Picking up roadkill and emptying trash might be a dirty job to some, but Kokomo’s Jan Basil had never considered her job a “dirty job.” So when producers from “The Steve Harvey Show” called and asked her to be on the dirty jobs segment, she wasn’t sure they were asking the right person.
“A lady (from the show) called and said they were doing this show, and I said, ‘I don’t have a dirty job.’ She said to me, ‘Well don’t you throw trash?’ I said, ‘Yeah, all of us do.’ She said, ‘Do you pick up roadkill?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ She said, ‘How do you pick it up?’ I said, ‘With a glove,’ and she said, ‘Honey, you’ve got a dirty job,’” Basil said.
After a little hesitation, Basil who has worked for the Kokomo Parks and Recreation Department for the past 12 years, decided to go on the show, which aired Dec. 11.
For the woman who takes care of Kokomo’s 32 parks and empties 600 trash barrels, the experience wasn’t in the realm of what she’s used to. Expensive steaks, swanky hotels, and high heels had Basil in a different world.
“I’ve never been to such nice places, and they treated me like such a little princess,” she said.
Basil and two other women—one who was a fire fighter and did crime scene clean-ups and another who was a meat packer—were treated to Chicago’s finest. The women were given fresh new looks to “rediscover the woman within” by Steve Harvey and makeover gurus Jacqui Stafford and A.J. Johnson before appearing on the show.
“I’ve never worn heels, so for them to put me in a dress and heels, it was really out of my comfort zone,” she said.
Basil was joined on the show by Claire McGraw, her hairdresser who nominated her for the segment. McGraw vouched for why Basil’s job is indeed a dirty job.
“I go in to get my hair cut all the time, but I go in smelling like diesel fuel with bugs and grass in my hair. (McGraw) gets a kick out of it because I’ll sit there and tell her about kind of gross stuff sometimes, and those ladies are just freaking out,” she said with a laugh.
Before going out to Chicago for the filming, the producer of the show, Julie Maddox, and a photographer came to Kokomo to film a day in the life of Basil.
When Maddox asked Basil if she could come out to Kokomo, Basil was a little taken aback. After all, she just wanted to go on the show and not tell her coworkers she was doing it.
“Honestly I wasn’t going to tell anybody. I was just going to go and do it, and I thought with me being the only female, none of the guys I work with will see it,” she said, laughing. “But then all of a sudden I had to get permission from John (Martino) and mayor (Greg Goodnight) and lawyers. It was one of those what-was-I-thinking moments.”
Basil laughed about when she first called her boss to get permission to do the show. It was on a Saturday, and he was out in a tree stand hunting. He was trying to be quiet and was whispering to Basil until she told him a producer wants her to come out to Chicago to be on a talk show but wants to first film her while she’s at work first.
“All of a sudden he said really loudly, ‘It’s not like ‘The Jerry Springer Show’ it is?’ I laughed so hard and thought, ‘Well, there goes all the hunting for the day,’” she said.
Basil said she’s glad she decided to go on the show.
“I’m glad I did it. I’m usually a behind the scenes person. I just don’t like everybody looking at me at once, so it was way out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I’m thankful to the mayor and my boss for letting me do it and put the city’s logo out there.”
When asked if she sees a career change anytime in the future, she said no.
“I love my job. It’s different every day,” she said. “So I get dirty, but it doesn’t feel like a dirty job.”
As for all her co-workers, they found out about the show and haven’t let her live it down yet.
“The guys keep teasing me and calling me the park princess now. I said, ‘I was a princess a long time ago; you just didn’t notice,’” she said.