Transcript of 50th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sylvia Bows, Tuesday, August 19, 1997 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Balis: Hello, Sylvia.
Ms. Bows: Hello, Doctor Balis. You know, I'm going to like coming in every other week.
Dr. Balis: Really?
Ms. Bows: It's been hellish at work, and I'm beginning to feel like a stranger in my own home. That's not what I wanted.
Dr. Balis: Can you scale down on your activities at SII?
Ms. Bows: Not in the next couple of weeks. Remember that story-based project I talked to you about?
Dr. Balis: Yes. What about it?
Ms. Bows: Well, we got quite a response. People are sending in stories from all over the world. We are scrambling to get people to answer the enormous flood of e-mail we've got. And the stories...they are priceless, Doctor. If I were still in the press business, I would have material enough to start and maintain a column on the uses and misuses of technology for at least a year.
Dr. Balis: Wow.
Ms. Bows: Would you like to hear some? No, never mind--I'll tell you anyway. We got anecdotes from the tech-support people of large computer companies that sound absurd. Except, based on our own in-house stories, I know that there's truth there! This one network tech guy is talking to a reservation clerk at a hotel who can't log in to the network. So the tech is trying to get him to try different log-ons, but nothing's working. Finally, the tech asks if he's sure he's running an IBM. The guy says, yeah--he's looking at a label that says IBM on it. The tech doesn't understand, he figures maybe the system's totally crashed, so he's trying to get the guy to hit the ESC key, and the guy says that there isn't one. The guy is hunting all over his keyboard, but no ESC key. So the tech asks him to read what's on the screen. It's a reasonable question, right? And the guy says, "What screen?" Finally, it turned out that the user was trying to log in to the network on an IBM Selectric typewriter. See what we are up against, Doctor? But it does show that the story-based help system is a useful device in teaching new technology to people. We got a lot of positive response. A lot.
Dr. Balis: That's quite a story--computer mythology in the making. But you're not responsible for answering all this e-mail.
Ms. Bows: I'm responsible for getting it answered.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. So you were supposed to have thought about some issues we discussed last week.
Ms. Bows: You mean Richard?
Dr. Balis: Well?
Ms. Bows: It's much easier to talk about my work, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: I can see that.
Ms. Bows: Okay. I'll try to fill you in on the latest and greatest in the Bows family struggle.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: Richard approached me--it must be almost two weeks ago, now--and he insisted that we have lunch together to try and talk things through.
Dr. Balis: Did you agree to go?
Ms. Bows: He looked so bad, Doctor. He was obviously sick and in quite a bit of pain. I just couldn't say no.
Dr. Balis: I see.
Ms. Bows: He took me to a small but nice lunch place downtown. He wanted me to show him the kids' pictures and tell him about them. I felt very awkward--I didn't want Richard to have that much of personal information about me and the boys. But he was drinking in every word I said--he couldn't get enough.
Dr. Balis: So you told him about Grant and Roald even against your better judgment.
Ms. Bows: Yeah. And all the time there was this strange couple sitting just a table away from us. They kept looking at me and seemed to be paying attention to every word I said. I got very uncomfortable and started to insist that we change our table. And then Richard introduced the couple as his parents. This was a set-up for them to meet the mother of their grandchildren.
Dr. Balis: That's outrageous, Sylvia. Richard shouldn't have...
Ms. Bows: I agree with you, Doctor. I got up and told him that that was an emotional blackmail that I wouldn't have any part of. And I left.
Dr. Balis: Good. I think Richard went too far.
Ms. Bows: The nest day, Richard sought me out and insisted on explaining his behavior.
Dr. Balis: Did you let him?
Ms. Bows: Yes.
Dr. Balis: Why, Sylvia? Tell Richard that if he wants something from you, then he should go to his lawyer and negotiate for it that way. He was the one who filed the lawsuit.
Ms. Bows: He told me that he was dying, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: What?
Ms. Bows: He said that they found more cancer and this time it was in his kidneys.
