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One of the problems with getting old is that you begin to question your judgement about the new generation. They are different than we were, because – let’s face it – they live in a different world. They have different expectations, and again to be brutally honest – with some notable exceptions – they are not as prepared for life as previous generations.

Let’s call them Generation Screwed.

I don’t blame them. In fact, if there is anybody to blame it is probably my generation and the ones that followed. Not only did we not prepare the current generation to be adults, but we squandered their future. Since so many of us are living longer and retiring earlier, we are expecting them to take care of us while we loll around the golf course or vacation in Tahiti.

In many ways we have stolen their future. We let the infrastructure decay, government benefits to grow to unsustainable levels, the school system – K through college – to dissolve into mush, and the culture to coarsen to the point that incivility has become the norm.

We have convinced the upcoming generation of adults that they are special by giving them participation awards and certificates merely for existing. And companies – either in an effort to undo the damage or continue the silliness – have begun treating employees like children.

We bought a quart of Hydrangea Blue at Home Depot, and the cashier asked if we would go on line and fill out a form saying she did an excellent job. We bought some paint, she rang us up and smiled, and we, the customer, are now supposed to complete a 12-page online form saying how good she was and telling her employer about our shopping experience. To sweeten the deal, Home Depot will hold a drawing of those who respond and award the winner a $5,000 Home Depot gift card. Of course, you will have to pay income tax on your winnings, so it’s really more like $3,500 worth of Home Depot stuff. I don’t think so.

Number one, it’s a stupid idea thought up by a bunch of stupid middle managers who sat around a big table trying to justify their existence. Not many folks work on an assembly line anymore, where there’s a boss looking over their shoulders and exhorting them to work harder and faster. Now we have computers that do it, and as customers and members of the public, we are expected to help these computers to monitor company employees.

So now we see truck drivers – hard-working men and women supporting their families by spending hours each day staring at the yellow line down the middle of the highway – with a sign on the back of their trucks exhorting the rest of us to tattle on them if we think they are not driving properly.

It’s insulting and demeaning to a person doing his or her best to make a living.

Think if we did that in our personal lives. You go out on a hot date, you end up going back to your apartment or maybe a hotel room, and doing what comes naturally. Then, the next morning, you ask if your partner would like to fill out an online endorsement that you could post on your Facebook page saying how great you were.

Who knows, maybe you could even get a good Yelp review.

George Lee Cunningham

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