Where Did the “Paying Your Dues” Work Ethic Go?


There’s been a trend within the last ten years amongst young adults who have attended college. They’ve begun to expect that the sheer act of graduating means not only a degree, but an offer from a high-end company, and a salary exceeding $100K. These young adults have been dubbed “Millennials.”

Generation X encompassed my age group, and I wish our work ethic and goal-oriented ideals could leech into this new generation. My generation knew that a degree was the first step in a long road of proving your worth to your employer. My generation knew what it meant to say, “Yes Sir,” when grunt work was thrown at us. But, the millennials? They haven’t wanted to prove themselves, because graduating with a degree was proof of their glorified worth.

So, over the last few years, the millennials have taken the working world by storm, leaving half-completed assignments, partially adept work, and a lot of eye rolling grumbles in their wake. Their unhappiness has been Generation Xs frustration. We have listened to their complaints about “not being” where they wanted to be in life by age twenty-five, as we sit in marginally better positions in our thirties, knowing our step up the ladder is two-to-five years down the line. We have patted their backs when they’ve complained that no one “gets them,” holding back eye rolls of our own.

Because of this, having worked side-by-side with them, I haven’t bothered to look up what the term “Millennials” means. In terms of society, I’ve defined them as lazy, whiny, oftentimes bratty adults who have absolutely no concept of what it means to “pay your dues.”

That’s what we called it, back when I was growing up. From an early age, we understood that our schooling–from elementary to college–was to be viewed as a means of figuring out what we wanted to do with our life, where we wanted to go, and what goals we wanted to achieve over time. We knew the value of doing our best, trying our hardest, and proving ourselves to our superiors.

We knew who was superior, because we had understanding that we were inferior. Our employer wasn’t our buddy, wasn’t our comrade, and definitely wasn’t someone we ranted to on Twitter, expecting to be taken seriously.

Whenever young adults stopped understanding that, whenever they started seeing themselves as equal to those with years of experience over them, that’s where the millennial generation began.

A young girl by the name of Talia has proven my theory on the millennial generation as a whole. Five days ago, after a constant barrage of “tweets” didn’t clue the CEO of Yelp into taking notice of her–because that’s apparently how Millennials treat their superiors–Talia wrote an “Open Letter” to her boss.

She began her letter by typing, “Dear Jeremy.”

Wait, what?

Pardon my French, but WTF? That, right there, has been the massive problem with the millennial generation. Never, ever, ever would Generation X make the assumption that they could call their boss, let alone the CEO of the company, by their first name.

Faux pas, Talia. Faux freaking pas.

Strike One.

The next part of the letter claimed that owning a pager in the 90s was “#goals.” I mean, um, owning a pager was slightly better than owning a quarter, but it only made an ironic sidekick whenever Usher’s “My Way” came on the radio. Whenever I thought of life goals in my youth–and I’m talking age 10 to 18–I had real, intangible dreams for my life. I wanted to be a writer; I wanted to teach English to children. I wanted to be both known and respected in the writing community. I wanted to have a Master’s degree, followed by a Doctorate.

Those were “#goals.”

A pager? Really?

Talia graduated college with a degree in English (although, I guess they’re giving those away now, based on her run-on sentences and inability to understand how contractions work). But, her view of a degree also bothered me. If she hadn’t graduated with an English degree, then she would have been a lawyer, or a teacher. Um? Clearly, because her #goals in youth led her to believing a life goal was a pager, realistic expectations never dawned on her.

Well, I wanted to be a gymnastic, or Gem. So, I guess if teaching and writing didn’t pan out like I thought they would, I could have painted a star on my eye, and taken the stage by storm!

That’s not how it ever worked, Millennials. It’s never worked that way.

After claiming that she settled on an English degree when she could have been a “lawyer. Or a teacher,” she then began working the heart-string angle. See, she had to get that easy English degree, because living in her current place made her want to die a thousand deaths.

Okay, Juliet. Were you betrothed to another man when you found your true love, so you had to drink poison to stop your heart? Or did your mother tell you to stop whining, find a job, and do something with your life?

It was clear that she blamed her mother for something Millennial and trite; she then wrote that she picked an apartment close to her father. Why? So that she could move away from “the environment” that made her “want to die every single day of my life.”

It’s been statements like that that have made me want to give Millennials a serious eye roll, and then tell them to suck it up, stop griping, and do their freaking job.

When I graduated with a B.S.E.E. from LSU, I moved in with my parents, and worked for an entire year, in order to save up the money, and then rent an apartment. Save money. Rent place. Why? Because credit card debt has always been a choice to be in debt.

