Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth:
SIMONE BALL works in a male-dominated field and loves every bit of it. She is not overly preoccupied with labels and says she is comfortable working in a man's world, fixing and buildingradiators.
"Mi nuh really see 'Man' write on any job. I'm a hands-on person. Picture me behind an office desk. The four walls thing can't work for me. I like to be up and conversing with people, meeting new people every day, and I like new challenges.
"I am a certified electrician. I do construction technology. I was in school studying for construction management, but then I branched off and started doing radiators," 32-year-old Ball told Rural Express.
She added: "I wanted to become a contractor. With the economic crisis, there's no job in that area, and they say if you fish in one area and you don't catch any fish, fish somewhere else. Mi would want to work my way up, save my money, and do whatever I want to do," Ball said.
She told Rural Express that it was while working in the electrical field that she learned the skill to work on radiators, and when things did not work out in the electrical field, she decided to try something new.
"When I was doing electrical work, I was at an organisation where we did electrical, refrigerators, air conditioning, and radiators. So being there, I catch on to bits and pieces. When the job went bad, I decided to take this (radiators) up.
"When I started studying for electrical, people were like, 'Why are you doing that? Why don't you do something else? Can you manage?' Like the other day, this [taxi operator] saw me, and he was like 'Dirty girl!', and within a week, he was right here, and I'm the one who worked on the radiator," she told Rural Express.
Ball said there have been other instances when she wears her work clothes on the road, and she can see the disapproving stares from some on the streets, but she said she does not allow them to distract her. She is not ashamed of what she does, and she enjoys it greatly.
"Me being in my dirty clothes is my proudest moment. I'm proud of it wherever I go. I wear it with a smile. Some give you the thumbs up - mostly men.
"My mom used to tell me, 'You pick a job you love and you'll never work a day'. I'm always searching for more, maybe even start my own business some day," Ball added.
As for the men she works with, Ball said they treat her like one of the guys, even to the point that they sometimes forget that she is a woman.
PHOTOS BY LAUNTIA CUFF