Law & Order: IT Victims Unit

Database admin pilot fish at this state law-enforcement agency is spending too much of his time dealing with an unruly mainframe database system that's less than a year old.

"The problems were constantly causing me to get called in at night," says fish. "Sometimes it was the database software and sometimes it was the application.

"There was no real overtime -- indeed, my pay title did not allow for overtime -- but my boss allowed me to take unofficial compensatory time off."

Early one afternoon, a uniformed police officer comes to see fish. He explains that he's from Internal Affairs, and says he's there to investigate a report that fish sometimes leaves work early.

Do you sometimes leave work early? he asks fish.

I do sometimes leave early, fish says, but that's because I often start early. As a matter of fact, he tells the officer, I was called into work this very morning at 2 a.m. because a critical police application running on the mainframe had locked up and I had to fix it.

Fish names the application -- it's one of the balky database apps -- knowing that all police officers would recognize the name. Then fish goes on to say that he'll probably be leaving work shortly after this interview is finished.

Why doesn't your group have round-the-clock coverage for this type of situation? officer asks. Fish points out that, unlike cops, a DBA like fish doesn't have someone to relieve him when his shift ends.

"He asked me what would happen if I refused to come in when I was called," fish says. "I remember telling him that I could probably do that once, but then I wouldn't have a job any more.

"The result of the internal investigation was that I was not at fault for leaving early. Their recommendation was that I should not be called in off-hours anymore.

"Yeah, right. That lasted about a week -- until the next time that application and database system crapped out."

Sharky limits his investigations to tracking down true tales of IT life. So send me your story at sharky@computerworld.com, and you'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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