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Using the Tools God Gave Him

TV’s Mike Rowe idolized his grandfather. There was one problem—he could never be like him. Or could he?

By Mike Rowe, San Francisco, California

As appeared in

In the next eight years, I would travel to every state and work every conceivable dirty job: salt miner, fish gutter, septic-tank technician, ostrich farmer, underwater lumberjack, worm-poop rancher—you name it.

I can’t tell you that I did those jobs well. In fact, I was a disaster, as most apprentices are their first day on the job. But I didn’t care anymore. Because my incompetence was now illuminating the expertise of the skilled workers I profiled.

All I had to do was humble myself, share my own shortcomings with millions of viewers, and shine the spotlight on the very people I had always admired the most.

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Pop died just before Dirty Jobs premiered, but really, he had seen the first episode 40 years earlier. He knew it was there all along, buried in a toolbox I never knew I had. The one he told me about back when I was his apprentice. The best job I’ve ever had.


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