Well, actually it’s my boss’s boss. I’ll be changing some salient details for purposes of discretion.
Yesterday, my boss’s boss, whom I’ll call Jim, came into my cube and asked me if I had time for a cup for coffee outside the office. Being addicted to caffeine, I naturally agreed to meet him at Starbucks.
At the coffeehouse, Jim asked me if he understood my educational background correctly–that is, that I’d majored in literature & langauges in college, with minors in economics & history. When I said yes, he asked if I’d ever heard of the Inklings.* Sure, I replied, rattling off a few salient facts. At that point I put down my coffee and asked why he wanted to know. Jim explained that his son, who I’ve met, is having difficulty in his literature class at college. The son’s an engineering major and will not need the knowledge in the class professionally; however, he does need a certain number of liberal arts credits to graduate, and he’s put them off till his senior year.
I asked Jim if he wanted me to tutor the kid: a reasonable possibility, since my doing so on the side is public notice. But that’s wasn’t what he wanted. His son has a paper on the evolution of fantasy fiction* due in a few weeks, and he’s also overwhelmed with assignments in his field. The teacher in question makes a point of running every paper that’s turned in through various net-based plagiarism checks, so buying it online isn’t an option; thus Jim wants me to write it for him. He offered me a decent fee to do so, and emphasized that this would be a private arrangement between the two of us: i.e., that it had nothing to do with my job, and he would not take it out on me if I said now.
I told Jim I’d have to look at my schedule and get back to him.
Okay, there’s the background. Now I must confess that I’m torn. The class the kid is taking is one I would take if I had the time. I enjoy writing academic papers; the thought of immersing myself in this kind of research and writing is actually pleasing. The sum Jim offered is a reasonable amount for the amount of work even if I wouldn’t enjoy doing it, and I can use the money.
On the other hand, it’s cheating.
*Okay, this is one of the elements I’m changing, but not the only one.