AnnaMarie Houlis

A contruction worker recently took to Facebook to share the story of the time a young girl was staring at him, covered in tattoos and dirty after a hard day's work. But it wasn't the girl's glare that got to him. Rather, he overheard her mother tell her, "That is why you need to stay in school."

Andy Ross, who hails from Washington state, was shopping when he came across the mother-daughter duo. He said that he didn't mind that seven- or eight-year-old girl was staring at him because he understands that kids are curious — especially given how dirty he was. But once he overheard her mother, he thought he'd have a "very interesting 'educational' conversation" with them, which he shared in a now-viral Facebook post that's garnered 305k likes, more than 164k shares and more than 31k comments thus far.

"The following is our conversation: First, I happen to be a very educated dirty man," he 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. Secondly, 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. Again, contradictory to your point ma’am. I am proud of my tattoos and artwork that Forrest Bateman put on my body. It’s a representation of my pride in my country and my service over multiple combat tours as a special operations medic. Third, if you’re referring that statement to the hat (not featured) I’m wearing because it features an elk, you might not understand it. I happen to co-own Evergreen State Outdoors and am proud to own an outdoors company and support my rights to hunt and responsibly be a gun owner. Finally, I chose to work in a construction industry. I am proud to say that I am apart of building America and I enjoy my job every day. 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 is a prime example of why we should never judge a book by its cover — but he also shared even more lessons to take away from his conversation. In his post, he proceeded to share several lessons from the day, which of course include not judging people at first glance, but also include doing what you love, understanding that blue collar jobs are great jobs, realizing that education is important but doesn't guarantee you anything, and understanding that experience and dedication are what really lead to success.

Ross has an education and experience, but what's important to him is that he chose a job in construction because he enjoys it and it supports him and his family. In his post, he wished the girl good luck, presumably in eventually having a future in something she loves just as he does.

Most commenters agreed and applauded Ross for his post. One wrote: "Well said!!! Totally agree with you! Thank you for your service!" Likewise, another wrote: "Way to pave the path for the girl to believe she can do anything and not be judge mental." Another commented: "Way to educate her, and when she needs someone to fix something, let's hope she finds someone with pride in thier work."

Moral of the story: Respect each other and respect ourselves enough to pursue our own dreams.


AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at by night.