This man turned a rude mom's comment into an awesome lesson about the value of hard work.

If you're a young kid, seeing a tattooed, dirt-covered man might make you do a double take.

Such was the case for a young girl in a Washington store. When construction worker Andy Ross walked to the store's checkout line with dirt all over him after a long day at work, he noticed the young girl's stare.

Knowing that children are curious and often stare at people, Andy paid her no mind. That is, until the mom and her daughter began walking out.


What Andy had expected to be a mundane trip to the store turned into a teaching moment about class, appearances, and creative expression.

In a Facebook post that's since gone viral, Andy explains overhearing some insulting words from the child's mother about his appearance.

"As they finished and headed towards the door, I hear her mom say quietly to the little girl 'that is why you need to stay in school.' I figured this was a great time to educate this mother and her 7/8 year old daughter."

Tattooed and muddy, Andy knew the mom was referring to him.

Instead of yelling or getting aggressive, Andy used the opportunity to talk to the mom and share why we shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

This mother assumed things about Andy based on his appearance, so he broke it down piece by piece to explain exactly why she was wrong.

So I had a very interesting “educational” conversation with a woman and her daughter today. As I entered the store...

Posted by Andy Ross on Monday, May 21, 2018

Firstly, he notes, he's quite the outdoorsman. As the co-owner of Evergreen State Outdoors, Andy is often pretty dirty after a long day at work, an aspect of the job he truly enjoys.

He went on to defend his tattoos, a piece of his identity that he says not only represents his time in the service but also the importance of creativity.

"If you are telling your daughter to stay in school because I have tattoos up and down my arms, that will actually suppress her creativity and potentially hinder her imagination as she develops," Andy said.

He also made a really good point about conflating one's appearance to their education level.

"I happen to be a very educated dirty man," Andy wrote. "I not only have a high school diploma, I also have a college degree and many medical certifications. So assuming that I am uneducated because of my appearance is actually quite ignorant in itself."

But even though he is a college graduate, Andy notes, it shouldn't matter whether he's educated or not — blue-collar work is valid and deserves our respect.

Work that doesn't necessarily require a college degree — such as construction, maintenance, warehousing, and firefighting — matters just as much as other types of work. There are about 19.6 million blue-collar jobs in the United States filled by a diverse group of hard-working Americans.

The woman who assumed that Andy was uneducated happened to be wrong, but her comment revealed her bias against blue-collar workers — a bias that, unfortunately, many Americans hold.  

"People need to learn that blue collar workers are just like everybody else they meet in the world," says Andy in a message to Upworthy. "Some have degrees, some are borderline genius, [and] some have been in trouble. They are from all walks of life and all have a story to tell. So before you assume that this dirty, farmers-tanned man or woman is unintelligent, pause and think."

Ross's experience shows that we shouldn't be vilifying certain types of work to our children. We should be teaching them to respect and appreciate hard workers in all industries.  

Granted, every parent gets to decide how to parent their child and what lessons they teach them.

Many parents, understandably, just want the best for their kids. But this desire to lead children to their best lives shouldn't come at the expense of devaluing someone because they don't meet antiquated standards of acceptable appearances.

It is absolutely possible to teach children good morals and values while also allowing them to pursue a variety of career options and safe and ethical ways to express themselves. Respecting those around us, even when they look a little different, helps to foster a more understanding and compassionate society.

And let's be honest, who doesn't like to get a little dirty sometimes?  

True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less
via Tom Ward / Instagram

Artist Tom Ward has used his incredible illustration techniques to give us some new perspective on modern life through popular Disney characters. "Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes," he told The Metro.

Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

In Ward's "Alt Disney" series, Prince Charming and Pinocchio have fallen victim to smart phone addiction. Ariel is living in a polluted ocean, and Simba and Baloo have been abused by humans.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Back Market

Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

Keep Reading Show less

With many schools going virtual, many daycare facilities being closed or limited, and millions of parents working from home during the pandemic, the balance working moms have always struggled to achieve has become even more challenging in 2020. Though there are more women in the workforce than ever, women still take on the lion's share of household and childcare duties. Moms also tend to bear the mental load of keeping track of all the little details that keep family life running smoothly, from noticing when kids are outgrowing their clothing to keeping track of doctor and dentist appointments to organizing kids' extracurricular activities.

It's a lot. And it's a lot more now that we're also dealing with the daily existential dread of a global pandemic, social unrest, political upheaval, and increasingly intense natural disasters.

That's why scientist Gretchen Goldman's refreshingly honest photo showing where and how she conducted a CNN interview is resonating with so many.

Keep Reading Show less

Schools often have to walk a fine line when it comes to parental complaints. Diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences for what kids see and hear will always mean that schools can't please everyone all the time, so educators have to discern what's best for the whole, broad spectrum of kids in their care.

Sometimes, what's best is hard to discern. Sometimes it's absolutely not.

Such was the case this week when a parent at a St. Louis elementary school complained in a Facebook group about a book that was read to her 7-year-old. The parent wrote:

"Anyone else check out the read a loud book on Canvas for 2nd grade today? Ron's Big Mission was the book that was read out loud to my 7 year old. I caught this after she watched it bc I was working with my 3rd grader. I have called my daughters school. Parents, we have to preview what we are letting the kids see on there."

Keep Reading Show less