HAPPY LABOR DAY EVERYBODY!
Just in time to celebrate Labor Day a list about labor. The mrW 100 Trade Jobs list is about the unsung “stars” of our society? That would be all those hard working men and women toiling away in the trades. Not a day that goes by when we shouldn’t all thank them and remember what they do to make our lives much easier and set the bar for a great standard of living. There is no special order to the rankings. FYI: I left off #100. That’s for you to fill in just in case we missed something on the original go round… Enjoy!
99. MEMBERS OF THE CLERGY: Whether you consider yourself a spiritual person or not you have to appreciate the job that members of the clergy do. They are in essence on call 24/7. They are the one person who almost always have to work when the rest of us have days off. And they probably can’t get through a day without someone asking them, “Why did this have to happen?” What’s great about the members of the clergy is that they always seem to have an answer for that question and it always helps.
98. FUNERAL DIRECTORS: Speaking of the “meaning of it all” imagine your job is to deal with death all the time. Along with that there is all the pain and grieving they also need to lend support for. That’s got to be emotionally draining on so many levels. Plus there is the “ick” factor. Pity the poor funeral director who is out there trying to meet folks and start relationships. “And what do you do for a living?” “I embalm people.” “Check please.” What I’m saying is, next time to meet a funeral director, ask them how they are doing.
97. QUALITY CONTROL INSPECTORS: Before we get to eat our food and drive our cars and play with all our stuff there is a veritable army of quality control inspectors who are putting their seal of approval on all those items. Every time I bust open a bag of potato chips I take a moment to think about that lonely inspector standing on the assembly line making sure no burnt potato chip makes it into my bag. Okay, maybe I don’t think of that every time but when was the last time you had a burnt chip? See what I mean? Quality control inspectors might not get it right 100% of the time but they come pretty darn close.
96. PARKING ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS: Next to umpires and referees can you think of any other job where you are going to be universally met with scorn and the stink eye? Admit it; if you see a parking enforcement officer your first instinct is “I hope they don’t find me.” If they have found you and there’s a ticket under your wiper blades you’re probably not going to say, “Thank you. May I have another?” Instead you could unleash a string of invectives to make a sailor blush; at least that’s what happens when the Meyer-mobile is tagged. Still, they have a job to do like the rest of us. We might not like this job but these folks are earning a living, supporting their families and doing what they got to do to get by. Maybe you should consider giving them a smile once and awhile. Never know how it might pay off down the road.
95. PARENTS: Although there is never a shortage of advice or books written on the subject, for all practical purposes parents are pretty much on their own. From the moment when that first cry is heard they are in charge and have a huge weight placed upon their shoulders. Here’s a brand new human they are charged with feeding, clothing, protecting and forming into a functioning member of society. This is another one of those jobs where you just can’t quit. They also get all the credit and all the blame, depending on how the kid turned out. As far as the level “dirty work” is concerned I think anyone who has changed a diaper knows the answer to that.
94. OLDER BROTHER’S AND SISTERS: Following right on the heal of our parents comes our older siblings. Like it or not, these are the role models we look up to or strive to be the complete opposite of. If you have an older brother or sister than you know how these dynamics can play out. If you are an older brother and sister then you know the level of patience you must have for that “tag along.” Family. Good stuff.
93. OUR PETS: They don’t ask for much: food, water and bathroom privileges. The occasional ball toss and nuzzling is always welcomed. In return we get unconditional love. Sure, we run the risk of having furniture scratched up, rugs ruined, food snatched, trashcans toppled and mailman chased away but they’re always there when we come home and all is forgiven. Pretty good trade off if you ask me.
92. TV SHOW HOSTS: Yes, they have many appreciative fans. Yes, they get drinks bought for them in bars, but it’s still tough work; especially those TV Hosts who are actually working as opposed to just standing there reading off a teleprompter. Aww, come on, we all know who I’m talking about: Ryan Seacrest. Kidding: Here’s to the bossman, truly the hardest working man in television.
91. TV SHOW CREWS: Of course, those TV hosts wouldn’t get very far without a dedicated crew standing in front of them making sure they get the shot. In the case of the “Dirty Jobs” crew they are truly exceptional. Not only do they have to basically get into the same situations as Mike in terms of rigging and squeezing into small places and smelling disgusting smells, but they also have to lug around all that equipment. If they don’t get it right then there is no show and where would we be then?
90. TELECOMMUNICATION TOWER and CIVIL TECHS: As Kevin posted below: “Hey Mike, How about Telecommunication Tower and Civil Techs? I believe you may have first hand knowledge!” Full disclosure: I had to look up what a civil tech was. Here’s the official interwebs answers: “An engineer trained in the design and construction of public works, such as bridges or dams, and other large facilities.” Okay, so we totally need those folks. Good call, Kevin. As for telecommunication tower techs lets see… when was the last time you made a call on your cell phone? Try doing that without a telecommunication tower. Here’s a hint, without the workers putting those towers up your cell phone would become a very expensive paper weight; unless of course you got it for free because you signed up for the family plan. Then it would be a free paper weight. Thank you, civil techs!
89. MEAT CUTTERS/BUTCHERS: Tammi declares, “I would like to see meat cutters/butchers added to the list.” Actually, I would too, Tammi. A lot of folks don’t realize there is a butcher standing by to help them. Although the local neighborhood butcher shop might be a rarity these days, it’s a pretty safe bet that your grocery store has a staff of butchers and meat cutters working hard to provide you with fresh cuts of meat. If you’ve never asked a butcher for a recommendation you’re truly missing out. Next time you go shopping, bypass the prepackaged meats and head right to the counter and ask the butcher, “What’s good today?” You’ll be amazed at the results. Making friends with a butcher can prove to be extremely valuable especially during grilling season!
88. LOCKSMITHS: From Songbird in the Watercooler we get the suggestion for locksmiths. “They help us when we get locked out of our home, create and cut keys, and open or change lock combinations, and much more. In addition to independent locksmith shops, locksmiths may find employment working on staff at hotels, casinos, schools, hospitals, government facilities, and residential and commercial property management firms. The successful candidate must possess strong basic math skills and the ability to understand complex manuals.” A while back I helped out a neighbor who got locked out of her place. She called a locksmith who showed up and got the job done. I asked for his card which he was happy to produce. I said, “This is going right up on my fridge.” He said, “Uh, keep it in your wallet. If you get locked out having it on your fridge won’t help.” Shows you how smart I am. Oh yeah? And how many of you are carrying around a locksmith’s number in their wallet?
87. GLASS BLOWER/GLASS SMITH: From Songbird again: “They give us all kinds of glass products from decorative pieces, stained glass windows, tableware, mirrors, and many other glass products we use on a daily basis.” Now I could wax poetic about the artistry of the glass blower, but I’m feeling the need to go talk to my butcher. Why not read about Mike’s adventures in glass blowing? Let him do some heavy lifting work on this list!
86. CATV LINEMEN, SPLICERS AND INSTALLERS: Denise took yours truly out to the proverbial woodshed: “What? You have power linemen, but you have forgotten the CATV linemen, splicers, and installers. How would your cable TV bring us all of Mr. Rowe’s shows and commercials if these men and women didn’t hang it, bury it, splice it and install it to your homes, businesses, schools, etc. So please if you would be so kind to acknowledge these very hardworking and underpaid individuals.” When you think about the hours of entertainment and information we get from cable TV these folks truly deserve a hardy thank you! Consider them duly acknowledged.
