By now you’ve probably heard the news about the prankster who gave his “friend” a huge penis tattoo on his back.
My immediate reaction was that this story could be turned into the greatest case study of all time. It contains most of what I learned in business school and half of what I learned from my parents. It is the ultimate parable. Let’s open the valve and see what valuable lessons spill out.
Don’t make decisions while drunk. The story doesn’t say alcohol was involved. But did I mention that one guy tattooed a giant penis on the other guy’s back?
Stay in school and get good grades. Again, the story was silent on the academic achievements of the people involved, but did I mention that one guy tattooed a penis on the other guy’s back?
Test first. Start with something small, such as a leprechaun on an ankle, just to see how the business relationship works out.
Supervision matters. If an employee unexpectedly volunteers for a project that can only be performed behind your back, something bad is going to happen.
Capitalism never sleeps. If someone offers you a free service, you should be suspicious of what he expects to get in return. It might involve, for example, your friend laughing himself into a near coma.
Jerks never change. The tattoo artist didn’t suddenly become a jerk when he started drawing a penis on his friend’s back. I’m going to say the signals were there.
Credentials matter. If you’re in the market for a brain surgeon, don’t stop when you find a guy who owns a saw.
Network smartly. If there is even the slightest chance that your friend will misspell a gay insult that he secretly tattoos on your back, it’s time to broaden your network of friends.
Don’t believe product reviews. An accomplice of the prankster praised the artwork as it was being drawn.
Solicit opinions from others. Before you decide to get any sort of permanent marking on your back from an unlicensed tattoo artist, find out what other people think of the idea.
I could go on. I think you could build an entire law school curriculum around this case. And I’m pretty sure it would replace a bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising, unless you think you’ll ever forget the story of the penis tattoo prank.
My point is that every school should build its curriculum around the story of the penis tattoo. In grade school the kids could learn about the importance of good spelling, resisting peer pressure, and staying in school. In graduate school, students could learn the legal, economic, and psychological implications of the story. It’s all there, like some sort of fabulous gift from God.
But I’m a little bit suspicious why we got it for free.