Life & Style

Mike Rowe: Learning From Dirty Jobs (Full Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of CEO of MikeRoweWorks Foundation, Mike Rowe’s TED Talk: Learning From Dirty Jobs…

Mike Rowe – CEO of MikeRoweWorks Foundation

The “Dirty Jobs” crew and I were called to a little town in Colorado, called Craig. It’s only a couple dozen square miles. It’s in the Rockies.

And the job in question was sheep rancher. My role on the show, for those of you who haven’t seen it — it’s pretty simple. I’m an apprentice, and I work with the people who do the jobs in question. And my responsibilities are to simply try and keep up, and give an honest account of what it’s like to be these people for one day in their life.

The job in question: herding sheep. Great! We go to Craig and we check into a hotel, and I realize the next day that castration is going to be an absolute part of this work. Normally, I never do any research at all. But this is a touchy subject, and I work for the Discovery Channel, and we want to portray accurately whatever it is we do.

And we certainly want to do it with a lot of respect for the animals. So I call the Humane Society and I say, “Look, I’m going to be castrating some lambs. Can you tell me the deal?”

And they’re like, “Yeah, it’s pretty straightforward.” They use a band, basically, a rubber band, like this, only a little smaller. This one was actually around the playing cards I got yesterday — But it had a certain familiarity to it.

And I said, “Well, what exactly is the process?”

And they said, “The band is applied to the tail, tightly. And then another band is applied to the scrotum, tightly. Blood flow is slowly retarded; a week later the parts in question fall off.

“Great — got it.” OK, I call the SPCA to confirm this. They confirm it. I also call PETA just for fun, and they don’t like it, but they confirm it. OK, that’s basically how you do it.

So the next day I go out. And I’m given a horse and we go get the lambs and we take them to a pen that we built, and we go about the business of animal husbandry. Melanie is the wife of Albert. Albert is the shepherd in question. Melanie picks up the lamb, one hand on both legs on the right, likewise on the left. Lamb goes on the post, she opens it up. All right.

Great. Albert goes in, I follow Albert, the crew is around. I always watch the process done the first time before I try it. Being an apprentice, you know, you do that. Albert reaches in his pocket to pull out, you know, this black rubber band, but what comes out instead is a knife.

And I’m like, “Hmm, that’s not rubber at all,” you know? And he kind of flicked it open in a way that caught the sun that was just coming over the Rockies, it was very — It was… it was impressive. In the space of about two seconds, Albert had the knife between the cartilage of the tail, right next to the butt of the lamb, and very quickly, the tail was gone and in the bucket that I was holding.

A second later, with a big thumb and a well-calloused forefinger, he had the scrotum firmly in his grasp. And he pulled it toward him, like so, and he took the knife and he put it on the tip. “Now, you think you know what’s coming, Michael, You don’t, OK?” He snips it, throws the tip over his shoulder, and then grabs the scrotum and pushes it upward, and then his head dips down, obscuring my view.

But what I hear is a slurping sound, and a noise that sounds like Velcro being yanked off a sticky wall, and I am not even kidding. Can we roll the video? No, I’m kidding, we don’t — I thought it best to talk in pictures.

I do something now. I’ve never, ever done on a “Dirty Jobs” shoot, ever I say, “Time out Stop.” You guys know the show, we use take one; we don’t do take two. There’s no writing, there’s no scripting, there’s no nonsense.

We don’t fool around, we don’t rehearse — we shoot what we get! I said, “Stop. This is nuts” I mean — “This is crazy. We can’t do this.” And Albert’s like, “What?” And I’m like, “I don’t know what just happened, but there are testicles in this bucket, and that’s not how we do it.”

He said “Well, that’s how we do it.”

I said, “Why would you do it this way?” And before I even let him explain, I said, “I want to do it the right way, with the rubber bands.”

And he says, “Like the Humane Society?”

I said, “Yes, like the Humane Society. Let’s do something that doesn’t make the lamb squeal and bleed. We’re on in five continents, dude! We’re on twice a day on the Discovery — we can’t do this.”

He says, “OK”. He goes to his box and pulls out a bag of these little rubber bands. Melanie picks up another lamb, puts it on the post, band goes on the tail, band goes on the scrotum. Lamb goes on the ground, lamb takes two steps, falls down, gets up, shakes a little, takes another couple steps, falls down. I’m like, this is not a good sign for this lamb, at all.

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