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How Siouxland's resented professions weather the disdain
Siouxland workforce

How Siouxland's resented professions weather the disdain

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SIOUX CITY | Think your job is demanding? Ask Sioux City parking meter attendant Trudy Smith about hers.

Her job description entails monitoring dozens of parking spaces in the downtown area, braving all sorts of horrid weather and, to top it off, confronting sometimes aggressive, sometimes offensive motorists with tickets.

Smith, who has been hitting the pavement for 24 years, takes the job in stride. She stays positive.

"I understand that often the last thing they need is an extra bill," she said.

Smith is one of the legions of Siouxland workers who weather criticism and downright contempt in professions that have negative stigmas. They are the men and women who tell us we have cavities, how we were driving 45 in a 25 mph zone and that we have to hand over the car keys for nonpayment. 

They are the brave people in hated jobs.

The repo man

Name: Jim Oien, owner of The Talon Agency, a Sioux City repossession agency.

The job: Lending institutions hire Oien to repossess vehicles pledged as security for loans. It usually involves researching a case, tracking an owner down and asking for the keys or working out payments.

"Most of it is mundane," said Oien, who has traveled to distant states on cases. Sometimes it's not so pretty. "I get some that are belligerent."

Best part: "The satisfaction of getting the job done, and getting it done right away. I like my clients to be happy. I am really happy for them that I am doing a good, efficient service."

Worst part: "There is no downside," he said. "They created the bill -- they just need to pay the bill."

-- Bret Hayworth

The attorney

Name: Molly Vakulskas Joly, Sioux City lawyer.

The job: Attorney specializing in family law, juvenile law, estate planning and probate.

Best part: "I know it sounds cliché, but helping people, having somebody come back and thank me for something I did that is completely within my power to do but made a difference in their life."

Worst part: "If we have to take a case to court and my client doesn't get completely what they wanted, it's a disappointment and it's completely out of my control. It's up to a judge."

Joly said she's heard the lawyer jokes and snide comments made about her profession, and it's not a shock. You know what you're getting into when you go to law school.

"A lot of times I laugh it off," she said. "What I've come to find is a lot of people love their own attorney, but hate everybody else's."

-- Nick Hytrek

The meter monitor

Name: Trudy Smith, Sioux City parking meter attendant.

What the job entails: Smith and another attendant ride scooters around downtown Sioux City checking the city's parking meters. Tickets are issued for expired meters and parking violations.

"I've learned you try to be fair and treat everybody the same," she said. "I think I've established a reputation of being fair."

Best part: "Being out in nice weather is great. Having been on the street for 24 years, I have watched so many kids grow up and they have kids of their own. I might not know their names, but I recognize their license plate numbers!"

Worst part: Also, the weather. When it's 30 below out, you have to get all geared up to keep warm, and if the streets are blocked with snow, you have to go on foot.

-- Lynn Zerschling

The dentist

Name: Dr. Mindy Stevens, of Sioux City.

The job: Owns Sunnybrook Dental, a family dental practice in Morningside.

Best part: "Nothing is better than having a patient who hates the dentist and is very fearful, come in, receive treatment and then sit up and tell me and my staff that this was the best experience that they have ever had."

Worst part: "The vast majority of people dread coming to the dentist. They will often cancel, reschedule or put off coming to see the dentist due to this fear of having their teeth worked on."

Stevens doesn't let it get her down.

"We need to find a way to make the patient's visit as comfortable as possible," she said.

-- Ally Karsyn

The cop

Name: John Farley, Iowa State Patrol trooper.

What the job entails: Farley patrols highways and interstates across the region and talks to school classes.

Best part: "We'll be having lunch and someone will come up and say, 'Hey, we really appreciate what you're doing out there.' That's really nice, to know that the public realizes that we're not just out there to write tickets; we're out there to help people."

Worst part: "It's not the job that provides the discomfort. It's working in the cold and in the snow. When you're standing on the interstate investigating a multiple car pile-up and it is 30 degrees below zero, it's uncomfortable."

-- Lauren Mills


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