Work was a supporting pillar in my family dynamic growing up, instilling a foundation that would ultimately propel me to achieve all of my career and financial goals I had set for my 25 year benchmark. Those goals are personal and private, but I am ecstatic that with just about five months to spare, I’ve exceeded them all.
That foundation was built by years of watching and learning from my father, Joseph Merse, who has taught – and continues to teach me – what it means to work hard and provide for a family.
Americans like my father that take pride in their work propelled Mike Rowe to become “the dirtiest man on TV” with his notorious show Dirty Jobs and one of the leading American men tackling the issues related to the widening skills gap through his foundation, mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which awards scholarships to students pursuing a career in the skilled trades.
Rowe has been a role model for me, my father and countless friends of mine that have all reached career and financial stability and success by employing a simple concept – working hard for everything we have.
Fortunately for younger generations that may not have grown up watching “Dirty Jobs,” the show is syndicated, and though Rowe couldn’t tell me many details, it’s very likely that the CNN spinoff “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” may soon follow suit.
I asked Rowe for his thoughts on the impact the working man (or woman) has on American lifestyles – considering he worked more than 300 different jobs in all 50 states.
“My working theory for Dirty Jobs was that anonymous people in towns you can’t find on maps are doing the jobs that make civilized life for the rest of us possible,” Rowe said. “I’m still doing the same thing today, in a slightly different way, but my foundation can be reduced to an individual doing a job that is far more important than society realizes.”
That slightly different way is his new show, “Returning The Favor” on Facebook, which has received more than 54.5 million views of the seven currently released episodes. In this series, Rowe travels the country in search of remarkable people making a difference in their communities.
For as long as I can remember my father would pull up his Red Wing work boots and be out the door by 4:30am to get to Kearny, NJ and begin work by 6 or 7 o’clock, always working for Linde-Griffith Construction as a union dock builder turned Local 15 operating engineer. My father left in his blues, and came home pretty much black, covered in grease and oil and dirt.
Follow the author on Twitter