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On the morning of Nov. 11, Yvonne Smith was driving through Hillcrest on her way to work at the Metropolitan Police Department. Along the 2200 block of Branch Avenue, an orange dump truck belonging to the Department of Public Works pulled out in front of her. Smith was shocked to see a legless, busty mannequin wearing a racy black top strapped to the truck’s grille.
This wasn’t the first time that someone has found a DPW driver’s aftermarket adornment to be tasteless. Two weeks ago, another resident saw a garbage truck displaying a Dora the Explorer doll like a roadkill trophy. That resident couldn’t catch the truck’s license-plate number, but Smith was more determined: She made a U-turn, wrote down its tags, and then called the city to report it.
“I was offended because of all the issues we have about domestic violence,” says Smith. “And because of the big boobs and the little top the mannequin was wearing, it was in my opinion a form of sexual harassment against the neighborhood.”
Smith was transferred around DPW, but no one seemed to take her complaint seriously. When Smith, a Prince George’s County resident, got to work, she went onto the Hillcrest Internet group and recounted what she had seen. Within an hour, the truck had been located, the mannequin had been removed, and a DPW supervisor had phoned Smith to apologize for the incident and promise that disciplinary action would be taken against the offenders.
DPW spokesperson Mary Myers says that while the employees were told in no uncertain terms that such behavior was unacceptable, the agency doesn’t break down what is and what isn’t appropriate for drivers to put on their trucks. “I don’t think an incident like this has ever come up,” she says. “We don’t have anything specific on mannequins.”