Today’s Teens/Young People…..

So I’ve been thinking a lot about our young people – I suppose that is because of the struggles I’ve had recently with this person living under my roof.  This person….whom I used to know as my daughter.

It seems that with all of the technology that is out there – our young people are growing and learning now at warp speed.  At least they know how to fiddle with all of the electronics.  Don’t know how to get your phone or computer or microwave to do something?  Just ask a young person.

However, somewhere in all of this it seems that there is a HUGE gap in things that we once called ‘common sense.’  You know….things that you either logically figured out on your own, your morals simply guided you, or maybe you saw someone else do and realized it was the right way to do it.  Most of the ‘common sense’ things weren’t actually ‘taught’ by our parents as in them telling you, but rather it was just done that way and you picked up on it.  You learned by example. Sure, you may have asked a few questions – and you may have learned a thing or two that way.

It seems that because all of what technology does for us – we’ve lost the ability to THINK for ourselves.  We no longer know how to process thoughts, to analyze things and make decisions.  It’s all done for us.  Good grief – our cars parallel park for us or tell us when we are too close or wavering in a lane now!!!

But I don’t believe that we can blame it all on technology, either.

I understand that any teen or young person reading this may take offense to what I’m getting in to here.  But let me clearly state that this is in no way trashing the young people of today or calling them stupid or incompetent.  It’s merely a concern about the direction our world is headed.  After all – today’s young folks will be the ones running our countries – right?

To get an idea of what I’m talking about – go to town and hit the fast food places.  Or stay home and call customer service….doesn’t really matter which one (although calling customer service may also provide the experience/hassle of dealing with the companies who ‘outsource’ to other countries – and that’s a whole other issue).

So here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

A friend recently told me that she ordered coffee at a drive-thru.  She requested that ice be added to the coffee.  When she got to the window, the young girl told her that it would be a minute.  She finally came back and told my friend that there was a problem with her order.  She was putting the ice in the cup – but when she poured the coffee in it – it melted!!!  Okay folks….those of us from a few generations back know how funny and yet pitiful that is – right?  For those of you who don’t get it…..the purpose for adding the ice is to melt and cool the coffee.

I recently wrote an email to everyone in the company providing details for an upcoming company picnic.  I provided everything from activities to time, location and how many guests each employee could bring.  In this explanation I told them that the company would pay for each employee plus 3 guests each.  And, if they wanted to bring additional guests, I provided the cost that would have to be paid by them.  In less than 10 minutes from hitting ‘send’ – I receive a reply from one of the younger employees – “Who are we allowed to bring and how many can we bring?”

I was at a drive-thru one day.  My total was $8.06 – so I gave the young man a $20, a nickel and a penny.  He proceeds to try to hand me $11.94.  I kindly tell him that is incorrect and that he owes me $12.00 (assuming that he simply forgot what I gave him).  He looks at me like I’m green or something and closes the window.  I wait for a full minute or two and some girl comes and tries to shove the same $11.94 back at me telling me it is correct.  I again in a kind tone explain that what I gave him and therefore I should receive $12.00.  She looks disgusted at me and closes the window.  Again I wait.  And wait.  And wait…..finally a manager comes to the window to explain to me why my change is $11.94.  I finally lose my cool – raise my tone and say, “No! My total is $8.06.  I gave him a $20 and 6 cents – this means I do NOT want coins.  I want $12.00 in change!”  Manager says, “Oh.”  And I finally got the correct money back – however, I’m still not sure they understood what the problem actually was and how it was solved.

A few years back – there was a problem with a medical claim.  So I called the insurance carrier to discuss it.  Long story short – they paid PART of the claim and denied part of it…but the reason made no sense (btw – I went to school for and worked medical claims – so I have a really good grasp of how it works!).  When I inquired about it – the lovely young person on the phone proceeded to tell me that due to ‘privacy issues‘ she could not discuss what the doctor filed on the claim.  Excuse me!?!?!?!?!?!  I pay the darn premiums…’s MY medical claim, MY doctor and she can’t discuss the claim in which I was sitting there on the phone with a paper in my hand from that company!?!?!?  I almost had a stroke over this one before it was all said and done….and guess what?  I lost….they never did discuss with me.  And – I no longer have that insurance, thank you very much!

And finally – I had a gym membership but have not been able to utilize it as I had hoped.  So, I went down to cancel the membership on a Monday.  They gave me the appropriate paperwork to complete.  They explained that there is a cancellation charge involved.  Okay – I can live with that.  However, I wasn’t expecting it – so I asked if I could pay it on Friday (payday).  They agreed and said they would run the charge through on Friday.  I watched my account for the charge to come out.  It finally showed up on Saturday.  Great – so I went on about my business of paying my bills etc.  Then comes Monday…guess what?  My account is charged….again.  I call to let them know there is an error.  The young person cannot do anything but ‘can see that it was indeed charge twice’.  She says she will let a manager know and have them call me back the following day.  Following day – no call.  So I call.  I get the regular apologies and it will be corrected immediately – from another young person, not from the manager.

