What's Grosser than Gross?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Mike Rowe, the dirtiest man on television.

Mike Rowe, the dirtiest man on television. Source: Paul Souders hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Paul Souders

There's just something about ostrich poop that really makes for great television. A little more than a year ago I was hanging out with my new boyfriend's roommate, sans boyfriend. It was mostly fine, because we'd been friends for a bit, but the sudden change in status all around made things a little, well, awkward. We were sitting in the living room with the TV tuned to the Discovery Channel, and there on the screen host Mike Rowe was doing one of the most disgusting things I'd ever seen — cleaning up after a farm full of ostriches. Now, I'm no girly-girl — my grandma lives on a farm, so I'm just fine with cow pies and pig sties. But whoa — the ostrich farm? A thousand times more disgusting. Turns out, the poop's not even the worst part with ostriches. Nope, what's worse is that they puke a little every time they take a drink of water, which quickly leads to water troughs filled with ostrich vomit. EWWW!!! Trust me, there was no gap in conversation this show couldn't fill, and I pretty much haven't stopped talking about it since. I've since watched Mike at vineyards (dirtier than you'd think), harvesting all kinds of seafood, compacting garbage, cleaning silos, and more. And each time I'm sure he's done the last dirty job there is, another episode of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe rolls around. So thanks to him I'm dying to know, BotNers, do you have a dirty job? Tell me all about it!

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I use Deer Scram that has coyote urine in the mix and it is very effective on keeping the deer away from my plants. It smells terrible especially on a hot day.

I was wondering how they get that urine.

Sent by Fran Malone | 3:12 PM | 3-24-2008

Mike, my husband and I couldn't love you, or your show, more. The only thing dirty about my job is the office politics it involves. I live in Northern California and want an invite to your next anniversary party - especially if it's at the SF dump again.

Sent by Blake Simas | 3:14 PM | 3-24-2008

I would like to see Mike as one of the cleaners on the BBC show "How Clean is Your House". He would be great!

Sent by Angie Blansett | 3:16 PM | 3-24-2008

I am a dogwalker and half of my job is spent picking up poop. Rain or shine!!!
Some days a muddier than others...

Sent by Sarah Paradise | 3:16 PM | 3-24-2008

While you're in Missouri (last caleer), how would you feel about helping a church in St. Louis clean out a grease trap in a kitchen? It's pretty disgusting and right "up your alley!"

Thanks for your consideration.

Madeline

Sent by Madeline | 3:18 PM | 3-24-2008

When our children were little, we used a diaper service. How about exploring the nitty-gritty of providing that service?

Sent by Mitchell Sorscher | 3:18 PM | 3-24-2008

Does working as a soil scientist in the North Cascades backcountry count? Sorry, it's not dirt until it's on your clothes :^)

Sent by Toby | 3:18 PM | 3-24-2008

I do oil tank cleanings. All kind of petroleum products, usually ones that have been out of use for years and just full of sludge at the best case. My companies is in New York

Sent by Chris Wandley | 3:18 PM | 3-24-2008

How about Farrier (horse shoer) it is dirty (you are holding on to the part that tends to stand in poo), you have to do it in a undignified and awkward position,using large medieval looking tools and it is a bit dangerous. I have have been doing it for some 20 years

Sent by Christine Miller | 3:20 PM | 3-24-2008

I once had a job unloading and gutting fish in alaska. Think about being up to your shoulders in four day old rotting herring or thousand pound "totes" full of fish guts.

Sent by jt | 3:20 PM | 3-24-2008

Mike - come on down and help us on one of our New River clean ups in NC or VA. You would not believe the dirty grimy stinky rotten stuff people will throw in our beautiful river: entire porta-johns, of course tires, dead cattle (they smell NICE), diapers are big also along with general household trash. We can have a contest to see who "fishes" out the most disgusting item of the day!

Sent by Chris Arvidson at the National Committee for the New River | 3:20 PM | 3-24-2008

I know you hear this alot, I love your show. Also I don't have a idea but I do have a small crush. Keep up the great and dirty job.

