Missed it by one day

It's the early 1990s, and this pilot fish is hired to help install PCs and configure a network at a corporate building in Florida.

"The building originally used a token ring network that wasn't configured properly," says fish. "They were in the process of switching over to Ethernet, but there were many problems to be resolved."

Then comes the week that installation begins on the finance department floor -- and by Friday, the whole network is at a crawl. The CEO calls a meeting with fish, his boss and all the floor managers to discuss the problem.

Fish gets there early, along with Bill, the manager of the finance group. In the time that fish has been at the company, they've struck up a friendship because of a common interest in weightlifting, and have even met each others' families.

"What do you think happened?" finance manager asks fish.

I'm not sure, fish says. Everything seemed fine until we added your group to the network.

"Oh yeah," says the manager with a grin, "blame all the problems on the black guy!"

Then, with a conspiratorial gleam in his eye, manager says, "I'll buy you lunch for a week if you say that during the meeting!"

Whoa, wait, says fish, I need this job! I'm not a high-up executive like you!

"Come on, come on!" manager says. "If things get out of control, I'll jump in and cover you!"

The room begins filling up, and Bill positions himself across from fish. When the CEO asks fish's boss for a report, he motions for fish to stand up.

"I heard Bill snort," recalls fish.

"I began giving a report about the old technology of the building and the challenge we had in adding networking to this building from the 1950s. I could see every manager looked bored. Some were doodling.

"I took a deep breath and added in a loud voice, 'So basically the problem started when we added the black guy's group to the network.'"

The entire room gasps. Fish's boss drops his pen.

Across from fish, Bill rises to his full six-foot-six height with an angry face and clenched fists.

And suddenly begins laughing hysterically.

CEO looks at fish and roars, "What did you mean by that?!?"

That's when the finance manager says, "Ted, I put him up to that! Don't be mad -- I twisted his arm to try and put a little levity into the meeting. I'll tell you all about it when we play golf tomorrow!"

Confused CEO says, "Uh ... OK, Bill ... uh, funny!"

Reports fish, "When my manager and I left, he grabbed me and said, 'What in the world were you doing?' I told him what had happened, and he told me not to do anything like that again ... without informing him first."

Sharky lives for meeting like this. So send your true tale of IT life -- with or without a meeting -- to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

Now you can post your own stories of IT ridiculousness at Shark Bait. Join today and vent your IT frustrations to people who've been there, done that.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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