Blog Week 30: Quis custodiet custodes?

Monday 19 June 00.13

Another gorgeous weekend.

One day I went to the coast, the next to the Ardennes - who needs to go elsewhere on holiday with weather like this?

Friday evening I was at a bar downtown to watch the Holland v. Ivory Coast game. Fantastic game and atmosphere.

The other day Mockney was talking about pub "fug". That word is not rhyming slang for anything, just a term for that horrible mix of heat, sweat, cigarette smoke and noise that watching football in bars produces. Mockney, being Mockney, actually likes "fug" - the sensation, rather than the word. I like watching in bars, but watching at home is a restful contrast from time-to-time.

Anyway, enough of me going on about nothing. Some interesting stuff has happened in the office and I will be turning into a detective this week...

Tuesday 20 June 00.11

I mentioned becoming a detective yesterday and what I am about to tell you is a bit strange, even by the standards of a newly-merged law firm in Brussels.

On Friday, my boss Pierre asked me to help out with something "sensitive".

But first I had better start with some background info. Pre-merger the two offices had their own person/people for all administrative functions (reception, accounting etc). I guess due to factors like Belgian labour law and staff morale, everyone was told the merger would not affect their jobs, but their "job function scope" (whatever that means?) might change slightly.

Well a whole bunch of issues have arisen from this duplication - most of which I won't get into now.

Pre-merger the two firms had their own full-time librarian (or information officer if you prefer). One is pleasant, but a bit slow at times (I'll call him Hedgehog) and the other is too cunning by half, spending most of his time trying to avoid work (I'll call him Fox).

In the newly merged firm, both Hedgehog and Fox are supposed to work together as a team. But they have mostly distinct tasks to do. Pierre told me this arrangement avoids Fox dumping work on Hedgehog and all the attorneys asking Hedgehog to do the work that Fox will find an excuse not to do.

Pierre has become increasingly suspicious that Fox is avoiding work and/or "up to something". Last week Fox kept saying he had "do some research" at the Commission library and disappearing out of the office for long periods of time.

So from now on, everytime Fox leaves the office, Hedgehog is to inform me. I am then to drop everything and follow Fox to find out where he is going. It gets even more James Bond-like as Mockney has given me an office mobile phone with a camera so that I can take photographic evidence. I say James Bond-like, but as this surveillance concerns the office it will be closer to Inspector Closeau.

At first I thought this request was a joke. But Pierre is generally a reasonable person, so I don't think he would ask me to spy on another employee just like that. I don't feel great about doing it all. But something is going on. I'll keep you informed ...

Wednesday 21 June 23.51

Fox is ill again. Pierre is giving him one more day and then calling the "control" doctor to check on Fox. Apparently it could be the first test-case in the office's new "get-tough" policy on office sick days.

Separately, what does the word "appropriate" mean? Specifically, what does the word mean in the context of an office?

Last week Weirdo's office attire was not appropriate and we were told a formal policy would be sent around soon about what dress style is appropriate (not arrived yet). Today, an email came round from one of the partners saying some of the celebrations in the large conference room - where the World Cup matches are being shown - were "inappropriate". No one has any idea what she was referring to.

But it got me thinking how that word "appropriate" (and its evil twin "inappropriate") get used in the office. It is so unspecific it covers any number of problems.

Tonight's Holland v. Argentina match was great; excellent football. Normally a 0-0 draw is so boring. Was at a bar downtown again - just the place to be.

Thursday 22 June 23.46

Fox was back in the office today - so no "control" doctor. As Fox stayed in the office, apart from lunchtime, there was no "fox-hunting". (Mockney's term for this crazy "spying" task).

My boss Pierre said something suspicious has been going on regarding email usage in one of the firm's other offices. So some new security software is being installed firmwide this weekend. It will monitor who is monitoring the email and is being installed by an outside company.

Interestingly only the top IT people know about this new software. It seems the firm wants to monitor some of the other IT people. If this software is monitoring our IT people - then Mockney has to watch out. He appears to spend some time reading other people's emails - something it is unclear he is authorised to do.

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