When I go about my daily life, I always try to be polite to everyone no matter their age. But people’s reactions puzzle me. Especially millennials: people born around 1981 to 1996. The 22 to 37 year olds. The people often accused of ruining retail shopping and mocked for avocado toast. After several incidents in the past year, I decided to set my New Year’s resolution 2019: be kind to millennials.
The incidents seem small. But concerning.
Unusual surprise when I hold doors open for millennials.
Confused looks when I thank them for holding a door open for me.
At the local market, I picked up a dozen fresh fruits and veggies. Spinach and zucchini. Squash, eggplant, lettuce, and other salad fixings. Apples, pears, and pomegranates. I was unloading everything at the checkout conveyor belt when I noticed a young man—a millennial—walk up holding a coconut water and vegan snack.
“Why don’t you go in front of me,” I suggested.
His jaw dropped wide open in shock. Unhinged like Jacob Marley haunting Ebenezer Scrooge.
“You only have a couple of things to get,” I said. “Go ahead of me.”
He clasped his items to his heart. “You would do that?” he asked. “For me?”
“I’m not ready to buy anything yet.”
“No problem.” I carried on and the cashier rang through my produce.
He continued watching me with some degree of awe. As if I was a rare Dodo bird not seen in centuries.
I decided to check in with my post-millennial social advisor.
“Why do millennials look so surprised when I’m polite?
“They don’t expect old people to be polite.”
I disagree. “I’m not old.”
“You are to millennials.”
Hmph. “Are older people really that rude to millennials?”
When I stop to think about it, I don’t understand why. Is it resentment over their effortless tech savvy? Anger that tattoos are now socially acceptable? Bitterness that us old folks never had avocado toast as a menu option?
In the end, it doesn’t matter why. What matters is the future. That’s where I got the idea for my New Year’s resolution 2019: be kind to millennials.
How will you know which people are millennials? It’s often hard to guess age. The solution is simple.
Jan L. Mayes
Author, audiologist, educator, quiet activist, playing with words.