Copyright 2016 – Stephen Redgwell
Hi folks. I’m J. Suggs Biffy IV, owner and publisher of the Stumpville Nugget. I got this letter in the mail today. I thought you might like to see it. I realize it’s long, but I guess it doesn’t matter. Most of you have short attention spans. I suppose a few will read through to the end. For those who do, let’s call this a generational tale.
P.S. For clarity, I’ve listed the correct generational names in brackets for Mr. Beardsley.
Dear Mr. Biffy,
I’m writin’ your paper because of the rang-dang-doo over at the high school on Monday. I ain’t seen a protest in years!
Them youngsters, the ones your newspaper calls ‘Cen-tentacles’ (Gen Z or Centennials), was demandin’ a change to the school’s curriculum. I seen their list at the hardware store. It was posted on the board just above a pallet of cow manure. The location seemed appropriate.
They wanted a shorter school day – 3 hours. They wanted a shorter school week – 3 days. The kicker? They wanted to get paid to go!
At first, I thought it was a joke, until I seen the protesters. It got me angry. I couldn’t go to school after grade six because my daddy died. Someone had to look after Ma and my two little sisters. They take for granted what I could never have! Thank goodness, stuff like that don’t happen these daze.
I guess I got angervated the most when I read their protest signs.
No more homework. Food and beverages in the classroom. They was demandin’ free lunches, free Wi-Fi at home (for studyin’ of course) and no teachers older than 40. They would be your “sorta young” people, the Generation Why or Perennials (Gen Y, Millennials). I guess they figured they could connect better with that group. They seem to have a real hate on for the really old folks – the Generation Hex (Gen X) and Baby Groomers (Baby Boomers).
Thank goodness, the fire chief seen what was happenin’ and turned the water hoses on ’em. It ain’t nice to get soaked down in December! They grumbled, but vowed to stand their ground. That was when 73-year-old Mr. Henderson, the owner of the hardware store and the local Internets hub, told ’em that if they didn’t get back to school and get taught, he was turnin’ off the world wide weird.
The look on their faces was priceless.
“How are we gonna text and tweet our protest photos?” cried Bob Wilson’s geeky lookin’ boy, Noah.
“You ain’t gonna…” Mr. Henderson told him.
“But I play online games with friends in Nerly Corners! You can’t!” Marley Davidson, the mayor’s daughter, was in tears.
“It’s against the law to turn off our Internet! We’ll sue!” threatened two or three other kids.
“No, you ain’t gonna sue. I own the Internet in Stumpville and am the only provider. I’ll simply turn it off.”
Them soakin’ wet school kids was upset. Some was cryin’. Others was angry or at a loss for words. All of them looked lost.
“You hate us because we’re young!”
“You think we got no rights!”
“Why are older people always picking on us?”
Mr. Henderson just looked at them and said,
“What a bunch of spoiled brats! Go back to school and learn about yourself, your rights and the rights of others before you start makin’ any demands! Learn about where your cellphones came from, who pays to write all them fancy apps you love to use and the computer games you’re always playin’!
And your school? It ain’t yours. The whole community owns it. The taxpayers keep it runnin’. Thank your parents and the neighbours. They’re the workin’ folks that pay the bills, feed you and give you clothes to wear. The ones that keep the busses runnin’, have the roads cleared in the winter, and buy your birthday and Christmas gifts.
Schoolin’ ain’t a right. It’s a gift. It’s somethin’ that your parents and grandparents pay for so you can get educated. They want you to grow up smarter and better off than them! But that won’t happen if you spend your days whinin’ about stuff you don’t really understand.”
Mr. Henderson stopped talkin’. He looked at them kids, winked and smiled, then said,
“One last thing: Get into a group and I’ll take a picture of your protest. After that, get back to class!”
Them kids moved in closer and posed for a group shot. After, they started walkin’ back to the school. Some of ‘em was still grumblin’, but most would think on what happened and realize how stupid they acted. Hopefully, they’d become wiser after hearin’ the words of a 73 year old (Silent Generation) hardware store owner with a Samsung Galaxy cellphone.
No cops was called. No guns was fired. No one was beaten. All that happened was they got wet and was scolded.
Kids have acted like that for thousands of years and probably will for thousands more. Like their folks, they’ll manage to live through their youth and grow up to be fine adults.
Mr Henderson knew. They just need a little shove every now and then.