The fabric of real New York is often obscured by exasperation. The city’s too expensive, too crowded, too corporate and has sold out to international investors parking nefarious earnings in apartments that are driving up prices for all the rest of the people actually living here.
Everything authentic from independent designers to diners has closed cuz rent is too damn high.
But occasionally, one stumbles upon scrappy outposts that harken to the creative energy making real New York colorful and exciting.
This happened to me, recently, and inspired me to actually get off my lazy ass and write one of those forever-threatened (but never executed) Yelp reviews – a love letter to the creative types who pursue passion and make real New York badass.
Dear Louis Rossman – You made me fall in love with New York, again.
So my computer blanked out on me over the summer.
I stood up from typing to refill my coffee, returned seconds later, and the computer had turned off. Weird.
I clicked the track pad, then the space and return buttons (somewhere between two and seventy-six times) with varying degrees of force. Then I hit the on/off switch.
It re-booted and miraculously re-started for fifteen seconds until: poof.
My screen went dark.
And I couldn’t revive it.
The next day, I went to the Apple Store in Grand Central (talk about spectacular location) and the Apple Genius diagnosed it as “electronic anomaly.”
Him: It happens more than you realize.
Him: Did you have it backed up?
Him: It’s only 2 years old. For $450 we can send it away for a new motherboard.
Me: Will my 736 documents randomly strewn across my desktop be saved?
Him: Most likely not.
Me: Welp, how do I do that?
Him (suddenly under his breath and leaning closer to me): There’s this guy on the Lower East Side. My colleagues around me would be pissed if I told you about him. But go to him.
(And the Genius Bar guy typed out a phone number on his iPad to show me.)
A few hours later, I stumbled upon the least charming storefront in New York City and walked in. A dude at a workstation a few feet from the front window had multiple monitors and cameras pointing at him, his desk, his hands, and his face.
He looked at me, said hello, then turned back to his work while saying, “What can we do for you?”
It was very efficient – not overly Midwestern-ly warm, nor in that NYC way of mild annoyance at being in the service industry.
Also, I felt like I’d stepped into Mr. Robot.
He was Louis Rossman. The owner and head technician. Or as he later said to me, “The Mac Janitor.”
I explained my situation, he nodded, took my computer and immediately unscrewed the microscopic screws, himself.
Taking in the entirety of his operation, there were four or five more technicians doing varying things in the workplace – answering phones, organizing boxes, and presumably repairing all manner of tech. It was the organized chaos usually hidden from public eye but that makes real New York so much more exciting. It was thrilling to witness because it had the air of scrappy DIY’ers saving technical lives. I stared until jolted from my awe as Louis piped up at me: Yep. Your motherboard. I can replace it for $350 in a couple days and transfer data for $100.
Me: Is my data safe?
Louis: Is it backed up?
Me: LOL. No.
He pulls some thing looking like a micro thumb drive out of my motherboard and says, “Looks fine.”
He grabs another laptop near him, puts my data thumb drive thingy into that computer’s hard drive, hands it to me and says, “Start uploading to Google drive.”
So I turned on this other random computer that suddenly had all my data on it.
Huh. That’s how it works? Everything that makes my computer mine is imprinted on that mini-thumb drive and plugs into the other doo-hickey that must be a motherboard but looks like the crumb tray in a toaster.
I copied my ten million documents to upload.
Google drive told me it would take approximately 3 hours.
I sat there for one hour watching the status of my upload tick down far too slowly. Meanwhile, Louis was a wonder.
At the same time that he dissected a computer (I didn’t realize it was mine…his hands worked so quickly and, well…they all look the same), under the watchful eye of his multiple cameras, he calmly answered questions of his employees who shouted out without care of interrupting him, answered the consistent main phone line, and greeted every single European tourist, hipster, delivery person and desperate person like me without the slightest hint of being overwhelmed.
He was a master – unshakably calm at the epicenter of a business driven by panicking techno-idiots like myself. We rubes who dropped, shook, spilled upon and generally abused our phones and laptops were the cogs in the wheel making his business hum at a mind-boggling tempo.
An hour later, he hands me my computer, says, “Stop your back-up. Just put it back in here.”
My computer was fixed.
Him: You had water damage. But I didn’t see any spills.
Me: Weird. Could it be humidity?
He popped onto the monitor in front of him and reversed the real-time video screen to show me the motherboard he’d just fixed. He pointed out a circuit that had blown and apparently started a chain reaction. (Or something. Not sure I understood it all.)
That’s what all those screens and cameras were for – his multi-view YouTube station bursting with videos of him tinkering.
It was amazing and hilarious.
And he only charged me for the new motherboard.
Louis – you fixed my computer in an hour and for $100 (and a week) less than Apple.
You’re the real deal and you make the fabric of real New York so much more livable.