Now aren't you glad you said yes?

Software developer pilot fish gets a call from his dad: "We're having a big family reunion at my house! Uncle Fred, his kids, everybody is going to be there! Can you make it?"

Sure, fish agrees -- and he can use the break. "I was working as an hourly contractor on a high-profile project for one of our biggest customers," says fish. "This was a database-driven forecasting web application to replace an extremely complex spreadsheet.

"We were working long hours, nights and weekends, to meet the deadline."

But the next day, when fish tells the project manager he can't work the coming weekend because of a family commitment, the PM goes into a panic. "If we don't get this project done by Monday, I could lose my job!" he tells fish.

Fifteen minutes later, fish is called in by the IT director, who runs through his bag of tricks to persuade fish to stay and work on the project. He compliments fish's work, appeals to his sense of duty, offers to pay double time, insults fish's integrity and finally threatens to terminate his contract.

Fish doesn't want to be suddenly out of work, so he grudgingly agrees to work the weekend -- at double time.

"I came in Saturday morning and put in an eight-hour day helping to fix all the bugs and issues that came up during QA," fish says. "The product was due to be released that Monday, and things were actually looking pretty good.

"But on Monday we uncovered a huge issue during QA, and worked all day to fix that problem with everyone from the CIO on down breathing down our necks, because the company promised the customer that the new application would be installed for their use Monday."

Finally, at 11:58 p.m., the project manager declares victory. The deadline has been met. The customer is informed via an 11:59 p.m. email that the new software is ready to use.

The product manager throws a pizza party for his team to celebrate the successful release of the new product. The development team -- including both salaried employees and contractors like fish, all of whom sweated blood to make the project a success -- get nothing like that.

But over the next few weeks, the team does get plenty of positive feedback on the thoughtful design and usefulness of the application.

And the panicking project manager? "Two weeks later, after successfully meeting his deadline for the project, the project manager -- who got me called on the carpet by the IT director for my lack of dedication -- was let go," reports fish. "They didn't have any more projects in the pipeline for him."

Sharky never has enough stories in the pipeline, so send me your true tales of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp 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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