My friend Edie and I made a recent stop for lunch at a local sandwich shop. We are two, 60+-yr. old babyboomer mothers, both of whom suffer from arthritic hands after years as legal secretaries. What pursued after we sat down on the patio that sunny, summer afternoon prompted me to write this article. In the broad scope of today’s issues, it may seem quite trivial, yet, is it — or is it one microscopic sign of our failure to have taught our now adult children the basic tenets of human decency, oh, as in kindness, consideration, good manners, respect, etc. You remember. Those basic lessons of “how to behave in life, how to treat others” that we were taught in the ’40s, ’50s and early ’60s?
This little incident occurred as I was still inside the shop, and caused my friend much thought over several days before she related it to me. It seems she had had a great deal of trouble opening her bottle of soda, so she went over to a table of young working adults, who were obviously on their lunch hour. At this point, I must add that we are two rather hip babyboomer women who are definitely not two paranoid oldsters who feel we are always being put upon — just not so! Okay, Edie approaches this table, and for starters, she gets that glare, that look of, “Oh, God, why is this woman approaching us and about to disturb us?” She then asks politely if one of them could possibly help her open her bottle, as she has tried and tried, but just couldn’t get that darned cap off! One of them asks, “Why can’t you get it off?” in a curt tone of disbelief, and, yes, disrespect. She explains again that she had tried hard to twist off the cap, but it’s often a difficult task for her.
One of the disrespectful little Gen Yers finally grabs her bottle in disgust with a look of, “What kind of pitiful, lazy human being are you?” and opens it with a final look of, “See! How tough was that?!” and hands it back to her, as he turns back to his buddies. Edie thanks him, walks away as she hears their sarcastic laughter, sits down at our table, looks back at their table, and finds them all looking her way.
Tell me, did some of us raise a generation of rude, uncaring, disrespectful brats? Yes, brats? This generation has had more given to them than any in history, and in return, this is what we get? Many boomers sacrificed much to give their children designer clothes, cable in every room, cells, and every other piece of tech they desired, private school tuition and/or had to pay the many “fees” required even in public schools, costly sports activities, every lesson known to man (dance, gym, art, music, etc.), so-called “allowances” — AND — finally, college educations — oh, and all too often, with very low, if any, expectations. How many were made to work for any of the above? I doubt that most were even made to do “tasks” around the house, much less work outside the home once they were old enough to do so! We didn’t want to stress the little darlings, did we?
I’m wondering. Did some of us give too much, and in doing so, fail to concentrate enough (or at all) on the most important, most basic teachings of all? How sad and what does this portend for the future?! At best, we can only hope this group of young people either learn one day what should have been taught them — or — at the least, never, ever get hired in positions wherein any modicum of kindness, good manners, caring, and respect are required. Please, God, let us not see them in the nursing homes in which we are, oh, so anxious to reside!!!