"The Ethicist" is Randy Cohen's long-running advice column in the New York Times. Each week, Gabriel Delahaye's "The Unethicist" will answer the same questions as "The Ethicist," with obvious differences.
This week, Michael Grimaldi's wife takes care of his pole, and Allison Moule puts her head somewhere the sun does not shine. And you're right; they're not afraid to use their real names.
A utility pole behind our garage was rotting and likely to fall, so we notified the utility company. Weeks passed without action. Then my wife, the executive director of a small nonprofit agency, contacted a member of her board, who heads the utility. The pole was replaced within 48 hours. Now my wife feels she did wrong. Did she? — Michael Grimaldi, Kansas City, Mo.
Last weekend, for Memorial Day, I ended up at a rooftop barbecue in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The barbecue was being hosted by a friend of a friend of a friend, so I didn't know anyone, but I did know this: sometimes Smirnoff Ice commercials come to life. Everyone seemed perfectly at ease in their designer vintage, sitting on fake grass drinking Patron margaritas while not one but two DJs battled for most-rarest-underground-old-school-hip-hop-gem over giant loudspeakers and a LCD projector threw anime up on one of the whitewashed industrial brick walls. Whenever I find myself in situations like these in which I am clearly in a world that was not made for me, it makes me wonder what else I'm missing out on, when the barbecue ends and everyone goes back to their underwater mansions to have sex with dragons.
Your situation is kind of like the boring middle-aged Midwest version of this. Popular culture has led us to believe that the upper middle-class is filled with sexual aimlessness and moral turpitude, all key parties and impulse-purchase-sports cars and vodka tonics. In reality it's board meetings and Whole Foods and small industrial favors to save the privileged few from one more headache before they settle down for a night of television, wondering if their college-aged kids are going to be able to avoid all the mistakes that have led to this mildly depressing but not completely unpleasant place in their middle-management lives, and if not, what is in the hatch?!
Your wife did what needed being done. As a reward you should sleep with her twice this year!
I flew out of Denver International Airport shortly after a bad storm and spent three hours in the security line. First-class passengers had no wait because the Transportation Security Administration allowed them to skip to the front of the line. Security costs are shared by the airlines and taxpayers. Should preference be given to first-class passengers? — Allison Moule, Broomfield, Colo.
In the movie Event Horizon, Laurence Fishburne leads a team of astronauts to salvage a space vessel that had gone missing for seven years after a maiden voyage to explore the edges of the universe. When they reach the ship, they realize that through the use of its "Star Drive," the ship has traveled to hell, only to return haunted. One by one, the members of Fishburne's crew are terrorized and murdered by the ship. (This movie is not to be confused with Ghost Ship, which you can tell is a different movie because Event Horizon happens in space, and Ghost Ship happens in the ocean. Completely different.)
I saw this movie in college, twice, and it scared the shit out of me. I'm not a particularly religious person, and what I found so disturbing about this retarded piece of garbage was a concept of hell in which you could be condemned to an eternity of suffering simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Everyone on the ship went to hell regardless of how they lived their lives, it was simply circumstance that doomed them.
You, on the other hand, will be going to hell for a reason: You are such a whiny asshole.