Everyday Heroes : Street sweeper wary of mad drivers
When the 'cleanliness is next to godliness' adage fails, street sweepers like Dianne Pennicook fly out of their beds, like captain planet, in the wee hours of the morning to save the environment.
Braving the dark when criminals usually prowl, Pennicook and her colleagues clean the streets of Jamaica.
However, the greatest challenge Pennicook faces on a daily basis is not the picking up after the litter bugs, who sail garbage from their car windows. Instead, it is the 'mad' drivers whose reckless overtaking in the mornings on Hellshire main road, oftentimes causing her to jump into the nearby crocodile-infested swamp.
"The biggest danger mi face is the car them," Pennicook told THE WEEKEND STAR at the break of dawn Tuesday as she tidied the street. "Dem overtaking and not looking out for nobody else. Sometimes mi have to jump over inna the swamp to how them come over pon mi."
Luckily, Pennicook has never encountered a crocodile in the 14 years she has been cleaning Hellshire main road. "I think this road waan police because it is a hotspot. Sometimes them crash with people and kill them.... this road is in need of a police," Pennicook said.
While noting that watching out for criminals when she works early in the morning is also a challenge, Pennicook said that the lack of respect for her profession caused her to be overlooked by criminals.
"One morning some youths rob a group of people and when dem a pass mi one stop and the other one say. Yuh nuh see a sweeper that," Pennicook recalled. " So dem nuh really trouble me like that."
Pennicook said the littering on Hellshire main is getting worse as the years go by.
"Mi think say it worse because even them big man deh inna dem vehicle dem just throw things through window," Pennicook said. "And because no one live out here, people dem just come dump dead animals all the time and we have to stomach that."
"And when the grass is high, it's difficult to pick up the rubbish them. But like how it cut now it's easier. I just have to watch out for the car dem."
The 53-year-old said that she will continue to clean the streets as long as it allows her to keep the lights on in her home.
"My son is big now and he helps mi out, but it mek mi can pay the bill dem, so mi naah stop," Pennicook said.