85. COSMETOLOGIST/MAKE-UP ARTIST/HAIR STYLIST: Francesca over in the Watercooler reminds us that “the field of cosmetology encompasses several occupations, including hairstylist, hairdresser, shampooer, barber, skin care specialist and nail technician.” While a make-up artist and hair stylist keeps all those folks brought to us over the airwaves by the CATV Linemen looking good. See what I did there? I tied two trade jobs together. Oh, yeah and zombies. We couldn’t have zombies or any other fun creepy crawlers without special effects make-up.
84. RECYCLERS: Songbird mentioned tire recyclers by saying, “Tires are very durable so after their time is up it is difficult to get rid of them properly or at least in an environmentally-safe manner. Tire recyclers know how do all that.” To that I’ll add all recycle facility workers. We get to see the benefits of recycling when we buy recycled goods, but before that it was garbage that has to be sorted through, grinded up and made into something new. That’s a lot of hard work that is extremely messy and potentially hazardous. Imagine all the things that end up in a recycle bin that shouldn’t be there. Guess who has to pick through it? The recycle workers. If you care about your carbon footprint these are the folks who are helping you reduce your “shoe” size.”
83 .VETERINARIANS AND PET GROOMERS: If you have any kind of pet chances are you’ll be introducing it to a veterinarian or a groomer at some point. The exception might be fish, but for most dog, cat and bird owners a trusty vet is as important as our family practitioner. And let’s not forget all the veterinarians who make house calls down on the farm to treat sick cows, sheep, horses, chickens and pigs. As for pet groomers we hand over our dirty, dusty, matted furballs and get back four-legged fluffiness. Quite the bargain.
82. FAST FOOD WORKERS: As McDonalds looks to hire 50,000 new McWorkers, we can’t overlook the thousands of fast food workers who are already diligently standing by the ovens, fryers and grills cooking up all kinds of tastiness for us. Sure fast food gets a bad wrap every now and then, but in the long run these workers are providing a convenient and valuable service to millions of folks every day. Into this category I’d also put all those pizza makers, doughnut makers, sandwich makers and even lunch truck operators and street vendors. Just try to get through life without sampling these delicious wares once and awhile. I dare ya!
81. STRUCTURE MOVERS/RELOCATORS: It’s not often when you see a house traveling down the road, but when you do it’s because a crew of workers literally unhooked that puppy and loaded it onto a truck. This is a both a delicate and cumbersome kind of job that requires a huge amount of physics knowledge. Just how do you pick up a house and not tip over a truck? Of course it’s not just limited to houses. Back in 1971, a contractor bought a London Bridge from the City of London, broke it down brick by brick and had it shipped over to Lake Havasu where it was rebuilt. That’s either extreme dedication to maintaining a structure or someone who is really good with jigsaw puzzles.
80. BUS DRIVERS/SUBWAY CONDUCTORS: You could call bus drivers and subway conductors as the real “movers and shakers” of our society. Simply put there are millions of folks who couldn’t make it to work, school or home without these kind of workers. Aside from the level of skill required to operate these heavy pieces of machinery, consider the human factor as in all those riders who complain about something every day. This is another one of those jobs where you should thank the conductor or driver for getting you where you needed to go in one piece. And if you’re a little late, stop and smell the coffee beans. You’ll feel better.
79. CHIMNEY SWEEPS: From Songbird in the Watercooler: “They keep our chimneys clean and properly maintained by removing dirt, soot and even dead animals. They help prevent the accumulation of harmful fumes. They normally work in cold climates and are regularly exposed to adverse weather conditions and many of them are on-call six days a week. They must be physically fit and protect themselves by wearing the proper clothing and face gear. They must be comfortable with heights and have good customer service skills.” Well said. My first exposure to chimney sweeps was watching “Mary Poppins” as a kid. Who wouldn’t want to clean chimneys if you could spend the night dancing on the rooftops?
78. RAILROAD ENGINEER: From Francesca in the Watercooler: “I take the train often and never give much thought as to how much responsibility the engineer has. Here’s what I found online. From before a train leaves its first station, until it arrives at its final destination, the Railroad Engineer is in charge. Before each trip, the Railroad Engineer inspects the locomotives. The engineer makes small adjustments and reports any conditions requiring further attention. During the run, the Railroad Engineer monitors an instrument panel that indicates engine conditions, such as battery charge, amperage and air pressure in the main reservoir and the brakes. The Railroad Engineer must be aware of the train’s route, including track conditions, grades, signals, speed limits and rules. The Train Engineer remains in contact with dispatchers, traffic controllers and the conductors on his or her own train.” This goes hand in hand with #80, but in addition to moving people let’s give a shout out for all that freight that gets moved by these folks every day.
77. BEEKEEPERS: Sure, nobody likes a bee to buzz around them. And admit it, don’t you feel a sense of conquering when you’re able to swat a bee and protect the family picnic. Next time, before you pick up that rolled up newspaper, consider how important bees are to our food chain. There are some plants that simply can’t grow without bees doing their pollination thing. Many beekeepers actually raise hives then transports them to farms in need. There has also been a concern over hive collapse which nobody can explain. But you can bet when the mystery is solved, it will probably be beekeepers that come up with the fix.
76. LANDSCAPERS/GARDENERS: Francesca left a comment on the list stating, “I don’t see Landscaping on the list. They work with dirt, have to deal with many elements (including the weather), and yet, make things beautiful.” And that’s the beauty of list like this, everybody gets to represent from their own category. You’re right, Francesca. If ever there was a job that was all about the dirt its landscapers. And from the dirt comes beauty. This is a perfect example of “What would happen if they didn’t show up for work?” We’d have a lot of ugly looking front lawns, parks and roads.
75. MAIL CARRIERS: From the Watercooler Songbird sings the praises: “They go through a lot to deliver our mail. Bad weather, biting dogs, sometimes inconsiderate home owners, tough bosses, and even being a hero once in a while. Mike should try this one.” Actually, I would like to see Mike in a postal carrier’s uniform slugging around a bag of catalogs. Incidentally the postal carrier’s creed: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” Yeah, that’s not their creed. It’s just what is inscribed on a post office in New York, but it kinda stuck. On behalf of one particular mail carrier who is greeted every by a certain fury barking beast, I apologize and thank you for your patience. Don’t take it personal. I actually think it’s the uniform.
74. PILOTS: Another entry from Songbird. “Talk about a job with a high responsibility. They need to transport hundreds of passengers to their destination every day safely and with as little drama as possible. Flight attendants also fall into this category – keeping passengers calm in an emergency is not an easy task.” Let us not forget all the cargo pilots as well. If it doesn’t come by train, truck or boat, we are getting our stuff by plane. At any given time there are literally thousands of flights coming and going all around us. When you consider the rarity of mishaps, you have to hand it up to the pilots and flight crews. Just like you have to give it up for:
73: AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS/FLIGHT DISPATCH OPERATORS: Flying the friendly skies is a team effort. For every plane in the air, there are dozens of folks on the ground making sure they get the support they need to get to where they’re going. This is a complicated and stress filled job with many moving parts. It’s enough to make your head spin. And if you don’t think they have it rough, imagine what happens when weather grinds their operations to a halt. This is not a job you want to be in at that moment. We passengers only know when things go wrong and we gripe. What about when things go right which is most of the time? Shouldn’t we be offering thanks? I’m just saying…
72. TIMBER CRUISER: From Janice in the comments section: “My husband and I own a Forestry Consulting business and that’s what we do – we go out and report signs of insect & fungal damage, natural disasters (blowdowns, hail damage etc.) notate their age & their size, and overall health of the trees in our nations forests. We walk – we observe – and we notate what is happening so that we don’t lose our nation’s largest renewable land resource that really is owned by all of us. Whether its pine beetle damage in the Black Hills of South Dakota, or wind damage in Wisconsin’s forests, we walk in places that even hunters say is impassable; but we get the job done and the information passed on. I have seen bear, rattlesnakes and elk up close and too personal, been hailed on, worked in temps of 95 f & -10, reported the low smoldering of a lightning strike before it got out of hand, and even reported on invasive earthworms that are slowly destroying the health of the woods in many areas. There are the swamps, marshland, cliffs, and steep ravines; where ever the trees are, we go. I have aged 200 year old Black ash trees that are endangered by the Emerald Ash Borer, and have aged 500 year old Ponderosa pines endangered by the Mountain Pine Beetle; once we know where they are, even in the most remote places we can be proactive and protect these forests accordingly. Needless to say we have to stay in shape, wear the appropriate safety gear, and be mindful of each step we take; not just for us, but also for any endangered under story plant that works hand in hand with the trees for Forest health. We are the “pencil pushers” of the outdoor world, and we love our job. As you can tell, I am proud of what we do and work hard to inform others that Forestry isn’t just about planting and cutting down trees; it also takes the correct information we Timber Cruisers collect in order to properly conserve & manage them, for our future, and for future generations!” Two additional points: 1) Well said, so thank you. B) Never even thought about this as a job, so thank you again.
