Not the timesheet issue we were expecting

Pilot fish is the new hire at this IT consulting outfit -- in fact, he's fresh out of college when he's sent to work on his first project.

"I followed the lead of the senior consultant on the project, Barney," says fish. "He told me how many hours we worked each day, how to fill out timesheets, how long a lunch we could take -- longer when he felt like it -- and so on."

After about two months, fish gets a phone call from the consulting firm's office administrator, Wilma, who berates him for not filling out his timesheets correctly.

She informs fish that the workday is seven hours, not eight, and that he shouldn't be putting eight hours down on his timesheet, and that she's not happy about all the extra work he's causing her.

Huh, fish thinks, but I have been putting in eight-hour days. It doesn't affect his paycheck -- he's on salary -- but he wonders if he's doing something wrong.

"I told Barney about the call," fish says. "I was really worried because I thought he told me to put eight hours down. Did I misunderstand?

"He promised to take care of it. A short time later he got back to me."

It seems Wilma has been using white-out to "correct" the timesheets for all the consultants down to seven-hour workdays.

But the project has officially been confirmed for eight-hour days, and now she'll have to go back and re-correct all those timesheets.

The client isn't happy when the next bill comes in, because of the jump in hours. But the work has been done, so ultimately the consulting outfit gets paid.

"Barney's first piece of advice when I started was to make photocopies of everything I sent into the office," says fish. "I thought that was silly and wasteful -- just a lot of tree killing. Now I understood.

"After that I don't think there was any advice that Barney gave me that I did not follow!"

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