Radiator Experts

The day before Christmas Eve, I got a message from the management of my building, telling us that the heating system wasn’t working properly and that there would be an inspection the Monday after, i.e. yesterday.  There has been a problem with the heating in wintertime ever since I moved in here. Not because it doesn’t work but because it works too well. It’s been terribly warm in my apartment every year from November to March. Turning off the radiators is frowned upon because it interrupts the system and causes very loud noises in the pipes. And even when turned off, there is a big water pipe that runs through my bathroom, which heats it up to the extent that it also makes the neighboring room almost unbearably warm.

So yesterday the inspectors came by to check the radiators. I thought it would be the usual group of underpaid handymen with limited formal training and often equally limited English skills. These three men were in their late 50s or early 60s and all Americans. (Obviously, this is far from synonymous with expertise, but it is very unusual here in DC.) They asked me a couple of questions and started talking amongst themselves about how to solve the problem with the heating systems, taking into account what my other neighbors had said. When I asked them a couple of questions, they started explaining the system to me and how it was originally constructed, and one guy even told me what an older version of this heating system was called. (The word didn’t stick unfortunately.) Total radiator experts! And they seemed so passionate about it, which is not very common among professionals in DC. Nor is expertise. So it was really inspiring, and a little unexpected, to meet these men.

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