From Mike Rowe: A Good Lesson

man working on a tablet

Most people know Mike Rowe. Even if his name doesn't ring a bell, say the “dirty jobs guy" and everyone knows who you’re talking about. Mike is a very interesting guy. Reality TV show host, son to working-class parents, a former opera singer, and champion of the cause of teaching kids that good jobs don’t only come to you by way of a 4 year college degree. But his mention here is not to talk about him. Rather it’s to let him, in his own words, tell the story of his chance encounter with an average employee at an average business and the simple but powerful lesson that came from that. Enjoy.

I left my hotel room this morning to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, and saw part of a man standing in the hallway. His feet were on a ladder. The rest of him was somewhere in the ceiling.

I introduced myself and asked what he doing. Along with satisfying my natural curiosity, it seemed a good way to delay my appointment with gravity, which I was in no hurry to keep. His name is Corey Mundle, and like many who work in tight spaces, he recognized me and we quickly got to talking.

“Well Mike, here’s the problem," he said. "My pipe has a crack in it, and now my hot water is leaking into my laundry room. I’ve got to turn off my water, replace my old pipe, and get my new one installed before my customers notice there’s a problem.”

I asked if he needed a hand and he told me the job wasn’t dirty enough. We laughed, and Corey asked if he could have a quick photo. I said sure, assuming he’d return the favor. He asked why I wanted a photo of him, and I said it was because I liked his choice of pronouns.

“I like the way you talk about your work,” I said. “It’s not, ‘the’ hot water, it’s ‘MY’ hot water. It’s not, ‘the’ laundry room, it’s ‘MY’ laundry room. It’s not ‘a’ new pipe, it’s ‘MY’ new pipe. Most people don’t talk like that about their work. Most people don’t own it.”

Corey shrugged and said, “This is not ‘a’ job; this is ‘MY’ job. I’m glad to have it, and I take pride in everything I do.”

Personal responsibility...there is no substitute.

Thanks, Mike; for noticing small things that make all the difference but too often go unnoticed. And thanks, Corey; for owning it.