Well, okay... not entirely different.
Well, different in that it's a new post. Which is freshly baked and tasty! But similar and, in fact, somewhat non-different because it's a post about me still battling the Comedy Troupe some laymen like to call The Gas Company.
So, not very different. It's the same illogical bureaucracy you might recall from... oh... just last week or so.
Just more of it. And in such large portions.
When last I left you, Friends o' Cabbages, I had been-- under threat of having my gas shut off-- trying to schedule the gas man to come and read my inside meter. This apparently needed to be on a day where:
- The planets aligned
- The shui was feng
- The moon was in Uranus
- And the gas company didn't have a headache
So this took three phone calls (and one threatening letter, tucked-in for fun, telling me I had neglected to contact them at all). And my brain imploded and I was dead for a while due to my body's inability to process the Hulk-like rage.
Then I got better.
So during the last phone call, I pointed out to them that in this Age of Reason, and Technology, and Not Making the Customer Take Off Work in Four Hour Windows Every Six Months, all other utilities seemed to have remote reading capabilities.
And that's when the female Eric Idle in customer service said, "Oh, we have remote reading capabilities. But you have to pay $116 to have it installed."
"What? You have remote reading capabilities?! But for years you guys have been telling me I have to spend:
- "Several thousand dollars to put the meter outside, or
- "To give you a copy of my house key for keepsies no tradesbacksies...
"Oh, but it's $116," Erica Idle insisted.
"But it is not $3,000. Which is more."
"And if they find something wrong with your line," continued Erica Idle in a nervous fear of remote reading, (perhaps she was scared by a remote reading meter as a child) "they'll shut your gas off entirely and then you'll have to call a plumber to get it fixed. And then pay a fee to get it back on again."
We left it that I was free on Monday morning to set it up.
Or so I thought.
Monday morning, in my Four Hour Window, that's when the Gas Man-- let's make him Michael Palin-- came in. He was friendly. He was cheerful. He popped down and read the meter. And then I asked him the question.
"Um, what about installing the remote reader?"
"Remote reader? I don't have anything here about a remote reader."
"I'd asked to have a remote reader installed so we wouldn't have to go through this every six months and have my head implode and die, and then it take days for me to get better."
"Why, I don't know anything about installing a remote reader. Are you sure you asked about having a remote reader installed?"
No, I called the Gas Company to ask whether the donuts were fresh this morning. "Yes, I was pretty enthused once I finally found out there was this option."
And I explained the situation.
"Well, from what you say there," Michael Palin told me, "it sounds like you might not have made it clear you wanted a remote reader installed."
I was on allergy meds and looked at him blankly. I had vague flashes of waxing joyous on the phone about the remote capabilities. I recalled making an appointment for something-- which had to have been real, since the gas man was, in fact, here.
Given I arrange many, many details successfully for my own clients each week, I didn't imagine I hadn't articulated my needs properly. But could it be I had a complete and utter Gas Company Mental Block?
"And you know," continued the Gas Man, "if they find anything wrong with your line, they'll shut off your gas and then you'll have to call a plumber to have it fixed, and pay to have everything turned back on again."
"So I've heard."
"So we have this insurance you can get for just $3 extra a month, and that would mean if they find anything, the insurance would cover it. So what I would do is get that insurance first, and then have the remote reader installed and..."
I never expected to feel Shook Down by the Gas Man.
He also explained to me that even with the remote readers, they will still want to get into my house every year or so to check the remote meter is still working properly. Meaning one time less a year than before. Meaning I will still have to take off a half-day a year to wait for the Gas Man.
And there we left it. I have, with three phone calls, and two personal explosions, managed only to put off this saga until the next six months. So, I ask you, Readers:
- Do I succumb to the shake-down, pay for the insurance and try having the remote reading installed again?
- Do I have the remote reading installed without insurance, with the implied threat that something is almost destined to happen to my lines in the process, (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) so they get to shut it off and make me pay?
- Or do I decide to go Amish, and heat my hot water the old fashioned way-- y'know, sitting it in a pan in front of a Heat Surge electric heater?