Mrs. Linklater's front yard
I have to write this down or I'll forget the details.
- Unlike newer homes, my gas meter is inside the house. And there is no easy-to-reach on/off access valve to the gas main located outside the house on the parkway.
- Because of the broken pipe in the basement ceiling last January, I had the gas company [NICOR GAS, in case they read this] come out and turn off the gas from inside the house. The water and electric were also off. Since it was winter, I moved out of the house for the time being, because I was also about to have two surgeries/rehab.
- In May the gas company was going through the neighborhood replacing meter parts that had been deemed dangerous because of mercury. I told them I wouldn't be around until the fall to let them in. "Well we'll have to turn off your gas until we can get in there," they said. "But it's already been turned off from the inside," I said.
- They didn't care. Or believe me. In June they came back to shut off the gas to the house for a second time. This time from the parkway. They would turn it back on after they could get into the house and swap out the mercury. Shutting off the gas from the outside entailed digging a hole in the grass on the parkway to locate the main, because, like I said, there is no convenient on/off valve.
- In September a technician came out to replace the evil mercury part from the meter inside the house. And turn on the gas. The tech informed me that she poked around in the pile of dirt on the parkway to see if they had put in a valve when they turned off the gas in May. They hadn't. That would have been too easy. Naturally, without something big to dig with, she couldn't find the gas main. So the gas couldn't be turned on.
- She said that I had to call again, so a crew with the proper equipment could come out to install a valve and turn the gas on. They would also make sure that all the gas pipes inside the house for the new hot water heater and furnace were installed and working properly.
- On Thursday, two days ago, the gas company was scheduled to come by and turn on the gas inside and outside the house. The day before, I reminded them on the phone not to forget to send a crew to locate the main and install an on/off valve on the parkway in the dirt pile where they had dug before. I had another contractor coming between 5 and 7. So I was happy to hear that the gas company could come out between 4 and 8.
- At 7:00 or so, after the contractor came and went, I called the gas company to ask where the crew was. I was told that they had been out and I wasn't there.
- "But I've been here the entire time. When did they come?"
- So we set up another appointment for the next day, also between 4 and 8.
- In the morning I called the gas company to remind them that they needed to send a crew to dig down for the gas main on the parkway and install a valve before they could turn on the gas in the house. Is there an echo in here?
- At six, a lone tech showed up. In the dark. I told her she wouldn't be able to find the gas line in the parkway because there wasn't a valve. Did I mention it was dark? She tried poking around for a valve in the middle of my lawn. I pointed out the area on the parkway where the crew had dug before. And told her that the other tech had already confirmed the lack of a valve. Oh. She still tried to find one.
- "You need a crew out here."
- "I know."
- And the "crew" that had come out the day before? At noon for a 4 to 8 appointment? One tech. All alone.
- Now that the dispatcher finally figured out that I wasn't kidding about needing a crew to come, it turns out they can't send them until this Wednesday. Why? Because first, a different crew has to come out to confirm that the pile of dirt that they dug up previously to locate the main is, in fact, the same pile of dirt that they have to dig up again.
- I can't wait.