Several days ago the electric meter reader technician came around to read the meter; he was scared of our dog as usual, good dog. So, I (David) held him back so the meter man would feel comfortable coming in.
I stood by the gate and held the dog as he walked up to the door to look at the electric meter and I thought it was pretty hot out so I let the dog loose and he ran up to the technician and only lightly sniffed him, sometimes Buddy can be pretty aggressive when it comes to his sniffing introductions. I asked the man if he would like a cold glass of water. He quickly accepted, so I went in and grabbed one for him and I started talking with him about how far he has to walk as he goes house to house reading the meters and it sounded like several miles already that day. I sympathized with him and told him he had a hard job but he was doing it well.
So as he pulled out his well-worn Honeywell recording meter I asked him if he liked his new tool since a new company has taken over the electrical company in Cameroon. I recalled them walking around with a piece of paper writing down all the number from previous visits. He didn’t really seem overly impressed as he waited for it to boot up and then he had to power it off again. But once it was finally up he asked me in stern French, “Do you pay your bills?” my response was of course and I proceeded to show him the last 2 years worth of receipts.
I showed him that the previous meter readings matched up with all the bills, but the meter number didn’t match our bills. I told him several years ago before we moved in the meter was changed to a new one but the billing system was never updated. So preparing for a shakedown, I just calmly said, well what can we do to fix this? After playing with his electronic device and typing in the numbers from the meter and taking a picture of the meter. He didn’t start yelling, as has happened in the past, or telling me that I was going to have to pay him, he simply pulled out a fat black sharpie marker and wrote on the wall the original meter number and his initials. Problem solved. No more questions about not paying our bill.
He then asked me several questions about where our kids go to school, since he had already read the meter at the kid’s school and we left on very cordial terms, which I’m sad to say rarely happens when I interact with someone from the various utility companies. I guess the lesson I learned is it’s better to start with cold water before the fire has a chance to get burning.
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1 NLT