won.

"Fine," he smiles between gritted teeth. "But you haven't heard the last of this."

"Oh, but I have," I say as I toss the SIM card at him with a nonchalant air and unroll my sleeves, "...or else the contents of the ‘Private' folder in your BlackBerry gets sent to every editor in my address book."

I turn to walk away, leaving a broken man in my wake and a wife who's already been e-mailed the contents of that ‘Private' folder anyway - but then I make the fatal error of pushing my luck too far.

"Hey - would those Atlantis tickets be upstairs in your office?"

Next month - I relive my two weeks in traction breathing through a straw.

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