What’s Worse – a Bully or a Crybaby?

That’s a tough one.

Nobody likes a bully, but they’re easy enough to deal with if you’re willing to fight back.

Crybabies on the other hand, while not overtly dangerous, pose a more insidious threat to polite society. They sow the seeds of victim-hood with their chronic whining, slowly replacing personal responsibility with self-pity and misplaced blame.

Either way, bullies and crybabies are both a drain on the species, but relatively harmless when compared to the specter of the dreaded Cry-Bully – an unhappy hybrid of the two. Every now and then I stumble across one of these cowardly Gollums, usually in a position of power and influence.

Such was the case last night, when I found this charming note in my in-box.  It’s from a first class Cry-Bully named Ken, who works for a very large trade group called the Textile Rental Services Association. Check it out:

Hi Tina,

Pilgrim gave me your e-mail address a few moments ago when I asked how I might be able to get this e-mail quickly to Mike. TRSA wants to extend Mike the courtesy of telling him about our plans before we launched our boycott. Below is the announcement we plan to send to the textile services industry. Joe Ricci, our CEO, is also trying to get this to Mike today.

You can read more about our organization at www.trsa.org.



Boycott Mike Rowe’s Products To Stop His Attacks on Shop Towels

TRSA mounts campaign to urge him to pull plug on videos promoting disposables

TV personality Mike Rowe obviously does not recognize the implications of his efforts to tarnish the image of sustainable, reusable shop towels. We believe disposable industrial wiper interests are taking advantage of Rowe’s reputation as a defender of the American worker to promote their purely financial interests through online videos. Rowe’s baseless comments risk thousands of American jobs and his own credibility.

Rowe has leveraged his “Dirty Jobs” TV role into a public persona and spokesperson for blue-collar laborers who contend with heavy soils to earn their living. Unfortunately, it appears he has inadvertently turned his back on these same workers by publicizing self-serving, weak scientific research conducted not to protect workers, but to promote disposable industrial wipers. In addition, his proposal to remove the reusable shop towel eliminates a necessary tool millions of Americans have used every day for decades to perform their work safely and sustainably.

While we applaud Rowe for bringing tremendous positive attention to millions of jobs that are often unappreciated but necessary, his endorsement undermines these efforts. To continue his mission and prevent economic harm to thousands of workers, we encourage Rowe to disassociate himself from these claims. TRSA recommends an immediate boycott of any Rowe-endorsed products such as:

– “Dirty Jobs” TV show
– Ford F-Series trucks
– Lee jeans
– WypAll paper industrial wipers
– MR steel-toe CAT Footwear
– Viva paper towels
Ken Koepper
Director of Marketing/PR
Textile Rental Services Association of America
1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 200
Alexandria, VA 22314
O 703-519-0029, ext. 109
M xxx-xxx-xxxx
F 703-519-0026

To be honest, I thought Ken and Joe were kidding.  I mean seriously, who reacts like this? Did Toyota attack me personally when I pointed out that Ford had better quality? Did The History Channel threaten me when Dirty Jobs began to cut into their ratings? Did Levi’s cry foul because I said my Lee Jeans were stronger? Of course not. And yet, Ken and Joe have called for a boycott of all things Mike Rowe, because I participated in an awareness campaign that they do not approve of. You can see it for yourself on their website, right here.

These are the facts. An independent third party has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that 100% of freshly laundered shop towels tested showed traces of toxic heavy metals. You can see the research for yourself, here. Kimberly-Clark Professional asked me to help share those findings, and I said sure.

Hence, a few little web videos that – thanks to Ken and Joe – millions of people will now get to see, here.

Obviously, Ken and Joe are in a tough spot, and if they weren’t trying so hard to embarrass me I might have some sympathy for them. After all, they run an organization that represents those companies that actually launder these very same shop towels – the ones that have been proven to contain toxic heavy metals immediately after the laundering process. This research is a real problem for them, and I’m sure they’re under all sorts of pressure to hush it up. Since July, they’ve been protesting the research results and although Kimberly-Clark Professional responded to their protests, here, they’re still not happy. So what’s the solution?

Commission a new study?

Challenge the facts in court?

