Opinion: They don’t call me ‘the fixer’


The Wolfsies belong to a wonderful congregation. The Heartland Universalist Unitarian Church is warm and welcoming. I wouldn’t fix a thing.

More to the point, I can’t fix a thing. Yet, that’s exactly what they asked me to do. Last week, there was a sign-up sheet posted for some opportunities to spiff up different aspects of the building. My wife Mary Ellen and I wanted to help, but while jotting down our names on a sign-up sheet to help in the garden, the new head of the building committee approached me looking for some additional help with some needed repairs.

“Say, Dick, can you help us replace a broken window?”

“Sorry, I don’t have a clue how to do that.”

“Any experience with electricity?”

“Bulbs. I can change bulbs.”

“How about plumbing? Can you assist with that?”

“I don’t have a prayer.”

I had to be careful. I used to belong to a temple back in New York. Jewish people have a blessing for everything, and I didn’t want to find out that I did have a prayer for plumbing.

“How about just cleaning?” he asked.

My wife was on my side with this one.

“He doesn’t even know how to do that at home,” she volunteered.

Mary Ellen loves to volunteer. What a trouper.

Why is repairing things so difficult for me? Growing up, everyone in my family was more adept at this kind of stuff. My father, for example, could fix anything. He’d go downstairs to his workshop with a broken vase, or an electric can opener on the fritz and an hour later emerge from the basement to flaunt his success. How about some credit for me? Where would Dad have attained all that experience if I hadn’t busted this stuff to begin with?

My mother was also skillful at repairing things. After all, she fixed dinner every night for 30 years. My brother was always in some kind of a fix. My uncle back in New York was accused of fixing an election for city councilman. And my sister? Well, she spent most of her free time fixing up her friends. Even our dogs were fixed. Fixing is in the Wolfsie blood. Everyone had some kind of repair skill but me. That’s a tough fix to be in.

I used to have a great handyman. He installed our ceiling fan, rescreened the porch and patched up the leak in our roof. He charged $50 an hour. “Unless you help me,” he’d say, “then it’s $65.”

Now that he’s gone, my wife’s favorite expression is, “You need to call somebody.” So, I call the plumber, the electrician, the roofer, the computer repairman. Yes, I can’t fix a darn thing, so I pay these guys at least 100 bucks an hour.

Here’s a word of warning. If you are like me and can’t fix anything, you will end up broke.