Thursday, May 7, 2015

Meter reading challenge

Part of my job is the monthly utility meter reads for our mobile home park. Gas, electric, and some water meters. 171 spaces. Bending, squatting, twisting to get down to their level and orientation. Write them all down. Some gates and excited dogs. It takes 6-7 hours and is about 3 miles of walking. Rain or shine. Heat or cold.

Meters are supposed to be changed out every 10 years or so, but we have many older meters still. In fact, about 2/3 of the electric meters are old analog dial meters.

I thought I'd challenge you to read a couple. Are you up to it?

meter dial
What does this dial read?
Ok, here's something you need to keep in mind. Each dial is a gear touching the next one. So every other dial goes in a reverse direction. That's you first hint. Now, can you read the dial? Go ahead. Try. I dare you.

I'll wait....

Hint number 2: In order to read this correctly you must read from right-to-left and remember to carry or not, just like a math problem. Then reverse the numbers.

Go back. Try again...

Unless you have experience with these, you likely have two different numbers. And you may not have it correct yet.

Confused? Try it with me. From the right. The right-most is zero (0). Since it is zero, the next one to the left is exactly what it appears, or 9. So far so good? Since the last one was 9, the next one on the left isn't quite to the next number. So even though the third from the right appears to be an 8, it is really a 7. Again, since it is a 7 the next one to the left hasn't reached the next number, it looks like a zero (really 10) but it's not yet, so 9. Again the same with the left-most dial. Even though it looks like it should be a 1, since the previous was a 9, this dial has not yet reached the new number. It is a zero (0) not a 1. That is, from right to left, 0-9-7-9-0. Now reverse it. Got it? 09790. Oh, a palindrome--how wonderfully confusing!

Wanna try another?

Go ahead. Consider this your job interview for being a meter reader!

If you don't get it right you can say, "Whatever. I wasn't really interested anyway." If I don't get it right someone comes to me with their $7514.27 electric bill and says, "Whatever." Right?

meter dial
What does this electric meter read?
Leave your answer in the comments section!