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Unexpected Problems - Great City

"Conservation is humanity caring for the future." - Nancy Newhall

Hi, folks! I know, I know! It's been awhile. So slap me with a wet noodle or something. But today, whether you're "in my corner or not" on this one, I think it's important enough to put it in writing.

Among the many other bizarre things that I am and believe, I am proud to be a conservationist and let everyone know it. Way back when, when I ran a Scout troop, if we were on a hike or camp, I'd always have the kids bring a small garbage bag and pick up any crap that some useless twit thought was okay to just dump. It just became a natural habit for the kids, and none of them complained. They understood what they were doing. Every spring, we'd help with the cleanup along our river banks and walking and biking trails within the city, miles and miles worth of them. I forget how many tons of garbage is collected from there each year.

I've picked up a piece of paper and told a policeman who was writing a ticket to a motorist, then tore off the perforated edges of the ticket and proceeded to drop it on the street that I "thought he had dropped something, and should be more careful about littering." My front lawn is often the recipient of candy wrappers, or drink cups that kids on their way home from school discard wherever they happen to be when they're done. If I see them, I make it a point (in a nice and supportive and educational way...not as a prick who is angry with them) that it's their future world that they're cluttering up. Most tell me to fuck off, but every now and then, one will look embarrassed, say they're sorry, pick it up and be on their way. I have put a piece of thick foam into the fireplace opening, spray-painted black, so it doesn't really show, to keep warm air from being lost out the chimney. I keep my thermostat set at 62 degrees, and wear a sweater or light jacket during the daytime. Small, but significant things, especially when all added up.

Two years ago, I had all the windows in my house replaced with triple glaze sealed units instead of the sliders that had been there, to decrease energy (heat) lost through them. I turn off lights when I'm not in a room that I'm using them. Last year, I had a high-efficiency furnace replace my old gas-guzzler. An expense to me, but in the long run, a savings source of energy. Last fall, in October, I had noticed a HUGE surge in my water bill from the norm, and thought I had a continually running toilet, so I turned the water off to the toilet, and called a plumbing outfit. I also wanted to update the faucets on my sinks, and get a couple drains power-augered out. When the guy came, he told me clearly and specifically that there was nothing wrong with the toilet and so wouldn't charge me anything for that, he replaced the faucets, and then informed me that I needed a new water tank (I had told them when I phoned that I didn't seem to have much hot water, and it usually started getting cool simply during the time it took to take a fairly quick shower). It was the original tank (approx. 25 years old), so I wasn't surprised. Due to the cost, and my limited budget, I was only able to get one of the three drains I wanted augered cleaned out, because I wasn't expecting the cost of the water tank. I got their most energy-efficient model, which cost a few extra sheckles.

But I'm an unabashed conservationist. I unshakably believe that one person CAN, and not only can, but MUST make a difference.

Today, I received a disturbing (but certainly welcome!) call from the utility department of our fair city. The kind lady told me that my water bill was way out of whack, and I probably have a leak somewhere. In truth, after the plumber left, I thought I still heard the same "running" noise from the toilet I had called about, but after all, who am I to argue with a guy who makes a career of this stuff, right?


My normal utility bill runs around $180 a month give or take depending on the weather and so on, which covers electricity, delivery of electricity, water consumption, drainage surcharge, sewer, and waste disposal (in other words, the services that the city provides me with). The bill I'll be getting this month is $776.03.

That's why she called. She didn't have to, I suppose, and so I thought it was rather decent. I told her my story about the running toilet, calling the plumber, being assured there was no problem and turning the water back on. While she waited on the phone, she had me go down and check my meter and give her the reading (they only do an actual reading every second month by sending a meter-reader out, and estimate the alternate months). It was, of course, way out of whack. Again, waiting for me on the phone, she asked me to go and look once more and see if anything was "moving" on the meter. Well, at the centre of it, there was a dial that was virtually spinning out of control. She verified that that meant I had a leak somewhere, and water was constantly coming through the meter.

Still waiting on the phone for me, she asked me to go and turn off the water to the toilet in question, and then check the meter again. Now, she didn't have to do that, but she did. I did what she asked, and saw immediately that the dial had stopped spinning. She confirmed that that would be the source of the leak, and I should get the plumbing company over right away to "fix it". She didn't have to do that for me. But she did.

