Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pay The Piper

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?

29 comments:

  1. Wuff. Nearly everyone who voted for Obama.

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    1. Could be a few there, but at the same time a lot who have very little also

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    2. Wait a minute. . . I definitely missed something in that post! And I did! I see it now. They weren't looking for a handout, just a helping hand.

      sorry

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    3. Giving someone a helping hand feels better than a handout :) it's those that expect special favors I frown upon.

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  2. I think we all know people like this, and sorry lotta joy, but these people didn't vote for Obama, many campaigned against him to protect their "social status."

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    1. Hi Stephen, Yes Sir it seems they are everywhere.

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  3. When the Social Status people get to Heaven they will be told, "Guess what, your shit does stink. NOw go sit in the corner for a few ions and think about it!"

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  4. That poor lady, so glad you were able to help her with that month and in fixing her leak. I'm sure she was so mortified to have been behind on payments. The state representative, well, I just call him arrogant. But it is interesting that it was a monthly occurrence with him. You'd think he'd have a handle on bill paying or someone who paid the bills for him.

    I'm sure it was an interesting job you had, Jimmy, with the water company like that. I'm not even sure if our meters get read by meter readers any more. We have an every 2-month billing cycle and for three cycles in a row our bill was exactly the same amount to the penny. I found that a bit interesting :)

    betty

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    1. Hey Betty, She was one of the good ones and I was proud to help where I could, it was a very interesting job for me and I am glad there were more of the good ones rather than the arrogant.

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  5. I've seen a number of them on TV, where they've tried to do something nobody else could get away with and if questioned, they say, "Don't you have any idea who I am?" I happen to like it very much, when that doesn't seem to matter.

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    1. "Don't you have any idea who I am?" Lordy I hate it when they say that.

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  6. Yep its all political....glad you did what you did!

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    1. You were very kind to that lady and I like the way you handled the SR. We had a similar policy here but it all changed some time ago. The water company is not allowed to disconnect anyone from their water supply. Gas and electric yes, but not water. Not everyone has a water meter... and that includes me.

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    2. Hi Valerie, I am not sure how they handle the disconnects now as it has been a while since I retired, I am sure policies have changed but the attitudes of some have not.

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  7. You were very compassionate towards that woman, Jimmy. Too bad there are so few who would do what you did.

    The politician thing doesn't surprise me. Our county is one of the most corrupt and recently sent a slew of them to prison. Amazing how people get into office and then think they are above the law.

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    Replies
    1. This is true, some do think they are way above the law when given a little power

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  8. Yes, I know people at both ends of that spectrum. And like you I'll bend over backwards to help some, but others won't get the time of day from me.

    Good for you Jimmy!

    S

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    1. Arrogance is one thing I have a hard time with, when someone looks down their nose at someone else just shows me how low that person looking down their nose is.

      We have to help one another when we can because you never know when you just may need a little help yourself.

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  9. I believe politicians are especially prone to expect special treatment because of "who they are." This was a few years ago, when we still lived in South Carolina, and the lieutenant governor was caught speeding by the police. He pointed at his license plate ("SC2") and asked the police officers if they didn't know who he was.

    Jerk.

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    1. Oh - and I like what you did for the elderly lady. You have a kind heart!

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    2. Like that "Special Plate" exempts them from the law, some people actually think this way though..sigh

      Thank You my dear friend :)

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  10. I have two sections on my route. One is 180 apts. that have a majority of extremely low income folks living in them. The other consists of multi million dollar homes.

    When I do some thing for the apt peeps, they always say thank you, do what they can to make my job easier, and they know my name.

    The rich folks, well I think they think their mail magically appears in their box everyday. And they also assume that I will magically know where they've moved when they abandon their home. And when I don't, I'm the idiot.

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    1. There is that attitude I was talking about exactly, the "Lower Class" people do remember your name and go further out of their way to speak to you, I did notice this when I was still working, and the folks on the hill were just as you described.

      I should have mentioned another lady in my post that I saw each month, she could easily pay her bill but withheld it each month, I asked her why she did this and she told me that she enjoyed my company, and by holding her bill for me to collect gave her a chance to visit with me and also saved her a stamp, a win/win so to say :)

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  11. Any job that interfaces with the public will always bring you into contact with the rich tapestry of life-forms, the good, the bad and the downright ugly!

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    1. Amen Bryan, You are so right my Friend.

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  12. Nice story Jimmy. Not every customer deserves the same service. As far as your question, I've got one involving Girl Scouts who don't represent the organization well! I'll leave it at that.

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    1. Thank You Abby, And as far as your answer goes, I do understand.

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