Stanley Bing

Our sick recovery

What this patient needs is sunshine, not more gloom from the experts.

By Stanley Bing

(Fortune Magazine) -- I visited our recovery in the hospital yesterday. I have to say, I'm not feeling all that optimistic about his prognosis.

He looked pretty good -- his cheeks were rosy and his breathing seemed fine. But there was something about his eyes, a certain wobbly quality. You see it in patients that have gone into a temporary remission that even they don't trust. That shook me, because recovery is all about confidence. No confidence, no recovery.

"How are you doing?" I inquired as I sat down by his bedside. He was propped up on several pillows provided by the administration. "You look marvelous," I told him. Sick people like to hear that.

"Yes," he said, grasping my hand with disquieting force. "I've had quite a scare. But I'm going to be all right now."

"Absolutely," I said with perhaps a tad too much jollity.

"My vital signs are improving," he said, gazing at me with huge, thoughtful eyes.

"What do the doctors say?" I inquired. I really wanted to know. I have several investment decisions coming up.

"I'm fine!" he piped. "The top guys tell me I have nothing to worry about!" Then he fell into a fit of coughing and expectorated something not quite right into a hankie. "At any rate, I intend to beat this thing. There are a lot of people who depend on me. I'm not going to let them down."

I felt like kissing him. "Way to go, man," I said.

The door slammed open and about 16 doctors came into the room all at once. "Rounds," said my friend with tremendous weariness. "Please stick around. I hate this."

"Good morning," said a chipper, fiftysomething fellow in a crisp white coat. "I'm Dr. Blog. These are my colleagues, doctors Self, Darke, Flannery, and Goat. The rest of these gentlemen and ladies are residents." There was a silence as they evaluated.

"Well," said one doctor. "Commercial real estate is going to crap out at $1 trillion." He didn't look too sad about it either.

"Unemployment is high," said a second, sticking a very bony finger in the patient's liver.

"There is also," said a third physician, a lanky individual with black spots beneath protuberant cheekbones, "a certain overall ... languor. It's impossible not to notice."

I was starting to get angry. I mean, how much of our well-being is due to our overall attitude? And who died and elected these guys God? Had they prevented in any way the necessity of his convalescence? I think not!

"Why don't you all just shut up?" I said. They stared at me, flabbergasted. "Nobody ever told us to shut up," one said. A salty tear dribbled down his cheek.

"In fact, get out of here," I said. I guess there was murder in my eye, because they all hightailed out of there. "Look," I said to the recovery. "We've got to get you out of here." A tiny glimmer of hope danced in his rheumy eye. "You need to be out and about, frolicking in the sunshine," I said. "If you stay here, they will kill you."

"I know," he replied, raising himself on one bony arm. "But I can only make it if you help me."

I didn't need any more encouragement. Wrapping him in a handy blanket, I hoisted his desiccated body into my arms and headed for the emergency exit. I almost wept as I held him. He was so light, so frail. How thin is the membrane that protects us from disaster!

I am happy to report that the patient is now among us, and doing well. He is benefiting from the sunshine and good, wholesome nourishment he gets in our great, anonymous heartland. If you see him, say hello, wish him well, have confidence in his abilities. As he goes, so goes the nation, you know.

Stanley Bing has recast his book "Executricks" for the paperback edition due out in November; it is now titled "How to Relax Without Getting the Axe." For more Bing, unrelated to the Microsoft search engine, go to  To top of page

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