Sanjay Paul

The article appeared in The Etownian, Oct. 27, 2006 .

It might have been a dark and stormy night.

One of the virtues of staying in the office late, noted Homer, is that you get to meet some people you would otherwise never meet - security folks, for instance. Just the other day, at around 11:30 p.m., a security officer dropped by Homer's office in Hoover. They talked about burning the midnight oil - although not too much, oil being very expensive these days and what not, ha, ha - and then he got down to the matter at hand.

"I noticed that some of the offices on this floor are not locked," he said. He rattled off the names of three business faculty.

"Good grief!" Homer said. "Have the rooms been broken into? Are the computers missing?" He was deeply worried.

"No," the security officer said reassuringly. "Nothing is missing. But just to be on the safe side, remind them to lock their offices when they leave the building."

And so, Homer sent an e-mail to his colleagues about the incident.

The response was immediate. J. Molonius, professor of accounting, strode into Homer's office.

"Why, J.," Homer said. "You look a bit ruffled. Aren't the credits lining up with the debits, ha, ha?"

J. was in no mood for such levity. "Forget the damn credits," he said. His teeth might have been clenched, but Homer couldn't be certain. He waited for J. to continue.

"Do you have any evidence that my office was unlocked?" J. barked.

"Well, n-no," Homer stammered. "I just believed what the security officer told me."

"Next time," J. said, breathing heavily, "check your facts before you send out any damn e-mails about locking office doors!" His eyes might have glinted, but Homer couldn't be sure.

"You will be hearing from us," he said, before storming out of Homer's office. He tried to slam the door behind him, but the doorstop at the bottom held fast. "Thank God," thought Homer, but he was perturbed. J. had said "us." What did he have in mind?

A couple of days later, Homer received an e-mail from Ed Pitingolo, one of the "unlocked" threesome. It read:

We have formed a committee to evaluate the situation with the apparent lapse in security. Here are the results of that project.

His Eminence Professor Molonius will chair the committee. Her Excellency Professor Ciocirlan will be vice-chair. Professor Pitingolo will be secretary, assuming he can take notes fast enough.

Chair Molonius will investigate the incident, including questioning the security guard and the janitorial staff to see if someone else could have had access to the offices. He will contact the FBI, the Pennsylvania State Police and the local authorities to see if there are any organized groups who are unlocking doors. He will also review the pertinent surveillance tapes to see exactly what time this occurred. The case-study room will serve as his project space.

It was determined that Secretary Pitingolo will need special remedial training on the mechanics of operating the doors and locks. Especially since, when he gets off the elevator, he still doesn't know which way to turn to get to his office. Since this is a special circumstance, Pitingolo will be known as "Special Ed" until further notice.

The committee also formed a sub-committee to appoint a task force as to what the new name of the committee should be.

We hope to continue our investigation, training and committee/task-force work and report back to you directly.

And so Homer awaits Special Ed's report. In the meantime, he has decided not to get involved with any further lock-and-key cases. He himself has decided to keep his office locked all the time, especially if he espies Molonius in the vicinity.

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