January 17, 2012
We all know, I suspect, who Mike Rowe is. Yeah, that one, the host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. He testified to Congress recently about real jobs and college, he has a lot to say as well as being on point. I found this over at Chicks on the Right, and am reliably informed by them (and their readers) that he’s not too hard to watch. So watch the video and then we’ll talk about it.
The first thing that struck me is how much like my Dad Mike’s Grandpa was. Able to do everything needed and do it professionally. Reshingle the roof? Sure, and build the house under it too, and it was the best built house I’ve ever been in. Want a color TV? Build it from a kit. Need a car to tow behind your motor home? buy one from a friendly wrecker operator with a frozen engine and rebuild it over the winter in an unheated garage.
I will always remember shortly after Dad died, I was out at a fabrication company that did all our welding, I was talking to the owner, mostly telling each other stories about Dad, he told me that Dad was the best engineer he ever worked with. I believe that, but the kicker is, in the fall of Dad’s senior year in high school, his Dad died, Dad was the oldest boy at home, so it was time to go to work and support the family, I’ve heard that Grandpa died in his arms, but not from him. That was the last time he was ever in school.
I can do most of those things, too. Why? Because Dad was a hellova lot of fun for a boy who was into mechanical/electrical/electronic things to be around, as long as you didn’t make the same mistake twice, anyway. But, you know, by the time I was around, Dad was a general manager, white shirt, tie and all. He made decisions and led his company, and very well, too. Although, I do remember Mom complaining about grease on white shirts
None of this should be taken as denigration of college, I did some time at Purdue, one of my brothers-in law is a Purdue CE, the other was a ME from North Dakota State and both of my sisters have BS degrees too.
If he had worked for a big formal company, I would have learned from him at home but, I learned at work, too. You see I started as an engineering rodman and sometime groundman when I was 13 during summer vacation. I lived by the same rules, probably enforced more vigorously than if I had been an 18 year old new hire. Incidentally, I loved it, I was doing a man’s job and doing it well. I went on and became what we called a first class lineman, in that company it was a journeyman who was qualified to do hot work. he trained me to be a very good electrician, also, and, it seems, to be a reasonable manager too. Thanks Dad!
Anyway this was in the 60′s and it was pretty damned uncommon; today, it’s unheard of, I can tell you why but, it’s pretty much irrelevant. But here’s where I’m going, and yes, I know I’ve written it before, when I and those like me pass on to retirement and death. Just who are you going to call to fix your electricity, plumbing, or structure? The kid that just got a degree in engineering but can’t tell copper wire from aluminum, let alone tell you what 6/1 ACSR is? Don’t worry, you don’t need to know that but, I do.
College isn’t for everyone. Once I found out I had a medical history that the Air Force wouldn’t waiver, it wasn’t for me. I like getting dirty, cold, and sweaty, and fixing and building things. It’s what I am, my body isn’t too happy when I do physical work all day anymore but, when I’m in the office too long, you don’t want to be around me! I haven’t been able to hook a pole in about 15 years but, I still miss that wonderful feeling of being up in the air, where only qualified people can go.
Anyway, if you’re around young people keep in mind that not everyone was born to shuffle paper (or today, to inconvenience electrons) there’s a whole other world out there where things are made, and, broken, and fixed and it’s a lot more fun than staring at a computer.
I heard today that there a lot of manufacturing jobs going unfilled and I can tell you from experience that it is very hard to hire apprentices with enough brains to go on to be journeymen, the day is coming when market value for a good plumber will be higher than a good engineer, and God help our country when there’s nobody left to fix things.
You know, in reading this over, there is one more benefit that we never talk about, I’m nearly 60 years old, and until the last couple of years, when I’ve been in the office too much, I wore the same clothing sizes as I did when I was 15. No, I haven’t been in a gym since I graduated high school either. And I have very little sickness, even my hay fever has cleared up.
I’ve also enjoyed nearly everything I’ve done and everyone I’ve met. In truth, I’ve had a great life.
- Gen Y: Embrace Your “Unemployment” (wannabmarketing.wordpress.com)