Now if you're a woman, you don't necessarilly have to go the ailing grandmother route. See, NSTAR may hate you, but they love babies. And households with children under two years old are protected from getting their utilities shut off. But slow your roll, broke, baby-less ho. You must provide the birth certificates of your children and actually 'enroll' in this protection program, so you're not pulling this move off unless you can commit to causing an Amber Alert. As luck would have it, I've discovered a gray area that eliminates the need for adoption or kidnapping: good old-fashioned pregnancy.
I tried this one out on a whim once and it was surprisingly effective. With this approach, may I suggest 'painting a good pathetic picture.' Don't just be knocked-up. Be a knocked-up waitress. Even better, be a knocked-up waitress who is 'going back to school.' This quickly elevates your status from 'system-sucking skank' to 'someone who is about to take a hot shower.'
I immediately got results with this approach and had my gas turned back on with only a $48 payment on a $650 bill when they were demanding $550, and with zero proof of my fake baby. The pregnancy angle is pretty flawless, and required no bargaining with the phone rep. They may even give you the names of community resources that you can contact to help you be poor with your new fake baby. Don't let this gesture and fleeting glimpse of humanity make you feel guilty about bullshitting these bastards. They're just reinforcing a negative social value that only in utero babies deserve to have utilities. Just make sure going forward that you pay on time. Three months down the road when you're still doing the limbo under the poverty line, it's going to be hard to explain that you had a miscarriage 2 months ago but remarkably you're 7 months pregnant now.
Now that you know what works, let's briefly review what doesn't:
1. The recent death of a parent
2. Car accident victim who is unable to work
3. Veteran who has just returned from a tour of duty
4. Recent lay-off
5. Victim of identity theft
Don't waste your time with any of the above. What I've learned over the years is that NSTAR doesn't deliver upon hearing a quality sob story. Sure, these may seem like great excuses, but sympathy isn't the motivator that's going to get you back to microwaving your Hot Pockets or flat ironing your hair. They only become amenable to stop ruining your quality of life when there's a chance that they could be held responsible for indirectly harming debilitated geriatrics or unborn children.
Trust me on this one, because if I had a dollar for every time NSTAR has shut me off during my run as a Broke Ho, I'd be able to pay my NSTAR bill.