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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First Person

Alexander Medvedev, 59, mechanic:

I was the captain of a steamship -- the first ever captain to work at this branch of Mosgorteplo, which supplies heating and hot water. The ship wasn't big, and it wasn't well-known. It had a capacity of 34 passengers, and was on the network of Moscow reservoirs.

"I was born in Taganka in 1948. It was during Stalin's time, but I don't remember anything of it. As soon as I became aware of my biological existence, I wanted to become a sailor. Some say the sea is nice from the shore. I would have continued: The shore is nice from the sea.

"I was at the Moscow River Technical School from 1964 to 1968. I trained on the Yelets, a cargo ship, when I was 16 or 17. I cleaned and painted. What else can a 16-year-old do? And I was the third navigator on the Sergo Ordzhonikidze. It carried 2,000 passengers. There was a 24-day cycle -- 12 days to St. Petersburg, and 12 back.

"My course didn't have a military-service component, and so when I finished they sent me to Kamchatka, from 1968 to 1971. I was on a submarine, in a missiles and torpedoes brigade. It was the Cold War, if you remember it. We played war games with the Americans: Both sides were trying to show off their muscles.

"I became the boss of the yacht and motorboat inspectorate on the Moscow reservoirs, and then the boss of Moscow's life-saving stations. After that I was a captain, but in the Gorbachev years they found out my boat was worth $2 million, and took it away.

"I thought: I'm always so far from home, and in winter I can't sail because of the ice, and so I decided on Mosgorteplo. I arrived and said, 'Do you need captains?' and I told them what I could do. I can draw vector diagrams of electrical engines. Heating is important -- when a baby is born, he needs to be in a warm room constantly.

"I have 11 months left until I go on my pension. We'll see. I'm still healthy. A person with a beard has no intelligence, they say, but he has his health."