Like, shine your studs

Every year, I help judge the senior projects at Truckee Meadows Community College High School. What the kids have to do is make an oral presentation to four adults, with the presentation centering on what these kids learned in their high school careers, and what they plan to do with what they’ve learned. They have to stand up in front of the judges, summarize their educations for 15 minutes, then field questions for another five to eight. There are four judges per room, with a student presentation every half hour for two and a half hours.

It makes for an interesting and educational afternoon for both students and judges. The kids get to find out if they can keep it together in front of four strangers for 20 minutes. We judges, who show up for duty expecting to be assailed by tattooed tuffs in belly shirts and garnished with lots of zany piercings, hear mostly well-delivered reports from teens who appear to be sharp, enthusiastic and reasonably well-equipped to move on to their respective next levels, whatever those may be. I’ve done these judging sessions for three years now, and I’ve yet to encounter a student who just got up there and unraveled. Even the kids with tattoos and piercings act as if they give a flying-bleep about this assignment. Invariably, we judges leave TMCC that afternoon feeling pleasantly surprised and encouraged.

In these sessions, we have time to question the students, but we don’t have time to share some tips of modern living that might be helpful as the teens begin their wobbly journeys toward self-sufficiency. (If there’s one thing we judges hope these kids can successfully achieve, it’s self-sufficiency. Most of us are parents, too, and there are probably few things more heartwarming to today’s parents than stories of the kids making rent payments with ease.)

I, however, am fortunate enough to have an abusable forum here, where I can spew out folksy advice to the youngsters and feel secure in the knowledge that it will be more ignored than a beer ban at Burning Man. So all you young adults who are entering the work force, remember:

1. Keep those piercings clean! I know it’s old-fashioned, but us fogeys (by the way, we now want to be called “classic citizens”) like to see metals gleam. There’s no faster way to blow that big contract with Acme Corporation than to flash a dull and cloudy tongue stud or eyebrow hoop.

2. Watch it with the four-letter words. Like “like.” When we hear you use the word “like” four times in one sentence, we begin to glaze over very severely.

3. Don’t be embarrassed or bashful about money. When you do something for us, and we ask how much it will cost, for God’s sake, don’t say “Oh, I don’t know, what do you think is fair?” All I can tell you is we slightly unethical adults positively pounce on bargain opportunities like that.