Transcript of 28th Session between Charles Balis, M.D. and Ms. Sylvia Bows, Tuesday, February 4, 1997 at 4 pm.

Ms. Bows: Hello Doctor. It's always good to see you.
Dr. Balis: Hello Sylvia. How are you today?
Ms. Bows: I knew you were going to ask that question, so I thought about it.
Dr. Balis: Usually my patients don't think that's a complicated question.
Ms. Bows: It's not complicated. I just wanted to convey the exact sense of how I'm feeling.
Dr. Balis: Oh oh. There's a note of your voice that's making me worried.
Ms. Bows: The babies are just fine, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: That's not what I was thinking about.
Ms. Bows: Well you can clearly read me better than most people I know.
Dr. Balis: So what is it? Tom? Work?
Ms. Bows: Actually I believe it's both. Remember I mentioned that I sort of slipped out of touch with SII?
Dr. Balis: You said that you thought Lloyd was very understanding of your situation and extremely accommodating to your present needs--bed rest with very few outside distractions.
Ms. Bows: Now that you say it, I can't believe that I was this naive.
Dr. Balis: So SII is not being as understanding and supportive as you thought?
Ms. Bows: Well I thought it was strange that I never got any of the messages that Hal--that lunatic--claimed to have sent me. At first I was just curious. At heart, I'm still a reporter. So I wanted to investigate what was going on in my absence. But I didn't want to just call and ask. If people were really worried about me, they would keep quiet about anything distressing. So you can see Doctor, I couldn't simply get on the phone and start asking questions.
Dr. Balis: What did you do?
Ms. Bows: Look around this room Doctor. This looks like command central. I have three computers set up in here, two modems--one's for my hospital monitoring, but still.... I have full access to the Internet and to the SII network. I should be able to have access to any information that I might be interested in. And certainly to my e-mail. E-mail is what Hal claimed he was sending me. So I started there. Well, guess what?
Dr. Balis: No e-mail?
Ms. Bows: More than that. I've been frozen out of the SII Network. I can't access my e-mail account. I have two--one from SII and one personal, and the personal one I can get to. But my SII account isn't accessible from this terminal. I know it worked before. When Lloyd sent his communications command squad over here, they made sure that I had full access to everything--my e-mail, SII's files and logs, SII's Intranet, everything. Now I dial up and I get this message: "You are not authorized to access the requested document." What's the hell! I always had full access to everything and in my department I set my own clearances. In fact, I always hated all this internal security stuff. I believed that my people should have access to all the projects we were working on. How else could they do their jobs?
Dr. Balis: Sylvia, please calm down. You're flushed. I don't think elevating your blood pressure can be good for you right now.
Ms. Bows: Doctor, I'm more than just flushed! I'm outraged.
Dr. Balis: I understand. Could it just have been a computer glitch?
Ms. Bows: Doctor, I told you that I'm a reporter at heart and what reporter would stop this early in an investigation?
Dr. Balis: So there's more?
Ms. Bows: Oh yes. Let's move on to my personal e-mail.
Dr. Balis: This has nothing to do with SII?
Ms. Bows: They pay for my Internet account but they have nothing more to do with it. It was one of the perks they offered when they were trying to seduce me into working for SII.
Dr. Balis: So you are the only one who has access?
Ms. Bows: In theory. But my password is in my log-in sequence and anyone can get onto the net via my account as long as they do it from this machine.
Dr. Balis: And that includes your e-mail?
Ms. Bows: Of course. Please understand Doctor that I'm a great believer in e-mail as communication. I've been a big evangelist for it. With e-mail, I always get things in writing. I know if my e-mail has been received, and I have a record of my communications. E-mail is very valuable to me and I give out my e-mail address to a lot of people. On an average day, I probably get 70 messages.
Dr. Balis: Personal messages?
Ms. Bows: Some personal and some are newsgroups and listservs. But I do get a lot of personal messages. So when I log on, I expect to get a flood of e-mail. But this time, with the exception of the newsgroups and listservs which I filter into separate folders, I only received ten messages in two weeks! I got three messages from Rene, one message from Robert, one message from Cassie--my former secretary, three solicitations, and two notes from some personal friends in France. That's all! I know that there is something going on here.
Dr. Balis: Most people know that you're on bed rest...
Ms. Bows: Doctor, very few people know that. Some close friends and people at work who need to know--my department mostly. The rest at SII just know that I'm on maternity leave and it was announced that I would be working at home.
Dr. Balis: People talk, the word gets around.
Ms. Bows: There wasn't a single message from Richard, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: He knows your personal e-mail?
Ms. Bows: Sure. In fact, the last time I checked my e-mail I had 8 messages from Richard. This time I had none. Strange don't you think?
Dr. Balis: So you suspect that Tom has been deleting your e-mail correspondence?
