More Bad Behavior

 More Bad BehaviorContinuing my theme of young people behaving badly (last time it was toddlers and distracted parents), this week I’ve overheard a few conversations with 20-somethings (who have a lot in common with toddlers developmentally, oddly enough) that made me groan out loud.

When I need to write and whenever I can, I come to a small, sunny, airy and groovy coffee shop on a small ocean inlet marina near my place in RI.  For some reason, I get inspired here and have written some of my best stuff nursing a medium iced-tea (or hot tea in cooler weather), so I’m very fond of the place.  It’s beautiful and chill, attracting a range of ages and activities. (Backgammon anyone?  There’s a game set up on the table to my left.)

The manager’s ‘office’ is a table in the back.  He was interviewing a college student for a job as a barrista the other day and I caught the whole conversation because I was right next to them.  At first I was annoyed.  Even with my Bose headset on, I could hear every word and I was on a roll with a few thoughts I was developing.  But the conversation was so surprising I tuned in…and found myself wanting to interrupt, ask the student to please step outside and then prep him for a job interview because he was doing everything wrong.  Everything.

He described all the reasons why he lost his last few jobs.  Let’s see… once was a bad boss.  Once was terrible hours.  Awful coworkers.  Boring work.  Not only did he blame everyone else but himself, he began to interrogate the manager on working conditions here.  The manager, an affable guy who would be just as comfortable running a bar as a coffee shop, cheerfully described what would be expected.  At every exchange the student made a complaint.  Only one break per shift?  But he needed several cigarette breaks…and he might need to come late sometimes for personal reasons and oh, he can’t lift anything because of the back injury he sustained from working his last job at that sucky donut shop.

If I didn’t know better, I would think he was giving the manager 50 reasons not to hire him.

I’ve hired many people over the years and so in my head I was silently screaming, “Don’t hire him!  Bad employee! Trouble.  Trouble.”

At the end, the student asked cockily when he should start and the manager brought him in the back room to meet the others.  !!!!

Whoa…no wonder the workers at this place have attitude, and I mean that in a bad way.  Poor hiring.

And get this one…

This morning I overheard a young woman regular yelling at someone on the phone for not hiring her.  She told him that he was “unfair”, that he led her on by saying she was a “desirable candidate” and that she “deserved that job”. To make things worse, she then put the employer on hold as she chased her bratty little unleashed dog around the shop, where he was running between tables begging for food. After she scooped the dog up and returned to her cell phone, after putting this man that she wants a job from on hold, she started up with the guy again, lecturing him about how awful and “unprofessional” he was, concluding that “now would be a good time for you to apologize and offer me the job.”

I wanted to scream.

In both of these instances, I was struck by the display of entitlement.  Neither of these young ones has any idea how to behave in the real world of grownups and employment.

Folks, this generation is headed for a trainwreck if we don’t start teaching them repercussions and accountability.

Like it or not, entry level jobs suck sometimes and there is grace in that.  Those jobs teach discipline and pride of ownership.

My father taught me that there is dignity in all work.  Emotional intelligence is the currency of adults and civil society.  In our zeal to prepare our kids to get into Harvard, we have forgotten the most important skills of all – manners and social skills.

Less Stress, More Success

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Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
Sophia N. and Nancy R.

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