Wong Kwok-leung, a meter reader for 14 years, has a job that is not just about walking and numbers. Every day on average, the Hongkong Electric employee checks 770 power meters on Hong Kong Island or Lamma. It is people like him who enable the firm to issue bills on time and accurately to nearly 570,000 users. 'The highest number of meters I visited in one day was about 2,800, and in general we have to walk five or six hours a day to finish the work.' Meter readers like Mr Wong input an average 14,000 numbers a day into the device they carry. There is little room for error: their mandate is to deliver an accuracy rate of at least 99.95 per cent, which they surpassed by 0.027 of a point last year. It would be a mistake to believe that meter readers are readily replaceable and that everyone is up to the task. They need a strong sense of direction, preferably a mental map in their mind. It is also a bonus if they have the nose of a detective, extreme patience, perseverance and a high level of alertness. Mr Wong said: 'I once spent up to an hour to find a hidden meter, and we also saw a meter buried behind a pile of trash. So I do make notes of these difficult locations.' In his briefcase he carries a few gadgets that he finds indispensable for carrying out his work. A detailed street map is essential, and a hiking stick proved particularly welcome when he had to reach a remote television-signal station up a steep hill. Mosquito repellent, masks and gloves are helpful when they have to work in hostile or difficult conditions. Binoculars prove useful sometimes to zoom in on the reading of an inaccessible meter. There is also the occasional surprise when they out and about on their rounds. 'Once I was assigned to visit a house in Mid-Levels and I was delighted to see the person who answered the door was a famous singer,' Mr Wong recalled. It is inevitable that the nature of the job means meter readers occasionally come into close contact with celebrities they would normally only read about in gossip magazines. Sometimes they also visit the houses of the rich, although most of these visits have to be arranged in advance for security reasons. Hongkong Electric has a team of 30 meter readers.