71. CONVENIENCE STORE CLERKS/GRAVEYARD SHIFT WORKERS: From Randall’s comment: “Convenience store clerks are also unsung heroes of the work force. Their jobs are rated as a higher risk factor than a police officer. And let’s face it, anyone dealing with the general public for 8 to 10 hours a day deserves recognition.” Agreed. Although perhaps not really a dirty job in the sense of getting dirty, but then again have you ever tried to get Blue Slushee off your hands? Thinking of Convenience Store Clerks got me also thinking about all those Graveyard Shift Workers. They deserve a mention because there’s a big portion of the population that are nightowls. These are all the folks coming off a late shift who need to grab a bite or cup of Joe at an all night diner. And anyplace that advertises “Open 24 Hours” means there is someone toiling away late into the night. Comforting to know that is available in emergencies both of the medical and ice cream varieties.
70. CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATORS/CLEANERS: From Songbird over in our Watercooler: “These men and women are essential because of the type of environment they work in and the type of stuff they have to see and encounter on a daily basis and the fact that the general public may never know they are walking by or through where a crime took place. I personally can’t imagine having to show up every day to perform a job like that; I don’t even like watching that kind of stuff on TV!” Judged by the popularity of the CSI franchise there are lots of people who enjoying watching that stuff! But you’re right. It’s an extremely harrowing job that requires an extremely tough constitution. Think of it this way: what would happen if these folks stayed home for a day. Imagine what won’t be getting cleaned up!
69. PYROTECHNICS TECHNICIAN: Also from Songbird: “Working with highly explosive and dangerous materials to make fireworks displays. Without them, we wouldn’t have all the gorgeous displays across the country to celebrate the Fourth of July and other special dates.” Fireworks are one of those things that we just can’t escape life without watching at least once. Think about that. As kids, fireworks were the bomb. Even if you never got to a fireworks show in person, you can’t avoid the clips on New Year’s Eve or during ball games. Also note: when watching fireworks it’s important to coordinated the “ahhhs” and “oooos.” “Ahhhs” go with the burst of colors, “oooos” goes with the booms.
68. COBBLER/SHOEMAKER: From Cyn in the Watercooler: “I’m referring to people who make or repairs shoes by hand. It sure takes a lot of skills, patience and artistry to create a sturdy and comfortable pair of shoes. Every working person needs a good pair of shoes to function well in our society. That’s why I think shoemaking is an important trade.” Absolutely. In some respect, shoemaking and repair can definitely be called an art form. Don’t let the mass manufacturer fool you. Our shoes are still being made using the basic principles developed from generations of talents craftsmen and women.
67. CARPET INSTALLERS — Michelle commented: “I looked through your whole list and didn’t see my husband’s trade, carpet installation, which he’s done for fifteen years. Let’s give honor to all those guys in floor covering, who spend hours and hours on their knees giving our homes and buildings what may very well be the most important finishing touch.” I’ll second that. Among our many blessings we always count “a roof over our heads.” While that is indeed important, the finest roofs in the world won’t matter much if our floors aren’t there. And just like many other areas where skilled tradesmen enter our lives, when it comes to covering our floors we get to infuse our own personalities and decorating skills. To some this matters a little, to others this matters a lot. But were it not for the carpet installers we’d might all be walking around on dirt. Not that there is anything wrong with dirt!
66. AIRPORT BAGGAGE HANDLERS – I believe Mike once did due diligence as an airport baggage handler. The mere fact that he did the job for a day means it should be considered a tough job for a career and it is. Depending on the airport, baggage handlers are forced to work in all kinds of horrendous weather conditions. Consider the recent blizzards, or cold spells, or heat waves, or rain storms. No matter what the weather is outside, they are slinging our luggage. And woe befall them if a bag gets lost, right? Actually, when you consider the amazing amount of luggage they handle on an average day, having a couple dozen bags rerouted really isn’t that big of a deal. And should we really begrudge our suitcases an extended vacation?
65. FOOD PROCESSORS – We put the spotlight on food processors and they certainly belong on this list. Try this: they don’t work and we don’t eat. It’s just that simple. For every boxed, bagged, wrapped and package item of food there was a food processors standing on the assembling line making sure it was all boxed, bagged, wrapped and packaged properly. Did I mention standing? Food processors spend most of their work hours standing and doing repetitive work. Most of us probably wouldn’t last a day. Just ask Mike.
64. DRYWALLERS – From Joi: “People who work with sheetrock amaze me. If I never have to touch sheetrock again for odd jobs I will be grateful. Sheetrock workers seem to think its no big deal, but to those of us who hate sheetrock dust, it seems like it should be on the list. And the taping and mudding & sanding to make everything ready for painting. Our homes wouldn’t look wonderful without them. They should be added to the list. America without sheetrock? I think not!” Absolutely agree, Joi. And I’m proud to say this is a job on the list I’ve actually performed. After one week of installing drywall I certainly have a new appreciation for the skill and precision is takes to get the job done right. Somewhere in Gulfport Mississippi, there’s a new house with drywall. Years from now, someone might pull that drywall down and they’ll find my autograph on the studs. Drywallers everywhere should take pride in their work!
63. COFFEE CULTIVATORS – From Songbird over in the Watercooler. “It takes a lot of hard work and patience to get the coffee that keeps civilization going every day. How many pounds of beans for one bag? I don’t remember the exact number but it’s a good amount!” There are 3,250 coffee beans in one pound of coffee. Coffee is also the second most traded commodity on the planet aside following close behind oil as the number one. Right now there are over 22,000,000 folks working in some form of the coffee trade. Here in the U.S. coffee is only grown in Hawaii or Puerto Rico. Around 100,000 million Americans drink over 350,000,000 cups of coffee every day. Now that you have all those coffee facts, it’s clear why being a coffee cultivator is indeed a vital job for the planet!
62. LOBSTERMEN, CRABBERS, SHRIMPERS & FISHERMEN – This category is for all of those folks who cast a net or bait a hook. As the saying goes, “give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” Luckily, for us, we don’t have to learn how to fish when we’ve already got crews of able bodied men and women trolling the high seas everyday for our benefit. Next to our landlocked farmers, the fishing fleets are every bit as vital to our food chain. Thanks to these hard workers, we’re able to crack open a crab, fry up a tuna melt or poach some salmon pretty much anytime we want to. Next time you order or buy seafood ask where it came from and think how it got there.
