Transcript of 3rd Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Mr. Alan Kurtz, Friday, August 29, 1997 at 3:00 pm.

Mr. Kurtz: Doctor Balis, I presume.
Dr. Balis: Hello, Mr. Kurtz. It's good to see you this week. But I would have appreciated some notice last week.
Mr. Kurtz: Yes, I'm sorry about that. I actually meant to come in. Quite a bit has happened since I've talked to you, though--lots of good changes.
Dr. Balis: You seem to be in an excellent mood today.
Mr. Kurtz: Yes. They've just promoted my assistant. It's going to be inconvenient for me, but having one of my own move up in the department...well, it's good in the long run.
Dr. Balis: That sounds like good news for her.
Mr. Kurtz: Certainly. She'll be a junior researcher now. As a matter of fact, it's not much of a stretch at all; I've been having her do a lot of my legwork for several months. The title only makes it official. It will actually cut down on her workload--once she's trained her successor, she can focus on the research portion of what she's already doing.
Dr. Balis: This is the woman who has been the group's assistant?
Mr. Kurtz: Well, yes. She interned with us for two summers and has been working here for about a year since graduation. It's very much like my career path, as far as that goes. I'm not thrilled at the idea of dealing with a new assistant, but as long as the training is included in Susan's new responsibilities, I suppose I'll manage. Maybe I can even task her with some of the things that Susan wasn't handling. I should confirm with George that I'm available to interview the candidates when they start coming in.
Dr. Balis: Last week you mentioned that your assistant was helping you to research a department award. Is this the same person?
Mr. Kurtz: Yes, that's her. That's an excellent point. I need to make sure she wraps that up before she gets started on her new responsibilities. Funny you mention that. I noticed earlier in the week that she was spending a lot of time in George's office with the doors closed. I'd explained to her that our little project wasn't for George's ears, so I admit I was a little concerned to see her spending so much time in there. This explains it all.
Dr. Balis: Susan will still be working in the section that George supervises. Is George the supervisor for the entire Usability lab?
Mr. Kurtz: Yes. As the group's assistant, she has always technically reported to George, but now it's more direct. I don't have direct responsibility for her now.
Dr. Balis: So Susan is moving from being your assistant to being your colleague.
Mr. Kurtz: I wouldn't go that far. She's still a junior member of the team. And since she was my assistant, I expect a bit of a boost out of it myself. All boats rise with the tide, as they say. I'm taking her to dinner tonight to celebrate.
Dr. Balis: That sounds like a friendly thing to do.
Mr. Kurtz: Well, we're definitely friendly. Now that she's no longer just on the support staff, we can...well, we've eaten enough late dinners in the office I think. And I think this may just take care of our little problem too, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: How do you mean?
Mr. Kurtz: I know this girl very well. She's level-headed and a real go-getter. Perfect girlfriend material, wouldn't you say? I figure we go out somewhere quiet tonight and...well, celebrate. Probably somewhere quiet in the city. I don't think we need to let this be known around SII just yet.
Dr. Balis: Mr. Kurtz, have you discussed this with her? It sounds like you're interested in moving beyond a purely professional relationship with Susan.
Mr. Kurtz: Well, sure. Now that she's not just a staff secretary...and understand that it's not such a stigma at SII as it might be elsewhere. There's a lot of interoffice dating in our industry. A lot of smart people who want to see other smart people. We tend to understand each other's schedules and what we're talking about when we talk about work.
Dr. Balis: So I've heard. But my question is whether you and Susan have an understanding, I suppose. I don't have to tell you that dating in the workplace is fraught with peril in the 90s.
Mr. Kurtz: That's what I'm telling you, Dr. Balis. I know her very well. She's entirely sane. What are you getting at?
Dr. Balis: I was explaining...
Mr. Kurtz: Are you accusing me of some kind of sexual harassment, Dr. Balis?
Dr. Balis: I'm not accusing you, but I'm pointing out that it's an issue, Mr. Kurtz, of which you should be aware. If you and Susan haven't...
Mr. Kurtz: I can't believe this! Who the hell do you think you are? Who the hell do you think you're talking to?
Dr. Balis: Mr. Kurtz, sit down.
Mr. Kurtz: Fuck you. Fuck you, Balis.
Dr. Balis: You're angry, Mr. Kurtz. But it's in your best interest to consider the many facets of this situation you're entering into.
Mr. Kurtz: You don't know what you're talking about.
Dr. Balis: Mr. Kurtz, if you're wrong about what Susan's intentions are, you could be opening yourself up to risk--career-endangering risk. Are you willing to risk your career for this?
Mr. Kurtz: This...this is not a career risk. This is my assistant. This is someone I've been working with since she was a college intern. This is not some ball-busting feminist. She wants this promotion and she wants to make a career for herself at SII. And to answer your question, as a matter of fact, I have excellent reason to think she's as interested in pursuing this as I am. You! You in your office here, sitting around waiting for people to come whining about whatever. You don't know what a high-pressure job is like. We work together, Dr. Balis, we work together and we spend ten, twelve, fourteen hours a day sometimes in the office together. You think I don't see her enough to know what's going on here?
Dr. Balis: I believe you came to me to ask my advice on this very topic.
Mr. Kurtz: I came in to ask your professional advice to sort out the weirdos, the unstable ones. But I've had months, years of time to observe her. I know her. I hear about her life and her friends and her weekends. I know plenty about her. And I know how she acts around me. I don't need your advice, Doctor Balis. I have empirical evidence. I have observations and data, Doctor. If I wanted a system, this is as good as it gets.
Dr. Balis: If you wanted a system. Mr. Kurtz, the question we've left unasked is whether the scientific method applies in matters of the heart. You've been working to increase your understanding of what's happening in your life, and that's a worthy goal. But the question that's been left unexamined is how these insights can be best applied.
Mr. Kurtz: Look, I need to cut this short. I told Susan I wanted to speak with her at the end of the day. That's when I'm asking her to dinner.
Dr. Balis: So you haven't asked her yet.
Mr. Kurtz: That's end-of-day stuff. That's another thing: I know the difference between the office and my personal life. Your accusations are completely off-base, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: I hope that everything works out for the best, Mr. Kurtz. And I'd suggest that you have time to think this over carefully. There's no hurry; congratulations and even dinner could certainly take place next week.
Mr. Kurtz: I am having dinner with Susan tonight, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: In any case let's schedule our next appointment. Same time next week?
Mr. Kurtz: I don't think so, Doctor. I explained to you that our mission is accomplished. I don't see any need to continue this process.
Dr. Balis: Hmm. Well, Mr. Kurtz, I must admit that I'm curious to see if this approach works, and as I said, I sincerely hope you're right in this. I do suggest that a follow up meeting is in order.
Mr. Kurtz: I'll call you to schedule. I'm not committing to anything here and now. Goodbye, Doctor Balis.
Dr. Balis: Have a good weekend, Mr. Kurtz.
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