NEW: I figured out how to use Storify. Here's a collection of all the tweets from this tweet-a-long, for easier reading.
For this week's Tweet-A-Long: A day in the life of a water meter reader. Everyone, meet Chris Holbert:
Let's get this out of the way first: No, Holbert doesn't use a scooter to help him get around to the water meters.
Apparently it's a thing. I've never heard of it. But Holbert clearly gets that question a lot, and I did, too, on Twitter Wednesday morning.
"Yes, OK, look," he said, sighing a little. "We can use them. But I can't keep my girlish figure by using them. Plus, I walk faster."
|Here's what the scooters look like.|
Holbert has made a name for himself as a speedy water meter reader in his two years with the department. He's been assigned some of the largest routes, both in area and in number of meters. Montara, for example, has about 980 meters. He knocks those out in four hours. And Oakland has about 843 meters. That takes him five hours. Others in the department need about nine hours, he said.
Holbert walks the streets of Topeka every weekday, starting at 7 a.m. He said he even knows more about the streets than Google (Google: You've officially been called out.) It can become monotonous, so he tries to make it fun. If he's done a route before, he tries to beat his time. And he interacts with people, usually retired people gardening and children. He has two boys of his own.
Holbert has experienced some racism from residents and has been chased by more than a few dogs.
|Comic brought to you by Capital-Journal reporter Tim Hrenchir. Holbert laughed out loud.|
But, he said, "there's more good than bad."
"I love talking to people," Holbert said. "If people are outside, they talk to me. I really love this job. I'm a hands-on guy. Everything about this job is hands on. That's the best thing about it."
How it works: Holbert uses a Trimble to pick up radio signals from the registers that monitor how much water is used. It can pick up some remotely, like this one:
|Trimble on the left. Meter "box" on the right. White circle sends a remote signal.|
Once it's found, Holbert pushes the wand onto the nipple (yes, I promise that's what it's called) to pick up the signal:
|Meet nipple (smaller circle in the upper left of the photo)|
|This is a register|
The water meter reading division handles everything in that "box," from shutting off and turning on water to repairing meters and verifying whether people are stealing water -- these will be on future #topekatweetalongs, for sure. Holbert went into detail on some of the creative ways people use to steal water from the City. It's impressive.