Sent by Melissa | 3:21 PM | 3-24-2008

The Discovery Channel has already contacted the seafood processing company I work for in Dutch Harbor, Alaska and we declined to be involved, much to my chagrin, as I love Mike's work and we consider him one of our own out here in Dutch Harbor/Unalaska. As a consolation prize my wife and I would love to buy him dinner at the Grand and save the network a few bucks next time he's in town. Call me Mike!

Sent by Steve Tompkins | 3:22 PM | 3-24-2008

try a chicken-processing plant. growing up and visiting my dad on the DelMarVa penninsula, he was an engineer for the plants that killed and processed chicken for consumption. blood everywhere, cleaning the floor, waste etc...definitely not nice - but good, honest people working in a nasty job

Sent by Greg R. of SF Bay Area | 3:22 PM | 3-24-2008

HOW MANY SHOTS AND VACCINATIONS DO YOU NEED TO HAVE TO DO ALL THOSE JOBS

YOU ARE VERY BRAVE

Sent by JEFF TURNER | 3:22 PM | 3-24-2008

I am a volunteer at The Marine Mammal Center where Mike has already been but for a living I am Curator of aquriums in San Francisco. I chop up dead fish for feeding and clean up fish and shark poop all day long. Really the main part of my job is to find the best way to detoxify fish pee. I SCUBA dive in the tanks 3 days a week and hose off cloth filters filled with nasty stuff. Come on by and I will put you in the tanks!

Sent by Marsley | 3:22 PM | 3-24-2008

I just want to know if Mike is single!

Sent by katie | 3:22 PM | 3-24-2008

This is one of my favorite shows! My brother and I are ten and eleven, and we love Dirty Jobs. I saw the one with bats when he went into the caves and the sewer when he found the leftover spaghetti. We loved the Mackinaw Bridge because we love Michigan.

Sent by Molly Bosscher Davis (for Asher Davis) | 3:23 PM | 3-24-2008

I don't remember this one being discussed, but being a Labor and Delivery nurse is rewarding, but dirty. You have blood and amniotic fluid under pressure, with poop mixed in. And then the meconium that you end up suctioning from the newborn. And yes, you can drop your pen and have someone throw up in your hair! All of that is before the surgery...

Sent by Laura Staley | 3:23 PM | 3-24-2008

Mike does not realise his target audience is not exactly what he thinks it is. My 12 year old girly-girl daughter just loves everything about the show.

Sent by Daniel Maxwell | 3:24 PM | 3-24-2008

Ed's Fur House in Spirit Lake, Ia is right up Mike's alley. Best job: removing the skin from road-killed animals so it can be processed.

Sent by Jonathan | 3:24 PM | 3-24-2008

Switch to PBS mornings! My 2 and 4 year olds are obsessed with your show. They can't wait to see what fantastic mess you'll be into next!

Sent by Phil Cote | 3:25 PM | 3-24-2008

Hey Mike Rowe! Can you beat this dirty job? Listen to this: In Afghanistan, most residential homes have a "toilet" that has an opening towards a narrow alley of "toilet outlets." A man with a donkey and a shovel walks in this alley and loads the human waste that flows out of these holes towards the alley in a big thick cloth bag that is on the top of the donkey and then takes the human waste and sells it to farmers to use as fertilizers in their farm land! I wish I had a video or a picture to give you a better idea of the dirty job!

Sent by Homayoun Samadi | 3:25 PM | 3-24-2008

Subject: Rats in Detroit
The contractor who poured our concrete shed flooring mentioned that when they demolitioned buildings with foundations in downtown Detroit, there would be tons of rats under the concrete. He related one job in particular where there was a Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant across the multi-lane street from the project on which he was working. When they broke up the foundation, there were rats and remnants of KFC... papers, chicken bones, etc. that the rats brought back. He said it was pretty unbelievable what the rats would scrounge up. Great place for more pooh and treasures!

Sent by Michelle Kouri - Macomb, Michigan | 3:25 PM | 3-24-2008

have you had any problems with OSHA on the show?