My conundrum is, do I call this same ---apparently incompetent---- company to fix the problem? Do I insist they pay my bill, or the "overage" part of it since their visit (last November)? Do I threaten/take them to small claims court? Do I just be nice and acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, and that was one they made on that day? Do I realize that we live in a "who-gives-a-damn" world, and just let it go, with one less toilet operating in my house (leaving me with two), and making it the problem of whoever might eventually buy the place? Do I start throwing candy-wrappers on people's lawns just so that I finally feel like I'm "fitting in"?

She was very nice. Not everyone is a scoundrel. As those of you who have been reading my blog for the past year or so know, financially it was not my best year. Although I had some delightfully fulfilling successes, which far outweigh these grumblings that I'm giving you here (and wouldn't trade them for a second), overall, I lost out on dollars and cents. Not a big deal, because that is not the measurement I use for success of any kind. First, I got ripped off by Shane, and should have known better. Then by the crew that painted my house (he raised the price $2000 after the job was done, and asked for payment in cash. I had the impression that he was a University trying to raise tuition for his education, and so I paid it, even though I was very uncomfortable with the "cash" part of the deal. Turned out after the fact that he was a coke-head being investigated by the police----yeah, I was stupid and naive----and wrong). Then I got ripped off by the two kids I thought I could help, and they laughed in my face after having effectively stolen a couple thousand dollars from me. Yeah, I was stupid, naive and trying to make whatever difference I could with the limited resources I have, taking into consideration the medical conditions I'm now facing. And now this.

Pension money doesn't stretch very far, I'm coming to realize. But she was nice. She has arranged to spread the bill over the next three months payments, to ease the burden a bit. She didn't have to do that, but she did. She wanted to help. She was nice.

I still believe the world is far more full of "her's" rather than of "them's".

Call me naive. Call me an anachronism from the innocent times that I grew up in. I don't care much what you call me. Because, you see, I sleep with a clear conscience. I wonder if they do?


I agree with you -- I think the world is full of far more good, decent people than we're often led to believe. (This is why I don't watch the news very often -- because "good" people rarely make the news. It's all full of so much negativity...)

I guess if it were me, I would call back the original plumbing company and explain the situation... because MAYBE they'd offer to pay a share of the water bill. At the very least, they should fix whatever they neglected to fix the first time. (And I'd probably request they send out a DIFFERENT plumber... :))

I hope everything works out!

I agree 100% with you. I try my best to conserve. I find that I'm more aware of things and trying to further learn ways to conserve since I've had my son. I don't want him to be one of those kids littering and taking things for granted. It starts at home. I want him to have a beautiful world to grow up in...

I would definitely speak to the plumbers about their shoddy work - and maybe even take them to court - that is terrible!! I know how you feel about the same shit different day thing - it seems like it's just one thing after the other around here too. Three steps forward, two steps back - as usual.... Ugh!

Hey all: Thanks for your supportive comments! I realize that we live in an imperfect world, but, in my mind at least, that doesn't mean we can't continually try to make it better, even if in our own yard or neighbourhood. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. That's the way things are.

Lisa, I think I'll start out by calling the original company, and see what kind of a compromise they'll go with. I suspect that I'll at first be telling my story to the front-desk receptionist, who I doubt can do much, so I'll gently ask to speak to someone who has the authority to "bargain" such deals. I'll let you all know how it goes!

Sassy: We hear so much about "the environment" and "greenhouse gasses" and "melting ice caps", and tornados, floods and famine. Blunt truth is, you and I can't do too much about those things except complain (perhaps to our elected representatives). But we CAN do the things you're doing, especially with the next generation. I was told this summer that someone's kids no longer complain about going to school, because their Mom decided to go back and finish her dream, and worked her butt off doing it. They SAW the value; we do our best teaching when we teach by example.

KSHIPPYCHIC: I'm certainly going to follow up with them, ans see how it turns out. The "same shit every day" philosophy is one I'm trying to work on though lol,. It tends to send me in the "wrong direction" bipolar-wise!

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  • I'm Evydense
  • From Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • And I'm tired of living in the shadow of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. So here's the fax, Jack! "The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred and sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision." - Lynne Lavner*** I'm confused; curious; satisfied; realistically resigned to being a frustrated idealist; usually at peace with myself, but not always. Amazed at how little I know, and wondering how much I need to understand.
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