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Mary Matthews-Sutton is a ‘Special Person’“I did it so much—sometimes I used to go till in Stanleytown and do plumbing work—and sometimes I worked with just a lamp in the people’s toilets to make ends meet, but thank God, today I don’t have to go that extra mile.”By Leon SuseranTimes have really changed. The workplace dynamic is no longer what it used to be, where males held onMary Matthews-Suttonto certain jobs as did their female counterparts. Today, in these modern times, women have been actively pursuing and occupying many of the male-dominated designations. Women are also proving that they can do physically-demanding jobs and in some cases do them better than the men.This week, we feature a humble yet remarkable woman; one who had to literally be sought out over the past week at her place of employment, since she is always on the move, checking to make sure everything runs smoothly—and that’s in the literal sense.You see, Mary Matthews-Sutton is one of a rare few, if not Guyana’s only female plumber.The proud Berbician and mother of three, plies her trade without much fanfare, to make ends meet. Her days are spent – as they always have been for the past 23 years or so – establishing free-flowing plumbing systems at the National Psychiatric Hospital (NPH) at Fort Canje,NCAA Basketball Jerseys, Berbice; the New Amsterdam (N/A) Public Hospital and various schools and other government offices across New Amsterdam. She is ably assisted by a few other plumbers attached to the Region Six Administration, but it is noteworthy that she is the most experienced. Mary’s desire to enter the field of plumbing started when she was younger, as she watched her brother George, a plumber himself, skillfully operate.HANGING WITH THE BOYSShe was born in New Amsterdam to Alberta Matthews, Charwoman at Employment ExchangeHard at work: replacing some damaged pipes at the NPH earlier this week.and Samuel Duncan, a Captain. Her childhood days were spent at Sheet Anchor, Canje, and neighbouring Cumberland Village. Mary remembers swimming a lot at Sheet Anchor, with siblings and friends. At Cumberland, she did pretty much the same, and recalled receiving ‘lots of licks’ from her mother.The group of friends, too, most of whom comprised males,Wholesale China Jerseys, enjoyed picking fruits and such like.Mary always loved to be around the boys and found herself mixing and mingling more with them. Their pursuits were more interesting to her. This preference continues to this day, when she admitted that she has a lot of male friends, co-workers, at the NPH and N/A Hospital.She attended Fort Ordnance Primary School where she wrote the Secondary School Proficiency Examination (SSPE), after which she was awarded a place at the Berbice Educational Institute (BEI). Mary’s parents could not afford to allow her to write the CXC Exams, so she dropped out of school at Form Three.In 1984, her yearning was to pursue technical studies in plumbing at the New Amsterdam Technical Institute (NATI), where she wrote the Entrance Exam. Mary related that one of her brothers, George Alfred, was a plumber, and she used to observe what he did. He was employed with the Ministry of Public Works back then, as well as at the Guyana Police Force. He later died and Mary wanted to continue her brother’s work.“Normally, I used to see him doing the laying of the tiles and stuff,” she said. Attaining a ‘B’ Grade with Credit, with a Diploma and Certificate in Plumbing, the then 21-year-old Mary reluctantly applied for a job, to boost her mother’s income in the home.Her first place of employment was the Region Six Administration located at Vryman’s Erven,Taking it to another level!New Amsterdam. The first thing she was told during the interview was that she, being a woman, “would not want to climb ladders and so.” Mary insisted that she was ready for whatever the job entailed, and she was accepted for the position after the former plumber (also a woman), Anne Cameron, resigned from the post. Her role model back then was a plumber too, by the name of Oswald Benn.EXPERIENCESShe spent lots of days working at the old New Amsterdam Hospital at Charles Place, New Amsterdam. Her work extended,NFL Jerseys Outlet, too, to all the public schools,Cheap Jerseys Paypal, health centres, government buildings, judges’ quarters, etc. She simply loves plumbing and has had some pleasant as well as not-so-pleasant experiences.Mary’s job is no easy task, and many of us might not even last one day in it. She recalled the time climbing a high ladder at the old N/A Hospital and the unimaginable happening.