"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, a man finds sexual perversion in Washington (weird), and a contractor doesn't know the first thing about his trade.
At a company meeting, I saw a colleague use his cellphone camera to film under the skirt of an unsuspecting female colleague. Later I saw him download the images to his company computer, recharge his phone and continue filming. I said nothing then. I could now talk to him or her or Human Resources, but I am wary of his getting fired or my getting embroiled in a messy situation. What should I do? — Anonymous, Washington
You should report this person to Human Resources immediately. Not for violating any professional code of conduct, or infringing on someone's right to not have their underwear taped on a shitty cellphone camera during a work meeting, but because "upskirts" is the shittiest kind of porn. If your colleague is into "upskirts," there's something he's definitely not into, and that's providing innovative workplace solutions to industry problems resulting in an increase in the bottom line and maximizing shareholder value.
Although, after reading your letter a second time, I'm not sure you're going to be able to report this sexual mediocrity to anyone. You saw him taping upskirts in a meeting. You later saw him downloading the upskirts onto a computer. You saw him charge his phone. You saw him taping upskirts for a second time. That is an awful lot of surreptitious behavior to notice without either drawing attention to yourself or the dull pervert. Let me ask you a few questions: When you talk to people, do they seem to ignore you? Do you find yourself incapable of interacting with inanimate objects? Is your body translucent? Chances are, you are a ghost.
I'm working as a contractor on a project my client says should take a week to 10 days, for which I'm to bill by the hour. But I am a rather competent person and should be able to finish in two to three days. May I drag out the work to the duration the client expects, or must I finish quickly and suffer the loss of pay? — K.C., Denver
People who work in the outdoors or the manual trades often brag: "I get to work with my hands," "I spend my days in fresh air and sunshine, not some horrible cubicle like a rat." Well, guess who else works with their hands? Chronic masturbators. And you know who spends their days in fresh air and sunshine? Bums. Bums do. So get a grip. More importantly, people who work in the outdoors or the manual trades clearly don't know the first thing about work. Those of us who've built our careers on surfing the internet and instant messaging know that the hourly rate you can charge for your services is almost directly correlated to just how good you are at wasting those hours.
That being said, yes, drag the work out. Isn't that the first thing they teach you in contractor school? It's like:
Contracting 101: Drag the project out forever
Contracting 102: Lie about the cost of materials
Contracting 103: Up to code, up to schmode
Obviously, I am making most of this up. I don't know anything about contractors because I blog, ergo I rent.
Previously: One Man's Trash Is Another Man's Trash