God, Am I Angry!
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Lord, it's me again. I know I don't talk to you very often, but that's not because I'm not thinking about You. It's just that most of the time I kind of go along without thinking too much, caught up in the daily tasks and duties that are put before me.

Then, once in a while, something like this Lizzie Grubman thing happens that makes us think about how close we all are to the boundary beyond which no soul ever returns, even with the help of a bunch of great PR people and attorneys. We look at the poor, tortured souls as they are shoveled by devils into the mouth of media hell, and we think, "Wow, I'm glad that's not me."

But it could be, Lord, it could be. Our sins are many. There is the sin of pride, which is annoying to others, and gluttony, which is more fun than pride. But the worst of all the sins, Lord, is the one that afflicts all executives--the sin of rage, rage that burbles and sputters just below the surface of our executive calm, rage that may explode with malevolent force when we least expect it, destroying us immediately and forever.

Keep us from it, Lord!

That's why I am on my knees before You today, thinking about Lizzie Grubman. You may not remember her, since You've been pretty busy trying to help Al Dunlap explain his resume, so let me remind You.

A few weeks ago Lizzie Grubman had it all. A huge public relations business. The key to every hot club and tub in the city. The little world around her in Manhattan and the Hamptons lapping her shoes with their tongues. You notice I use the past tense, Lord, for she is now dead in show business. Whether her acts were intentional is unclear, Lord, but the papers tell us these things are not:

--Lizzie Grubman became enraged at a bouncer in front of a late-night club in the Hamptons for which she did some work. The employee had the temerity to ask her to move her car from a fire lane.

--The enraged woman said, "Get someone with a higher authority to move me." Later on she allegedly used a four-letter word to the bouncer and called him "white trash." The person to whom she so referred has since made allegations, carried on the front pages of both local tabloids, that Lizzie Grubman was on drugs that night.

--When she was at last forced to move the Mercedes-Benz SUV, the enraged woman leaped into the vehicle, slammed it into reverse, and backed up into 15 or 16 people, breaking bones and damaging the front of the building. The car hit with such force that people inside the club were injured.

--The enraged woman then stumbled out of the car and in a few minutes took her angry self home without receiving a breath test. That may have been inadvertent, but many people do not think so, Lord, and it's hard to argue with them.

--The next morning, sober and with her public relations and legal team in tow, she surrendered to the police. She looked drained. The rage had passed. By then it was too late.

Since that night Lizzie Grubman has been on the front page every day. They never choose a very nice picture of her. The New York Post, which immediately convicted her, at first suggested that she might be required to serve more than 100 years in prison. It has since knocked that down to 20 or 30.

The angry woman was the queen of the world just a month ago. Now she's the queen of the underworld. And there she will stay. Because she got too angry, Lord. And in the end her anger made her into a moron. Anger does that. It makes you stupid.

You fire people who should be retained, because they pissed you off. You kill deals that are better left made, because the other guy pulled a fast one. You make people cry, because the rage is overpowering and empowering, Lord, and makes you feel like no matter what you are doing, it must be right.

How else do we explain the executive golfer who, in front of fellow sportsmen, killed a rare black swan with his driver, instantly becoming famous throughout the business world?

What of Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, whose anger at the pride of Microsoft became so great that he could not keep his hatred of the company from poisoning the proceedings against it?

And what of the greatest example of them all, O Lord? What of Gerard Finneran, president of an investment company, who grew enraged on a flight from South America to New York a few years ago? He had been drinking, Lord, and was denied further service. At any rate, Gerard Finneran's rage exploded, and it made him do a terrible thing, inexcusable even for a chief executive. It is reported, and the facts are not disputed, that Gerard Finneran climbed upon the food service cart in first class, lowered his expensively tailored slacks and...no, I can't go on, Lord, not in this venue. There is no doubt in my mind that Gerard Finneran, as he was doing this inconceivable act, felt an executive entitlement to do so, an entitlement conferred by rage.

Let us pray.

Give me strength, O Lord, not to scream at Lenny, who was supposed to finish that spreadsheet by eight this morning but didn't because he's a complete numbnuts.

Give me strength to forgive the waiter when my tuna arrives undercooked yet again, because at every restaurant I eat in there are a bunch of tuna Nazis who want to make me eat it blue even though I've told them again and again that I like it cooked!

Give me strength to resist the urge to strangle the taxi driver who ignored my advice to avoid the Midtown tunnel to the airport when even a slug in the bottom of a tequila bottle knows the tunnel's completely bollixed up at this hour!

And give me the strength to read the newspaper every morning without hurling it across the room, even though it's so filled with opinionated nonsense I can barely stand to read it without holding it at arm's length, with one hand clamped over my nose. You know, Lord, every day plus Sunday in the New York Times they have a different article with five economists saying how bad everything stinks when you know very well that if they took even a little bit of trouble they could find five equally intelligent economists prepared to say that things were improving! What's up with that? Every day! Gloom and doom! And then they run a front-page article saying it's people's paranoia and pessimism that are holding the recovery back! Well, come on! Why do they think people are ready to hang themselves, anyway? Because they read the Times every day, that's why!

Aw, what's the use? Being mad? It's what we do, right?

Thanks for listening, Lord, but I'll take it from here.

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name. He can be reached at stanleybing@aol.com.