Sunday, May 05, 2013

not a drop to drink

i've had a little dry spell when it comes to posting lately, but work has come to the rescue once again. 

as i've said before, we answer for a wide variety of businesses. 

craving hibachi? i can make you a reservation if you live in one of three southeastern cities. 

looking to cash in on a disability claim? i can get your information to one of several lawyers in our area. 

member of the houston media, looking to do a story at one of the local airports? you'll probably be calling me to get clearance. 

a neighbor of my dad's down in florida with a major leak in your roof? as long as your abode is still under warranty, i can probably get someone out there to take a look at it. 

need to have a tree taken down? i'm on it. (should you need to get a cat out of it, though, you're probably on your own, as we don't have any special connection to the fire department. however, if the cat hurts itself coming out of the tree on its own, i can summon a vet for you.) get the idea. 

one of our bigger accounts is the local water department. we function as their after hours emergency line, and i wind up fielding a few calls about broken water mains and sewage backups, and an awful lot of calls (especially on friday nights) from folks wigging out about whether or not their water will be turned back on that evening. 

i see these calls as "patience endurance tests". after being told that their water should be on at midnight, they will call in at 11:30, demanding to know why nothing's coming out of their faucets.  then, when i tell them to be patient, invariably i will get to hear about how this qualifies as an urgent emergency, as they have (at least) three children, an elderly person, and a thirsty llama in the home* and there is no way they can go without water. 

here's where my patience gets tested: i have to try to calmly explain that i am not allowed to page the on call provider to have water turned on- only off- and when they counter with their tales of desperation and woe, i have to refrain from pointing out that the entire crisis (parched llama and all) could have been averted if they'd just paid the bill on time. 

anyway, now that i've laid that foundation, i can tell you about this evening's unusual situation involving the water department. 

shortly after arriving at work this evening, i fielded a call from a gentleman who'd just returned from a multi-day business trip and found he was without water. he was unsure of the reason behind this, as his bill just came due yesterday (the 4th). he lives in an apartment building, so i asked if any of his neighbors had had any issues. understandably, he did not wish to run around knocking on their doors after 11pm. i asked him to look outside and see if there were any huge puddles or other signs of a leak or broken main, but he said it was raining and therefore, could not tell. i contacted the on call water maintenance technician and inquired as to whether he'd heard of any broken mains. no such luck. out of options, i told the caller i'd enter in a message ticket on the city's website so the matter could be looked into when the office opened monday and suggested he speak with his neighbors and/or landlord about the matter tomorrow to see if it was a localized problem or a buildingwide issue. 

after about fifteen minutes, he finally hung up. 

thirty seconds later, the phone rang again. 

apparently, we answer for the company that owns his building, as well. 

i got to hear all about his call to the city water department (i got neither praise nor complaint), and despite assuring him that i was familiar with his problem, i don't think he'd realized that we'd already spent a magical quarter of an hour on the phone together. after taking down all of his details (for a second time, i might add), i put him on hold and dialed the emergency contact for the owner of the building. 

there was a slight delay in connecting the call, as it took her a few moments to contain her laughter after i explained the coincidence. 

hopefully, his water will be fixed and all will be right with his world again by lunchtime. otherwise, might i suggest he go out for lunch at a local hibachi place? i can suggest a few with fabulous restrooms. heck, i'll even be happy to take down his reservation. 

*i might be exaggerating about the llama. i don't think they're allowed within city limits.