We like Mike Rowe ... really, we do.
But the man hosted a show called Dirty Jobs, and by golly, we sent him on the dirtiest jobs we could find.
SURVEYOR (NO, REALLY!)
Part of going on a topographic survey is getting the depth of the sanitary sewer lines. This is done by prying the manhole lid (or to be PC, the "access hole cover") off and sticking the "poop stick" (a designated survey rod) down the hole and reading the measurement. That, surprisingly, was not the bad part. It was what you'd find on the end of the stick when it came up.
The worst-ever moment came when a co-worker, trying to close the manhole, dropped the lid on his fingers. Now, he refused to wear gloves, so his hands were all mucky and rusty by that time. What was his reaction? No joke, he stuck his fingers in his mouth.
FEEDLOT VET TECH
I worked at a feedlot in Nebraska right after finishing school to become a veterinary technician. I loved the work, but it was dirty. When it was dry the wind would blow the dirt and dried manure everywhere. When it rained you could be in liquid manure up to your waist.
Every job in the feedlot has some sort of dirt to address. The people who feed the cattle deal with all kinds of liquid, dry feed and minerals. The cowboys ride horses into the cattle pens rain or shine, doctoring the sick cattle, pulling calves or lancing abscesses. The processing crew has to ear-tag, weigh, vaccinate, deworm and implant the cattle.
In the summer here the temps can reach well into the 100s, and in the winter they can fall well below freezing. You cannot escape the weather or the smell. But hey, if we didn't do what we do you wouldn't have Nebraska corn-fed beef in restaurants!
FRENCH-FRY FACTORY MECHANIC
I started my illustrious career as a mechanic in a plant that processed most of the french fries used at a fast-food chain. My job was in quality control of the cut fries. Twelve shaker tables full of water and fries led to conveyors under the cameras and knives where the rejects were spotted and trimmed. I had to work on, over, under and around equipment that dripped starchy water constantly. I would be soaked to the skin within a half-hour and stay that way for the duration of my shift. I would drive home and have to be bodily removed from my car because my clothes had dried board-stiff.
The plant was kept very clean, but water would splash up into places that couldn't be cleaned and it would gel and begin to rot. The smell was incredible when I had to change knife banks or headrolls. I couldn't eat fries for months after quitting that job.
By far, the job I've had that most people would consider the most unappealing would be the one I had stuffing huge pigs for a specialty catering company in Pennsylvania. I donned a really bad '70s fur coat (probably worth a million dollars in today's retro world) and worked in a massive refrigerator bigger than the apartment I was living in at the time. In it were anywhere from 10 to 20 dead 200-pound pigs. I had to split them from neck to crotch, empty them out, wash out their cavity, stuff them with one of three different types of stuffing and sew them back up.
All of this needed to be done bare-handed due to the delicate surgical process involved, and truth be told, agonizingly cold fingers was the worst part of the job. It's amazing how quickly human beings get acclimated to gore. Top that, kids!
Who needs to pay for curbside trash service when you can avoid the expense and dump it in your backyard swimming pool? That's just what we discovered when one of our clients scheduled our junk-removal service.
When my truck team called to let me know they had a HUGE, NASTY job that involved cleaning out one year's worth of household garbage from someone's swimming pool, I had to go see it for myself.
They weren't pulling my leg. When I arrived, I noted the familiar smell of a landfill. It took us all day to clean out the swimming pool and trash that had piled up from the pool to the second-story deck. We ended up hauling several truckloads to the dump, using several bottles of hand sanitizer and almost lost our lunch from the awful smell.
By the way, when the client scheduled the service, they used an assumed name since they were so embarrassed.