Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Why I Like Mike

I went back and forth on a title for this post. Dirty Jobs? Mike Rowe? Celebrating Dirt? But you've seen the show, or have heard of it. Dirty Jobs would not be what it is without Mike Rowe.

image Anyway, several months back I got to meet Mike Rowe at a PDS conference in Wisconsin (at some enormous resort in the Dells. Apparently if you build a ginourmous indoor waterpark in the middle of nowhere, people will come.) Mike was the guest closing speaker, and he just sat down and told some stories from the show, and how the show came to be, and took questions from the audience. He seemed like a regular guy, in his jeans and work boots and ball cap.

The most interesting thing, though, was the story of how he's come to see his show as a celebration of the working man, the blue collar worker sloughing through the trenches (literally and metaphorically) every day. We've nearly demonized dirty work in this country, and look down on skilled trades people who we could not live without. Mike sees that, and while he may not be able to make it right he certainly points it out every chance he gets.

What I like best about the show is that he always has fun with his 'guest hosts', the workers, and pokes a little fun at them. But he never tries to do anything funny at their expense. You can tell he has genuine respect for these folks, respect that likely comes from being raised by working class parents and grandparents.

So here's to Mike Rowe, just a regular guy going around finding out how regular people get dirty.

Mike operates an irregularly updated blog over on Discovery, where he mainly answers questions. What prompted this post was his answer to a father who was looking for some motivation and encouragement for his son to finish his Eagle Scout badge. You can read the whole thing here, but this is what Mike has to say:

Your Dad asked me to drop you a line and say something inspirational that might persuade you to dig down deep and find the determination to make the rank of Eagle Scout. It's a reasonable request, from a father who obviously wants to see his son succeed. But here’s the thing - The Eagle Award is not really meant for people who need to be dragged across the finish line. It’s meant for a select few, and I have no idea if you have the guts to see it through.
Statistically, I suspect you do not. Only one out of a hundred Scouts make Eagle, so if you fail, there will be lots of other people with whom you can share excuses. Quitting now might disappoint your Dad, but I doubt that he or anyone else will be overly surprised. Anytime 99 out of 100 people do the same thing, it’s not exactly a shock.

He goes on from there, you should read the entire thing.

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