I've been paying an estimated gas bill for years. A few months ago, I tried to call in my meter reading, but the automated service wouldn't accept my entry. A few days later, I called and spoke to an actual gas person who told me the reason for the refusal was that the reading hadn't changed much in the past few years. She suspected my meter was broken and told me that someone was going to come out and look at it.
This made me worry.
You see, there's a big sign on the outside of the meter that says something to the effect of, "Do not mess with the meter. Doing so with result in criminal prosecution" and I spray-painted the body a pretty silver color (it was a dreadful shade of gray) and colored the knobs red with nail polish. (It made them really shiny.) So anyway, I was worried that maybe, in painting it, I broke it and I totally thought I was going to go to jail.
When the gas guy showed up, I decided that I was going to play dumb if he asked about the paint job and pretend the guy who lived in the apartment before me did it. While he was checking out the meter, I waited nervously on the couch, the whole time thinking of nothing but an orange jumpsuit. After a few twists and turns of a wrench, he lifted his head and looked over at me.
"It seems to be working fine," he said.
"It does?" I asked, surprised.
"Yep." He stood up and walked over to the stove. "Is this the only thing in the apartment that uses gas?"
"Yes," I said. "Everything else is electric."
He snickered. "Do you cook?"
"Well, your meter reading hasn't changed because you haven't used gas. In three years. Because you don't cook."
I never said I was Betty Crocker.
Although I was kind of embarrassed by the whole incident, I was relieved I wasn't going to jail. And guess what... I just got my new gas bill and I have a $500 credit.