Yang Huafeng, a senior repairer for old residential communities in Shanghai's west downtown, has been practising the traditional proverb "one may distinguish himself in any trade".
The 38-year-old head of repairers with the Putuo Housing Repairing Center has been fixing toilets, air conditioners, water taps as well as dredging pipes for more than 6,000 households living around the Zhongshan Road N. for 19 years.
He was granted the honorary titles "outstanding youth," "model volunteer," "the most beautiful property management worker", as well as becoming a legislator with Shanghai People's Congress.
Whatever needs to be done, Yang thinks up a solution, collects his tools and materials and goes to the site within 30 minutes. His efficient and warm-hearted manner has won him the affectionate title of “Master Xiao Yang” from most of the residents.
"I've been dealing with toilets, taps, wrenches, wires, plumbs and screws since I graduated from school in 2001," Yang said. "The job is dirty and with a small salary, but every compliment from a resident makes me fulfilled."
The center Yang works for is famous for Xu Hu, a famous national model worker, who repaired toilets for residents around the clock for decades.
Xu's motto "my hardwork can bring convenience to thousands" has become the principle of the center as well as for Yang.
Yang's master, Huang Weiguo, a city-level model worker is the apprentice of Xu.
"I'd like to take over the spirit of the predecessors and teach my apprentices," Yang said.
Wu Zixing, general manger with the housing repair company of the state-owned Xibu Group, said she finds the same spirit of Xu Hu in Yang.
"They both wear a pair of glasses and always pick up the most challenging tasks," Wu said. "They also received the same high praises from residents."
In 2019, Yang and his team members finished 6,579 repairs. Both the on-time and satisfactory rates are 100 percent, according to the company.
During the Spring Festival this year amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, Yang worked continuously for six days, since many tradesmen remained out of the city.
His wife, a medical worker with a community health center in Jiading District also had to work overtime to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They had to send their 5-year-old daughter to their parents.
"The residents' summons is always the priority," Yang said.
He still recalls the first task he received in 2001, a toilet leaking dirty water in a resident's apartment. Yang spent two hours solving the problem and dredging the pipes.
"Since then, I had a true feeling for the property management business and took it as my lifelong career," he said.
When super typhoon Lekima swept the city in the summer of 2019, Yang climbed down from the top of a six-floor apartment building to dismantle a loose canopy.
"I only felt scared afterwards," he recalled.
Yang keeps studying during his leisure time. He has acquired certificates in plumbing, leakage evaluation and terminate treatment. His tool box has many special tools he invented.
For instance, he combines a drill and a supporting tool to dismantle an air conditioning shelf. Workers no longer need to hang outside to remove the rusty screws from an exterior wall.
As a legislator, Yang proposed to build more "blue collar apartments" apart from the "white-collar apartments" to retain the vocational workers.
"Housing repairers have a low salary and heavy workload," Yang said. "These apartments can help attract many professionals from outside of Shanghai."
He also serves the elderly at nearby seniors' homes voluntarily, and has become a welcomed visitor.
Chen Yaojue, Yang's wife, said he might not be a "qualified husband" and father to her and their daughter. Yang gets up at 6am every day and returns home late night. He has to answer phone calls after work and study repairing. Sometimes, he also has to get up after midnight to deal with an emergency.
"I keep telling myself I should feel happy for Yang who has found a job he loves, and spare no effort to support him," Chen said.