Sue Kimberly-Clark Professional?

Sue the independent third party that conducted the study?

Challenge the scientists and experts that shared the results of the study with me?

Apparently not. After looking at all the options, evaluating all the facts, and considering all the research, Ken and Joe have decided the only sensible way to handle this problem is to ask their members to immediately stop watching Dirty Jobs and quit buying Ford Trucks. Brilliant.

Here at mikeroweWORKS, I don’t have a director of PR. Perhaps I should hire one, but until I do, I think I’ll just tell you what I really think, and let the chips fall where they fall.

Ken. Joe. I think you’re both a couple of big, fat, Cry-Bullies. Come on fellas – this is America. People compete for business every day. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. And sometimes the facts just aren’t on your side. But is attacking me really the best you can do? If you’re really concerned about the people who use your product, why not protect them?  Why not persuasively refute the data? Why not aggressively disprove the facts? Why try to kill the messenger?

Look, I have nothing but respect for your members, and for the people who use shop towels. And I really do appreciate your concern for working men and women. But your tactics are utterly transparent, and I believe that anyone with a shred of objectivity will see through this strong armed bull crap. Gimme a break.

Yours is a billion dollar industry. Do you really think no one is ever going to try and take a piece of it? Grow-up. Man up. Launch your own campaign. Make a case for shop towels. Hire Bear Grylls. Build a better washing machine. Do something. Just stop crying in public.

It’s kind of embarrassing.

Mike Rowe

11/22/11 UPDATE FROM HQ – We’ve just learned that TRSA has issued the following statement:


The Nov. 21 TR Weekly e-newsletter you received yesterday included an article describing an attack on shop towels by TV personality Mike Rowe that TRSA opposes. Click here to see these videos.

TRSA believes that many of the assertions made in the Rowe attack are distorted and not in the best interests of the American workforce. Shop towels perform an important function and offer a safe and reusable alternative to disposable wipers, which are environmentally unfriendly.

Our use of the word “boycott” in our Nov. 21, 2011, e-mail was a mistake. TRSA recognizes that group boycotts or concerted refusals to deal are not permissible conduct. Every TRSA member and all competitors must make individual decisions regarding how to address claims made by promoters of competitive products. TRSA is opposed to any boycott or concerted refusal to deal. It was a mistake to suggest any such boycott. TRSA is not directly or indirectly recommending, suggesting or implying that any course of action be taken against Mr. Rowe, the companies that advertise on his program or his supporters.

TRSA continues to review the various claims made in the Rowe presentations and the underlying research and seeks further input from members on how to conduct the most objective analysis of why shop towels are preferable to disposable industrial wipes. To assist TRSA in this endeavor, click here to participate in an enhanced survey and data-gathering effort.

36 thoughts on “What’s Worse – a Bully or a Crybaby?

  1. Howard Johnson is right. Facts is facts. Big fan of the facts. And I’m not just saying that. Ask anybody I know. They hate it when I come up with facts. Full disclosure: I work with Mike. Proud to. I also drive a Hyundai. Oops. I was also on the shop towel shoot. Met the scientist. Saw the dirty shop towels. There is probably a good chance in my entire life I might never use a shop towel but if I do, it sure won’t be a laundered one. And if we’re really going to launch a boycott, how about we boycott all the people who still insist on answering their phones in the movie theater. Not sure how that is going to work but we have to take a stand! I’m not paying $14 to hear your conversation with the babysitter. But I digress. What were we talking about?

  2. Dear Mike (and staff.. ?)

    Your response to the “note,” was well stated and non-emotional, leaving you holding the weapon with the cutting edge. Can’t wait to see how this progresses.

    But, in the mean time, could you please, for the sake of those of us who are a bit past the 60 something group, change the color scheme of the fonts on this page.. ? A reversal of colors would do wonders for these old eyes.

    Thanks for listening, and we have really enjoyed all of your programs. My grandchildren were here tonight, and got to watch you go through your day as a victim, test subject and all around good sport, in “Curiosity.” Very informative; keep up the good work.

    And, by the way, my husband is a retired Auto-Body and Fender Repairman; there Are NO apprentices coming into that trade; the work is too hard for them, they say. Also, we’ve never owned anything but Fords.

