Details, details

Pilot fish is working the second shift in his company's data center, keeping an eye on the checks being printed by one of the payment systems -- and he spots something odd.

"I noticed a check that look like it had a smudge on it," says fish. "I tried to wipe it off but it would not go away. As I looked at it closely, I saw that there was actually a minus sign after the amount to be paid."

Fish calls his supervisor over and has him examine the check to make sure fish has actually seen what he thought he saw. Supervisor agrees -- that's a check with a minus sign.

They call the programmer who's responsible for maintaining the payment system to come in and see what happened.

The programmer does some checking and determines that the way the system was written, if a credit memo is being processed and there are no payments to offset the credit, the system will actually write a check for the amount of credit -- complete with a minus sign on the amount.

Next day, fish reports to work on second shift and there's a crowd in the data center. Along with his supervisor, there are people from data center management, accounting management, internal auditing, and several other interested parties.

"They wanted to know how many times this had happened in the past," fish says. "My answer was, darned if I know -- this was the first time I ever printed those particular checks.

"There was much finger-pointing and recrimination and concern over how much money the company has lost because of this problem. I was a hero."

Sharky loves finger-pointing and recrimination -- it usually means there's a true tale of IT life to be told. Send yours to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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