Photo by Kate Opre, featuring Joshua Lang (Issue 17 - Don't Play Nice)
I work at a sandwich shop. Last week a gentleman came in two minutes before we closed who had obviously had a rough day because his rude level was at a 10/10. It didn’t bother me or my coworker until she apparently asked a question too quickly and he made some comments about how “kids these days need to slow down and take themselves less seriously because we aren’t that important.”
I’m sure this gentleman had read one of the multiple articles I see daily explaining how entitled, selfish, and lazy the millennial generation is and how we are going to ruin the country over the course of the next few years. That may have been part his reason for the condescending attitude, or it may have been possible that the 6-pack he proudly bragged about consuming while watching football caused him to loosen his mouth just a little bit too much. Or maybe it was the fact that he had obviously dropped his pizza on his Avengers t-shirt earlier in the day and he’d have to do the laundry sometime during the week that caused his miserable mood. Either way, his condescending attitude, rude comments, and smirks weren’t welcome but still were received with a smile and a “thank you”. Well here’s what I wished I could tell him:
I woke up that morning at 6:30 in order to get homework done before class. I finished up over some coffee and headed to a couple of classes before finishing up at 12. I immediately started and finished a 5-page paper due the next day and wrote last week’s article before starting my shift at 3. I had stayed up until 2 A.M. the night before so, by this point, I was already worn out. Obviously, I should’ve prepared myself better and gotten more sleep but I’m young and like to have fun because one day I’ll most likely have kids and struggle to stay up past 9:30. Anyways, by the time this customer came in I had been working hard for nearly 15 hours. I’m sure he thought that as soon as he exited the store we would lock up and I’d go home and smoke a bowl because that’s all teenagers are good for, right? What he didn’t know is I’d go to the back of the store and finish my third venti coffee of the day and spend the next hour closing the store before going home and studying for my test at 8 a.m. the next morning. Obviously, a long day is one thing and happens to everyone. I’m used to it and had no problem knowing I’d do the same thing for every day of the rest of the week. I easily served every customer that day with a smile except for this one because of his lack of respect for what students are doing and his clear lack of understanding as to why we are forced to take our lives “too seriously”
I know that me, my friends at school, and my coworkers aren’t as successful as this man has been (his Crocs screamed high-salary businessman), but I think we deserve some credit. Contrary to his comment about me being his “wife for the night because she’s out of town” (I wonder how much he has to pay her to stay with him), I am of a little more worth than just making a sandwich. I’m in the classroom for 24 hours a week, in addition I spend at least another 24 doing homework for those classes, I also work for 29 a week. If a “full-time” work week is 40 hours, then I am just 3 away from doubling that each week. Not to mention the fact that I rage my face off at least three nights a week and write for this magazine.
The reason I mention all of this because I’ve noticed that hardly anyone from the older generations has any idea how hard we work. What makes me upset is that people like this gentleman have such an obviously low view of my peers and I. I hear all the time how “easy” my generation has things or how we “don’t know the value of anything”. There seems to be a common belief that we waste all our time “going on the facebook” and have the intelligence of small children “because of all the marijuanas we smoke”. There is next to no recognition of how hard we work to prepare ourselves for the future. Instead, all I hear is negativity about how we will ruin the country (thanks for all the debt by the way).
I know the older generations have had hard lives (I mean walking uphill both ways to school is rough), but I know for a fact that my friends who bust their asses everyday don’t deserve to hear how little they think of us. We are doing our best, working hard, and trying to be decent people. Yes, we have fun. No, we aren’t as conservative as our parents would like us. Either way, it is my generation that will be taking care of that man fifteen years from now so I think we deserve a little more respect. Thanks for the 18 cent tip though. We’re good now.