Thursday, November 12, 2009

Come On Baby, Light My Fire

Mrs. Linklater's New Gas Meter

On Wednesday I stayed home in the morning so the gas company could install a new valve at the main and, most importantly, light my new hot water heater and furnace.
     A crew of three showed up at nine AM-ish with two trucks. One of trucks was carrying a backhoe. Before the first hour was up, a member of the crew started using it to dig up the dirt pile left by the last crew. He was on a mission to locate the main. Again. It turns out he was the digger last time, too. What fun for him to come back and do it a second time.
     The other two were inside the house. They were going to disconnect my indoor meter and install a brand new one outside. I wouldn't have to do my own meter readings ever again.
     This was new information, not unwelcome, but unexpected. The old meter had just had a major part replaced, at the gas company's request, but now they were coming back to undo the redo so they could do even more -- completely remove and replace it. 
     "As long you'll turn on the hot water heater and furnace when you're done," I reminded them. No problem.
     The guy in the hole dug for two hours, first with the backhoe, then with a shovel. There was a five foot pile of dirt in the front yard when he finally reached the main.
     Then I learned the crew wasn't going to put in a valve; they were going to replace all the old pipe that led from the parkway to the house with new yellow plastic pipe that is more weather and people proof. That required help from two more people in another truck. They would be arriving with a special drill that makes pipe-sized holes from the main to the house. That way, the yard wouldn't look like rodents or a backhoe had chewed it all up.        
     Did I mention more trucks?
     "So, is this an all day gig?" I asked the guy deep down in the hole, when the crew count was up to five or so and there were now four monster trucks lining the street. I was inappropriately happy that certain neighbors might be inconvenienced, perhaps even pissed off by all the utility do-dah.
     "Could you guys turn on your engines and blow exhaust into my neighbors' houses for me? You know, really annoy them?" 
     At first I thought the work would be done by noon. I didn't think it would take all day to put in a valve and light my fires. So I made plans to be downtown for a work thing at 2:15. Are we doing to be here all day? Yep, pretty much, the guy in the hole told me.
     "But you'll turn on the furnace and hot water heater before you go, right?"  Right.
     Back at the house, holes had to be drilled through the brick to accommodate the gas pipe going into the house from the new outside meter. To attach the meter to the pipe, yet another person had to come out to weld them together. More people. More trucks. 
     The good news was that the house crew finished threading the pipe from inside the house through the hole in the brick to the outside. That meant I could lock up and go downtown by noon. The crew could continue work outside, installing the meter and threading the new pipe from the main, until I came back around 4:00 PM.
     "Then you'll go inside and light the furnace and the hot water heater?" Yes, they would, when I got back.
     I got back around 4:15. The smiling crew proudly showed me the new gas meter on the side of the house. It was HUGE. "That thing is huge." That's how they look now, I was told.
     I have the smallest house in the neighborhood. It is the only house that is still the same size it was on the day it was built. All the rest have additions or they've been torn down for McMansions. This new meter looks like truck tires on a VW.
     But the good news is that I was about to get about a thousand dollars of new equipment for free. With fresh paint to hide the weld marks on the meter pipes and make everything all matchy matchy.
     They finished up around 6:00 in the dark. Big, bright work lights lit up the yard and the street as they filled the five foot hole in the parkway again.
     "So. Time to light the heat and furnace?"  I was going to have heat and hot water any minute now.
     Oh that. We called and our supervisor told us we can't light new appliances that haven't ever been used. We can only re-light old ones. You'll have to have the installers light them up, make sure everything's working properly. 
     "You just found this out now? Wait a minute, the installers told me you could light them when the gas was turned on."
     Sorry for the misinformation.
     Now after all that, I have to wait some more.
     This just gets better and better. 


Remo said...

We're from the government. We're here to loaf.

Anne said...

Oh my God........makes you want to pull somebodys short and curlys, doesn't it? Anne