I work for a company with a larger-than-average number of gentlemen named Ian* concentrated into a small area. It’s small-enough that three of the four could reach out and touch the others if they so desired…


Pretty-much every working day at 10am and 3pm (excluding Fridays) I’ve been telling Steve* that it’s time for his drink: “Steve, brew time!”

Since 2002 that is, with breaks for good (and bad) behaviour. Steve gets a bit grumpy if brew time is delayed.

I’m kept on my toes by the rest of the office; if I forget the alert I’m reminded (or bypassed entirely!) It’s a good thing, a dry engineer isn’t a happy engineer!

And then we got a new guy and another new guy: 2 of our 4 Ians.*

They wanted in. Obviously, we engineers take brew times seriously. I modified the alert, which caught on in high circles, often invoked with third-party modifications; performance tuning!

A popular variant: “Brew Time Nuclear Ian, brew time no-nukes Ian!”*


We got a new starter 2 weeks ago, Dave.* Now Dave has been away this week - the 6-day SolidWorks course. A course to be completed in 5 days. Illogical maybe but hey, ‘tis one of the most intense things I’ve ever done…

Anyway, I practised a tiny update to the brew time alert today, a tweak designed to establish a new office order:

“Brew time Steve, brew time Dave (a pause, and dismissive wave) brew time the Ians.”

I think it’ll work well. Quite what Dave will think of it I can’t really guess at this stage. Based on what I’ve seen so far though, I think she’ll fit in nicely.

*The names have been changed to protect the identities of those involved. Yes. As have their engineering specialities. We have other Ians throughout the building too; not quite an embarrassment of Ians though.