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Surley, Gunner, Dr. DeCracker and the MisStake

The following article has been reviewed by the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association.  He has no objections to this story, providing that in his words, “I would ask that you make it clear that this story is fictional, but still makes the point that getting organized as a profession is important.”  John Murray

This author was concerned with taking facts from an interview from only 1 chiropractor, and then not verifying them.  This article was written over 15 years ago, so some facts may not check with today facts.  Although this story is fictional, it represents my frustrations with the land surveying and mapping profession, and was based upon an interview with my chiropractor, who is also my personal friend.

Surley, Gunner, Dr. DeCracker and the MisStake

Surley Surveyor and Gunner George were out staking on a property survey one Monday.  Gunner was fairly new to the profession and was still breaking in the new total station.  Both were under stress, because their boss back in the office was cranky and wasn’t sure that the new equipment investment was a good thing.  The boss wasn’t sure he could compete anymore with the other surveyors in town.

So Surley and Gunner were in a hurry and Gunner keyed in the wrong point.  It was relatively close to the correct point, so Surley slammed in a rebar with the sledgehammer.  No sooner than Surley was done slamming, Gunner announced he blew it!  From the backdoor of her house, the neighbor lady Nina Leigh began approaching Surley with that “you must be crazy” look written all over her body language.

Surley in a panic, embarrassed by the mistake, quickly summoned Gunner with the vice grips.  With one huge yank Surley had undone the obvious mistake.  He explained in utter pain to the about to be hysterical Nina Leigh,  “(Ouch!…) Mam, that was not a Mistake, …  that was just a MisStake !! (Ohhh!…Ahhh!…)”

The extra “S” in MisStake had also shown up in Surley’s back.  With all the muster that he and Gunner could get together, they managed to get Surley, now in obvious back pain, back to the truck.  Gunner had to drive because Surley was in too much pain and beside himself.  Nina Leigh sprinted back to her house and dialed 911.

In the weeks that followed, Surley had some interesting sessions with Dr. Cecil DeCracker, DC, the chiropractor.

Hey! Surley how is it going?

Not good, Dr. DeCracker, or I wouldn’t be here.

Surley, got a little back pain,  Uh?

Not a little…  A Lot!

Climb up here on this table.

CRACK!!…    CRACK AGAIN!!….   AND AGAIN CRACK!!

There!  Surley, that should help somewhat!  And I need to see you back here 6 more times in the next two weeks.  You’ve obviously got a little misalignment problem in your back!

Oh and Surley, before you go, how are the wife and kids, and everything else?

Well, Dr. DeCracker, the wife and kids are fine.  It is my boss and my job.  And you know, Dr. DeCracker, I have been a surveyor now for 26 years, and I don’t see things getting much better in my profession.

Well, Surley, that doesn’t sound good.  What’s going on?

(After nearly an hour of Surley bearing his professional soul to Dr. DeCracker, the following is the advice Dr. DeCracker had to offer Surley.)

Surley, you guys have got to decide who you are and what you’re about.  If somebody else is doing your work, Surley, for heaven’s sake all you surveyors have got to get together and take a stand.  You have got to have unity in your organization!

Look at the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association (WCA) in that big building as you drive into Madison on University Avenue. 

Surley, back in the 1960’s the chiropractors were like one of the most persecuted races in history.  If you know your history, Surley, the __________ have been the most persecuted race since the beginning of mankind. 

And we chiropractors felt like we were becoming all too persecuted in the professional sense.  We felt like our backs were against the wall.  People were calling us quacks and everything else imaginable.  But back in about 1985 that all began to change!

Surley, we chiropractors believed in our profession!  We all had quite a lot of extensive and formal training.  But we felt like we just couldn’t get any respect.  You know, like Rodney Dangerfield has always said, “I just can’t get any respect!”  But we chiropractors believed in ourselves, and the bottom line, Surley, was that we felt our patients were benefiting from our services.  Don’t you surveyors believe in yourselves?  Don’t you believe that your clients are truly benefiting from what you have to offer?

(Surley nods in the affirmative.)

Surley, it is not good that less than half of the land surveyors in the state belong to your organization!  In the WCA, I would say that 98.5% of the 1200 chiropractors belong to WCA!  And the other 1.5% is not thought of very highly!

