Yanael Rodriguez, a shy 24-year-old with a handsome smile, might have the strangest job in Miami-Dade. It's called being an "animal disposal technician" and it's a fancy way of saying that you scrape roadkill for a living. There are two county employees who do this full-time, and they are busy in a department ominously titled Dead Animal Pickup.
Last year, they received 7,200 calls to remove smooshed creatures from our public spaces. That's about 20 calls per day -- if you're counting -- and over twice as many as Broward. Plus, Miami probably has the craziest roadkill in the whole nation. There are roosters (Little Haiti), iguanas (Key Biscayne), snakes (Homestead), kittens (Miami Beach), and sharks (Overtown.)
Sorry about mentioning the kittens.
It's what happens when a million different cultures -- all with different attitudes towards pets -- meet in a place where nobody follows the rules anyway. Of all municipalities, Hialeah required the most clean-up calls. The city of Miami followed closely behind.
After runs are done for the day, Yanael and his partner dump the animals in a landfill out west.
A county spokesperson told Riptide we were not allowed to take a ride with Yanael, but we stalked him anyway, for a brief period via Facebook. We wanted to know what kind of person has a job like this. Shake his hand. Maybe buy him a beer. You know this guy has some stories.
But the spokesperson said those animal carcasses can make a reporter sick. And the county doesn't need another lawsuit. It was a phone conversation but we could tell she was wincing.
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"Don't worry!" we assured her. Riptide can not afford a lawyer for suing large counties! We can barely afford toothpaste!
She was not convinced. So we turned once again to Facebook, where we learned that Yanael is engaged, wears a silver wristwatch, and is looking for "Friendship."
It would appear that he is normal.