Alex had been reading meters for the electric company for 35 years. It was a plumb job, not like some of his coworkers who had to go from single family home to single family home checking meters. They walked their asses off. But Alex’s assigned route was mostly at apartment buildings. All the meters for the individual units were mounted on a large metal board and arranged in columns and rows. All he had to do was stand in front of those meter arrays and jot down the readings on his clip board. He could read hundreds of meters in the time it took some of his peers to read dozens. And with very little walking, by comparison.
He’d heard the rumors, but yesterday, the day he had been dreading, had arrived. The electric company was going to start replacing all of the old meters with new, state-of-the-art “smart meters.” Once installed, these smart meters automatically updated the central computers at the electric company, thus making the task of having employees physically go out to read and record the meters unnecessary.
The notice said that the smart meter swaps should be completed by the end of the month, at which point all meter readers would be laid off. Per the memo, the terminated meter readers would receive one week of severance for each year of service with the company.
At first Alex thought that was pretty generous. He would continue to get paid for about eight months after his last day. But then he read the fine print:
One week per year of service, up to a maximum of twelve weeks.
Alex had only three months to determine what to do with the rest of his life now that technology has made him obsolete.
Written for Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. Photo credit: Alexander Schimmeck on Unsplash.