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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Demise of the Service Man

I just had a knock on the door, a fairly rare event here. It was a tradesman from Hydro One, our electrical utility. He said he was here to install our "Smart Meter" and the power would be off for a few minutes while he did this. We apparently are among the first in the Province to have them installed, for reasons for which I have no understanding. Maybe there are a couple of rural areas they are testing their procedures.

In a year, when they are made operational, smart meters will allow the customer to pay for electricity usage at different rates at different times of the day. Later evening hours, night hours and weekends will have the lowest rates. Hydro One will be able to electronically read the meter which, or course, means we will no longer have a person stop by to personally read the meter periodically.

Both Hydro One and the customer will be able to realize a financial savings. The wise consumer will shift electrical usage to the off peak hours. Voluntarily, the wise consumer may shift such things as clothes washing and drying, baking, welding etc to hours where they get the lower rate.
The smart consumer may put timers on other high electric usage devices so they do not automatically come on during high rate hours. Hot water tanks, air conditioner, pool heaters, and even electrical heaters may be controlled so that only by over riding the timer will they operate.

The meters will also be good for the environment for they, in conjunction with wind generation of electricity, will allow Hydro One to continue to close down the coal fired generating stations in the Province.

I have digressed!

The service man at the door made me think that the meter reader may be the last service man to come to a residential home. When I was was a child there were many. We lived in a semi rural area, my mother was a stay at home mom and did not drive a car. Lonely you say! No! She could count on a parade of servicemen coming to the house; daily, weekly or monthy. There was a paper boy, of course, which some people may still see. The mail man came six days a week and for five of those days he came twice. (I think I am correct about this. If not my sister will let me know.) We had a milk man, twice a week. And a breadman, twice a week. The ice man delived ice once a week and just came right into the house and put it in the ice box, whether we were home or not. My mother's favourite was the egg man, Mr Parkinson who had a farm where Pearson International Airport is now. Monthly our hydro meter was read and a man came by to collect the fee for the life insurance policies my parents had on us, (three children). Occasionally, the coal man came and manually dumped bags of coal down the chute into our basement coal bin. I think that is the list. . . . .No, there are more. My mother had some Jehovah Witnesses and Mormon missionaries drop by. There were, also, an assortment of peddlers: vacuum cleaner salesmen, encyclopaedia salesmen, knife sharpeners and ice cream sellers (in the summer). And now they are no more.

My mother who was always very affable and ready for a cup of tea often invited her favourite tradesmen in for tea and cookies and conversation. She certainly never had an excuse to be lonely. Some of these tradesmen silently went about their task, others passed with a look of recognition, a smile and an hello. But many ,at one time or another, were welcomed into the house for a pleasant break with my mother over tea and biscuits.

How times have changed. We now live in times when people live isolated from one another. My mother's open and vulnerable life seems almost foolishly dangerous in our present day. We lived lives that were amazingly safe. I never remember a crime ever taking place in our neighbourhood. Our house was never locked, even when we went on vacation for a couple of weeks. Even today, I do not lock my house. ( Old habits die hard.) Ironically, I think part of the security of our neighbourhood when I was a child was the very presence of all the tradesmen. To be a tradesman who came to people's homes you had to be honest. Your job depended upon it. Also, these men were seen as part of the neighbourhood and saw what was going on , discouraging those who might be a problem, usually children up to some mischief. Those days are gone forever, sadly.

Say hello to your electrical meter reader the next time he drops by, for he many be the last of the tradesmen once so necessary in bringing services to our homes.


At 12:59 p.m., Blogger Peggy said...

Alas, our meter is read at the company now. Something about a computer doing the reading instead of our human meter reader. I have to make sure their reading is the same number as mine though cause I am not that trusting. I remember the trashman,milkman,Wakins salesman,Bible salesman,junkman that would haul away our junk for free. Oilman to bring oil for our furnace.And of course the weekly visits from area churches. They use to have what they called a visitation night and members of that church would go out into the community to visit and invite people to church. We went to church in another neighborhood so always had visitors on Thursday nights. LOL Thanks for bringing back memories.

At 5:00 p.m., Blogger possum said...

Hmmm, remembering... I loved to go visit one grandmother who had milk delivered in a horse drawn wagon... honest - as late as in the 50s. I LOVED that horse! We kids would accompany the wagon down the street and get to pet the long suffering horse when the milkman went up to the house. We had "insulated" milk boxes on the front step. Lord, I haven't thought about that for at least a century or two! LOL! Mrs, um... I forget her name... used to come out with a special dust pan and broom and clean up after the horse - and she had the prettiest rose bushes! She always gave the horse credit!
Now, we could have mail delivery, but it is not safe, we have a meter reader from the power company - a very nice young woman who always speaks, even to the cat - there's a man who delivers the oil, he is a sweetheart...
We used to have a fish man - he would drive thru town in the early afternoon and bang on a pipe on the side of his truck. He took orders and stopped at those houses, but if you hadn't ordered anything (which he might have caught or not) you could run out and buy it off his truck.
In the spring of the year, there are men who slowly drive by looking for people out in their yards - they pull in your driveway with their trucks loaded with beautiful azaleas, mostly, and try to talk you into buying them. Obviously, I have been a willing client of a few of those fellows.

I think the Jehovah Witnesses have given up on me as I demand equal time if they come in during which I talk about Buddhism!!!

At 9:05 p.m., Blogger John and Carol said...

Your post brings to mind the mix-up we had because we didn't really understand the Canadian way of describing things. We checked into a Provincial Park in Ontario and chose a "hydro" site with electricity. As residents of the US, we thought "hydro" meant water, so we drove to the site, parked, hooked up to the electric, then looked for the water hookup. That is when we learned you folks mean hydro-electric when you say hydro, no water and electricity. We spent two days hauling water in jugs to our RV. But it was a great park, anyway.

At 10:49 a.m., Blogger KGMom said...

An interesting perusal of how times have changed.
If one goes back even further, delivery folk went all about on horse drawn cart.
My grandfather, who grew up in Stevensville, ON, delivered eggs, butter and milk around the area.

At 3:54 p.m., Blogger amelia said...

The meter readers won't come to our house because of our dogs so we have to send our reading in online once a month. It's very easy and no trouble at all to do.

We had all the delivery men in England but I've never seen any here. I guess I wasn't here early enough!!

At 12:28 p.m., Blogger Janet said...

The power company installed one of those digitized meters that gets read at the office about 3 years ago. I would welcome a smart meter such as you describe.
We never had too many of those kinds of deliveries - just the newspaper.
But the Jehovah's Witnesses have been up the hill twice since we've lived here. I let them in just because they met the challenge of our driveway. Of course, then they get in and discover all our books on various religious topics and when I start talking to them they realize I'm not an ignorant hick in the hills. They can't get out fast enough.


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