And it only took 30 years

Flashback to the early 1980s, when this pilot fish is working for a big consulting firm -- and he's on contract at a very lucrative account.

"The salesman for this account was senior at our firm, and always looking for more commission--er, always looking to aid the bottom line," says fish.

"On April Fool's one year, I wrote a script and had a supervisor at the client site -- who had become a good friend -- call the salesman's office phone when I knew he'd be on the road."

The script: Hi, we're spinning up a big new long-term project. I need 40 to 50 high-level consultants -- C, Unix, networking and security. Cost is no object, but we need them fast! *click*

But fish has carefully left out both the name of the company and the name of the caller.

Sure enough, fish soon hears from a friend in the office that the salesman returned, grabbed a cup of coffee, started listening to his voice mail -- and when he he got to the "sales lead," did a classic spit-take.

Fish knows that the salesman knows it's April Fool's Day. And it has to be a prank, right? Except if it isn't, the chance to place dozens of expensive consultants...what a commission!

As fish learns later, the salesman goes into frantic search mode. Caller ID says the call came from the client site, but he doesn't recognize the voice. He starts calling all the client supervisors and managers he knows.

But fish has made the rounds to tell the client managers what he's done. So when the salesman calls, they tell him, "Yeah, I thought I heard something about that, but can't remember who's in charge. Try Joe." Joe, naturally, denies any knowledge, but suggests that the salesman try Jim.

And around he goes.

Eventually the salesman is almost certain it's a prank, and suspects fish is behind it. But when he confronts fish, he sticks to his script: "Really? Gee, sounds like a prank, for sure. But if it isn't, that's a lot of money, isn't it?"

"He finally gave up on the sales lead, but never gave up on trying to get me to admit to perpetrating it -- for the 17 years I was still at that company," fish says.

"Finally, almost 30 years later, he's moved on to another sales gig and I've had my own company for several years. We ran into each other one day, and stopped for a couple of libations. While he was sipping his martini, I casually mentioned, 'Oh, by the way -- that sales lead? Yeah, I did it.'

"I finally got to see the spit-take."

Sharky doesn't have 30 years -- I need your story now. So send me your true tale of IT life at You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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