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Career-starting IT pilot fish works for this university's Department of Music, providing tech support for recitals and other events.

"The most critical work was handling the end-of-semester crunch of music students' recitals, which were scheduled by my supervisor," says fish.

But as recital time nears, it turns out that the Dean's office has booked a series of seminars and events for the same end-of-semester week -- and they need tech support too. Fish's boss tells her friend in the Dean's office to use fish for the work and pay him extra.

Fish already knows that his boss sometimes forgets to mention things, and he soon discovers that her friend has good ideas but isn't good with details. And both of them are strict 9-to-4:30, take-a-long-lunch employees.

None of that helps during the crunch week. Nevertheless, fish manages to support all the recitals and events in six 10-hour days.

"Which was a real strain at home," fish says. "So when the crunch was over, and anticipating the extra pay, I took my wife on vacation to an island off the coast.

"First day on the island, we ran into my supervisor's friend. Without even a hello, she said, 'We figured you couldn't possibly have worked that many hours, so we changed your time sheets.'"

Fish is aghast. Money is already tight. The vacation is ruined. Worse still, filing false time sheets could get him fired. But supervisors changing time sheets without employee knowledge is also against college policy.

His first reaction is to march back to work and demand his rights and the extra pay. But then he pictures the scene: two regular university employees against a new hire and a toothless union rep.

Fortunately, fish's wife has more experience in the murky waters of bureaucracy. "Karma," she tells him. "It will turn. Forget it. Enjoy the vacation."

Reports fish, "She was right. My supervisor and her friend were nice people not really doing their jobs. Their shortcomings became obvious to their superiors, and within the year, both had moved on -- my supervisor enjoyed retirement, and her friend moved quickly through a series of high-pay, short-term jobs."

What goes around, comes around -- and eventually it gets to Sharky. Send me your true tales of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt every time I use one. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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