Young People Today
All we wanted was a quiet dinner at a local restaurant when we encountered a group of teenagers and a lesson about young people today.
We arrived in the parking lot of our favorite Mexican restaurant at 4:30. Early enough, we thought, to avoid the dinner crowd. Especially since it was Monday. The older I get, the more I appreciate dodging throngs of people.
Two vehicles entered before us and took spaces beside each other in the sparsely populated lot. We parked near them, but we focused our attention on the driving rain. A spring storm had rolled over us. We sat in our vehicle and debated. Should we wait for it to end? Or make a mad dash to the entrance?
We went for it. My hand was on the handle when I noticed all eight doors on the other two cars spring open. My heart sunk as a mob of teenaged boys emerged, laughing and jesting. Their t-shirts identified them as baseball players for the nearby high school. We guessed they were 17 or 18 years old and good friends based on their banter.
A new debate arose. Did we really want to be in the same place as a scrum of boisterous lads?
Hunger and a desire for Mexican food won out. Maybe the manager would seat us far from them, well away from the mayhem.
We waited until they were entering the building before jumping out of our car and jogging across the lot. The last boy was entering through the front door as we approached. He saw us coming through the rain and did the unexpected.
He held the door.
“Thank you,” I stammered.
Someone, I thought, had done a good job teaching this young man manners. And he wasn’t the only one.
Because of the size of their group, they sat in the center of the restaurant. They talked and joked amongst themselves, of course, but they weren’t rowdy. Our table was only a few feet away, but I barely noticed them. The voices that carried to us weren’t theirs, but were couples two or three times their age who were on the opposite side of the building. In fact, they were so well mannered I forgot the boys were in the building until they finished their meal. They stood in line at the cash register, each paying their respective bills. Sir. Ma’am. Thank you. You’re welcome.
Obviously, parents are to be commended. Teachers and coaches have done well. These young men are a great testament to their generation.
Exceptions, right? We hear so much about “young people today.” Rude. Self-centered. Raised without manners.
Some certainly are. Just as some people I knew in high school were jerks. But was this group really the exception?
For over a quarter century, I worked in Corporate America and attended all the requisite training offered. Some of it was valuable and insightful. Some, however, felt contrived and not well thought out. Training in generational differences would be one of those examples that always made me uncomfortable.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that a teenager today has different experiences than I did at their age. I didn’t touch a computer until college. Our phone was attached to a wall. TV choices were limited to four or five channels, depending on the weather and how well you could adjust the rabbit ears. Without a doubt, the different environments affected our outlook.
But are we really fundamentally different? I don’t think so. For every kid we point to today and say is an exampled of a spoiled brat, I can name one of my own peers from back in my school days that was equally rotten. We had good kids and bad kids back then, just like we do today. And I’ve always believed there are far more good people in this world than bad.
Just a week earlier than the teens at the restaurant, we encountered three teens walking along the neighborhood greenway. They were clearly not from the same clique as those neatly groomed baseball players, at least not if I remembered the pecking order from my school days. They were the non-conformists. The free spirits. The strive-to-be-different crowd.
The boy had bright pink hair and wore a ragged denim jacket. One of the two girls wore pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt, a trend in our local schools I admittedly don’t understand. The other girl dressed in a creative outfit assembled from consignment shops, a favorite style here in Asheville.
When we came around the curve of the trail, the boy spoke first, “Cool dogs!” Our Siberian Huskies are blasé about the attention they attract, but it happens regularly. “May we please meet them?”
Please? Politeness always wins me over. “Yes.”
He lowered himself to the dogs’ level, but waited on them to approach-a clear sign of someone who knows how to greet a canine. Two of the dogs, sensing a good person, eagerly approached him. The other two split off to greet the girls who were cooing to them. Soon all four dogs were melting to the ample ear scratches and words of praise. The teens asked questions about them. Polite. Thoughtful. Intelligent.
And when the mingling was over, the three stood and thanked me for letting them interact with the dogs. “Thank you, sir.”
Two encounters in a week tell me much about young people today. My takeaway? If we give them a chance, they have a very bright future ahead.
Survey: Seasons and Mayonnaise
My February survey asked about my readers’ favorite season of the year. Fall was the big winner with its cool air, changing leaves, and relative lack of pollen. Spring has too many allergies (see my musing from last week), summer too much heat, and winter too much cold and snow-though each had their ardent fans as well.
This month’s survey question came from an amusing debate on social media about mayonnaise. I’ve been enjoying the responses thus far. The survey takes just a minute, so if you want to participate, click here. Results will be shared in April.
Interesting Links: Brainy Quote Of The Day
Looking for daily inspiration? Try Brainy Quote of the Day for a new set of messages each morning (or evening if that’s your style). If you journal and are looking for an inspiration, this is a great writing prompt.
Books Read: When Ghosts Come Home
I read 100 novels a year and share the best with you.
A downed plane, a dead body, an upcoming election, and family strains challenge Sheriff Winston Barnes of Oak Island NC.
Vocabulary Word Of The Week: Diacritic
The next time someone points out that a spelling of a word should include an accent mark, you can reply, “Touché. We should use diacritics properly.”
For the most part, the English language doesn’t use diacritical marks-those little symbols placed above, below, or beside a letter to indicate a particular pronunciation. Since we incorporate so many words from other languages, however, sometimes the symbols remain until the word has become so common to no longer need them.
For example, I described my dogs as blasé about the attention they receive on the trail. But it’s also acceptable to write blase but we’re supposed to know to pronounce the word with two syllables.
That’s yet one more reason learning to properly pronounce the English language is such a challenge-we leave off critical clues.
To which I say-que será, será.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
Amazingly, we had the neighborhood greenway all to ourselves Sunday. You would think more people would get out and enjoy a blustery, cold (10ºF) morning.