61. HOG FARMERS – Brandon commented on this list by adding, “Please don’t forget about us Hog Farmers. There is an endless list of products coming from hogs that we depend on every day, from food to medicines to even makeup.” Might I add bacon? Actually, all you would have to have said was “bacon” and I would have made this job number one. Is there a meal that can’t be improved with nature’s meat candy? Speaking of which, I haven’t tried chocolate dipped bacon, but it’s on the bucket list!
60. MANURE HAULERS – Brandon also thought we should include this group. He said, “Also, those who haul livestock manure for a living, provide fertilizer for food production and keep our water supply safe by applying nutrients at appropriate levels. Both these occupations also rely on extensive knowledge of ever changing regulations that are usually written by people that don’t know or understand the impacts of the rules they are writing.” I don’t think the bossman would be where he is today if not for the manure haulers. Take that both figuratively and literally. Literally because some of his most memorable “Dirty Jobs” have included some form of manure moving. And I say figuratively because, well, we all haul a bit of manure every day, don’t we?
59. GARMENT WORKERS – Francesca commented, “What about garment workers? My mom worked at a factory that made coats for many years. She was a seamstress as were three of my aunts. It was hard work but she enjoyed what she did.” Absolutely, garment workers of all stripes belong on this list. Next to food and shelter, clothing is a true essential for life. We’re all stitched together thanks to the tireless effort of garment workers the world over. And let’s not forget the legions of tailors and seamstresses who are standing by to patch, sew, hem and generally allow for a few extra pounds on any outfit. I for one would be lost without them.
58. HOSPITAL STAFF – A patient checks into a hospital to be taken care of by a doctor. But when you add up all the time that patient actually spends with the nursing staff, custodians, lab technicians and dieticians that work in a hospital the doctor actually takes a back seat. It’s not the doctor you call on in the middle of the night from your hospital bed. It’s not the doctor who makes your breakfast or takes your temperature. Not that there is anything wrong with doctors, but they’ll probably be the first ones to admit they would be lost without the hospital staff.
57. BEER BREWERS – Into this category we can add distillers off all kinds. Think of the delicate balance of ingredients that need to be blended together to make the perfect brew whether that’s a merlot, pale ale, whiskey or rum. Can you think of a holiday, special occasion or major sporting event that doesn’t involve hoisting a few? Even the teetotalers among us would agree that the beverage industry is and always will be a thriving part of our economy and culture. Here’s to you, distillers!
56. HEAVY EQUIPMENT TECHNICIANS – For every Heavy Equipment Operator there is a well trained Heavy Equipment Technician standing by waiting for them to break the equipment. Of course the Operators don’t break their trucks on purpose, but when they break, and break they will, there has to be somebody fixing it and fixing it fast or else everything comes to a screeching halt. As Fry1975 from the Watercooler puts it: “It can get real hairy, when it is up to you to get that equipment up and running. Crews at a stand still, dump trucks lined-up, and the pressure mounting. You can be a real hero or zero in this job field.” I’m going with hero.
55. HEAVY EQUIPMENT OPERATORS – If ever there was a real job where you get paid for playing in the dirt it’s as a Heavy Equipment Operator. Perhaps “play” is the wrong word. It’s more about moving tons of dirt, gravel, concrete and other construction materials from point “A” to point “B.” Heavy Equipment Operators are called on to pave, surface, resurface, shovel and clear roads. They operate excavation equipment that could be packed with scoops, shovels or buckets. They need to know the difference between digging into sand, gravel or earth and then how to load all that. And let’s not forget bulldozers, trench excavators, road graders, dump trucks, tractors, and forklifts. To put it simply if something heavy needs to be moved, who you gonna call?
54. OIL RIG WORKERS: As we experienced this year with the BP oil spill disasters, oil rig workers are definitely on the front line of a very dangerous job. Oil rig workers spend weeks and months at a time working on the wells. On a typical drill crew you’ll find toolpushers, drillers, roughnecks, roustabouts, company men, mud engineer, derrick hands and geologists. Although every crew member has a specific task, quite often they are called upon to multi-task. Not to mention being constantly drilled on evacuation procedures. And then there is all the support staff that operates the rig itself. It’s a tight working community with not a lot of room for mistakes. What was often forgotten in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the fact that 11 oil rig workers lost their lives. Those are lives that were working to bring us fuel.
53. BRIDGE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR – From Pilgrim101 in our Watercooler: A bridge too far? Bridge over trouble waters? We’ve got plenty of bridges to maintain in this country. “Bridges, including those on local roads, are integral elements of our highway systems. Despite their importance, however, they are often the most neglected components of the infrastructure. Demands on limited resources, especially competing roadway priorities for increased capacity and improved riding surfaces, too often result in deferred maintenance for bridges. The consequences are obvious — bridges are deteriorating far faster than they are being repaired. Without adequate attention, many require replacement or closure long before they are really obsolete, further adding to the demand for limited funds, impacting safety, and discouraging both users and transportation providers.” Even simple tasks like changing a light bulb are fundamental to bridge maintenance!
52: COLLISION REPAIR & REFINISHING TECHNICIANS: From Bob Medved in the comment box: “I know a lot of people get the two confused, but you mentioned Auto Mechanics. What about the guys and gals that fix the dents and match the paint? These good folks are called Collision Repair and Refinishing Technicians. They keep our cars looking great and keep `em straight with a shiny coat of paint! By the way, the difference between the two: Auto Collision and Refinishing Technicians can’t have grease on their hands. If that stuff gets on the body, the paint won’t stick.” Thanks Bob. I actually like the fact that there is a real “dirty job” where you can’t get dirty!
51: TRAIL GUIDE/WRANGLER: From Maryjo in the comments section: “Many people think that working out in Estes Park, CO leading trail rides through Rocky Mountain National Park is an easy job. Umm, no, it’s not. Try shoveling a corral full of manure into a work truck all day in the blazing sun. And when the afternoon rain comes, you better have your muck boots on because you’ll be standing in about a foot or more of mud, urine, and poo. Dealing with a head of 68 horses in a livery business is very demanding when you add tourists to the mix. Oh, did I mention the 5:30 and 5:45 am barn calls and 14 hour work days/7 days a week? Sure the trail rides are fun, but there is a whole lot of work put in to them, even before the “Happy Trails!” Gotta admit when I saw the title, I wasn’t so sure but you had me at “corral full of manure.”
50. MARINE RIGGER: Rivergirl from the Watercooler suggested this one. “Assembles equipment to lift and move goods in a marine shipyard. Why are they important? They have to figure out how to get a heavy load from the dock to the ship to the dock. There are pulleys and winches and blocks, wires or slings or chains to select. You can’t move a multi-ton container with string. The rigger may have to work high above the deck on a lift or stoop into cramped conditions below deck, often in adverse weather conditions.” This is a very important worker in that long chain of workers who manage to get us all our stuff. Can’t live without ‘em!
49. INSULATION TECHNICIAN: And Rivergirl added this as well: “Whether it’s the blown in type or the good old fashioned fiberglass, our homes and businesses would be frigid or sweltering without some form of insulation. Furnaces and air conditioners work more efficiently with proper insulation, saving us money. Mold, condensation, and dry rot are less likely to occur with the proper type of insulation for the situation. Besides, anyone who lives on a busy street knows how quiet your home/office can be with the proper insulation. Gives you time to relax or meet your business goals for the day.”
