Everything I Know About Utilities and Their Customers I Learned From Forrest Gump

22

NOVEMBER, 2016

I have a weakness. There are a handful of movies that when I walk into a room and they are playing, I become powerless and am sucked into watching them. If I’m flipping through channels and come across one of these movies, my hand goes paralyzed and the world fades away while I end up watching that movie, no matter how many times I have seen it. One of those movies is Forrest Gump. In fact, Forrest Gump is my 2nd favorite movie of all time (narrowly losing out to The Shawshank Redemption). If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve watched it at least 25 times.

The last time I watched it, Jenny, the love of Forrest’s life, had just popped back into his life. Once again she showed up unexpectedly on Forrest’s door, knowing that he would be there for her like always. It was at that exact moment in the movie that the electricity in my house went out, and the TV went blank. I sat there staring at the black screen, and feeling of loss overwhelmed me. After years of watching this movie, I finally understood who Forrest and Jenny’s characters truly were. Forrest was a utility, and Jenny was a customer.

Utility customers in the US have grown to expect that whenever they need or want power, it will always be there. The customer can go partying at the hottest night clubs and when they come back, the power is there for them. They can go join protests and wars and when another business treats them badly, they know that the power will always be on for them. They can wake up and go to work every day and live their lives without thinking of their utility, knowing the whole time that the power is on waiting for them to use it. No matter the day, time, or season, the utility is always happy to hear from its customers.

Just as Jenny would always pop back into Forrest’s life when something bad happened to her, that is usually when a customer contacts their utility. A storm rolls in and upsets their daily lives or they move and need power established, they contact the utility. It might have been years since the utility has heard from its beloved customer, yet when they call or show up, the utilities are always there, happy to help and happy to serve. All that the utility hopes is that this time, the customer will stay in touch.

The power in my house came back on, and there on the screen was Forrest, staring at an empty bed with a painful look of loss, sadness, and confusion on his face. Jenny had run off again, with Forrest not knowing if that was the last time she would be in his life. But just like a utility customer, she will be back. There will come a point in her life where she needs him again, and he is always there. Always dependable. The power of Forrest’s heart is always on for Jenny, just like the power of your utility is always on for you.

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