Sent by David | 3:25 PM | 3-24-2008

I worked last summer at a legal brothel in Nevada. Very Dirty Job. I don't mean that in a figurative way: used condoms, guys who want their prostates massaged, and stained towels.

Sent by Elle | 3:26 PM | 3-24-2008

I am a swimming pool construction super. The dirtiest job is the Shot crete nozzle man. 115 degree weather above ground and they are down in a hole with curing concrete as the shoot the concrete onto the walls and floor to build the shell for the pool. Hot Hot Hot

Sent by Nathan Noble | 3:26 PM | 3-24-2008

We would like to suggest Dirty Jobs abroad - starting with the Gomantong caves of Borneo. In these caves, hundreds of swallows nest (along with bats, rats, centipedes and cock roaches). The nests are harvested for bird nest soup - a highly, prized delicacy in South East Asia. Harvesting these nests is dark, slippery and smelly - and very interesting. The perfect Dirty Job!

Sent by Zach and Noah Solomon | 3:28 PM | 3-24-2008

I just want to know if Mike is single?!

Sent by Katie | 3:29 PM | 3-24-2008

Mike:
I love your show, along with my entire family. You have a great sense of humor that is very enjoyable.
Could you clean the language up a bit? I watch with my kids, 8 and 11 and sometimes I have to turn it off because of the language.

Sent by Jim Bills, Olathe Kansas | 3:29 PM | 3-24-2008

Hello, Mike Rowe! I'm in Portland, Oregon. Have you given thought to spending a day as a rolling bomb? My boyfriend and I work for a fuel transportation company and you will get very dirty.
You and your viewers would have an inside look on one of the most controversial jobs in America- truck driving and fuel hauling. Everyone wants to know what's really going on with the fuel industry. It's a mystery!

Sent by April Long | 3:30 PM | 3-24-2008

I love this show! I don't have a dirty job but just have to say that even covered in all sorts of nastyness Mike is a hotty!

Sent by amber | 3:30 PM | 3-24-2008

Mike, any comments on the decicedly random comments from you as you tried to sell products on QVC? Some of the things you threw out there had me rolling!

Sent by Brandon | 3:31 PM | 3-24-2008

When I was a teen in the 80's in a rural community, I worked at a Veterinary clinic and was a "kennel assistant". I cleaned out all the dog and cat kennels AND cleaned out the "remains" from the autopsy room when the vets determined the cause of death of farm animals AND I took care of storing and disposing of the deceased pets and farm animals w/ the freezer to rendering truck method. I don't think kids do jobs like that any more!
Deb in Iowa City, IA

Sent by Deb Protaskey | 3:31 PM | 3-24-2008

My sister and dad drive truck (tractor-trailer) shipping cattle, and rodeo stock through the western states. Not only are they most often covered with watery poop from nervous animals, but they have to muck out the trailer and the outside. Don't drive too close to a truck hauling cattle. FYI I live in Alaska, and my brother is a fisherman. As kids we helped clean out calving sheds and helped the young cows give birth to their calves-that was dirty. At one point my dad's arm was in the cow and the five of us kids were pulling on the calf-we saved both cow and calf.

Sent by Diana Steer | 3:31 PM | 3-24-2008

One time the show had Mike explaining how he settles into a hotel room. I found it hilarious that the man that bravely dives into every kind of waste pit and shovels poo from every animal was grossed out enough by the prior occupants that the first thing he does is take the bedspread off, wrap the phone in it, and put the whole thing in the corner! I've heard more than I want to know about what's on those bedspreads, so I'm sympathetic.

Sent by Jeff Lockwood | 3:32 PM | 3-24-2008

While listening to an earlier show with Mike where you were discussing the 10 worst jobs, I realized that at various times in my past I had done some verison of 3 of the 10. Is there a prize for this???
One of the worst involved collecting wastwater samples for industrial pollution control monitoring as an environmental technician. The most dreaded sampling site was a manhole discharging the waste from an animal rendering plant. What we collected was essentially blood, grease and hot water coming from the processing plant which looked like some version of Dante's Inferno ,complete with skinned cows ascending conveyor belts to eventually be ground up whole in some kind of awful sounding machine. I won't even describe the act of opeing up the manhole and being greeted by such a lovely effluent and a million seething hungry flies.