48. MASONS: Keeg posted this in the comment box: “As a mason and a concrete contractor, I am deeply saddened to see the lack of a category specifically for us. Before the inspectors, plumbers, carpenters, roofers, painters, tilers, well pretty much everyone – we are there. Insuring that a solid foundation is there to get the ball rolling. And that’s not to mention the driveways, walks, stoops, steps, and patios that we all enjoy so much. Much respect to all trades, and for that matter, anyone fortunate to be employed. Thanks for this opportunity to comment. Long live America!” Keeg, be sad no more! Masons are a perfect addition to the list.
47. THEME PARK RIDE MECHANICS: Who doesn’t love screaming your fool head off on a rollercoaster? Or what about spinning endlessly on some kind of spinning endless ride. And let’s not forget all those drop from the sky, haunted houses and every other kind of theme park ride there is. Doesn’t matter which park you visit, you can bet to find a hard working crew of mechanics who are constantly maintaining and repairing these rides. They can certainly take a beating; the rides that is. But when you think about all the tight squeezes, high altitudes and scaffolding the theme park mechanics have to navigate then you can see where they might be taking a beating too. Of course, one of the perks is they get to ride for free all they want!
46. BUILDING INSPECTORS: In the world of building construction, what goes up must come down but only when it is supposed to. Controlled demolition is one thing but nobody wants a building to crumble before it’s time. Cue the building inspector. These are the stalwart engineers who know just what it takes to support a beam, brace a wall and keep windows framed. A building inspector is part of every new phase of construction but the work doesn’t stop then. They are called upon on a recurring rotation to continue inspecting buildings to make sure they are living up to code. And after any kind of damage from fire, quake or flood the building inspector is the last word on whether the place is safe or not. Lot of pressure with this job and a lot riding on getting it done right.
45. HIGH RISE WINDOW WASHER: Anyone who is a fan of “Dirty Jobs” knows that Mike’s least favorite thing to do is climb up to great heights. On a recent episode, he took to the sky to clean some high rise windows in Hawaii. With paradise just a speck below, Mike did his best to clean the windows and keep his lunch down. Thankfully, there are professional high rise window washers everywhere there are high rises taking on the dangerous job of giving us clear views. An entire industry has sprung up around the design and building of special rigs used by these brave crews. Next time you’re up high looking out of a clean window, take a moment to think about how it got that way
44. CRANE OPERATORS: Right up there with construction workers are the crane operators. These are the folks who get the building materials where they need to go. A modern marvel of construction are all those cranes that get plopped down on the top of high rise buildings during construction. Exactly how did that first crane get up there without a crane already in place? You can also add to this category all the loading dock and ship yard crane operators. Imagine moving tons of heavy equipment or cargo containers with a few flicks of the wrist. This is definitely an acquired skill that takes amazing hand/eye coordination. And if someone can explain the cranes on the roof business it would be greatly appreciated!
43. HEALTH INSPECTORS: We all know that on “Dirty Jobs” Mike has seen his fair share of nasty bugs, vermin and flotsam in all kinds of environments. He also has no qualms about leaving all that nastiness behind at the end of the day. But what about the Health Inspectors who can’t leave it behind and instead have to wade through the muck day in and day out? These are the iron stomach workers who look through every nook and cranny of a restaurant, food plant or any other place where folks will be eating. Thanks to their good efforts, we’re able to eat in relative assurance that our food will be safely prepared. Best advice: eat where the Health Inspectors eat: you know those places are going to be spotless!
42. FOREST WARDENS: As Smokey the Bear often reminds us, only we can prevent forest fires. That’s true but what about the fires that we had nothing to do with? Lightning strikes are the culprit for many blazes. Often it falls to the forest wardens to spot the first sign of trouble. In high risk zones, these diligent workers spend all their time scanning the horizon for any sign of fire. Being surrounded by nature is a great job to have but it’s also one that comes with enormous responsibility. That’s a lot of pressure. We only see the big fires that have swiftly gotten a hold of a mountain side. Imagine all the smaller upstarts that were squelched thanks to these intrepid spotters?
41. FACTORY WORKERS: If you build it, they will buy. At least that’s the hope over every factory worker. Name a product and chances are at some point in its life it went through some kind of factory. Anyone who has worked on an assembly line will tell you that it can become mind numbing, repetitive work. But the lines have to keep going. Depending on the factory, there could be shifts running around the clock. This forces some workers to have their lives turned upside in the name of getting stuff made. And not only are there all those front line assembly workers but for every factory there is a factory maintenance crew standing by to make repairs when the machines break down. It’s a perfect balance between these two teams to make sure things run smoothly. My own first hand experience with factory workers came with a tour of the Hershey Chocolate Factory in the second grade. I’ve been a fan of factory workers and chocolate ever since.
40. CARPENTERS: From Pilgrim 101 over in our Watercooler. “Another trade I’d like to give homage to is carpentry. My father in law is a retired carpenter, my brother is a carpenter, and I’ve admired the fine tuned detail and skill of creating that goes along with this profession. It is a physical craft that requires math and science ability, the use of tools and equipment, and is a true art. I found this on the internet “The Day in the Life of a Carpenter” and thought I’d share it. “A day in the life of a carpenter has its own set of rewards. Sure, the work can be a challenge and the days long, but there’s nothing like the feeling of knowing what you’re building will be a lasting monument to your skills and professional talents. No one will argue either the joy of experiencing the ambient smell of freshly cut wood and working with its amazing tactile qualities. However, once you’ve made it past the soul satisfying and aesthetic properties of the trade, it can be hard and dirty work. Most will agree that carpentry is an occupation that can reward an individual who has the ability to combine manual labor with work that can often be very precise in nature. Most carpenters construct two categories of items: those which are used in the maintenance and erection of aesthetic structures, and those used as art, furniture or framing. A similar carpenter skill set is needed for either category. Carpenters must have the ability to take a blueprint or plan and turn it into a finished product. This requires the ability to pick good wood and maintain a high skill set working with all woodworking tools of the trade.” Thanks for sharing!
39. CONSTRUCTION WORKERS: Fun construction fact: from ground breaking to the first elevator ride, it took just under a year for construction workers to build the Empire State Building. You know that building that’s still standing to this day as a proud symbol of everything that’s cool about New York and America? That’s construction at its finest. The great thing about construction workers is how they just keep their heads down and get the job done. What the building will look like they leave to the architects; all the construction workers are focused on is making sure they follow the plans. To work in construction means you need to be a Jack of all trades. You’ll be getting up early, working in extreme weather and eating a lot from lunch wagons. You’ll come home dirty, tired and sore but when that alarm goes off the next morning, you’re back on the job. That’s what the trades are all about.
38. IRONWORKERS: Dirty Sal over in the Watercooler went cyber surfing and came up with this nifty description of ironworkers: “Have you ever looked up at a towering city skyline and wondered, “Who built that?” What about while you were gazing at the expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge, the gleam of the St. Louis Arch, or the massive height of the Sears Tower? Ever thought about who built those? Proud union ironworkers built every one of those structures. Along with just about every other kind of building, bridge or industrial structure you can name. That’s right, every day, hardworking, dedicated ironworkers put sweat, skill and savvy into the bridges that link us together, the stadiums where we watch our sports heroes play, and of course, the soaring towers that scrape the sky. We work among the clouds erecting the skeletons of structures; set steel rebar in concrete to reinforce structures; and ornament buildings with curtain wall and window wall systems. Ironworking is a multi-faceted trade, led by professionals with skill sets that are always in demand.” Exactly what I was thinking!
