An Evil Bulgarian Water Meter Reader

It isn’t very often that you get to meet people of this kind. A surreal personality you only see in films or read about in fiction and horror books. The characteristics are a mixture of bad elements all put together in a melting pot and throws an umbrella of curse around.

In Skalitsa, if you mention the rude meter-reader and that’s all she is, the response you get is, ‘Ah Da! Everyone know her but that’s not unusual in Skalitsa, everyone knows everyone else, what they really know her for is her extreme rudeness which is why the response to referring to the rude adjective when they say ‘Ah Yes!’

White frilly hat and white wedding dress just doesn’t fit the bill here. It is just a wolf in sheep clothing, a fa├žade that hides a woman who has no regard for politeness or etiquette. In here eye no one is equal, all are below here and her status as meter-reader.

The handbag she carries, the strap supporting the bag of whatever women keeps in there. The handbag itself is large and hangs by her hips just like a gun holster always ready for action. The last tine I saw her it was high noon, imagine the picture of her getting bigger as she makes her way to my house and then the pause…..

There is a walk that is slightly less than a shuffle in what could be described as a laboured shuffle; very carefully she choosing small steps and is fully aware where her next step is going to go. This is done in a very economical way never at any point does is a step taken without a purpose. She deliberately only walks as far as she needs, to direct the ‘lower class’ under her presence. Someone else does the walking for her in areas that might put her in a standing of a ‘worker’ or indeed soil her wolf’s clothing and accessories.

We never see many stone statues in Skalitsa; there is a very good reason for this. The meter-reader wears sunglasses all the time. No one as far as I know has seen her eyes. She uses this as a threat, for when confronted or challenged there is a little drop of the frames, and the threat of an un-tinted peer. This is usually enough to threaten the hardest mercenary. I fear to wonder is anyone has challenged her enough for the sunglasses to be removed.

The chicken, geese and ducks in the street suddenly disappear as she turns into the street. She looks ahead all the time, just like her deliberate steps. She looks out or should I say 'stares' out people as she approaches houses, the air suddenly turns cold and an uncomfortable atmosphere of intimidation comes into play.

Then there is the clipboard; this has no function whatsoever. It is part of the uniform she has created and a tool for power. The reason is quite clear by her holding a tatty book where the entries of the water meter reading are entered. The clipboard is never used!

She never walks alone always accompanied by a well-known man in the village called Boncho. He is as wide as he is tall and is in charge of the cooperative milk store on the corner. Never have you met such a jolly cheerful chap, if you have a water problem he is the man to see. He could be deemed as another Skalitsa maestro and if you know about the countless Skalitsa maestros then you know what is work is like.

When Boncho is with this woman, he is under her spell, she controls every action he takes, other than calling out water meter numbers, he doesn’t talk but just acts obediently to everything the meter-reader says. His personality completely changes from a bubbly over talkative outgoing person into a humble nervous wreck. Hard to believe this actually happens to such a man who away from the meter-reader has a personality as large as his figure.

The pointing and directing without moving is always prevalent, she is stationary conducting everyone else around her; no please, no thank you, do this, do that, come here, go there. This goes on before she turns her back on everyone just looking out for the next step she is about to take, the next house she is to invade and fine tune the aim on the next victim she will claim. No goodbye and Boncho following her in the dark shadow she casts.

This woman is a woman of ill repute to all who have encountered her and encounter is exactly how is it. The first encounter with her was made a few months of having lived here. No water bills had been made as I was still finding my feet in Bulgaria but that didn’t sway her attitude at all. The meter was read out by Boncho and he was instructed to tell me that there was a water bill to be paid on my house and five years worth of water bills on my other house across the road that used to be owned by Gypsies. I had only bought them a few months ago but it was total insistence form her that I pay the bills. I found out legally I was not liable, she must know this but she still went ahead with her demands still not speaking to me directly but through a messenger service and the changed personality of Boncho.

Now this woman, and I still don’t know her name has been a scourge upon the Skalitsa community for some while now. More recently she has shown blatant racism with regard to the foreign influx in Skalitsa. The fire in her tongue when confronted with here attitude had scalded another expatriate here. The scalding was to such a degree that the person in the firing line wrote to her superiors in Yambol both in English and in Russian to try and expel the racist out of her job or at least put here in correction with at least and apology.

“The English think they can do what they want here” was one of the quotes that were made from what she said. With any inkling of misunderstanding she uses that as a lever of insult to expatriates here, me included.

The result of the letter of complaint was? Nothing! I saw here a year on, still with the same outfit, sunglasses and attitude n fact probably more fired up for insults to expatriates in her path from the result of this. To be fair, I couldn’t see anyone telling her to apologise to an expatriate let alone give her the sack.

Galia and I were waiting at the Skalitsa bus stop and she was there, off duty but still in her unlikely work-clothes, accessories and sunglasses talking to another woman also waiting for the bus. From what Galia told me all she was doing was complaining about customers she has, in particular expatriates who apparently think they should get priority treatment here thinking they are ‘Lords of the Manor.’ The poor woman on the receiving end of this didn’t get a word in edge wards and to compound it got lumbered with sitting next to her on the bus. The poor woman was being hit with verbal battering ram from probably the worse personality in Skalitsa.

On reflection to look at this woman now compared with how she was seen a few years ago marks a big change is my viewpoint of her. Initially she upset me by her intimidating behaviour and complete disregard for public relations. Fresh in Bulgaria not knowing much about anything here, she was the last person on earth I wanted on my threshold throwing threats from a distance. Now I just look with interest at this ogre of a woman and just accept that’s what she is, she is not important to anyone other than herself and fits the part of a clown. Taking her seriously is not an option; I just look and listen but don’t react or retaliate to her party tricks of devilment. How much have I have changed since coming to Bulgaria!

So just like the police, the fear factor keeps order in the water word department in Skalitsa. All water bills are paid on time, the management keep order on all matters through dictatorship. It works!