    Yours Truly,

    Jan Muzzy

  3. When I first started the letter I thought they were kidding too. This is embarrassing, they’re losing the “best towel” battle so they’re having a temper tantrum, which I guess is all they know how to do, being cry-bullies and all. Perfect description, by the way.

  4. WOW. Just WOW. Yes, they are being cry-bullies. Pathetic ones at that. It’s those types of people who have been taking America down the tubes. Just so you know Mike, I drive a Dogde, I don’t like Lee jeans (well, at least on me but I like the way they look on you, LOL) but I do LOVE Viva towels!!! At any rate, I consider myself to be a educated American and I am more than capable of making a choice. I choose to NOT boycott you or anything you promote. If it’s something I like, I’ll buy it, if it’s not, well, I won’t.

    Can’t wait for the new season, when are you going to see how dirty it can be driving a school bus??? =D



  5. Oh my, Ken….Here, I will call the wambulance for you..Geeze…

    Mike You’re awesome..Keep doing what you’re doing..I seriously don’t care and will continue to watch..LOL 😉


  6. Interesting and odd. Even with the implication that Joe and Ken are said to be serious. It’s hard for me to take it so. Still, I can help but be a little curious to see act two of this all. Though, it is a bit early for April Fools Day.

  7. For real Ken and Joe? How long was this “campaign” discussed? Who in their right mind decided this was a good boycott? I hate to inform you two gentlemen but in light of this infantile business decision, we are now going to be forced to reconsider our choice in shop towels. There is no way this business going to condone behavior like this from another business. I would like your company to refute the facts, it would make sense for your entire industry don’t you think? To “go after” Ford, CAT, Viva and a T.V. show is just baffeling..

    Makes me wonder who is going to get blamed when you realize this boycott wasn’t a good idea. Please let us know…..

  8. As always, you crafted a well stated and measured response to something utterly stupid and childish. My hat is off to you, sir.

    Also, I read the whole thing while simultaneously hearing you reading it aloud in my head. There’s something wrong about that…

  9. Oh.My.Goodness.

    I usually don’t comment, but I have so many thoughts about this that I’ve got to. Here goes:

    As a huge, multi-million dollar industry, THIS is the best you can do? Why not take out on all of us who use Kimberly-Clark products as well.

    Next, I wonder what the members of their organization think of this strategy. I’d be laughing into my shop towel (careful there!) if I were one of them.

    And lastly – Hey, here’s a great idea! Instead of shooting the messenger, why don’t you actually study the research yourself – wait for it – and change your cleaning strategies????? Yeah, you’re right. It would cost too dang much money to do that. Easier to give out cheap shots.

    Hang in there, Mikey. Be a big boy, and don’t let those whinney baby bullies mess with you.

  10. “… I don’t have a director of PR…. I think I’ll just tell you what I really think, and let the chips fall where they fall.”

    Why bother with PR, when you can do it so well yourself?

    They need to wipe their tears and blow their noses… with one of their own laundered towels.

  11. Hi Mike

    As usual I am so proud of how you stand up for what you believe in. From all the DJ shows over 300 now and in every state. You have a unique way of expressing the practical view of things. I will not boycott anything you sell . I have always found great quality in what you promote. I believe in you solidly. I like the term cry-bully . Why is he really boycotting you ? It’s rude and insults the intelligence of the public . I thought we still had free enterprise? He represents nothing and you represent all those companies. I think trouncing on Mike Rowe will get you nowhere and I am curious to see where it leads Mike.

    Bev Cummins

  12. So, let me get this straight, I drive a F-150 to work and wear Lee Jeans, both of which I started do long before Mike Rowe starting speaking for them. But now I’m supposed to walk to work naked cause Mike found a better shop towel? Let me get back to you on that one…

  13. Cry-bullies is exactly what these two “men” are. What do they think this “boycott” will accomplish? They are doing themselves a disservice because their complaints are baseless and ridiculous and I think a lot of people recognize that. They may also be forgetting that Mike has many fans, including many skilled trade workers, and this might turn around to hit them where it hurts: their business. Use your brains gentlemen!

