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

This article originally appeared on 06.01.18


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


Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

Photo by Tod Perry

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