Tuesday, October 25, 2005

City Workers= Urban Legends

Everyone has heard stories about the incompetence of government employees, today I had the opportunity to experience it first hand. How bad was my experience?? There is a postal worker somewhere who will read this and laugh. Somewhere a telephone company employee will read this and ask "What does he mean?"

We needed to have a pressure valve installed on our water line at the restaurant requiring that the water be shut off so the plunbers could do the job. A representative of Greensboro Water Resources showed up at 2:30 to cut off the water. I had him wait until the plumbers arrived and were ready to start work. At 2:45 all the pieces fell into place, the water was shut off and the plumbers started work. The city rep told them that he had to head back to the shop because he was going to be getting off work soon. He told the plumbers to call when they were finished so they could get the water turned back on.

At around 3:35 the plumbers finished work. I went in and called the Water Resources Department. They told me that they would send someone out to turn the water on. I left the restaurant and headed home. At about 4:20 Josh (Manager) called just to make sure that I had called Water Resources. I assured him that I had called them and someone was on the way. Around 4:50 he called me to let me know that Water Resources had arrived, BUT the serviceman did not have the correct wrench to turn on the water. It seems that in all of Greensboro, there is but one wrench that will turn our water off and on. And that wrench was on another truck several miles away. So the Water Resources rep headed off to get the wrench from the other truck. Around 5:30 I called to see if the water was back on at the restaurant. Bad move! It was not on and the Water Resources truck was not back yet. I called the folks at Water Resources, waited while they consulted a supervisor, and was informed that the serviceman had just arrived at the restaurant. I called the restaurant to verify this and waited on the phone to make sure that the water was actually running.

What lessons have I learned from this experience? Why pay the water bill? What are the chances that they can both find the wrench and a serviceman to cut off the water for nonpayment? Is there really only ONE wrench in a city this size that can cut off the water? What happens if they lose it? What if it breaks? How fast do city workers drive? Let's see now, 3:45, leave city yard for restaurant, drive 7 miles, arrive at restaurant 50 minutes later. Leave restaurant at 4:45, drive 5 miles to other truck, get wrench, drive 5 miles back to restaurant, arrive at 5:40. Travel 17 miles in 2 hours, there are joggers that could do that! The Water Resources folks were smart enough to send someone out with the correct wrench to turn the water off, but couldn't hit for the cycle by sending someone out with the correct wrench to turn it back on. Next time, we will just close the restaurant at 2:30 for the evening and not worry about it.


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