37. CUSTODIAL WORKER/JANITOR: From Songbird in the Watercooler “I remember the janitor who worked at my high school. He was friends with everyone and did his job without complaint. Even though he had to clean up after a bunch of high school kids (can’t imagine what the boy’s bathroom must have looked and smelled like), he was always happy. He owned a sweet red truck and had the ability to take nice vacations because he worked long and hard every day. He was treated with respect and loved by everyone. He not only kept the school clean, but kept everyone smiling too.” Back in the day, one of my first odd jobs required me to do a bit of custodial engineer and ladies, you can give the boys a run for their money when it comes to messy bathrooms! When you add up all the custodial workers and janitors in all the buildings across the country, it’s quite an impressive army of folks making sure we come into a clean environment at the start of a new day. Might want to leave a pizza or a six pack out for them with a thank you note.
36. HOME BUILDERS: From Moose in our Watercooler: “Since the first cave shortage, builders have created homes that withstood wind, kept out the rain, and protected a family from roaming critters. Through knowledge of design and strength of materials, our modern wooden houses utilize standardized wood members and plywood sheathing capable of resisting strong wind forces and moderate earthquakes. Without carpenters and framers we might still be living in huts made from leaning tree trunks covered in animal skins.” This is a perfect “blanket trade job” because it covers a lot of individual working teams that all come together for the finished product. Well put Moose!
35. ROAD KILL REMOVERS: You can’t escape the yuck factor with this job. We’ve all seen the remnants along the roads. We don’t really want to look at them but something catches our eye and the closer we get the more is doesn’t make any sense until we’re right by it and well, yuck. Now imagine if the road kill removers didn’t show up. Think of the pile up of carcasses. And when they are called out to a job, they know what they’re going to face: its road kill! It’s not like they’re going to be thrown a surprise party with a dead badger. Definitely a job that’s not meant for the faint of heart or the queasy of stomach.
34. MACHINISTS: Clay over in the Watercooler gave a shout out to machinists like his dad by saying, “My Dad is a car manufacturer. He designs the parts that create the tools to build the cars. He also creates the robots or tools that assemble the automobiles. He showed me the plant he works at, and it is full of machinery and car parts, that they assemble. It is very cool to see all those parts, and then see them assemble the cars, using his tools!” Simply put, machinists make the machines to make everything. It’s complicated and extremely exacting work. The parts, tools, molds and machines they create not only have to function for the purpose but often they need to be adaptable in many different environments. A machinist working in Des Moines is going to send a tool to Saratoga and it needs to work. That’s a tall order to get right on a consistent basis but the machinists make it so.
33. RELAY TEST MAINTENANCE SPECIALISTS: What’s great about a list like this is discovering all those important jobs we know are out there getting done but don’t really think about. Sure we see road crews, truck drivers and sewer workers in action but what about all the unseen tradesmen like the Relay Test Maintenance Specialists. Exactly. Had no idea who that are until East1952 from the Watercooler shared with the class “I’d like to add relay test maintenance specialists. This is what my husband does in his employment with various electric utility companies. His job is to install and periodically test the relay equipment at power plants and sub-stations. This is a vital part of the equipment used to generate and transmit electricity, and the maintenance specialists often have to work under adverse conditions.” Think about that next time you flip on a light switch!
32. MULE LOGGERS & LUMBERJACKS: Did you get any mail today? Wood. Have chance to sit in a rocking chair on your front porch? Wood and wood. Read a book? Knock on a door? Walk on a floor? Wood, wood, wood. Let’s face it, we’re surrounded by wood. So just how did all the wood come to be? From tiny saplings grow the might oak and maple and cedar and pine. But it takes the rough and tumble work of a lumberjack and mule loggers to get that wood down from the hills and into the saw mills. From there the wood is split, cut, sawed and pulverized into thousands of products. As long as there will be wood (which will be forever) there will be lumberjacks and mule loggers making sure to get that wood where is needs to go.
31. TRUCK DRIVERS: “Breaker, breaker, little buddy.” Do truckers still say “breaker, breaker” or have I incredibly dated myself? The simple truth is that without truck drivers we would literally have nothing. Look around you right now. Every single item within reach or site has spent some time on a truck. The journey of all our goods begin at the ports and factories where trucks are standing by to load up the crates. The items are then taken to distribution centers and dispersed throughout the country by even more trucks. And truckers just don’t wait around. They are constantly on the move around the clock and through all kinds of weather in all kinds of driving conditions. So next time you see a trucker on the road, give them the thumbs up. Or better yet, give them that arm motion to make them honk their horn. You know you’re dying to do that! And you now have permission.
30. WELDERS: What keeps us together as a society? Loving our neighbors like we love ourselves? Sure. Common ideas working towards a common purpose? Okay. Superbowl Sunday? Absolutely. But what really keeps us together are welders. Yes, all that other stuff is important but without welders doing what they do we’d all be standing around in a open field because none of our buildings would be put together. And we would have to walk to that field because none of our cars, buses, trains or plains would be put together. Welders are like metal artists using a different type of welding for each job. They need to know all about gas welding, propane welding, oxyacetylene welding, arc welding, MIG, TIG, AC and DC. None of that might mean anything to you but don’t worry. The welders know what it means and that’s what’s keeping us together.
29. FARRIER: From Kay K over in the Watercooler: “When I was younger I worked summers on my uncle’s farm harvesting wheat, but we’d also spent a week in the mountains on horseback herding the cattle that had wandered off during the winter back down to the ranch. Man we worked those horses hard. Well, their feet have to be in top shape, thus a skilled farrier was absolutely essential to take care of those feet. They can watch a horse walk and know if it has a foot problem, and how to correct it. Anyway, I love horses, I think farriers should be on the top 100 list.” I agree, especially when I had no idea was a farrier was until you described it! Thanks.
28. ELEVATOR MECHANICS: It was Sir Isaac Newton who got clunked with an errant apple and decided for the rest of us that what goes up must come down. Although a nice theory, it wasn’t until 1853 when Elisha Otis put it to practical use by founding his elevator company and pioneer the development of the safety elevator. Chances are if you’ve ever ridden in an elevator it might have been an Otis. But no matter the brand, like everything else mechanical there needs to be a trained team of repairmen standing by to service and repair. It is certainly frustrating to come into a building and find the elevators out of order but it’s more of an ordeal to actually be stuck in an elevator. Although great inspiration for comedy writers, it’s no laughing matter. Without elevator mechanics we’d all be stuck on the ground floor.
27. DISASTER CLEAN-UP: The mere mention of those two words are enough to send a shiver down the spine. Whether the disaster is man made or Mother Nature inspired there is going to be a mess. On the man made side we need look no further then our gulf shorelines to see a mess of epic proportions. But there have been plenty of other chemical spills, building fires, train wrecks and all manner of destruction. Then you add to that list the wake left behind from hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, earthquakes, floods and forest fires. It’s enough to keep you in a panic room for the rest of your life. Luckily for humanity, when disaster strikes the first wave is rescue, followed by relief aid, then recovery. After that is falls to the disaster clean-up crews to really help put lives back to normal. These folks will be the last ones you’ll see before you’ll be able to return to homes and business. And what a welcome site they will be.
26. SNOW REMOVAL CONTRACTORS: One of the primary reasons I moved from Baltimore to Los Angeles is to never shovel snow again in my life. So far, so good. But every winter when the blizzard hits the frigid states, the snow removal contractors go to work. Think about driving on freshly plowed roads. Now think about being the first one on those roads with all the potential hazards. That’s the snow removers. It’s intense work that typically means plowing around the clock. Sure, a snow day is great for the kids but without those salt trucks and bulldozers moving nobody could get around and that means no emergency vehicles. In the winter, snow removal contractors are our first line of defense.
