It's weird when you find out someone you know actually has a "Real Job." Take Shari Jay, who's as rebel as they make 'em south of the Mason-Dixon. Shari's a cowboy from Oklahoma, a tractor fanatic with a degree in Irish literature, and a fixture at the more rock 'n' roll after hours in town (when she's not at home partying with her infinitely wise and lovely eight-year-old daughter, Ruby Jude). Well, it turns out Shari works a nine-to-five at the DEQ, an organization I've found to be unpleasant at best. Shari likes it fine, though. She's been there upwards of a decade.
How did you get into this line of work?
There was an ad in the paper that said, "Do you like the outdoors? Do you like cars?" I was like, "Fuck yeah!" I started at the very bottom, testing cars at the Clean Air Station in Hillsboro. I worked hard and became manager right away. I hated management. Luckily the DEQ was just starting this new program and I had a cool boss who recognized that I'd be better at that.
What are your duties?
I write rules and do research, development, and testing of new products. The coolest thing that I've been working on is this remote OBD [On-Board Diagnostic] thing. We put a transponder in your vehicle—it has to be a '96 or newer—and we'll pick up a signal from you while you're driving and send you a certificate. We read only your emissions equipment. We don't care if you were at Jiggles or going 80 mph down Belmont. You pay a flat fee for installation and you never have to go through a Clean Air Center again.There's a certain amount of dread associated with the DEQ. It's a pain in the ass to get your car tested, and expensive when it fails.
We do a lot more than test cars. We oversee the quality of land, water, and air for the State of Oregon. I'm in air, and I'm a Gemini.
Are there any tricks for people who want to get their old beater through DEQ?
Yes, but if I told you I'd have to kill you. We get fired if we commit a fraudulent test. Believe me, there were times when I was tempted, especially for elderly people or people who were clearly very poor, driving an old pick-up with a bunch of kids.If you're on the highway and some jerk cuts you off who's leaking shit out of his ass, is there a number to call?
There's a Smoking Vehicle Hotline: 229-5066. Terrorize people. I do.