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The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Thursday, August 3, 2006

Ferris Bueller Fills In for The New York Times Magazine's Ethicist

FerricistAt my place of work several employees must share computers. The other day I got on the computer after one of my coworkers. He left a screen up with his e-mail, and I noticed that he had been sending out e-mails with his résumé attached. I quickly closed his e-mail window and tried to forget it. But, we are both working on a big project and it would be important for me to know if he is planning to leave or not, his early absence could affect the outcome. Should I say something to him?
—Anonymous, Boulder, Colorado

The ethical thing to do would be to pretend that you didn’t see anything and continue on with your project. Then again, you could always try the slightly less ethical approach and pull up his account again. Then you could send off e-mails to all of his potential employers with a message such as: “Sorry, I was drunk when I sent you my résumé. I was upset at my current boss and instead of letting the air out of all his tires, I send off résumés to places I don’t really want to work at.” Who knows, you may be doing him a favor. And by the way, did you know that with only a little bit of knowledge of computers and a few hacking tricks, you can go into your high school’s computer system and change your grades? You should give it a try.

I recently took a new job in the administrative offices of state university. When I was hired I was not informed of a sexual harassment policy. Now, as a woman, I’ve experienced sexual harassment several times in various jobs. I have never left a position due to this, but I am nervous about being made uncomfortable again. I am also nervous to address this to my new supervisor because I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. What should I do?
—Anonymous, address withheld.

Well, the simple answer is to avoid going to your supervisor and go to the human resource department of the school. You should be able to ask someone there to look up the school’s sexual harassment policy. And, while you are at it, ask them what the sick-time policy is. This way, you can plan ahead for those first beautiful days of spring when the last place you should be is at an office desk all day long. If it turns out that you need a doctor’s note for time off, schedule a regular checkup with your doctor. Then, while you are sitting in his office waiting for him to examine you, grab one of his notepads—there you go—ready made time off. Or, if you find you are sitting at your desk and are itching to be free for the rest of the day, grab the envelope moistener and rub it on your forehead and palms. Then go tell your supervisor you aren’t feeling well. Make them touch your head if they seem skeptical. Remember—the question isn’t “what you are going to do with a fake day off from work”, it’s “what aren’t you going to do?”

I am a political science major and a senior in college. I hope to run for office someday. Well, my housemate gets drunk every weekend and hits on my girlfriends. He’s done this for years. What I want to do is get him drunk and take him for a long ride in my car to some secluded place in the woods. I want to hit him over the head with a two-by-four, tie him to the bumper of the car, and drag him along a dirt road for a few miles, then leave him there to walk home. But, I’m afraid I won’t get away with it, and it will ruin my political future. What should I do?
—Ralph Krensky, Wichita, Kansas.

You know, I could give you some ethical advice about the nature of revenge, perhaps even some historical anecdotes about political figures who have crossed some ethical boundaries in their past. I could even toss in some mild jokes about public distrust in politicians. But I won’t. The best answer is too easy, Ralph. What you need to do is find form of revenge that you won’t get caught doing, but make you feel extremely good afterward. I can give you a few suggestions to get you started: try placing a good dollop of Vaseline on the earpiece of his phone. Or, if he’s one of those guys who sits on the toilet seat when he goes to the bathroom in the middle of the night—duct-tape the toilet seat to the toilet lid so he’ll sit right in the toilet. You could also exchange all of the doorknobs with new ones when he’s out one night so his keys won’t work. Of course, you could also go with the classic hand-in-warm-tub-of-water-while-he’s-sleeping-trick, so he’ll wet his pants. Good fun isn’t good if it doesn’t make you feel good, Ralph.


Send your queries to or Bueller, The Ethicist, The New York Times Magazine, 229 West 43rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10036, and include a daytime phone number … You’re still here? The column is over. You can turn the page now …

Russell Bradbury-Carlin gave up his corporeal existence long ago. He now exists only as a series of bytes and electrical impulses distributed through out the internet. You can visit aspects of him (the humorous parts, anyway) here at Yankee Pot Roast and at McSweeney's, Science Creative Quarterly, The Big Jewel , as well as other sites. But if you are interested in visiting with him in his most condensed form, check out his Web site, All My Shoes and Glasses. Please note: if you visit his site between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., please be quiet--that is when he sleeps.