25. AIRPLANE MECHANICS: Ever hear of Charlie Taylor? Probably not. He was actually the Wright Brother’s airplane mechanic. Sure, Orville and Wilbur get a lot of the credit for taking Kitty Hawk to the air way back in 1903 but if it wasn’t for Charlie, they wouldn’t have had an engine. Flash forward to today. If you thought about all the working parts that go into a typical airplane you might never fly. Luckily, there is a legion of well trained airplane mechanics making sure all those parts are in working order. One estimate puts it at 180,000 commercial flights per day. That’s a lot of frequent flyer miles and that’s a lot of mechanics getting the job done right.
24. CHICKEN FARMERS: For the sake of this discussion, we’ll stipulate that the chicken came before the egg. Chickens have long been a rich source of protein. In fact they are the most popular form of food across the planet. Here in American, we pack away 57 pounds of chicken a year which comes out to around 8 billion chickens. Then we have the egg. On the average, Americans consume 2 eggs per day. Doesn’t mean they’re scrambling them up but think about all the food we eat where eggs are a part of the main ingredient. At 2 eggs per person with 300 million people that’s like a gazillion eggs. And who do we have to thank for all that food? The chicken farmers. Egg-actly.
23. TREE TRIMMERS: From Pilgrim101 in our Watercooler: “With all the thunderstorms we have been having here in NY, many trees have been uprooted, damaging property, downing power lines, and just making a general mess of the roads and making getting places difficult. I have literally seen convoys of tree service trucks working around the clock, removing tree debris, and limbs. Cutting damaged trees down, and climbing trees to cut off hanging branches. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to get out of my street because I live on a dead end and the main street had a 100 year old, massive tree lying across it, no one on my street was going anywhere unless they had wings. These guys/gals worked their tails off, through the night to take care of the situation, so in the morning life would go on as usual.” For the record, tree trimmers are also called Arborist and we posted a special article about their trade here.
22. POWER LINEMEN: From Grasshopper in our Watercooler: “Power Linemen is a tradesman who constructs and maintains electric power transmission and distribution facilities. The term is also used for those who install and maintain telephone, telegraph, cable TV and more recently fiber optic lines. The term refers to those who work in generally outdoor installation and maintenance jobs.” These guys are very important. You can have a wonderfully built house, wired by the best electrician in town, filled with all the most carefully assembled gadgets, highest definition TVs and newest shiniest appliances money (or credit) can buy but a thunderstorm or nasty ice storm or tornado or even worse, a hurricane, decides to make your town a target and leave you and your family in the den, huddled together around a fruity scented candle as your only source of warmth and light, and these guys become Super Heroes. They often travel hundreds of miles, even across borders, to work in areas that have been hard hit with disaster. Just recently, I overheard a lineman saying he had been working 20 hours and still had another hour of work to do. I think that says it all.” It sure does!
21. SHEEP RANCHERS: Also from Villardranch and who would know better what we get from sheep then the actual sheep ranchers themselves. Okay, pop quiz: see if you can survive without any of the following items which are all by-products from sheep: leg of lamb, pot roasts, lamp chops, rack of lamb, sausage casings, instrument strings, surgical sutures, tennis racket strings, clothing, lanolin, yarn, drum heads, ointment base, make-up, dog food, ceramics, dish soap, tires, chicken feed, shaving cream, protein shampoo, bone chine, bone meal, bone jewelry, steel ball bearings, wallpaper paste, emery boards, bandage strips, gelatin, syringes, chewing gum, potash, tennis ball, felt, baseballs, buttons, adhesive tape, and marshmallows. FYI: I might be able to survive for a month e without any of that except the marshmallows!
20. COAL MINERS: From Villardranch in our Watercooler: “In our neck of the woods it’s the coal miners and power plant workers. They blast it, dig it up, crush it and haul it next door where the guys & gals at the coal fired power plant generate and transmit electricity to its member systems throughout a 200,000 square-mile service territory across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. Without them, none of us would be as bright!” Until we develop those alternative fuel sources everyone likes to talk about, we’re going to keep depending on coal and coal miners. And we all know the sacrifices they make.
19. MARITIME WORKERS: From Authement in the Watercooler: “Everything in your house including the food you eat and the fuel in your car probably took a trip on the water before it got to your place. Even if it didn’t the raw materials used to move it or make it did.” And anyone who has seen an episode of Deadliest Catch knows that working on the water can come are great peril. Chances are if you’re a maritime worker, you’re going to be uprooted from your family and friends for long stretches of time. That takes its toll but very rarely do we ever run out of things and that thanks to their hard work.
18. CONCRETE REPAIR: From Kzang in the Watercooler: “My patio was heaved out of the ground 3 inches during last year’s nasty winter. So was my shed. The concrete pilings it stands on are 3 feet out of the ground. The guys are coming today to fix the patio. Hooray! They will jack hammer holes and pour hydraulic cement into the holes, slowly lifting everything. As for the shed? Apparently they have to take a jack hammer and cut out the inches that are above ground. My neighbor’s patio did the same thing, but only one piling on his heaved. So his patio is as warped as the deck of the Titanic.” This is the great thing about skills trades people. Something breaks and they’re who you call to put it back together again. No job is too small or too big. It’s just what that do.
17. WINDOW GLAZIERS: From DirtySal in the Watercooler: “Glaziers install glass. They work with sheet glass, plate glass, mirrors, and special products, such as leaded glass panels. They install sheet glass windows in private homes; plate glass in store windows, office buildings, and factories; and structural glass in building fronts, ceilings, and walls. Other glaziers work in factories installing glass in mirror frames, doors, and partitions. Glaziers also install shower and tub enclosures and automatic glass doors. So as you can see we would be left to the elements, or wouldn’t have beautiful or functional things in our homes, businesses, etc.” Might I add people who live in glass houses… should have a glazier on speed dial.
16. SHINGLE AND BRICK MAKERS: From Songbird in the Watercooler: “We need shingle makers because they provide the material to build homes, businesses, schools, farms, churches. Shingles cover our roof and keep us safe from the elements. We can build decks to have BBQs, watch our kids play or just relax outside with a good book. Same with brick and concrete makers. If these men and women were not working everyday to manufacture these products, we’d be at a loss and would need to resort to using twigs and mud as building material.” I was going to try and work up a yellow brick road analogy but I like Songbird’s much more.
15. HOTEL HOUSEKEEPING: From Rivergirl, who posts over at our Watercooler: “Hotel housekeeping is a totally invisible, stereotyped job that no one thinks about until they check into a room and there are hairs in the tub. Or their toilet overflows. Or in the newer version of “luxury” the darn pillows are so fat and fluffy when you lay your head on them it bends at an unnatural angle and all you get in the morning is a neck ache instead of a feeling of being recharged and rested. All you have to do is ask. Your housekeeper knows where the thinner, comfortable pillows are and like a flash…..your neck is happy and so is your day. People think any one off the streets can be a hotel housekeeper. WRONG! It’s physically demanding, takes discipline to do the same thing over and over room after room, and your mental investment in the job has to do with making guests comfortable and taking pride in the work you do because the pay is so low it’s embarrassing. And no, most people do NOT tip. So yeah, I’d like to add hotel housekeeping to the top 100 skilled trades because it involves mental skills, a lot of sweat, and it’s under appreciated and not respected as a job. But it’s important to anyone who travels and seeks comfort from their hotel room.” Couldn’t have said it any better!
14. EXTERMINATORS: Forget about things that go bump in the night. What about the things that creep, crawl, slime and chew in the night? Of course I’m talking about bugs and vermin. We’ve all comes across a spider or roach or fly that needed quick dispensing of. And yes it is a big chauvinistic to say “that’s a man’s job.” But lets be honest: when it comes to stomping bugs, guys just have the better shoes. But what about the major infestations? We’re talking swarms and hoards. That’s when you need to call in the professionals who have no problem catching these beasties. Although at times it might seem like it is a never ending battle consider the opposite: exterminators don’t show up and in 72 hours the planet is overrun with bugs and rats. It gives one pause.
