October 2, 1997

Meter Readers

“Your mother wears combat boots.”

“Your sister has a mustache.”

“Your meter reader uses binoculars.”

What? Binoculars?

Yes. I was shocked. I love meter readers. Some of my best friends are meter readers. (not true) One of my favorite legal clients was a meter reader. (True.)

I have been fascinated with these guys (they are always male) since I was little. My mother would let these strangers into our house to read the gas, water and electric meters. I knew that you were not even supposed to talk to strangers, but these people would show up in a uniform and my mother would let them in. A fictitious uniform would not be hard to come by.

But then I got big and I had my own house. I let them in too. My kids were always asking who they were, but I knew they were safe. They were the exception to the rule about strangers. These were special, safe people with whom I felt connection.

Times change and the good old days are just not the good old days any more. I know that they have technology now so that they can read the meter from the street in some places. But I mourn the guy on foot. He was my friend whether he knew it or not.

The other day a car pulled over to the side of the street in front of my house and the driver was looking at my house -- through binoculars! He was reading the gas meter. If I had little kids, I would have dragged them back into the house. Who trusts a guy with binoculars? Anyone can buy a uniform.

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