SWEAT Pledge #12 – Part 1
I believe that all people are created equal. I also believe that all people make choices. Some people choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose to work my butt off.
Watch: Sweat Pledge #12 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdq8wNnWt1E
Read Transcript below.
Lesson #1: Hard work matters
THINK: Hard work is one of the things that matters most.
DO:Are you a hard worker? Why or why not? How does being a hard worker impact your professional skills? What does that look like in the occupation of your choice? What is it like to work with someone who doesn’t give their best effort? How does their work impact your work?
Next Step: Think about what you want to do in the future? What kind of skills and habits will set you apart as a hard worker. Make a plan to help you develop these skills and habits.
Sweat Pledge 12 Transcript
S.W.E.A.T. Pledge #12 – Transcript
Couple years ago, I went to Congress to see if anybody there was still up for an honest day’s work. Turns out there is. His name is Dave Morales. And he’s worked in Congress his whole career, but holds no elected office. He’s a third-generation cattle rancher in Congress, Arizona – tiny, little town in the Sonoran Desert. Dave is also a fan of “Dirty Jobs,” so when he wrote in to see if I would like to help him transplant a cactus, I said sure. Dave Morales looks like work. He’s deeply tanned and big all over – probably 300 pounds. He wears this enormous cowboy hat all the time and a fat mustache that conceals a permanent grin. Unfortunately, there’s not much to grin about in Congress these days. Another drought and a lousy economy have forced many ranchers there to rethink their business. Today, Dave pays the bills by selling his cacti, which grow in the mountains behind his house. Yesterday, “I was a rancher,” he told me, “today, I’m a landscaper.” Go figure. So, my crew and I headed over to the Morales ranch at the crack of dawn. Once we loaded his truck with supplies, Dave and his crew drove a trek toward the hills and my crew and I followed in a tiny, little Hyundai, the last available rental car at the airport. After 20 minutes of random twists and turns, Dave informed us via walkie-talkie that he was looking for a very specific cactus near the top of a very specific hill, somewhere off in the not-so specific distance. Why his sights were set on one particular cactus was unclear, since we were driving past hundreds of identical candidates. These things were all around us, towering spires of thorny defiance poking out of the unforgiving terrain, like enormous green lawn darts. Eventually, we rounded a corner and came upon a bulldozer park at the base of a long sloping ridge. We got out of our vehicles and walked over to the big yellow machine.
“Where’d this come from?”, I ask.
“I parked it here last night,” said Dave. “We’re going to need it to build the road.”
“I’m sorry? Sounded like you said, ‘Build a road?’” Dave grinned under his mustache.
“Yeah, I’m sorry, too, Mike. But we need to build a road to get up to the cactus.”
As is often the case with “Dirty Jobs,” there’s no such thing as a singular task, so I wasn’t shocked to learn that the business of transplanting a solitary cactus would require a few additional steps. But I didn’t anticipate the construction of a highway in the middle of the desert.
“Why not just yank the thing out and carry it down here to the truck?”, I ask. This was maybe the funniest thing Dave Morales had ever heard.
“What’s so funny?”, I ask. “You’re telling me four guys can’t carry one cactus down a hill?”
Dave turned and pointed toward the top of the ridge. There, backlit by the dawn’s early light, I got my first look at our objective. A massive saguaro anchored into the hilltop 100 yards away. If Central Casting were looking for America’s next top cactus, this was it. 14-feet-tall, as wide around as a manhole cover, with two beefy arms curling up and out of its massive torso. It appeared to be giving you the finger.
“Holy crap,” I muttered, “That’s a big cactus.”
“Big ain’t the problem,” said Dave. “That thing weighs maybe two tons. You really want to walk it down here?” Sensing the, uh… rhetorical nature of his query, I responded with another question.
“How old is that thing?”
“Well,” said Dave, “based on its height, I’d say 200 years – maybe more. It was probably standing right there when Thomas Jefferson was president.”
Clearly, this was a cactus with a history, but as we trudged up the hill to give it a closer look, I realized that its resume did not include a willingness to relocate. The base was completely encased in a slab of solid granite. And the needles that protruded from its leathery hide looked like punji sticks, patiently waiting for an opportunity to slide into something soft and fleshy.
