Every day, specialists from city services take on a number of complex tasks to help citizens and keep the city alive and well. There is no doubt that their work is vital to the city, but we still know very little about them.
For our 'People of the City' section, we have asked these professionals about their unique experiences and interesting stories from the job. The interview with Vasily Mashonin was prepared in partnership with the Moscow city utilities authority.
How long have you been working in your profession and what made you choose it?
If you count my time as a student, I've been in this line of work since 1973. I enrolled in the Moscow Transport Construction Vocational School. I switched to night classes in my second year, but when I turned 18, I got conscripted into the armed forces. After my time in the military, I got a job with the Moscow Metro Construction Company and returned to the vocational school as a 3rd year student. I began my career as a metro tunnel digger. We dug underground tunnels for new metro lines. I spent a total of about 15 years working for the Moscow Metro Construction Company and I eventually got promoted to Head of the production area. I took part in the construction of the connecting tunnels between the Yuzhnaya and Chertanovskaya metro stations, the Krasnogvardeiskaya metro station, the Planernaya metro station and depot, and the Sviblovo metro station and depot. After that, I worked on construction sites for new buildings in Sokolniki and Sokol. I even did a stint as an engineer at the May Tea Company. And then, as luck would have it, in May 2009 I ended up at Gormost. I started off as Head of production area No. 7, which maintains the embankments in Moscow.
What does your work involve? Why is it important for the city and its residents? What are some of the most interesting parts of your job?
Seven years ago, Gormost set up a new construction directorate that was supposed to carry out minor and major repairs on different structures. The first staff members of the new directorate included myself, a crew of seven, a foreman, and a clerk. Our first project was the navy pond on Poklonnaya Hill. It was losing water at five times the normal rate! We managed to repair it in a month. Since then, the water loss has never exceeded the normal rate. After that, the city launched an underpass and bridge renovation programme that we're still involved in. Not long ago, we were asked to do work on the Big Moskvoretsky bridge. It hadn't been repaired since it was first built in the 1930s. And now, we're doing the same kind of work on the Bolshoi Kamenny bridge.
We also took part in the Parks of Moscow programme. We conducted repairs on the Golden Ear and Friendship of the Peoples fountains, as well as on the fountains at the entrance to VDNH.
On the whole, we do good work for the city and its residents!
What do you like about your job? Is there anything about it that inspires you?
Working in construction is interesting because you always get to see the fruits of your labour. I'm always amazed at what past generations managed to accomplish. They were able to build these miraculous structures without the aid of modern construction equipment.
But what amazes me most of all are the people. They're the real treasures. For example, the Chief Engineer at the Moscow Metro Construction Company, Egor Abakumov, even has a street named after him in the north of Moscow. During the construction of the Moscow metro, it occurred to him that one set of escalators wouldn't be enough for all the people needing to enter and exit the station. If there was a malfunction, crowds of people would be stuck and trains would continue to arrive at the station. So, the stations were redesigned to include at least three escalators each. Eventually, each station was given four (two going up and two going down). In the past, people constructed buildings to last centuries. We're proud to be their descendants and to continue in that tradition.
And, of course, I'm inspired by my team. Gormost employs a lot of young people, but we also have quite a few veterans and we try to pass down our experience to the younger generation. When you see young gifted people, quick learners who understand the task at hand, you want to keep going back to work and doing even more.
Actually, this year Gormost is celebrating its 85th anniversary! So, I would like to congratulate our team; those who have long been working for the good of the capital, as well as those who've only recently joined in.
Could you share a funny/interesting/gripping story that happened to you at work?
There used to be a boating station at VDNH. Once, when I was a student, we lost an oar in the water. And when we were carrying out repairs at VDNH, we pulled out five oars from that pond, five oars! I immediately thought that one of them had to be mine.
What are some of your favourite places in Moscow? Do you have any favourite spots related to the job?
Even when I was young, I loved visiting VDNH. I lived in the Yaroslavskoye highway area for 12 years and I always enjoyed going for walks there with friends. Later, we'd go there with our families. It's become really beautiful now. Every time I go, I get to see the delighted faces of guests. It's nice to know that I have helped make that happen.
I have also always enjoyed ice skating in Gorky Park. When I have guests visiting me from other cities, I always take them to Kolomenskoye and to Sparrow Hills. They have some of the best panoramic views of Moscow.
Name three places you'd recommend visiting in Moscow. What are the must-see places for someone who's here for the first time?
If you're in Moscow for the first time, I would strongly encourage you to visit Red Square and Alexandrovsky Garden. When it comes to parks in the city, you'll want to check out VDNH. It has both history and architecture, and it so well executed. It's really an interesting place to visit. The best panoramic view in Moscow used to be from the Ostankino TV tower, but now it's got some tough competition from the observation decks in Moscow City.
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