On his way home from work in the US state of Washington, Andy Ross decided to drop in to the store. A little girl was staring at him because his face was dirty. As the girl and her mum left the store, the mum decided to make it into a teaching moment.
“That is why you need to stay in school,” she told the little girl, in a voice that was quiet but loud enough for Ross to overhear.
The mum had just chosen the wrong person to use as a bad example.
Ross, in fact, has not just a college degree but a number of medical qualifications. He’s a former special operations medic who’s been on multiple combat tours.
Ross, a dad of one, decided that he was going to make it into a teaching moment – not just for the girl but for her mum too. He has detailed the conversation they had in a Facebook post that has now gone viral.
“First, I happen to be a very educated dirty man,” he told them. “So assuming that I am uneducated because of my appearance is actually quite ignorant in itself.”
Ross went on to explain the reason for his tattoos and the hat that he was wearing, before he told the mother and daughter why he chose to work in the construction industry.
“I tried working a desk job when I got out of the service and it wasn’t for me. I enjoy working with my hands and being outdoors. Subsequently, it comes with being dirty some days. I make good money, have benefits, and am able to provide for my family without issue. So my appearance reflects nothing to do with my level of intelligence or pursuing a higher level of education.”
Ross had a final word for them before he walked away.
“Have a good day and try not to judge people before you know anything about them.”
In his Facebook post, Ross listed his lessons for the day. These include:
“Do what you love and enjoy and it’s never work.
“Blue-collar jobs are the best jobs. They can pay great and it doesn’t always come with a price tag.
“Don’t be an a—hole parent who raises their kids to be an a—hole.”
But he did admit he needed a shower.
Ross’s post has now been shared around 300,000 times. In the comments, people have shared their own experiences.
“Had this happen to me today,” wrote one man. “Little do people know, dirty or not, I still make six figures and love what I do.”
“I came home filthy every day and made a good living doing it,” added another. “I can say my best friends wore the same dirt I did.”
Ross tells Mamamia that it’s come as a “complete surprise” to have so many people share his post.
“I never planned on having people share it, but once a friend of mine had asked, I figured why not,” he explains.
“Since then, the outreach and support for blue-collar workers has been amazing!
“I love to see other people share it and I try to read their comments about how it has impacted them. It’s truly an honour and a very humbling experience.”