So… The New Site is Like the Old Site Only Newer and Dirtier

July, 2009

Aloha, from somewhere over the Pacific. As I prepare to re-enter the contiguous 48 for the second time this  month, I can finally begin to see the light at the end of a particularly nasty tunnel of production – one that has succeeded in kicking my butt harder and more consistently than any of its predecessors. Not that I’m complaining, but this last week in Hawaii has confirmed once again that hard work and paradise seem perfectly willing to share  the same lanai.

The boys and I had a jolly time washing windows and making tofu on the main island, along with some misadventures on Kauai later in the week. All good stories, but the one to look for is the window-washing escapade. Without a doubt, the most gut-wrenching high wire act we’ve so far attempted. The men and women who clean the windows at One Waterfront Place on Oahu have no apparent fear of heights, and we were hard-pressed to keep up.  It was a combination of the Mackinac Bridge segment and tar rigging on the Star of India.  Only this time, I was in a bosons chair for nearly five hours, swinging wildly over Honolulu Harbor with a squeegee, a bucket of suds, and a camera strapped to my head. Crazy. I left it cleaner than I found it, but my underpants are a disaster. Kudos to all concerned, especially Troy and Jones, who went far, far above and beyond the call. The footage is amazing.

But I digress. My purpose in checking in from 37,000 feet is to announce another step forward in our continued trajectory toward a useful and practical website, and to thank you all for making it possible. It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a year since I first mouthed off in my dining room about the changing definition of a “good job,” but calendars don’t lie, and neither doDirty Jobs Honolulu 2009_4es video. (If you ever want to make sure you do something you believe is worth doing, make a video of yourself promising to do the thing in question, and post it on a web site. Trust me, it’s a great motivator.)

Now, as we approach another Labor Day, I’m pleased to report that things are progressing pretty much the way I hoped. Thanks to a lot of hard work from some good friends and loyal partners, we continue to fumble forward in the right direction, and I’m really proud of what’s been accomplished so far. I hope you are too.

The latest improvements and changes to the site are fairly self-evident…poke around and let us know what you think. But remember, the work is never finished, and even though we’ve been referring to this day as the “hard launch,” I must confess that I’m not entirely sure what that means. mrW will continue to evolve, and many more changes are on the horizon.

As we move forward, please know that the moderators have my complete confidence, as well as a mandate to keep this site consistent with its larger mission. In other words, my once firm belief that people should be allowed to post pretty much whatever they wish has gone out the window. I want this site to be accessible in public schools and libraries, and taken seriously by educators, parents, and trades people. Right now, certain types and levels of conversation have made that a challenge. That can’t happen anymore, and the moderators have been instructed to do whatever they deem necessary to keep things civil and cogent. The first amendment, like safety, is important, but not always first.

The Foundation for instance, is far more important, as is the larger notion of a PR Campaign for hard work, which you’ll be hearing more about shortly. (Incidentally, this Twitter business is too much. Though I admit to being a little creeped-out by the whole thing, I’ve been told that after a few dozen random postings, I now have over 9,000 “followers.” If you are among them, I hope you’re not waiting for anything too profound. However, I will continue to use the technology to keep you updated as to all things mrW related.)

As the site continues to evolve and improve, and a new season of Dirty Jobs looms closer, I want to tell you how glad I am to have gone down this road, and how much I appreciate the support expressed here by so many. Our country is in a strange and complicated place right now. People are scared. Unemployment levels are staggering, and the national debt makes my head hurt. In the course of promoting this next round of Dirty Jobs, I’m looking forward to talking about this site, and spreading a message that’s simple, personal, apolitical, and easy to articulate. Distilled and reduced, the message is a familiar one, and goes like this – Get Ready to Get Dirty.Dirty Jobs Honolulu window washing

Some of you might recall that I first wrote that sentiment while sitting in one of Dr. Wilkerson’s famous Mud Baths in Calistoga, California, just prior to Season One. I had just written the Dirty Jobs mission statement, and was struggling to come up with a catchy phrase to finish it. Inspiration finally came from a tourist who I overheard inquiring with trepidation from the lobby about the “cleanliness” of the mud. (Tourists can be delightfully stupid, and this one apparently wanted to take a mud bath without getting dirty.) I remember the clerk said, “Sir, it’s a mud bath, and the mud is made from dirt, so it’s not what you might call clean. However, if you really want to get clean, you gotta get dirty first.”

