Sunday, February 20, 2011

East Side pix

Sabra has a neat collection of photos of San Antonio's east side, some of which overlap with a route I do every month (just did it this past week, in fact).

Down toward the bottom there's a picture of a lot of boarded-up building fronts on Commerce St. That stretch has a brand new meter for no reason I have been able to discern. It's kind of a funny story.

When I first started doing this route, a couple of years ago, there was one meter that I couldn't find because it had a "driveway" location and there are no driveways here. Also, none of these old buildings have address numbers on them, so I couldn't be positive of exactly where the meter was supposed to approximately be.

There was, however, one meter box with an old meter in it. Unfortunately, it's number didn't match the meter I was looking for. I called in for what's called "tap measurements," which are supposed to describe to us exactly where the meter was tapped. Unfortunately, the tap measurements put it around the corner, which should have had a "side" location or possibly "side near corner" or something like that. I did find a meter box where the measurements said there was supposed to be a meter, but it was empty.

I called in and told my supervisor all about it, and he told me to "53-oh-1 it." 53 is a trouble code that means the meter is covered up and I either can't get to it or can't find it because of the cover. 01 is a skip code that means I didn't read it for whatever reason comes from the trouble code. This skip code takes the place of the reading that should be there.

The next month, I discovered that in the intervening time, someone had gone out and allegedly found the meter and painted the address in our blue paint on the building just above the meter. It was above the meter box with the old meter that didn't have the right meter number. So I just did as I had been trained: since someone said this was definitely the right address, I just reset the meter number. That is, I changed the meter number and all other necessary information in my handheld computer (which is called a Roadrunner because that's the model name of this particular handheld), entered the read that was on the meter, and went on my way.

So within a few days someone else said I had made an error because that wasn't the right meter. But, I replied, someone painted the address on it, so I was just following instructions.

Nothing else happened for a few months after that, so I just went back to giving it a 53-01.

And then suddenly one month I came up to it, opened the box up out of habit, and lo and behold a new meter was in the box. I double-checked my Roadrunner and saw that the route had already been changed so this new meter was now the meter of the old address that I had been looking for and which someone had painted on the meter.

However, that meter has never measured any water--I don't see how it could because all of those buildings are vacant--and still it sits there, a new meter that has never been used.

I only tell this story to point out that there are still "lost" meters and "lost" addresses and we don't always know exactly where everything is. In fact, I can think of another really good example of this off the top of my head but I guess I'll save that story for another time. Maybe next month, if I can remember to take some pictures of it.


  1. Was the service on?

    When I was in the gas dept. if the account was inactive for months, we'd pull the meter.

  2. There's no way I could know if someone is still paying for service or not. That's beyond my "need to know."

  3. Was the valve locked off?

    On out RoadRunners there was a submenue that gave that kind of info- so we'd know if someone was stealing gas.

  4. They don't include that kind of info on our Roadrunners. It's not locked, but that only means that the Company hasn't intentionally shut them off for lack of payment. There are just some meters that are there forever and never get used.

  5. It's a very strange stretch of Commerce, isn't it? I find the two or three brand new motels in the general area especially odd.

  6. Oh yeah, that's another thing. That new hotel just down from that picture...they sealed in the meter box with concrete when they put in the sidewalk. I've filed a report on it every month since it's been there and no one has ever gone out there to make it accessible. So it's never been read. Since it has no history, I don't know if or how they're estimating it.