My Thermostat

anonymous-room-thermometer-celsius-800pxStrange things happen around here.

Some can be explained, others not – but all too often the explanations are stranger than the events.

Take our thermostat.

After we moved into our new house, my wife and I began squabbling over the room temperature. In the winter, it was too cold and in the summer too hot.

I accused her of fiddling with the thermostat and of course she denied it. Then she had the gall to accuse me of doing the same.

“Thermostats don’t set themselves,” I told her, only to hear the same words tossed back against me a week later.

Then one day while going through the bills, she had an epiphany.

“Look at this,” she said, handing me the quarterly water-softener bill.

“What?” I asked.

“Right there,” she said, pointing to a line midway down the page. It read: adjusted thermostat.

Since we rent the softener, I called the company who owns it. “What is this item labeled adjusted thermostat on my bill?”

“Let me check,” the voice on the other end of the line said.

A moment later, she came back. “That,” she said, “is ServicePlus.”

“What is ServicePlus? And did we order it?”

“You don’t order ServicePlus, it is just something that we provide.”

“And charge for,” I said.

She didn’t respond.

“You are a water-softener company. What are you doing changing people’s thermostats?”

You know how it is when someone listens to you but not does hear you? That’s what this was.  Living down here, I get that a lot.   I am a stranger in a strange land and all too often there are things that are understood that I simply do not understand and try as I might, I cannot alter the trajectory of local culture.  It will always prevail.

“We find that many of our customers are careless about setting their thermostats.  We care even if they do not. It is why we call it ServicePlus.”

“How often is this done?”

“Caleb comes out once a month,” she said.

I had the phone on speaker and my wife began to nod knowingly.  “Caleb O’Leary,” she half whispered.

“You know this guy?”

Of course she did.  Everyone knows everyone around here – but me.

“He’s a little odd,” she said, “but really sweet.”

Still, I wanted to get to the bottom of it.  “When was the last time he was here?”

I could hear fingernails clicking against the keyboard on the other end of the line.

“He was at your house on the 13th of last month.”

“I don’t remember an appointment on that date.”

“With ServicePlus, no appointment is necessary.”

“So how did Caleb get in?”

The question confused her for a minute. “Oh,” she said, “you are the guy who locks his doors.”

I am. It is a city habit I have retained.

“So how did he get in?” I repeated.

My wife, who continued to pay bills, paused for a moment then reached over to another pile of papers and shuffled through them.

“Ah, here it is,” she said, underlining an item on the water-softener bill and handing it to me.

ServicePlue Oct 6: Locksmith.

Author: Almost Iowa

34 thoughts on “My Thermostat”

  1. Your posts are usually funny, but I laughed out loud at that last line! And, as is also usual with your posts, there’s a bit of familiar truth in this story, as anyone who has talked to a customer service representative knows all too well.

  2. I understand that the new fangled houses have thermostats that re-set themselves. I also understand there are computer hackers out there that do tricks just for laugh like move your car when your not looking. So if you wake up and find your car floating in the swimming pool behind your house, you’ll know what happened.

  3. Soon, automation will take over. The “smart” thermostat adjuster will be implanted into your house without your knowledge, Caleb no longer will be necessary, and Big Brother will become a first cousin to the Soup Nazi: “No thermostat adjusting for you!”

    1. Our last house had a smart water heater. The co-op would duty cycle it during peak times. It actually worked fairly well. Most people are unaware that information can be sent through electrical lines, it is how the co-op broadcast instructions to the smart meter system.

  4. When I saw the title I knew right away this was gonna be a good-un. It took a twist that I could never have imagined: “You are a water-softener company. What are you doing changing people’s thermostats?” But I was right. It’s a good-un.

  5. Maybe it’s the thermostat on the hot water heater. But still, having someone break into your house to change it and then charge you for it? That’s nuts.

    Or maybe it’s just where irrationality trumps reason.

  6. My wife would hunt these people down and Caleb would be pushing up daisies. I sometimes bump the thermostat. I’m quick to announce “I think I bumped the thermostat. Not trying to change anything, accidental encounter.” I get growled at, but I’m alive to tell the tale.”

    1. I have found that “Oh, I know who that is” pretty much allows anything. On the other hand, “and you know WHO that is” pretty much condemns them to hell and back when I worked with the state’s criminal databases, there was another one, “you need to look into who they are.”

  7. We don’t have a water softener but we do have a thermostat that “someone” keeps changing. Maybe I should read our other bills more carefully. Or take it up with “someone.”

    1. Our water flows from a source that even Merlin would fear. We let the softener run out of salt once and our water turned blood red. It is all the iron and mineral that the glaciers scrapped up and dumped down here.

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