My Least Favorite Job: Gas Meter Reader

I’ve had a number of jobs over the years, but as I look back on all of them, one rises to the top of the “Least Favorite” list: Gas Meter Reader. I had that job for a couple of years in college, and it was officially No Fun.

I could see some people liking it. You got to be outdoors every day. You did a lot of walking, which could be great for your health. You got to be on your own for long periods of time. And for the first while, it had some perks with how they paid you. They paid by the “book,” which meant that each neighborhood was divided into sections that supposedly would take a certain amount of time to complete. 8 hours or 5 hours. And when you were done reading that book, you were paid for those hours. There was one 5 hour book that took me about an hour to read, typically. Getting paid for 5 hours of work when I only actually worked 1?

That made up for a lot of the down sides.

The job was quite straightforward. You’d get that book and go to the neighborhood. Get out of your car and start walking. Each house had an address and a location, and you had to find the meter and write down the current reading. Sometimes the meters would be buried in bushes. Sometimes they’d be behind locked fences. Sometimes the book would proceed in a logical order (up one side of the street, down the other). Sometimes it wouldn’t (houses randomly scattered throughout the book). I’d carry a small pair of binoculars with me, and that helped for some meters, though I got pretty good at reading a meter from a ways away.

Condominiums were better than neighborhoods. The meters were clumped closely together. Rich neighborhoods were worse than normal neighborhoods. Huge houses meant spread out meters, and you never knew where exactly the meter was on the house. Really rural areas were bad, as there were huge dead zones of walking with no meters to read at all.

But meter reading had a lot more against it, too. For one thing, you had to be out in the weather, no matter what it was. Reading meters when it was pouring rain? Not fun. Reading meters after it had just snowed a foot and a half? Not fun. For a guy who hates being wet, is it any wonder I wouldn’t like those aspects to the job? Beyond that, there were the dogs that would attack you everywhere you went. You could never tell if a dog was going to be friendly or not until it was rushing you, and all you had to protect yourself was a metal clipboard.

I love dogs and snow, and my years reading meters made me dislike both. How crummy is that?

So this morning, as I was snow blowing my driveway, I was thinking about all the people on Facebook who had been complaining about more snow, and about how I still enjoyed it so much. I look forward to big storms. I want to get buried. I think it’s fun and exciting. (If I didn’t have a good snow blower, that might be different. A few weeks ago ours almost broke right before a series of huge storms. That was a bad feeling.)

But there was definitely a time when I didn’t love snow. And I for one am very glad to be back in a job where I can once again look forward to snow in the forecast.

We got more than a foot and a half of snow last night, and it was great. šŸ™‚

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