“Wouldn’t it be easier,” I said, “to, you know, take a different one? Maybe one of those back there by the truck?” This got Dave to laugh again.
“We don’t do anything easy, Mike. And besides, this is the one the customer wants.”
Dave laid it out in simple terms. First, we would build the road, then we’d back the truck up the ridge and raise the iron cross from its rusty bed, then while the cactus was still in the ground, we’d secure it to the cross. There would be much hammering and swearing and, according to Dave, a strong likelihood of bloodshed. Then the real work would commence. The trick was to remove the cactus with the roots completely intact, which meant digging well below the rocky surface. Once the roots came free, a hydraulic motor would life the cross skyward, pulling the cactus up and out of its hole into the bed of the pickup and off to greener pastures. “If we work fast,” said Dave, “we can beat the heat, and we’ll be out of here in three hours.” This time, I was the one who laughed. On “Dirty Jobs,” the only thing that takes three hours is six hours. And sure enough, three hours later, the real work, as Dave called it, was just getting started. Armed with a sledgehammer from the Civil War, I assumed a position on the downward slope and began to work on the granite surrounding the base. My first swing bounced off the rock like the vulcanized rubber and sent the hammer flying straight back towards my head. “You got to swing it harder,” said Dave… “like a man.” He stood across from me with an even larger mallet, which he swung with the ease and speed of a wiffle bat. Stones splinter, dirt flew, sweat poured. I swung harder and managed to chip away at the ancient rock without knocking myself unconscious. At first, the saguaro seemed indifferent, humoring our assault the way a horse might tolerate a few flies. Then, as we began to expose the root system, the cactus began to fight back. No matter how careful I was, more needles of various sizes found their way into my shoulders and arms. Under Dave’s might mallet, the rock slowly gave way and the hole grew deeper, but the cactus itself remained solidly anchored into the hill. The day dragged on, blisters popped, oozed, sunscreen and sweat streamed into my eyes and little silver dots began to dance in my peripheral. Pausing for a refreshing bottle of boiling water, I marveled at the intractability of this primitive plant and quietly cursed my decision to accept Dave Morales’ invitation. By 3:00 p.m., things had gotten personal. I’d come to see the cactus as Excalibur and myself as a knight on a hopeless quest. When I broke my second pickhandle of the day, Dave gave me the iron tamping bar with a chisel forged on to one end. It was far too hot to hold, but just the right temperature for cauterizing blisters. Which is precisely what happened the second I grabbed it. By 4:00 p.m., Dave had employed his entire arsenal of tools, to no avail. One of our cameras melted from the inside out and I began giggling for no apparent reason. A delirium was descending upon the whole scene as the desert and everything in it conspired to drive us back to civilization. Meanwhile, the cactus stood firm. I could spend an hour walking you through every detail and every setback of the great “Dirty Jobs” cactus crucible. George Plimpton would’ve waxed poetic about the steady rhythm, sledgehammers swinging in a Sisyphean counterpoint. Studs Terkel might’ve captured the closeness that manual labor can foster between fathers and sons. And Charles Kuralt, he would’ve turned a simple confrontation between a big man and a big plant, into something even bigger. In their hands, Dave Morales would’ve become Hemingway’s old man plucked from the sea and dropped into Eliot’s “Waste Land,” an homage to all those scraping out a living in the rough terrain of their own metaphorical desert. We accomplished our task just before the sun set, and Dave and I said our goodbyes. On the way home, Dave got a phone call. Great news, a casino in Las Vegas needed 50 cacti as soon as possible. It was a month of steady work for Dave, and it would begin at 4:30 a.m. the next morning. Dave was jubilant. I was dehydrated. Back at the hotel, I liberated another Dos Equis from the mini-bar and jotted down a few lines in my journal before passing out. I fell asleep before I finished the beer. But my last conscious thought as I pulled another needle from my sunburned shoulder is still scribbled at the bottom of the page, “Hard work really is the thing that matters most and in spite of all the pricks, there’s still reason for hope, even in a place called Congress.” Anyway, that was the day I decided to start mikeroweWORKS and that was the job that inspired the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge. And od all the people I’ve met who have chosen to work their butts off, nobody made the point… like Dave Morales.