Her letter, at that point, was a summation of self-pity and woe-is-me tactics, all directed at the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. She wanted him to spend his time–which is worth far more than her time–to listen to her air her troubles, for free. Hmm. So, in the real world, a boss–who is well below the CEO of a company–wouldn’t even listen to a bratty employee’s troubles. What’s more? The CEO of a company would never double as a High School counselor.

Strike Two.

Her next strike came in the very next paragraph, where she complained that she would have to answer phone calls for a whole year before she could create memes for a living. Life #goal, create memes. Oh, dear.

But, it got better. If there was such a thing as a double strike out, this chick created that when she admonished the CEO of Yelp for not following her on twitter. Since I couldn’t even make that up, I’ll post her finger-wagging paragraph here:

“Coming out of college without much more than freelancing and tutoring under my belt, I felt it was fair that I start out working in the customer support section of Yelp/Eat24 before I’d be qualified to transfer to media. Then, after I had moved and got firmly stuck in this apartment with this debt, I was told I’d have to work in support for an entire year before I would be able to move to a different department. A whole year answering calls and talking to customers just for the hope that someday I’d be able to make memes and twitter jokes about food. If you follow me on twitter, which you don’t, you’d know that these are things I already do. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get back to the situation at hand, shall we?”

Talia Jane, the voice of the millennial generation, everyone.

She then wrote that everyone she knew who worked in the call center was poor, homeless, and starving. I worked in a call center for an entire year. Well, close to two. I lived in an apartment that cost $960/m, and I made $9/hr. I did not receive medical insurance through my company. Everyone I knew in the call center was struggling to make ends meet. We didn’t have free snacks to graze through, though, like Yelp apparently provides. I didn’t steal food out of the company refrigerator, and then claim I survived on a large bag of rice. Her claim that her apartment cost 80% of her income sounded fishy, as did her claim to only eat rice. The latter was clearly a blatant lie.

How did she get approved for an apartment?

How has she not developed scurvy?

These are the questions I wanted to know.

What’s funny is, when I realized that I couldn’t afford my mortgage, I didn’t whine; I created a solution to my problem. I had a friend move in. When she moved out, I found a second job. As a single mom, working two jobs, I’ve never once had this chick’s “why is life so hard?” mentality. I’ve been resourceful, and figured out how to keep a roof over my son’s head, and food in his belly.

Her next thirteen paragraphs were spent chastising the CEO of Yelp for how she thinks he runs his company, and berating him for making more money than she does. It was clear from her childish, half-witted complaints that she had no clue how companies work, and that she believes herself to be on par with the CEO. She definitely never stopped to consider the amount of money a company pays to the government in order to hire just one person. Just to employ Talia, and keep her employed, the CEO of Yelp has had to have and maintain the monetary funds to: pay half of her taxes, match the cost of her medical insurance, pay for her malpractice, pay taxes on the sheer fact that he employed another person, pay for the property where she drives to work, pay insurance on that property, pay taxes on that property, pay taxes on the inside of that property, pay taxes for the office supplies and furniture where she goes to work, pay for the supplies she uses at work, pay for the furniture she uses at work, pay for the upkeep of both property and furniture, and pay for all of that food she clearly makes heavy use of eating throughout the day.

Have I made my point clear? What was her end goal with this letter when she mocked him relentlessly for being the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company? Did she want him to say, “My bad?”

Why would her inability to strive for a successful life be his responsibility for having become successful?

Which was why I stated that he doesn’t have the time to listen to her complaints, because his worth far exceeds hers. He climbed his ladder, did well for himself, and she–in all her Millennial pettiness–has been struck by the green-eyed monster.

Oh, and as a side note, she also complained about the training she received, and continued to receive, which ended up making her a better employee. She complained that the new people didn’t have experience (duh), made a lot of mistakes (duh), and had to continue getting trained in order to have a stronger work ethic. DUH.

Wait, is duh still hip with the times?

As for the open letter she wrote, in order to “air her grievances?” Well, she didn’t pay her dues; she didn’t do her time. She belittled the CEO of a company, within a few weeks of being employed, on two separate social media platforms. What didn’t dawn on her, clearly, was the fact that she is expendable.

Hopefully the person who replaced her will have more respect for authority, and more appreciation for the sheer fact that they have a job. But, because that person could be a millennial, they probably won’t.

No comments posted on February 24, 2016 in Winging It, Mom Style

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