End Service Apathy

What's up with kids today?

So it’s come to this. I’ve only recently entered my 30s, and I’m about to write a letter railing against today’s youth, but recent events have me concerned.

This summer I confronted a barrage of discouraging interactions with teenagers and “young people” who continually made me question our culture’s current and future state of civility. Time after time, I encountered kids working counters and booths, in stores and on the street who could barely function. I was met with rude, inattentive or otherwise incompetent service all summer long, and I have decided that I’m no longer going to act apologetic about it.

Maybe it’s because I’ve finally figured out how to behave like a professional over the last few years that the behavior I am assaulted with is so glaringly offensive. Kids today have distinct problems with seemingly simple operations such as finishing sentences and making eye contact. At venues both corporate and locally owned, I was made to feel like I was inconveniencing employees who would rather brag about partying last weekend than help the person standing right in front of them.

So, young people, here’s the headline: The age of apathy is over. It’s not cool to not care. Not anymore. I get it, you know. I grew up in the ’90s, when apathy was king. Baristas and waiters became beacons of underachieving slacker culture. And it was charming for a while, and we all slowly got used to it. But that’s done now.

As more and more youngsters find college to be a mountainous obstacle—one that’s perceived as not worth the avalanche of debt that comes with the diploma—the service industry will become an increasingly competitive industry. Expectations are going to go up with the growing demand for work, and in an arena where qualifications are low, an engaging conversation can make all the difference in landing the gig. That’s why now is the perfect time to step it up. We’re counting on you!

Charlie Swanson is the Bohemian’s calendar editor and is not a curmudgeon at all.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the ‘Bohemian.’ We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].