Thinking About Fixes

I am finding that in 21st century America repair time is not measured by the clock, but by the calendar.

by Fred Cederholm
I look at developments in Washington, DC and my state capitol and I just roll my eyes and TH*NK how a complete system overhaul is needed.

I’ve been thinking about fixes. Actually I’ve been thinking about our country, my state, the economy, spring, my land phone line, a red plastic bag, electrical tape, and healthcare. Everywhere I look, something is broken, or a least it is not working as it should. I’ve been out of the nursing home since the first part of September and I am still maneuvering about with my four wheeled walker. Plus... I am really no closer to getting set on a daily dosage of Coumadin than I was six months ago. Bah humbug... I am actually feeling a bit better each week, but it is really looking like the recovery from my open heart surgery, the MRSA infection, and the re-do surgery will take at least a full year. The progress is slow even if I am a fairly patient but persistent person.

You see I, like so many people, expect things fixed YESTERDAY. I am finding that in 21st century America repair time is not measured by the clock, but by the calendar. I look at developments in Washington, DC and my state capitol in Springfield, Illinois and I just roll my eyes and TH*NK how a complete system overhaul is needed. How did we get so far a field from the enlightened vision(s) of the founding fathers? Unemployment needs attention, banking needs attention, personal debt needs attention, commercial real estate needs attention, retirement funding needs attention... good grief I’d be hard pressed to come up with any topic/subject/specter of life right now that doesn’t need tweaking. Even when something is “fixed” I am beginning to question if it was “fixed” or rather “the fix is in.”

Spring is a time of rebirth, regeneration, and “greenness for all things” large and small. Last Summer I got my roof replaced on the house and garage, this time I hope to get the rest of my new windows installed, the red cedar siding replaced and the house painted. Hope does spring eternal...

It was a year ago that I began having problems with my land phone line in Creston. Static on the line came and went. When it rained I couldn’t even get a dial tone and was completely incommunicado. A couple of dry sunny days and I get my dial tone back, but it would take a few more “dry” days for the static to reach a crackling level which would allow my phone modem internet connection to function. I’d call Verizon and after what seemed like an eternity, I’d get a repair person to show up, and be “re-connected.” I went thru this three times in the month before my first surgery. The “final” visit I “temporarily” got a bright red plastic bag with yards of black electrical tape protecting my street connection from the elements. Then... I was out of commission (and out of the house for 11 weeks).

My repair person never came back to do the permanent repairs promised during my extended hospitalized absence. No complaining phone calls from me so everything must be working --- no service follow-up required... right? WRONG! I had been given a temporary cell phone by my one cousin’s family when I was in the Rochelle nursing home. I’ve kept it activated for emergencies --- that is, whenever it rains so the land line dries out. I’ve called Verizon and waded thru their automated voice mail repair call-in line to set up an appointment for the repairs. Frequently, there was so much static on the line that my voice responses, or number menu selections (punch 2 now) do not go thru.

A week ago on Monday, I learned that a repair person would be dispatched in ten days to my residence on Wednesday March 24th. I hope they show up. Twice I’ve gotten automated phone calls telling me that my problem was “fixed” remotely! I punched 2, then 7, then 4 (whatever) to assure them nothing had changed and my land line connection still DID NO WORK. Please call my cell phone #.

I hope they get my phone problems “fixed” this Wednesday as I am tired of driving to my church to connect my laptop computer to a “working” phone line to access my email. I am expecting more than a fresh red plastic garbage bag this time, or I, too, will join the exodus of my neighbors who function very nicely with a cell phone serviced by a different company than the one who handles our land lines. (I have only just recently learned that several of my neighbors have given up their land lines in favor of cell phone telecommunications connections. They had the same problem I did and got nowhere slowly.)

Over the weekend our upstanding public servants in Washington DC “fixed” our broken health care system. I’ve read most of the two bills proposed by the House of Representative, and then the US Senate. Health care is now ONE SEVENTH of our total economy so any remedy must be gargantuan. Their proposals are no “fix,” but rather “the fix is in” trust me. We should be seeing the red plastic garbage and black electrical tape popping up at hospitals and clinics all over the country in a matter of days... Ahem!!!

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2009 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at

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This story was published on March 22, 2010.