13. SHEET METAL WORKERS: You may think their title speaks for itself: There’s some metal, it’s a sheet and it needs to be worked. But there’s way more to a Sheet Metal Worker’s job then just that. Here’s the official mission statement from the Sheet Metal Workers International Association: “Sheet Metal Workers are unique in the construction industry as the only trade that designs, manufactures and installs our own products. These skilled craftspersons take ordinary types of flat metal and make them into specialized products for various duct and ventilation systems, as well as architectural and specialized metal fabrication. Members of the trade are proud of its special distinction: They not only build; they create.” Well said SMWA.
12. HVAC MAINTENANCE & INSTALLERS: Before we can salute HVAC we need to know what HVAC is. Actually we know. Right now, where you’re sitting are you comfortable? Cool enough? Warm enough? Need to make an adjustment in the thermostat? Well, you can do that thanks to HVAC or Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. HVAC workers can go big or small. Small would be your typical home where central air and heat runs through. Big can be everything else that isn’t a home. Office buildings, hospitals, schools and factories all depend on the services of HVAC technicians to keep the systems humming. Not everybody is going to be comfortable all the time. Some like it cold and some like it hot. But everyone can agree that without an HVAC crew there would be no cold or hot. And that’s no way to live!
11. ROOFERS: Often when we list our personal blessings we sum up our living arrangements with “a roof over our heads.” In other words, the best house in the world won’t amount to much without that roof over our heads. Roofers risk falling every day they show up to work. But with Safety 3rd, they still have to get the job done. Just as there are many styles of houses there are also many types of roofs that a professional roofer needs to adapt for every building. Of course the primary focus with every roofer is to make sure there are no leaks. So the next time it rains or snows and you get to stay dry in your home, you know who to thank.
10. HOUSE PAINTERS: Most art can be painting but not all painting can be art unless of course it’s an artist doing all the painting. Although they might not think of themselves as artists, house painters go a long way towards adding color to what could ordinarily be drab surroundings. Painting a house is like putting the finishing touches on. Only when the paint job is complete can you finally move in. The results are a fresh start. Even if you’ve lived in the house for years, a new paint job can bring a home back to its original luster. Professional house painters are all about the details. Since you’ll be living with their results, you want it just right. That puts house painters on the front line achieving 100% customer satisfaction which we all know can be a really dirty job!
9. FIRST RESPONDERS: It’s hard to find a more noble profession then the first responders. Into this category we can put all those brave men and women who serve as police officers, firefighters and EMTs. These are the folks you hope you’ll never need but can count on every time you dial 911. What’s truly amazing about first responders is that they don’t ask who they are responding to, they just respond. Working on instinct, training and experience first responders know that if you’re in danger, they might be in danger too but that doesn’t stop them from charging in and getting the job done. No matter the outcome of an emergency, the first responders are in our debt.
8. ROAD CREWS: As poet Robert Frost proudly proclaimed, the road less traveled is the one that’s going to provide for a much more rewarding and enriching experiences. That may be the case but for those roads that are always traveled, we need road crews. Sure they get a lot of grief when you hit a pothole but imagine all the highways, byways, roadways and other ways that need constant maintenance on a daily basis. According to the Federal Highway Administration there are over two and half million miles of paved road in the country. That’s a lot of asphalt. Next time you’re out driving and see a road crew sweating in the sweltering heat or freezing in the frigid cold give ‘em a thumbs up. Of course if it weren’t for them you wouldn’t be driving anywhere.
7. SEWER WORKERS: We’ve been told all our lives that “you can’t take it with you.” There should be an addendum to that: “you can’t take it with you and you’re going to leave a lot behind.” In fact, we leave a lot behind every single day. Enter the sewer workers. They’re definitely the first cousin of the plumber but they’ve got their own skill set to boldly go where no man really wants to go. Sewer workers find themselves in all kinds of tight spaces with all manner of creepy crawlers surrounding them. Of course Mike has experienced sewer cleaning first hand and lived to tell the tale. Just imagine where we be if all the sewer workers put down their tools just for one day. Actually, don’t imagine that: it’s too scary!
6. TEACHERS: There are some trade purists who think that the measure of a trade can be defined by how dirty you get. Aside from the occasional paste pile up or cafeteria food fight, teachers get to stay clean for their work day. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t toiling away every bit as hard as other tradesfolk. Not only are our teachers charged with filling our kids with the information they’ll need to get ahead in the world but they also step in as part-time parent, counselor, cop and best friend. In fact, every plumber, carpenter, electrician and any other tradesmen can trace the beginnings of their career back to a teacher. Might not be in a formal classroom but make no mistake we all get taught.
5. GARBAGE HAULERS: If there is one thing we do everyday its make garbage. The EPA tells us that the average American generates 4.4 pounds of garbage a day. Do the math: that’s 29 pounds a week and 1,600 pounds a year. Now think what it would be like if no one came around to take that garbage away. We’d be in serious trouble. And let’s be honest, we throw out some nasty stuff but do the garbage haulers ever make us take it back? No way. Whatever foul, disgusting, smelly, dirty, slimy thing we throw into our trashcan is going to be taken away leaving us with an empty can to fill up again. Next time you see a garbage man, give him the thumbs up, a handshake or a big hug. It might just make their day.
4. AUTO MECHANICS: Almost as important as our trusted doctor is our trusted auto mechanics. Let’s face it, no matter which kind of car or truck you drive at some point they’re going to break down. That’s just a cruel fact of life. What happens then? You limp your vehicle into an auto mechanic who takes it from there. And just like a surgeon they’ve got to open up the auto, pull it apart and then put it all back together again. To be a good auto mechanic they can’t know about just one type of engine but literally hundreds. As hybrids are becoming all the rage, our auto mechanics will stay ahead of the curve. They keep us going. Tip: never trust an auto mechanic with clean hands!
3. ELECTRICIANS: One of the most used commodities ever, anywhere. If you’ve ever suffered through a black out (and who hasn’t?) then you know right away how much of an impact electricity has on your life. The lights go out. Okay, light a candle and adjust. Just turn on the TV. Okay, maybe not but at least you still have your computer. Okay, maybe not. But you can listen to the stereo… read a book… do some laundry? Sorry. Without power we’re truly LOST. It’s amazing that with a flip of a switch an electric current flows into your house, from an outside power line that’s hooked up to a power station that’s plugged into a power grid. And every where along that line there was a qualified electrician doing their job to get it right. Just a flip of a switch.
2. CATTLE FARMERS: Full disclosure: I love meat and dairy. There I said it. And thanks to cattle farmers we’re able to have juicy burgers on the 4th of July and ice cream every other day. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, on average Americans consume about 60 pounds of beef, 31 pounds of cheese, 25 gallons of milk and 23 quarts of ice cream each year. And all of that good eating and drinking starts down on the farm with the cattle. This moo’s for you.
1. PLUMBERS: The ancient Romans are credited with giving plumbing its proper start by building the world’s first major sewer system. But it was ol’ King Minos who had the first flushing toilet in his palace way back in 1,500 B.C. Thanks Minos. We’ve come a long way since then and if it weren’t for plumbers we’d be dirty, thirsty and backed up. Next time you go for a drink or a shower think about what it took to bring that water right into your house. And let’s not forget those holiday emergencies when the sink gets clogged just as you’re about to serve a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Who you gonna call? A Plumber.