Dr. Balis: That's not good.
Ms. Bows: Richard said that he has about five months at the most.
Dr. Balis: I'm sorry to hear that.
Ms. Bows: So I couldn't refuse a dying man, Doctor. You understand?
Dr. Balis: Refuse what?
Ms. Bows: Richard wants to do DNA paternity tests on Grant and Roald to establish if they are in fact his children.
Dr. Balis: Why? And are you letting...
Ms. Bows: He's dying, Doctor. This is it for him. He told me that he just wants to know. If I do this for him, he said that he'll drop his lawsuit and leave me alone.
Dr. Balis: He wouldn't want to get to know his children in the few last days that he has?
Ms. Bows: Doctor!
Dr. Balis: Sylvia, it seems to me that we are dealing with a situation where if you give in just an inch you'll lose a mile.
Ms. Bows: It's a moot point, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: I don't understand.
Ms. Bows: Lloyd came in to see me last week.
Dr. Balis: What did he want?
Ms. Bows: He told me that he had made provisions for Richard's children.
Dr. Balis: Oh?
Ms. Bows: He said that he has established a trust of one million dollars for the benefit of Richard's children--but any child seeking to be a beneficiary has to prove that Richard is their natural father.
Dr. Balis: A million dollars?
Ms. Bows: One million dollars, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: That's hard to turn down, especially when I would be turning it down for my boys. That much money could guarantee the boys' independence and freedom to do as they will in life--every mother wants that.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Did you tell Tom about this?
Ms. Bows: He'll never do it.
Dr. Balis: I see. But you're considering it?
Ms. Bows: How could I not?
Dr. Balis: And Lloyd would do this simply out of the goodness of his heart, no strings attached?
Ms. Bows: Well...
Dr. Balis: Well what?
Ms. Bows: There are certain conditions.
Dr. Balis: Like what?
Ms. Bows: I have to agree to do the DNA test for each of the boys.
Dr. Balis: That makes sense. What else?
Ms. Bows: I have to allow Richard's parents to participate in the raising of one or both kids based on the result of the test.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: I have to introduce them and give them the access to the kids that I would give to any grandparent--holidays, weekends, birthday parties, and so on.
Dr. Balis: And?
Ms. Bows: I think there are a few other things that I have to promise to do, but that one is the major one.
Dr. Balis: And?
Ms. Bows: What do you mean and?
Dr. Balis: This is something that you need to talk to Tom about, right?
Ms. Bows: Right.
Dr. Balis: You are seriously considering doing this, aren't you?
Ms. Bows: I keep trying to come up with all the reasons why I shouldn't do this. But is that really so much to ask for such a gift?
Dr. Balis: But you don't really need the money, Sylvia, do you? You can provide for your own children.
Ms. Bows: Yes. But this would go a long way to...
Dr. Balis: You said Tom wouldn't agree to it...
Ms. Bows: Maybe he doesn't really have to know.
Dr. Balis: You would do this behind his back?
Ms. Bows: Well, first of all, we don't know for a fact that either Roald or Grand are Richard's. Right? So I was thinking that I would take it one step at a time. If, at some point, it actually comes to making the decision...well, I can think about that then.
Dr. Balis: So you are planning on going through with the DNA testing without telling Tom?
Ms. Bows: Yes. I was thinking of doing that.
Dr. Balis: Hmm.
Ms. Bows: I haven't made a decision yet, Doctor. But this is also the last wish of dying man. And, after all, he could be my children's father.
Dr. Balis: Again, my advice is for you to think long and hard before taking any action. Work out what all the ramifications are of such a decision. Okay?
Ms. Bows: I will, Doctor. Look, I've got to get home. I'll see you in two weeks?
Dr. Balis: Okay. I'll see you then, Sylvia. But keep me posted and remember that I'm always available if you need me.
Ms. Bows: Thank you, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: Goodbye, Sylvia.
Ms. Bows: Goodbye.
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