By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Dear Readers,

Let me take this opportunity to introduce myself. I am Ted, the junior associate assigned to Stanley Bing, whose column usually runs in this space. I regret to inform you that Mr. Bing has taken the month of August off. As best anyone understands it, he saw an article in some irresponsible magazine urging him to relax, and the next thing anyone knew, he was off on an all-you-can-eat safari in Malawi for four weeks, leaving him only three more vacation weeks to spend before January.

It will be a very difficult time for all of us who remain, as Mr. Bing has left some quite large shoes to fill. I mean this literally--they're size 11½. (I know his size because Mr. Bing frequently has me fetch said shoes from the shoeshine place downstairs. Some people may find it odd that Mr. Bing has assigned such a menial task to a junior associate who was only three credits shy of an MBA from Wharton, but Mr. Bing is not among them.)

The one-month loss of Mr. Bing is a devastating blow to all of us in his department, as we will now be forced to take on his duties and divide his assignments among us. Actually, that pretty much describes Mr. Bing's main duty--dividing his assignments among us. One of Mr. Bing's many leadership qualities is that he is exceptionally adept at delegating--it's breathtaking, really. I once saw his boss hand him a three-week project with a one-week deadline at 9 A.M., and watched in awe as he swiftly apportioned the entire thing before an 11:15 A.M. tee time. He treats his job much as the Native Americans treated the buffalo: Out of respect for his work, he delegates every last part of it, leaving not a scrap to languish atop his desk. In any case, it now falls to me to figure out who should be doing which part of Mr. Bing's job.

Of course, delegating is but one of Mr. Bing's many skills. He's also adept at knowing when to claim credit for a project (generally, when it's gone well), when to be generous in sharing credit with his underlings (when it's gone poorly), and how to balance his work and his life (with a thumb on the scale). I've reflected upon Mr. Bing's considerable talents many a time, usually when sitting at my desk, still wearing my clothes from the day before, watching the sun rise through my office windows. (Well, not my office windows--I sit in an interior office. But I can see the sunrise through his office windows --the east-facing ones, not the south-facing ones.)

Please don't misconstrue any of this as a criticism of Mr. Bing. Nothing could be further from the truth. My fellow junior associates and I look up to Mr. Bing. He is the type of executive we all aspire to one day be. Indeed, many of us wonder when we will, in fact, get to be that type of executive. Today? Tomorrow? Next year? When, exactly? Because we won't get promoted till Mr. Bing and his ilk leave, and we don't understand what's taking them so goddamn long. Seriously--has the man never heard of early retirement? I've been sitting around waiting for him to move his steak-frites-and-martini-fattened ass out of here for the past 11 years, and frankly, I'm beginning to think the only way he's leaving that office is if they pry his Herman Miller chair from his cold, dead hands--and don't think I haven't considered putting that theory to the test.

Sorry. I got a bit carried away there. What was I talking about?

Oh, right: Bing. He's on vacation. He'll be back soon. Meanwhile, I'll be in his office, doing his job. By the way, if anyone sees that summer intern--Evans, I think it is--could you tell him I'm looking for him? My wingtips are looking a tad dull, and I'm thinking they need to be run over to the shoeshine place, stat.