|Photo by Paula Benson|
1. Map-reading. To be fair, this is a disappearing skill for everyone, not just the youth. I don't have a GPS unit in my car (remember, I'm also the last person in America without a smartphone) but I've driven with them many times in rentals or when visiting family, and the one thing that's stuck with me is the deep divide between following a disembodied voice versus mapping out the way to your destination. In the first place, when SKYNET becomes self-aware and the machines take over, you know your GPS is going to tell you to drive over a cliff. And you'll do it. The second issue? Following instructions doesn't leave you with much of a sense of geography. Do you drive north? South? If you keep heading west, will you reach your destination? You don't know if you don't have a map in your head or in your hands.
(An aside: this actually got me into trouble the first time I visited Seattle. I could not get it out of my brain that ocean = east and kept driving in the wrong direction.)
2. Compromise isn't selling out, it's getting things done. I'm pretty sure it's not a matter of this individual generation; all young people tend toward slogans that are essentially, "What do we want? OUT. When do we want it? NOW." We've got a congress that's devolved to this stage, and the results aren't pretty. If you want things to change - and lots of us oldsters are 100% behind that - you need to come up with actionable plans and maybe even a way to pay for them.
3. Stop being so obnoxiously hipster about beer. I remember when my generation was doing it back in the 80s with wine, and it was freaking annoying. It hasn't improves in its most recent, hops-fueled iteration.
4. Cursive writing and checks. Yes, I know, you type all your class notes on a laptop these days and only ever send email. Trust me, there will be times when you still have to hand-write something, and it will probably be important. A condolence letter. A heart-felt "I miss you." Thank-you notes to the donors of your 2032 Senatorial campaign. Do you want those to look like they were block-printed by a ten-year-old? No, you do not. And you can also use cursive to properly sign checks, which, despite all the e-payments and chips and phone apps, you will still need in the future. When Buddy Duchene delivers the firewood or the Blow Brothers come to dig up your septic system, they're not going to be carrying those square i-pad payment gizmos. (Buddy tried it, once, but it accidentally got knocked out of his dump truck and cracked, and that was the end of that.)
No, they need to be paid by check, as does the plumber, the appliance guy and the landscaping clean-up guys. Other excellent reasons for checks: buying Girl Scout cookies and making spontaneous donations at concerts, plays, etc. So order some. And start practicing penmanship.
THE SMITHIE: In the interest of equal time and representation, Mom has turned the second half of this blog over to me. One of the first thing we wish older people would realize is that despite experience and wisdom, you're not always right. With that in mind, here's my list of what I wish old folks would learn:
1. Student loan debt. I know back in your day you could pay for state college tuition through a summer job scooping ice cream; in 2016, tuition plus room and board at a minimum cost $20,000/year -- and that's for in-state students at state schools. Most of these are paid for with student loans that have interest rates between 4.29%-6.84% -- and those are the federal student loans. The private ones are even worse. Those don't even get discharged when you DIE. So don't blame millennials for moving back in with their parents after college. We've got $60,000 in debt and nobody's hiring entry-level employees for over $30,000/year.
2. Some people are gay. Lots of people are not heterosexual. Some people don't even believe in the binaries of gender. When you meet these people, or read about them, or hear of their existence, the polite thing to do is smile, nod, and keep your mouth shut. We know you don't understand. Just have some wine and roll with it.
3. It's not "The Facebook" or "The Twitter."
4. We don't understand the saggy pants thing either, but it sounds kind of racist when you complain about it, so just have some wine and roll with it.
5. This one is specifically directed towards men: do not call younger women "sweetheart," "honey," sugar," or any other pet name unless you are a member of their immediate family, or have been given explicit permission to use those terms. It's disrespectful. None of us like it. But we're not allowed to yell at doddering old guys in public. Also stop telling us to smile. I can't smile, I'm too busy worrying about student loan debt, anti-gay legislation, and the wholesale price of wine.
6. Wine and roll. Just wine and roll.
JULIA: I believe wine and roll is something both our generations can get behind. How about you, dear readers? What would you tell the young upstarts or old fogies?