Sent by David | 3:33 PM | 3-24-2008

My 4 year old son loves Mike and the show and it has given me a lot of currency in terms of getting him to do things that are dirty, i.e clean up!.. he wants Mike to come to POrtland and make mud with him.

Sent by Kelly Stacey and my son Liam | 3:33 PM | 3-24-2008

Speaking of dirty jobs...When I was in college back in the 60's I worked vacation-relief for the Rock Island Rail Road. On subsuquent summers I had two of the dirtiest jobs imaginable. The first was cleaning grain cars (this was during harvest in Oklahoma)on what we called the "wash track." The track slanted so we could wash and scoop out all the soured grain between trips. Most of it was rotting and filled with maggots, etc. The second job was washing the traction motors after the engines came in off a run. The most memorable was washing off dead cow which had been broad-sided the day before. I could recommend either of these for future segments of the show.

Sent by Mike Knight | 3:33 PM | 3-24-2008

What about being a new mom? Spit up, pee, explosive poo, spraying breastmilk, extreme sleep deprivation, zero pay! Perhaps a family with twins....

Sent by Sally | 3:33 PM | 3-24-2008

Worst job I've heard about was the operating room technician who had to clean out a piece of bowel that had been taken from a patient; it had to be cleaned before it could be sent to the lab for testing.

Sent by Larry Pryluck | 3:35 PM | 3-24-2008

If he's so upset by dirty diapers, he must think that being the parent of a baby or toddler is a dirty job, especially since it's unpaid. But you know, that's not the way I think about it. And if you complain about changing your child's diapers, people are likely to tell you to grow up.

Sent by janet | 3:35 PM | 3-24-2008

Are there any dirty jobs you have chosen to not do, and why?

Sent by Karl | 3:35 PM | 3-24-2008

a sail boat mechanic - working down in the tight v-shaped bilge, usually upside down because of space limitations and usually stinky water containing oil or diesel fuel or some other disgusting residue from the cooler or shower, laying on a fiberglass hull (itchy), all in the dark and very hot (no outside access)

Sent by Nicole | 3:35 PM | 3-24-2008

had a roommate that worked in a meat packing plant. The first day they made the new guy load the by-products truck.
guts, guts, more guts and unboan calves. he grew up oh a farm and had seen and done lots of direty jibs, but that was just to much. he laid on his bed for two-days, before he could go back to work.

Sent by jeff ray | 3:35 PM | 3-24-2008

Cleaning out a chicken house that first
warm day in the spring.

Sent by Les Jenkins | 3:36 PM | 3-24-2008

Was there a "dirty job" that turned out to be less dirty than you thought it would be? One that wasn't so bad?

Sent by Holly | 3:36 PM | 3-24-2008

Hello,

Question for Mike,
The episode where you were inside the wing of the air force jet made me
nervous.....seems like the tight spaces would bring on claustraphobia. Was that
a problem for you?
I'm a lighting director for a large stage in Reno...dirtiest part is whats left after a punk band rock concert, (g-strings, bras, prophylactics.

Sent by Greg | 3:37 PM | 3-24-2008

I used to work in a nursing home. The dirtiest part of the job for me was cleaning residents who "painted with poo". The nursing assistant is the one who has to rinse the laundry prior to being sent to the laundry department. Not to mention cleaning the poo off the person while they are combative, cleaning poo off bed railings, bedding, etc.

Sent by Mary | 3:37 PM | 3-24-2008

When i was a cook in a restaurant, i would have to come in at 6am, and in getting ready to prep for a new week i would have to taste all of the sauces, soups and dishes that were saved in the walk-in over the weekend. Of course there were always a few things that had gone bad - but it wasn't always
obvious by smell. I swear, i didn't get sick for several years after that job, because i had every bacteria and bad germ in my system.

Sent by Hillary Hyde | 3:37 PM | 3-24-2008

We Michiganders do love our Dirty Jobs: Mike, we'd love for you and the crew to come on out to Romeo, Michigan and help us make some candles. It's not so much dirty as messy. And, well, waxy. We'd invite you to make soap but, alas, you already did that job in another episode.

