Hello PG&E — Are You There?

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April 6, 2001: Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility voluntarily filed for Chapter Eleven federal bankruptcy protection despite months of effort by state officials to bail out the cash-starved company.

April 8, 2001: It was learned that $50 million in bonuses was distributed to PG&E executives the day prior to its declaration of bankruptcy. ~ MSNBC News

PG&E: This is PG&E Customer Service. Your call will be answered in the order received. Since you are the last caller, we will get around to you last.

Blumert: Hold it, what’s going on here? You’re not a recording.

PG&E: I am too a recording.

Blumert: You’re not.

PG&E: Am too.

Blumert: This is ridiculous. Why in heaven’s name would anybody pretend to be a recording?

PG&E (suppressing a sob) Well, if you must know, they came and repossessed our telephone answering equipment yesterday.

Blumert: That’s very touching, but I have a serious problem.

PG&E: You have a problem? Well, it’s not exactly rosy at this end, buddy. We’ve all been on medication since April 6, but for all the good it will do you, go ahead and tell me your problem if it makes you feel better.

Blumert: My complaint is with the STING RAY ENERGY SAVER that you recommend and that I foolishly purchased. Here’s how you advertised it along with my last electric bill:

"The dire energy crisis we face has been caused by unscrupulous suppliers of natural gas and electricity who, without conscience, have been charging us market price. This calls for a dramatic response. To fight back we recommend a terrific new product, the STING RAY.

The STING RAY is installed on electric switches in your home or business zapping the user with 5000 volts when he flips the switch on. This is a certain reminder to conserve energy.

The price of the STING RAY is only $85 and PG&E will send you a $20 rebate check."

PG&E: What’s to complain? The STING RAY has been responsible for some families lowering their energy use by fifty per cent.

Blumert: With a STING RAY installed on all electrical switches, it’s a sure thing that most families will be huddled in the dark wrapped in blankets during the winter or sweating profusely with nothing but a garden hose to cool them in the summer’s heat.

PG&E: Patriotic Americans! The STING RAY is a winner.

Blumert: Sounds like you’ll only be satisfied when we are back in the Stone Age, but my real problem is with the $20 rebate check PG&E offered.

PG&E: So quit worrying about the check. You’ll get it, you’ll get it.

Blumert: My worry is I already got it and my problem is that it bounced.

PG&E: Bounced shmounched. Get with the times.

Blumert: You’re not much help, but maybe I can get some useful information out of you.

Tomorrow I’m going to the baseball game at Pac Bell Park, and I’m concerned that there will be a power outage in the middle of the game. A nightmare, forty thousand people groping in the dark.

PG&E: (musing) To think, we used to be bigger than Ma Bell. It’s interesting that Pac Bell Park hasn’t paid their April electric bill as yet. Hmmmmmm…

Blumert: Uh oh! Sounds to me like you’ve got some mischief planned for the ballpark, and that you are going to hit them with a "random blackout" at tomorrow night’s game.

PG&E: Look, buster, this is war. Don’t try to squeeze any classified information out of me.

Blumert: War? Seems to me you have a bunker mentality. Unfortunately, the only casualties are the customers.

PG&E: Who told you we were in a bunker? As we speak, we are in a crossfire between two armies, the Gray Davis Brigade and the George W. Federalists.

Blumert: What’s the war all about?

PG&E: (choking with emotion) The loser gets PG&E.

Blumert: You’re depressing me. I think I’d rather have Tony Soprano running things. At least my garbage is picked up with no problems.

PG&E: Listen, Blumert, you sound like someone we can trust. There’s a small group of us here resurrecting the company from the ashes. We call it Phoenix Gas & Electric, and we already have signed up thirty customers.

Can we count on you?

Blumert: Well, I haven’t made a correct decision in years so I might as well join you.

PG&E: Terrific. The Phoenix Gas & Electric service man will be at your home to hook you up next week. He will be there sometime between 8 a.m. on Monday and midnight on Sunday. You have to be there when he comes.

Blumert: Lotsa luck, fellas, but it sounds like the old PG&E to me.

Burt Blumert [send him mail] is owner of Camino Coins, president of the Center for Libertarian Studies, and publisher of LewRockwell.com.

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