An extrovert in a time of social distancing

“I’m a talker, and I like shaking hands,” said Keith Meriwether, an emergency turner for Louisville Water.

He enjoys solving customers’ problems. He likes talking to coworkers. He sends super-friendly and ultra-positive texts like this one when someone thanks him for doing something: “It was my delighted pleasure, sir!”

But he’s not happy with the disruption that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to his work routines and his relationships with customers and colleagues.

Meriwether has worked for Louisville Water for more than two decades. As an emergency turner, he might help a homeowner with a water issue one minute and the next he’ll be called away to solve a problem for a whole section of the community.

Emergency turners are often among the first on the scene if there’s a main break. They find the main’s valves so they can shut off the water or reroute it.

Louisville Water employees who work in the community are often approached by customers about a range of issues, and emergency turners are no exception. An unhappy customer recently approached Meriwether because she thought her bill was too high.

“I wanted to talk to her so bad,” he said, and he did, but he kept a safe distance between them. Ultimately, he was able to get her to calm down and to understand how her water usage is billed – and he did it from six feet away.

“I made a new friend,” he said. “I’m still finding ways to be effective in my job, but we’re living in a different world, and I’m a social guy. I guess I’ve even been a little bit depressed about it. I miss the camaraderie.”