Sent by Jacki | 3:38 PM | 3-24-2008

The "Dirt Jobs" Man who is also a fan of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series may be interested in a book named "A Friendship: the Letters of Dan Rowan and John D. MacDonald. Knopt, 1986, NY. A little-known but very interesting book with an insight into the thoughts of two public figures.

Sent by Richard Hatch | 3:39 PM | 3-24-2008

LOVE your show! It's the only "dirty" program we let our 14 y/o son watch! He and we ALL appreciate your sense of humor, your excellent use of the English language and your introduction to "hidden" jobs in our country. Thanks for being a great role model for our son - no matter what you do, do it well and do it proudly!

For a year, I made extra cash cleaning soccer/baseball fields after games. I couldn't believe the gook people would chuck half-heartedly towards the garbage can. And half-consumed malts would be tossed without care that the liner in the garbage can had come undone. I didn't have a water source, so it made clean-up disgusting. Doesn't hold a candle to some of your other jobs. My experience showed me that I ought to be more thoughtful when discarding my waste!

Sent by Beth | 3:41 PM | 3-24-2008

In Polar Star, Arkady worked on a Russian fish factory ship, about five stories below sea level on what was called the "slime line."

Sent by jim lawless | 3:41 PM | 3-24-2008

Hey There,

Mike seems like a pretty eco-minded guy (heck just look at his shirt!) so here is my dirty job for him: I work at a nonprofit that helps fight global warming by supporting a cow poo into renewable feul project in the dairy lands of CA. They have a Million gallon silo of stewing cow poo that has never been cleaned yet - but's its scheduled to be cleaned next month!

Tell him I can get him a job for the day!

Sent by Michael Stewart | 3:41 PM | 3-24-2008

Mike, have you ever done a school cafeteria related job before? If not, then here's a suggestion for you, a "Lunch Lady" at our local highschool in Yorktown, Indiana. After being in the lunchlines of the last lunch of the day, you can see that the workers have a decent amount of work to do, and we don't really know what all goes into the preparation of the food there, but I'm sure there's some dirty stuff involved. So I hope that I've given you another possible addition to your awesome show. Thank you.

Sent by Logan, 16 | 4:00 PM | 3-24-2008

I called about cleaning pianos - I work for Jackson Pianos in St. Louis, our website is www.jacksonpianos.com
We would love to have you visit us and help us clean up mouse poop! Thanks for taking my call! Gina

Sent by Gina Christopher | 4:00 PM | 3-24-2008

Have you considered doing an international edition? I've just spent the last 2 years in China, and there is some prime material there, from garbage scavengers to public rest-room demolition.

Sent by Simon | 4:02 PM | 3-24-2008

Today was the best ride home from teaching school since I can remember.I was listening and laughing to Talk of the Nation with your guest Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. I thoroughly enjoyed his dry humorous descriptions of why he loves his "dirty jobs." I am envious of his humor as I need it during the school day.

Sent by Barb Drmacich | 4:06 PM | 3-24-2008

Two dirty jobs that deserve recognition:

1-Nursing home workers. For obvious reasons (dignity
and privacy), he couldn't do this, but these workers have seriously dirty jobs and deserve loads of praise!

2-Farm laborers. It's dirty, hot, dusty, there's
often nowhere to go to the bathroom, other than
squatting in a field... yeah, it's DIRTY (wash your produce well)! I've done it, and the men and women who do it (for LOW wages) deserve tremendous credit!

Sent by Kerry | 4:24 PM | 3-24-2008

WASHING LARGE AIRCRAFT!
This is a horrible job. One has to wear safety gear, you can't see with soap splashed on your goggles, you work in dim conditions, the floor is slick and are you are trying to clean grime that will barely wash off.

Sent by Jack | 4:38 PM | 3-24-2008

I work for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Seattle and we have donation bins for clothing in parking lots through out the area and everyday our drivers have to go pick up the clothes in the bins, problem is people also use them as their personal dumping bins for both live and dead animals, they have found people sleeping in them, you name it. They do a very dirty and difficult job in order to collect these donations, because when you open up the bins you never know what you are going to find.

