Monday, March 10, 2003

Wanted: Grass-grower for Bengals

Nothing says work like a bunch of want ads, and a recent posting by Hamilton County indicates that one of the most challenging jobs in the region was up for grabs. The county is looking for a head groundskeeper down at Paul Brown Stadium.

Officials are looking for somebody to grow grass and maybe, assuming success with the first task, get the grass mowed.

The person hired for the job will probably have to manhandle a Toro, as opposed to quiet moments as a modern-day Thoreau.

But the big task is that the candidate must actually be able to grow grass and do it for the hapless Cincinnati Bengals - perhaps the worst team in the history of professional athletics.

Frankly, this doesn't sound like a demanding position.

How tough can it be?

There must be about 750,000 households within 20 miles of this stadium, and guess what?

Most have grass. There is grass in the front yards. There is even grass in the backyards.

So if Joe Bagagripposchips from Groesbeck can keep his lawn green and growing every spring, summer, fall and even winter, too, then why can't somebody do the same at Paul Brown Stadium?

Public officials were not looking for just any suburban homeowner, either. That would be too easy.

The applicant had to have a degree in agronomy and eight years experience with grass.

Bengal quarterback John Kitna has already logged two long years of face-first experience with what passed for grass at the stadium, but so far he's not applied for this job.

The applicant also had to have five years experience with sand-based fields and the ad pointed out one other quality: "a demonstrable ability to perform heavy physical labor for extended periods of time."

So what are they looking for: a grass grower or a left tackle? The job pays $1,000 a week but don't get too excited.

If you haven't already applied, your prospects for getting the position are nil or next-to-nil. The deadline for applications was Tuesday.

Gary Berger, county personnel director, said 49 people applied.

"We're looking for the best. The ideal is somebody with NFL experience," he said. "We got a wide response, pretty much all over the country: New Jersey to California."

Ads were also placed with the national and local Stadium Turf Association and the Greater Cincinnati Golf Course Superintendents Association, said Joe Feldkamp, assistant stadium operations director for Hamilton County.

"We hope to have somebody on board by April 1," Feldkamp said. "We want somebody with a degree, hands-on turf experience and personnel management experience."

A tip for the person who gets the job: use water, grass seed and fertilizer - applied so it creates unwanted stripes, the way most do-it-yourself suburbanites throw it down.

And one more thing: Watch out for those high school bands. Tuba players can really make a mess of a football field.

Career tip

Do not - it's worth repeating - do not become an art major in college, particularly if you ever expect to live in England.

Warwick University reports that an art degree will probably reduce lifetime earnings by as much as 10 percent.

People with art degrees would have been better off not even going to college, the report found.

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