Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

When Gas Is Better Than Water.

Two weeks ago, a couple of guys from the water board chapped my door and asked me to check if my cold water was running.

There has been an issue with the pressure in my tenement, and they were trying to ascertain – not for the first time – if the boundary stopcock outside the close entrance was affecting supply when they turned it. On that occasion, it was not. I still had water coming from my taps – in truth, the best place to have water coming from when it is in your home.

The guys thanked me and, as I left some minutes later to go about my day’s business, I passed them spraypainting around the metal plate on the ground outside. I thought no more about it.

On the other side of the street, a digging crew has appeared recently and begun laying a new gas main. I surmise it to be a gas job on account of the size and length of trench they have dug, and due to the large yellow plastic piping that is on site. Their workspace is cordoned off using orange and white striped barriers. Last week, an unmarked white works van pulled up outside my front window and offloaded half a dozen blue plastic barriers and a couple of temporary traffic signs. I was curious to know what was going on, having received no notification of work to be carried out in the vicinity.

I presumed it to be preparation by Scottish Water, given that they had marked the ground, due to the different type of barrier and the quantity left, and because the crew working over the road are – well, working over the road. It made no sense for them to mark out a second site while tied up with the first, the replacement of the main clearly some way from being completed.

If water maintenance was required, it would mean erecting barriers that would severely impede access into this building. If I was also going to lose my supply, I would like to know when and for how long, which I do not think is an unreasonable request. Shortly after the equipment was delivered, I called Scottish Water.

“Are you about to dig up the pavement right outside the front door?”

The girl checked her computer. “No, the only work in that street is for gas. Phone the Scottish Gas Network.”

I thanked her and called them.

“Are you about to dig up the pavement right outside the front door?”

“No, that’s not us, we’re working over the road. Try Scottish Water.”

I called Scottish Water a second time. I explained, again, why I initially thought it was them and why my call to the Gas Network confirmed my suspicions. The girl this time checked another system available to her.

“Oh yeah, it is us.”

“Am I going to lose my water supply, and if so, when?”

“We usually put letters through before we start work.”

“And you usually don’t drop barriers at a site until you’re ready to start work.”

“I’ll see if someone can phone you back.”

“Try that, but I’m not convinced they’ll be able to work the buttons.”

I posted the above summation of two hours of conversations onto social media. A friend revealed she works for the water company, and informed me that these days many works can be done without switching the water off. When I gave her more detail she provided an in-depth explanation. I was grateful for that, because Scottish Water never did return my call. The pavement was dug up the next day, after I had gone out, the disruption not affecting me personally as the job was done by the time I came home. Considering they were replacing a communication pipe, their own communication was sorely lacking.

Full credit to the Scottish Gas Network though. They had an engineer contact me promptly, from an unblocked mobile number, to say that the barriers were not theirs but that they would be working on my side of the street at a later date. On my side it will only be a partial replacement, and he did not have details to hand about whether that will involve loss of service. As promised, he did then check the blueprints the next morning and left me a voicemail (and his direct contact number to field any questions) to say that this future work will not involve my tenement or the two east of it.

It is not difficult, in this technological age, to share information effectively or communicate easily. Too many large corporations have yet to master it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 responses

  1. Hi Jordan – we’re pleased that you didn’t have an irrational encounter with Scotland Gas Networks. Thank you for your nice comments. Don’t suppose you can remember the name of our engineer you spoke to, so we can let him know he’s had a good review?

    April 2, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    • I checked the voicemail just now, but can’t make out his name. Surname might be Sweeney but I couldn’t be certain. Still got the mobile number in my call history, I’ll DM you it on Twitter.

      April 2, 2014 at 4:07 pm

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