Sent by Jacqui | 7:54 PM | 3-24-2008

Please forward to Mike that the City of Portland (OR) street leaf cleaners could use an extra hand here in October. Unclog drains in the middle of the rain, uncover dog poo and an occasional rat, all the while keeping the streets clear of the thousands of pounds of leaves that fall on Portland's streets.

Sent by Duffy Stephens | 8:49 PM | 3-24-2008

I have a suggestion for a program that Mike Rowe might consider doing on "Dirty Jobs". When I was in the US Navy awhile ago we were on patrol and the water tank (potable water) got contaminated and could not be used. This was during a 60+ day submerged cruise. Since we could not do without water, we (the crew) had to empty the tank and scrub it clean (twice to be sure we got it all) before refilling for use. Try to imagine what a smelly, contaminated water tank would be like - then it was worse than that. Maybe Mike could have to clean such a tank.
Thanks for consideration.
Andy Bunch
Old Fort, NC

p.s. I am an avid listener to all things NPR on WFAE in Charlotte, NC!!

Sent by Andy Bunch | 11:40 PM | 3-24-2008

I have a crush on Mike as well!

Sent by Maripaz | 12:24 AM | 3-25-2008

Dirtiest job I've ever done? A crew of friends and I earned a living for a while tearing down houses to clear lots for developers to erect new incredibly expensive homes.

We plied our trade in Pacific Grove, Monterey and Carmel, California, on the Monterey Peninsula. Lots of hundred-year-old Victorians, and the occasional barn or warehouse.

Dirty, dusty, mouse and rat droppings, and dead animals. Also some wonderful antique items we sold to the tourist shops on Cannery Row.

Worst, filthiest, most disgusting job? Tearing down a tiny, one bedroom cottage that had been inhabited by a very, very old cat lady. She was a hoarder of all kinds of things which were piled from floor to ceiling in her place, and cats.

When she died, she was mistress to twenty-plus cats. No one knew she had died and she lay in her house with her hungry desperate cats for weeks, many of whom had also died by the time someone discovered the terrible scene and were lying desiccated on the inches-thick coating of cat scat covering the floor.

The poor cat lady's corpse had been taken away but the rest of the mess was untouched when we were hired to demolish the cottage and clear the lot.

Did I say we were working with hand tools, hammers, mauls, crowbars, and so forth?

Worst, dirtiest, most disgusting job I ever did.

Some really interesting newspapers and magazines from the early 20th Century though . . .

Sent by Peter Ogilvie | 12:49 AM | 3-25-2008

Mike, Your show is a staple in our house. I know you're on when I hear my son roar with laughter. I just wanted to let you know that you're show was identified as the example of great reality TV during a discussion on our public radio up here in Canada. Keep up the great work.

Sent by Carol Janigo | 1:41 AM | 3-26-2008

Mike Rowe im not sure if you know that most candianes are crazy over hockey. i play hockey so i know that it smells horrible and it is just full of harmful and diseases and maybe you can come up to Canada and try to clean this or try to help an arena assaint since the hockey players leave all there junk and then there is zaboni driver and that is exteamly dangerous since i know that around us in Edmonton there have been 15 explosions in the past 20 years

Sent by Daniel Janigo | 10:59 PM | 3-26-2008

Dear Mike, I'm 15 years old and I farm pumpkins in the summer and fall and have a pumpkin business with one of my friends. it is hard work and it is really dirty so if want to have us on the show send me a email at benjamingraber@hotmail.com.

Sent by Ben Graber | 4:31 PM | 3-27-2008

I'd like to see just what goes into making toner cartridges for printers and copiers. The boxes sometimes say "content partially unknown" and changing them in the office can get messy. I can't imagine what the factory is like

Sent by Alissa | 4:50 PM | 3-27-2008

Mike, I am a blacksmith artist. Standing over a hot coal fire or propane forge forging steel all day.
check out my website @creativeforgings.net

Sent by Michael Leggett | 12:28 PM | 6-8-2008