I could be over-reading the signs slightly, but the PFY seems to have all the symptoms of an advanced case of the blues. Questioning him on the matter is fruitless.
His work is suffering because of it - yesterday I caught him refilling the paper tray in one of the fax machines in response to a user's request. Also, password-change logs note that he's helping out users who forget their passwords by changing them to words like 'temporary' and 'changeme', instead of the usual 'goshiamaplonker' or '"imaginebeingsostupid'.
The final straw comes when he does a complete recovery of a hard disk after a user accidentally erased it.
A serious talk is required, so I corner him and the truth comes out.
It appears that the PFY's favourite piece of firmware in the DP Pool has chucked him in favour of a newly contracted Internet Policy Consultant who's so smooth he's ready for varnishing. I'd seen the signs of course, but thought the PFY was more than up to the challenge. Looks like there are still some jobs you have to leave to the experts.
It's a sad state of affairs for the PFY, made worse by the fact that we've been directed from above to aid Mr Slimey's 'Internet Political Correctness' investigation - a thinly disguised attempt by the boss to justify the persecution of those who invest hours in company time perusing the screeds of Internet porn sites.
I try to divert the PFY's depression with a little light-heartedness...
"Perhaps you could do with a trip to Dr Bastard's Lab?" I call, unveiling my latest gadget.
"It's a mouse," the PFY responds.
"Not just any mouse," I say. "A remote controlled mouse, see?"
I twiddle with the arrow keys on my infra-red enabled personnel disorganiser. The mouse moves accordingly.
"Neat," the PFY comments, unimpressed.
"And what about that?" I ask, pointing at a recently modified office item.
"Yes, yes - but with a customised addition," I reply. "Bring it over."
He grabs it, straining under the unexpected weight, and starts to my desk.
With the press of the key on the disorganiser the latches burst open, freeing a couple of bricks which fall onto the PFY's feet. Sometimes you really do have to be cruel to be kind.
"What the hell did you do that for?" the PFY cries.
"Education," I respond. "You're suffering under the misapprehension that life is fair. It is not. Which is why empowered individuals like you and I make it so."
"I don't understand."
Wearily I explain. "Picture if you will an Internet Policy Consultant-like individual, tired out after a hard day's work of warming his office chair."
As he boards his tube train, his briefcase - full of homework on how to annoy Network Operations - suddenly springs open, emptying its contents onto the line."
"Ah, so he's taking the tube home today then?" the PFY responds.
"I don't know. I'm merely outlining options here. And speaking of options, I believe we don't have one about attending his Internet policy report this very afternoon."
The PFY, at one stage, lapses back into pseudo-depression.
Time for a reserve plan that I was hoping to save for another occasion.
A little tinker in SNMP-land later and the fire alarms go off in response to an undetermined smoke detection.
Later that afternoon we show up at the boardroom for Internet Policy suggestions from the slimemonster. The presence of the PFY's erstwhile companion does nothing to improve his spirits.
Slimey starts off on the offensive, playing the 'sensitive new age guy' role to the hilt, while simultaneously down-playing the 'caring unbiased networking type' that has been the cornerstone of my many years of service. Within minutes, he has the audience eating out of his hand as he outlines his plan for an isolated network, his laptop pumping out one intranet proposal after another.
The boss looks on smugly as things look to be going his way.
"I think you know what to do," I whisper to the PFY.
He looks blankly as I pass my disorganiser to him.
"Something on his hard disk perhaps?" I prompt.
Deep in the recesses of the PFY's psyche, meglomania awakes from its deep sleep.
Half an hour later I'm sipping a pint with the PFY as he forgives and forgets with his DP attachment.
The shock and outrage that followed the display of a few still lifes from the ladies' powder room didn't enhance the credibility of our so-PC consultant very much and his exit from the building was rather rocket-like. Still, it was probably for the best.
"Another?" the PFY asks.
"Well I can't really. I'm just off to teach the boss the dangers of stashing his house keys in the brand new briefcase that was anonymously sent to him."
Experience, as they say, is the best teacher...