I grew up thinking I was average. You know, I wasn’t a genius, but I wasn’t placed in the classrooms where they sat in bean bags, either. I was on the honor roll most of the time. My parents both worked. My friends were, for the most part, just like me. Being smart was cool. We wore khakis and add-a-bead necklaces. The worst thing we may have done is drink a wine cooler or take a hit of a smoke, here and there. We thought we were REALLY being naughty by listening to Prince’s “Darling Nikki” on the way to school, when lucky enough that one of us could drive and we were spared the indignity of the bus. Occasionally someone really went for it and “rolled” someone’s yard. Scofflaws!
I did my homework. I worked after school. I can spell and perform arithmetic.
I practice good grammar, most of the time. I was a good kid. My friends all lived in homes like mine in a middle class subdivision. We took our ACT and SAT’s. We went to college.
I grew up in a naive and gullible little bubble up until recently when it popped and I found the stickiness of harsh reality all over my face.
Now that I own a restaurant in a not-so-great-area-of-town and I’m hiring younger folks for positions, I realize that EVERYTHING has changed. I don’t want to sound all Archie Bunkery here, but seriously? Folks, we’re totally screwed.
In the last few days I’ve informed one kid that the “powder” he keeps referring to is actually FLOUR and he should call it as such. I’ve had to notify another that yes, the Titanic really happened, and wasn’t just a movie. I’ve had to introduce two employees to our friend the artichoke because they didn’t know what that was. I’ll almost give those two a pass, but seriously? NO ONE IN MY RESTAURANT (save one cook) could tell me the name of our Vice President. I shit you not.
I’ve come to the brutal realization that my upbringing was not average at all, but for the most part, exceptional and moreover, blessed and elite. Statistics say that this upcoming generation will be the first to actually be less educated than the one before. How the hell is that even possible? In a day where technology can literally answer ANY question or guide you in any direction you seek, how are we getting dumber? Laziness? Lack of proper parenting? Absence of curiosity?
Why can’t anyone give me the names of the Beatles but everyone can identify each of the Kardashians? This is troubling. Some of the people I encounter on a daily basis can barely put a sentence together. Twice yesterday a co-worker started a conversation with the words “Was you”. Jesus.
I’ve got no punch lines folks, and certainly no answers. I’m embarrassed to be somewhat late to this unfortunate circumstance. Evidently this is a national crisis to which I averted my eyes, or hid my head in the sand but now it’s not only in my face, my “success” of sorts rides on the shoulders of the incurious, apathetic and indifferent.
We are the minority, guys.
This is a snippet of a conversation I had yesterday with one of my cooks.
Josh: Hey, Jen! I’m getting a new tattoo.
Me: You say.
Josh: Yep. I’m going to get “shit happens” on the inside of my arm.
Me: No, you’re not.
Josh: You can’t tell me what to do.
Me: I can if you want to continue to work here.
Josh: But that’s my saying! Those are the words I live by, man!
Josh: Pretty cool, huh?
Me: No. Not at all. You should be ready to embrace constant failure if you get that tattooed on your arm, dude.
Josh: How about if I get it in another language? Like Chinese?
Me: Well, at least you’re “thinking” now, son. Jesus.