Back in the 1960’s, there was a movement to have 2 chiropractic associations.  But we chiropractors overcame that obstacle and there is now one very strong and effective association!  And Surley, it has worked great for us chiropractors!

I don’t want to make you feel any worse, Surley, but all this talk about a full time executive director and a state surveyor…   that sounds like 2 guys trying to change the world for all you guys.  It is never going to happen.  Listen to me, Surley! 

(Surley tries to straighten up and listen even with his aching back.)

The WCA has an executive director’s office with at least 5 full time people.  They are not chiropractors.  These people are business and marketing people.  They are down there in Madison to represent the interests of us chiropractors!  And that’s what all of us 1200 chiropractors pay them for!

Our annual dues are $650 a year.  Of that $650, $170 is specifically tagged for legislative type activities, and therefore is not tax deductible.  In addition there is the CHIF.  This stands for the Chiropractors Health Insurance Fund, to which last year I contributed $1000.  In addition, if something really big comes up legislatively, I have been asked to donate as high as $10,000 at one time.  So I write out a check!  It doesn’t really bother me, because I know that if we chiropractors stand together, and if we all contribute, well then naturally our professional interests will be represented!  And our executive director’s office has been just awesome! 

If I have a problem with a particular insurance company, I simply call up the executive director at WCA, and they’re on it right away.  The folks down there at WCA start checking with other chiropractors asking for any further documentation relative to any particular insurance company starting to balk on claims.  Before long the office of the State Insurance Commissioner is flooded with calls.  The insurance company then straightens up real quick!  You can understand how that works, can’t you Surley? 

(Surley nods his head in the affirmative.)

In addition to the 5 full time people at the executive director’s office, I would say that the WCA is working with at least 15 lobbyists.  I hate to say this, Surley, but as a profession you simply need to invest in changing legislation these days!  Unfortunately that is the way the system works.  And that is what we chiropractors have done!  If that sounds underhanded, I suppose you could look at the whole process as a huge negative. 

But keep in mind the 2 major positives, Surley.  We chiropractors felt that we had a very legitimate service to offer our patients.  We simply believed we were legitimate as a profession.  We first had to believe this.   Secondly, from the testimonies of our patients, we were hearing that their pain was being relieved.  Our patients were feeling better!  They were getting back to their normal routines and getting back to their normal lives again.  Isn’t that what our profession should be all about?

Surley, at least 1/3 of all people in Wisconsin will see a chiropractor in their lifetime.  We felt that statistic alone was worth it to get our causes through the Wisconsin legislature.  How many people will come in contact with a land surveyor in their lifetime?  I know that I needed one when I put up my huge house on the lake.  Hey, Surley, I hope you don’t mind that I got that part-time surveyor guy.  I guess he is also an engineer for the state, so he should know what he is doing.   And his prices were almost half of what your boss wanted!

(Surley mumbles something nasty about moonlighting.)

And to top that off, we have 5 lawyers on board to take things to court if need be.  If things get a little out of hand, we just stick our lawyers on them and take them to court!  And when we win, and we usually do, then as a result of the court settlement there is a nice check written out to each of the 1200 member chiropractors in this state.  See, Surley, we have made an investment in our profession.  Certainly you surveyors are making an investment in your profession.  Aren’t you? 

(Surley is now in serious contemplation.)

It has been great, Surley!  You know, a little like David and Goliath!  We little chiropractors took on the big dogs like the AMA (American Medical Association) and the big insurance companies.  Think about it, Surley!  Those were some pretty big dogs!  But we did it, because of all the reasons I just told you.  And now the big dogs in the other camps now recognize us as the dogs to avoid!  You know who is going to win the battle between the pitbulls and the poodles, don’t you, Surley!!? 

(Surley envisions his own cocker spaniel engaged in an all out brawl with a pitbull.  Dr. DeCracker just laughs!)

So the key is a strong executive director’s office well funded and backed by a solid, unified organization, where you are all in it together.  Believe me the investment is now paying huge returns.  You know the old saying, “Together we stand, divided we fall.”  It’s true, Surley. 

And you know, I feel my job as a chiropractor is seeing and helping patients get better.  I have contributed my share of personal time for the cause.  I have gone door to door getting my patients to sign petitions for or against certain legislation.  Believe me when some legislator’s office in Madison gets 35,000 calls or letters for or against some legislation, he listens.  And Governor Tommy has been very good to us chiropractors.

