It’s registration week at Tennessee College of Applied Technology Nashville, and my imaginary boyfriend—The Real Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs and Somebody’s Gotta Do It—just paid my tuition.
I know, right?
A few months ago, Miss Charlene and the folks in TCATN admin circulated a memo about the MikeRoweWORKSFoundation Work Ethic Scholarship, and my instructor made sure I got it. My crush on Mike Rowe is no secret in the halls of TCATN. Described as “a pile of free money” for students in technical education, the scholarship is part of Mike Rowe’s larger public relations drive to change perceptions around the skilled trades and to help reduce the skills gap. They had me at Mike Rowe. And free money.
No wonder they call that thing a Work Ethic Scholarship. I worked my butt off applying for it. I wrote essays about my career detour from journalism to construction and about how I demonstrate my work ethic at school. I even wrote a recommendation letter for my instructor to sign.
But the most memorable thing I wrote on the Work Ethic Scholarship app was my signature at the bottom of “The S.W.E.A.T Pledge,” copied below, which is Mike Rowe’s elegant no-nonsense reminder to work hard, be safe, avoid whining, keep learning, treat people well, avoid debt, take responsibility, and—above all—be grateful.
Dear Mike Rowe,
I am indeed grateful for my Work Ethic Scholarship. I will work my butt off to deserve it. Thank you.
P.S. I love you. (Don’t worry, my husband knows.)
“THE S.W.E.A.T. PLEDGE”
(Skill & Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo)
1. I believe that I have won the greatest lottery of all time. I am alive. I walk the Earth. I live in America. Above all things, I am grateful.
2. I believe that I am entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also understand that “happiness” and the “pursuit of happiness” are not the same thing.
3. I believe there is no such thing as a “bad job.” I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them.
4. I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm.
5. I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford.
6. I believe that my safety is my responsibility. I understand that being in “compliance” does not necessarily mean I’m out of danger.
7. I believe the best way to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully volunteer for every crappy task there is.
8. I believe the most annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job, or find a way to be happy.
9. I believe that my education is my responsibility, and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning, and understand that library cards are free.
10. I believe that I am a product of my choices – not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do.
11. I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.
12. I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.
On my honor, I hereby affirm the above statements to be an accurate summation of my personal worldview. I promise to live by them.