One of my childhood icons was Eric Hoffer, my father's favorite philosopher, migrant worker, longshoreman on the docks of The Embarcadero, and author the the bestselling True Beliver. Fast forward to today: in the swirl of Wall Street scandal and economic crisis a new advocate for America's underclass and the dignity of real work has emerged: "Dirty Jobs" host Mike Rowe. Rowe reminds us that we are our own best resource. Not government, not academia, not Wall Street or Main Street.
On Dirty Jobs Rowe digs in during a gig sheep herding on a ranch in Colorado with talk about what we got wrong about work. "People with dirty jobs are happier than many people I know. These are balanced people who do unthinkable work – roadkill workers whistle while they work. They have this amazing symmetry to their work," observes Rowe.
Follow your passions and go for broke. This is what we’re told growing up to achieve success.
But that’s not the only way to go, says Rowe. Think of what other people are doing and go the other way. It’s not just following your passions, it’s doing jobs other people aren’t doing. Or as Silicon Valley cartoonist cum philosopher Hugh McLeod says: IGNORE EVERYONE!
Row started looking at efficiency vs. effectiveness; teamwork vs. determination; all the b.s. that hangs in fancy boardrooms or on the back page of Forbes- The Capitalist Tool,. All that stuff has all been turned on its head. The dirty blue collar jobs are very often dangerous; there's real daily risk involved in running a crab boat off Alaska or gold mining in the Yukon, or piloting a space shuttle to the ISS. But Rowe as seen that the ones who get it done are not out there thinking safety first. "They think of the business of getting the job done," he says. "When I was working on The Deadliest Catch - most hazardous environment I’d ever seen. I’m 40-feet over the deck. I say with some level of incredulous to the captain and I say OCHA – and he says: Ocean. Captain says: Son, I’m the captain of a crab boat. My responsibility is not to get you home alive, it’s to get you home rich. If you want to get home alive, that’s on you."
Rowe, former opera singer, has formed a theory on his dirty jobs experience and and it comes down to this: "We’ve declared war on work on society. All of us. It’s a civil war, a cold war. We didn’t set out to do it but we’ve done it. We’ve waged this war on at least four fronts.
Hollywood – the way we portray working people on TV, it’s horrible. Plumbers all have giant butt cracks and weigh 300 pounds. We turn working people into heroes on punchlines
Madison Avenue – what’s that message we put out there? Work 9-5 (or some semblance of that routine
Washington – I can’t even begin to talk about deals and possibilities of the ‘bottom line’ behind a working job.
Silicon Valley – how many people have an iPhone, Blackberries. We are plugged in.
Silicon Valley has given us a new tool box. But, "Our tools don’t look like shovels and picks. The collective effective of all of that has been the marginalization of lots and lots of jobs," says Rowe.
This war on work has impacted our infrastructure but it’s also declining technical schools. Rowe sees fewer steam fitters, electricians… these guys are in decline. "The jobs we hope to make and hope to create are not going to stick unless they are jobs we want. Clean and Dirty are not opposites, they are two sides of the same coin."
Don't miss Rowe on Mike Rowe on Discovery, Realization and Lamb Castration VIDEO below.
Posted by Casey Kazan.