So now I’m watching my account for the refund.  Instead, on Wednesday – there is another charge – but for a different amount.  Grrrr!  I call.  The girl tells me that she has been assured that the original refund has been made and that the other charge is for the ‘annual renewal’ that happens each year.  I ask her why they would be charging me a renewal fee when I had canceled my membership.  And she just sat there.  Couldn’t come up with an answer.  Then she tried telling me that any changes made to accounts after the 25th of the month would be too late to stop what was set up to be charged the following month.  I explained to her that my cancellation was done on the 23rd.  By then I’m pretty frustrated – so I tell her I want it corrected immediately.  She starts telling me there is nothing that can be done.  Wanna bet!?!?  By the time I was done with her – she agreed to have the General Mgr call me when he comes in at 3:00.

I waited.  I finally called them at 5:30 and asked to speak with the General Mgr.  Young person says “I’m a manager – I can help you!”  I recognize her voice.  I explain who I am and that I haven’t heard from the General Mgr that she was going to have call me.  In her perky little voice says that he left for the day but was going to call me the following day…but that everything had been taken care of.

I could go on with that drama – because believe me, it didn’t end there.  But all of those scenarios show that people don’t actually LISTEN to what is being said.  They don’t THINK things through before giving you some scripted line of b.s. And, they simply don’t care.  There is no longer compassion towards other people either.

And customer service?  The backbone of a successful business depends on it – right? Not any more apparently.  Now you get responses such as ‘yea’, ‘no’, and maybe a ‘come back’ all the while they are offering no eye contact and could care less whether you feel like you are appreciated as a customer.  Do they not realize that if the customer is not happy, then there is no repeat business and therefore NO PAYCHECK?  Not a problem….just flood our society with that type of business/work ethics and people have no choice any longer in where they go – it’s all the same.  And if you want it, you come to them – take it or leave it!

Take Wal-Mart for example.  I hate that place!  Lousy service, low quality items and they NEVER have what you need.  Does it matter?  Nope – they run all the smaller places out of town and so….you are stuck unless you have a butt-load of money!

As a side note – there is a McDonald’s that I stop at in the mornings that actually CARES about their customers.  I enjoy going there because of this older man who works the window – he is the one who would take your orders and collect the money at window #1.  What impressed me the most is that without fail, he said thank you and looked directly at you each time.  And his smile?  It was REAL….it was reflected in his eyes.  So – I took it upon myself to write a letter to the headquarters to tell them of this very valuable asset they had working there.  I suggested that they recognize him, give him a raise or promotion and possible have him train the other goobs (okay – I didn’t actually call them that in the letter).

Guess what?  They LISTENED and they implemented my suggestions!  Now when you go there….EVERY employee is looking you straight in the eye and saying thank you!  Do you think I will be going back now?  You betcha!  And so do many of my friends because I’ve told them about it!

After that experience – I’ve made a point of notifying management and telling them of the GOOD things I see and experience at the various businesses.  Some appreciate it.  Some could care less.  But I feel it’s worth it.  Our young people NEED to hear when they’ve truly succeeded at something…..not the silly b.s. that they’ve been raised on – where ‘everyone is a winner’ and they had to share in the limelight.  What was the point of working hard when everyone else got the same recognition for sitting there like a lump?  By ‘making everyone equal’ we went a little overboard in making sure no one gets their feelings hurt (which by the way is part of the learning process, people!) – and therefore our young people now have a sense of urgency (I want it NOW!) and entitlement and are many times down-right hateful, disrespectful individuals.  BTW, before someone gets their panties in a wad….I am NOT labeling all young people here.

Oh – and another side note.  There are a few other places that I feel I must recognize as providing excellent service in spite of the generational gaps.  Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Firstbank Southwest, Anything in Stained Glass, Glass Crafters and Melaleuca.  Thanks to these companies for staying on top of what REAL customer service means…..first step = training!!!

In the beginning of this post, I mentioned my daughter.  You see – I believe that I did a darn good job of raising her.  Many others have told me the same.  However, even in her I see the ‘common sense’ that we used to have and rely on is lacking.  It scares me.  I’m not sure where or how we got here…..of course I have some opinions…but overall it is baffling to me.  This beautiful young lady I’ve raised is starting to show what I would call disrespect for her elders and it shocks me.  She wasn’t raised that way.  But somewhere with all of the instant gratification that our young folks expect – if they don’t get it when and how they want it, they get angry and rude and down-right ugly!

I remember having to actually sit down and EXPLAIN how to think past the end of her nose!  Think ahead and plan.  The first time she tried it – she came in all excited and said, “Mom, I did it!  I thought things through and considered the outcome – it works!”  Please understand folks, this is a girl who made A’s & B’s (mainly A’s) all through school.  Scary – isn’t it?

So here I sit….wondering about our future with these young folks and wondering what will happen if things don’t go quite the way they want….what will that lead to?

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