Recently I stepped into an elevator at a medical building at Mercy Hospital and was quickly engaged in conversation with a husband and wife. They were salt of the earth people, warm and friendly. I liked them instantly. When our lift stopped at the next floor, a young physician entered our metal cage. He appeared dressed for surgery. He was sharp, professional and was quite friendly.
Just mere moments before we arrived at the ground floor, he said to me, "Let me tell you something, if I ran my business the way you guys run yours I would be in prison." I know I haven't seen it all or heard it all but I'm real close to that point. And after being in the public eye for thirty-five years, it takes something way out there to shock me. This guy shocked me. I was speechless.
Immediately upon making his comment, a new best friend stepped forward and said, "Now let me tell you something, I disagree with what you said!" The little lady in the elevator was on him like a dog after a bone. The humbled "Doc" quickly shifted into a defensive what I really meant posture. But it was too late.
I think most of us at one time or another, while trying to make conversation, have made some really stupid statements. When I think of the comment by the physician in the elevator, I can't help but replay in my mind the time I said to a young lady I had just met, "When's the baby due?" Let me suggest, never ask that question unless you already know the answer.
Now we can't let the Doc get off so easy. His comment to me demonstrated a complete and utter lack of knowledge and understanding of my baby, meteorology and its interactive role it plays with the public. You expect physicians to know about everything or at least pretend that they do. The elevator doctor is a disappointment. He probably doesn't know that the meteorology program at the University of Oklahoma is arguably the most difficult undergraduate program at that institution. The meteorology PhD program is completed only by the most brilliant students, students who could have majored successfully in any field at any university any place in the world.
The Doc thinks since our forecasts are wrong at times, we should be in jail, at least that what he implied. So, here's a bit of wisdom for the young physician in the elevator. A very bright, successful, experienced doctor once said to me, "Gary, you guys are just like us. You get paid when you're right and you get paid when you're wrong."