Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Utility Scam Hits Tassanoxie Area

Last night on the local news, the reporter covered a scam that’s going on in the Tassanoxie area. It goes like this. A well dressed young male knocks on your door. When you answer, he tells you he’s from the utility company and they need to cut down a tree on your lot. Would you come with him so he can show you the tree and get your okay?

You put on your shoes and follow him out into the yard. While you’re busy being nice and helping the phony utility guy, an accomplice slips into your unlocked, hopefully empty house, and steals your stuff. I’m guessing they know you’re the only one home before they knock at the door.

Naturally, they target older folks who tend to be accommodating to polite, well dressed young men. I bet that senior citizen wouldn’t be near as nice to a scruffy, tattooed guy wearing a Hell’s Angel vest. The shotgun would appear and scruffy guy would be invited off the premises.

But the scammer is dressed for the part which means you have to be alert. How often do the bad guys on television wear company uniforms to gain entry for nefarious means? All. The. Time. Where do you think the scammers get their ideas?

Back to the utility scam. First of all, utility companies have a ten foot right of way around your lot. They can do near about anything they want to do to trees that get in the way of the utility poles. Think about it. All those weird looking trees lining the highways didn’t grow that way. They were made lopsided by utility company chain saws.

As far as I can tell, the utility company isn’t into chopping down your tree, they’re more into trimming it into an odd shape.

Major point: utility company worker bees don’t need to come knocking at your door to get permission to do anything to the trees on the utility right of way.

Problem is, we Southerners tend to be a courteous bunch which probably makes scamming us a lot easier than scamming other folks. (Yeah, you know who you are.) So, what are you to do when a stranger comes knocking? First of all, remember you don’t haveta open the door. If you’re dying to find out what they want, talk to them through the door. Ask ‘em who they are and what they want. Don’t fall for fake IDs. If you’re not expecting someone from the telephone company, tell them you’re going to call their supervisor because you don’t have an appointment. If you’re alone, act like somebody’s in the house with you.

As for the utility company scam, beware of any well dressed young man who knocks on your door and says he’s from the utility company. And when he wants to show you a tree on your property they need to remove, call 911 and report his young, well dressed butt to the police.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Town Too Short?

Tassanoxie suffers from a shortness problem that wasn’t apparent until this summer. That’s when the power company started installing really, really tall cement utility poles all around town. I’m talking taller than 50 year old trees. Taller than any building in Tassanoxie. Reaching into the stratosphere tall. 

Poles that probably fit in and look right short in say, Dubai, home to the tallest building in the world. But truth is, these poles don’t look so good in little ole Tassanoxie.

For folks who don’t live in a small town, there is a dearth of tall buildings. We got three, maybe four floors in some medical buildings and two motels, but that’s about it. This shortness issue doesn’t give the elevator repairman much work here, what so few elevators in town.

But no one even knew we had a shortness problem until the power company decided to install these poles. I’m sure some big city fella thought these gigantic poles would get the job done. I doubt he once wondered what they would look like lining our streets.

These poles sort of stick up like so many huge sticks. And like sticks, some of them aren’t straight and sort of lean one way or another. I saw one of the worker bees standing at the bottom of one and was amazed at how small it made him and the truck parked next to it look. 

I can’t think of any way to make these behemoths look good. Even the tallest trees along the streets barely hit them midway. Fact is, they are plum ugly. So ugly, they make the cell phone towers look good.

There are those in town who would say these utility poles are a sign of progress. They may represent progress, but I think progress can be packaged for the size of the town. Rather than planting a forest of gigantic utility poles, I think the power company could have installed underground cable. It works well in a lot of subdivisions around town, so why wouldn’t it work down the streets heading into town? I mean, if you saw how much work it took to install one of these giant poles, the cost of digging up the street couldn’t be that much  more.

Being the power company, they didn’t bother to ask anyone. Once they got that utility right of way all those years ago, it gave them a swelled head. They just do what they want and don’t worry about it. And with all the electronic devices and constant use of electricity, maybe they’re right. After all, with folks busy talking on their phones or playing games on some device, they don’t look up often enough to notice giant eyesores along the road.