“We’ll See”

There is a story told by “Gust” Avrakotos, the CIA operative in “Charlie Wilson’s War”, published in 2003 and portrayed in the 2007 movie of the same name.  The story is about a village where a young boy gets a horse, and all the villagers say “Isn’t it wonderful!”, and the village leader states “We’ll see”.  Then the boy falls off the horse and severely damages his legs and the villagers all say “Isn’t that terrible!”, and the leader says “We’ll see”.

Then war breaks out and all the young men have to go to war; all except the boy whose legs are messed up, and the villagers all say “Isn’t that wonderful!”.  The leader only says “We’ll see”.

This story illustrates how decisions, actions and situations can be interpreted.  I get the feeling the villagers were easily excited and disappointed, while the leader understood the longer view.  It also points out that events will happen, decisions will be made and results will be evaluated.  How we respond in the middle of the process indicates our degree of excitability and, possibly, our agitation.

I have studied and researched ways to make the city run more efficiently and consistently.  Part of that analysis has evolved into the current meter replacement project we are in the middle of.  As some readers may already know, when a meter is replaced, the final reading of the old meter is entered as the usage to be billed.

It seems like a small detail, but when a meter gets replaced later in a month, the bill may reflect two or three more weeks of usage which, in turn, may be a larger bill than normal; “Isn’t that terrible!”.  But the next bill may only reflect one or two weeks of usage, making the next bill much smaller; “Isn’t that wonderful!”.  It will take two billing cycles to get it back to “normal” usage and reading for billing purposes.

With the meters on a radio-read system, the monthly readings will be much more consistent; “Isn’t that wonderful!”.  Some households may see slight increases in usage, because the old meters (average 45 years old) may have slowed down and not been metering correctly; “Isn’t that terrible!”.  But, in fact, those homes have really been getting billed 92 – 97% of actual usage for the last 10 or more years, “Isn’t that wonderful!”.

Proper metering will allow the City to efficiently distribute utility costs fairly to all residents.  So, it is my hope that before we get into the cycle of determining “wonderful” or “terrible”, we’ll garner an attitude of “We’ll see”.  My research indicates “we’ll see” a much more efficient and consistent utility system for the village of Marion.

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About marionadmin
City Administrator for the City of Marion, Kansas

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