The logic was lost on the gentleman, who seemed put off by the idea of lying in hot, therapeutic mud, and opted instead to go straight to a massage, followed by a hot steam and a shower. To each his own, I suppose. But I found the clerks observation rather insightful, and saw in the tourist an interesting metaphor. How many of us today, want to get straight to clean, without first getting dirty? Indeed, how can we even know what clean means, if we spend our lives avoiding the dirt? Moments later I scribbled out Get Ready to Get Dirty to what I had already written, and three weeks later, it was preserved for posterity in the show’s open.

That was nearly five years ago, and today, I see Get Ready to Get Dirty as something more than a catchy slogan. I see it as a challenge to pay your dues, an appeal to do what needs to be done, and a reminder that short-cuts often lead to long delays. If our country gets itself back on track, we will all need to “Get Ready to Get Dirty,” pronto. Which is why I’ve trademarked the slogan. Look for it soon, on a T-shirt or hat near you.

Well, that’ll have to be all for now. According to the flight attendant, it’s time to turn off anything with an on or off button. He seems quite serious, and is looking at me as I continue to type like a disapproving moderator. So I will close by saying this – I am more convinced than ever that a celebration of Skilled Labor and hard work are absolutely critical to the future of our country. And I’m really happy to have the opportunity to share that opinion with as many people as possible. Thanks again for helping to spread the word.

Now, get ready to get dirty.


28 thoughts on “So… The New Site is Like the Old Site Only Newer and Dirtier

  1. It’s been interesting seeing all this evolve. Thanks for allowing us to to participate in the building of this site from ground floor up. I think we all make a pretty good team.

  2. Well said! Especially the bit about paying one’s dues. While attempting not to sound too much like the old geezer on the porch shaking a clenched fist at the “young ‘uns”, that concept seems to have gone almost completely out the window. I worked with an intern once who complained incessantly about not having her own office.

    Seriously! You are an intern! You’re lucky we aren’t sending you on a fruitless search for an ID-10T form or a bucket of prop wash!

    This mentality has bled over into the financial world and shown up in the way people use credit cards. No paying ones dues (i.e. saving up). Instant gratification – throw it on a credit card and worry about it later. It’s one of the biggest (but certainly not the only) reason we are in this economic quagmire.

    Keep fighting the good fight. We are all behind you.

  3. “In other words, my once firm belief that people should be allowed to post pretty much whatever they wish has gone out the window.” Bravo! I am now very interested. Good work Mike and all who helped create this fantastic resource.

  4. “a celebration of Skilled Labor and hard work are absolutely critical to the future of our country.”

    Mike – congrats and thanks for this attractive, practical and meaningful site. With so many helping hands here, you’re getting a lot done! Beyond the very practical, resource-related aspects of the site, though, how do you see your supporting public coming into the picture to assist with the PR campaign for Skilled Labor and hard work? the reputation of the work and the workers? What can be said or done to attract people to this site who are not yet involved in Skilled Labor, and, more importantly, to influence their take on the whole hard-dirty-work-is-something-to-be-proud-of concept?

  5. “Get Ready to Get Dirty” is the best of the Rowe-isms you have gathered from the many dirty jobs you have done. “Fat is money” comes to mind from the making cracklins show. I recently watched a few youngster chime in, yelling out, “Get Weddy to Get Durty” along with you.

    What they see on Dirty Jobs will nurture their young ideas of what work is. This site is a huge extra step you’ve decided to make after you got dirty. Congratulations and thanks.

  6. Mike, mods, and contributors,

    Great job! The new site has exceeded my expectations for sure! Your hard work shines through, but I suspect your work has really only just begun.

    Thank you, all.



  7. Mike, Congrats on the site. I like the concept, and the fact that despite your little practical joke at the end of the last episode of Dirty Jobs that you are going to be back on Discovery Channel.

    THe ide of creating this site and the foundation are a great way to pay homage to those dirty boys and girls out there. My hat is off to you. (Literally, I am sitting here at my computer,and do not have my hat on.)

  8. MIKE!Many thanks to you and to your crew ! You have successfully and I might add very creatively shown me that jobs are not created equal..especially the dirty ones! Your sense of humor,choice of words and timing is perfect!! Even in the most dirtest of places you have taken us, I see your wit and humor shine through–even to the toughest of workers! And.. I have to say.. you are most EASY on the eyes! Iknow the “launch” is a work in progress and I have no doubt just like Dirty Jobs.. it will be most entertaining and imformative !! now… “Get Ready To Get Dirty” .. always !!

  9. Amazing site! My husband (age 50) lost his job to down-sizing (I HATE that word!) last October. We have been able to pay our bills from our savings so far. I think this site just may be able to help him get back on his feet. Thank you.

