“What is most important; to live or pretend to have lived?” Brazilian lyricist Paulo Coelho
MANY people may look down on the profession of fixing sanitary ware— popularly known as plumbing, to the point of considering it a menial job. It’s widely believed that people taking up such jobs had an unfortunate academic life.
Several years ago, I was introduced to a plumber from an unnamed Arab country under certain circumstances, and after several days of renovation work — which required no less than 10 days to complete, I noticed he wasn’t an uneducated person due to the way in which he was doing the job.
In fact, I came to know that he holds a Master’s degree in Arabic language and related literature from a renowned university in the Arab world. I even sought his assistance more than once in correcting my articles and learnt his way of writing, which continues to impress me to this day — it was distinctively wonderful!
With time, I came to know that Mr. Plumber corrected and reviewed several specialized researches and even had connection with some bureaus for literature studies and research. In fact, he used to review post graduate dissertations. Inside his humble house was an old computer which he used for his work that generated suitable income. Naturally, I had to ask him why he’s into plumbing and his answer was: I make more money in plumbing than correcting theses or researches, and being educated does not put bread on one’s table.
Four years in the plumbing business, his portfolio has developed to the point of receiving plumbing contracts for plots and buildings with excellent returns, and the proceeds from a single plumbing deal amount to the annual wage related to his academic qualifications.
I was surprised about his situation in view of the fact that a person with high academic qualification from a reputable university opted out of a job related to his specialty and academic attainment for a vocation that has no admiration of many people. Why did he go through the stress of studying for his Master’s?
I asked him few questions and our discussion went on for many days rather than hours. Through him, I discovered that money is the mainstay of life and making money to earn a decent living is more important, although acquiring civilization is important. We can never benefit from our knowledge and certificate without money.
Mr. Plumber has accomplished successes beyond expectation due to his vocation. He started as an apprentice to a master plumber under serious pressure for survival. He learnt the vocation and excelled in it, and even got his own clients. Glory be to Allah who changes situation and transforms life!
I am writing these words, although with mixed feelings. Are you surprised with the way he held on to life through constant efforts, which made him sacrifice the dream of becoming a great personality in society? I may be wrong in saying he moved against the current since his actions were illogical and lacked objectivity, as he dumped his lofty certificates in the safe instead of benefiting from it.
This is a hardworking knowledge seeker who attained academic excellence and opted for a vocation, which many people deem a menial job. This scenario depicts the situation of many people who ended up in different fields far from their areas of expertise! Dear friend, it is about fighting for survival!
By Yousef Awadh Al-Azmi