• Patrick McAndrew

The Man Who “Fixed” My Heater

Today I had to get my heater fixed.  Classic New York City apartment living and a solid way to kick off the new year!  It’s been leaking steam/water for a few weeks now and apparently all the water was leaking down into the apartment below us.  Bad news bears!

Management got in touch with us and arranged for two guys to come over and fix up the heater.  The first guy, whose name is Ali, I have met before via past projects.  He brought a friend along to help by the name of Asad.  They arrived at 9AM sharp, which Ali and I had agreed on the day before.

They came in and went to the heater.  It wasn’t long after that Ali had to go down into the basement of our apartment building to turn on the heat.  I was planning to retreat to the other room, perhaps to get some work done online or to sit down and read.  Before doing so, however, I thought I would offer Asad a glass of water, as he was stopping by to help fix my heater afterall.

He was so happy!  He told me that no one has ever offered him a glass of water in all of the apartments he has done maintenance on.  He then proceeded to compliment me on the cleanliness of the apartment (high-five, Jules!).  Now, I don’t say this to toot my own horn.  All this was was a simple gesture as a thank you for helping out. N-B-D as they say.

Asad and I then transitioned to a casual conversation.  He told me that he was the son-in-law of the owner of the apartment building. He is often doing a lot of maintenance work on the buildings his father-in-law owns.  It turns out his father-in-law, who we make our rent checks out to, is quite the real estate man, owning about 90 buildings in the New York City area.  Asad told me that, despite his financial wealth, he spent his whole life chasing money while neglecting everything and everyone else.  Having neglected his health, he is now bed-ridden without any strong relationships and only has a short time left to live.

It certainly was an eye-opener to learn about this man that we write our checks to every month.  Asad and I then got into a conversation about the almighty dollar and how societies around the world (and people in general) are always chasing money.  I don’t believe money is the root of all evil, but I would say the love of money is the root of all evil and there are many examples of men and women of enormous wealth who are miserable because that’s all they went after.  We then dived into New York City living and dabbled into a conversation about politics.  We discussed the ridiculous nature of nuclear weapons, how there’s no money in education (and how there should be a lot more), and we touched upon religion.  Asad is of the Muslim faith and he discussed his frustrations on how so many wars have been fought over religion.  We both concluded that people have several more similarities than differences.  Most of us want a simple, peaceful life.  Often times, it’s solely the power-hungry “leaders” who are playing with human lives as if it’s a game in the race for money and prestige.

All while Asad and I were chatting, Ali was working away at fixing the heater.  And fixed it he did!  No more leaks and, hopefully, the apartment will be a bit warmer.  I thanked them for their help and Asad asked for my name as he left and I asked for his, for we engaged in conversation having not formally introducing ourselves.

As I was thinking what to write about this morning, this conversation popped into my head.  It’s these conversations that are the definition of The Low Tech Trek.  Had I stuck with my original plan, retreating to the other room to go on my laptop, this conversation wouldn’t have happened.  I wouldn’t have connected with this individual in this way.  Will Asad have a life-changing impact on my life?  That would be epic, but most likely not.  But it’s these little human interactions that we have on a day to day basis that connect us as human beings.  And, because they are little, it’s these human interactions that are growing more and more endangered because of our commitment to technology.

Asad and I talked money, politics, and religion.  Here is a guy I just met and I haven’t even talked about these topics with some people I’ve known for years!  And I think that’s pretty cool.  The Low Tech Trek is about these connections.  It’s about finding the humanity in day-to-day life.  Whether it’s someone coming in to fix your heater, someone who you chat with briefly at the bus station or super market, or someone who you’ve known for years that you’re just catching up with.  Appreciate these moments.  And realize how easily they can pass us by.

Hope you have a great start to a new year of possibilities and opportunities to connect with old and new friends!

Your friend,


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