ITS THAT time again when term papers are due and all over this land the phone is ringing with calls from desperate students.
"Yes, that's the name. I'm doing a term paper on the Federal Reserve Bank Board and I would like to ask you a few questions."
"I'm terribly sorry, but I don't know anything about the Federal Reserve Bank Board."
"You live in Washington, don't you?"
"Yes, but living in Washington does not necessarily mean you are clued in on the Fed."
"I need this paper by Thursday."
"Why don't you call the Fed yourself?" I'm sure they have a department that handles questions from students writing term papers on them."
"Maybe I can write a term paper on you. What do you do?"
"I just mess around in the newspaper."
"My essay has to be three pages long. Could you fill that up for me?"
"I doubt it. You better try the Fed."
"This paper is very important. The teacher assigned it to me in September, but I'm on the cheerleading squad and I went away with my friend Allison to Mexico, and then Elizabeth got sick and I had to take over the decorations for the fall hop, and the day I was going to the library Mom's car was recalled and . . . "
"Hold it! I can see your problem, but I can't be of much help. At this very moment there are 25 letters on my desk with lists of questions from students who want me to write their term papers."
"'U.S. Foreign Policy in Zimbabwe,' 'NATO Before Afghanistan,' 'The 20 Most Powerful People in Washington' and 'Watergate in a Nutshell.'"
"Are you going to answer any of them?"
" i don't think so. I would, but then it would make it impossible for me to take questions from students who call me on the telephone."
"My teacher said it's much easier to get someone to answer the phone than reply to a letter."
"He or she is right."
"It's a he. He also said most people would rather answer questions on the phone than my mail, and therefore the odds were very much in my favor that I would get a response, particularly if I called long distance and paid for it myself."
"Your teacher seems to know what he's talking about."
"He should. He's been giving the same assginment for 15 years."
"Are we finished?"
"No, I still don't have my term paper."
"I'm sorry to hear that, but I don't believe that's my fault."
"That's easy for you to say because all you have to do is hang up the phone and go back to your business. I'm stuck here until I get my paper done. I might be thrown off the cheerleading squad if I don't get it in on time. But you'll sleep all right tonight, no matter what happens."
"You won't get to me by laying on a guilt trip. I take no responsibility for people's term papers, since I did not assign them. Nor am I in the business of writing them for students, particularly by Thursday."
"They told me you'd say that."
"Who told you?"
"The people I spoke to at the Federal Reserve Bank Board."