Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The parable of the sickly child and the two doctors

Let me tell you a story, a worrying story. There was a child (in my language that is anybody under the age of 35) who felt sickly, fed-up and generally p****ed off with the world. They were lethargic lived an unhealthy lifestyle and felt that the world was against them. Their friends felt the same way and they kept telling each other they were victims and how rotten their parents treated them.

For the last few years they had been going, reluctantly, to see the doctor who kept telling them the same thing. They need to ‘get a grip’ of their life, exercise more, eat lots of veg and go easy on the drink and illegal substances. If they didn’t start to act responsibly their prognosis was not good. Each time the exited the surgery they felt worse than when they entered.

Then things changed in their life. Yet again they were waiting in the surgery when the receptionist told them that this time they were seeing a different doctor. They shrugged. It didn’t seem to matter since they expected to get the same lecture their usual GP delivered. As they plodded through the door they felt something was different. This new doctor was smiling and the first thing he did was to offer them a doughnut. Wow, that had never happened before. For about 15 seconds he thumbed through the child’s patient notes and then dumped them into the waste bin. Wow, that had never happened before.

He laughed and said, ‘I never believe all this medical stuff’ it is how you feel that counts. He then opened the bottom draw of his desk and brought out another box of doughnuts and told the child to eat as many as they want. Within minutes they were laughing and joking and the child started to feel better than they had for ages.

After 20 minutes, or so (the consultation with the usual doctor only lasted for 5 minutes, max) he said that he wanted the child start a new course of treatment. First thing he wanted to happen was they have a holiday, enjoy themselves. He would write a note to say they didn’t have to go to school for month. Wow, that never happened before. On top of that he wanted them to have more pocket money to spend on sweets and toys. He would write to their parents and tell them not to be so stingy. The doctor’s parting comments was ‘just relax and be happy’. He then rushed over and thrust the box with the doughnuts in the child’s hand. Written on the box was ‘Eat as many as you want’.

The child was gobsmacked. When they got home their parents said they were a fool to believe a word the new doctor said. He was known to have ‘form’ had been ‘struck off’ the list of practicing doctors and was considered to be dangerous. There were reports of him being mad but most said that he was ‘simple’ – a word that was popular in the 60s. The child thumped their feet on the floor and shouted that ‘he was a doctor so he must be right’, dashed up to their room and consumed a box of doughnuts. The relationship between child and parents sank even further.

I guess by now you can see the connection with the recent UK Election. Look at the voting figures by age.

So. what is the purpose of me telling you this parable? The upside of targeting older consumers is that they have a good slug of disposable income but they are, how shall we say, a tad cynical and disbelieving of those proposing simple solutions to complex problems. The young, don’t have the money but, as we have seen, are gullible and na├»ve. Maybe that is little hard, let’s say ‘inexperienced’.

Rarely, does the difference between old and young get so exposed as happened last week in the UK. This is not a gripe, it is a statement of fact. Dick Stroud




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