Friday, August 29, 2014
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PGW has its first female foreman

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PGW has its first female foreman

This is a long-overdue congrats to Wanda Peluyera, who just became the first woman in PGW’s history to fulfill the position of Foreman on a PGW maintenance crew. I met Wanda in August, when my favorite neighbor, Vince, smelled gas in front of our homes and alerted PGW. They sent a crew to investigate and, I’ve gotta say, I feared the worst – as I do anytime a jackhammer makes a noisy entrance. 

Some major work ensued, requiring different crews to spend several sweltering days smashing up our sidewalks and tending to leaky old pipes that were laid sometime during the Lincoln administration, I think.
 
I am delighted to report that the crews were total pros – polite, competent, reassuring and thorough. I kept waiting for the surliness and slacking that’s supposed to typify all utility employees, but there was none to be had.
 
Especially cheery was Peluyera, who caught my attention because a) she’s female, and there aren’t hat many female’s doing the physically demanding work of PGW crew workers, and b) she never stopped smiling, even while driving that 90-pound jackhammer into the concrete.  
 
We got to talking, and she told me she’d just been promoted to forewoman – the first female to attain the position. Foremen are responsible for supervising a maintenance crew on site and ensuring that the delivery of natural gas to the Philly residents is managed safely and properly.
 
 It took her seven years to work her way through all the crew positions – laborer, pipe mechanic, compressor operator – before she became the big cheese on the work site.
 
“I love PGW,” she told me, wiping sweat from her brow while she shoveled dirt out of the perfectly shaped, 3-foot-deep square hole she’d opened in the cement. “It’s an excellent company. You can start at the bottom and work your way straight up if you grab the opportunity and work hard. I love what I do.”
 
The proud way she said it made me want to grab a shovel and start digging!
 
It helps that Wanda appears to be a natural people person. She never lost patience with my umpteen questions  - or my ignorant suggestions, as if she or her workers needed my absolutely uninformed input, right?  And she treated Vince, the scrappy septuagenarian sentry of my block, with unflagging deference. That counts for a lot in my book.
 
A PGW spokesperson told me that Wanda, who is respected for her work ethic, sense of fun and  easy respect she shows her colleagues, has been a great street ambassador for the utility.
 
So thanks, Wanda, for fixing our gas leak with such aplomb, and mazel tov on your promotion. May many more women follow in your fierce, work-booted footsteps!
Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.


Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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