Gimme Fever
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – What is quite so lovely as a day in spring? The flowers are flowering! The blooms are blooming! The air is slightly crisp and redolent of southern breezes, and the faint aroma of freshly mown grass cuts through the ordinary urban scents of carbon monoxide and souvlaki. There is quite a bit of sun out there, too, beyond the hermetically sealed windows...and what do we do about that?

At 11:30 there is a conference call on the interdivisional integration of global operations. Ah, yes. Here it comes now, just as a sparrow lights on the little window ledge outside my wall of plate glass. It has a little vegetable material in its tiny beak. It's off to make a home then! Godspeed, little sparrow!

Good Lord. Business Affairs always takes too long on these phone calls. You've got a bunch of guys and nobody understands what they do or cares, even, as long as nothing is going wrong. They don't get that. They go on and on about contracts successfully concluded and negotiations where we're really gonna kick butt, and that kind of thing. Down in the street, people are walking with no jackets on. You can almost hear them taking in lungfuls of that clean spring air. For a moment can I imagine that I'm down there with them? I try. No. I'm not down there with them. I'm here on this conference call.

What is it about again?

Someone is calling my name. "Bing?" says the squawk box. "You there?" I am here. But what were we talking about? I'm gonna have to fake it. For the past several minutes I've been looking at a seed catalog, even though I have no intention of buying any. What's that got to do with the price of cheese in Sri Lanka?...or whatever it is I'm supposed to be talking about.... What am I supposed to be talking about?

"I think Jorge has been on top of this general situation very nicely," I say in my best executive baritone. "Perhaps I'll let him fill you guys in on what's up."

"Thanks a lot, Stan," says Jorge, who is in a place where it's pretty much spring all the time, so he's ready to lock and load. He goes on for a while. How many others on the call are looking out the window right now, dreaming of walking shoeless in a fragrant meadow, drinking achingly cold water from a mountain spring, or just, you know, taking a nap under an available tree? They have trees in the park, actually. If I crane my neck and bump my head against the window, I can almost see them.

They're talking about inventory. Apparently, things look great, which means we either have a lot of inventory or almost none, I forget. I'm happy things look great. But, then, things always look great on these conference calls. Still, the only alternative to great is terrible, so it's better when things are great, because when they're terrible they truly stink. Nobody wants that.

Look! Up in the sky! It's the Fuji blimp! It's all green and white and full of hot air.... Look at it, floating up and down, presiding over the ether in a big, proud, colorful bubble. I like blimps, when they're nice. Sometimes they're not very nice. They can blow up, you know. Although these days that's not very likely.

Which reminds me...both Lou Dobbs and Louis Rukeyser are in the news this morning. Two Lous in the news. Lou Dobbs is mad at people who are mad at Andersen accountants. He is defending all the innocent people who did nothing wrong. He was passionate about it with Paula Zahn. Louis Rukeyser, for his part, is mad at PBS for decruiting him so rudely.

Complaints apparently are pouring in to the television network from people who are extremely upset and hopping mad, as you or I would be too, if it weren't such a beautiful day right now--such a beautiful, beautiful day and let's play two!

That's right! Baseball season is here! Did you know there are now more than 400 major league players who make more than $1 million a year? Babe Ruth was surprised when he heard Colonel Ruppert was willing to pay him at all. Nobody was ever surprised by a big hefty paycheck for the work we do. No sum of money is surprising for people in business. That's because we have to listen to conference calls about interstitial bushwah when the air is full of bees and honey, and take meetings with people who make your eyes droop when all you really want to do is run around in the sunshine and, you know, let your freak flag fly, as it were, if you know what I mean, even if all that entails is the removal of your cufflinks.

Hey, you know what? I'm gonna put this thing on hold and go for a walk. If you're smart, you'll do the same. Nobody will miss us. Inventory will hold. Divisional matrices will maintain themselves. All possible Lous will survive and probably prosper. But there's a big, springy world outside, and occasionally, you know, 90% of the game is not showing up.

By day, Stanley Bing is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name. Check out his Website at or e-mail him at