My job at the water company was a blast; I started out as a meter reader and ended up as an outside customer service representative.
This job included meeting with customers for various reasons, such as turning their water on or off, checking for leaks, and water quality issues.
The downside of this position was collections, yes I had to be the bad guy who came out and forced you to either pay up or lose your water.
I once had a Deputy Sheriff stop his car and yell, “It’s every Americans God given right to have water” I don’t know what got into him, maybe I had shut him off once.
I simply replied, “Yes but when you fail to pay the people who pipe that water to you, You give up that God given right” he just sat there with his mouth moving like he was trying to think of something to say, rolled up his window and drove away.
I like people and working in the public, you meet a lot of people, you can get into a lot of situations, and it doesn’t take long to find who the good people actually are.
I always picked up my service orders first thing each morning, these orders lined out what I was to do that day, on one particular day I had an order to collect at one of our State Representatives house.
The SNP order (Shut off for Non Pay) tells me to either collect the past due money or shut the water off, I drove to his home and when the door opened it was our Esteemed State Representative standing at the door.
I introduced myself and explained the situation:
Me: My name is Jimmy I am with the water company; I need to collect your water bill.
SR: You’ve got to be Sh*##ing me!
Me: No Sir I have an order to collect or shut your water off.
This is usually when a customer would ask something like, how much do I owe, but not this time.
SR: I don’t have time for you, do what you think is necessary!
This is when he slammed the door in my face, so I did the thing I thought necessary, I drove around to the alleyway and shut his water off, he met me at the back gate with a valve wrench, he said as soon as I left he was going to turn the water back on.
I smiled at him, and removed his water meter, I probably shouldn’t have looked at him when I was finished and said, OK go for it Buddy, but yet I was only doing my job, right?
About ten minutes later I get a radio transmission asking me to return to the office, another ten minutes and I am sitting in front of the boss’s desk:
Boss: Jimmy did you shut our State Representative’s water off?
Me: Yes Mam I did
Boss: Why the hell would you do such a thing?
Me: Because I had a service order telling me to do so.
Boss: You will go directly back over there and turn his water back on.
Me: Did he come in and pay his bill?
Boss: No, but you will turn it back on.
Me: I don’t have time for this, if you don’t want me working a service order then don’t send it out, and I don’t have one now to turn his water on.
Another serviceman was sent out to reconnect his service, and the next time I was sent to his house he gladly paid me at the door, sad to say this ended up being a monthly meeting with him.
On the other end of town I had an elderly lady who had gotten behind on her bill, I had been to her house on several occasions, she had a leak and it ran for several months, which ran her bill up, I actually went into her home after hours and fixed the leak myself at no charge, just to help her out.
Now remember I am not a plumber, the water company does not fix customer leaks, so if you tell anyone that I did this I am going to deny it, OK
I felt really bad the morning I got a SNP order for her, I knew her situation and had a feeling she did not have the money to catch her bill up right then, I went into Boss’s office and explained the situation, I asked if we could give this lady until the first of the month to catch up her bill.
She smiled and said “If we print out an order, You will be the one to work it” I took the order and left, the elderly lady could not pay, so I did exactly what I thought was necessary, I paid it myself, I told her this is a one time deal because I can’t do it every month.
This was the last time she was ever behind on her bill, and her payback to me was a simple Thank You.
Do you know someone who expects everything because of their “Social Status”, and at the same time someone else who appreciates life even though they have little?