Dear Knoxonomist: My son has just completed his junior year of high school—and it’s time for him to earn some money. Do you have some tips on how he might get a summer job?
The Knoxonomist is ever-so relieved to hear that you are not asking how to get an “internship,” say, with a congressman or hedge fund manager or the CEO of Bush’s Baked Beans. These lofty sinecures—sure tickets to success in life—are reserved for other people’s kids. The Knoxonomist is not sure whose, exactly, but not ours.
A good parent explains that every job, no matter how dreary, is good for the soul and edifying for the young mind. It is true, however, that the choice plums are available only to those in the know: perhaps the drive-thru at Chik-Fil-A, for example (a great opportunity to learn about cows), or the cash register/bagging jobs at Butler & Bailey or Food City (where the phrase “paper or plastic?” never gets old).
We will never forget, from our youth, the agony and the ecstasy of the application. Parents: as tempting as it is: Avoid Filling It Out Yourselves. Store managers have sophisticated methods for detecting when parents fill out applications. “N/A” next to job experience is one giveaway. (Real kids write, “Huh?”) Spelling too many words correctly is another sure giveaway.
The truth is: Your son doesn’t want a job. Left to his own devices, he will not get a job. Merely asking, “Isn’t it time you went down and applied for that job?” is not the strategy to employ. It is, in fact, entirely within your parental rights to tug the miscreant by the collar, push him through the electric doors, and announce, “He’s your problem now!”
Has the youngster considered landscaping—once called “mowing lawns”? Here the hiring process comes down to a quick interview, in which it is a disadvantage to place a question mark after a declarative statement. “So,” asks the boss, “you like working all day in the hot sun?” “Uh, no?” although honest and post-post modern, can fall flat with a crew foreman. As it happens, a lifetime of hours spent on Facebook and YouTube and texting “OMG” may not be the ideal preparation for this demanding physical work. Clearly a case of AWAAC.
Although we have found little demand for irony in landscaping, we do believe patrons at restaurants always enjoy a hostess, waiter, or bus-person with a little attitude. “So I guess you want your food!” can work as well at Sullivan’s as it does on shows like The New Girl. In their quest to be “cool,” some Knoxville eateries put a premium on staff snarkiness. Once on the job, the trick is to look and act high while actually being able to remember orders. (The Knoxonomist remembers well his stint as a waiter—some things never change.)
More traditional youngsters may gravitate toward lifeguarding. Caution: Don’t tell the pool manager about the dragon tattoo on your chest. Some pool moms feel that body art can scare the kids in the baby pool. During this interview, rather than getting bogged down trying to answer tough questions, such as, “What would you do if someone cried, ‘Help! Help!’ ” you can get by just reciting the Boy Scout Motto.
On second thought—maybe he’d better find an internship somewhere?
Dear Knoxonomist: Will there be a new series of concerts to replace Sundown in the City? Forget Steve Winwood; I really liked seeing Cowboy Mouth.
These days, the Knoxonomist is content to listen to Pandora or Spotify, but Sundown did provide some pleasure during the past decade. The Knoxonomist always accepted a free ticket and set up a lawn chair near the fountains in Market Square. Did you happen to notice?
As it is with so many things in these parts, when something is too successful, they’ve just got to pull the plug on it.
As Yogi Berra said of a New York restaurant, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” On Market Square, promoter Ashley Capps said, basically, we can’t host those shows any more. Too many people keep showing up.
When things are too good, it seems those in power get nervous. After all, they wouldn’t want the citizens to be too happy.
Like that 26.5 average ACT score for University of Tennessee applicants. It’s all very good: UT is taking brighter classes all the time. But what’s the point of having our state university in our hometown if your kid can’t get in? Who are these kids with their 30s and 34s messing everything up? If they ever started talking about applying these admissions standards to families of season-ticket holders, then what?
The Knoxonomist wonders: “Can’t Ashley hire mediocre bands to come and play? Like those Black-Eyed Peas who stunk up the Super Bowl a couple of years ago? Or The Who?” One glimpse of the underside of Pete Townshend’s white belly would take care of teen-control issues for miles around, leaving room for Who fans who no longer appreciate big crowds.
Or maybe we can figure out a less appealing idea altogether! Instead of Sundown in the City, how about:
- “Sunup at Tomato Head”: For once, a time when there might not be a crowd!
- “Dusk in Down”: A fashion show by Mast General Store.
- “Mid-afternoon with Marshall Andy”: Showing cowboy films while everyone is still at work.
- “Anytime at the Preservation Pub.”
As for the Knoxonomist, maybe it’s time to check out that new speakeasy library. See you there!
The Knoxonomist welcomes your questions—although he will answer only those that interest him. Send your inquiries to TheKnoxonomist@cityviewmag.com, and include your name, address, and daytime phone number. The Knoxonomist and his secretary are busy, however, and regret that we cannot acknowledge receipt of e-mails.