Brrrrrrr…Mommy, I’m freezing!

It’s been almost a year since my last rant on this site, so I figure I’m due for another. No, actually, circumstances which happened yesterday are the reason for this ranting post, not because I feel I must portray some level of angst to my gentle readers at least once a year!

For those of you who reside in Dallas, you know that it snowed here yesterday. The children and I returned home from school around 3pm and while they ate their afternoon snacks we enjoyed watching the pretty flakes through our breakfast room windows. It was really lovely. And cozy inside…for a little while.

I was in the midst of slapping 7 different paint colors up on various walls of the home (in the “pick and choose colors” phase of our painting) and given the running back and forth and all, I must have stayed warmer than the kids who all began to complain that they were very cold. The baby, who always feels the need to take off his socks (the better to enjoy his cute, chubby toes) had feet that felt like ice. So, I looked at the thermostat, which though set to a temperature of around 68 degrees had fallen to 63. Not good.

I called Jay, double-checking that this was indeed bad news (duh?) and began to analyze the situation. Not knowing how to check the pilot light, I ran some water in the kitchen, and determined that not only was the heat off, but our hot water was gone too. So…with a sinking feeling I called our local gas supplier and asked to check on our account. And guess what they told me??

“Um, Ma’am, yes, well, it looks like…..the service to that residence was shut off today.”

Fighting the urge to use some not-so-ladylike language, I inquired why today of all days, in the midst of a snowstorm no less, they felt the urge to cut off our gas service? And oh, by the way, did I mention I have four little kids, one of whom is a baby, for crying out loud? (quite literally?)

After searching through her records she calmly told me (with no apology, I might add), “Oh, well it looks like it was our error. Yeah, I see where you set up your automatic bank draft and then called twice to verify payment was going through. But then somehow we never cleared the last month’s balance on the account, and set you up for discontinuation of service.”

She then proceeded to tell me they’d put in a request to get the heat back on the next day for sure. At which point I got rather testy with her, and asked her how the company manages to stay in business when they go around shutting off innocent people’s power in the dead of winter, etc etc. I even used the word “incredulous”…thank you very much. I don’t know that she knew what that meant. But I insisted they send someone that very night to turn our heat back on, mentioned the freezing children again, blah, blah, blah.

And after being told that someone would come at some point that night (meaning either pm or am, depending on how many other customers they’d surprised by cutting off heat that day, I guess) I got off the phone, feeling very frustrated. Jay and I bundled up the kids and we ate supper. After supper the four of them snuggled together on the couch, under a big blanket. It was a particularly sweet moment: Jonathan read aloud from some picture books while Abigail on one side held Baby Josiah, and Nicolas on the other leaned on his big brother’s shoulder and enjoyed the stories.

Thankfully, we have space heaters so all the kids went to bed in warm, toasty rooms. While Jay and I waited for the man to show up who would restore heat to our home, Jay decided he’d had enough of parking in the driveway and that this was the opportune time to go out into the cold garage and finally make a space for his car alongside mine. So, for the next three hours he cleared stuff away, moved boxes and paraphernalia, and found places for much of what had still lingered in the second space in the garage. And of course, he managed to organize more hanging space both in the garage and our outdoor shed in the process. Nicely done! By 10:45pm his car was inside the garage but the gas man still had not showed his face.

So we sat down under another blanket to watch some TV while we waited. And, just as our show finished, just before the stroke of midnight, the Atmos Energy White Knight rode up our front walk…he restored power, apologized for the inconvenience, using a lot of that unladylike language I mentioned earlier (but not in my presence at least!) and we were left to slowly thaw ourselves out. We were immensely thankful we didn’t have to stay up any later than we did, and that by next morning, the house was cozily warm again, and there was hot water coming out of our faucets. Yay!

I did make a call to the Gas company just a little while ago, in hopes of receiving some sort of monetary recompense for their error and subsequent mistake in shutting off our heat, especially given the time of year. I told our sad story, reminding them of our spotless payment record and inserted plenty of descriptions of my poor little cold babies in the midst of the snowstorm. But despite conversations with people at three different levels of command, whenever I’d ask for some sort of good faith credit toward our account, the best they could tell me was “Well, Ma’am, we didn’t charge you anything for the late night service call we made to your home to reconnect your gas!” As if I was then supposed to gush at them with thanks for such nobility on their part. And be happy that I am a faithful customer of the oh, so generous Atmos Energy. How utterly appalling and disapointing. Rest assured, dear readers, if you’ve made it this far, I am STILL incredulous!

4 Comments

  1. Uncle Andrew
    Feb 3, 2007

    This same exact thing happened with our electricity at our last apartment in Richardson; one day I was on the computer and EVERYTHING turned off. I called many times to get a good-faith credit as well, but was met with similar responses, and promptly changed service to a different, more expensive, provider just to make a point.

    And believe it or not, just last month my bank did the same thing on our car loan payment; I have to call tomorrow as they have just debited this month’s payment, but took an extra $25 late fee.

    Not so convenient at all, is it?

  2. CuzNuz Ruth
    Feb 3, 2007

    Brrr. How awful. Sounds like a lot of carelessness that no one wants to take responsibility for.

  3. Peter Brunone
    Feb 5, 2007

    Wow; that’s competence for ya.

    I’m glad you had the space heaters, and thanks for the sweet mental picture of all the Horne kids spending time together.

  4. jennifer
    Feb 6, 2007

    Mom mentioned this to me the other day when she called me and I told her that our furnace had stopped working and we were without heat for 3 days, with Mark out of town for 2 of them. Of course, our situation was not the fault of the gas company–only deteriorating hoses on our furnace (which, btw, had been given a clean bill of health by the furnace company when we moved in last year!). Anyway, I am glad you all got your heat back. We were sure glad when ours was restored last night.