  10. Hey Mike this is great!!! You said something like “you’ll wonder where the last half hour went” as one browses this site. I think I have been on here for over an hour!! You are so interesting and quite amazing!! Thanks for sharing.

  11. I work for a farm magazine. I grew up on a farm, and now I get to spend a lot of time working with and writing about farmers, what they do everyday and what’s important to them. It’s a fun gig, and I get to be around some hard-working folks who love what they do. Their passion is infectious.

    All I can say is bravo for what you’re doing here, Mr. Rowe. Not enough folks appreciate the kind of things done by the people you feature in your television work, and the people to whom you’re reaching out with this website. Thank you for what you do. I look forward to seeing how things develop here, and hope one day we can meet up on a farm somewhere. I’ll shovel sh** right beside you!

  12. Nicely accomplished, Mike! Kudos to the ever evolving fruition of giving voice to the folks who make it possible for this nation to function, for imparting the insight that “comfort” comes at a cost, and for offering opportunities to individuals in search of ways to make a meaningful contribution themselves.

  13. Thanx for making such a dirty show…a clean show for our family to watch w/ kidz…they and I love you…u make getting dirty FUN…kinda like the old job..wanna hear a dirty joke, pig fell in the mud, a clean joke..pig took a bath..Guess u could say, Mike fell in the mud…lol. I’ve watched u and ur crew on Larry King as well.

  14. Hi Mike,

    Congrats on the site! I love that new logo identity for Mike Rowe Works! It’s been a great time working with JLG and your team in this identity and program. I already sent your site to several teachers and friends to get kids inspire in September. Here’s to success! Maruchi Santana and Your fans at Parham Santana Inc.

  15. Mike,

    Great job on the show. Bravest guy on TV.

    Mike, being a fellow ex-Tiger(’81), it would would be awesome to see you pull on a Towson cap(or shirt)once in awhile on the show!! Just a thought.

    Keep up the great work, Dirty Guy.

    C J Mathews

    Gastonia, NC

  16. This site is a wonderful resource and I hope it will be helpful to my son as he finished high school and chooses a field to work in. Now, the real reason for my post is to let you know, Mike, that there IS such a thing as “clean dirt”. My husband knows the difference apparently. “Clean” dirt is the kind he let our son eat when he was two. He assured me he would never let the baby eat dirty dirt.

  17. It’s a satisfying renewal in the faith of the collective consciousness when you stumble across somebody manifesting an idea that has been floating around in one’s head for several years. Makes me want to stand up and shout accolades from the mountaintops.

    My personal contribution to the subject matter was to be a book titled ” When Did Work Become a Dirty Word?” Thanks to you, I can move on to the next project on my list!

  18. Mike, I truly appreciate everything your doing with this site. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I come from a long line of Teamsters (the real horse-and-wagon ones). My grandfather delivered milk by wagon in his youth. His father was also “freight man.” His father was actually a traveling blacksmith. He went where the work was (subsequently having children in every state in New England-verified by actual records).

    I think what really is missing is the old fashioned, “get down and dirty”, work ethic that made this country great. Thanks for getting the message out!

  19. Hi Mike, just watched the window-washing show – good grief. You scared the poo right out of me!!! Love reading everything on the web site. I wish you well with mikeroweWORKS and of course, Dirty Jobs. You and your writing amaze me. Keep up the good work and know that I’m always your friend, fan and more. As always, WLA (Check my letters to see what that means.)

  20. We desperately need a site like this in Australia…people are so focused on being such high achievers and having letters after their names that one day, when their loo blocks up, its going to stay that way as the plumbers are sooo busy unblocking the other high achievers loo’s! Trades people are the back bone of EVERYONES society everywhere in the world so your push to highlight that will fill a desperately large hole in the dirty market.People dont “like” to get dirty here, they think its meaningless and mindless…WRONG! Well done to you and your team, now to sell your idea to Australia and get us dirty over here!!!!


  21. Mike, I don’t know if you will see this comment on an old article, but after the World Trade Center collapses, etc. I heard men such as I believe the mayor of New York, people in business suits anyway, talk about being guided out of buildings by custodians when there was no power for lights and dust everywhere, and they seemed traumatized by the fact they had had to put their trust, their lives in the hands of these lowly workers, who knew more of the underbelly of these buildings. I always thought there should be a bronze statue dedicated to the custodians and other labourers who may have passed away and /or who helped save lives during 9/11.

    Respectfully, Lisa Scott.

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