the right tool

I did it again. I went over to the care center to help with BINGO.

I have fun, actually, and people who have disabilities benefit from the efforts of all of us volunteers who come over to hear, see, or place markers for them. Most of the people there are friends by now anyway, so I benefit from the social interaction. I mean, I can’t watch Japanese kitty videos all day, now, can I?!

Umm. Well, I could, but love of the people, my mother and father’s generation, keeps bringing me back!

Doris gave me a beautiful coffee mug with flowers- I love flowers!- and a little message for me: “A Friend is a person with whom you can be yourself.” Doris is in a wheelchair so hugs and kisses are a bit harder to give, but I said, “Doris, Thank you very much! The least I can do is give you a kiss.” Which I did!

The gift of the cup is only part of what I gain from volunteering. Just as the title hints, the rest of this story is the insight I gained about the application of Henry Ford’s principle of the right tool.

I jabber, and jabber, and jabber in the video (sorry!) yet the importance of having and using the right tool comes out.

Henry Ford’s observation was that “If you need a tool and don’t buy it, you pay for it anyway.”

From a practical standpoint, it may not seem that that principle means much in a non-industrial context.

Yet think about it. The story of the foam bats (in the video) illustrates the principle very well. Without the foam bats (the right tool), the people most in need of exercise are unable to hit the balloon. Consequently, they lose more and more flexibility and range of motion. They pay for the lack of the right tool.

With the right tool, they are able to participate more in the business of batting the balloon around the circle, they gain range of motion and flexibility, they have fun because they are actually playing with those of us who are in better shape, and the whole circle gains by seeing these improvements in their friends.

All because they have the right tool!


Americans with chronic illness know that the first concern of hospitals is less for you than “Do you have insurance?”

Doctors, nurses, food service, maintenace staff: All great in every hospital I’ve been in (five hospitals total).

In nearly every hospital I’ve been in, in every hospitalization, there is a moment when someone from the billing department asks you: “How do you plan to pay for this, do you have insurance?

Usually the question comes while you, bound to a gurney, are gasping for air or bleeding all over the floor.

I don’t exaggerate that much.

I learned fast, though, that you have to be aggressive with the money people. They, more significantly the system that created them and the focus on payment over patient, is what’s broke with the American health care system.

The system is broke.

August 27, 2009, a decades long champion of national health care died.

His public life, his true legacy, is that he stood up for the people least able to stand up for themselves. To people like me, with chronic illness, there is hope that the Obama administration, without him on the President’s side, will be able to create a humane and just health care act that works.

The politics of it are above me. I was touched by his death. I feel the loss.

If you feel the loss, too, please meditate, prayerfully, while listening to the video above.

Soli Deo gloria!

Ted Kennedy, Requiescat In Pace.