It’s Not What You Know?

by Dr. Joseph F. Unger, Jr. DC., F.I.C.S.

Fully loaded in her dock, the old steamship was going nowhere fast. She was ready to haul precious cargo to its destination with many people counting on these goods being delivered in a timely fashion. The captain dispatched every engineer at his disposal to troubleshoot the problem.  No one could solve the mystery of the ship that could not move.

Then a crusty old sailor offered a suggestion. He knew of a long-retired engineer in the sleepy little port town who possessed an uncanny ability to accurately troubleshoot problems and keep the ships running smoothly. In utter desperation, the captain begged the old engineer to board the ship and examine the engines.

Upon the engineer’s arrival, the captain explained the situation and promised he would give him anything he wanted if he could get the engines running.  The old salty dog requested $500 for his time and asked what had been attempted up to that point. He carefully listened as each engineer described the steps they had taken.

The wise old engineer then asked for complete blueprints of the boiler system. After deliberation and contemplation, he requested that a 20-foot ladder and a ball-peen hammer be delivered at a specific location on the ship.

As it turns out, old boiler systems have numerous valves which control the flow of steam that in turn energize the propulsion systems which power the ship. The seasoned engineer climbed slowly to the top of the ladder and lightly tapped one of the valves.  He repeated this procedure once again. Within minutes, the whole system was up and running.

The captain was ecstatic. Not only would the cargo be saved, but also his career as well. He made good on his promise and paid the engineer the $500 he had requested before departing to deliver his cargo.

Upon his return, the captain was summoned by the home office of the shipping company. They were concerned about what seemed to be a high price to pay for one person to perform a few hours’ work. They requested an itemized bill.

Somewhat embarrassed, the captain again approached the old engineer. He explained that although he was perfectly happy with the engineer’s work and appreciated that he had accomplished what no other crew member could, the home company needed an itemized bill. The retired engineer presented a handwritten, itemized bill to the captain which read:

Two taps of ball-peen hammer
@ $2.50 each  = $5.00
Knowing where to tap – $495

In today’s world there exists an exaggerated emphasis on the amount of knowledge one possesses. The TV ads even claim “knowledge is power – get some”. Knowledge without direction or wisdom, however, can sometimes translate into nothing more than unorganized facts.

The total amount of information concerning health and healthcare has risen dramatically over the last few decades and is doubling every five years. Yet America is one of the sickest countries in the industrialized world. Sometimes it is not how much you know but what you know that truly counts.

While the right answers for your specific health concerns can be elusive and difficult to find, keep looking for new resources to tap.  Look inside and outside. Look differently than you have before. After all, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.

Dr. Joseph F. Unger, Jr. can be reached by calling 314-872-9955.