David Cox, Sullivan County director of schools.

What was your first job?

Dishwasher at the Country Squire Restaurant in Church Hill, Tennessee. (Before it became the Mountaineer)

How did you get your first job?

I stopped by the restaurant and asked if they had any openings.

How long did you work there?

About two years, until I graduated from high school

How much were you paid?

About $2 per hour, I think

Tell us a bit about the job.

I washed dishes, set up the salad bar (which had just become a thing). I loaded five-gallon buckets of ice into a long galvanized metal bar, and placed in all the containers of vegetables. We had seafood buffets on Friday nights and it was hard to keep up with all the dishes since the restaurant was packed. My jeans would be totally wet by the end of my shift. I also learned to be a short order cook. I learned how hard restaurant work is and it has made be very, very appreciative of food service staff whenever I visit a restaurant or food service establishment.

What did you love about the job?

The people I worked with and earning enough money to support my first car — a 1972 Chevy Nova!

What did you hate about the job?

Being so tired after my shift

What do you do now?

Director of Schools for Sullivan County, soon to retire after 37 years as an educator

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Work hard every day. Respect all people, and keep your aim on your dreams and see yourself where you want to be. Be dependable and true to your word always. Help those who can’t help themselves and don’t expect anything in return.

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