My two years of Latin have served me well. Three years of Japanese lessons taught me many things, one of which is a person needs more than three years of Japanese lessons to be conversant. Owing much to the tolerance of the French people, three months of intense study of their language allowed me to get around France with no trouble at all. Yo Hablo Español enough to ask for a weight belt when I go scuba diving in Mexico. What I cannot understand is my electric bill.
My electric bill contains a great deal of information, some of which I am sure is very important to me. I am always interested to see how many kilowatt hours of electricity have coursed through the circuits in my house. This knowledge is available by looking at the electric meter. Our electric meter has about forty little dials, each with a pointer that spins around gaily as we use power. Some days (the days when we are not home and the hot water heater has been disabled) the pointer spins slowly. Some days (the days on which we are foolish enough to, say, make toast) the pointer is a blur. Given that in the winter we have to put a shimmy dampener on the meter, I don’t even try to read it then. I can’t count that high anyway.
But the meter reading is just the tip of the iceberg that is currently growing in my back yard in that troublesome low wet spot. Once the electric company knows my kilowatt hour usage, it begins to work its magic upon that number. Firstly, the number is subjected to a multiplier. Ha ha. This is a little electric company humor. Of course they are going to multiply the number. This makes the number bigger as you will recall from your first grade times tables. Do you actually think the electric company was going to divide the number and thus make it smaller? If you do, you have worse problems than an undecipherable electric bill.
Next comes an energy charge. This is the charge for energy. I think. Then there is a fuel charge. I am going out on a limb here to guess this is the charge for fuel. I don’t know if the electric company makes energy from the fuel or makes fuel from the energy or fuels the energy or energizes the fuel. All I know is I get to pay for both.
Once it has been established that I did, indeed, use electricity the electric company takes great pains to point out that the enormous amount owed is not the result of corporate greed. No, much of the bill is due to a delivery charge. Having a separate electric delivery charge is very much like the airlines charging for taking your luggage along with you. “Oh…you are going on a two week vacation and would like to bring along a change of clothes? It never occurred to us that you do not want to spend the next fourteen days in the wrinkled clothes you have on that are festooned with spit-up from the baby in the adjoining seat. Therefore, we are going to have to charge you extra to put your suitcase on (maybe) the same airplane. P.S. your clothes are wrinkled because there is barely room for clothes in our miniature seats. ” In the same vein, the electric company says, “You want power? We are happy to supply you with power. For a price, of course. What’s that you say? You want the power in your house? Oh well then, we are going to have to charge you extra to deliver the power there. We are assuming you do not wish to come to the power store and pick up a few cases of kilowatts on your way home from work.”
To fill up space on the sheet of paper, there are many fascinating charts and graphs that tell me how this month’s usage compares to last month’s and the month before that, etc., etc., etc. The graphs go back a full year. Our bill used to be boring black and white but now the graphs are printed in color. And they’ve gotten much larger. About the next thing I expect to see on my electric bill is a charge for all that ink. Plus delivery.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.