Dirty Jobs such a big hit. Now first I must admit that I love the show. Back when my youngest was having trouble going to sleep at night I used to rock her while I watched the tube -- and one of the shows I watched was Dirty Jobs.
It would have been so easy for Mr. Rowe to mock the people who worked jobs that nobody else wants to do -- but he never made the workers the butt of the jokes. Quite the contrary, Mike Rowe was always the punchline. He treated everyone who came on that show with respect and dignity.
Mr. Rowe's answer to the question was quite profound. He said that most of us (me included) have jobs that we can't tell at the end of the day whether we've accomplished anything. My desk, for instance, is as big a mess when I walk out of the office as it is when I walk in the next day. I see a bunch of paper, letters and files on my desk and it doesn't make any difference how much paperwork I do in the afternoon - or at night - because there's always more to do. Mr. Rowe said what made the jobs he featured on the show so compelling was that each job had a starting point and an ending point. As an example he talked about a ditch digger. At the beginning of the day there was no ditch - but by the end of the day, there was a ditch.
My "dirty job" is mowing the lawn. When I wheel the mower out to the driveway and pull the cord I can see how tall (and ragged) the grass is. But as I walk across the yard I can see where I've mowed and where I haven't. The contrast is a constant reminder that I am accomplishing something. There is almost a Zen-like quality to pushing the mower as my mind keeps being drawn back to the contrast between the cut and uncut grass.