Good ol Boys Alive and Well in the Ojai

Alternate title: Sexism and Scapegoating for Managers

On a regular basis, the meter reader from the Meiners Oaks Water District pounds on our door and incites household panic by claiming that we have a leak. On more than one occasion, I have called plumbers and leak detectors to help resolve the problem only to find out that there is no leak. This happened last month again, but this time there was a new twist: we received a water bill for $7500.

I have a very nice veggie garden, but it doesn't drink that much thank you.

To make a long and painful story short, we eventually determined the reading was in error and reported our findings to MO Water. When we called to inform them they simply said "yes, we know". Someone there had eventually caught the error and even mailed me a hand-written, but unsigned, note with an apology and the corrected amount.

This was, of course, after we hired two different plumbers to come out and find the leak, or the lack there of.

This insanity seemed behind us until last Friday, when a newly hired meter reader person came barreling down my driveway in his little truck to claim we had a leak.

At that moment, I decided it was time to ask the management at MO Water for some help.

Mike Hollebrands is listed as 'Genral Manager' on their website. I made an appointment to meet with him to discuss finding ways to reduce the number of misreads and help his staff work in a less reactive and more professional manner.

Mike immediately apologized for the recent billing error and said it was the fault of "the girls in the front office".

I pointed out that the error was clearly made by the person who read the meter and came to our door to bawl us out. I also pointed out what bad form it is for a manager to blame it on their staff and how doubly inappropriate it is to say "the girls".

Mike went on to clarify and explain that it was "the girls" job to double check the figures reported by the meter reader, who Mike referred to as "the gentleman" and "the guy".

Nice! I'm betting the note was sent by one of the women in the front office, who actually did catch the error. Thank you.

I left feeling like I had just met one of the Ojai's "good ol boys".

Blaming "the girls" is unacceptable.

It's sexist.

It's past time to change.

I'm calling out to my brother workers and managers everywhere to at least stop the sexism.

We'll work on the scapegoating after that.

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