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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Why You Should Pay Your Bills

So this story starts with a shameful admission. I've become bad at paying bills. I used to be great at it, now not so much. I think it's related, in part, to moving in with Beth, who likes to keep things neat whereas I like to keep all my papers in piles, everywhere. No matter, it would be unfair to accuse her of being responsible for my inability to pay bills.

Usually this doesn't amount to much, but on Thursday, my wife came home to find out that our gas had been turned off. OK, no big deal. So Friday morning, I walk over to the gas company office, (which, conveniently, is directly across the street from my office) and paid the bill. A subsequent phone call to the office was all I needed to arrange to have the gas turned back on, but nobody would come by until Monday. So I showered that morning in the office (which is not as bad an experience as you might expect) and figured I'd get by for the rest of the weekend. Beth was happy with this, it meant we had no reason to eat at home. All our meals would be out. She was unhappy with not having hot water for tea. We couldn't figure out how to get past that. See, we don't own a microwave. I suggested to Beth that maybe it would be OK if we put a mug of water in the toaster oven, but that was met with a ridiculous look.

The problem, though, was that we had a house guest that night. So I called her and told her, "Hey, you can stay over, but uh ... see ... we have no hot water. So no shower." Our guest was unfazed: "No problem! I'll still visit and shower when I go home on Saturday." OK, that worked. Saturday morning, we actually went swimming, and there was a shower at the pool. So OK so far. However, last minute, we had a young man stay with us Saturday and Sunday night.

We checked the faucets. There was still some hot water. Great, the tank hadn't emptied, and fortunately remained warm. We told our second guest, "you use the shower, but not too much, make sure there's some water left for Sunday." We rinsed dishes in cold water and piled them up in the sink for a proper washing on Monday.

Our guest had enough hot water for a shower Saturday night and even for Sunday morning!

Monday morning, I stayed home to wait for the gas company engineer to turn on the gas and relight the pilots. It's an understatement to say that I was ready for a shower. Around 10:30, he shows up and asks me which appliances he needs to address. "The stove, the dryer, the hot water heater ..." and so on. He wanders around the house a bit to start on the appliances, comes back and says, "You do realize your hot water heater runs on electricity, right?"

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