Boy, oh boy. Have I got one for you. Okay, now try to follow me.
I moved into my apartment on December 1, and on December 7th, I received a gas bill. Can you believe that? How is that possible? Talk about not wasting any time. Well, it turns out that I was billed for two days of gas usage. I mean, really! Two whole days, people, and wait till you hear how much. It was $7.38! Well, I don’t have to tell you that National Grid was going to get an earful from me, because if you know me, you know that I don’t let anyone get away with anything. Are you with me so far? Okay, keep reading.
It all started about 7:13 am on Monday morning, December 8th. I had my gas bill in my hand, and I was ready to rumble. I dialed the number.
“National Grid, Mr. Tucker speaking. How can I help you?”
“Yes, good morning Mr. Tucker, I have a bill for 3 therms of gas usage, and I’ve only been living in my apartment for two days. I need you to clarify this please.”
“Okay, I’ll be happy to do that for you, ma’am.”
I cock my head. Did he just call me ma’am?
He comes back to the line a minute later. “Well, ma’am, it appears that your bill was an estimated bill, and that’s why it’s high.”
“Estimated based on what?” I snap back. “On what the previous tenant’s usage was last year?”
“Yes, ma’am. Their average bill last year for two months was $215.00.”
I was now tapping my fingers very firmly on the table. I’m going to scream if he calls me ma’am one more time.
“Well, you have to fix this, Mr. Tucker,” I said. “I won’t pay a bill based upon someone elses usage.”
“The only way to fix this is for you to go and read the meter, ma’am. Do you have access to the meter?”
I stare off into the air. “Well, umm, I’m not sure. Where is the meter?”
“I don’t know ma’am. It would either be in the basement of the owner’s house or outside. I can hold on while you look.”
I look out my window and rub off the frost. “Well, I’m not sure where it is, but I suppose that I can go outside and have a look around.”
“I can go with you,” he says. “Are you on a cordless?”
“I am. But what if I lose you?”
“Don’t worry, ma’am,” he says in a comforting voice. “I have your number. I’ll just call you back.”
I head for the closet and reach for the first thing–my boyfriend’s blue and white hooded jacket. It’s down to my knees.
“Okay, I’m ready,” I say into the phone.
“I’m with you ma’am. Take your time.”
I head out the door and into the freezing morning air. I look to the right of my door, and there they are. Meters! Wait. They’re the meters for the electric.
“Okay, I’m going to walk around to the back of the house. Stay with me.”
“I’m here,” he confirms.
I begin walking around the back of my landlord’s house. I’m looking up and around his patio. His vertical blinds are opened. Geeze, I hope he doesn’t see me, I tell myself. I pull my enormous hood over my head. I look like the grim reaper.
“Can you hear me?” I whisper into the phone.
“I hear you,” Mr. Tucker says.
I now see my landlord walking towards the glass doors, and I duck behind the car port. I hear him yell to his wife, “I tinka we hava teefa,” he yells. “Whereza my gunna?”
I could feel my eyes bulge from their sockets. Utt oh!
“Mr. Tucker, if you hear a dial tone, it means that I’m dead, okay?”
“Must be real cold by you, ma’am.”
Cold? Yeah, that’s it.
I wait for my landlord to go and get his gun, and when I see him heading out of the room, I make a run for it to the other side of the yard. I look around. No meter.
“Can you still hear me,” I whisper out of breath.
“Yep, I’m with you,” he says.
I continue skellin’ around when I hear my landlord’s wife through their upstairs window.
“I-a no seea nobody, Tony. Putta da gunna away.”
My landlord answers her. “He-a weara blue-a jacket. I no see his-a hair color,” he yells back at her.
I suddenly find myself thanking God that the landlord is a tad hard of hearing.
I am now looking up and down and notice that I am opposite the house next door. I’m standing outside their bathroom window. I pull my hood closer to my chest and crouch down to look near the basement windows. I hear my landlord.
“I-a tella you-a Maria, I tawt I saw a putty cat.”
Did he just say, I tawt I taw a putty cat?
“Ma’am, you still there?” Mr. Tucker calls out.
“Oh, yeah, I’m here. And I see meters. I have to get on my knees. Hold on.”
“Do they have the number 57684 on it?”
I carefully look. “Yes they do.”
“Okay, read me the numbers from the left to the righ.”
I’m reading him the numbers and as I’m doing so, I hear the man next door. He’s in the bathroom singing. “If you think I’m sexy, and you want my body . . .”
My landlord is yelling to his wife. “I-a heara dem damma birds screaming againa,” he says to her.
She answers him. “Okay. I call Valentina to tella her to keepa her doora closeda.”
I get off the ground and tip-toe towards the patio. My call waiting rings.
“Tucker, can you hold on? I have a call.”
“Sure thing, ma’am.”
“Ello, Valentina, ittsa Maria. You-a locka your doora. Tony tawta he saw-a teefa widda a purple cappa on his-a heada.”
“Okay Maria. I’ll lock the door.”
I continue to tip-toe around the back of the house, and I sneak up to the glass doors. Tony is standing there with a rifle and binoculars.
Maria is yelling to him. “Tony, you no usa datta gunna. You-a gonna killa someone.”
“No, Maria. Da maila no comma yet,” he yells back.
I watch as he turns his head, and then I make a run for it. I get into my apartment and pretend that nothing happened.
“Ma’am?” Tucker says.
“Yes, I’m here.”
“With the correct meter reading, your bill for the two days is $1.60. Does that sound better?”
“Now that’s sounds a whole lot better, Mr. Tucker,” I reply.
So, what’s the moral to this story? I don’t know, but did I mention that the man next door saw me skellin’ around and thought that I was trying to get a peek at him? Oh, pla-eezzze. Yeah. I saw him later that day, and he came over to me.
“Wasn’t it a bit cold out there this morning?” he asked with a wink.
“Ummm, you saw me?”
“I did, but let’s keep it just between us. And for the future, I’m in the shower every day at that time.”
So here’s my advice for today.
1–if you have to find your meter, just ring your landlord’s bell
2–if you tink you taw a putty cat, it was really a man in a purple cap
3–if your neighbor tells you what time he bathes, just tell him you’re a cop
Until next time–OAO