Opinion: Generation Brat

Tim Eggerding

Tim Eggerding

By Jon Monteith

It’s official: Our generation is freaking embarrassing. I guess this was something I always had kept in the back of my mind, but after spending a year in Champaign-Urbana, a community filled with my peers, I’ve been sent over the edge.

There was one incident in particular that really struck me as irritating.

At the end of last semester, with graduation just around the corner, there were a lot of edgy seniors who were trying to take care of last-minute business. I was waiting in the undergraduate political science office when a pompous young woman rushed into the room.

“I have a question,” she said to the secretary in a highly unpleasant tone.

“Yes?” replied the secretary, an overworked woman, who obviously was not in the mood for this crap. Her “don’t-start with-me” face was beginning to bring a huge smile to my own.

“I talked to you on the phone, and you said you were going to reserve the right amount of tickets for my guests at graduation. Now I hear that I’m on a waiting list.”

The secretary replied, “I know I could not have promised you tickets, because I’m in charge of this whole system, and I’m not even authorized to make guarantees. Everyone is on the same waiting list to get the tickets they want.”

“That’s not acceptable,” the student responded. She went into a pointless diatribe about being entitled to tickets that probably didn’t exist anyway. Eventually, she threatened to have her parents call the University to “take care of things.”

After a blank stare from the secretary that seemed to say, “I want to attack you,” the student stood there awkwardly and then left.

Afterward, I literally had to run from that office, because I was so annoyed at what this girl just had proven. Our generation has serious dependability issues. Instead of tackling our problems, many of us look to our parents to solve them for us. There was nothing this secretary could do, but that didn’t matter one bit to this student.

Why do so many of us use our parents as a crutch when things go wrong? I can see this girl, at age 45, wheeling her decrepit mother into the boss’ office. “Mom, he’s being mean!”

If we still were in high school, I might be more understanding. We lived with our parents then, so if something really was upsetting us, it was expected that we could look to them for help. Back then, it was easy. Mom, take care of this. Dad, scream at that teacher.

But then we graduated. We moved on to college, where freedom carried new responsibilities. We were independent of our parents and that meant we were expected to take care of things on our own. When something ticked us off, we had to hold our ground where appropriate. Yet in the case of this brat, who probably was 21 or 22 years old, personal responsibility took a back seat to extreme parental reliance.

For those still guilty of the same crime, do not think your mom’s or dad’s willingness to intervene on your behalf when you’re legally an adult is something that deserves admiration.

“My dad is so cool, he yelled at them for me!”

Cool? No. Embarrassing? Yes.

If your folks think they are protecting you by acting like imbeciles, then they are horribly mistaken. If anything, they are stopping you from fully becoming an adult. They won’t always be there to fight your battles, and the sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be.

The next time you’re in a bind, don’t save the drama for your mama. Whatever happened was probably your own fault, so accept it or fix it – and for Christ’s sake, don’t phone home.

Jon Monteith is a sophomore in LAS. His column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at [email protected]