Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are these dots connected?

I've been reading a bit lately about the phenomenon of "extended adolescence," where people don't have to "grow up" by 20 (or even 30) and are permitted (usually by parents) to continue to persist in teenager-like patterns.

And I've also noted the uptick in entitlement behavior.

A couple guys on the radio were talking about it the other day: apparently some customer in a donut shop went OFF on the person manning the counter because they were all out of sprinkled donuts.

Okay, in ricki's world, here's the appropriate response to "We are all out of sprinkled donuts at the moment": "Bummer. Do you have any with maple frosting?" and then being happy if the answer is yes. Or asking for an apple fritter instead if the answer is no.

I saw several examples of this behavior yesterday.

Example 1: I was taking copying to the copy shop. I got in behind a woman from another department. She had about a dozen things to be copied, and gave very precise, very picky instructions to the counter dude about each one, and then harassed him about it. To the point where the guy in charge came out of his office and jokingly told the woman, "Be gentle on him. He's not at his best today." (It did look - and sound - like counter dude was just getting over the flu).

But the woman kept after him. Which meant I waited longer. And then, while he was redoing something for a barely-perceptible mistake, she started to talk to me about his performance of his job.

Lady, don't. Just don't go there. If you want to involve me in a discussion of who is right, the crazy picky person or the beleaguered counter dude who is just trying to do his job without coughing up a lung, you will LOSE.

Finally, she got done, sailed out of there, and I got my copies made.

Second example: at the post office. I went in to pick up a package that was waiting for me. Got in line behind a woman mailing boxes. The postal worker told her that the cost would be $12.45. The woman FREAKED. "THAT IS TOO MUCH TO PAY!!!" she exclaimed. The postal worker looked at her and quietly said, "I believe you said you needed it to be there Friday. This is the Priority Mail option, which will get it there then. I told you the parcel-post option would take a week but would be cheaper."

I don't know what the woman did - she huffed for a few more moments - but I finally got my package and left. (After having someone nearly back into me as I was leaving).

Finally, I went to get my allergy shot. A mom and her adult daughter (carrying a new baby) came in right after me. Mom mentions several times, loudly and in general, that her daughter JUST GAVE BIRTH. (Though from the appearance of the baby, I think "just" had to mean "at least a few days ago" and not "she just ahd the child in the parking lot.") First off, the daughter set the baby's carrier down next to me and while I'm not a mom, I know when a kid badly needs changing. Then the mom and daughter proceeded to argue about something. Finally the mom calls over to the receptionist: "Can you get her a drink of water? She needs a drink of water. SHE JUST GAVE BIRTH and shouldn't have to walk too much."

(Why the mom couldn't go and get the water, went unanswered. And unasked.)

The receptionist, bless her, went and got a cup of water for the daughter. Neither the mom nor daughter thanked her. They just took it as their due.

I was sitting and knitting - as one of my Rav friends says, "I knit so I don't get mad at people" - and the mother turned her gaze on me. "You should learn to do that" she said to her daughter. The daughter made a dismissive snort. "No, you really should." the mother said. "It's relaxing. And it feels so good to put a hat or a sweater on your baby that you made yourself." (The implication being, the only reason anyone would knit would be to clothe their children.)

The daughter continued to make dismissive noises and I was on the point of looking at the mom and saying, "You know, she shouldn't do anything she doesn't want to do" (If you're going to talk about me like I'm not here, then I can talk about one of you like they're not here) but then I got called in for my shot. When I came back out they had (thank goodness) been called into the exam room (but I could hear the rise and fall of their voices over the closed door and the white-noise machine - which means they were talking loudly and agitatedly about something).

There's a reason I live alone. And a reason I say a small prayer of thanks when I lock the door behind me each night and don't have to talk to anyone else.

I find though, it seems, more and more, that there are people out there in the larger world who just EXPECT. They expect people will do the mundane tasks they are doing. Or they expect to be treated like royalty. Or they expect to get exactly 100% what they want when they want it, and there will be hell to pay if they don't.

And I wonder if "extended adolescence" plays a role in that. The idea that people don't have to pick up the yoke of responsibility so soon, that they can go long periods of time without having to work to pay their rent or for their food - or in some cases, even do stuff like their own laundry.

I realize I'm kind of on thin ice here - when I went to grad school, I moved back in with my parents to save money. I didn't have to cook or pay rent. I did, however, help out with the cleaning and I did stuff like take care of my own laundry and making my own doctor or dentist appointments. And I continued to say "please" and "thank you" to people who were going to help me, or had helped me in some way. (It seems like a small thing but I've really learned how much it HELPS, sometimes, to hear a "thank you" when you've busted your tail a little bit for someone.)

I hope this is an anomaly and not a trend. I find that sort of entitled, I'm-getting-angry-if-I-don't-get-what-I-want-even-if-it's-not-your-fault sort of person very hard to deal with.

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