Thou Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s Pants

ps pants one

About an hour ago, I got home from work and sat down on my bed with my netbook to start writing this. See, my living situation is a bit different than most people’s. There are two big factors that make my situation a bit unique:

1. I am an American living in China

2. I live where I work.

Right, so I live at my job. This is because I work at a boarding school, one that is surrounded by an impenetrable gate guarded by grumpy old Chinese guys who occasionally threaten to throw rocks or bricks at people. So all of us – all of the 80 or so foreign teachers that work and live at my boarding school – we’re all housed in the same dorm building that’s located within the impenetrable gates and about a five minute walk from the school buildings. It’s actually pretty swanky as far as dorms go, with free HBO and a western-style toilet that reminds me of home.

ps pants twoLiving with 80 other foreign expats, man, you’d expect there to be a certain level of trust in our building. Which is why I wanted to write about something that happened to me recently. About two weeks ago, somebody in my building stole my pants. They weren’t even nice pants…it was a pair of black dress pants that I bought for thirty bucks at Uniqlo. I’d set them out to dry in the courtyard and the next day they were gone. I even wrote a note about it on the big white board in the front lobby of our building. It went like this:

“If anyone accidentally took a pair of black men’s dress pants that aren’t yours, please return them to room 124. Thanks.”

Of course, it didn’t work. The pants theif did not return the stolen goods and, since I’ve been eyeing all of my male coworkers suspiciously and paying extra attention to their clothing, the pants thief hasn’t worn my pants out in public yet, either.

ps pants threeLike I said, it’s been a couple weeks. And what I really wanted to write about today isn’t just this heinous crime, but how the pants thievery makes me feel. Because, honestly, it doesn’t make me angry or upset at all. When it first happened, I was just sort of confused. And now, despite being down one pair of dress pants, I find it a little bit amusing. And this got me wondering about ethics, laws, and punishment.

Because a lot of the time, when someone breaks a law, nobody is emotionally hurt by it or really cares that much. Speeding. Cheating on your taxes. Smoking crack. I’ve never been pissed off at anyone for doing any of those things. Just like I don’t really care that somebody stole my pants. But I do get pissed off when somebody does something that’s ethically or morally questionable, or something that’s just plain rude. Really, I’d be more upset about the person wearing my pants than the fact that they stole them to begin with. So that’s what this post is really about. It’s about sentencing.

I mean, think about what happens to you if you get caught with crack.

Possession of 28 grams of Crack Cocaine – Sentence: a minimum of 5 years in prison.

But there are no rules, no standards, when someone does something ethically fishy. So maybe we should establish some, create a few punishments for ethical blunders or social faux pas. Let’s call it “Ethical Sentencing.” They can be, you know, a way to make the world a better place.

I had a few ideas I wanted to share. Just a couple thoughts to get the Ethical Sentencing ball a rollin’.

Forgetting someone’s name – Sentence: Leniency on the first offense. On the second offense, the offender must take the victim’s name as their own for a minimum of one week.

Making a rude comment about someone’s hair – Sentence: the person with the bad hair has the freedom to make one harsh criticism of the offender. However, this criticism cannot be about weight (see below).

Making a rude comment about someone’s weight – Sentence: the offender must apologize for the remainder of his/her life. In addition, the offender must watch one ‘fat fetish’ video in its entirety.

Flirting with someone else’s boyfriend/girlfriend – Sentence: The offender must clean the victim’s apartment. If the flirting is extra heavy, laundry must be done as well.

Sleeping with someone else’s boyfriend/girlfriend – Sentence: Both the offender and the boyfriend/girlfriend must clean the victim’s apartment until the victim finds a new boyfriend/girlfriend, and some new friends.

Obnoxiously forcing your shy friend to dance at a party/nightclub – Sentence: The victim is allowed to direct and film a video of the offender dancing to Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle.” The video can then be shown whenever the victim wishes it to be shown.

ps pants fiveWearing someone else’s pants – Sentence: The offender must provide the victim with a new pair of pants, and must iron those pants until the original pair of pants begin to fall apart. At that time, the offender is freed. If the offender then steals the new pants, the sentence will have to be death.

So there you have it. Ethical Sentencing. It really should be the wave of the future.

Now excuse me while I go hang some “Missing” posters with a picture of my pants on them.

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