Mike Rowe: Frequently Asked Questions

5 / 12

Q: Which job was the toughest to do?

Catfish noodling was difficult to shoot. Logistically challenging, multiple locations, lots of water issues and dangerous. Same with golf ball retriever, crawfisher and underwater lumberjack. For epic, monumental dirtiness, the bat cave wins. For pure exhaustion, indoor demolition, and house movers both kicked my butt. And for sheer grossness, the roadkill removers in Ohio take the cake.

Q: What was it about the bat cave that made it worse than, say, the mare motel?

While the mare motel was memorable in every way, Bracken Cave was simply unforgettable. Remember, TV can only convey sight and sound. It's hard to assess things like touch and smell in a two-dimensional medium.

How, for instance, can one describe the "feel" of a bat as it settles on the nape of your neck, its velvety wings brushing your ear and the side of your face? Or the sensation of flesh-eating beetles falling over the tops of your boots and burrowing into your socks and chewing into your skin? How, on television, can I show you the indescribable smell of toxic ammonia, as it billows from tons of sticky bat poo that clings to your feet as you stumble forward in suffocating blackness? Or the creepy stench of the ill-fitting rubber gas mask that you pray will not slip from your sweaty face?

Don't get me wrong. Holding on to an artificial vagina as a 1,400-pound horse lifts you skyward is not a vacation. But Bracken Cave wins, running away.

Q: Have you ever been injured doing any of these jobs?

I've been thrown from horses, kicked by cows, scratched by cats, bitten by an ostrich, rubbed raw by the hide of a shark, bitten (really hard) by a catfish, crapped on by millions of bats, pecked by chickens, stung by lots of bees, attacked by a sewer rat, covered with hundreds of roaches, and profoundly frightened by an alligator. I wrenched my back hauling garbage, smashed my finger with a hammer, smashed my toe with a sledgehammer, cut my arm open on a rusty nail, burned my eyelashes off in a blacksmith's furnace, and became dehydrated twice, most recently in a New Jersey sludge pit. I've also developed several infections, most probably caused from waste material getting into open wounds ... pulled my neck, sprained my middle finger, and sustained a second degree burn while hot tarring a roof in Los Angeles.

Of those, the scariest was probably the furnace incident. The heat melted my contacts to my eyes, which alarmed me considerably. On the positive side, my left toenail has nearly grown back completely. My eyelashes have also returned, more or less.

Q: You have been in some dangerous and disgusting situations. Have you taken more precautions or have some extra vaccinations?

As far as precautions, nothing out of the ordinary - tetanus, hep. A, hep. B, diphtheria, yellow fever, whooping cough, dengue fever, gamma globulin, typhus and something for meningitis.

Q: You seem almost cavalier about safety on the show. Shouldn't you be more careful to wear a mask or respirator on some of these jobs?

Many have commented on my commitment to safety, or seeming lack thereof.

For the record, I have no wish to die or become injured on this program. But I will now attempt something more dangerous than anything you've seen on the show. Something so risky, you may find it unbelievable. I will tell you the horrible, politically incorrect truth. Ready? Here it is.

On Dirty Jobs, as in life, safety is not always first.

Personally, safety is a big concern of mine. But if safety was always first, I would be hosting a game show (again). The safety philosophy of Dirty Jobs is pretty straightforward. I take the same precautions as my host. No more, no less.

About the blog:
More on
Dirty Jobs