But the whole thing was orchestrated by the WCA in Madison.  And I feel the best use of my professional time is seeing my patients.  It is easier for me to give money to my WCA in Madison and let those professionals do their thing to protect my interests.  That is what they are down there for and that is what we chiropractors pay them for.  And you should hear our executive director out there on the road telling people about chiropractic!  He is just awesome!

You know Surley, it sounds to me like your profession is getting all the leftovers.  The lawyers write your legal descriptions, and they only call you when there is a real mess.  The engineers do their own surveying without you for the transportation systems across the entire state.  Assessors and their municipalities own the rights to ordering surveyors’ replats.  And now you tell me that these new GIS people are entering all your survey maps into one huge database, with disclaimers that they are not intended to be accurate!  This does not sound good, Surley, not to mention all the others that are cutting into your action!

(Surley’s mind is now in overdrive thinking of all the other technological changes and non-surveyors that are impacting real surveyors.)

When I speak of leftovers, Surley, this is what I mean.  Imagine yourself and all the rest of your surveyors at your annual banquet.  And the chef announces over the loud speaker that the dinner is about to be served.  The chef goes on to qualify that your main serving will consist of the leftovers from the previous 3 banquets!  And the dessert will be the leftover piecrusts and breadcrumbs from the state bar banquet the night before last!  How do you think all of you surveyors would react? 

(Surley does not like this picture!)

Well, Surley, short of an all out riot, I would be surprised if you all didn’t get up and at least walk out, grumbling, cussing, and complaining all the while.  And as you re-convened outside the banquet hall, I bet you were promising each other never to have the banquet at this location again!  You surveyors just ain’t going to take it!  You were insulted, right!?

Well, Surley, so it goes in your professional life.  You surveyors are taking it and you are eating what the others toss your way.  It doesn’t taste too good, does it, Surley?  But if you let them continue to feed you leftovers, piecrusts and breadcrumbs, believe me, Surley, they will just keep right on feeding it to you.  Come on, Surley, it sounds like you and the rest of your guys deserve to eat decently, too!  You should be entitled to your fair share of the piece of the pie!

You know it is like you describe in some other professions that I know.  Take for example the physical therapists.  My wife is a licensed physical therapist, and there is nothing going on to protect the interests of those people right now.  And the results are starting to show up in everyday real world situations.  A friend of mine had a daughter graduate in the top 5% of her class in the physical therapy program at Marquette, and she can’t find a job!  Apparently what used to be done by physical therapists is now being done by nurse practitioners!  I guess the nurses won that battle! 

(Dr. DeCracker laughs again!)

So Surley!  Does that help?  You know, Surley, I really wish the best for you guys.  To me, Surley, I have always known you to be a good surveyor, but it sounds like you’re a little down on your profession right now.  And the future doesn’t look too good for you guys right now.  I hope that will all change for you and the rest of your guys real soon.  You know, what little I know I about surveying, I would think you guys are worth it!

(Surley is now evaluating how he feels.)

Surley, maybe your guys should talk to my guys!   Or maybe you could invite our executive director to speak at your annual conference.  You know, Surley, there are all kinds of possibilities here!  You know, Surley, I would bet that we are treating at least 1/2 of the people in your organization as it is!  But then the way you pulled that bar out of the ground, I would expect we will be treating all of you someday!

(Dr. DeCracker laughs again!)

Surley, just take this form and give it to the receptionist.  Oh, and Surley, make sure that she has your insurance cards, for both the primary and secondary insurance carriers.  And once we have all that from you, we will take care of everything else.  And don’t forget to make an appointment for this Wednesday.  I have some more work to do on your back!

Dr. DeCracker, how much is everything for the day?

Well, Surley, after the x-rays and the 7 adjustments, time on the therapy beds and everything, it should run about $1200.

(Surley appears to have been overly adjusted.)

Oh, and Dr. DeCracker, how much for the professional attitude adjustment?

Nothing, Surley.  But remember, I think you guys are worth a whole lot more.  Good Luck, Surley, and I will see you on Wednesday!

Oh!…  say Surley…  one more thing!  Why don’t you and the rest of your guys consider investing right now in your profession?  You know you guys spend a minimum of 40+ hours a week trying to do what you enjoy in the prime of your lives.  Make it worth your while!

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