Dirty Jobs -- Someone Has to Do Them

Almost everyone at some point has complained about their job. But imagine having to look up a baby chicken's rectum to determine what sex it is. That job -- and a host of other outrageous occupations -- is featured on the Discovery Channel show "Dirty Jobs," hosted by Mike Rowe.

Before going to the Discovery Channel, Rowe worked at a San Francisco evening-news magazine and did a feature on cow insemination. From there, his fascination with the untold stories of America's neglected, and often underpaid, workers bloomed. He works side by side with the people he profiles and, thus far, has performed 85 jobs.

"In the larger picture, it's cops and schoolteachers, we don't pay them well," Rowe said. "We certainly won't pay a horse inseminator well. Actually, entrepreneurs do well. … So do some exterminators, but the sewage guy who works for a municipality for 20 years, he'll have decent benefits, but his pay isn't that great."

The show has an active Web site on which people can send in dirty job recommendations. People, Rowe said, are tired of celebrities and want to learn more about the obscure -- like an avian vomitologist.

"Avian vomitologist is a made-up title, but it's really good," Rowe said. "Owls vomit up little packages of what they can't digest, and kids love them. Don [an avian vomitologist] collects them and sells them to the universities and schools."

Rowe also tried ostrich wrangling, a job he said was extremely dangerous. Ostriches, Rowe said, weigh about 250 pounds and have razor-sharp toes. More people are killed by the giant birds than sharks, but ostriches are valuable commodities because their meat is so healthy.

"They're dinosaurs," Rowe said.

Yet the dirtiest job is charcoal making, Rowe said.

"Every time you break it, you get a cloud of smoke," he said. "Nobody ever comes home clean from that job, and the guys who do it for a living are never clean. You get dust in every pore."

Perhaps most unsettling to many people is the frequency that manure appears on the show.

"Poop management has been grossly underestimated for a century," Rowe said. "If your toilet doesn't flush, it ruins your day. If it doesn't flush for a week, there are riots in the streets. The guys who do it are wildly underappreciated."

The people who handle excrement adapt to their conditions, as do the other people who have dirty jobs.

"There is no end to what a human can get used to," he said.

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