Waiting for the meter man
It’s that time of year again, EDF (Electricite de France for those of you in the UK who didn’t realise your hard earned money wings its way across the channel) have yet again decided they have trusted me enough and want to actually send the meter man to see the electricity meter in the flesh.
It’s a matter of life and death, they can no longer estimate it, and they write to you, send you an email, and leave a message on your ISP.
It’s the usual performance, it’s always at the most inconvenient time possible, and I have to sit and wait for the meter man for 6 appointed hours for them never to come, AS PER THE THREE PREVIOUS YEARS. One year they settled for a photo of the meter. Personally they missed a trick there, it could have been an old photo, they should have asked for an up to date newspaper to be included in the shot, like they used to when they were swapping spies in the cold war.
This year I phoned them up to try to fix a definite time. OK, they understood my annoyance, and would arrange a two hour slot for the meter man to come. For 30 euros. But bearing in mind my previous inconveniences would then credit me 30 euros. This makes a lot of sense in Brittany, helps keep the unemployment figure looking good. OK I’ll go with that, tap tap tap at the other end, OK that will be 11th March, between 13.00 and 17.00. Hang on, that’s four hours. Yes but it’s one of their own men, not one of the usual agency lot, so much more certain. Defeated, I agreed. Then two days ago I found a message on my ISP site, advising me strongly to be in attendance between 11.00am and 17.30pm. I make that 5 and a half hours.
Anyway, as I had another trifling job to deal with that day, involving a hospital, I decided to leave a note on the door directing him to the cottage with the arched door (where the meters are), with 1729 carved in the arch, which would be left unlocked. I even did a little drawing of the arched door, complete with date, to avoid any confusion. How kind of me I thought.
14.00 hours, hospital visit over, I got a call from a mobile. He was lost, did my place have blue shutters. No, it didn’t, but armed with that priceless snippet I was able to talk him in, like they did with Spitfires in the last war. Except the radio went dead mid-chat, so I had to assume he had crashed and burned.
Had he been and read the meter? Or not? There wasn’t a trace, like it was all just a wonderful dream. Except I’d had a cunning plan. I’d left the meter cupboard door wide open. I knew no meter man worth his salt could leave the meter cupboard door open. And so it was. Firmly closed, the two little turnbuttons neatly turned. Like a ghost in the night, the meter man had been and gone, with no trace. But I knew. He’d been.
Groundhog day September 3rd 2015
It was time to have the meter read again. More desperate comms. from EDF. But wait … technology!! … I can enter the meter reading on line … whoa!! … being down with the techhies I went and read the meter, did the business on line, got an email confirmation, great, no need to wait for the meter man to come.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, I just happened to be at the gites the morning of the 3rd, cutting the grass as it happens, when I noticed out of the corner of my eye a little white van on site. They’d come to read the meter.
Re-run March 2016
Got a letter saying they would come and read the meters, OR … I could a) phone them with the reading, OR … b) enter the details on line OR … c) leave a note on the door OR … d) …I’ve forgotten D. Anyway, decided to leave a note, or rather notes, on the door of a) la Chaumiere, because that looks like it’s where the meters might be, and would appeal to a novice meter-reader who didn’t know the place, and also b) the door of Le Relais, which is where the meters actually are, and would appeal to an old hand who a) knew the place and b) hadn’t got dementure. Called in at the end of the day to do something and shifted the notes in the doors.
Next day, Thursday 3rd March, just happened BY PURE CHANCE to call in at the gites to find a little white van with a very nice polite young man scratching his head (of the novice variety) and trying various doors. “Weren’t you here yesterday?” Nope it was today. OK, it’s in here, read the meter, bish bash bosh job done. A lucky escape. Dear reader, the next bit is embarrassing. Back home, found the letter, not the 2nd March, 3rd March.OK. I’m human. And 70.
You can stay in Le Relais for your summer holidays. Something amusing, something very French, is bound to happen.