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Dirty job

Published January 15. 2011 09:00AM

Once in a while Harry and I catch that TV show, "Dirty Jobs" with Mike Rowe. It makes us aware that there are a lot of dirty jobs out there. Watching him feed snakes and clean out their cages or clean out street drains makes me pretty sure there isn't enough money for me to do some of those dirty jobs.

But as dirty as Mike can get, I think Harry could best him.

He reminds me of that Peanuts character, Pig-Pen. He leaves in the morning all nice and squeaky clean, but as soon as he walks out the door, he's like a dirt magnet.

Harry has one of those dirty jobs. He's a mason. He's been in the business since he was 15 years old. I've been doing his laundry for the last 39 years, so I know how dirty he can get.

But it's not just his job. He can go down to the garage to work on his car or truck and come back looking like he rolled round in grease and dirt for a week.

He can go visit a friend and come home covered in dirt because he helped him with his tractor.

We have two washing machines. One for his dirty clothes and one for everything else.

He's also very hard on his clothing. He loses buttons on his flannel shirts all the time. But he doesn't just lose a button. Oh no. He usually catches it on something and because he's always going 90 miles an hour, he ends up ripping it off, taking some of the shirt with it.

Sometimes he comes home looking like he was in a battle with Godzilla. A rip here, a tear there. Blood trickling down the side of his face or a bloody finger wrapped in dirty tape is a regular occurrence.

He can ruin a pair of jeans in nothing flat. My mom has a steady job of mending torn and worn out knees and thighs. When they're too bad, we just cut them off for shorts for him to wear in the summer. He's got a lot of shorts.

As he has gotten older, he minds the cold weather more. He's found he really likes wearing flannel-lined jeans.

I've bought him a couple of pair. One pair for knocking about and another pair for work.

A couple of weeks before Christmas he was helping someone put on a new roof.

He came home one night with the knees worn through. I asked him if other roofers wear their pants through like he does and he just shrugged his shoulders. I'm taking a survey.

So I wanted to buy him a pair for Christmas and looked everywhere. Finally I found a pair in My Store in Palmerton.

He wore them for the first time on Sunday to cut brush at the Eldred Beagle Club.

When he got home, I took one look at him and said, "You've got to be kidding me!"

Two holes in his left knee.

"Those pants were brand new! Do you know how much I paid for them?" I asked in frustration.

"No. How much?"


He proceeded to take his pants off and there was a huge blood stain on his long underwear. (Big surprise.) Same leg. Same knee. When he took the long underwear off, he showed me a small nick which evidently bled a lot worse than the cut looked. (Thank God!)

"I kind of cut it with the chain saw," he said sheepishly. "I guess I can be lucky I was wearing such thick jeans, huh? It could have been worse."

OK. By now I'm all concerned about how he almost cut off his leg and feeling a little bad about yelling at him for ruining a new pair of pants.

Then he lands his final jab of his one-two punch.

Giving me his puppy-dog look with his beautiful blue-gray eyes, he says, "Aren't I worth a $40 pair of pants?"

Ah geez. When he puts it like that, what's a girl to say?

But I did a little quick math. If there's about 18 weeks of cold weather and he averaged a pair of $40 pants a week, that would be $720 worth of pants he would probably ruin in a winter season.

I could spend four fabulous days and nights at a resort in the Caribbean for that. I could buy that new quilt with matching bedding and curtains and paint to redo my bedroom. I could ... hmmm.

Batting my baby blues right back at him, I said, "You are absolutely worth a $40 pair of pants. And so much more. And I think you're just the guy to buy them for yourself, too, because you're worth it."

See, I'm thinking my $40 a week is going into the bank.

I can already feel that Caribbean sun on my face and warm sand in my toes.

Yeah, I'm a stinker.

Being a stinker is a dirty job.

And somebody's gotta do it, right Mike?

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