Women in Trades: King County Road Services

Mari Jane Friel | Photo by Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times

Mari Jane Friel is up to her knees in mud as dark as chocolate cake and smiling broadly.

“I love what I do,’’ she says. “It’s something different every day.”

Friel, 58, a laborer with King County’s Road Services Division 2, previously worked in corrections and as a chef in downtown Seattle. Her first day on the job, she was assigned to dig a ditch.

Today, she’s wielding a shovel and a siphon to clear a drainage ditch of mud and weeds so that salmon can pass through during the rainy season. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, snowing or hotter than a diesel engine: the crew works in all weather.

“Some days, you’re sore, using different muscles than usual,’’ she says.

Friel grew up on a farm, and occupied herself with Girl Scouts and riding horses.

There are a few other women on the job, but most of the time, it’s her and “the boys.”

“My husband says, ‘Men are like magazine covers. Women are like “War and Peace.”‘ I tell it like it is, and I appreciate the same.”

Mari Jane Friel was featured in The Seattle Times story Women in the Trades