Everyone at Blackshaw and Blackshaw, or B & B, knew when Andy arrived for work. At 11 AM, the smell of stale beer and body odor would fill the office. John Little, Andy's coworker, could set his clock to it.
"Workin' hard or hardly workin'?" Andy said, slapping John's shoulder and leaving a patch of foul air hovering over him. He sauntered over to his desk, guffawing as he sat at his BBC Micro, playing some game he had bought down the street.
"How is it that he gets stuck with us?" John had tea with Katherine, an old battleaxe of a secretary, that afternoon. He kept his voice at a whisper. "Surely there's another department he could be shuffled off to."
"I'm afraid not," Katherine replied. "Andy drifted through the whole firm until there was only the Computer Department left. No one wants him, but no one can sack him, on account of being a partner's son."
"So how about we find another way to get him out the door?" John said. "If you know what I mean."
Katherine had a gleam in her eye. "I believe I do."
Taped to the Wall
"There's hundreds of feet of tape in that little thing," said Taylor, B & B's resident handyman. He and John Little stood in the basement, where the firm kept tape backups of their computer data. They loomed over a giant pile of tape on the floor, streaming from a black cartridge.
"The motors don't work in the drive anymore?" John asked.
"Aye," Taylor replied, "but someone has to clean up the mess. And the tape is still valuable. Save us a few pounds at least."
John nodded. "How long would it take to rewind it by hand?"
Taylor gasped. "A whole day!"
"That would be perfect," John said. "Don't bother yourself with fixing it. I know just the man for the job."
Later, John distributed a department-wide memo, leaving Andy, playing at his Micro, out of the loop. Andy would know what it was about soon enough.
"Aww, can't ya get me a little help, mate?" Andy used his most pleading expression, such as when he begs his father for money. "It'll take me hours to get that tape wound back up!"
"No, I'm afraid I'm too busy here. What's the phrase, 'hardly working?'"
Andy stomped off to the next poor sap, but John knew it would be of no use. The entire department, most of the firm in fact, would refuse to help Andy with his most dreadful task: rewinding a tape drive by hand. John hoped it would drive Andy out of the company permanently, but just seeing the look on his face was worth the effort.
"My father will be hearing about this!" Andy said, stomping out of the office.
Evening came and John left the office. He found Andy, huddled outside the door, his face red and wet. He was whimpering. John left him there.
Keep Calm and Tape On
John strolled into B & B the next day feeling triumphant. His sensation of victory deflated when he found old Katherine, her head in her hands, sitting in his chair.
Katherine spoke through sobs. "My wrists got so stiff from the turning, I wanted to stop, but he asked me so nicely." She handed him the tape cartridge, completely wound up.
"Katherine! Why did you help him?"
"Oh, Andy is a dog's bollocks, I know that," Katherine said. "If he were my son I would slap his face red. But it broke him, John! It broke him so thoroughly! Did you think of what it would do?"
John didn't know whether to laugh over Andy's crushed spirit, or cry over Katherine's arthritic hands winding hundreds of feet of tape. Instead, he maintained his composure as best he could and patted her hands.
"Take the day off, love," John said. "I'll fix this."
After Katherine left, John grabbed an axe from the basement. He couldn't stand the thought of Andy playing at his desk on his Micro one more day. Well, if he couldn't get rid of Andy, he could always get rid of the Micro, right?