    Mike, you’re response is fantastic (as usual!)

    Well said Meyer!

  14. Really? I’ll switch over to disposables just because of this. If reusable towel weren’t bad for you, why not just prove that? This is the mother of all cheap shots and I gotta think it’s because there’s nothing to refute the evidence.

    Screw this. You’re messing with people’s health. The man’s right. Build a better washing machine otherwise, stop your whining. I’d like to thank the company who’s keeping more toxic crap off me.


  15. Hey Ken, I hate Ford but drive a Mustang. “Dirty Jobs” is one of the few things in modern media that have given dignity to people who’ve been thought less of for a long time. Don’t care about name brand jeans. Use Wypalls at work and they’re horrible. Have never had a job where I needed steel toe boots but any company that makes a line for woman is o.k. in my book. Have never tried Viva paper towels because they’re more expensive than my usual brand.

    All that being said every single company and product supporting mikeroweWORKS and it’s efforts to wake people the hell up and show them skilled trades and tradespersons are worthy of our attention and admiration is a company whose products I’d think about using or at the very least try.

    If you think it’s all about Mike you poorly represent the people who make a living with textile rentals. If you really think there’s disposable towel vs. shop towel collateral damage going on… to me it just means your insecure about a way to promote your own industry.

    Boycott all those products and companies? Really? I thank Mike and his team’s efforts for promoting skilled workers. Thank those companies for participating in those efforts even though I don’t use or like some of their products or companies.

    Maybe you should be asking what are you are doing wrong at the TRSA if you’re so bothered by a commercial/silly video to the point that you’re calling a boycott.

    Boycott away. Never heard of your organization until now. Maybe that’s the problem. Honestly, are there any textile workers out there who’ll not be able to buy their kids Christmas presents because someone bought paper towels?

    Good luck to you. Maybe the frustration is directed in the wrong direction. The focus certainly seems to be.

  16. Get a life Kenny! Sounds to me like you and Joey put the “boy” in “boycott!” Mike’s doing great things for the trades while representing some fine products, and honestly, I don’t think those of us capable of making our own choices are going to miss you. As of today, my company is switching to WypAlls. But if we ever need to rent a safe and sustainable crying towel, we’ll know who to call!

  17. I just don’t understand the “shoot the messenger” mentality. What is next suing Betty White because you broke a tooth on a Snickers bar??? The TRSA must not have a leg to stand on when it comes to disputing the facts in the videos…because if they did they would not stoop to such a desperate tactic.
    Shame on them.

    I know who I’d boycott if I was part of that particular industry – TRSA.

  18. Turning victimization into a virtue… What ever happened to folks who take responsibility, shoulder their own load, and get stuff done? Thanks Mike, for not rolling over.


  19. Maybe they should use their shop towels to cry into. Grow up guys and stand up for your product if you are so proud of it. Mike we will never boycott anything you are involved in unless it is proven you are leading us wrong. Keep telling it like it is Mike.

  20. Wow, now we have seen the other side of Mike. Way to go. I love your rebutal. After watching the videos you have again come to the rescue of many workers across the nation. I am taking this one to where I work to ban the shop towels, which I have been known to use also. I hope others will do the same. You are my hero, or should I say our hero. Keep up the information highway for all of us. Thanks.

  21. Maybe thinking about exactly what you want to say would be helpful before making a public announcement? What kind of response did they expect to get? And if they are going to make such an announcement in the first place, they should be man enough to stand by it and this only shows their cry-bulliness to the upteenth degree.

  22. Every great man, needs a great PR woman behind him! Call me..we’ll show the boys how the real professionals handle this kind of nonsense. A short phone call would have handled this “issue”. You did do a great job with your written response. Happy to help anytime…gratis of course!

  23. as always Mike…you speak eloquently on the subject…and defend yourself well..what measures us as people is the decisions we make..and how we stand by them….awesome job!

  24. Fine rebuttal.

    Their boycott nonsense deserves the “Streisand Effect” so I’ll by happy to forward a link to your rebuttal to my friends who will appreciate it. Some are shop owners and most have already ditched rag services for disposable wipes for economic reasons.

Leave a Reply