Cass County's two new health inspectors say the funniest reaction they've gotten so far from area restaurant owners has nothing to do with food.
Eric Eldridge, a recent Purdue graduate, said it's the double-take that people give him when he mentions he's training Tom Clear, a longtime Cass County resident who started with the health department last month.
Eldridge is 23. Clear, 53, has a child that age.
"It's pretty fun seeing people's reaction to me being the young guy and training him," said Eldridge, chuckling.
"I'm old enough to be your dad," Clear pointed out. But, he added, the age gap isn't an issue between the two. "He knows what he's doing," Clear said. "It doesn't bother me."
And others get used to it quickly, he added. "His demeanor is professional ... and they respect that," said Clear.
Clear is the newest hire at the Cass County Health Department, which this year has seen a number of staffing changes, including the appointment of a new administrator. Eldridge started as a Cass County health inspector June 10.
Eldridge graduated from Purdue University in May with a bachelor's of science in biology.
"I've always been interested in public health," explained Eldridge. A native of LaPorte, he moved to Monticello after being hired in Cass County. Over the past several months, he's been attending training sessions to acclimate himself to the position.
There's been much to learn, he said, including a book full of public health laws he has to keep straight. "I was blessed with a good memory," added Eldridge — and if that fails him, he refers back to the book to cite the relevant portion of the public health code.
These last three weeks, he's been bringing Clear along to train on the food establishment inspections, septic inspections and environmental complaint investigations the two are tasked with.