Sports Night, Ep. 6

The Head Coach, Dinner and the Morning Mail

I love how this episode (through my lens) speaks to materials that I have been reading regarding patient care while emphasizing the importance of context and environment, something I am increasingly aware of as a home care physical therapist.

In this episode, Natalie (who assists Dana, the show’s producer) is under a lot of stress and is breaking down. Jeremy (the newest hire on staff) feels powerless to help her while he carries a flame for her from a distance. Dana calls him in to the network’s conference room:

Dana: Don Quixote was a hero of my father’s and my father would like you. You’re a very quixotic character.
Jeremy: Thank you.
Dana: Of course, my father would also say, you’re a fool.
Jeremy: That’s entirely possible but in my own defence, so was Don Quixote.
Dana: You like Natalie, don’t you?
Jeremy: Me?
Dana: Yes.
Jeremy: Of course I like her.
Dana: No, that’s not what I mean, Jeremy. I mean, you like Natalie, don’t you?
Jeremy: Me?
Dana: Yes.
Jeremy: What was the question?
Dana: It’s okay.
Jeremy: I haven’t…
Dana:It’s okay, I’m sure your love has been pure and chaste from afar.
Jeremy: It really has been.
Dana: I’ll let you in on a secret. I think Natalie likes you as well.
Jeremy: I think so too.
Dana: Yes.
Jeremy: I’ve been getting that feeling.
Dana: Good.
Jeremy: I’ve had this sense, it’s a faint, subtle thing…
Dana: She’s been throwing herself at you.
Jeremy: See, I didn’t get that.
Dana: Trust me. So you know what I think you should do?
Jeremy: What?
Dana: Nothing.
Jeremy: Nothing?
Dana: Nothing.
Jeremy: Isn’t that what I’m doing now?
Dana: No. Natalie’s world has been turned upside down. She doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going. People harass her and take pictures. The reporters calling, the mail… she’s frightened and confused, and I know you’re frightened too, or you wouldn’t be staying up all night plugging 6 letter words into a computer.
Jeremy: I’m not a big man, Dana, I can’t beat people up and I don’t carry a gun. I’m a research analyst with a degree in applied mathematics. This is what I do.
Dana: And that’s cool, but that’s not what she needs.
Jeremy: What does she need?
Dana: A quiet dinner. Just a quiet dinner in a safe place with someone she likes.
Jeremy: Who?
Dana: Jeremy!
Jeremy: Me! Right!

Later, Jeremy is trying to find the perfect place for this dinner; he really likes Natalie and needs this dinner to be perfect, for both of them. He seeks counsel from Dan, who is the “ladies man” on the staff:

(looking out of his office over the New York City skyline) Make it some place that you like. Restaurants – they don’t impress women as much as we think they do, and food always tastes good on a first date. You’re not in Vegas, and you’re not in L.A. You are in the most magnificent city in the world. It’s the city of Gershwin and Cole Porter, Damon Runyon and Figerlo La Guardia. Surprise her, but make her feel comfortable. Make it different, but make her feel at home.

At the end of the episode, Natalie and Jeremy get to have that dinner together: when Natalie enters the network offices after the prime-time live show, she (with other staff members) walks in to discover that Jeremy is waiting for her, sitting on a blanket next to her desk with single candle, chinese food, and a bottle of wine. Dan smiles, “Hmm. He found it.” Natalie, both surprised and flattered, sits down beside him.

.     .     .     .

At the end of the day, every evaluation is a first date, every home care visit a date at the patient’s favorite restaurant (even if the food on the menu is not to my liking). They are in a place that makes them feel safe. The key thereafter is to surprise them and to make their physical therapy experience with me different than the other (often less-than successful) experiences that they have had before.

I think understand how I am going to do that…


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