“I was clearing blockages at the maternity ward and whilst doing that—when I opened the plug, the filth flew into my eyes— Of course I couldn’t react hysterically at that height or it could have been a disaster. I had to end up going to the eye clinic and having my eyes thoroughly washed out!”Despite such a dispiriting occurrence, Mary persevered, “because you know, you have your children to take care of, and at least you know you have a job and income, and have to make the best use of it.”Her days are generally spent clearing blockages in the sewer and plumbing systems at theFamily portrait: Mary, her husband, children and grandchild.N/A and Psychiatric hospitals,Cheap NFL Jerseys Supply, where from time to time, she is required to push her hands inside large pipes and manually take the items out. “At one time, I had to put my hands in a garbage bag at the maternity ward, and use it to pull out piece of a brass broom from inside one of the toilet bowls!”“It’s an experience where you won’t find females picking it up, because up to a few years ago, they had a female (plumber) at the hospital and as soon as she go and see blood, she left the work. But I still maintain my composure and proceed.”Sharing some of the more positive experiences,Cheap Adidas NHL Jerseys, Mary recalled the time when two other rooms had to be used to deliver babies at the N/A Hospital, since the old Operating Theatre was abandoned. “It was a pleasure in those circumstances that you had to go up to clear the blockages to allow the process to go on…flow freely so to speak. Normally, every day there would be blockages—and sometimes you would be downstairs and they (the nurses) would call out from the windows, ‘Mary, you’re needed again!’ It would be the sink overflowing or otherwise… you have to face it with a positive attitude.”Mary would also guide Marlon Trim, her co-worker, who works alongside her today, showing him and others the “better way of doing things”.Our ‘Special Person’ was asked what in her opinion the most important attribute of a plumber is. She said that a good plumber must have great patience and course, know to lay pipes. “You must take your time; work neatly, and know everything of how to lay the pipes; which angles to turn the pipes…beneath, at ground level and of course, above that.”“One cannot be a good plumber unless those skills are mastered,” she stated. “For instance, you might put the valve incorrectly, but you still have to know (at) what angle to put the tees and knees, as well as couplings, to make the system efficient.”“For me, plumbing today has vastly improved from back in the olden days, and is much less complicated,Cheap NFL Jerseys, in that material like PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) has replaced the heavier galvanized pipes. Thank God it (PVC) is so much lighter…it makes the cutting and joining much simpler.Even though she used to do domestic plumbing, she has pretty much given up doing private work for persons, since much of her days and time are taken up at the hospitals and other State-run facilities. “I did it so much—sometimes I used to go till in Stanleytown and do plumbing work—and sometimes I worked with just a lamp in the people’s toilets to make ends meet, but thank God, today I don’t have to go that extra mile.”Given her experiences, she wonders whether the younger generation would envisage or have the fortitude to pursue a career in plumbing. It should be noted that two of Mary’s sons are in the field, including one who is currently at NATI. Additionally, she said that one of her grandsons is desirous of being a plumber too! Mary and her husband, Fitzroy Sutton, share three lovely children, Yolanda, 26; Timothy, 24; and Travis, 18.BLESSED WITH A SKILLA typical work day for Mary begins around 08:30 hrs where she makes her rounds around the hospitals. “Sometimes the pipes would burst—sometimes the weeders would slash (the grass) and burst up the pipes. I try to rectify the problems as quickly as possible so the situation can be brought to some state of normalcy.”Sometimes, when I don’t have the right pipe fittings to do the job, I would have to resort to heating the pipes so that their ends can be joined without the use of a coupling. That expansion with heat is called a ‘bell.’ I would also use sturdy rubber to secure the pipes, when there is no PVC paste. You have to know your way around to make things happen, even when you don’t have the right material or tools.Mary has seven more years before she retires and she pledges to continue working and giving of her best. Upon retirement, she would have given the people of Guyana 31 years of service as a plumber. She is thankful to her God for keeping her steadfast in her profession for almost 24 years. “I have been blessed with a skill and I have never taken it for granted.”We know that, Mary; that’s why you’re this week’s ‘Special Person’.
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