Welcome to your new career!

The Fourth of July has just passed when this IT pilot fish is called to a meeting about a piece of software that has persistent problems.

“I and a programmer were to go to a customer and solve the issues,” fish says. “We were told, ‘We’ll be sure you get to come home for Christmas.’

“At the customer site, as the hardware member of the team, my job was mostly to get the programmer up and fed in the morning, ask questions and observe.”

But progress is slow. The troubled system is live, which means fish and his co-worker have to keep it up and running as they hunt for the problem. Worse still, symptoms are intermittent.

Then one day as July is turning into August, the customer’s IT head walks into the workspace and asks fish’s co-worker, “Did you know they just eliminated your division?”

Co-worker goes pale and disappears, looking for a place to call home. Not much later, co-worker returns and announces that he’s returning to headquarters on the next flight.

Fish calls his boss, outlines the situation and asks for guidance. Boss’s response: “Whatever you were doing together, you keep doing alone.”

Sighs fish, “I kept at it, basically making an on-the-fly career change from hardware to software.

“I became the sole maintainer of the software for nearly a year, until they hired someone who was actually qualified for the job.”

Send Sharky an early Christmas present — your true tale of IT life — at sharky@computerworld.com. You can also comment on today’s tale at Sharky’s Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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