, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 26, 2013

Idle thoughts while waiting for the (electric) man


Is that a threat? The first notice is probably in the several shopping bags of mail I’ve accumulated since March (I remove the bills and anything that looks interesting immediately but don’t take the time to sort the rest until it’s time to write Christmas checks to charities).

Reading on, the notice just seems to be warning that if National Grid can’t get into my house to inspect the meter, something could go wrong someday. I hope they don’t plan to replace it with one of those government-spy meters I’ve heard about, that will tell the National Security Agency when I turn my heat down and when I use my teapot. Regardless, I called the number to make an appointment.

You’d think that if this is so important, they’d have a line dedicated to callers who don’t want to risk “INTERRUPTION OF YOUR SERVICE,” but they don’t: After stating that I want to speak English, I went through the usual voice mail hell, including pounding zeros while screaming obscenities (in Spanish). I got through finally, I think by choosing “I want to buy an appliance” and from there was forwarded to “customer meter services,” which should have been a voice-mail option in the first place.

The nice young man set up an appointment for today, between noon and 6 p.m., promising to call before they come. So, I avoided tying up the phone because I don’t really trust my call-waiting feature, my answering machine or its Comcast system backup. However, must say that Comcast gives a much narrower window for appointments and usually gets here early in that time frame.

I like Comcast for my television, computer and land phone, but my cellphone is Verizon: Just in case one is down, I can still use the other for emergencies. I also like Verizon because, beginning with my first visit to the Statehouse in 1978, its public affairs department gave me an annual appointment calendar that contained contact information for Massachusetts legislators and government agencies. This is the final year for that directory; it almost seems a sign that an era — my era — is over.

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