A Pithy Valentine to the Stuff that really Matters


I sat down a few minutes ago to write something whimsical and amusing about Valentines Day, but got distracted by the rich tapestry of random musings filling my wall. This one jumped out. It’s not so much whimsical or amusing, but it made feel good about our efforts with mikeroweWORKS. On the one hand, it’s a short thank-you note from an Englishman who likes watching Dirty Jobs on the telly. On the other hand, it’s a story about real life, hard work, true love, alternative education, and skilled labor – in barely 400 words. In other words, a pithy valentine to the stuff that really matters, from a guy who came across the sea, looking for his piece of The American Dream.
Happy Valentines Day.

Matthew Stretton writes:

Hi Mike

I’m an English man living in America, El Paso Texas to be precise. Met my now wife 9 years ago playing video games online. That’s its own story. My main reason for this post though is to thank you.

I grew up in a working class family. My dad was a mechanic, my Mom was just that, a stay at home mom. I wanted to be like my dad. My fascination with internal combustion was almost fanatical.

At 17, I crossed paths with the lady who would become my wife. At 21, I made the biggest decision of my life, I moved across the Atlantic to start a new life in the USA.

Once I acquired my green card, I began my pursuit of a four-year degree. Thinking that was what needed to be done. After getting my associates though, I hit a rut. I wasn’t enjoying school. I thought my love of internal combustion would be perfect for mechanical engineering, but that was just not to be.

Then I discovered Dirty Jobs, and started following the work you were doing in regards to the skills gap. It struck a chord with me, but I felt anything less than a college degree would leave a sour taste in my wife’s mouth. So I switched to a math major, and again, after a few semesters I was back in that same rut. I sat down with my wife and we talked about another direction. She was very supportive and pushed me to look deeper into skilled labor.

March 10th I will be starting a 4 year apprenticeship with the Electric Company to become an over head line worker. So in short Mike, thank you. Had it not been for dirty jobs and my introduction to the work you are doing, I would likely be in a classroom, depressed and dreading each day. Why? Because I wouldn’t have known about the demand for skilled labor.

My message for people out there is this – don’t let the pressure of society drag you into a four-year degree. It’s not the only option. Companies out there are willing to pay you to learn a useful skill – rather than you paying an institution a fortune to learn from them. All it takes is looking, and right now you won’t be looking long.

Keep up the good work Mike. Again thank you for igniting the spark in me. I’m much happier now than when I was in school. All the best from El Paso.


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