Dirty Jobs: Paging Mike Rowe

In seven months of construction school, I’ve spent more time inside a dumpster than at any time in my life. That’s because inside a dumpster, space is the chief currency. You can’t just be chucking stuff in willy-nilly. You’ve got to strategize the use of cubic footage, which means sometimes you just gotta get in there and move stuff around.

The college of applied technology is a time capsule filled with treasure. Treasure, that is, if you’re into obsolete construction literature and defunct electronics. It seems like we’re always emptying out some forgotten storage closet or neglected utility bin to make space for our projects. Every such excavation precipitates several trips to the dumpster.

Earlier this week, we rooted through three mysterious metal bins filled with outdated state electrical codes. If you are looking for vintage Voc-Ed materials from Louisiana, among other states, here’s a hint: You might hit paydirt in a West Nashville dumpster.

Every now and then, when I’m inside the dumpster, I remind myself that I’m paying tuition for the privilege. Recently, after a few trips to the dumpster to dispose of decades-old electronics manuals, I posed this rhetorical question to the guys:

“If we’re supposed to be in construction school, why do we spend so much time doing janitorial work?”

(This story works better if you imagine me speaking with a voice tinged equally with dust allergy and princess.)

One of my more seasoned classmates answered, without a hint of diva:

“If you’re gonna be in this business, you’re gonna do it all.”

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