Ms. Bows: Keeping track, censoring, and yes, deleting the mail that he finds inappropriate.
Dr. Balis: That's a tough accusation. Are you sure?
Ms. Bows: Who else? Who else would want to monitor my communications? As it is, I know that he censors my phone calls--I never receive messages from Richard and hardly ever from anyone at SII. I know that Tom is keeping me cut off from the outside world.
Dr. Balis: If you knew that Tom was not letting you get phone calls from outside, why didn't you confront him on it?
Ms. Bows: For a long time, I was just too sick to deal with the outside. I told you that I even stopped reading the newspapers. I knew that Tom set up a barricade to keep people from bothering me unnecessarily. I even thought it was...sweet. But it's one thing to tell people that I'm too sick to talk on the phone and it's another to start deleting my messages.
Dr. Balis: Did Tom talk to you about people who called?
Ms. Bows: He would always mention a few. But he made it sound like it wasn't a big deal if I didn't call them back.
Dr. Balis: So what is it that makes you so upset about e-mail? It sounds as if you like the fact that Tom has protected you against stress.
Ms. Bows: E-mail is different. When you call someone on the phone, you know someone else might answer the phone. And when you don't get through on the phone, you know you didn't get through. E-mail is different. It's addressed directly to somebody. You don't expect that the message is going to go through someone else first. You think it's going to be private. And when you send someone e-mail, if it doesn't bounce, you assume that they got it.
Dr. Balis: Have you talked to Tom about it?
Ms. Bows: He said that he was just trying to manage the flow of information--to keep the system from bogging down with too much e-mail. When I asked why he was deleting my messages, he simply said that he had a good reason and that if there was something that I needed to know urgently, he would certainly let me know. I know something's up. I think that there is something happening at SII and that everyone is trying to keep it from me.
Dr. Balis: You don't think Tom might just be jealous of Richard?
Ms. Bows: Could be, but I'm not getting e-mail from anyone at SII. I called my department last Friday, and my personal line was answered by this guy Nils Landors. From what I can remember, he works in the Advertising Department. I asked him who he was--I don't think he recognized my voice. He said that he's running the Technical Support Department. I asked where Ms. Bows was. He said that Ms. Bows retired and that he was appointed in her place. I said that I thought she was just having a baby, and he said that she had decided to pursue motherhood full time. We chatted about how a hard driving career woman could give it all up once the hormones took hold.
Dr. Balis: He told you all this on the phone without asking who you were?
Ms. Bows: No, not really. I had to get him talking, so I said that I was a reporter for Wired Magazine. I said that I was doing a piece on technical support provided by large companies--can you imagine?--and he was perfectly happy to believe it. Mr. Landors loved talking to me. I don't think he's really made the transition from advertising yet. What a sap.
Dr. Balis: I see. Did you try to contact Lloyd?
Ms. Bows: That son of a bitch is vacationing on his private island near Bali. He's not due back for another week and a half. I think that I was replaced...fired...and that Tom knows about it. That would explain the freeze out of the SII Network, and Tom's weird secret "good reason" for deleting my e-mail. What I don't understand is how SII thinks they can get away with it? I'm on maternity leave. If, in my absence, they give away my job to someone else, do they think I'm just going to roll over? There are laws against this kind of stuff. They're going to have a hell of a lawsuit on their hands, and I think they'll find I can muster up a lot of negative publicity. I have friends, Doctor. I'm sure they'll find my story interesting and newsworthy.
Dr. Balis: Whatever you do Sylvia, you have to wait until after the twins are born. I know they're your first priority and you just can't make yourself sick over work right now. Your lawsuit will wait. If you're right, Tom might have gone overboard trying to minimize your exposure, but he is correct that this can't be good for you or the boys right now. I'm sure he had a sense of the righteous indignation you'd feel at being ill-treated by SII. You have got to let all of this go for now.
Ms. Bows: I'm not sure I can do that, Doctor.
Dr. Balis: What are you planning?
Ms. Bows: For now I just want Rene to visit SII and tell me first hand what's happening there. I can trust Rene to tell me things just as they are.
Dr. Balis: She can get access?
Ms. Bows: Rene's done some freelance stuff for SII in the past.
Dr. Balis: And once you have your proof?
Ms. Bows: I don't know yet. I'll see. It's getting late Doctor. Thank you for listening to me and trying to keep me rational about all this. I really appreciate it.
Dr. Balis: Please keep me up to date on your decisions and plans. I can't help you if I don't know what's going on. And remember what you priorities are. It's easy to get lost in the passion of it all and lose sight of what's really important.
Ms. Bows: Thank you Doctor for caring so much.
Dr. Balis: I'll see you next week, Sylvia. Please take care.
Ms. Bows: I will Doctor. Goodbye.
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