NStar: They mean BUSINESS

Yesterday they shut off our gas. I always wondered what it takes to have your utilities cut off, and now I know. It takes noncompliance, in any form.

We pay our bills in full every month. We anted up all winter long when heating prices were through the roof. Every account that we have with NStar is in perfect standing.

But our meter needed to be exchanged. Now, given the fact that J and I have a cleaning lady because we are seriously two single women who are so busy we are quite literally never at home, trying to find a 4-hour block during the workday when one of us could sit around and wait for the NStar meter person was not going to happen. I told them as much a few times, and requested an alternate time for an appointment. They in turn requested that one of us rearrange our work schedule. Which this summer just isn't possible given all of the unexpected business that has kept one or both of out of town. We'd already stretched our respective job flexibilities so much they were about to snap. So we went back and forth and back and forth with the customer service reps.

And yesterday, they came by while we were gone and replaced our old meter with a new one. Which sounded great to me. Except that they couldn't, by law, turn the new meter on without one of us present. Which they failed to mention in the little note they pinned to our doorknob.

So it took me a while to put two and two together and figure out why we had no hot water, and then eventually no functioning burners on the stove. I was in denial that someone like me could be cut off by the utility company. Not only am I firmly rooted in the sort of stable middle-class cohort that doesn't really have issues with 'the system', I also am so fastidious when it comes to bill-paying that other people make fun of me. A lot. I pay bills before the electronic notification makes its way to my inbox. I never miss a payment on anything. I'm a model customer and tenant.

But NStar had gotten fed up, and they took action. Which I can respect, except that I was on the other end of the action so instead it pisses me off. They came at around 10pm last night and activated our new meter. The guy who knocked on the door smirked as we shared our shocked indignation with him. He shrugged as he headed to the basement. "You can't ignore notices from the utility company."

Ahhhh. The lesson.