The Rude Generation

Written on the plane from Sacramento to Denver.

I was traveling recently by plane and noticed most people are friendly, nice, and polite. Although I have gray hair and sometimes I’m not as spry as my younger years, I don’t expect anyone to treat me any different. I do expect a little consideration though. Have you noticed that some people just seem to have an air of entitlement? And have you noticed that they seem to be the people of a younger generation?

When I was a teacher, I had a lesson about once a week that I called social skills. I would create lesson plans for my middle school students that reminded me of those etiquette books of old. Most of these lessons were foreign ideas to many of these generation Z students. I covered things like polite phone usage, how to pass someone in the hallway, and even safe social media usage. Of course, we’d make the lessons more fun with examples of the way not to do things and the kids loved acting those out best, laughing and giggling the whole time we were play-acting.

I was really appalled this week on a flight to Denver. I tried really hard to ignore a 30-40-something who was yapping on her phone the whole time in the seat next to me as the plane prepared for flight. Rude, I thought to myself but I put one finger over my right ear and continued reading my book. But then, when the flight attendant started her little talk that we’re all supposed to listen to and she was still jabbering away, I felt the need to tap her arm and put my finger to my mouth in a “shhhhh” gesture.

Of course, she got mad at me and said she was going to report me and I said, “go ahead” but she didn’t. I just don’t even think she realized she was doing anything wrong. And I can guarantee you that everyone sitting around me was as annoyed as I was. But the people that have these behaviors don’t get it. And maybe you can’t teach people at that age how to be thoughtful and polite of their fellow passengers.

That makes me sad. I don’t want to live in a world of sociopaths and go-getters, and Gordon Gecko types from Wall Street. Maybe I’m sheltered too much in the retirement community I live in. Maybe I have rose colored glasses and the real world isn’t the way I would wish. But I surely hope not and I will keep visualizing a world and society where every individual is respected and being polite is the norm.