Is this what they mean by cross-training?

It's the 1980s, and this pilot fish works in an accounting department. "Following a company order to find ways to lower costs, my supervisor and I submitted a request to stop printing six useless inventory reports," says fish. "We always immediately tossed them into recycling, and it would save about 1,000 pages per month."

The response comes back from IT: "The inventory system is so poorly documented that it would cost more to shut down the print run than we could save."

Request denied.

Flash forward two years, and fish has dumped his accounting career to become a programmer. His first assignment after transferring into the IT department: increasing the size of a key field in the mainframe inventory system.

That, in turn, means code will have to be changed in every inventory-related program. And eventually fish finds himself staring at the report program that spews out the useless 1,000 pages.

Twenty minutes later, fish has identified which six lines of COBOL code he needs to comment out in order to stop printing the six useless reports.

"A quick call to my old boss confirmed he would be delighted to stop receiving the reports," fish says. "So I commented the report code and finished the key field changes.

"In less than 30 minutes we saved 1,000 pages per month -- two years after the request was denied."

Sharky is counting on you to send me your true tale of IT life at You'll get a stylish 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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