I returned from my normal Wednesday morning staff meeting to discover an odor most foul in my office. It smelt like a hobo had crapped a dead raccoon into a coffee can and set it on fire under my desk.
This was not a pleasant odor.
The odor tickled my nose with fiery knives and danced across my palate like a line dancing boar in hob nailed boots, for indeed it was so strong it could be tasted. This was not only a foul odor, but one that could not be ignored. I timidly explored the confines of my office, sniffing experimentally, and attempting to triangulate the source of the funk while my eyes teared up. I opened the drawers in my desk for quick peeks and poked through the boxes stacked up by the door trying to find the final resting place of what I was sure must have been a diseased rat that had died from gorging itself on week old discount chili.
I could only take about ten minutes of this cautious and odoriferous spelunking before I took action according to my fiscal year 2006 New Managers Handbook of Procedures and Scapegoating. It was chapter 7, How to Solve Problems that told me what to do. "Ignore it and hope it goes away."
I had tried ignoring the smell to no positive effect already. Clearly I was doing something wrong, as the New Managers Handbook of Procedures and Scapegoating was never wrong. So I left the office for an early and long lunch. I hoped that whatever Lovecraftian daemon had decided to use my office as a toilet, would realize the grievous error in protocol it had made and return in my absence to remove the curse of funk and leave a polite calling card noting it's unfortunate mistake, no doubt borne out of a lack of familiarity with human anatomy and not the mark of malice. Ideally it would leave a calling card inviting me around for some tea and madness later in the week. That would have been nice.
Despite the excellent odds of that occurring, I retuned from lunch to discover that, instead of disappearing, the odor had become stronger and was now infecting a considerably larger portion of the building and not just my own office. I was unprepared for that. Chapter 7 of my New Managers Handbook of Procedures and Scapegoating had not indicated that problems may become more troublesome once ignored.
By this point, if my life were a Saturday morning cartoon, my office would have been filled with an anthropomorphic green gas that used wispy tendrils of bile inducing stench to strangle and incapacitate nearby colleagues and minions. A second search was deemed necessary and this time I collected a posse. We spread out, each of us cautiously sniffing about the perimeter in an attempt to determine the source of the evil fetor that had graduated from Unpleasant to Significant Health Hazard. The conversation was lively and consisted mostly of attempts to cleverly describe how distasteful the odor was, as well as brief digressions on the building's history and well aimed jokes at each others hygiene.
No progress was made until someone mentioned that it smelled of sulfur, and the odor dulled parts of my brain started to piece together clues from the previous few days. One of the UPS battery units under my desk had been chirping a complaint about something or other. Adhering strictly to the advice in chapter 7, I had chosen to ignore the occasional noise as well as the ominous appearance of blinking red lights. As it turns out, that was maybe not the best course of action. The New Managers Handbook of Procedures and Scapegoating was revealing itself to have some significant flaws that needed to be addressed in future editions.
Once uncovered and rooted out from under my desk, the UPS proved to be so hot that it couldn't be safely handled without fear of acquiring the sort of mutilating scars that would make for sufficient motivation to be featured as a villain in a Spider Man segment on the Electric Company. Wary of possible burst batteries and the potential for rupture of same with sudden vibration, I was at the moment in a pickle about how to safely remove it from my office so that I could go back to breathing sweet oxygen and nitrogen as opposed to the likely poisonous, and certainly noxious, gas that had been filling my office for the previous few hours. In the end I dragged it out and down the hall by its cord like a wounded dog afraid to leave the house.
Following advice from Chapter 8, Passing the Buck, I remanded the recalcitrant device to the custody of one of my technicians and within an hour, my office again smelled properly of dust and the fear of failure. The lesson here is clear. If advice taken from the New Managers Handbook of Procedures and Scapegoating results in unfortunate, or even deadly, circumstances, skip ahead to Chapter 8.