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Public eye: May Alice Wells, 27
Photograph: Allison Michael OrensteinPublic eye: May Alice Wells, 27

Public eye: May Alice Wells, 27

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

48th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves

What a 19th-century-British-novelist name you have! [Laughs] I know! I’m thinking of changing my last name, actually, to Dunn Kitti.

Witness protection? Ha, no. Wells is my father’s last name, and I really feel like I don’t want to associate with that side of the family. I don’t know them and he’s done nothing for me. My mom is the one who raised me; I should carry on that family tree. Her maiden name is Dunn.

And Kitti? I just added that for fun. [Laughs]

What are you up to? I’m coming from a networking event. I’m about to start an internship in construction management, working on the new Delta terminal at JFK Airport.

How’d you get into construction? I was at home and hadn’t worked for months, and I had no money, so I called my sister to see if she had work for me. She was renovating her brownstone at the time. We did everything, from excavating the place to adding a kitchen and a roof with a skylight. It was labor-intensive work, but it was really fun and it paid pretty good. So I applied to this program called the Association of Women Construction Workers of America. I went to all these events, met people, and learned more about the industry and what it had to offer.

How are your catcalling skills? [Laughs] I think I need to keep working on that. And though I’m attracted to the manual labor, I realized I didn’t want to do that as a career—it’s too hard on my body, and at the end of the day, I’m still a girl. I want to get cute. [Laughs] So now I’m moving more toward project management.

Are you the odd woman in a sea of men? Definitely. My class was supposed to be women construction workers, and we started out as four girls and ended up being only two at the end of the program. All the rest were guys, so it wasn’t a room full of women like I thought it would be. I hope that changes in the near future. I know a lot of girls who would love a program like this; school is not for everyone, and they need someplace to go too.

Men of New York, get ready to be supplanted entirely. [Laughs] Right, exactly.

More from May

“I just joined a dance company called Skin.”

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