Wat-ah

I have a lot going on. Stuff I’m not ready to type out and see in written form. That makes it real, and we all know how comfortable I am living in denial. I love denial more than a fat girl loves chocolate. And let me tell you, I L-O-V-E chocolate.

This week has been especially hectic and I thought I reached a breaking point last night. The local A&M Club was having a meeting for potential students and they were handing out scholarship forms. LoverBoy and my BFF’s son had other obligations, aka being lazy, spoiled-rotten teens, so we went as their proxies. (Let’s face it. Scholarships are more important to the person actually paying for the tuition.)

I decided to stop by my house after work to change out of my heels and freshen up before the meeting. When I went to wash my hands, I discovered that I had no water. I tried another faucet. I checked the backyard for a potential flood from a pipe leak. I asked LoverBoy how long the water had been out.

“What? There’s nothing wrong with the water.” [insert eye roll]

Yes, thank you, Mr. Observant. I couldn’t do it without you.

Since I was running late, I decided to multi-task and call the Water Department on my way downtown. I tried looking at their website on my phone for a phone number, but obviously, they don’t want you to call. When I got to my BFF’s house to pick her up, I asked if she had a water bill so I could get the number off the back.

“Oh, I throw those away as soon as I pay them and I paid it last week.”

What? You don’t feel my insane obligation to keep every scrap of paper related to finances? Wow, you healthy-person-with-a-less-cluttered-house, you!

I called LoverBoy en route and asked him to pull a water bill out of the expanding folder marked “expenses” in my room. “Look in the Utilities section.”

“Geez, there are a bunch of papers in this section. Why am I doing this again?”

Me: “A bunch? Are you sure you’re in the right section? Read some of the names to me.”

LB: “Mom, I’m not an idiot. They say Cigna Explanation of Benefits.”

Me: “Ok, genius, but those are medical expenses. Try the other Utilities section. As in, the ONLY one.”

Finally he finds the bill and gives me the number.  But not without a few sighs of disgust.  As I continue to maneuver my way downtown, I dial the number.

“Wat-ah.”

Assuming that the gentleman meant, “City Water Department, how can I help you,” I launch into my explanation of no water and surely, there is a busted line somewhere.  He disagreed.  He insisted that no other customer on my street had reported a water outage, so I must not have paid my bill and then he proceeded to hang up.  Yes, he hung up on me.

Now I’m no expert on PTSD, but I’m pretty sure that being hung up on is a trigger for me.  My ex loved to hang up on me.  And scream obscenities at me, but that’s an entirely different story.  Another trigger is having my utilities shut off, as I am no stranger to losing my lights or water due to nonpayment.  Or payment with a rubber, bouncing check.  It’s part of the joy of being married to a compulsive gambler.  He pulls the money faster than the check can get to the bank.  I swear to you, though, my utilities have remained intact since I separated our bank accounts in 2008.

As I started to hyperventilate and missed my exit, my friend offered to call the guy back.  I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or even more angry that she got the same response from the guy.  And even though I knew that I had paid my bill, Mr. Can’t-Speak-Proper-English-even-though-its-his-native-language from the Water Dept made me nervous.  When we got to the A&M meeting, I used some of the time that we had waiting in line for an application to log onto my water bill account.  Just in case.  Alas, it clearly showed that the Water Dept had mailed a bill on Feb 1st and received my payment on Feb 10th.  It showed a zero balance due and an “ACTIVE” status.  And yet, I had no water.

After the marathon meeting, I returned home and STILL NO WATER and me with even less patience than before.  I called my sister to ask her if I could come over to shower.  I was expecting our Regional Vice President at work the next day, and I really didn’t want to smell bad.  My mom got onto the phone and said, “Hey, don’t pay it.  I already took care of the past due balance.  It was a lot.”

Me: “What on earth are you talking about?  I don’t have a past due balance.”

Mom:  “That’s because I paid it.  They were here to cut off the water when I was home this morning.  I took the notice down to the city and paid it for you.”

Me: “Mom, there has been some sort of mix up.  How much did you pay and what did the notice say?”

Mom:  “I don’t remember, but I did notice that it had the wrong street after I paid it, so I went back in.”

Me:  “Okay, what did they say?  Do you have the receipt?”

Mom:  “I don’t remember.  I think something said one street and something else said another.  It’s all in my car.  I’ll bring it in when I come home.”

By now, I am livid.  I have realized that the city cut off the water at the wrong house and they are basically telling me that I’m screwed until the morning because they don’t leave their uneducated help-line employee with the tools to verify service.  He basically reads from a card that says, “Call Custom-ah Service ‘tween 8 ‘n 5.”  Click.

While waiting for mom to return, I started firing off emails to the Water Dept.  I’m afraid to go back and read them now, but I vaguely remember sarcasm and abrasive opinions.  Fun things like “not-so-help line” references and a list of my grievances over the inconvenience my bladder was experiencing over their incompetence because you know what happens as soon as you find out you have no water?  You have to pee and it’s all you can think about.

When Mom finally got home and presented me with the red door tag and payment receipt, I verified that, sure enough, they were at the wrong address AND she paid somebody else’s bill.  Someone that I was contemplating visiting in order to use her bathroom because she owed me by this point.

I took a deep breath and called the Wat-ah Dept back and after several, “No, that’s not my address” statements, I convinced Mr. Congeniality to come to my house and turn my water back on.  His parting farewell was that I would still have to call Customer Service between the hours of 8 and 5 to get my mom’s money back.

So I did. I was explaining the situation as the gentleman on the phone looked up my account.  He interrupted me, “Um, ma’am, I do not see a disconnect order on your account.  You are paid in full.”  Keep up, Dude.  I know that’s how things SHOULD be, but it’s not how they are.  He finally turned the page and caught up when I hit him with the fact that my mom had gone to the City and paid the other person’s bill.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

IF ONLY.

After a discussion with his supervisor, he said that I could bring the receipt back to the City and retrieve her check.

“No problem.  Just don’t read your email before I get there.”

 

[I need to add an aside.  In January, my ex rented a house TWO STREETS OVER.  On the street where the water SHOULD have been cut off.  Everyone’s first thought, including mine, was this was somehow a mix up with our last names or even possibly that he had used my account to set up the utilities on the account.  Stranger things have happened, but in this case, it was some other moron causing me grief.]

Speak Your Mind

*