Christian Long

Mike Rowe: Celebrates Dirty Jobs

In TED Talks on May 2, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Reflection by CARL K.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Mike Rowe:  Celebrates Dirty Jobs

So here we have Mike Rowe, Discovery Channel’s host of “Dirty Jobs,” and his primary job on the show, other than being the host, is to be an apprentice. What that implies is that Mike, basically, tries to give an honest account of a day-in-the-life of a “dirty profession,” while learning the art, or skills, of that trade. It’s pretty impressive in what he does actually. Not many people would even dare try, even think, about experiencing the kind of jobs and professions Mike encounters. I’d bet that quite a lot people believe what he does is extremely repulsive, dangerous, and just plain crazy. Lots of these professions go beyond comfort-zone for some, for instance working in the sewage plants where it’s absolutely disgusting.

However, Mike doesn’t look at these “dirty jobs” in an appalling view, as most would. He actually seems to be fascinated by the professionals he works with, and his experience with them gives him a different perspective, or understanding, of the working world today.

Mike’s career is, and suppose to be, an eye-opener for not just him, but to the entire world. Although some of these professions are either kinda disturbing or gross, the world needs to realize that they can also be rewarding. If not rewarding, they at least bring some aspect of worldly knowledge into one’s life. In Mike’s speech, he mainly talked about his experience as a sheepherder, and how that actually changed him. I find it pretty cool how people have these sudden epiphanies, that change how they perceive the world, in the most unusual places, or from the most unusual experiences.

So, as part of being a sheepherder, Mike was told that he would have to castrate some sheep, because that’s one of the primary responsibilities that a sheepherder must perform. Obviously, this action is way beyond any one’s comfort-zone, I mean seriously, for anyone who has never done that before wouldn’t even dare try it, which is why Mike hesitated over the action, at first. However, since this was apart of his, actual, job, he pretty much had to perform the castration. Of course, when we think of castrating, at some point everyone is going to stop and ask this question, “Does this hurt the animal?” Well, before Mike was to set out to Colorado, that’s the location where he was to document this particular segment, he called up a bunch of different organizations (e.g. Humane Society) asking how he should approach it. All of them replied what he need to do was to take a rubber, latex band and to put it around the scrotum, thus cutting off blood circulation, and will eventually shrivel up and fall off, in about 1 to 2 weeks.

That was the more humane way. When he arrived to the ranch, the farmer took him back and then showed him the process of castrating the sheep. It was completely different. Instead of taking out latex bands, the farmer took out a nice, big knife, and thus proceeded in castrating. (Sorry to be detailed), so he first took the knife and snipped the scrotum, and what he does next caught everyone off. What the farmer does next is that he grabs the scrotum and pushes it upwards, then bites off the scrotum, with his teeth. Finally, he lets the sheep go and goes onto the next one. What was really intriguing was that, after Mike asked if them if he could do it his way (the latex band way), the sheep, that had his genitals cut off, was actually happier than the sheep, who’s genitals were being squeezed by the bands.

Mike used two terms, that came from the concept of Aristotelian tragedy, to describe this moment and those were: anagnorisis and peripeteia. Anagnorisis is the Greek word for discovery, the transition from ignorance to knowledge. And peripeteia is the Greek word for sudden realization. It was then, Mike discovered how wrong he as been at, looking upon these professional’s perspectives. Now, whenever he films the Dirty Jobs show, not only does he talk about the story, he has just documented, but he also speaks about what he was wrong about as well. Which is amazing because most people don’t like to admit when they’re wrong, about whatever, and so by just speaking about his wrong perspectives opens up the audiences’ views as well.


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