Look, just think of it as unused vacation, OK?

It's during the run-up to Y2k, and this IT pilot fish is responsible for the shop floor data collection systems at a manufacturing company.

"One of those was the time clock system," says fish. "When it came time to replace the non-Y2k system with a more modern one, I had to write the system specifications for the proposal requests.

"The company and the labor union had recently negotiated a new schedule: There would be two shifts, each working a 4-by-9-plus-4 schedule. That meant shop-floor employees worked four nine-hour days from Monday through Thursday, then enjoyed a four-hour Friday, with the first shift from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and second shift from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"One of the sticking points in the negotiation was the 10-minute afternoon break that the union would lose on Friday. The solution was that the first-shift work schedule was 6 a.m. to 9:50 a.m., and the 9:50 punch-out would be rounded to 10 a.m., with a similar schedule for the second shift.

"However, if a shop-floor employee actually worked until 10 a.m., he needed to get four hours of regular time plus 10 minutes of overtime.

"We had several vendors refuse to submit proposals for the new time-clock system because they couldn't fathom paying someone twice for the same 10-minute period."

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