Homeless PC Repairman....lean times ahead!!

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by Joe, Dec 8, 2003.

  1. Joe

    Joe Guest

    How many of us will follow him in the lean times ahead!!??


    Homeless Repairman Mixes High Tech With Low Overhead

    a homeless man, fixes computers on 43rd Street, and has done so for
    several years. Below, in 1995,
    Mr. Vona, who is homeless, works on 43rd Street — literally —
    repairing laptops, hard drives, keyboards, scanners, monitors and
    whatever other detritus of the digital age he can scavenge from the

    He is a common sight amid the pedestrians in Midtown, who might
    encounter him at 8 a.m. on a weekday sitting in a swivel chair,
    hunched over a stubborn piece of computer hardware plugged into the
    base of a public light pole. Working curbside with a fully stocked
    toolbox, he claims to sell his products to wholesale buyers and
    bargain hunters for as little as $60 to $80 apiece.

    "I get them running, then I get them out the door," said Mr. Vona,
    whose open-air repair shop has no door. "I don't care what shape they
    come in, I can fix them."

    "I do the upgrades, everything," he continued. "When I get done with a
    computer, it'll work."

    Mr. Vona — a big, tall, hairy, bearish man somewhere in early middle
    age — has been earning his keep in just this fashion for at least
    eight years. He makes his living at the very intersection of high
    technology and consumer culture; his survival depends on the built-in
    obsolescence of computer goods.

    The facts of his story are somewhat jumbled, none the least because he
    is mentally retarded and admits to suffering from a delusional mental
    illness. Mr. Vona clearly bears the scars, in psyche and in body, from
    years of living on the streets.

    By his own account, he has led a tragic life. His parents died when he
    was 4 months old, and he was raised by a succession of foster parents,
    some of whom he says abused him. He was an ironworker until 1996, when
    he was injured on the job: a construction crane fell on top of him, he
    says, and put him in a coma. When he awakened, he says, he was imbued
    with an expertise in computer repair.

    "Just like that," he said. "A gift from God."

    This fantastic story is at odds with an account he gave The New York
    Times in 1995 when, using the name Carlos Sam, he claimed to have
    learned his trade at an uncle's television repair shop.

    Nevertheless, one of his customers, reached at his request, confirmed
    his basic tale.

    "I do know Perry," said Anthony J. Barber, a computer consultant. "I
    buy stuff from him every now and then. Some of it's good, some of it's

    Mr. Barber said that after making purchases from Mr. Vona, he would
    turn around and sell the items on his own. "We both turn trash into
    cash," Mr. Barber said.

    Mr. Vona has been busy in the last eight years keeping up with the
    latest advances in technology, he says. He claims to be fluent in HTML
    and Javascript, and says he knows his way around televisions,
    cellphones, cuckoo clocks, refrigerators, washers, dryers and sewing

    He has two basic methods of acquiring equipment, he says: he roots
    through the garbage and he keeps a list of contacts in the city
    Sanitation Department and among the janitorial staffs of Midtown
    offices, who pass him castoff computer goods.

    Mr. Vona has looked for more established work, but he says employers
    are usually unwilling to overlook his homelessness. A man with skills
    but without a roof, he says, gets nowhere.

    "People look at you as homeless before they look at your qualities,"
    he said. "And if they don't like what they're looking at, they don't
    look at you at all."

    Recently, his business has suffered. He says that on the day before
    Thanksgiving, the police threw out a portion of his inventory, which
    he stores in canvas mail carts on the street. He lost three hard
    drives, some monitors and a couple of keyboards, he says.

    "Yeah, some Thanksgiving present," he said.

    Officers in the Midtown South Precinct refused to comment on Mr.
    Vona's accusations, aside from saying that he has never been arrested.
    They added that he was a constant, and relatively harmless, presence
    in the neighborhood.

    But he seems to be hurting.

    The photograph that accompanied the article in The Times eight years
    ago showed Mr. Vona hard at work, with the products of his business
    spread around him.

    On Friday morning, he had only a single cart, and it contained a
    scanty tangle of broken goods.

    He was eating breakfast on a blanket underneath some scaffolding. The
    street was quiet, the day was cold. He said he was depressed.
    Joe, Dec 8, 2003
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  2. Jinkies

    Jinkies Guest

    In article <>,
    >How many of us will follow him in the lean times ahead!!??

    LEAN times??? "Mr. Vona is a big, tall, hairy, bearish man"

    Personally I think this story is awesome. Better than the cannabis computer
    techs anyway.

    >But he seems to be hurting.
    >He was eating breakfast on a blanket underneath some scaffolding. The
    >street was quiet, the day was cold. He said he was depressed.

    Sad, but maybe that's because he's retarded and expected to earn a living on th
    e mean streets of New York.
    Jinkies, Dec 8, 2003
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