Flying with Mike Rowe

By Melissa Tosetti

It’s Sunday morning and I’m on a flight to Atlanta.  I travel a fair amount for The Savvy Life so this isn’t an extraordinary experience.  What is extraordinary about this particular flight is that just 32 rows ahead of me and four seats over, sits one of my favorite people on planet Earth – Mike Rowe.

As I boarded the flight and realized who he was, I started shaking.  It was so tempting to lean over and tell him what a massive fan the Tosetti family is of his TV show Dirty Jobs.  Or to tell him that just yesterday, I listened to episode #26 of his podcast The Way I Heard It.

BUT, what I really wanted to do was steal the seat next to him and spend the 4 ½ hours of our flight to Atlanta talking about his foundation mikeroweWORKS.

Instead, I walked back to my seat, shakily pulled out my phone, texted all my friends and posted on Facebook that he was on my flight and I was in the middle of a serious fan breakdown.  I had to retype the messages three times since I couldn’t get my hands to stop trembling.

My reaction wasn’t because I saw a celebrity.  Over the years I’ve run into James Hetfield of Metallica at a Kung Fu tournament, Goran Visjnic, most recently from the TV show Timeless, at the Tahoe Renaissance Faire and one of my favorites, James Pak of Big Trouble in Little China fame at a full contact fight in San Francisco.  Others might be more familiar with Mr. Pak as the voice of Kung Fu Panda’s dad – goose dad, not panda dad.

Mike is so much more than a celebrity.  He’s a man trying to change a systemic problem here in the U.S. that I’m equally passionate about – the concept that college is the path for everyone.

If I’ve learned nothing else in the last six years of working one-on-one with over 400 individuals and families on their personal finances – I’ve learned that college is the number one major expense that goes unused.

At least 25% of the clients I’ve worked with:

  • Have a college degree that is not in use
  • Quit school before earning their degree and are still paying tuition
  • Have children that quit school before earning their degree and are still paying tuition

I’ve long believed that during their junior year of high school, if a student feels like college isn’t for them, they should be given opportunities to explore various trades.  High school counselors should work to help them apply to trade schools – just as they do for students applying to college.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not anti-college.  But, I am anti-college-is-for-everyone.  Because it’s not.

The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is a public charity working to help bridge the gap between our country’s need for skilled labor and the lack of it.  In addition to creating awareness of the problem, they provide scholarships to trade schools.  One of the goals is to put a dent in the trillion dollars of student loans Americans are burdened by.

If you have children who are not enthusiastic about school – I beg of you – talk to them about other potential careers.  The U.S. needs more plumbers, electricians and carpenters – all of which are rewarding, honorable professions – can garner big pay and come with some of the best benefits in the country.

What we don’t need are more individuals and families burdened by 2 ½ years or more of college debt and no degree or career to show for it.

Mike, thank you for your work!

– From your admirer in Row 36, Seat A.



After I geeked out on Facebook that Mike Rowe was on my flight, I was inundated with comments by friends and family members posting their gratitude for what Mike is doing for their children’s career paths.  This is a man who is loved and appreciated from one end of the U.S. to the other!